photo of Candy Brown

facebookFriend me on Facebook

twitterFollow me on Twitter

linkedinFollow me on LinkedIn

Watch my Presidential Address, American Society of Church History, 2018

Listen to me discuss conservative Christians' take on Halloween on Interfaith Voices

Read a press release about my 2013 book Healing Gods in the IU News Room

Read my Huffington Post blog,

Read my Psychology Today blog

Read my OUPblog post on yoga in public schools

Photo The Future of Evangelicalism in America
edited by Candy Gunther Brown and Mark Silk,
Columbia University Press, 2016

Find my complete cv here.

Candy Gunther Brown

Professor, Department of Religious Studies

Adjunct Professor, American Studies Program

Affiliate Faculty, Liberal Arts and Management Program

Sycamore Hall, Rm. 331


Ph.D., Harvard University, 2000

Research Interests

Professional Biography

I am an historian and ethnographer of religion and culture. My particular focus is the United States, understood within the broader frameworks of the Americas and global cultural flows. My first book, The Word in the World: Evangelical Writing, Publishing, and Reading in America, 1789-1880 (University of North Carolina Press, 2004), assesses how evangelicals interacted with the burgeoning print market of the mid-nineteenth century.

Studying evangelical print culture alerted me to the significance of “sanctification,” pursuit of holiness or freedom from sin and its consequences—including bodily sickness, as an organizing yet inadequately examined theme in American evangelicalism. As I followed the story forward in time and across space, I discovered the centrality of divine healing practices to the spread of global Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. My edited book, Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing (Oxford University Press, 2011), reveals that the primary appeal of pentecostalism worldwide is as a religion of healing.

Many people claim that prayer has cured them of blindness, deafness, and metastasized cancers. Can, and should, science test such claims? Testing Prayer: Science and Healing (Harvard University Press, 2012) argues that if prayer practices affect health—for better or for worse, for natural or for supernatural reasons—then doctors, patients, and policymakers should all want to know. This book models a multipronged, empirical method for studying prayer practices: comparison of medical records from before and after prayer, surveys of prayer recipients, prospective clinical trials, and multiyear follow-up observations and interviews.

As I interviewed Christians about their divine healing practices, some of them surprised me by describing their love for complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). This led me to write The Healing Gods: Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Christian America (Oxford University Press, 2013). People usually ask whether CAM works without asking why it is supposed to work. Many popular CAM practices—such as yoga, chiropractic, acupuncture, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, meditation, martial arts, homeopathy, and anticancer diets—are premised upon religious theories closely associated with Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism (Daoism), or Western metaphysics—and lack scientific evidence of efficacy and safety. Yet, CAM entered the American cultural and evangelical Christian mainstreams as people re-categorized practices as non-religious (though generically spiritual) health-care, fitness, or scientific techniques. Holistic health care raises ethical and legal questions of informed consent, consumer protection, and religious establishment at the center of biomedical ethics, tort law, and constitutional law. Healing Gods gets to the heart of values such as personal autonomy, self-determination, religious equality, and religious voluntarism.


Courses Recently Taught

Publication Highlights


The Future of Evangelicalism in America, co-edited with Mark Silk (New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming).

The Healing Gods: Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Christian America, (New York: Oxford University Press, August 2013).

Testing Prayer: Science and Healing, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012).

Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing, editor (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

The Word in the World: Evangelical Writing, Publishing, and Reading in America, 1789-1880, (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004).

Journal Articles (Peer-Reviewed)

“Textual Erasures of Religion: The Power of Books to Redefine Yoga and Mindfulness Meditation as Secular Wellness Practices in North American Public Schools.” Mémoires du livre / Studies in Book Culture 6.2 (2015): DOI 10.7202/1032713ar.

“Integrative Medicine in the Hospital: Secular or Religious?” Society (2015): DOI 10.1007/s12115-015-9929-8.

“Pentecostal Healing Prayer in an Age of Evidence-Based Medicine.” Transformation: An International Journal of Holistic Mission Studies 32.1 (2015): 1-16.

Heaven is for Real and America’s Fascination with Near-Death Experiences.” In Death, Dying, and Mysticism, ed. Thomas Cattoi and Christopher Moreman, 134-150. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

“Conservative Evangelicalism.” In The Brill Handbook for Global Christianity, ed. Stephen Hunt, 49-74. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2015.

