Religious Studies

Kathleen Flake

Richard Lyman Bushman Professor of Mormon Studies
Office Address:

Department of Religious Studies
Gibson Hall S452
PO Box 400126
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4126


I am an historian of religion in nineteenth and twentieth-century North America and specialize in the study of Mormonism. My research focuses on the strategies by which religious communities maintain a sense of fidelity to an originating vision, while changing over time. Having been an attorney, I am drawn also to questions related to the influence of law on religion and the tensions inherent in the First Amendment religion clauses. My present book project, under contract with North Carolina Press, brings all of these interests together in a study of early Mormonism’s plural marriages.



Doctor of Philosophy, University of Chicago (History of Christianity)
Master of Arts, Catholic University of America (Religious Studies)
Juris Doctor, University of Utah School of Law
Bachelor of Arts, Brigham Young University (English)


Research Interests

American Religious History – the adaptive strategies of 19th and 20th century American religious communities and the effect of pluralism on religious identity.

Religious Studies – the constructive function of text and ritual in maintaining and adapting the identity of religious communities and their gendered power structures.

American Legal History – the influence of American law on American religion and the theological tensions inherent in the First Amendment religious clauses.


Recent Courses

America’s Bibles
American Religious Innovation
American Religious Intolerance
Church & State in American History
Christian Marriage Practices & Theologies in Historical Context
Gender and Religion in America
Mormonism and American Culture


Current Professional Service

Editorial Board, Mormon Studies Review
Editorial Board, Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation
Finance Committee, American Society of Church History
National Program Advisory Board, Council for America’s First Freedom
Steering Committee, Mormon Studies Group, American Academy of Religion