Jana Riess

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Jana Riess
BornJana Kathryn Riess
(1969-12-13) December 13, 1969 (age 49)
United States
Alma materColumbia University
SpousePhil Smith[1]
ChildrenJerusha (born c. 1999)[2]

Jana Kathryn Riess (born December 13, 1969)[3][4] is an American writer and editor.

Riess' writings have focused on American religions, usually on organized movements such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and The Church of Christ, Scientist.


Riess was born in the US Midwest, one of two children.[5] Her father[6] abandoned the family (mother Phyllis[7] and Jana; by that time the brother was on his own) without warning in 1984.[8]

Riess has a Bachelor's degree from Wellesley College. She received a Master's degree in theology from the Princeton Theological Seminary and a PhD in American Religious studies from Columbia University. Riess is a Religion and American Studies professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She and husband Phil Smith reside in Cincinnati.[9] A convert to the LDS Church, Riess has spoken at Brigham Young University Women’s Conference and other gatherings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, as well as professional conferences. She lives in Kentucky with her husband and daughter.


Among the books by Riess are What Would Buffy Do? and an abridgment of the Book of Mormon with commentary. Riess is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having converted as an adult.[10] Riess is an expert on religion in literature. In 2001 she moderated a debate over whether the Harry Potter books were a tract for witchcraft.[11] She has been the religion book editor for Publishers Weekly.[9]

Tweeting the Bible[edit]

On October 4, 2009, Riess began a project to tweet the bible. Her "Twible" quest concluded in January 2013. Each tweet summarizes a chapter of the bible. Riess tweets the bible in order and plans to hit all 1,189 chapters in 140 characters.[12]


  • Riess, Jana (2002), The Spiritual Traveler: Boston and New England: A Guide to Sacred Sites and Peaceful Places, Mahwah, NJ: HiddenSpring, ISBN 978-1-58768-008-3
  • —— (2004), What Would Buffy Do?: The Vampire Slayer as Spiritual Guide, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, ISBN 978-0-7879-6922-6
  • ——; Bigelow, Christopher Kimball (2005), Mormonism for Dummies, Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 978-0-7645-7195-4
  • —— (2005), The Book of Mormon: Selections Annotated and Explained, Woodstock, VT: SkyLight Paths, ISBN 1-59473-076-8
  • Ogilbee, Mark; Riess, Jana (2006), American Pilgrimage: Eleven Sacred Journeys and Spiritual Destinations, Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, ISBN 978-1-55725-447-4
  • __ (2011), Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor, Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, ISBN 978-1-55725-660-7
  • Riess, Jana (1991), "The Saints Go Marching In: Mormonism in American Politics, 1970–1990", [Honors thesis], Wellesley, MA: Department of Religion, Wellesley College Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • —— (2000), "Heathen in Our Fair Land: Anti-Polygamy and Protestant Women's Missions to Utah, 1869–1910", [PhD Thesis], New York: Columbia University Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Bigelow, Christopher Kimball (2007), Jana Riess (ed.), The Timechart History of Mormonism from Premortality to the Present, Bassingbourne, Hertfordshire, UK: Worth Press, ISBN 978-1-903025-40-6


  1. ^ Flunking Sainthood, pp. 5, 153
  2. ^ Flunking Sainthood, pp. 19, 56
  3. ^ "The Book of Mormon: selections annotated and explained". Copyright Catalog (1978 to present). United States Copyright Office. Retrieved June 21, 2010.
  4. ^ Flunking Sainthood, p. 158
  5. ^ She has an older brother, John (ref. Flunking Sainthood, pp. 58, 168)
  6. ^ Her father died at age 71 in Mobile, Alabama, in October 2010 (Flunking Sainthood, pp. 166–169)
  7. ^ Annotated Book of Mormon, p. xix
  8. ^ Flunking Sainthood, pp. 166–169
  9. ^ a b Riess, Jana (September 2006). "How to Give a Sacrament Meeting Talk: An Open Letter to Converts" (PDF). Sunstone Magazine (142): 55–57. Retrieved June 21, 2010..
  10. ^ "My dad was an angry atheist . . My mom was considerably more charitable but no more interested in organized religion . ." (Flunking Sainthood, p. 1)
  11. ^ Deseret News, 9 December 2001
  12. ^ "Tweeting the Bible", Patheos

External links[edit]