Prof Stephen Bullivant
Director of the Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society
Professor of Theology and the Sociology of Religion
About Research Media
Stephen Bullivant is Professor of Theology and the Sociology of Religion. He is Director of the Benedict XVI Centre for Religion and Society. Following studies in theology and philosophy at the University of Oxford, he joined St Mary's in 2009. He has previously held posts at Wolfson College, Oxford, and Heythrop College. He has held visiting fellowships at the Institute for Social Change, University of Manchester (2013); Institute of Advanced Studies, University College London (2016); and Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford (2017).
An award-winning scholar, Dr Bullivant's research and teaching interests are wide-ranging and interdisciplinary. Most notably, they include several areas of Catholic theology, and the social-scientific study of religion and atheism/secularity.
Within Catholic theology, his books include:
- O My Jesus: The Meaning of the Fátima Prayer (Paulist Press, 2017; co-authored with Luke Arredondo)
- Theology and Power: International Perspectives (Paulist Press, 2016; co-edited with A. Brazal, D. Pilario, and E. Genilo)
- The Trinity: How Not to Be a Heretic (Paulist Press, 2015)
- Faith and Unbelief (Canterbury Press, 2013; Paulist Press, 2014)
- The Salvation of Atheists and Catholic Dogmatic Theology (OUP, 2012)
And within the field of the social-scientific study of religion:
- The Oxford Dictionary of Atheism (OUP, 2016; co-authored with Lois Lee)
- The Oxford Handbook of Atheism (OUP, 2013; co-edited with Michael Ruse)
- Secularity and Non-religion (Routledge, 2013; co-edited with Elisabeth Arweck and Lois Lee)
An in-demand popular speaker and writer, Dr Bullivant is a Consulting Editor and regular columnist for The Catholic Herald. His articles have appeared in leading outlets including New Scientist, America, and The Guardian. His TV and radio appearances include EWTN (EWTN Live, Bookmark, Catholic Answers Live), BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 5 Live, LBC, and The Catholic Channel on SiriusXM (Busted Halo, America This Week). He has also given invited talks and lectures in the UK, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Brazil, the Philippines, and the USA.
From 2008 to 2014, Dr Bullivant was a co-director of the international Nonreligion and Secularity Research Network. Between 2010 and 2013, he was a committee member of the Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain. From 2011 to 2014, he served on the Curatorium of the European Society for Catholic Theology, serving as its delegate to the International Network of Societies for Catholic Theology. He is currently co-lead on the three-year Understanding Unbelief project, funded by a £2.3 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation.
Dr Bullivant was awarded the Catholic Theological Society of America's 'LaCugna Award for New Scholars' in 2010. He is the recipient of research grants from, among others, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (2005, 2006); the Higher Education Academy (2010), the British Academy (2013), the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (2013), the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales (2016), and the John Templeton Foundation (2015, 2016).
Research interests include:
- the sociology of nonreligion
- new evangelization
- Catholic lapsation and disaffiliation
- Catholicism in Britain and the USA
- Humanae Vitae
Academic and Professional Qualifications:
- Fellow status, Higher Education Academy, September 2011.
- PGCert in Academic Practice (Higher Education), St Mary's University College, 2010.
- Awarded with Distinction.
- DPhil Theology, Christ Church, University of Oxford, 2009. Thesis title: The Salvation
- of Atheists: A Critical Exploration of a Theme in Catholic Dogmatic Theology.
- MSt Theology, Christ Church, University of Oxford, 2006. Awarded with Distinction.
- Thesis title: Karl Rahner and the Theology of Atheism.
- BA Philosophy and Theology, Christ Church, University of Oxford, 2005. Grade awarded: First.
Grants, Awards and Bursaries:
- National Catholic Safeguarding Commission; grant awarded to conduct 10-year review of national statistics on abuse allegations within the Catholic Church in England and Wales (£2,330).
