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Scholar Advisors
The Faith and Liberty Discovery Center

ABOUT OUR SCHOLARS

The Faith and Liberty Discovery Center has assembled a distinguished scholarly team – top historians, religious experts and legal scholars from across the nation and around the world – who are helping shape and review the narrative experience of the Discovery Center’s exhibit galleries while ensuring full historical accuracy. These scholars also help plan ongoing development as well as participate in educational programs.

The scholars include a Pulitzer-prize winning author, an Ivy League university chaplain, a legal historian whose scholarship has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, a member of the federal commission that is planning the 2026 celebration that will mark the nation’s 250th birthday, the former chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom,  and many others whose commentary has appeared in the nation’s top media outlets.

Dr. Chris Beneke

Professor of History and Director of Academic Integrity

Bentley University

• Author of Beyond Toleration: The Religious Origins of American Pluralism (Oxford) and co-editor of The First Prejudice: Religious Tolerance and Religious Intolerance in Early America (Penn Press), as well as Profane: Sacrilegious Expression in a Multicultural Age (University of California Press).

• He has written essays on politics, religion, and sports for The AtlanticThe Washington PostChronicle of Higher EducationPhiladelphia InquirerHuffington Post, and Christian Century. 

• His current project, Free Exercise: Rediscovering the First Amendment’s Religious Clauses, is under contract with Cornell University Press.

Dr. Allan C. Carlson

President Emeritus of the Howard Center for Family

Religion and Society

• He was appointed to the National Commission on Children by President Ronald Reagan. Former assistant director of the Governmental Affairs Office for the Lutheran Council in the U.S.A., NEH Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and history team member at the Pew Foundation/Woodrow Wilson Center project on “the nature of the human person.”

• Author of 10 books including, Family Questions: Reflections on the American Social Crisis (Transaction Publishers) and The Swedish Experiment in Family Politics: The Myrdals and the Interwar Population Crisis (Transaction).

• His articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington PostUSA Today, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune, and he has been interviewed several times, including segments for the PBS News Hour, NPR, NBC News, MSNBC, and CNN.

Joshua Charles, Esq.

Author

Independent Researcher

• Author of the recent bestseller Liberty’s Secrets: The Lost Wisdom of America’s Founders, co-author of God, Israel, and You: The Scandalous Story of a Faithful God, and senior editor of the Global Impact Bible.

• A public policy fellow at William Jessup University.

• Tikvah Fellow, a full-time residential program for exceptional individuals interested in the political, religious, and intellectual future of the Jewish people.

Dr. Carli N. Conklin

Associate Professor at the University of Missouri’s School of Law and its Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy

 

• 2012 recipient of the Missouri Lawyers Weekly Women’s Justice Award (Legal Scholar category) and the 2016 recipient of the University of Missouri School of Law’s Shook, Hardy, & Bacon, LLC Excellence in Research Award.  

• Her book, The Pursuit of Happiness in the Founding Era: An Intellectual History, is slated for publication in spring 2019 through the Studies in Constitutional Democracy book series of the University of Missouri Press.  

• Member of the Supreme Court of Missouri’s Committee on Civic Education 

Dr. Jesse Covington

Associate Professor of Political Science at Westmont College in Santa Barbara,

California

• He has published several essays relating to topics such as John Locke, Saint Augustine, Natural Law, the First Amendment, and liberal arts education. He also co-edited Natural Law and Evangelical Political Thought (Lexington, 2012).

• His research interests focus on the interrelation of religion and government, particularly about First Amendment law, natural law, and the foundations of political liberalism.

• Covington’s current book projects include Taken on Faith: The Concept of Religion in First Amendment Jurisprudence and a collaborative project on Protestant political morality.

Dr. Daniel Dreisbach

Professor

American University

• His work has been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court after he published more than 75 book chapters, reviews and articles in scholarly journals, including American Journal of Legal HistoryConstitutional CommentaryEmory Law Journal, Politics and ReligionJournal of Church and State and William & Mary Quarterly

• Authored or edited eight books, including Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers (Oxford University Press), Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation between Church and State (NYU Press), Faith and the Founders of the American Republic (Oxford University Press).

