The Social Science Research Council is proud to announce the twelve early-career scholars selected to receive 2022 Religion, Spirituality, and Democratic Renewal grants. The grants aim to bring knowledge of the place of religion and spirituality into scholarly and public conversations about renewing democracy in the United States.

Established in 2020, the Religion, Spirituality, and Democratic Renewal grants are offered through the SSRC Religion and the Public Sphere program in partnership with the Fetzer Institute. This year’s competition emphasized research that sheds light on the religion and spiritual dimensions of deep political polarization in the US today and examines the ways religious and spiritual ideas, actors, and institutions contribute (or do not contribute) to more inclusive and civil democratic politics. Selected projects address topics including the role of religion in white nationalism and US democracy; the intersection of religion, racial justice, and politics; gender, sexuality, and activism in the context of religion; futurities of religious freedom and secularism; and more.

2022 Religion, Spirituality, and Democratic Renewal Grantees

Rosemary Al-Kire
PhD Candidate, Baylor University
Investigating the Role of Christian Nationalism in the Erosion of Democracy in the U.S.

Lucy Ballard
PhD Candidate, Harvard University
“Dreams of D-Mecca: Racial Crossings and Islamic Renewal in the ‘Two Detroits’”

Alexandra Bayer
PhD Candidate, Boston University
“Catholic Culture Wars: Intracommunal Debates about Muslims and the Construction of Modern Catholic Identity”

Brett Bertucio
Independent Researcher
“Schooling and Separation: How Americans Learned about Church and State, 1940-2001”

Royal G. Cravens
Assistant Professor, California Polytechnic State University – San Luis Obispo
“Sacred Sexuality: Exploring Past and Present LGBT Religious Activism”

Seth Gaiters
Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina Wilmington
“Black Lives Matter Revives the Role of the Sacred in the Public Sphere”

Tessa Harmon
PhD Candidate, University of California – Riverside

Leah Lomotey-Nakon
PhD Candidate, Vanderbilt University
“Dueling with Death: Black Doulas and Epistemological Resistance to Black Maternal Mortality”

Ely Orrego Torres
PhD Candidate, Northwestern University
“Freeing Religion: Deconstructing/Decolonizing Religious Freedom and Secularism in the Americas”

Miray Philips
PhD Candidate, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities
“Transnational Politics of Christian Persecution: Contested Advocacy on Middle East Christians in US Foreign Policy”

Sharmin Sadequee
Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Alberta – Augustana
“For Land and Justice: Ethnonationalism and the Role of Muslim Cemetery in Building Resilient Community”

Christopher Seto
PhD Candidate, Pennsylvania State University
“Epidemic of Hate: Exploring Religious, Ideological, and Political Predictors of Anti-Asian Discrimination and Violence during the COVID-19 Pandemic”