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Interview: ‘Doctrine and Race’ Author on Researching History of African-American Evangelicals

Dr. Mary Beth Swetnam Mathews is a professor of religious studies at the University of Mary Washington whose areas of specialty include American religious history, Protestant Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism, African-American religions, and religion and politics in the United States. Mathews has authored several books, including Doctrine and Race: African American Evangelicals and Fundamentalism Between the Wars.

In this interview, Mathews answers questions about her research on African-American Christians in the context of Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism in the early 20th century in the United States. The interview was conducted by email. The following transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.

Tell us briefly about your academic career and how you got to where you are as a professor at the University of Mary Washington.

I came to academia in an indirect way. After receiving my undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary, I spent nine years working on Capitol Hill, starting as an unpaid intern and ending as a legislative director. During those nine years, I continued to be interested in topics in American religious history and finally made the decision to pursue a Ph.D. in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. 

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Timothy I. Cho
Timothy I. Cho
Timothy Isaiah Cho is Associate Editor at Faithfully Magazine. Timothy’s bylines have appeared in Religion News Service and Reformed Margins, and he has been interviewed for several podcasts including Truth’s Table and Gravity Leadership Podcast. He also runs a personal blog on Medium. He received a Master of Divinity from Westminster Seminary California and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from U.C. Berkeley. Email: timothy.cho (at)

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