SSSR Newsletter 2022 #1

President’s Letter

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well. As we are all aware, we are in the third year of a global pandemic that has touched all of our lives through illness, loss, and heightened concern for the well being of our family, friends, colleagues, and ourselves. Through it all, as a professional association, we are fortunate that, due in large part to our leadership and members, we have adapted and will continue to weather this storm. In 2020, under the presidential leadership of Laura Olson, her Executive Council, and Program Chairs, SSSR pivoted from an in-person conference to a series of zoom conference presentations, which allowed us to maintain a sense of normalcy during very uncertain and fearful times. In 2021, under Prema Kurien’s Presidency, the Program Chairs, and Executive Council deftly created a hybrid conference structure that featured three zoom pre-conference presentations during the months leading up to our Annual Meeting in Portland, OR. These presentations, posted at, dealt with the social-politically relevant themes of White Christian nationalism, African American religiosity, and global religion. One-hundred and forty-two individuals attended these presentations.

The 2021 zoom pre-conference presentations laid the groundwork for the SSSR’s highly successful and rewarding 2021 virtual and in-person conferences, the theme of which was Global and Comparative Perspectives on Religion. The virtual conference included more than 125 research presentations from scholars covering a wide range of topics and disciplines. And despite university cuts to travel allowances and trepidations over travelling, 305 persons journeyed to Portland for the in-person conference to present their research and develop and strengthen professional networks and friendships. On November 11-13, 2022, we will attempt to inch closer to normalcy by meeting in person in Baltimore, Maryland for the 2022 SSSR+RRA Annual Meeting. This year’s conference theme is Religion, Racial Unrest and Pandemic, which, I believe is fitting given how race disparities in COVID deaths and increased media attention given to police killing unarmed black men have reawakened us all to the continued salience of race.

In closing, I’d like to welcome and thank this year’s SSSR Conference Program Chairs, Paul Djupe and Amy Erica Smith, for helping to organize this year’s annual conference. Finally, please join me in thanking Ryan Cragun for his service to SSSR. After eight years as SSSR’s Secretary, Ryan is stepping down. Again, thank you.

I look forward to our in-person conference this year and the opportunity to catch up with all of you in Baltimore!  

Warm regards,

Khari Brown
SSSR President

Council Member Spotlight   


Zhou Job Chen

Council member Zhuo Job Chen (PhD in Psychology, University of Oregon, 2017) is Associate Professor at School of Nursing and Affiliate Faculty of Health Psychology at University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His research focuses on spiritual and mystical experiences, and the joint area of religion and well-being. He has collaborated widely with researchers from East Asian and Middle East nations to study psychological constructs in Daoism, Buddhism and Islam. He has co-authored over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters and has received funding from the John Templeton Foundation.

This photo was taken at the museum, which is a modern architecture, for Xanadu, which is the historical site (only ruins remained). Xanadu is located in today's Inner Mongolia of China, about 300 miles north of Beijing in the middle of a vast grassland. Xanadu was the first capital of the Mongolian empire, where Kubla Khan started it all. Then they went south to take over the 12th century 'China' and established the capital in Beijing. I visited it in the summer of 2021 with my father.

SSSR+RRA 2022 Annual Meeting

Mark your calendars now for the SSSR+RRA 2022 Annual Meeting, November 11-13, 2022 at the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. The Call for Papers for the 2022 Annual Meeting is open until Friday, April 15, 2022 at Submitters will be notified of the acceptance of their abstracts by May 15, 2022. Advance registration is open April 1 to July 15, 2022; all presenters must register by July 15. Registration will be open at

SSSR Honors, Awards, and Promotions

Sabri Ciftci, Professor of Political Science, Kansas State University, promoted to full professor summer, 2021.        

Madeleine Cousineau, Lecturer, Boston University Prison Education Program, in retirement, began teaching sociology in the Boston University Prison Education Program. 

Ruth Braunstein, Associate Professor, University of Connecticut, launched the Meanings of Democracy Lab at the University of Connecticut and received the ASA Religion Section's Early Career Award.    

