Courtney Bender received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Princeton University and her B.A. from Swarthmore College. She specializes in contemporary American religion and the social scientific study of religion.

She is author of The New Metaphysicals: Spirituality and the American Religious Imagination (Chicago 2010), Heaven’s Kitchen: Practicing Religion at God’s Love We Deliver (Chicago 2003). She is co-editor with Pamela Klassen of After Pluralism: Reimagining Religious Engagement (Columbia 2010); and co-editor with Ann Taves of What Matters? Ethnographies of Value in a Secular Age (Columbia 2012). 

Recent Publications

“Practicing Religion,” Cambridge Companion to Religious Studies. 2012.

“Review Essay: Past Practices - Ethnography and American Religion” Religion and American Culture 2011.

After Pluralism. Co-edited with Pamela Klassen. Columbia University Press 2010 (October)

The New Metaphysicals. University of Chicago Press 2010.

“How Does God Answer Back?” Poetics 2008.

“What the Many Lives of Past Lives Tell us About Contemporary Spirituality.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 2007.


Courtney Bender

Courtney Bender

Associate Professor

Columbia University

Department of Religion

80 Claremont Ave Rm 103

New York NY 10027

Tel: 212.851.4134



New Directions in the Study of Prayer

Secular Temples

Recent Blog Posts

Sometimes a Cross isn’t just a Cross

The Cruelest Cut?

Coloring the Spiritual

God Help the Atheist

Acts of God