Professor Schmalz, New Religions, Pluralism, and the Nation-State: The Cases of Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Church of Scientology

Date: November 21, 2019

Time: 6:00-8:00 p.m., with light refreshments

Location: Murrow Room, Goddard 210

The Fletcher School
160 Packard Ave.
Medford, MA 02155

The Fletcher Initiative on Religion, Law, and Diplomacy is pleased to welcome event speaker Matthew Schmalz.

Please join us for a discussion of New Religions, which raise crucial issues for the nation-state.  In the case of Jehovah’s Witnesses the issue has been their political neutrality. Scientology raises the question of what constitutes a “religion.”  Both cases raise underlying questions as to whether new religious groups should be treated differently than other nascent social movements, and to what extent new religions deserve special attention by nation states.

Mathew Schmalz is professor of Religious Studies at the College of the Holy Cross.  He has written widely on New Religious Movements and has given expert commentary in documentaries for Vice and A &E and given expert commentary for MSNBC, NPR, and HardBall with Chris Matthews.   He is also a regular writer for The Conversation  and has published numerous opinion pieces on religion and politics in Newsweek, Salon, and the Washington Post, among others.

He has received Century, Watson, USED Fulbright, and AIIS Fellowships, and resided in India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka for a total of four years as a student and researcher. His publications engage global Catholicism (particularly in South Asia), Catholic theology and spirituality, Mormonism, and Jehovah’s Witnesses. He is co-editor of Engaging South Asian Religions: Boundaries, Appropriations, and Resistances and author of Mercy Matters: Opening Yourself to the Life Changing Gift.