- British Academy Quantitative Skills Acquisition Award; project: 'Who leaves the Catholic Church? A demographic profile of "Catholic disaffiliates" using British Social Attitudes data' (£3,596)
- Hünermann Foundation for the Advancement of Catholic Theology; contribution towards 'Power and Theology' symposium, Manila, The Philippines, July 2013 (€,1000)
- St Mary's University College, Staff Research Prize; awarded for The Salvation of Atheists and Catholic Dogmatic Theology (£1,000)
- Catholic Theological Society of America: scholarship towards attending 2011 convention in San Jose, CA, 2011 ($1,000)
- Higher Education Academy; miniproject grant: 'Teaching atheism and non-religion', 2010-11 (£1,685)
- Catholic Theological Society of America: Catherine Mowry LaCugna Award for New Scholars, 2010
- Arts and Humanities Research Council: Full Doctoral Award, 2006-9 (c. £50,000)
- Arts and Humanities Research Council: Research Preparation Master's Award, 2005-6 (c. £13,000)
External Involvement (Consultancy, Professional Bodies and External Examining):
- 2011-14: Director, Redeeming Power: Overcoming Abuse in Church and Society – international research project of the European Society for Catholic Theology
- Council member, International Network of Societies for Catholic Theology, 2011-14
- Curatorium member, European Society for Catholic Theology, 2011-14
- Committee member, Catholic Theological Association, 2010-13
- Co-director, Non-religion and Secularity Research Network, 2008-14 www.nsrn.net
- Grant application reviewer: Economic and Social Research Council, John Templeton Foundation, Danish Council for Independent Research
- Book proposal reviewer for: Oxford University Press, Routledge, Palgrave Macmillan, Ashgate
- Peer reviewer for: International Journal of Systematic Theology, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, Religion, Journal of Contemporary Religion, Journal of Sociology, History of the Human Sciences, Secularism and Nonreligion, Melita Theologica, Family Forum
- Book proposal reviewer for: Oxford University Press, Routledge, Palgrave Macmillan, Ashgate
- The Trinity: How Not to Be a Heretic (Mahwaj, NJ: Paulist Press, 2015)
- Faith and Unbelief (London: SCM Press, 2013; Mahwaj, NJ: Paulist Press, 2013)
- The Salvation of Atheists and Catholic Dogmatic Theology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012)
- Theology and Power, co-edited with E. Genilo, D. Pilario, and A. Brazal (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2015)
- The Oxford Handbook of Atheism, co-edited with Michael Ruse (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013)
- Secularity and Non-religion, co-edited with Elisabeth Arweck and Lois Lee (London: Routledge, 2013)
- 'Redeeming Power: Overcoming Abuse in Church and Society', special issue of ET- Studies, co-edited with Gerhard Kruip (forthcoming, 2013)
- 'Non-religion and Secularity: New Empirical Perspectives', special issue of Journal of Contemporary Religion, guest co-edited with Lois Lee (January 2012)
Articles and Chapters in Books:
- 'Vatican II and abuses in the Church: "A community composed of men" that is "always in need of being purified"', in Stephen Bullivant, Daniel Pilario, Eric Genilo, and Agnes Brazal (eds), Theology and Power: International Perspectives (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2015)
- 'I Call You (Facebook) Friends: New Media and the New Evangelization', in Martin Lintner (ed.), God in Question: Religious Language and Secular Languages (Brixen: Verlag Weger, 2015), 461-73
