Aaron Griffith earned his Th.D. from the Divinity School at Duke University. His dissertation, “American Law and Gospel: Evangelicals in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” charts the history of evangelical Christian influence in American criminal justice and prisons in second half of the twentieth century. The project argues that as postwar evangelicals positioned their religious movement as reputable and racially moderate, they helped do the same for the cause of punishment—bolstering the justice system’s claims to neutrality and its insistence that punishment could be colorblind, even as it increasingly incarcerated poor people of color. Yet ministries to prisoners and juvenile delinquents also opened evangelicals’ eyes to the regular mistreatment of offenders, pushing them into prison reform and restorative justice efforts.
Dr. Griffith will teach a course in spring 2019, “Religious Dissent and Reform in American Life.”