Kathleen Flake Richard Lyman Bushman Professor in Mormon Studies

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Kathleen Flake
Richard Lyman Bushman Professor in Mormon Studies

Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia


2000 Ph.D., University of Chicago

Major Area: History of Christianity (American)

Minor Area: Theology & Narrative

1995 M. A., Catholic University of America (Religious Studies)

1980 J.D., University of Utah School of Law

1974 B.A., Brigham Young University (English)

2013- Richard Lyman Bushman Professor in Mormon Studies, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia

2007- 2013 Associate Professor of American Religious History, Vanderbilt University

2000-2007 Assistant Professor of American Religious History, Vanderbilt University Divinity School & Graduate Department of Religion, Nashville, Tennessee.

1986-1996 Senior Counsel to Assistant General Counsel, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.,

Resolution Trust Corp., and Federal Home Loan Bank Board, Washington, D.C.

1980-1986 Trial Attorney to Special Counsel to the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Washington, D.C.
Courses Taught

Academic Teaching of Religion, America’s Bibles, Marginalized Religious Movements,

American Religious Intolerance, Church & State in American History, Christian Marriage Practices & Theologies in Historical Context, Contemporary Issues in American Religion, First Amendment Limits, Gender and Religion in America, Governmental Regulation and American Religion, Historiography of American Religion, History of Religion in America: A Survey, Mormonism and American Culture, Public Role of Religion in America, Americas Bibles
Research Interests

American Religious History – the adaptive strategies of 19th and 20th century American religious communities and the affect of pluralism on religious identity

Religious Studies – the constructive function of text and ritual in maintaining and adapting the identity and gendered power structures of religious communities

American Legal History – the influence of American law on American religion and the theological tensions inherent in the First Amendment religious clauses



  1. The Politics of Religious Identity: the Seating of Senator Reed Smoot, Mormon Apostle. Univ. of North Carolina, 2004.
    Journal Reviews: American Historical Review; Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture; Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought; Journal of American History; Journal of Mormon History; Novo Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions; Pacific Northwest Quarterly; Rhetoric & Public Affairs; Utah Historical Quarterly; Western Historical Quarterly; and Western Legal History. Selected Other Reviews: Choice, Christianity Today, The National Review, Publisher’s Weekly, and Weekly Standard.

Articles and Book Chapters

2015 “The Development of Early Latter-day Saint Marriage Rites, 1831-1853,” Journal of Mormon History 41, 1 (January 2015), 77-103.

2012 “Joseph Smith’s Letter from Liberty Jail: A Study in Canonization,” Journal of Religion, 92, 4 (Oct. 2012): 515-526.

2011 “Whose Christianity is ‘American’?: The Enduring Contest of Churches and the State" in American Christianities, Catherine A. Brekus and W. Clark Gilpin, eds., (Univ. of North Carolina, 2011).

2010 “Protecting the Wilderness: Comments on Howe's The Garden in the Wilderness,” Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture 79, 4 (Dec. 2010): 863-870.

2007 “Translating Time: The Nature and Function of Joseph Smith's Narrative Canon,” Journal of Religion, 87, 4 (Oct. 2007): 497-527.

2004 “The Mormon Corridor: Utah and Idaho,” in Jan Shipps, ed., Religion in the Mountain West: Sacred Landscapes in Tension, (Altamira, 2004), 91-114.

2003 “Re-placing Memory: Latter-day Saint Use of Historical Monuments and Narrative in the Early Twentieth Century,” Religion and American Culture 13 (Winter 2003): 69-110. Republished in Stephen C. Taysom, Dimensions of Faith: A Mormon Studies Reader, (Signature Books, 2011).

1995 “‘Not to be Riten’: The Nature and Effects of the Mormon Temple Rite as Oral Canon,” Journal of Ritual Studies 9, 2 (summer, 1995): 1-21.
Dictionary, Encyclopedia, & Sourcebook Entries

2013 “How to Bury a Prophet,” Sightings, (2008), reprinted in The Columbia Sourcebook of Mormons in the United States, Reid L. Neilson and Terryl Givens, eds., (New York: Columbia Univ., 2013).

