Marie Griffith, director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics, will give the annual Margaret Lindquist Sorensen lecture entitled, "On Not Living the Lie: American Christianity and the Shifting Politics of Sexuality".
Protestant and Catholic Christians from across the political spectrum have played a powerful role in the perpetual debates over sexuality in U.S. history. From birth control to film and literary censorship, sex education to female chastity and same-sex marriage, Christian leaders have shaped important arguments on all sides of the issues. Griffith will illumine some of the formative episodes that led to deepening divides within Christian communities themselves, including the birth control movement of the early 20th century, increasing awareness of the global diversity of sexual customs during the Cold War, and the gay rights movement. She will argue that Christian actors have been as vital to progressive politics as to conservative retrenchment and that these factions have existed in a mutually dependent competition for the "soul" of American religion and politics.
Griffith, the John C. Danforth Distinguished Professor in the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis, is the director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia and a PhD in the study of religion from Harvard University. Before moving to Washington University, she served as Professor of Religion at Princeton University and, later, as the Bartlett Professor at Harvard Divinity School.
Griffith has authored or edited five books, including God’s Daughters: Evangelical Women and the Power of Submission (1997); Born Again Bodies: Flesh and Spirit in American Christianity (2004); American Religions: A Documentary History (2007); Women and Religion in the African Diaspora: Knowledge, Power, and Performance, co-edited with Barbara Dianne Savage (2006); and Religion and Politics in the Contemporary United States, co-edited with Melani McAlister (2008). Her current project, under contract with W.W. Norton, is titled Christians, Sex and Politics: An American History.