Matthew Bowman is the author of The Mormon People: the making of an American faith (Random House, 2012), a general history of the Mormon movement that explores its uneasy relationship with American culture. It traces Mormonism’s initial rejection of American cultural and economic norms, the religion’s gradual assimilation into them in the twentieth century, and its precarious position today, when it is gaining strength in the global South but again finding itself culturally out of step with the American mainstream. He is also the author of The Urban Pulpit: New York City and the Fate of Liberal Evangelicalism (Oxford, 2014), which argues that the rise of cultural diversity in urban America after the Civil War led many Protestants to embrace an ecumenical and socially activist form of evangelical Christianity. Both books reflect his interest in the intersections between religion and American culture: how religion helps define what it means to be an American citizen, and more, how religion helps Americans understand (sometimes unhappily) the problem of cultural diversity in America.
The Urban Pulpit has received attention from the press, from academia, and from evangelical leaders. See a review here and another here; evangelical leader Tim Keller’s thoughts here, and interviews with John Turner and with Albert Mohler.
Matthew Bowman has begun a new book project, entitled Christian: the Politics of a Word in America, which explores the different ways Americans have defined the word “Christian,” and used those meanings to legitimate, explain, and advocate for different social and political agendas. It offers a new take on the process of religious disestablishment in America, emphasizing the diversity of political and social interpretations within American Christianity – an issue as pressing today as it has ever been.