Jana Riess, Religion News Service, and Benjamin Knoll (Centre College) have raised over $40,000 on Kickstarter to fund Wave 2 of the Next Mormons Survey. Wave 1 in 2016 surveyed 1156 currently identified Latter-day Saints and 540 former Latter-day Saints and resulted in the 2019 Oxford book, The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church. In Wave 2, they will again survey both current and former Mormons, and are co-authoring a book about people who choose to disaffiliate.

Fenggang Yang, Professor of Sociology, Purdue University, has received a three-year grant from the John Templeton Foundation for the project of “Global East Religiosity and Changing Religious Landscapes.” July 2022 to June 2025.

Karen Hooge Michalka, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Mary was named a Public Fellow on Immigration and Migration Studies with PRRI's Religion and Renewing Democracy Initiative.

Adrian Schiffbeck, PhD, West University of Timisoara, completed his Doctoral studies (Political science)at the University of Passau (November 2021).   

Daniel V. A. Olson, Professor of Sociology, Purdue University, was Co-winner, Best Article Award for 2021, from the International Society for the Scientific Study of Religion for: Olson, Daniel V. A., Jong Hyun Jung, Joey Marshall, and David Voas. 2020. “Sacred Canopies or Religious Markets? The Effect of County-level Religious Diversity on Later Changes in Religious Involvement.” Journal for Scientific Study of Religion. 59:227-246.

Dr Gladys Ganiel, Queen's University Belfast, will be presenting a keynote address at the European Association for the Study of Religions in Cork, Ireland, 27 June-1 July 2022. 

Dr. Ramona Bullik, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany. Her longitudinal study of biographical changes in religion, spirituality and worldview hosted at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, and Bielefeld University, Germany continues in a new phase with funds of $1.35 million. The researchers critically integrated faith development theory and distinguish four religious styles that may change in an adult person's life. This international research cooperation has been funded since 2002 by the German Research Foundation (DFG); since 2014, the John Templeton Foundation has supported this research. Now, both foundations jointly continue funding this research from 2022 to 2024.


Madeleine Cousineau, Lecturer, Boston University Prison Education Program

Madeleine Cousineau is preparing a chapter on Liberation Theology for the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Sociology and Christianity (Routledge/Taylor and Francis)

Mirjam Künkler, Research Professor, University of Münster

Künkler, Mirjam and Devin Stewart (eds.): Female Religious Authority in Shi’i Islam: Past and Present. Edinburgh University Press, 2021. This volume is a substantial contribution to a growing body of literature on female religious authority in Islam. The introduction and individual chapters, covering a wide temporal and geographical range, address some of major unanswered questions, such as how particular contexts affect women's religious authority. This volume is of importance not just to scholars of gender or Shi'ism, but of religious authority broadly construed.

Mirjam Künkler, “Revising Shari‘a in the Light of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” in Mohsen Kadivar: Haqq al-Nas: Human Rights and Reformist Islam, Edinburgh University Press, 2021.

Roberto Cipriani, Professor Emeritus, Roma Tre University

The following book is dated 2020, but published in January 2021: Cipriani, Roberto 2020. L’incerta fede. Un’indagine quanti-qualitativa in Italia - Uncertain faith. A quanti-qualitative survey in Italy. Milan: FrancoAngeli.

One of the most interesting novelties of the new research is the evident emergence of spirituality, which gradually takes over traditional forms of religiosity. Spirituality is based above all on a profound feeling accompanied by reference values and the behaviour that derives from it, manifesting itself especially but not exclusively in the adhesion and dedication to forms of voluntary work and new experiences in the way of praying or in any case of relating to the supernatural. 