- 'Redeeming Power: Overcoming Abuse in Church and Society', ET-Studies 4/2 (2013), v-ix
- 'Defining "Atheism"', in Stephen Bullivant and Michael Ruse (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Atheism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 11-21
- 'The Study of Atheism' (co-authored with Michael Ruse), in Stephen Bullivant and Michael Ruse (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Atheism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 2-7
- 'Christian Spirituality and Atheism', in Peter Tyler and Richard Woods (eds), The Bloomsbury Guide to Christian Spirituality (London: Continuum, 2012), 375-86
- 'Secularism' (co-authored with Trevor Stammers), in Mark Cobb, Christina Puchalski and Bruce Rumbold (eds), The Textbook of Spirituality in Healthcare (Oxford University Press, 2012), 83-8
- 'Not so Indifferent After All? The New Visibility of Atheism and the Secularization Thesis', Approaching Religion 2/1 (2012), 100-6
- 'Interdisciplinary Studies of Nonreligion and Secularity: The State of the Union' (co- authored with Lois Lee), Journal of Contemporary Religion 27/1 (January 2012), 19- 27
- 'Teaching Atheism and Nonreligion: Challenges and Opportunities', Discourse 10/2
- 'Caritas in Veritate and the Allocation of Scarce Resources', Catholic Social Science Review 16 (October 2011), 17-25
- 'Sine culpa? Vatican II and inculpable ignorance', Theological Studies 72 (March 2011), 70-86
- 'Newman and modernism: the Pascendi crisis and its wider significances', New Blackfriars 92/1038 (March 2011), 189-208
- 'Atheism, Apologetics and Ecclesiology: Gaudium et Spes 19-21 Revisited', in Andrew Davison (ed.), Arguing for Christ Today: Imaginative Apologetics: Theology, Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition (London: SCM Press, 2011), 81-97
- 'The New Atheism and Sociology: Why Here? Why Now? What Next?', in Amarnath Amarasingam (ed.), Religion and the New Atheism: A Critical Appraisal (Brill), 109-24
- 'The Myth of Rahnerian Exceptionalism: Edward Schillebeeckx's "Anonymous Christians"', Philosophy & Theology 22/1+2 (2010), 339-51
- 'A Meister Among the Moderns: Hegel, Rosenberg, Bloch and Cage', Eckhart Review, no. 18 (Summer 2009), 4-21
- 'From "Main Tendue" to Vatican II: the Catholic Engagement with Atheism, 1936-65', New Blackfriars, vol. 90, no. 1026 (March 2009), 178-87
- 'Richard Dawkins on Being a Christian', Theology, vol. 111, no. 864 (Nov./Dec. 2008), 420-6
- 'Research Note: Sociology and the Study of Atheism', Journal of Contemporary Religion, vol. 23, no. 3 (October 2008), 363-8
- 'Son of God or "red son-of-a-bitch"? John Steinbeck, Woody Guthrie and left-wing folk christology', Journal for Faith, Spirituality and Social Change, vol. 1, no. 2 (May 2008)
- 'Introducing Irreligious Experiences', Implicit Religion, vol. 11, no. 1 (April 2008), 7-24
- 'A House Divided Against Itself: Dostoevsky and the Psychology of Unbelief',
- Literature and Theology, vol. 22, no. 1 (March 2008), 16-31
- 'Casylike Christs in Carl Sandburg and Dorothy Day', Steinbeck Review, vol. 4, no. 2
- (Autumn 2007), 77-88
- '"That's him. That shiny bastard.": Jim Casy and Christology', Steinbeck Studies, vol.
- 16, nos. 1+2 comb. (2005), 14-33
Books (theology, philosophy, sociology) reviewed for: Journal of Theological Studies, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, International Journal of Systematic Theology, Reviews in Religion and Theology, New Blackfriars, Modern Believing, Heythrop Journal, Pastoral Review, The Way, andEckhart Review.
