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Meet Our Students

Miranda Zapor Cruz

Miranda Zapor Cruz is a Ph.D. candidate in Religion, Politics, and Society. Her dissertation, "It's Our Country and Our Cathedral: Sajudis and the Lithuanian Catholic Church," focuses on religion and nationalism in Lithuania from 1988 to its independence from the USSR in 1991. She holds a B.A. in Religion from Whitworth University with minors in philosophy, sociology, and biblical languages and an M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary with emphases in church history and ethics.

Miranda is also interested in religion and politics in the United States, secularism in Europe, war and Christian conscience, and Christianity under communism in Central and Eastern Europe. Her interests have been strongly influenced by her academic and volunteer work in Lithuania, Germany, Czech Republic, and Ghana, and also by her own Christian faith and Eastern European heritage. She hopes to teach courses on church history, religion and politics, and Christianity in Eastern Europe.

Jason A. Hines

Jason Hines is a Ph.D. candidate in Church-State Studies. He received a B.A. in Political science from the University of Connecticut and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. After a five year career as a commercial litigator in Philadelphia, Jason decided to study questions of religious liberty and constitutional law in the American context. His dissertation will discuss the political activities of Christian church institutions in the light of the religious history of church-state separation.

Jason is also involved in several blogs devoted to religious and church-state questions. He is a columnist for the blog for Spectrum Magazine and is an associate editor for ReligiousLiberty.TV. He also maintains his own blog, HineSight, where he talks about religion, church-state issues, politics, and the occasional post pertaining to his beloved Philadelphia Eagles. Jason and his wife Lilly (who is also an attorney) reside in Waco.

Lauren Lea Tapley

Lauren Lea Tapley is a Ph.D. candidate in Religion, Politics, and Society in the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University. Her dissertation "Human Rights and Religious Dissidents in the Brezhnev Era: the Effect of the Human Rights Movement on the Activism of Religious Dissidents" explores the impact that the growing human rights movement in the Soviet Union during the Brezhnev era had on the level of activism by religious dissidents, particularly Orthodox and Baptist dissenters in Russia.

Lauren holds a B.A. and M.A. in History from Baylor University with a minor in Russian and concentrations in European intellectual history and Russian history. Her research interests include Modern European intellectual history, particularly early communist writers, Russian literature and philosophy, particularly in reference to the early Soviet period, the Cold War, human rights in Eastern Europe and Russia, and religious life during and after communism in Russia. Lauren's hope is to teach courses in Russian history, European intellectual history, and Christianity in Europe.