Cipriani, Roberto, Prüfer, Pawel 2021. Socjologia religii. Ujęcie systematyczno-historyczne - Sociology of Religion. A systematic and historical approach. Torún: AKAPIT Wydawnictwo Edukacyjne. "Sociology of Religion" is a book that will probably be of interest not only to sociologists, because it deals with the fundamental issue that has accompanied man since the dawn of time. It is religion, which is a kind of phenomenon. In this context the eternal questions arise: What kind of phenomenon are we dealing with? Is religion inscribed in the nature of man, or does it perhaps lie outside him? Where do the motives come from and for what reason do the needs for religious activity and expression arise? Is religion doing well or is it eclipsed and in progressive crisis? Is it a phenomenon evident enough to bring it out of invisibility and pure transcendence and introduce it concretely and with all its richness into the practice of life of individuals and social groups? Finally, who is interested in religion? Is it only the representative of homo religious, the religious practitioner who wants to go beyond purely empirical and rational experience in his everyday life? Or perhaps also the one who looks at religious experience from the position of an observer, researcher, sociologist? To these and many other questions try to answer the authors of the book, an eminent researcher in the field Roberto Cipriani and the Polish sociologist Pawel Prüfer.

Cipriani, Roberto 2021. Malinowski, Bronislaw K. (1884–1942). In The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Oxford: Blackwell."

Khari Brown, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Wayne State University

Brown, R. Khari, Ronald E. Brown, and James Jackson. Race and the Power of Sermons on American Politics. University of Michigan Press, 2021. Relying on 44 national and regional surveys conducted between 1941 and 2019, Race and the Power of Sermons on American Politics explores how racial experiences impact the degree to which religion informs social justice attitudes and political behavior.

Fenggang Yang, Professor of Sociology, Purdue University 

Yang, Fenggang. 2012 (Chinese edition in 2021). Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule. Taipei: National Chengchi University Press.

Yang, Fenggang and Chris White, eds. 2021. Christian Social Activism and Rule of Law in Chinese Societies. Lehigh University Press and Rowan and Littlefield Press.

Yang, Fenggang, Jonathan Pettit, and Chris White, eds. 2021. Shades of Gray in the Changing Religious Markets of China. Leiden, Netherlands and Boston, MA: Brill Academic Publishers.

Yang, Fenggang. 2021. “Sinicization or Chinafication? Cultural Assimilation vs. Political Domestication of Christianity in China and Beyond.” Pp. 16-43 in The Sinicization of Chinese Religions: From Above and Below, edited by Richard Madsen, Brill, 2021.

Yang, Fenggang. 2021. “Atheism in Contemporary China.” pp. 809-830 in The Cambridge History of Atheism, edited by Stephen Bullivant and Michael Ruse, Cambridge University Press.

Professor Eileen Barker, London School of Economics / INFORM

Singler, Beth and Eileen Barker. 2021. Radical Transformations in Minority Religions. Abingdon: Routledge. All religions undergo continuous change, but minority religions tend to be less anchored in their ways than mainstream, traditional religions. This volume examines radical transformations undergone by a variety of minority religions, including the Children of God/ Family International; Gnosticism; Jediism; various manifestations of Paganism; LGBT Muslim groups; the Plymouth Brethren; Santa Muerte; and Satanism. As with other books in the Routledge/Inform series, the contributors approach the subject from a wide range of perspectives: professional scholars include legal experts and sociologists specialising in new religious movements, but there are also chapters from those who have experienced a personal involvement. The volume is divided into four thematic parts that focus on different impetuses for radical change: interactions with society, technology and institutions, efforts at legitimation, and new revelations. This book will be a useful source of information for social scientists, historians, theologians and other scholars with an interest in social change, minority religions and ‘cults’. It will also be of interest to a wider readership including lawyers, journalists, theologians and members of the general public.

Eileen Barker. 2021 ''Othering': A Necessary but Dangerous Practice', Journal for the Study of Beliefs and Worldviews. Special edition Limitations of Religious Freedom: On Stereotypes, Prejudice and Social Discrimination, edited by Gerhard Besier pp. 25-48.

