Susan B. Ridgely

Position title: Religious Studies Program Director and Graduate Advisor


224 Bradley Memorial Building

Prof. Susan B. Ridgely


A.B., Religion, Princeton University, 1996
M.A., Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1998
Ph.D., Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2002

Research Interests
Age and Religion, Generations and tradition, children and religion, Religion and family, Contemporary American Religions, Catholicism, Evangelicalism, Focus on the Family, religion in the rural South

I use the methodologies of lived religion to analyze the role of age and intergenerational engagement in religious practice. I am the author of Practicing What the Doctor Preached: At Home with Focus on the Family (Oxford University Press, 2016), When I was a Child: Children’s Interpretations of First Communion (University of North Carolina Press, 2005), and two edited volumes on theories and methods for including children in the academic study of religion. My current project uses archival research and oral histories to explore the generational consequences of the desegregation of the diocese of Raleigh, North Carolina in 1953.



Practicing What the Doctor Preached: At Home with Focus on the Family (Oxford, 2016)

When I Was a Child: Children’s Interpretations of First Communion (UNC, 2005)

The Bloomsbury Reader in Religion and Childhood, Anna Strhan, Stephen Parker, and Susan Ridgelyeditors, (Bloomsbury, 2017)

The Study of Children in Religions: A Methods Handbook (NYU, 2011)

Recent Articles

“Conservative Christianity and the Creation of Alternative News: An Analysis of Focus on the Family’s Multi-Media Empire,” Journal of Religion and American Culture 30, no. 1 (2020): 1-25 [P]

The Generational Ties that Bind American Catholics: Attending to Age and Region in the Catholic Imaginary” ExchangeJournal of Contemporary Christianities in Context 48:3 (July 2019), 251-267 [P]

Contributor, “Forum: Catholic Sex Abuse and the Study of Religion” Journal of American Catholic Studies 2:130 (July 2019), 8-12

“When Pain Becomes Symbolic of Commitment: The Practice of Spanking Among Users of Focus on the Family Childrearing Materials” Journal of Religion and Violence. Fall 2016.[P]

“Connected Christians: New Practices in Conservative Evangelical Spirituality,” Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality 14:1 (Spring 2014), pp. 84-93 [P]

“Beyond Sunday School: How Child-Centered Studies of Religion are Transforming our Understanding of Children and their Traditions,” in Exploring and Engaging Spirituality for Today’s Children, edited by La Verne Tolbert (Wipf & Stock, 2014): 65-80.[P]

“Doing Ethnography with Child Consultants: Making the IRB Process Work,” Journal of American Folklore 125:3 (Fall 2012), 474-85 [P]

“The Study of Children and Religion in America,” Religion Compass 6:4 (2012), 236-248 [P]