Ruth Braunstein

Ruth Braunstein is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut and editor-at-large of The Immanent Frame. She previously served as a consultant with the SSRC's program on Religion and the Public Sphere and a senior editor of Reverberations. Her research explores the diverse ways in which ordinary citizens across the political spectrum participate in public life, and the complex role of religion in this process. She has studied debates over evolution in public schools, liberal religious advocacy groups, and interfaith political coalitions. She is currently working on a book based on her comparative ethnographic study of progressive faith-based community organizing and Tea Party activism.

Posts by Ruth Braunstein:

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

A conversation with Robert Bellah

Margarita A. Mooney interviews Robert Bellah at Patheos.

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Monday, January 7th, 2013

Interdisciplinary Congregational Studies Fellowships

An interdisciplinary call for applications for Congregational Studies Fellowships has been released.

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Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

When God Talks Back named a Notable Book of 2012

New Directions in the Study of Prayer Grantee Tanya Luhrmann’s book, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship With God, was named one of the New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2012. As Molly Worthen wrote in an early 2012 review of the book: After more than four years of observing and interviewing […]

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Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Religion and the election

Several months ago, it seemed religion might be a notable factor in the 2012 presidential election.

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Saturday, November 10th, 2012

Religion on the Edge

A new book, Religion on the Edge: De-centering and Re-centering the Sociology of Religion, edited by TIF contributors Courtney BenderWendy CadgePeggy Levitt and David Smilde, has been published.

Read the rest of Religion on the Edge.
Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Elizabeth Drescher on religious “nones”

NDSP Grantee Elizabeth Drescher responds to a new report, “‘Nones’ On the Rise,” released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life in affiliation with PBS’ Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

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Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Which Model, Whose Liberty?

On October 11, 2012, the Religious Freedom Project of the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs and the International Center for Law and Religion Studies at Brigham Young University’s School of Law will convene a conference at Georgetown University on “Differences between the U.S. and European Approaches to Religious Freedom.”

Read the rest of Which Model, Whose Liberty?.
Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

“I would love to read the biography of a book . . .”

As part of our discussion of the “Lives of Great Religious Books” series out this March from Princeton University Press, I had the opportunity to talk to editor Fred Appel about how the series was “born.” Situating the books somewhere between reception history and popular memoir, he discusses the contested status of some texts as “religious,” the importance of reaching the public, and the books he hopes will eventually be part of the series.

Read the rest of “I would love to read the biography of a book . . .”.
Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Lessons learned from academic blogging

At Religion in American History, Edward J. Blum reflects on how blogging may influence a junior scholar’s career, for better or for worse, and raises several important questions that we have also been puzzling about here at The Immanent Frame. In his piece, he draws on his own experiences as well as anecdotal evidence, and lays out his reservations about the academic blogging enterprise.

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Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Veiled threats?

At the New York Times philosophy forum, The Stone, Martha Nussbaum asks how philosophical and legal scholarship can help us understand recent controversies concerning the right of Muslim women to wear headscarves and burqas in public.

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Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Discussing mosques, minarets, and crosses

Ruthie, Grace and David here, reporting live from the IWM International Summer School in Philosophy and Politics in Cortona, Italy. We are here with forty graduate students and post-docs and an inspiring group of faculty from over 20 countries to explore a range of issues related to religion in public life. And over the next two weeks, we look forward to sharing some of our discussions with the readers of The Immanent Frame. Today we would like to talk about an issue we discussed in the first session of our course on “The Role of Faith in Public Discourse,” taught by Nilüfer Göle and Michael Sandel.

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Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Beyond the God gap

Public Religion Research and Third Way have jointly released a new report, Beyond the God Gap, which presents new research on “the beliefs and values underlying attitudes toward politics and cultural and domestic policy issues among white evangelical Protestants, white Mainline Protestants, African American Protestants, and Roman Catholics (Latino and non-Latino), which together account for about three-quarters of the U.S. population.”

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Friday, June 4th, 2010

CFP: “Social Policy & Religion in the Middle East”

The 12th Mediterranean Research Meeting of the European University Institute—to be held in Florence, Italy, from April 6-9, 2011—will include a workshop on Social Policy and Religion in the Middle East: Questioning Existing Paradigms. The organizers have released a call for papers for the workshop.

Read the rest of CFP: “Social Policy & Religion in the Middle East”.
Friday, May 28th, 2010

How Christian is Tea Party Libertarianism?

At God’s Politics, Jim Wallis asks: “Just how Christian is the Tea Party Movement—and the Libertarian political philosophy that lies behind it?”

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Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Does religion unite or divide?

At Reset DOC, Marco Cesario provides an overview of a recent roundtable discussion held at the Bilgi University in Istanbul, in which participants were asked whether religion was “an integrating or dividing factor in societies of the third millennium?”

Read the rest of Does religion unite or divide?.
Friday, May 21st, 2010

Coverage of a Muslim Miss USA

At the Scoop, Courtney Bender explores the media’s coverage of the Miss USA pageant and finds that “reading the coverage of Rima Fakih is a bit like going down the rabbit hole.”