• Received a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law and a D.Phil. from Oxford University, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. 

Dr. Mark David Hall

Professor of Politics and Faculty Fellow in the William Penn Honors Program at George Fox University

• Dr. Mark David Hall teaches at George Fox University, where he is the Herbert Hoover Distinguished Professor of Politics and Faculty Fellow in the William Penn Honors Program. He has written or co-edited 12 books, including Faith and the Founders of the American Republic (Oxford University Press, 2014). He has also written more than 100 pieces, such as journal articles, book chapters, reviews and an essay, Did America have a Christian Founding?, which has been downloaded more than 330,000 times.

• His next book – Did America Have a Christian Founding?: Separating Modern Myth from Historical Truth – will be published by Thomas Nelson next October.

Dr. Jonathan Den Hartog

Department Chair and Professor of History

Samford University

• He has published several essays in edited volumes regarding the political outlooks of the founding generation, as well as journal articles, book reviews, and opinion-editorials.

• Wrote Patriotism and Piety: Federalist Politics & Religious Struggle in the New American Nation (University of Virginia Press), which explores how Federalist leaders wrestled with the issue of religion’s place in the early American republic. 

• Teaches courses in early American history and American religious history. His research interests include the politics of the early and American republic and especially the intersection of religion and early republican ideals.

Dr. David Hein

Senior Fellow

George Marshall Foundation

• In 2011, he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (UK), in recognition of his “original” and “significant” contributions to historical scholarship.

• Published 10 books and 50 articles in professional journals, as well as op-eds in outlets such as The HillThe Denver Post, and The Washington Times

• Previously he taught at Hood College in the philosophy and religious studies department. Much of his research today focuses on World War II and Gen. George C. Marshall.

Rev. Dr. Charles L. Howard

University Chaplain

University of Pennsylvania

• Scholarly interests are in Africana Studies, an interdisciplinary field of study devoted to the critical and systematic examination of the cultural, political, social, economic, and historical experiences of African Americans, Africans, and peoples of African descent around the world. 

• Author of several journal articles and book chapters, and his writings have been featured in such publications as Black Arts QuarterlyBlack Theology: An International JournalDaily GoodUrban CuspSojourners Magazine, and The Huffington Post, where he is a regular contributor.

• Previously taught in the College of Arts and Sciences and in the Graduate School of Education at Penn, as well as at The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia.

Dr. Daniel Walker Howe

Rhodes Professor of American History Emeritus

Oxford University and Professor of History Emeritus, University of California at Los Angeles

• Won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for History for his book What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America (Oxford University Press), part of the multi-volume The Oxford History of the United States. 

• He has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is the author of several books including: The Political Culture of the American Whigs (University of Chicago Press), Making the American Self: Jonathan Edwards to Abraham Lincoln (Oxford University Press), and his next book will be about the U.S.-Mexican War. 

• Specializing in the early national period of U.S. history, particularly its intellectual and religious dimensions, Howe previously taught at Yale University from 1966 to 1973 and was the Harold Vyvyan Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford and a fellow of The Queen's College, Oxford. In 1992, he became a permanent member of the Oxford history faculty and a fellow of St Catherine's College, Oxford until his retirement in 2002. Brasenose College, Oxford elected him an Honorary Member of its Senior Common Room.

Dr. Thomas Kidd

Inaugural holder of The James Vardaman Endowed Professorship of History at Baylor University and Associate Director of the school’s Institute for Studies of Religion

• A noted expert on the history of evangelicalism and Baptists in America, 18th-century North America, and American Founding Fathers Benjamin Franklin and Patrick Henry. 

• He has written seven books, including Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father (Yale University Press), Baptists in America: A History (with Barry Hankins, Oxford University Press), and George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father (Yale University Press) and American Christians and Islam (Princeton University Press). 

• He has written for several media outlets, including The Wall Street JournalThe Washington PostC-Span and blogs for The Gospel Coalition.

