Religion - General

Byron Johnson, Ph.D.

Byron Johnson

Dr. Byron Johnson, founding director of Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion (IRS) and Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences, is an expert on the relationship between religion and criminology. He has done extensive research on the impact of religious education on maximum-security prisoners and the role of faith-based programs on reducing recidivism.

Johnson is recognized as a leading authority on the scientific study of religion, the efficacy of faith-based organizations, domestic violence and criminal justice.

Johnson’s recent publications, including his book "More God, Less Crime," have examined the impact of faith-based programs on recidivism reduction and prisoner reentry.

Johnson plays a leadership role at the Religious Freedom Project, a partnership between Baylor's ISR and Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. The partnership represents the only university-led research center dedicated to religious freedom.

Johnson has directed research centers at Vanderbilt University and the University of Pennsylvania. He recently completed a series of empirical studies for the U.S. Department of Justice on the role of religion in prosocial youth behavior and is a member of the Coordinating Council for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. In 2013, he was named the Lone Star Big Brother of the year by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Texas.

Johnson joined the Baylor faculty in 2004. He directs the ISR's Program on Prosocial Behavior, which examines the role of religiousness in guiding individual behavior and the role of faith-based groups and organizations in fostering prosocial activities.

To interview Dr. Johnson, contact Terry Goodrich, at 254-710-4656, or the Office of Media Communications at 254-710-1961.

Gordon Melton, Ph.D.

J. Gordon Melton

Dr. J. Gordon Melton, an expert on Methodism, new religions, American Religious History and religion in China, is the Distinguished Professor of American Religious History of Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion. He is also the founder and director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion in Woodway, Texas.

Melton founded the Institute for the Study of American Religion in 1968. The Institute has been responsible for the publication of more than 400 reference and scholarly texts since its founding.

Examples of Melton’s writings have been cited by Cornish Rogers, Ph.D., of the School of Theology at Claremont in California, introducing Melton and his most recent book, "A Will to Choose: The Origins of African American Methodism," in 2006. He has authored more than 35 books on American religious history, including the Encyclopedia of American Religions (8th edition, 2009) and the Encyclopedia of African American Religion (1993). He has also written numerous scholarly articles and papers.

He was honored with the Distinguished Service Award by The General Commission on Archives and History of the United Methodist Church for his work on Methodist historical research and writings. The Distinguished Service Award is given to scholars that have made a substantial contribution to furthering church history, specifically in Methodist historical studies.

A pioneering scholar in the field of New Religions Studies, Melton sits on the international board of the Center for Studies in New Religions (CESNUR) based in Turin, Italy, the primary academic association focusing on studies of new and minority religions.

Melton graduated from Birmingham-Southern College (B.A., ’64), Garret Evangelical Theological Seminary (M.Div. ’68), and Northwestern University (Ph.D., ’75).

To interview Dr. Melton, contact Terry Goodrich, (254) 710-3321, or the Office of Media Communications at (254) 710-1961.