Stephen Prothero

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Stephen Prothero
Born (1960-11-13) November 13, 1960 (age 62)
Cooperstown, New York
OccupationReligious studies scholar
Alma mater
Website Edit this at Wikidata

Stephen Richard Prothero (/ˈprðər/; born November 13, 1960) is an American scholar of religion. He is the C. Allyn and Elizabeth V. Russell Professor of Religion in America at Boston University[1] and the author or editor of eleven books on religion in the United States, including the New York Times bestseller Religious Literacy.

He has commented on religion on dozens[citation needed] of National Public Radio programs and on television on CNN, NBC, CBS, Fox, PBS, MSNBC, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and The Colbert Report.[2] He was the chief editorial consultant for the six-hour WGBH television series God in America[3] and he has served as a consultant on American religious history at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.[4] A regular contributor to USA Today, he has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, Slate, Salon, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and The Wall Street Journal.

Prothero has argued for mandatory public-school biblical literacy courses (along the lines of the Bible Literacy Project's The Bible and Its Influence), along with mandatory courses on world religions.[5] He delivered the William Belden Noble Lectures at Harvard University on November 18–20 on the topic: “The Work of Doing Nothing: Wandering as Practice and Play."[6] On the matter of his own personal beliefs, Prothero describes himself as "religiously confused".[7][8]


  • God the Bestseller: How One Editor Transformed American Religion a Book at a Time (2023, ISBN 978-0-06-246404-0)
  • Religion Matters: An Introduction to the World's Religions (2020, ISBN 978-0-39-342204-7)
  • Why Liberals Win The Culture Wars (Even When They Lose Elections) (2016, ISBN 978-0-06-157129-9)
  • The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation (2012, ISBN 978-0-06-212343-5)
  • God Is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions That Run the World—and Why Their Differences Matter (2010, ISBN 978-0-06-157127-5)
  • Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know—and Doesn't (2007, ISBN 0-06-084670-4)
  • A Nation of Religions: The Politics of Pluralism in Multireligious America (2006, ISBN 0-8078-5770-X)
  • American Jesus: How the Son of God Became a National Icon (2003, ISBN 0-374-52956-6)
  • Purified by Fire: A History of Cremation in America (2001, ISBN 0-520-23688-2)
  • Asian Religions in America: A Documentary History, co-edited with Thomas A. Tweed (1998, ISBN 978-0-19-511339-6)
  • The White Buddhist: The Asian Odyssey of Henry Steel Olcott (1996, ISBN 0-520-23688-2)


  1. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 September 2006. Retrieved 12 January 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "The Colbert Report Prothero". The Colbert Report. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  3. ^ "The Emily Rooney Show". WGBH. Retrieved 19 April 2015.
  4. ^ "Symposium: Religion in Early America". 4 February 2015.
  5. ^ Online Video Guide, 20120
  6. ^ "Stephen R. Prothero to deliver Noble Lectures". 6 November 2008.
  7. ^ "After Words with Stephen Prothero". C-SPAN. 3 May 2010. Retrieved 19 April 2015. I think, I am definitely taoist on the weekends. I would say I am religiously confused, and I have friends who want to get me out of being religiously confused. They say you were seeking, you are searching. And I say, I like being religiously confused because as I have said, I think these religions are repositories of great questions and for me what intrigues is the questions and not so much the answers and I love living in the presence of these questions.
  8. ^ Prothero, Stephen (2010). God is Not One. New York: HarperOne. p. 23. ISBN 978-0-06-157127-5.

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