The Rev. Dr. Nancy Koester

Independent Researcher and Writer

• Author of Harriet Beecher Stowe: A Spiritual Life – winner of the Minnesota Book Award for General Nonfiction in 2015 – and wrote the Introduction to the History of Christianity in America for Fortress Press (2015).  

• Now working on a biography of Sojourner Truth that will be published by Eerdmans.  

• Previously taught at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Augsburg College in Minneapolis, and the University of Northwestern in St. Paul. A retired Evangelical Lutheran Church in America pastor, Koester is also a spiritual director. 

Dr. Elise Leal

Assistant Professor of Early American History

Whitworth University

• Scholarly interests include understanding relationship between evangelicalism, social reform, and childhood in the early 19th-century United States. 

• Focuses on the American Sunday school movement, analyzing how the development of this institution shaped religious attitudes and approaches to childhood. 

• Interested in how the growth of evangelical social reform reshaped gender norms within American Protestantism during this period.

Dr. Michael Lee

Grace F. Kea Associate Professor of American History, Chair of the History Department

Eastern University

• Focuses on the development of religion and theology in Europe and America during the early modern era. 

• He has written The Erosion of Biblical Certainty: Battles over Authority and Interpretation in America (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), and he is now working on a book on the history of theodicy (or the history of the problem of evil). 

• His articles have been published in The New England Quarterly and The History of Education Quarterly.

Dr. Joseph Loconte

Associate Professor of History

The King’s College

• His commentary on religion and public life appears in the nation’s leading media outlets, including The New York TimesThe Wall Street JournalThe Washington PostThe National InterestThe Weekly Standard, and National Review. He is also a regular contributor to the London-based Standpoint and the Huffington Post. For 10 years, he served as a commentator for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.

• Wrote the New York Times bestseller A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918 (Harper Collins, 2015), and he won the 2017 Best Article award from the Tolkien Society for his article “How J.R.R. Tolkien Found Mordor on the Western Front.”

• He has written several other books, including God, Locke, and Liberty: The Struggle for Religious Freedom in the West (Rowman & Littlefield), The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt (Thomas Nelson), and The End of Illusions: Religious Leaders Confront Hitler’s Gathering Storm (Rowman & Littlefield)

Dr. Wilfred McClay

G.T. and Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty

University of Oklahoma

• Recently appointed to the U.S. Semiquincentennial Commission for facilitating nationwide plans to observe the 250th anniversary of the United States in 2026. A total of only 16 private citizens hold that honor. He previously served for eleven years on the National Council on the Humanities, the advisory board for the National Endowment for the Humanities – one of 26 distinguished private citizens appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

• His book, The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America (University of North Carolina), won the 1995 Merle Curti Award of the Organization of American Historians for the best book in American intellectual history. Among his other books are Religion Returns to the Public Square: Faith and Policy in America (Woodrow Wilson Center), and Figures in the Carpet: Finding the Human Person in the American Past (Eerdmans).

• Previously served as the SunTrust Bank Chair of Excellence in Humanities and a history professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. In addition, he served as a Senior Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., and Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington.

Dr. Nicholas Miller

Professor of Church History and Director, International Religious Liberty Institute

Andrews University

• Both a lawyer and a historian, Miller has argued many church/state cases in state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Mitchell v. Helms, 530 U.S. 793 (2000).

• He wrote The Religious Roots of the First Amendment (Oxford University Press), more than 30 scholarly and professional journal articles and book chapters dealing with issues of church, state, and society.

• He has a Ph.D. in American Religious and Legal History from the University of Notre Dame, where he received the award for the best dissertation of the year for 2010 from the history department, and he received his J.D. from Columbia University Law School, where he was a Stone Scholar and an editor of the Columbia Law Review. 

Dr. Glenn A. Moots

Professor and Chairman, Philosophy and Political Science Director, Forum for Citizenship and Enterprise

Northwood University

• An expert on the influence of the Bible in 17th and 18th century Anglo-American politics and war, Dr. Moots is co-editor of Justifying Revolution: Law, Virtue, and Violence in the American War for Independence (University of Oklahoma Press).

• He wrote Politics Reformed: The Anglo-American Legacy of Covenant Theology (University of Missouri Press), and he is working on Sanctifying Liberty: Early America’s Protestant Constitutionalism (Oxford University Press). 

