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Randall Balmer

Professor of Religion

Randall Balmer, Professor of Religion, was a member of the Barnard faculty from 1991 to 2012. He served as Chair of the Department of Religion from 1995 until 2006. Professor Balmer has been a visiting professor at Rutgers, Yale, Drew, Northwestern, and Princeton Universities. In addition to holding his current post at Barnard, he is an adjunct professor at Union Theological Seminary.

Professor Balmer teaches such courses as American Evangelicalism; Contemporary Civilization; Introduction to Western Religions; Native American Religions; Puritanism in England and America; Religion and American Culture; and Women and Religion in American History. He is affiliated with Barnard's American Studies Program.

Professor Balmer has published widely in both scholarly journals and the popular press. He is also the author of numerous encyclopedia articles on such topics as "Protestantism," "Evangelicalism," and "Televangelism."

His first book, A Perfect Babel of Confusion: Dutch Religion and English Culture in the Middle Colonies, won several awards. A spiritual memoir, Growing Pains: Learning to Love My Father's Faith, published in 2001, was named "Book of the Year" in the area of spirituality by Christianity Today. His most recent book, a history of religion and the presidency published in January 2008, is God in the White House: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush.

Professor Balmer's book Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America was adapted for television as a three-part documentary appearing on PBS. He received an Emmy nomination for his script-writing and hosting of this production. His work has also appeared in the television documentaries Crusade: The Life of Billy Graham (aired on PBS and on A&E's Biography series) and In the Beginning: The Creationist Controversy, broadcast over PBS. He has also served as an expert commentator for various newS outlets, including ABC News and CNN.

His research and scholarship have been supported by such organizations as the John F. Kennedy Library, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

He is an advisory editor for Christianity Today as well as a member of the editorial board for Biblicon: A Journal of the Bible in Culture. He is also a member of the advisory board for the television program Religion & Ethics Newsweekly (PBS).

Professor Balmer was ordained as an Episcopal Priest on December 7, 2006.

Selected Publications

God in the White House: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2008)

Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America: An Evangelical's Lament (New York: Basic Books, 2006)

Growing Pains: Learning to Love My Father's Faith (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Brazos Press, 2001)

"Sojourners in a Pluralistic Land: The Promise and Peril of Christian Higher Education," Intersections, Spring 2007

"Ties that Bind: Growing Up Evangelical," in Clashing Worldviews: Evangelicalism, Fundamentalism, and the Community of Christ (Theology, vol. 13), ed. R. A. Wood and D. E. Luffman (Independence, Mo.: Graceland Press, 2005)

"The Generation of Faith," in The Best Christian Writing 2000, ed. J. Wilson (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2000)

Academic Focus: 

Religion in American life
Christianity
Evangelism
Religionization

Contact: 
Department: 
Education: 

M. Div., Union Theological Seminary

M.A., Ph.D., Princeton University

M.A., Trinity Divinity

B.A., Trinity College

In the News

Religion professor quoted in USA Today article.

Religion professor quoted in The Huffington Post.

Religion professor quoted in Huffington Post article on religion as a hurdle for Donald Trump's rumored presidential bid.

Professor Randall Balmer’s new book, God in the White House: How Faith Shaped the Presidency from John F. Kennedy to George W. Bush, explores the role of religion in American presidential politics in the latter half of the twentieth century. A professor of American religious history at Barnard College, Professor Balmer also is an ordained Episcopal minister, volunteering at a local parish.