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Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Sexual abuse across faith lines

At Ahead of the Trend, the blog of the Association of Religion Data Archives, religion writer David Briggs reports that sexual abuse of children in religious organizations extends beyond the Catholic Church.

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Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Jesuit university rescinds offer to sociologist

Marquette University, a Catholic university run by Jesuits, has come under fire after rescinding its offer to Seattle University sociologist Jodi O’Brien to serve as Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. In a statement to The New York Times, Marquette’s president, Rev. Robert A. Wild, denies that the decision was based on O’Brien’s sexual orientation, instead claiming that concerns arose after the administration “found some strongly negative statements about marriage and family.” At Sexuality & Society, Shari Dworkin and Kari Lerum (who acknowledge that they are long term colleagues of Dr. O’Brien) discuss the backlash that is emerging in response to Marquette’s decision.

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Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

“Love Thy Neighbor? Not If He’s Different”

At Miller-McCune, David Villano reports on a new study that finds that religious adherents in the U.S. are more inclined toward ethnocentric attitudes than agnostics.

Read the rest of “Love Thy Neighbor? Not If He’s Different”.
Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

A right to home-school?

At Miller-McCune, Michael Scott Moore reports on a German family that was granted asylum by a federal immigration judge in Tennessee, who found they “were at risk of persecution by German authorities because they wanted to home-school their kids.” The family was represented by the Home School Legal Defense Association, which took on the case “in the name of homeschoolers around the world.”Although the organization argues that the “Western nation should uphold basic human rights, which include allowing parents to raise and educate their own children,” Moore seeks to contextualize Germany’s schooling policy in light of these claims.

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Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

James Hunter on social solidarity

The Ethics and Public Policy Center has posted a transcript of James Davison Hunter’s talk, “To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World,” at this year’s Faith Angle Conference on Religion, Politics & Public Life. Ross Douthat of The New York Times and Amy Sullivan of Time responded to his comments, which addressed the problem of social solidarity.

Read the rest of James Hunter on social solidarity.
Monday, April 5th, 2010

Nicholas Kristof to discuss “covering conflict”

On April 12, the Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life at Columbia University will host a conversation and book signing with Nicholas D. Kristof, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and columnist for the New York Times.

Read the rest of Nicholas Kristof to discuss “covering conflict”.
Monday, April 5th, 2010

Toward a sociology of social religion

Like many of the other participants in this discussion on the current state of the sociological study of religion, we have spent much of our early careers engaging in broader conversations regarding culture and politics. As scholars who bring deep interests in religion to these conversations, we have found that the default position in these sub-disciplines is often either to ignore religion or to see it as a dangerous force in society. In this regard, we greet the “strong program” that Smilde and May see emerging in the sociology of religion with a modicum of relief, as it seems to show clearly that 1) more researchers are taking religion seriously, and 2) they are finding that religion’s influence is not always negative—rather, its effects are varied. But while a small part of us is relieved by the emergence of a strong program, a larger part shares Smilde and May’s concerns about the increasing focus on religion as an autonomous, independent variable. This emphasis seems to rest on the assumption that religion consists primarily of a set of fixed beliefs, preferences, and dispositions that exist deep inside of individuals, which they will reveal to us if only we ask the right questions.

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Thursday, April 1st, 2010

“How the health care bill made nuns rad”

At Slate, Noreen Malone notes that American nuns were instrumental in countering the conservative position of the Catholic Bishops during the recent health care battle, but explores whether the next generation of nuns will be more conservative than their progressive predecessors who “were formed in the crucible of Vatican II.”

Read the rest of “How the health care bill made nuns rad”.
Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

We Have Never Been Secular

If you cannot attend the religion and media conference hosted by the Columbia University Religion Graduate Students Association this weekend, fear not. On April 9, you can attend the New School for Social Research’s 2010 Sociology Graduate Student Conference, “We Have Never Been Secular: Re-Thinking the Sacred in the Modern World.”

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Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

Divining the Message, Mediating the Divine

The Columbia University Religion Graduate Students Association is sponsoring a conference in New York City this weekend on the relationships between media, mediation, and religion. Find details about the conference, “Divining the Message, Mediating the Divine,” here.

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Thursday, March 18th, 2010

On the seventh day you shall unplug

The New York Times reports that a “nonprofit think tank of hip, media-savvy Jewish professionals, based in New York” is spearheading an experiment they call the first annual National Day of Unplugging, which asks people to avoid technology from sundown Friday, March 19, to sundown Saturday.

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Monday, March 1st, 2010

America’s wealthiest religions?

The most popular post at GOOD last week, Transparency: America’s Wealthiest Religions, featured an infographic portraying the varying income levels of major religious groups compared to the national average income. A new post details some of the debate generated by the feature.

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Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Spirit quest

At the New York Times, Charles M. Blow weighs in on new data showing that “Young adults are looking for spirituality but not necessarily through organized religion,” a topic being explored in depth by the SSRC’s project on Spirituality, Political Engagement, and Public Life.

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Saturday, February 20th, 2010

The (religious) textbook wars

At The Faith Divide, Eboo Patel weighs in on the ongoing “culture war” over the religious content of textbooks in Texas.