- 'My "Maryton"', America, 5 December 2014 (americamagazine.org/my-marython)
- 'Francis in America', America, 21 October 2013, 21-7
- 'Christian Complicity', America, 17 June 2013, 13-16
- 'A Punch List: Priorities for the Next Pope', America, 18 March 2013, 18-21
- 'The Papal Audit – what theologians think', The Tablet, 16 March 2013, 10-11
- 'The Little Way of the New Evangelization', Catechetical Leader 24/2 (March 2013), 9-13
- 'Foolishness!', America, 11 February 2013, 1-14 (americamagazine.org/issue/article/foolishness)
- '@Pontifex, Twitter is about Dialogue', The Tablet Blog, 7 December 2012 (thetablet.co.uk/blogs/421/17)
- Interview for feature on Redeeming Power launch conference, Radio Vatican, 6 September 2012
- 'Teachers and Witnesses: Thinking about the New Evangelization', Catechetical Leader 22/4 (October 2011), 4-8
- 'Celebrity alone cannot bring a saint recognition, but it helps in the process', The Guardian: CiF Belief, 28 April 2011 (guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/apr/28/celebrity-saint-michael-jackson- god)
- 'Sing an Old Song to the Lord' (co-authored with Joanna Bullivant), Pastoral Review 7/2 (March/April 2011), 58-65
- 'Sweeping the homeless – and charity – from Westminster's streets', The Guardian: CiF Belief, 4 March 2011 (guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2011/mar/04/homeless-victoria-london- westminster-bylaw)
- 'Better to be hated for the right reasons than ignored', The Guardian: CiF Belief, 12 October 2010 (guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/oct/15/decline-of-christian- faith)
- Interviewed on atheism and morality for The Sunday Programme, BBC Radio 4, April 2010
- 'Mysterious rituals of the atheists' (co-authored with Lois Lee), The Melbourne Age, 15 March 2010, 11
- 'Where do atheists come from?' (co-authored with Lois Lee), New Scientist, no. 2750, 6 March 2010, 26-7
- Interviewed on the study of atheism for The Andrew Mercer Show, BBC Radio Oxford,13 December 2009.
- 'Introducing Caritas in Veritate', Strangers and Pilgrims, Summer 2009 (reprinted in London Catholic Worker in early 2010)
Papers presented (recent and forthcoming):
- 'The Trinity: How Not to Be a Heretic' and 'How to Make Saints and Evangelize People', Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, LA, 13-15 March 2015
- 'Redeeming Power: Overcoming Abuse in Church and Society': INSeCT congress, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 17-20 July 2014
- 'Why Study Atheism?': symposium launching The Oxford Handbook of Atheism, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA, 6-7 December 2013 (keynote address)
- 'I Call You (Facebook) Friends: New Media and the New Evangelization', European Society for Catholic Theology biannual congress, Brixen, Italy, 28 August – 1 September 2012 (keynote address)
- '"Always in need of purification" (Lumen Gentium 8): Vatican II and abuses in the Church': Theology and Power symposium, Loyola School of Theology and St Vincent's School of Theology, Manila, The Philippines, 19-20 July 2013
- 'Putting the New Evangelization into Practice (By Putting Practice into the New Evangelization)': Archdiocese of Portland annual catechetical conference, Portland, Oregon, USA, 20 October 2012 (keynote address)
- 'No so indifferent after all? Self-conscious atheism and the secularization thesis': The New Visibility of Atheism in Europe, Donner Institute, University of Turku, Finland, 18-20 January 2012 (invited paper)
- 'Teachers and Witnesses: The New Evangelization and the Social Sciences': Catholic Theological Society of America, San Jose, California, 9-12 June 2011
- 'Thinking about the New Evangelization': Third International Symposium on Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body, St Mary's University, Twickenham, 3-5 June 2011 (invited workshop)
- 'A Pope at Westminster: Benedict XVI on Religion in a Secular Society': Confronting Secularism workshop, Lancaster University, 11-12 May 2011 (invited paper)
- 'Theology in the Secular Academy': Graduate Theological Society, University of Oxford, 3 December 2011 (invited panel paper)
- 'Newman and Modernism': Catholic Theological Association, St Mary's University College, Twickenham, 6-9 September 2010 (invited plenary paper)
- 'Catholic Social Teaching and the Challenge of Unbelief': Virtual Plater Launch, Heythrop College, University of London, 17 July 2010 (plenary paper)
- 'Caritas in Veritate and the Allocation of Scarce Resources': Renewing the Catholic Social Conscience, Las Casas Institute, Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford, 19-21 March 2010
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