“Embodied Performance and Reception of Protestant Religion.” Rev. essay of four books. American Literary History (2015): doi: 10.1093/alh/ajv053.

“Pentecostal Healing Prayer in an Age of Evidence-Based Medicine.” Transformation DOI: 10.1177/0265378814537750 (2014): 1-16.

“Religion, Illness, and Healing in an Interdisciplinary Classroom.” Transformations 25.1 (2014): 45-51.

“Feeling is Believing: Pentecostal Prayer and Complementary and Alternative Medicine.” Spiritus 14.1 (2014) 59-66.

“Pentecostal Power: The Politics of Divine Healing Practices.” PentecoStudies 13.1 (2014): 35-57.

“Balancing Personalized Medicine and Personalized Care,” Kenneth Cornetta, MD and Candy Gunther Brown, PhD, Academic Medicine 88.3 (March 2013): 1-5.

“Studying Divine Healing Practices: Empirical and Theological Lenses and the Theory of Godly Love,” PentecoStudies 11.1 (2012): 48-66.

“Study of the therapeutic effects of proximal intercessory prayer (STEPP) on auditory and visual impairments in rural Mozambique,” Candy Gunther Brown, PhD; Stephen C. Mory, MD; Rebecca Williams, MB BChir, DTM&H; Michael J. McClymond, PhD, Southern Medical Journal 103.9 (September 2010): 864-869.

“Chiropractic and Christianity: The Power of Pain to Adjust Cultural Alignments.” Church History 79:1 (March 2010): 1-38.

“Touch and American Religions.” Religion Compass 3.4 (2009): 770-783.

“From Tent Meetings and Store-front Healing Rooms to Walmarts and the Internet: Healing Spaces in the United States, the Americas, and the World, 1906-2006.” Church History (Sept. 2006): 631-647.

“Publicizing Domestic Piety: The Cultural Work of Religious Texts in the Woman’s Building Library.” Libraries and Culture 41.1 (winter 2006): 35-54.

“Prophetic Daughter: Mary Fletcher’s Narrative and Women’s Religious and Social Experiences in Eighteenth-Century British Methodism.” Eighteenth-Century Women 3 (2003): 77-98.

“‘Faith Working through Love’: The Wesleyan Revivals and Social Transformation—Considerations for the Contemporary Filipino Church.” Phronesis (Jan. 1997): 5-20.

“The Spiritual Pilgrimage of Rachel Stearns, 1834-1837: Reinterpreting Women’s Religious and Social Experiences in the Methodist Revivals of Nineteenth-Century America.” Church History (Dec. 1996): 577-595. (Article awarded the Sidney E. Mead Prize, American Society of Church History)

Book Chapters

“Heaven is for Real and America’s Fascination with Near-Death Experiences.” In Death, Dying, and Mysticism, ed. Thomas Cattoi and Christopher Moreman. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming.

“Conservative Evangelicalism.” In The Brill Handbook for Global Christianity, ed. Stephen Hunt. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, forthcoming.

“Healing.” Cambridge Companion to American Methodism, ed. Jason Vickers, 227-242. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Foreword to Divine Healing: The Proto-Pentecostal Years, 1890-1906: Holiness-Pentecostal Transition in the Transatlantic World, James Robinson. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2013.

“Practice.” In “Part IV Global Reach (1898-present),” Religion in American History, ed. Amanda Porterfield and John Corrigan, 302-322. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2010.

“Healing Words: Narratives of Spiritual Healing and Kathryn Kuhlman’s Uses of Print Culture, 1947-1976.” Religion and the Culture of Print in Modern America, ed. Charles L. Cohen and Paul S. Boyer, 271-297. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2008.

“Religious Periodicals and Their Textual Communities.” A History of the Book in America, vol. 3, The Industrial Book, 1840-1880, ed. Scott Casper, Jeff Groves, Stephen Nissenbaum, and Michael Winship, 270-278. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press & AAS, 2007. (Volume awarded the St. Louis Mercantile Library Prize in Bibliography)

"Singing Pilgrims: Hymn Narratives of a Pilgrim Community’s Progress from This World to That Which is to Come, 1830-90.” Sing Them Over Again to Me: Hymns and Hymnbooks in America, ed. Mark A. Noll and Edith L. Blumhofer, 194-213. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2006.