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Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

Faith, Politics, and Power

As the new White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships reflects on what it has accomplished during its first year, a timely new book from sociologist (and here & there contributor) Rebecca SagerFaith, Politics, and Power: The Politics of Faith-Based Initiatives—provides readers with an in-depth analysis of the hopes and fears surrounding Faith-Based Initiatives at the state level.

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Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Theological reflections on Big Love

At The Moth Chase, some insightful analysis of the theological issues at the heart of the fourth season of Big Love, America’s favorite “polygamist melodrama.”

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Monday, February 8th, 2010

“American depressions”

At Tikkun Magazine, Harriet Fraad points to five sources that have “devastated the American moral, economic, psychological, and social landscape.”

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Friday, February 5th, 2010

Call for posters: religion and geographic analysis

Harvard University’s Center for Geographic Analysis has issued a call for posters for its “New Technologies and Interdisciplinary Research on Religion” workshop March 12 – 13, 2010.

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Thursday, February 4th, 2010

Year one in White House faith-based office

Despite critiques that the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships has been relatively quiet recently, Joshua DuBois, the Office’s Director, takes to the White House blog to reflect on what they have achieved during the past year.

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Friday, January 29th, 2010

Religion and the U.S. Census

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has released “A Brief History of Religion and the U.S. Census,” which reviews debates during the last century over whether questions about religion should be included in the census or whether such questions would “infringe upon the traditional separation of church and state.”

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Sunday, January 24th, 2010

A Very Brief History of Eternity

Miroslav Volf blurbs Carlos Eire’s new book, A Very Brief History of Eternity, which asks of its subject, “Is it anything other than a purely abstract concept, totally unrelated to our lives? A mere hope? A frightfully uncertain horizon? Or is it a certainty, shared by priest and scientist alike, and an essential element in all human relations?”

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Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Values for the Post-Crisis Economy

The World Economic Forum has released “Faith and the Global Agenda: Values for the Post-Crisis Economy,” an annual report on issues related to the role of faith in global affairs. John J. DeGioia, the President of Georgetown University, which collaborated on the report, explains its rationale: “The economic and financial crisis is an opportunity to re-articulate the values that should underpin our global institutions going forward. The world’s religious communities are critical repositories of those values.”

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Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Why Ugandans embrace the Family

At New America Media, Edwin Okong’o suggests that the U.S. Christian Right has been successful in influencing the Ugandan anti-gay agenda because Africans “staunchly believe in the supremacy of the white man. Ill-informed Christians […] place the white man immediately below the Holy Trinity, a belief with its roots in the colonial era.”

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Monday, January 11th, 2010

Let’s talk about faith

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat argues that “the debate that Brit Hume kicked off a week ago is still worth having. Indeed, it’s the most important one there is.”

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Thursday, January 7th, 2010

‘Interfaith’ includes atheists in NYC

The New York Times reports on Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s annual interfaith breakfast, which for the first time in eight years included representatives of nonbelievers.

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Thursday, January 7th, 2010

A more holistic approach to faith and health

In an opinion piece at The Christian Science Monitor, sociologist Wendy Cadge shares findings from her research (with Elaine Howard Ecklund) on how physicians learn about and deal with their patients’ spiritual and religious beliefs. She concludes that a “holistic approach to medicine requires physicians to understand the complex role of spirituality and religion in compassionate patient care. The best prescription: Integrate these topics throughout medical education.”

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Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

The Future of Islam

John Esposito‘s latest book, The Future of Islam, will be available in February 2010 from Oxford University Press.

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Monday, December 14th, 2009

Atheist councilman challenged

In Ashville, North Carolina, opponents of atheist City Councilman Cecil Bothwell are challenging the legitimacy of his oath of office on the grounds that the state Constitution disqualifies officeholders “who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”

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Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Witness to compassion

At Progressive Revival, and in honor of World AIDS Day, Diana Butler Bass bears witness to the compassion of her friend and “evangelical hero” Jeffrey Michael.

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Monday, November 30th, 2009

Turkey, Islam, and the EU

At Contexts Magazine, Jeffrey C. Dixon offers a variety of resources for understanding the controversy over Turkey’s application to the European Union. A summary of the article, which is available by subscription only, is below.

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Friday, November 6th, 2009

But a Muslim did not do this

Eboo Patel at The Faith Divide.

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Friday, November 6th, 2009

Framing faith

In the latest issue of Social Movement Studies, Deana A. Rohlinger and Jill Quadagno offer an explanation for cooperation and conflict in the US conservative Christian political movement.

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Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Taxing yoga: exercise or spiritual practice?

Controversy has erupted over a decision by Missouri tax authorities to require yoga centers to collect and pay a sales tax on yoga classes. Yoga instructors argue they should be exempt from the tax “because the lessons include spiritual elements.”

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Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Rock and theology

At the Rock and Theology blog, scholars explore “the relationship between ’secular’ rock and ’sacred’ theology, and related matters of faith and culture today.” As part of a larger project on this topic, Tom Beaudoin takes to the blog to reflect on interconnections between culture, music and theology.

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