My research focuses on American religions and secularism, specializing in how new religious movements, Asian American religions, and the religiously unaffiliated shape modern American culture. I employ humanistic and social scientific methods to investigate how religion is constructed through discourse, practices, and institutions. I have published work on the Universal Life Church and contemporary American weddings, organic foods in new religious movements, biodiversity and spiritual wellbeing, and religion in the American West.
Current projects include the Meaning of Religion Project, part of an intergenerational study of religion, spirituality, and values funded by the John Templeton Foundation; the Secular Communities Survey, the largest-ever study of organized nonbelievers in the U.S.; a co-edited volume (with Melissa Borja) on Asian American Religions, Religious Freedom, and the State; and a monograph on the Universal Life Church. I am also developing articles about the Orientalist origins of the brainwashing concept and its application against Asian American new religions, the Esalen Institute’s spiritualization of geopolitics, and the federal taxation of religious groups.
I have conducted podcast interviews and written articles for the Religious Studies Project, published book reviews and encyclopedia entries, and contributed articles for academic blogs. These can be found here.
I am co-chair of the AAR’s Sociology of Religion Unit and I serve on the steering committee of AAR’s Asian North American Religion, Culture, & Society Unit.
Previously, I was a visiting assistant teaching professor at the University of Southern Mississippi and a lecturer at the University of California, Santa Barbara.
- “Organic Farming as Spiritual Practice and Practical Spirituality at Sunburst Farms.” Nova Religio 23.1 (August 2019): 60-88.
- “Biodiversity and Spiritual Well-being” (with Katherine N. Irvine, Rebecca Bell-Williams, and Sara L. Warber). In Biodiversity and Health in the Face of Climate Change, edited by Melissa R. Marselle, Jutta Stadler, Horst Korn, Katherine N. Irvine, and Aletta Bonn, 213-247. New York: Springer, 2019.
- “Your Wedding, Your Way: Personalized, Nonreligious Weddings through the Universal Life Church.” In Organized Secularism in the United States: New Directions in Research, edited by Ryan T. Cragun, Lori L. Fazzino, and Christel Manning, 253-278. New York: De Gruyter, 2017.
- “Need a Minister? How about Your Brother?’: The Universal Life Church between Religion and Nonreligion.” Secularism and Nonreligion 4.12 (October 2015): 1-13.