This year’s annual meeting will be held August 20-22, 2015, at an elegant hotel with a notorious history — the Renaissance Blackstone Chicago Hotel, located immediately north of the ASA’s Hilton Chicago and overlooking the Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park, and Lake Michigan.  The hotel features a tapas restaurant, stylish rooms, and a grand Crystal Ballroom.  Since its opening in 1910, many famous – and not so famous – figures have visited the hotel, including several U.S. presidents, business magnets, philanthropists, and movie stars.  It was also a frequent hangout of mob boss Al Capone.  As usual, we will begin our meeting with an Opening Night Reception on Thursday, August 20, which will include not only the unveiling of new ASR publications, but also an awards ceremony recognizing the winner of the McNamara Student Paper Award and the Distinguished Article Award.  On Friday evening, August 21, Melissa Wilde will deliver her Presidential Address, and on Saturday, August 22, Michael Hout will present the Furfey Lecture.

All ASR members can submit abstracts and register for the meeting through the Member Portal of this website, where there is also a link to make hotel reservations.  I recommend that you make your reservations as early as possible so you can secure a room at the low ASR rate.

As you know, the spring season is the time for elections in ASR, and this year we will elect our next President-Elect and three new Council members.  The person elected as President-Elect will take office as President-Elect at the end of this year’s annual meeting in Chicago, at which time our current President-Elect, Lori Beaman, assumes the duties of President.  The three new Council members elected will also begin their terms at the end of this year’s annual meeting and continue through the first Council meeting of 2018.  Just like last year, all members of ASR – be they constituent members or students – are encouraged to vote in the election through the Member Portal of the website.

The candidates, who have been selected by this year’s Nominating Committee, are as follows:


Mark Chaves is Professor of Sociology, Religious Studies, and Divinity at Duke University.  Among other projects, he directs the National Congregations Study (NCS), a wide-ranging survey of a nationally representative sample of religious congregations. The NCS has been conducted three times: 1998, 2006, and 2012. Professor Chaves is the author of American Religion: Contemporary Trends (Princeton University Press, 2011), Congregations in America (Harvard University Press, 2004), Ordaining Women: Culture and Conflict in Religious Organizations (Harvard University Press, 1997), and many articles, mainly on the social organization of religion in the United States. He has chaired the General Social Survey’s Board of Overseers, and he has been President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Mark Chaves’ Vision Statement

ASR is an important part of the sociology of religion’s infrastructure. Our core activities are publishing an excellent journal and producing an annual meeting that provides opportunities for presenting and discussing the latest research, interacting with colleagues, and, especially for the many graduate students who attend and present work at the meetings, enhancing our professional knowledge and skills. My primary goal as President, beyond the concrete job of putting together an informative and stimulating meeting in 2017, would be to help maintain and, if possible, strengthen ASR so that it continues to serve the discipline at least as well in the future as it has in the past.

Michael O. Emerson is the Allyn & Gladys Cline Professor of Sociology at Rice University.  He has authored several award-winning books on religion, co-authored a text on religion (Religion Matters: What Sociology Teaches Us about Religion in our World, Allyn & Bacon 2010) and co-edited Sociology of Religion: A Reader (2nd edition, Allyn & Bacon 2010).  He has also published several dozen articles on religion, and directs PALS, a national panel study of religion.   He currently serves on the ASR council (2013-2015), and has also been on the association’s Nominations and Publications Committees. He previously served as Chair of the Religion Section of the American Sociological Association. Since 2010 he has served as an Associate Editor of the Sociology of Religion and since 2009 on the Editorial Board of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Michael O. Emerson’s Vision Statement

ASR is on the rise, a growing, vibrant organization.  This reality exists due to the efforts of its past leadership, its executive officer, and its members.  To continue this trajectory, my vision is three-fold: (1) As scholars, access to funding is of great importance.  If elected I will appoint a committee to research what funding is available for religion scholars, and to propose how we can expand that pool.  We will ask how there can be more funding and what can we do as an organization to facilitate greater access for more of our members; (2) Our annual meeting is at the heart of our organization, the place where we gather, present, dialogue, and network.  I will put great care into working with a team to plan the best meeting possible, being sensitive to the desires and needs of our membership; and (3) I will work with the ASR team to showcase the strengths our organization and its journal, Sociology of Religion.


Mary Ellen Konieczny is Assistant Professor of Sociology and Faculty Fellow in the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame.  She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Chicago (2005), and holds an M. M. Div. from Weston Jesuit School of Theology (1985).  Her research interests revolve around culture, social theory, gender, family, and local cultures and public politics. Her book, The Spirit’s Tether: Family, Work, and Religion among American Catholics (Oxford University Press 2013), is an ethnographic study of religion, family, and moral polarization.  Her second book project addresses religion in the military, with the US Air Force Academy as the focal case.  Positing that the military is a microcosm of society despite its particularism, she explores how religion is intertwined with religious freedom issues, pluralism, and gender relations, examining how historical tensions between disestablishment and free exercise affect the present.