2010 “Supreme Court” and “Latter-day Saints,” The Encyclopedia of American Religion, 4 vols., Charles H. Lippy & Peter W. Williams, eds., (CQ Press, 2010). (6,000 words each)

2008 “Mormonism,” The Child: An Encyclopedic Companion. Richard A. Shweder, et al., eds., (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago, 2009). (1,250 words)

2005 “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Worldmark Encyclopedia of Religious Practices, Earl Waugh, ed., Vol. 2 (Gale Group, 2005). (2,200 words)

2004 “Joseph Smith,” Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 4th ed., Betz, Hans Dieter, ed., (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005). (600 words)

2002 “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) Worship,” A Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship, Paul Bradshaw, ed. (London: SCM Press, 2002). (2,025 words)
Published Lecture

2010 “The Emotional and Priestly Logic of Plural Marriage,” Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture Series No. 15, (Logan, UT: Utah State Univ., 2010)

Selected Other

2012 “The Bible Plus: The Four Books of Mormonism, The Christian Century (Aug. 8)

2011 Editorials by Invitation: “Mormons on Broadway Could Bring Them to the White House,” Washington Post (April 1, 2011) and “Believer of Convenience,” Room for Debate, New York Times (July 4, 2011)

2008 Documentary: Article VI: Faith, Politics, America (2008).

2007-2008 Blogs: Washington Post “On Faith” Panelist. (Archived at http://www.faithstreet.com/onfaith/author/kathleen-flake)

2007 Documentary: “The Mormons,” PBS America Experience & Frontline

Book Reviews

2015 Political Science Quarterly, Campbell, David E., John C. Green, J. Quin Monson,  Seeking the Promised Land: Mormons and American Politics (Cambridge, 2014). (Publication Pending)

2014 Theological Studies, 75, 3 (Sept., 2014), 703-704. Mormon Christianity: What Other Christians Can Learn from the Latter-day Saints (Oxford, 2013)

2013 Western Historical Quarterly, 44, 4 (Winter, 2013). John Turner, Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet (Oxford, 2012).


  • John Whitmer Historical Assoc. Journal, 32, 1 (2012). Neilson, Reid L., ed., In the Whirlpool: The Pre-manifesto Letters of President Wilford Woodruff to the William Atkin Family, 1885-1890 (Arthur H Clark, 2011).

  • The American Historical Review 117, 2 (April 2012): 572-73. Stephen C. Taysom, Shakers, Mormons, and Religious Worlds: Conflicting Visions, Contested Boundaries (Indiana, 2011).

2011 Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture 80, 2 (June 2011): 423-425. Steven K. Green, The Second Disestablishment: Church and State in Nineteenth-Century America (Oxford, 2010)

2008 Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly 31, 3 (2008): 480-484. Donald Harman Akenson, Some Family: The Mormons and How Humanity Keeps Track of Itself (McGill-Queen's Univ., 2007).

2008 New Mexico Historical Review 83, 1 (2008): 128-130. Dean May and Reid Neilson, eds., The Mormon History Association's Tanner Lectures: The First Twenty Years (Univ. of Illinois, 2006).

2007 Journal of Religion 87, 3 (July 2007): 444-446. Neilson, Reid L., ed., The Rise of Mormonism (Columbia Univ., 2006).

2007 Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture 76, 1 (Mar 2007): 219-220. Winnifred Fallers Sullivan, The Impossibility of Religious Freedom (Princeton, 2005).

2006 Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture 75, 4 (Dec., 2006): 934-35. Verkruyse, Peter A., Prophet, Pastor, and Patriarch: The Rhetorical Leadership of Alexander Campbell (Univ. of Alabama, 2005).

2006 Journal of Religion 86, 1 (Jan, 2006):115-116. Givens, Terryl L., The Latter-day Saint Experience in America (Greenwood, 2004).

2005 Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture 74, 2 (Jun., 2005): 392-94. Forsberg, Clyde R., Jr. Equal Rites: The Book of Mormon, Masonry, Gender and the American Culture (Columbia Univ., 2004).

2005 Anglican and Episcopal History 75:2 (Jun., 2005), 264-65. Peter Williams, America's Religions: From Their Origins to the Twenty-First Century (Univ. of Illinois, 2002).

2004 Journal of Religion 84, 4 (Oct, 2004): 617-18. Amy DeRogatis, Moral Geography: Maps, Missionaries, and the American Frontier (Columbia Univ., 2003).

2003 Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 36:1 (Spring 2003):191-193. Sarah Barranger Gordon, The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth Century America (Univ. of North Carolina, 2002).