Barker, Eileen. 2021. "Fight, flight or freeze? Reactions to the Law by Minority Religions." Pp. 1-22 in Reactions to the Law by Minority Religions, edited by James T. Richardson and Eileen Barker. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. Most of chapter available at:

Elaine Howard Ecklund, Professor of Sociology, Rice University

Ecklund, Elaine Howard, and David R. Johnson. 2021. Varieties of atheism in science. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Many in the public around the globe think that all scientists are atheists and that all atheist scientists are New Atheists, militantly against religion and religious people. But what do everyday atheist scientists actually think about religion? Drawing on a survey of 1,293 atheist scientists in the U.S. and U.K., and 81 in-depth interviews, this book explains the pathways that led to atheism among scientists, the diverse views of religion they hold, their perspectives on the limits to what science can explain, and their views of meaning and morality. The findings reveal a vast gulf between the rhetoric of New Atheism in the public sphere and the reality of atheism in science. The story of the varieties of atheism in science is consequential for both scientific and religious communities and points to tools for dialogue between these seemingly disparate groups.    

Academic Articles

Jonathan Coley, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Oklahoma State University

"Creating Secular Spaces: Religious Threat and the Presence of Secular Student Alliances at U.S. Colleges and Universities." Sociological Forum 36(3): 649-667.

"Mobilizing for Religious Freedom: Educational Opportunity Structures and Outcomes of Conservative Christian Campus Activism." Research in Social Movements, Conflicts, and Change 44(1): 175-200."   

Paul-André Turcotte, social-scientist, AFFRESS

“L’Église nationale dans l’histoire et la société. Essai dans la perspective de Troeltsch à Schütz,” Volume 50, Issue 4 of Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses, p. 601-622.

Ruth Braunstein, Associate Professor, University of Connecticut  

Braunstein, Ruth, 2021. ‚ “A Theory of Political Backlash: Assessing the Religious Right’s Effects on the Religious Field.” Sociology of Religion. OnlineFirst.

Braunstein, Ruth, Andrew Whitehead, and Ryan Burge. 2021. “Religion, Politics, and Public Funding for Abortion.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. OnlineFirst.

Perry, Samuel L., Ruth Braunstein, Philip S. Gorski, Joshua B. Grubbs. 2021. “Historical Fundamentalism? Christian Nationalism and Ignorance about Religion in American Political History.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. OnlineFirst.

Braunstein, Ruth. 2021.‚ “The ‘Right’ History: Religion, Race, and Nostalgic Stories of Christian America.” Religions 12(2): 95. "

Jana Riess, Religion News Service          

Riess, Jana and Benjamin Knoll. 2021. Does being liberal push some members out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Mormon Studies Review 8:68–78.

Mirjam Künkler, Research Professor, University of Münster

Shylashri Shankar, John Madeley, and Mirjam Künkler. Introduction to Book Symposium on ‘A Secular Age beyond the West: Religion, Law and the State in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa’ in Cambridge Journal of Law and Religion, Vol. 36 (2), 2021, 278-282.

Prof. Jörg Stolz, University of Lausanne           

Stolz, Jörg, Biolcati, Ferruccio and Molteni, Francesco 2021. 'Is France exceptionally irreligious? A comparative test of the cohort replacement theory '. L’Année sociologique: 337-367.

Stolz, Jörg, Pollack, Detlef and De Graaf , Nan Dirk 2021. 'Losing my religion as a natural experiment: How state pressure and taxes led to church disaffiliations between 1940 and 2010 in Germany'. Journal for the scientific study of religion 60: 83-102.

Fenggang Yang, Professor of Sociology, Purdue University 

Yang, Fenggang. 2021. “The Religious Market Theory and Religious Change in the United States and China: An Interview with Rodney Stark and Roger Finke.” Review of Religion and Chinese Society 8(1, 2021): 1-8.

Hajer Al-Faham, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Pennsylvania

Hajer Al-Faham (Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Pennsylvania) published "Researching American Muslims: A Case Study of Surveillance and Racialized State Control" in Perspectives on Politics.

Adrian Schiffbeck, PhD, West University of Timisoara

Schiffbeck, A. (2021) "When ‘I’ becomes ‘We‘: Religious mobilization, pilgrimage and political protests", Religions 12:9, 735.

