Mark Valeri

Director and Reverend Priscilla Wood Neaves Distinguished Professor of Religion and Politics

My current research concerns how Anglo-American Protestants described other religions and developed new ideas of religious conversion from 1660 to 1760.

Mark Valeri is the Reverend Priscilla Wood Neaves Distinguished Professor of Religion and Politics and currently serves as the Director of the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics.

Valeri’s areas of specialization include religion and social thought, especially economics, in America; Reformation theology and the political history of Calvinism; Puritanism; and enlightenment moral philosophy. Valeri came to Washington University from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, where he served as the Ernest Trice Thompson Professor of Church History beginning in 1996. His prior appointment was in the Religious Studies department at Lewis and Clark College.

His latest book describes how Anglo-American Protestant descriptions of other religions, and conversion from one religion to another, changed from 1650 to 1765: The Opening of the Protestant Mind: How Anglo-American Protestants Embraced Religious Liberty (Oxford University Press, 2023). Heavenly Merchandize: How Religion Shaped Commerce in Puritan America, (Princeton University Press, 2010), received the 2011 Philip Schaff Prize from the American Society of Church History. It was also shortlisted for the 2011 American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Historical Study of Religion and selected as one of Choice magazine’s Outstanding Academic Titles for 2010.  The book analyzes social transformations in the American economy from the early 1600s, when Puritans argued that personal profit should be subordinate to the common welfare, to the 1740s, when Christians increasingly celebrated commerce as an unqualified good. Previous publications include Law and Providence in Joseph Bellamy’s New England: The Origins of the New Divinity in Revolutionary America (Oxford University Press, 1994), which won the Mackemie Prize from the Presbyterian Historical Society; The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 17: Sermons and Discourses, 1730-1733 (Yale University Press, 1999); Practicing Protestants: Histories of Christian Life in America, 1630-1965 (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006), co-edited with Laurie F. Maffly-Kipp and Leigh E. Schmidt; and the co-edited Global Neighbors: Christian Faith and Moral Obligation in Today’s Economy (Eerdmans, 2008). His publication list includes many book chapters, journal articles, and essays.

Valeri has received several fellowships, including an Andrew W. Mellon fellowship, a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, an American Council of Learned Societies grant, a Lilly Endowment faculty fellowship, as well as the 2017-2018 Los Angeles Times Distinguished Fellowship in the History and Culture of the Americas at The Huntington Library in Pasadena, California.

Valeri earned the Ph.D. from Princeton University, his M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, and his B.A., summa cum laude, from Whitworth College.

He is currently working on religious persuasion, evangelicalism, and secularism in the eighteenth century.

Sample Courses


  • Mark Valeri: My Current Project

  • Mark Valeri: Students Thinking Freshly

  • Mark Valeri: Can We Talk More?


Mark Valeri in the News