2003 A.M.E. Church Review 118, 338 (Oct - Dec, 2002), 130. Stephen R. Haynes, Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (Oxford Univ., 2002).

2001 Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture 70:4 (Dec., 2001) 815-817. Richard and Claudia Bushman, Mormons in America (Oxford Univ., 1999).



  • University of Virginia (Sept., 2014) College of Arts and Sciences: “President Jefferson and Prophet Joseph Smith: Two Contraries that Incline.”

  • University of Utah (Apr., 2014) Tanner Humanities Center McMurrin Lecture on Religion and Culture: “The LDS Intellectual Tradition: A Study on Three Lives.”

  • University of Utah (Mar., 2014), Inauguration of the Aileen H. Clyde 20th Century Women’s Legacy Archive: “On No Longer Being Anonymous.”

  • University of Virginia Workshop for Virginal High School Teachers (Mar., 2014) on Religion in American History: “Making Sense of American Church-State Relations in the 21st Century.”

  • University of Virginia, Jefferson Literary and Debating Society (Feb., 2014): “Religious Citizenship: Mormonism and the American Idea of a Church.”

2013 University of Notre Dame (Dec., 2013) Conference on Catholics and Mormons: “Marriage as a Form of, not an Alternative to Ordination”


  • Chinese Academy of Social Science & Brigham Young University, Conference on Religion & Contemporary Society (May 14-15) -- “Uncommon Religion and the Common Good.”

  • Harvard University, Faculty Seminar on Religion and Politics (Feb. 2011): “The Longue Durée of the Mormon Moment.”

  • American Society of Church History (Jan., 2012): '”Gendering the Study of Mormonism”


  • American Academy of Religion, Feminist Theory and Religious Reflection Group (Nov. 2011): “Female Priestly Subjectivity and Dynasty in Early Mormonism.”

  • St. Norbert College, Annual Killeen Lecture (Sept., 2011): “‘Born This Way’: The Challenge of American Religious Pluralism.”

  • Second Biennial Conference on Religion and American Culture, Indianapolis IN (6/2-5/11): “The Uses (or Not) of American Scripture ”

  • University of Chicago, Writing Religion: Representation, Difference, and Authority in American Culture, A Conference to honor W. Clark Gilpin (May, 2011).“Mourning Pages and Scriptural Authority: Canonization of Joseph Smith’s Letter from Liberty Jail”

  • American Society of Church History (Jan.,2011): “Nineteenth Century LDS Marital Rites and the Not-So-Patrilineal Family”


  • Claremont Graduate University (Dec., 2010): “The Equal Rites and Gendered Hierarchies of Mormonism’s Marital Priesthood.”

  • Mormon History Association (May, 2010): “The Relationship Between Marital and Adoptive Sealings in19th Century Mormonism.”

  • American Historical Association, President’s Panel (Jan., 2010): “Mormon Politics and Public Relations in the Progressive Era: Past Intentions and Present Ironies.”


  • Utah State University, Fifteenth Annual Arrington Lecture (Oct, 2009): “The Emotional and Priestly Logic of Plural Marriage.”

  • University of Alabama Huntsville’s Office of International Programs and the U.S. Department of State’s Study of the U.S Institute (South Asian graduate students, July 21, 2009): “Religious Liberty and the Democratic State.”

  • Mormon History Association (May, 2009): “What’s Time Got to do With Eternity?: LDS Marital and Adoptive Sealing Rights.”

  • Harvard University, Conference for LDS Graduate Students in Religious Studies (Feb. 20-21, 2009): “‘To Disabuse the Public Mind’”-- Keynote Speaker.


  • American Academy of Religion, Religion and Media Workshop: “Religion in the Race for the White House.”

  • American Academy of Religion, Law, Religion, and Culture Group: “Contemporary Relevance of Howe’s The Garden and the Wilderness.”

  • University of North Texas, Department of Philosophy and Religion (Oct. 15, 2008): “Presidential Politics and the Public Role of Religion.”

  • University of Alabama Huntsville Office of International Programs and the U.S. Department of State’s Study of the U.S. Institute (Chinese graduate students, July 24, 2008): “The Evolution of Church-State Relations in the U.S.”

  • Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture (IUPUI), Conference on Mormonism in American Life (Apr. 12, 2008): “Ordering Antinomy: Early Mormonism's Gendered Office, Council, & Kinship.”


