Social ethicist and African American religious studies scholar Jonathan L. Walton joined the faculty of Harvard Divinity School in July 2010. Formerly an assistant professor of religious studies at the University of California, Riverside, Walton earned his PhD in religion and society from Princeton Theological Seminary. He also holds a master of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary as well as a BA in political science from Morehouse College in Atlanta.
His research addresses the intersections of religion, politics, and media culture. Drawing on British cultural studies, Walton explores the interrelationship between the media used by African American evangelists and the theologies thereby conveyed. He argues for forms of theological innovation within the productions of black religious broadcasting that are enabled—perhaps even generated—by the media that evangelists use, and he asks what the implications are for the study of African American religions when one attends to these particular forms of religious and theological expression.
His first book, Watch This! The Ethics and Aesthetics of Black Televangelism (NYU Press, 2009), is an important intervention into the study of American religion. As he explains, those working on Christian religious broadcasting have given little attention to the phenomenon outside of white, conservative, evangelical communities, while black liberation theologians have yet to give careful attention to televisual representation as a site of theological production.