Michael J. McVicar

Assistant Professor of Religion
Dr. Michael J. McVicar

Contact Information

Department
American Religious History
Office Location
107A Dodd Hall
Resume / CV
Office Hours

Mondays 12:30-1:30 and by appointment.

Background

Michael J. McVicar (Ph.D., Ohio State) researches the relationship between religion and politics in twentieth-century U.S. history, with a specific focus on the emergence of the American conservative movement in the post-World War II era. He also focuses on the relationship between religion, the state, and corporations in twentieth century American culture. He teaches courses on contemporary evangelicalism, new religious movements, theory and method in religious studies, and gender and sexuality in religion.

His first book, Christian Reconstruction, offered the first academic study of the theology of Rousas John Rushdoony and the development of Christian antistatism and the homeschooling movement.

McVicar’s second book project, God’s Watchers, will focus on the interaction between religion, domestic surveillance by non-governmental organizations, and the development of political and social conservatism in twentieth century American culture. Based on extensive archival research and numerous Freedom of Information Act requests, the project explores how religious pressure groups in the United States assembled massive archives of information about a range of perceived “threats” to the American political and social system. Research for God’s Watchers has been supported by a number of competitive research grants, including sources from Florida State, Columbia University, New York University, and the National Endowment of the Humanities.

Publications

Books:

Christian Reconstruction: R. J. Rushdoony and American Religious Conservatism.Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2015.

Research in progress:

God’s Watchers: Domestic Intelligence Gathering and Religious Activism from the Civil War to the War on Terror. Under contract with the University of North Carolina Press.

Articles and Chapters:

Christian Reconstruction and the Austrian School of Economics.” In Hayek a Collaborative Biography, Part IX: The Divine Right of the “Free” Market, edited by Robert Leeson. Archival Insights into the Evolution of Economics. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming, 2017.

Apostles of Deceit: Ecumenism, Fundamentalism, and the Contested Loyalties of Protestant Clergy During the Cold War.” In Religion and the FBI: Faith and National Security before and after 9/11, edited by Sylvester A. Johnson and Steve Weitzman. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017.

The Religious Right in America.” In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion, edited by John Barton. New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.

“Take away the Serpents from Us: The Sign of Serpent Handling in the Development of Southern Pentecostalism,” Journal of Southern Religion, 15 (2013).

‘Let Them have Dominion:’ ‘Dominion Theology’ and the Construction of Religious Extremism in the U.S. Media,” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, 25 (Spring 2013): 120-145.

“Aggressive Philanthropy: Progressivism, Conservatism, and the William Volker Charities Fund,The Missouri Historical Review 105 (July 2011), 191-212. Awarded the Missouri Conference on History Lawrence O. Christensen Article Award, 2012.

Research Interests
  • Method and Theory in Religious Studies
  • Religion and Politics in the United States
  • American Conservatism
  • Religion and Surveillance

REcent Courses

Spring 2018
REL3128-1: Topics: Violence & New Religious Movements

This class investigates the role of new religious movement (NRMs) in American culture and history. The course will introduce students to the critical assessment of the category of new religious movement and consider its relationship to other conceptual categories such as cult, emergent religion, or alternative religious movement. The course will explore scholarly studies that examine specific traditions within the NRM paradigm. Traditions covered in this section of the course will include pagan revivals, revolutionary millenarian movements, UFO “cults,” and racialist movements. Meets Liberal Studies: History (LS-HIS).

REL4190/RLG 5195: Seminar in Fundamentalism & Conservatism

This course investigates the relationship between right-wing politics, culture, and religion during the twentieth century. 

Fall 2017
REL 3128-2: Violence and New Religious Movements

This class investigates the role of new religious movement (NRMs) in American culture and history. The course will introduce students to the critical assessment of the category of new religious movement and consider its relationship to other conceptual categories such as cult, emergent religion, or alternative religious movement. The course will explore scholarly studies that examine specific traditions within the NRM paradigm. Traditions covered in this section of the course will include pagan revivals, revolutionary millenarian movements, UFO “cults,” and racialist movements. Meets Liberal Studies: History (LS-HIS).

RLG5035: Introduction to the Study of Religion

This course is a graduate introduction to the history, present status, principal issues, and methodologies in the academic study of religion.