• Previously Moots served as a William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and Public Life in the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions in the Department of Politics at Princeton University, and he has also held fellowships from the Earhart Foundation and the Huntington Library.

Dr. Jeffry A. Morrison

Professor of American Studies at Christopher Newport University, and Director of Academics at the James Madison Foundation

• Author or editor of five books on American political culture, including The Political Philosophy of George Washington (Johns Hopkins University Press), John Witherspoon and the Founding of the American Republic (University of Notre Dame Press), and The Forgotten Founders on Religion and Public Life, (University of Notre Dame Press).

• He has written numerous chapters, articles, and reviews in scholarly publications in the fields of history, political science, and religion.

• He has lectured at colleges and historic sites throughout the United States and in England (Hertford College, Oxford), and made several media appearances, including outlets such as C-SPAN and the BBC.

Dr. Andrew Murphy

Professor of Political Science

Virginia Commonwealth University

• He has written extensively on the theory and practice of religious liberty in England and America, from his first book, Conscience and Community: Revisiting Toleration and Religious Dissent in Early Modern England and America (2001), to his most recent: a biography of William Penn entitled William Penn: A Life (2018).

• His research has also explored the interconnections between religion and American politics and political thought. In particular, he examines this idea in this book Prodigal Nation: Moral Decline and Divine Punishment from New England to 9/11 (2008).

• Murphy also co-authored Political Religion and Religious Politics: Navigating Identities in the United States (2015).

The Rev. Dr. John R. Norwood

Pastor, Missiologist, Tribal Leader

• Rev. Dr. Norwood has served as the senior pastor of the Ujima Village Christian Church of Ewing, New Jersey since 1992. Dr. Norwood has also served the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape Tribal Nation as an elected Tribal Councilman, the first Principal Justice of the Tribal Supreme Court, minister to the tribal Christian Prayer Circle Fellowship Ministry, and the founder of “1st Light Mission” Christian tribal outreach. His is the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape delegate to the National Congress of American Indians and General Secretary of the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes.

• He is a post-doctoral researcher with the Department of Ecclesiology at North-West University, Potchefstroom, SA. He has lectured at various academic institutions on Theology, American Indian history, culture and current concerns, and testified before the United States Congress.

• His publications and research papers include: We are Still Here – The Tribal Saga of New Jersey’s Nanticoke and Lenape Indians (Native New Jersey Publications, 2007); The Historical Impact and Current Challenges of Christian Ministry Among the Aboriginal People of the Delaware Bay Region (North-West University, 2015); Contextualized Worship Among the Nanticoke-Lenape American Indians (“In die Skriflig,” 2017).

• Dr. Norwood has been featured in several documentaries including: The Seven Ages of Britain (2010); Philadelphia: The Great Experiment (2014); Promised Land (2016); and, The King’s Highway (2016).

Dr. Carl J. Richard

Professor of History

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

• His scholarship focuses on the influence of the Bible as an ancient sourcebook for the American founders’ understanding of moral, ethical, and political science. His current research interests involve the beliefs and use of the Bible by U.S. presidents, especially in their political rhetoric. 

• He has written eight books including The Founders and the Bible (Rowman & Littlefield); The Golden Age of the Classics in America: Greece, Rome, and the Antebellum United States (Harvard) and The Battle for the American Mind: A Brief History of a Nation's Thought (Rowman & Littlefield).

• He has contributed a host of essays to edited volumes, including two books published by Oxford University Press.

Dr. Eran Shalev

Professor and Chair of the Department of General History

University of Haifa, Israel

• His scholarly interests are in exploring the ways in which history influences and interacts with the political imagination. His work is focused on the American revolutionary era, the Early Republic, and the antebellum United States (circa 1760-1860. 

• He has written three books including American Zion: The Old Testament as a Political Text from the Revolution to the Civil War (Yale University Press). The book uncovers the roles that the Old Testament played in Americans’ political imagination, discourse and self-understanding, including the idea of national chosenness. 