“Sanctified Singing: The Role of Hymnody in Shaping Wesleyan Evangelism, 1735-1915.” Considering the Great Commission: Evangelism and Mission in the Wesleyan Spirit, ed. Stephen Gunter and Elaine Robinson, 211-220. Nashville: Abingdon, 2005.

"Domestic Nurture Versus Clerical Crisis: The Gender Dimension in Horace Bushnell’s and Elizabeth Prentiss’s Critiques of Revivalism.” New Perspectives on North American Revivalism, ed. Michael McClymond, 67-83. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.

Op-Eds and Blogs

Huffington Post: “Testing Prayer: Can Science Prove the Healing Power of Prayer?”, “What Counts as Legitimate Scientific Research on Prayer?,” “Yoga Can Stay in School: Looking More Closely at the Encinitas Yoga Trial Decision,” “What Makes the Encinitas School Yoga Program Religious?,” “Will Affordable Care Act’s Alternative Medicine Coverage Establish Religion?”, “Buyer Beware: Learning to Ask Why Complementary and Alternative Medicine Works,” “‘Spiritual, but Not Religious’ an Oxymoron?”, “Chiropractic: Is it Nature, Medicine, or Religion?”, “Mindfulness: Stealth Buddhist Strategy for Mainstreaming Meditation?”, “Mindfulness Meditation in Public Schools: Side-Stepping Supreme Court Religion Rulings” (March 2012-December 2014)

Psychology Today: “Testing Prayer: Reflections on religion and alternative medicine,” posts: “Should Scientists Test Prayer?”, “How Should Prayer Be Studied?”, “Empirical Perspectives on Prayer for Healing,” “Before-and-After Medical Records,” “Surveys [selected as “Essential Read” by PT editors],” “Clinical Trials [selected as “Essential Read” by PT editors],” “Follow-up,” “Yoga in Public Schools,” “Why Encinitas Public School Yoga Promotes ‘Religion,’” “The Affordable Care Act, Alternative Medicine, and Religion,” “Careful Consumers of Complementary and Alternative Medicine,” “Spiritual, but Not Religious?”, “Is Your Chiropractor ‘Religious’?”, “Mindfulness,” “Mindfulness Meditation in Public Schools” (February 2012-December 2014

Bloomington Herald-Times, “Guest Column: MindUP: Does it put religion in the classroom?”, December 16, 2014,
Bloomington Herald-Times, “Guest Column: Religious School Should Not Get Public Support,” October 8, 2013

Religion in American History, “Four Questions with Candy Gunther Brown,” January 21, 2014

Campaign for the American Reader,“What is Candy Gunther Brown Reading?” August 31, 2013

“Pg. 99: Candy Gunther Brown’s ‘The Healing Gods,’” September 4, 2013

Writers Read, “Candy Gunther Brown,” August 31, 2013

OUPblog, “Understanding the Encinitas Public School Yoga Trial,” August 6, 2013

Encinitas Patch, “Op-ed: School Sun Salutations Here to Stay,” July 1, 2013

Atheist Yoga, “Discussions with Anton Drake, author of Atheist Yoga,” July 4-16, 2013

The Daily, Op-ed: "Living on a Prayer: Is there scientific evidence that talking to God is good for your health?” April 22, 2012

Press Releases

Read a press release for Healing Gods in the IU News Room

Read a press release for Testing Prayer in the IU News Room

Study finds proximity could be key to success of healing prayer in the IU News Room

IU religious studies professor awarded $150,000 grant to study divine healing in IU Home Pages

Six honored with IU Bloomington Outstanding Junior Faculty Award in IU News Room

Selected TV/Radio Interviews

Halloween,” Interfaith Voices, NPR (Oct. 2014)

Christians and Alternative Medicine,” The John & Kathy Show, Word-FM Pittsburgh (Oct. 2013)

“Are We All Syncretists Now? A Conversation about Evangelical Christianity and Alternative Medicine with Historian Candy Gunther Brown,” Thinking in Public (May 2014)

“Is Alternative Medicine Religious?” Interfaith Voices, NPR (Oct. 2013)

“Separation of Yoga and School?” Huffington Post Live (Aug. 2013)


Back to People main page >