Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

Inside the Carceral Church: The Impact of Faith-Based Prison Ministries in American Prisons (MAGH Lecture, 11/28/2018)

Posted: 11/26/2018 (Local Events)

Medical Anthropology and Global Health Seminar Series is pleased to present “Inside the Carceral Church: The Impact of Faith-Based Prison Ministries in American Prisons”

Tanya Erzen, Ph.D., Associate Research Professor

Department of Religion/Gender Studies
University of Puget Sound
Director Freedom Education Project Puget Sound

In prisons throughout the United States, punishment and religious revivalism are occurring simultaneously. Faith-based ministries have become a dominant force in American prisons, operating under the logic that religious conversion and redemption will transform prisoners into new human beings. Based on her recent book, Erzen addresses the political and psychological consequences Christian ministries within a punitive system of mass incarceration.  She also discusses how people in prison practice religion in a space of coercion and discipline, the implications of the state’s promotion of Christianity over other religious traditions, and how faith-based programs may enable forms of transformation and community organizing.

Dr. Tanya Erzen is Associate Research Professor in Religion and Gender Queer Studies at The University of Puget Sound.  Her research focuses on American religion as it intersects with ethnography, gender and sexuality studies, and critical prison studies. In 2016 Dr. Erzen published the book God in Captivity: The rise of faith-based ministries in the age of mass incarceration (Beacon Press). In this book she discusses in rich ethnographic detail the rise of religious organizations in cash-strapped and overcrowded state and federal prisons in the United States. Previously, she published Straight to Jesus: Sexual and Christian conversions in the ex-gay movement (University of California Press, 2006) and co-authored Zero Tolerance: Quality of life and the new police brutality in New York City (New York University Press, 2001). Her work has appeared in numerous journals, including American Quarterly, The Boston Globe, and PLMA. Dr. Erzen is the executive director of the Freedom Education Project Puget Sound (FEPPS), which is an organization that offers college classes to women, transgender, and gender nonconforming people in Washington State prisons.

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Date: 11/28/2018

Time: 3:30-4:50 PM

Location: PAA A102