  • Princeton University, Center for the Study of Religion Conference, “Mormonism and American Politics” (Nov. 9-10, 2007): "Senator Reed Smoot: America's 'Pontifex Babbitt' and Mormonism's Political Prototype."

  • Southeast Commission for the Study of Religion (Mar. 16-18, 2007): “Contributions to the Study of American Religion: Honoring the Work of Charles H. Lippy.”


  • Claremont Graduate University, School of Religion, Conference on the Academic Study of Mormonism (Oct. 24-26, 2004): “Positioning Mormonism in Religious Studies.”

  • Southern Scholars of American Religion, Semi Annual Meeting, Chattanooga (October 9, 2004): “Situating the Smoot Hearing in American Religious History.

  • Western Kentucky University, Department of Philosophy and Religion (September 28, 2004): “The Politics of American Religious Identity.”

  • Center of the American West, University of Colorado, Conference for Regional Journalists (June 2, 2004): “Public Religion in Utah and Idaho.”

  • LDS Church Historian’s Office and Church History Museum (April 12, 2004): “The Contributions of the Smoot Hearing to Mormon History.”

  • Brigham Young University, Harold B. Library Annual Author Lecture (April 9, 2004): “Apostle Smoot Goes to Washington: Senate Privileges and Religious Liberty in the Progressive Era.”

  • University of Utah, History Department (April 8, 2004): “The Reed Smoot Hearings and the Shaping of 20th Century Mormonism.”

2003 Yale University Divinity School Conference on “God, Humanity, and Revelation: Perspectives from Mormon Philosophy and History” (March 27-29, 2003): “Translating Time: Joseph Smith's Narrative Canon.”

2002 American Academy of Religion: “Author Meets Critics” - Sarah Barringer Gordon's The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in 19th Century America.

2001 American Academy of Religion: “Solving the Mormon Problem: The Smoot Hearing of 1903-1907 and the Delimitation of Religious Citizenship.”

2000 American Society of Church History: “Back to the Future: The LDS Transition to the Twentieth Century.”

1999 American Academy of Religion: “LDS Use of Commemorative Monuments in the Progressive Era, an Illustration of Strategic Adaptation of Religious Identity.”

1998 Western History Association, Sacramento: “The Mormon Church as Monopoly: Free Market and Free Exercise Discourse in the Progressive Era.”

1998 Mormon History Association, Washington, D.C.: “The Reed Smoot Hearings: the Final Solution to America's ‘Mormon Problem.’”

1997 First Annual Conference, Archive for Restoration Culture, Brigham Young University Smith Institute of Church History: “From Conferences to Councils: The Development of LDS. Church Organization, 1830-1835.”

1994 American Academy of Religion: “‘Not to be Riten’: The Nature and Effects of the Mormon Temple Rite as Oral Canon.”
Panels and Responses

2015 Smithsonian National Museum of American History (Mar., 2015): Panelist – “Religion in Early America: Religious Freedom”


  • American Academy of Religion (Nov., 2014): Respondent – “Joseph Smith’s First Vision: New Methods for the Analysis of Experience-Related Texts”

  • UVA Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures (Oct., 2014): Panelist – “The Study of Religion in the Academy.”

  • Mormon Historical Association (June, 2014): Chair and Respondent – “The Forms and the Power: Exploring Mormon Ritual”

2013 American Society of Church History (Jan., 2013): Chair and Respondent – “Christianity and Politics in the early 19th Century Americas”


  • American Academy of Religion (Nov., 2012): Chair – “Author Meets Critics: Tracy Fessenden's Culture and Redemption

  • Center for Religion and American Culture Conference on “Mormons in the 21st Century” (Sept., 2012): Forum Leader

2010 Mormon History Association: Respondent – “Family, Kinship, and Community.”

2009 Vanderbilt University, Martin Luther King Commemorative Series: Panelist – “Prophets, Politics & Patriotism.”

2008 Mormon History Association: Respondent – “Teaching Mormon History”


  • Vanderbilt University, Cal Turner Program Conference on Sacred Texts in Law and Religion: Authorizing and Constituting Professional Identity, Moderator & Discussant

  • American Society of Church History: Chair – “Perceptions of Religion and the Feminist Movement”


  • American Academy of Religion: Chair & Discussant – Authors Meet Critics: Marci A. Hamilton (God vs. The Gavel) and Winnifred Fallers Sullivan (Impossibility of Religious Freedom).