Research award from the Romanian Ministry of Education (Nov. 2021), for the article "Driven by the 'Indefinable Something': How Religious Perceptions Motivate Political Protests", published in Politics, Religion & Ideology, 22:1, 2021. 

Prema A. Kurien, Professor of Sociology, Syracuse University

Prema A. Kurien, Syracuse University received an award from the Appleby-Mosher Fund for Faculty Research from the Maxwell School of Citizenship for her project, Race, Religion, and Citizenship: New Ethnic American Advocacy Organizations.           

Kurien, Prema A. 2021. Culture-free Religion: New Second-Generation Muslims and Christians. Journal of Contemporary Religion 36(1):105-122.

Kurien, Prema A. 2021. Women and South Asian Hinduism and Islam: In the Subcontinent and the Diaspora. Contemporary South Asia 29(2): 236-242.

Audra Dugandzic, PhD candidate, University of Notre Dame

Dugandzic, Audra. Forthcoming. "Reconnecting religion and community in a small city: How urban amenities afford religious amenities." Sociology of Religion.        

Dr Gladys Ganiel, Queen's University Belfast  

Ganiel, Gladys. 2021. Pope Francis versus Mary McAleese and Marie Collins: the 2018 papal visit to Ireland and the role of abuse in the decline of the Catholic Church. Journal of Contemporary Religion. 36:3, 441-460, DOI: 10.1080/13537903.2021.1978663

Ganiel, Gladys. 2021. Online Opportunities in Secularizing Societies? Clergy and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Ireland. Religions. 12(6):437.

Brandon Vaidyanathan, Associate Professor and Chair, Catholic University of America

Vaidyanathan, Brandon, Jennifer Charles, Tram Nguyen, and Sahara Brodsky. 2021. Religious leaders’ trust in mental health professionals. Mental Health, Religion and Culture.

Jacobi, Christopher Justin, and Brandon Vaidyanathan. 2021. Racial differences in anticipated COVID-19 vaccine acceptance among religious populations in the US. Vaccine 39(43): 6351-6355.

Jim Guth, Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Furman University    

“The Partisanship of Protestant Clergy in the 2016 Presidential Election,” Politics and Religion (2021). First View:, with Corwin E. Smidt

“Religious Voting in the 2020 Presidential Election: Testing Alternative Theories,” in Politics and Religion Journal, 15(2) (2021), 257-281, with Lyman A. Kellstedt

“Protestantism and Europe,” in Lucian Leustean and Grace Davie, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Europe (Oxford University Press, 2021), 458-479, with Brent F. Nelsen

“Protestant Clergy and Christian Nationalism,” Perspectives in Religious Studies 48(2) (May, 2021), 135-147.

Damon Mayrl, Associate Professor of Sociology, Colby College

Adler, Gary J., Jr., Selena E. Ortiz, Eric Plutzer, Damon Mayrl, Jonathan S. Coley, and Rebecca Sager. 2021. "Religion at the Frontline: How Religion Influenced the Response of Local Government Officials to the COVID-19 Pandemic." Sociology of Religion 82(4): 397-425.

Adler, Gary J., Jr., Damon Mayrl, Jonathan S. Coley, Rebecca Sager, and Eric Plutzer. Forthcoming. "Religion-State Interaction at the Local Level: Key Findings from a Survey of Religion and Local Elected Officials." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion,          

Elaine Howard Ecklund, Professor of Sociology, Rice University

Ecklund, Elaine Howard. 2021. Science and religion in (global) public life: A sociological perspective. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 89(2):672–700.

Mehta, Sharan Kaur, Rachel C. Schneider, and Elaine Howard Ecklund. 2021. "“God Sees No Color” So Why Should I? How White Christians Produce Divinized Colorblindness." Sociological Inquiry.

