The work of the Institute is carried out by Baylor University professors Dr. Doug Weaver, Director, Institute of Church-State Studies; Dr. Christopher M. Rios, Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies & Graduate Program Director, Church-State Studies; and Dr. Jerold Waltman, Editor of the Journal of Church and State.

Their training and experience in the disciplines of theology, church history, law, intellectual history, and social science provide the Institute with an interdisciplinary foundation essential to research, writing, and teaching in the broad field of church-state relations. The Institute was founded in 1957 and since that time has earned a recognized place as a leader in the field of church-state studies. In addition to its own initiatives, the Dawson Institute regularly cooperates with such institutions as the Institute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs at Boston University, the International Center for Law and Religion at Brigham Young University, and the Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs at Georgetown University.

Weaver Doug Weaver, (B.A., M.Div., Ph.D.), is Professor of Religion, Director of Undergraduate Studies, and Coordinator, Baptist Studies for Research, in the Department of Religion at Baylor University. In August 2015 he was named Director of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies. Weaver is a native of Virginia and earned a BA at Mississippi College (1978) and the M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1981, 1985). After teaching at Baptist related colleges in Virginia and Georgia, Weaver came to Baylor University, Waco, Texas, in 2003. He teaches both at the undergraduate and PhD levels and has graduate students studying Baptist and Pentecostal history. He has taught classes (particularly Baptist Identity) at G. W. Truett Theological Seminary each year since joining the Baylor faculty.

Weaver's most recent publication (as editor/contributor) was Mirrors and Microscopes: Historical Perceptions of Baptists (Paternoster Press, 2015). Other books include In Search of the New Testament Church: The Baptist Story (Mercer, 2008) and an annotated edition of E. Y. Mullin’s Axioms of Religion (Mercer, 2010). Weaver was also one of the editors of The Acts of the Apostles: Four Centuries of Baptist Interpretation (Baylor U Press, 2009) and Exploring Christian Heritage: A Reader in History and Theology (Baylor U Press, 2012). His first book was, The Healer-Prophet, William Marrion Branham: A Study of the Prophetic in American Pentecostalism (Mercer University Press, 1987), was reprinted in 2000. He has numerous articles in journals, most recently in Perspectives in Religious Studies, Baptist History and Heritage, Wesleyan Theological Journal, and the American Baptist Quarterly. In recent studies, Weaver has explored the importance of freedom of conscience and the relationship of personal voluntary faith and ecclesiology in Baptist life.