  • American Society of Church History: Respondent – “Religious Minorities, Religious Identity, and American Politics.”

  • American Academy of Religion: Respondent – “Whom Do You Say That I Am? The Construction and Use of Mormon and Anti-Mormon Identities.”

2005 American Academy of Religion, Special Topics Forum: Chair & Discussant – “What the Study of Mormonism Brings to Religious Studies.”

2004 Mormon History Association: Respondent – “Author Meets the Critics: The Politics of American Religious Identity.


  • American Academy of Religion: Chair – “Nation, Law and Religion” jointly sponsored by the Law, Religion, and Culture Consultation and North American Religions Section.

  • Southeastern Commission for the Study of Religion: Convener and Chair --“More than Slavery and Civil Rights: Recognizing the African American Experience in American Religious History Courses.”

  • American Society of Church History: Chair – “American Women Religious Leaders: Claiming and Maintaining Authority.”

2002 American Academy of Religion, Southeastern Region (March, 2002): Chair – “Being Heard: The Public Role of Religion in America.”

2001 American Academy of Religion, Special Topics Forum: Panel Moderator – “Crossing A Continental Divide: Telling the Story of the America West and American Religion.”

1997 Mormon History Association: Respondent – “Mormonism and the American Religious, Mainstream.”
Fellowships & Honors

2014-2016 Residential Fellowship, UVA Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities: “Early Mormon Marriages: a Study in Socially Constructed Kinship”

2009 American Philosophical Society Sabbatical Fellowship

2009 15th Annual Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture, Utah State University

2005 Best Book Award, Mormon History Association

2003-2005 Young Scholars in American Religion Program, Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture and the Lilly Endowment

2002 Visiting Scholar Fellowship in Latter-day Saint History, Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter day Saint History, Brigham Young University

2001 William Grover and Winifred Foster Reese Award for Best Dissertation in Mormon Studies, Mormon History Association

1999-2000 Dissertation Fellowship, Pew Charitable Trusts and the Yale Institute for the Advanced Study of Religion

1998-99 Fellowship for Future Theological Educators, the Lilly Endowment and the University of Chicago

1998 Qualifying Examinations with distinction, University of Chicago

1997 Summer Fellowship, Archive of Restoration Culture, Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter day Saint History, Brigham Young University

1996-97 Sawyer Fellowship for the Study of Religion, Law, and the Construction of Identities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the University of Chicago
Professional Appointments & Service

2014-present Finance Committee Member, American Society of Church History

2013-present Steering Committee Member, Mormon Studies Group, American Academy of Religion

2013-present Editorial Board, Mormon Studies Review

2009 & 2013 Judge, First Freedom Student Competition, Council for America’s First Freedom

2009 Editorial review committee, American Society for Church History

2008-present National Program Advisory Board, Council for America’s First Freedom

2008-present Editorial Board, Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation

2007 & 2010 Review Panelist, NEH Fellowships in Religious Studies

2006-2010 Advisory Board, Encyclopedia of American Religion, Charles Lippy and Peter Williams, eds.

2006-2010 Co-Chair, North American Religion Section, American Academy of Religion

2005-06 Steering Committee, North American Religion Section, American Academy of Religion

2005-06 Nominations Committee, American Society of Church History

2004-05 Program Committee, 2005 Annual Meeting, American Society of Church History

2003-06 Council Member, American Society of Church History

2001-05 Chair, American Religious History Section, the Southeastern Commission on the Study of Religion and American Academy of Religion, Southeast Region

1998-99 Martin Marty Center Advisory Board, University of Chicago Divinity School

Recurring Peer Reviews:

  • Book Manuscripts: Brigham Young University, Columbia University, Signature Books, Oxford University, University of California, University of Illinois, University of Tennessee, and Utah State University

  • Articles: Church History: Studies in Christianity and Culture, Gender and History; Critical Research on Religion; International Journal of Mormonism; Journal of the American Academy of Religion; Journal of Religion; Journal of Ritual Studies; Politics and Religion; and Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation

  • Book Proposals: Blackwell, Cambridge University, Columbia University, New York University, Oxford University, Routledge, Signature Books, University of Illinois, and University of North Carolina.

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