NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor and Associate Professor of Religion, Modern Christianity; American Religion

Anthony Petro is an associate professor in the Department of Religion and in the Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program and the NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor at Boston University. My teaching and research interests include religion and culture in the United States; religion, medicine, and public health; and gender and sexuality studies. My first book, After the Wrath of God: AIDS, Sexuality, and American Religion (Oxford University Press, 2015), examines the history of American religious responses to the HIV/AIDS crisis and their role in the promotion of ongoing forms of moral citizenship. I have published essays on a number of topics, including histories of Catholic sexual abuse, critical disability studies and religion, the religious politics of camp, and approaches to studying race, gender, and sexuality in North American religion.

I am currently writing a book called Provoking Religion: Sex, Artand the Sacred in the Modern United States (under contract with Oxford University Press), which traces heated debates over sex, art, race, and religion to reveal competing genealogies of the sacred and the secular in the modern U.S., especially during the heyday of the culture wars. It explores how a range of feminist and queer artists have engaged religious themes and ritual in their work, spanning from Judy Chicago’s 1979 The Dinner Party, to Ray Navarro’s role in ACT UP’s Stop the Church demonstration, to Renee Cox’s Yo Mama’s Last Supper, to the controversy surrounding David Wojnarowicz’s A Fire in the Belly as part of 2010’s “Hide/Seek” exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. Provoking Religion asks how this archive of visual and performance art helps us to rethink key categories in the study of religion and in gender and sexuality studies. I spent the 2019-2020 academic year working on this project while in residence at the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. 

I currently serve as the Director of Graduate Studies for the Graduate Program in Religion and run BU’s new Health Humanities Project.   



afterthewrathofgodAfter the Wrath of God: AIDS, Sexuality, and American Religion
By: Anthony M. Petro
July 1, 2015
Oxford University Press
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After the Wrath of God: An Interview with Anthony Petro


  • RN100 Introduction to Religion
  • RN111 Multireligious America
  • RN209 Religion, Health and Medicine
  • RN212 Christianity
  • CC222 “Unmaking” the Modern World
  • RN368 American Evangelicalism
  • RN427/WS305 Topics in American Religion (Religion and Sexuality)
  • RN450 Topics in Rel, Science, & Med (Religion, Health, & the Body)
  • RN450 Topics in Rel, Science, & Med (AIDS, Art, & Religion in America)
  • RN452 Topics in Religious Thought (Religion, Secularism, & Power)
  • RN453/WS305 Topics in Religious & Sexuality (Sex, Art, & the Sacred)
  • RN454/WS454 Sexuality and Religion in the U.S.