Carol Ann MacGregor is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Loyola University in New Orleans. Her research considers organizational and cultural shifts in contemporary American Catholicism, particularly Catholic K-12 education. She is currently working on a book manuscript based on her dissertation research on the closing of Catholic Schools and is also engaged in fieldwork for a second book project on moral and citizenship formation practices. A second line of collaborative research focuses on religious non-affiliation particularly as it relates to civic life. Two papers from this line of research were awarded distinguished article awards from the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. Her work has appeared and in the American Sociological Review, Social Science Research, Research in the Sociology of Work, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion and Poeticss. She was previously the graduate student representative for the American Sociological Association Section on the Sociology of Religion and is currently on that section’s distinguished article award committee.

Nicolette Manglos-Weber received her Ph.D. in 2012 from UT-Austin and is currently Research Assistant Professor at the University of Notre Dame. She is a mixed-methods researcher specializing in religion, politics, immigration, race/ethnicity, and social theory. Her work integrates cultural and political perspectives, and much of it focuses on how trust is formed in religious congregations and the impact of religious-based trust networks in society. She is currently completing her first book, Recovering Trust: Race, Religion, and Immigration in a Trans-Atlantic Community, which is about how transnational migrants from Ghana to the U.S. suffer a systemic loss of social trust, and seek out and recover trust in religious groups.

Lisa D. Pearce is Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She is also a Research Fellow at the Carolina Population Center.  Pearce studies the religious and spiritual lives of youth and their connections to educational and career aspirations as well as family attitudes and behaviors.  Her research is based in both the United States and Nepal and uses a mix of research methods.  Pearce’s publications have appeared in journals such as American Sociological Review and the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.  She was a key member of The National Study of Youth and Religion’s (NSYR) research team, serving as Co-Principal Investigator from 2004-2008.  Using the NSYR data, Pearce and Melinda Lundquist Denton co-authored A Faith of Their Own:  Stability and Change in the Religiosity of America’s Adolescence (2011, Oxford University Press).  Pearce served on the ASA’s Religion Section Council from 2010-2013.

Jeremy Uecker (Ph.D., University of Texas–Austin) is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Baylor University. His research interests include religion and youth, religion and family, and religion and stratification. He is author of numerous journal articles as well as co-author of the book Premarital Sex in America: How Young Adults Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying (Oxford University Press, 2011). His current religion-related projects examine differences in the quality of the colleges students attend by their religious upbringing, the role of family formation in bringing young adults back to religious institutions, and the effects of joint religious activities on married couples’ sexual satisfaction. He served as Program Chair for the 2014 ASR meeting, was a member of the 2014 ASA Religion Section Student Paper Award Committee, and is on the editorial board of Sociology of Religion, the official journal of the ASR.

Brandon Vaidyanathan is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Sociology at Rice University. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Business Administration from Canada and a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Notre Dame. His work broadly examines the relationship between culture, religion, and economic life in diverse national contexts. His research has been published in journals such as Social Forces, Sociology of Religion, the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Work, Employment, and Society, the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, and Journal for the Theory of Social Behavior. His ongoing post-doctoral research with Elaine Howard Ecklund at Rice University includes a cross-national, mixed-methods study of ethics and religion among scientists in eight countries, and a major mixed-methods study on Americans’ attitudes towards science issues. He is currently revising his first book, Mercenaries as Missionaries: Global Religion and Global Professionals in Bangalore and Dubai, which examines how and why corporate professionals in rapidly globalizing cities sustain starkly opposing moral orientations in the realms of work and religion.

Melissa M. Wilcox is Associate Professor of Religion and Gender Studies at Whitman College. She is the author or editor of four books on religion and sexuality, one of which (Queer Women and Religious Individualism) received the ASA Sociology of Religion Section book award. She has published articles on topics ranging from religious individualism to the post-secular and from 9/11 and the national mythos to self-injury and ritual studies; her current work is on the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an international, ostensibly secular order of self-described “queer nuns for the 21st century.” She has served as an Executive Councilmember with the ASR (2008-2010), and on the editorial board of Sociology of Religion (2006-2008). She has also been a member of the SSSR’s student travel grant committee (2007-2009) and the ASA Sociology of Religion Section Council (2011-2014), and she is on the editorial boards of Contexts, Nova Religio, and Qualitative Sociology.


Your attention is also called to the ASR grants and awards available at this time:

Joseph H. Fichter Research Grants are available to ASR members involved in promising sociological research on women in religion or on the intersection between religion and gender or religion and sexualities.  For the 2015 competition, a total of $12,000 is available to be awarded.  Dissertation research qualifies for funding, as does postdoctoral research by junior and senior scholars.  See the website for instructions and details.

Ralph A. Gallagher Travel Grants are offered to assist faculty colleagues from outside North America and graduate students to attend the ASR annual meeting.  Gallagher grants are intended to help defray the cost of staying at the ASR conference hotel.  Gallagher grantees must be members of ASR, have had a paper accepted for presentation at the meeting, and agree to stay a minimum of two nights at ASR’s conference hotel.  Visit the ASR website for instructions and details.

The Robert J. McNamara Student Paper Award in the amount of $500 is given annually to recognize an outstanding graduate student member’s paper in the sociology of religion.  If the winner of this award agrees to attend the meeting to present the paper, s/he can receive an additional $500 toward the cost of a room at the conference hotel.  Instructions for submission are available on the ASR website.

Finally, the Distinguished Article Award in the amount of $500 is given annually to  recognize the most outstanding journal article published by an ASR member or members between January 1, 2013 and April 30, 2015.  The award identifies an article that offers an exceptional contribution to the sociological study of religion.  Nomination requirements and procedures are available on the ASR website.