Associate Professor of American Religious Studies


Ph.D., M.Phil., Columbia University
M.Div., Harvard University
BA., Boston University

Professor Todd’s research and teaching focus on how religious ideas, practices, and institutions in the United States develop within 20th-century urban contexts, and how forms of popular media shape the way we think about ourselves in relation to religion, spirituality, Christianity, and the American nation.



Recent Online Media Publications

“The Saint of 9/11?” Trans/Missions, September 8, 2011.

Backgrounding the Apocalypse,” Trans/Missions, May 20, 2011.

Sainthood and Celebrity.Trans/Missions, April 29, 2011.

Won’t You Not Be My Neighbor? Culture Wars and Public Media.Trans/Missions. March 14, 2011.

“Islamodrama.” Trans/Missions, August 24, 2010.

Losing Finding My Religion (at Comic-Con).” Trans/Missions, July 30, 2010.

Pity the Protestants?Trans/Missions, May 13, 2010.

“Using Media to Mirror Reality? The Nerve!” Trans/Missions, March 15, 2010.

Religion Is as the Religious Do.Trans/Missions, January 15, 2010.

“Religion Gone Rogue? On Sarah Palin’s Faith-Based Book.” Trans/Missions, November 20, 2009.

Promise Keepers 2.0: Women and Jews Invited.Religion Dispatches, August 5, 2009.

‘Godly or Bad?’: The Return of Ted Haggard.Religion Dispatches, January 28, 2009.

Recent Print Publications

“The Temple of Religion and the Politics of Religious Pluralism:  Judeo-Christian America at the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair,” in After Pluralism:  Reimagining Religious Engagement, Courtney Bender and Pamela Klassen, eds., 201–222 (New York:  Columbia University Press, 2010).

“Religion and the Freedom to Marry: Historical Reflections on Marriage Equality in America,” in Our Family Values: Same-Sex Marriage and Religion, Traci West, ed., (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2007), 35-51.

“New York, the New Babylon? Fundamentalism and the Modern City in Reverend Straton’s Jazz Age Crusade,” in Faith in the Market: Religion and the Rise of Urban Commercial Culture, John M. Giggie and Diane Winston, eds. (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2002).


God, Sex, and the Making of American Families
This course examines how religious ideas and practices – particularly forms of Christianity – have influenced both private and public understandings of sex and family life in the United States. Themes include the shifting meanings of marriage; religion and the regulation of sexual practices within and outside of marriage, including slavery and polygamy; and the involvement of religious ideas, practices, and people in the emergence of modern sexual identities.

Is God on Our Side? Religion and U.S. Politics
A study of the influences of religion, particularly Christian traditions, on political developments in the U.S. Themes include the First Amendment and its litigation, Protestant projections of American manifest destiny and the Christian nation, religious interventions in contested matters such as slavery, war, and “family values,” and the development of models of religious pluralism to understand who “we” are as Americans.

American Jesus
In the spiritual landscapes of America, Jesus is a shape-shifter.  He’s a successful salesman, an enlightened philosopher and ethical teacher, a visitor to this continent in ancient times, a hipster, and a radical of African ancestry.  This course investigates texts and images about Jesus produced by Americans in very different historical contexts, giving particular attention to how the figure of Jesus is deployed in American cultural conflicts.


Office: Seminary Hall 114
Phone: 973-408-3847
Fax: 973-408-3534