Heinz Streib, senior professor at Bielefeld University and head of the Research Center for Biographical Studies in Contemporary Religion at Bielefeld University

Streib, H. (2021). Leaving Religion: Deconversion. Current Opinion in Psychology, 40, 139-144. (post-print at:

Gennerich, C., & Streib, H. (2021). Jugend und Religion. In H.-H. Krüger, C. Grunert, & K. Ludwig (Eds.), Handbuch der Kindheits- und Jugendforschung, 3rd. edition Springer/VS 

Streib, H., & Chen, Z. J. (2021). Evidence for the Brief Mysticism Scale: Psychometric Properties, and Moderation and Mediation Effects in Predicting Spiritual Self-identification. International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 31(3), 165-175. (post-print at:

Streib, H., Chen, Z. J., & Hood, R. W. (2021). Faith Development as Change in Religious Types: Results from Three-wave Longitudinal Data with Faith Development Interviews. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, online-first, 1-10. (post-print at:

Streib, H., Klein, C., Keller, B., & Hood, R. W. (2021). The Mysticism Scale as Measure for Subjective Spirituality: New Results with Hood’s M-Scale and the Development of a Short Form. In A. L. Ai, K. A. Harris, R. F. Paloutzian, & P. Wink (Eds.), Assessing Spirituality in a Diverse World (pp. 467-491). Springer Nature Switzerland. (post-print at:

Cory Anderson, Postdoctoral Fellow, Pennsylvania State University        

Anderson, Cory, and Lindsey Potts. 2021. "Research trends in Amish population health, a growing literature about a growing rural population." Journal of Rural Social Sciences 36(1): Article 6.

Wasao, Samson, Cory Anderson, and Christian Mpody. 2021. ""The persistently high fertility of a North American population: A 25-year restudy of parity among the Ohio Amish."" Population Studies 75(3):477-86.

Ruth Braunstein, Associate Professor, University of Connecticut  

Braunstein, Ruth. 2021. “Georgia on My Mind.” In Forum on “Faith and the American Insurrection.” Berkley Forum.

Warren Bird, SVP of Research, Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability

Warren Bird. 2021. "2021 ECFA State of Giving: Charitable Giving Stays Strong Headed into 2022" October 29.

Mirjam Künkler, Research Professor, University of Münster

Mirjam Künkler and Tine Stein, Böckenförde on ‘Dignitatis Humanae’, Talk About: Law and Religion Blog, BYU Law School, 2021.

Mirjam Künkler and Eva Nisa, “How Indonesian Female Islamic Leaders offer COVID-19 Relief”, International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) Newsletter, #88, 2021, p. 9.

Khari Brown, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Wayne State University

What Americans hear about social justice at church – and what they do about it 

Elaine Howard Ecklund, Professor of Sociology, Rice University

Elaine Howard Ecklund and David R. Johnson. 2021. "Many scientists are atheists, but that doesn’t mean they are anti-religious" The Conversation, November 2.

Elaine Howard Ecklund and Di Di. 2021 "Parenting is the mother of gender inequality in science" Times Higher Education, August 27.

Final Items

Heinz Streib, senior professor at Bielefeld University and head of the Research Center for Biographical Studies in Contemporary Religion at Bielefeld University

With Ralph W. Hood, Jr., professor in the Psychology Department, and LeRoy A. Martin Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga lead this research. The team consists of psychology, religious studies, sociology, linguistics, and mathematics researchers. At the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga: Christopher F. Silver, assistant professor in Learning and Leadership Programs and instructor in Psychology, Matthew C. Durham and Daimi Shirck, doctoral students. At the University of North Carolina at Charlotte: Zhuo Job Chen, associate professor in psychology. At Bielefeld University: Barbara Keller, senior post-doctoral researcher, and licensed psychoanalyst. Ramona Bullik, post-doctoral researcher, and Anika Steppacher, doctoral student.

Cory Anderson, Postdoctoral Fellow, Pennsylvania State University        

The Amish & Plain Anabaptist Studies Association (APASA) is holding its annual in-person conference in Millersburg, OH, July 7-8, 2022. For details about presentation submission and attendance, visit   APASA also holds a Zoom-based monthly speaker/discussion series that is open to the public. The series highlights recent research about Amish and other plain Anabaptist denominations. To receive notices about upcoming talks, send a request to