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 Know—and 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.

In the Media

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  • ‘Billy Graham Was Singular’

    February 21, 2018

    WBUR Stephen Prothero Billy Graham has died at 99. Known as “America’s pastor,” Graham had an enormous influence on Christianity, Evangelicalism and America… Expert quote: “…he was open to the possibility that maybe Jesus would figure out a way to save a United Methodist and maybe Jesus would figure out a way to save a […]

  • Religion scholars’ risky role

    December 8, 2017

    Times Union Stephen Prothero The cameras are rolling! Cue the religion scholar to compress centuries of religious history into a sound bite, elucidate complex theology in eight-word sentences — and guard against stereotyping… Expert quote: “Popular entertainment media stress ‘the opposite of what is rewarded in academia, where you burrow into arcane and narrow subjects.'” […]

  • Cue the scholar: Experts help religion along path to big, small screens

    December 2, 2017

    Houston Chronicle Stephen Prothero Quick! The cameras are rolling! Cue the religion scholar to compress centuries of religious history into a sound bite, elucidate complex theology in eight-word sentences – and guard against any stereotyping… Expert quote: “It’s like reading a haiku and saying, ‘Gee, it would be great if it were just two lines […]

  • View from Glen Hill: Our future depends on inclusion and equality

    September 18, 2017

    Wilton Bulletin Stephen Prothero Our town vigil in response to Charlottesville was beautifully organized by the Wilton Clergy Association and held on the grounds of Our Lady of Fatima… Expert quote: “Much of American public life has been dominated by arguing on behalf of … the interests of self or social class or political party […]

  • Religious Liberty: Freedom of – and from – Religion

    June 20, 2017

    Washington Post LIVE featuring Stephen Prothero, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences View full video. 

  • Column: Teaching students to appreciate a world of religions and resist intolerance

    April 25, 2017

    PBS Newshour Stephen Prothero, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences “Events like the closing of schools in Virginia’s Augusta County over a world history lesson about Islam in 2015, or the common misconception that Sikhs are Muslims, illustrate the importance of teaching religion in public schools — and some of the controversies that come with […]

  • Mis)Understanding the Elites

    February 22, 2017

    WNYC Stephen Prothero, College of Arts and Sciecnes At a press conference on Thursday, President Trump was openly dismissive of elites in the media, in politics, and in intelligence circles… Listen to audio here

  • Huston Smith, Author of ‘The World’s Religions,’ Dies at 97

    January 3, 2017

    New York Times Stephen Prothero, College of Arts & Sciences Huston Smith, a renowned scholar of religion who pursued his own enlightenment in Methodist churches, Zen monasteries and even Timothy Leary’s living room, died on Friday at his home in Berkeley, Calif… Expert quote: “It is the most important book in comparative religious studies ever.” […]

  • Academia wrestles anew with how freely words can flow

    September 14, 2016

    Boston Globe Stephen Prothero, College of Arts & Sciences When the University of Chicago recently came out against the use of so-called “trigger warnings,” saying they represented a danger to campus free speech, it represented something of a rarity… Expert quote: “The [fear] is that ‘Oh, God, all of a sudden we have censorship at […]

  • How Trigger Warnings Silence Religious Students

    August 31, 2016

    The Atlantic Stephen Prothero, College of Arts & Sciences Last week, the University of Chicago’s dean of students sent a welcome letter to freshmen decrying trigger warnings and safe spaces—ways for students to be warned about and opt out of exposure to potentially challenging material… Expert quote: As the Boston University professor Stephen Prothero put […]

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