Religion and American Politics

Writer | Researcher | Teacher | Advocate

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I'm Jacob Lupfer, a writer living near Baltimore. Most of my work is commentary and news analysis, though I also do some academic writing. I am a contributing editor at Religion News Service, a nonsectarian news agency. I also write for a number of other outlets. From May-November 2016, I am blogging about the role of faith in the 2016 presidential election at Patheos, a premier online destination for engaging in dialogue about religion.

When it comes to American Christianity and American politics, I've been all over the map. Raised in a traditional, right-leaning family and church in Florida, I attended a conservative Southern Baptist college in Oklahoma and then a liberal United Methodist seminary in Massachusetts. In between stints as a public school teacher, I worked in parish ministry for two years. I'm now a doctoral student in political science at a Jesuit university in Washington, D.C.

I went from being a young Republican to a Democratic activist. These days, I do not affiliate with either party. My zeal for political activism declined as I became a serious student of politics. I'm not without opinions, but they aren't as important to me as they once were.

As a youth, I experienced religion primarily as a matter of duty. I don't recall particularly liking or disliking church. I just went. Ironically enough, I became a theological liberal as a biblical studies major at Oklahoma Baptist University. In the years that followed, I grasped for some version of liberal Christianity that I could believe honestly and with integrity. For a season, I was more devoted to ideology than to faith, but in time I reconciled my Mainline tradition with both the moral traditionalism and economic liberalism that the common good requires.

I resonate with English composer John Rutter, who describes himself as a "friend and fellow traveler of the Christian faith." My ecumenical impulses are strong. I count it a privilege to be friends with clergy and leaders in faith-based activism of all political and theological stripes. My experience as a scholar of religion in American politics and my intimate associations with diverse aspects of American Christianity provide a constant stream of ideas, opinions, and tensions that I explore in my writing.

My bride, Cara, is an attorney. We have three children under age 5. I write mostly from our home in Arbutus, Maryland (Baltimore County) and from the campus of Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

No one is as good or as bad as they seem on the internet. I assure you the same is true of me.