• Shalev observes that the Hebrew Bible, and particularly the role of biblical Israel, were central in the formation of an American national and political culture from the Revolution to the Civil War. 

Dr. Sarah Morgan Smith

Ashbrook Center Fellow and Co-Director of the center's Religion in American History and Politics project

• Her scholarly interests focus on the intersection of religion and politics in American history, with an emphasis on questions of civic formation in sustaining political commitments. 

• Previously, she was the 2016-17 James Madison Program Thomas W. Smith Postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton University, and she served as an education coordinator for the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, where she supervised the institute's Teaching American History grant partnerships.

• Drawing on her years in the field of public history and civic education, she is deeply interested in the use of material culture and visual culture as sources for understanding the development of American political thought. 

Walter Stahr, Esq.

Author, Attorney

• Following a 25-year career as a lawyer, including seven years in Hong Kong, Stahr has turned his attention to writing biographies of American leaders.

• He is the author of three books including John Jay: Founding Father (2005) and New York Times Bestseller Seward: Lincoln’s Indispensable Man.

• Stahr is currently working on a biography of Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase

Dr. Karen Taliaferro

Assistant Professor of Political Theory, School of Civic and Economic Thought

Arizona State University

• Her specialties include medieval political thought, comparative religions, natural law and religious freedom. 

• Currently working on a book titled The Possibility of Religious Freedom: Early Natural Law and the Abrahamic Faiths, which is under contract with Cambridge University Press for its Law and Christianity series.

• Previously, she was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Morocco, where she studied Arabic as a National Security Educational Program Fellow. She has held fellowships at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service in Qatar and Princeton University, and she has previously taught at Villanova University.

• Her recent book, The Possibility of Religious Freedom: Early Natural Law and the Abrahamic Faiths (Cambridge University Press, 2019) holds out hope for religious freedom and mediated conflicts among followers of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

Dr. Abraham Lee

Assistant Professor of Global Entrepreneurship and Information Communications Technology

Handong Global University

• Dr. Abraham Lee is assistant professor of global entrepreneurship and information communications technology at Handong Global University in South Korea. Based in San Francisco, he is also director of the San Francisco Entrepreneurship Exploration and Discovery Program.

• Lee’s research interests include organizational innovation, knowledge management, network theory, and dynamic capabilities. His expertise includes the application of Christocentric principles in economic and organizational development, particularly as it applies to business entrepreneurship and innovation.

• A Korean American of immigrant parents, Lee is interested in exploring the relationship of biblical faith to world cultures, freedom and democracy, and free market economies, with a special focus on the Korean democratic experience.

• He is a graduate of University of California, Berkeley, holds a Masters in Pacific International Affairs from the University of California, San Diego and a Doctorate in Business Administration from IE Business School.

Dr. Steele Brand

Assistant Professor of History

The King’s College

• Author of Killing for the Republic: Citizen-Soldiers and the Roman Way of War (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019), which explores how constitutional polities cultivated a unique set of virtues and a deadly form of civic militarism.

• He has written for several media outlets, including USA Today, LitHub, The Washington Post, and The Hill and in journals such as Religions and Humanitas.

• Dr. Brand received his Ph.D. in church-state studies with a specialization in ancient history from Baylor University. He teaches courses on the ancient Mediterranean world and medieval Europe at The King’s College in New York. His research focuses on the relationship between farming, citizenship, and soldiering.

Dr. Daniel Mark

Assistant Professor of Political Science at

Villanova University

• At Villanova, Dr. Mark teaches political theory, philosophy of law, and politics and religion. He is a faculty associate of the Matthew J. Ryan Center for the Study of Free Institutions and the Public Good.

• He served for four years on the nine-member, bipartisan US Commission on International Religious Freedom, most recently as chairman.

• In addition to his academic writing, Dr. Mark has published on topics related to international religious freedom in US News & World Report, Investor’s Business Daily, Foreign Affairs, The Hill, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and he has appeared on the likes of CNN, Al Jazeera America, Relevant Radio, and CBS radio in Philadelphia.

• He holds a BA, MA, and PhD from the Department of Politics at Princeton University.