Stephen Prothero

Professor, Religion

Expertise:
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Education:

BA, Yale College
MA, PhD from Harvard University

Stephen Prothero is a Professor of Religion at Boston University specializing in American religions. He received his BA from Yale College in American Studies and his MA and PhD from Harvard University in the Study of Religion. A historian of American religions, Professor Prothero has written six books, including The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of… Read more

Stephen Prothero is a Professor of Religion at Boston University specializing in American religions. He received his BA from Yale College in American Studies and his MA and PhD from Harvard University in the Study of Religion.

A historian of American religions, Professor Prothero has written six books, including The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott (Indiana University Press, 1996), which won the Best First Book award of the American Academy of Religion in 1997, and American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003), which was named one of the top religion books for 2003 by Publishers Weekly. His two most recent projects are The New York Times best-seller Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Knowand Doesn’t (HarperOne, 2007) and God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World—and Why Their Differences Matter (HarperOne, 2010).

In addition to his scholarly work, which includes peer-reviewed articles in the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, Prothero has written for a variety of popular magazines and newspapers, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Newsweek, Slate, Salon, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Boston Globe. He has commented on religion on NPR and on such television programs as The Colbert ReportThe Daily Show with Jon Stewart, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The O’Reilly Factor, and The Today Show. He is also a regular contributor to CNN’s Belief Blog.

In the Media

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  • When Every Day Is a Religious Holiday

    March 9, 2015

    Wall Street Journal (subscription required) By Stephen Prothero, College of Arts & Sciences A few years ago, I received in the mail an interfaith calendar along with a letter from Boston-area chaplains urging professors to be sensitive to students who might miss class to observe a holy day… View full article by expert Stephen Prothero

  • Folly of good vs. bad religions: Column

    February 9, 2015

    USA Today By Stephen Prothero, College of Arts & Sciences President Obama spoke at Thursday’s National Prayer Breakfast in the nation’s capital, and another culture war broke out… View full article by expert Stephen Prothero

  • Do Liberals Always Win? An Interview with Stephen Prothero

    December 10, 2014

    Religion & Politics Stephen Prothero, College of Arts & Sciences On October 23, Stephen Prothero spoke at Washington University in St. Louis as part of the Danforth Distinguished Lectures, sponsored by the John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics… View full article on expert Stephen Prothero

  • How ‘The Colbert Report’ Has Given a ‘Bump’ to Academic Guests

    December 10, 2014

    Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) Stephen Prothero, College of Arts & Sciences While in character as a pompous and self-aggrandizing TV host, Stephen Colbert has invited a steady stream of academics to his show, The Colbert Report, to scold and ridicule them… Expert quote: “What he really cares about, I think, is learning, and education.” View […]

  • Islam isn’t about good vs. bad: Column

    October 13, 2014

    USA Today By Stephen Prothero, College of Arts & Sciences It looks like we are having another Muslim moment… View full article by expert Stephen Prothero

  • Religious knowledge vital in ‘furiously religious’ world, experts say

    September 6, 2014

    Deseret News Stephen Prothero, College of Arts & Sciences The noise level in the ballroom rose sharply as a group of about 30 students began discussing one of the hot-button issues of our time — religion… Expert quote: “There’s a lot of secular people or post-religious people in the United States, but the world is […]

  • Hobby Lobby Bible course objective? Column

    May 11, 2014

    USA Today By Stephen Prothero, College of Arts & Sciences On April 14, the school board in Mustang, Okla., voted to institute an elective Bible course. This is not news. More than a thousand U.S. public schools offer Bible as literature courses. But the curriculum for the Mustang course was developed by Steve Green, president of the Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby craft […]

  • Opinion: On Easter, Jesus’ Evolution Tells of Changing America

    April 20, 2014

    National Geographic By Stephen Prothero, College of Arts & Sciences Every year, in the Christian calendar, Jesus is born (on Christmas), dies (on Good Friday), and rises from the dead (on Easter). But the popular persona of Jesus has also been born and born again over the course of American history… View full article by […]

  • Liberty versus liberty: religious freedom bills trouble gay rights supporters

    February 25, 2014

    Deseret News Stephen Prothero, College of Arts & Sciences As Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer weighs a decision whether to sign a bill strengthening the state’s religious liberty protections for individuals and businesses, her state is one of several wrestling with a balance between religious liberty and anti-discrimination laws… Expert quote: “If the state or federal […]

  • Hindu fundamentalists vs. Hinduism: Column

    February 23, 2014

    USA Today By Stephen Prothero, College of Arts & Sciences After the egging, the pulping. In London in 2003, a protester threw an egg at University of Chicago Sanskrit scholar Wendy Doniger, who was lecturing on the popular Hindu epic the Ramayana… View full article by expert Stephen Prothero

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