Stephen C. Finley

Stephen C. Finley

Associate Professor

Ph.D.: Religious Studies, Rice University, 2009

Phone: 225-578-7023
Office: 231 Coates


Stephen Finley received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Rice University in 2009 shortly after joining the faculty at LSU in 2008. He has a joint appointment to the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies and the Program in African & African American Studies.  

Areas of Interest

Dr. Finley specializes in African American religion. His courses revolve around African American religious cultures, African American religious thought, and theory and method in the study of religion. His research expands upon these themes with an emphasis on African American religion and embodiment. His ongoing research for book projects is in three primary areas: 1) Theory of Religion through the lens of Robert T. Browne, an African American early-twentieth century intellectual and occultist; 2) A Theoretical approach to making sense of African American faculty experiences; 3) Esotericism and African American UFO traditions. Much of this work takes race, blackness, theory of religion, and non-material (consciousness) and material (such as quantum mechanics) approaches to religion seriously.


Executive Director, Society for the Study of Black Religion, 2018-2020

Courses Offered

  • REL 2000 Introduction to the Study of Religion
  • REL 2025/AAAS 2025 African American Religion
  • REL 4010 Special Topics: Black Religion and Film
  • REL 4400/AAAS 4400 The Religious Thought of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X
  • HNRS 3031 Race in the Age of Obama
  • AAAS Black Intellectual Thought
  • AAAS Religion, Hip Hop, & Culture

Awards and Honors

  • Louisiana Board of Regents, ATLAS: Awards to Louisiana Artists and Scholars, Recommended for Funding (2nd Tier Priority), 2021.
  • Morehouse College 35th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. College of Ministers and Laity Collegium of Scholars, Induction, 2021.
  • Mid-Career African American Faculty Digital Salon Fellowship. Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Religion and Theology, 2020-2021.
  • Manship and College Summer Research Fellowship, 2020.
  • LSU Service Award (10 Years), 2018.
  • Africana Teaching Award, African & African American Studies Program, 2018.
  • ATLAS Grant Award (State of Louisiana Board of Regents), 2017-2018.
  • Tiger Athletic Foundation Undergraduate Teaching Award, LSU 2012
  • Junior Faculty Travel Grant, Office of Research and Economic Development, LSU 2011-12
  • Summer Research Award, College of Humanities & Social Sciences, LSU 2011
  • Africana Research Award, African & African American Studies, LSU, 2011
  • Charles Redd Fellowship in Western American Studies, Charles Redd Center for Western Studies, Brigham Young University, 2010.
  • Arnold L. Mitchem Dissertation Fellowship, Marquette University, 2007-2008
  • Fund for Theological Education (FTE) Dissertation Fellowship, 2007-2008

Selected Publications


  • The Afro-Theosophysics of Robert T. Browne: Race, the Paranormal, and Theory of Religion (Book Proposal, Oxford University Press, Under Advance Contract). 
  • [Co-Author with Biko Mandela Gray and Lori Latrice Martin]. Ivory Towers, Regulatory Technologies, and the (Re)Production of Anti-Black Violence in the Academy: Introducing Black Faculty Studies. (Under Advance Contract, Johns Hopkins University Press).
  • In and Out of this World: Material and Extraterrestrial Bodies in the Nation of Islam. (Forthcoming, Duke University Press). 
  • [Co-Editor with Biko Mandela Gray and Lori Latrice Martin]. The Religion of White Rage: White Workers, Religious Fervor, and the Myth of Racial Progress. (Edinburgh University Press, 2020).
  • [Co-Editor with Margarita S. Guillory and Hugh R. Page]. Esotericism in African American Experience: "There Is a Mystery" .... (20 chapters + Introduction, Conclusion, Foreword, Afterword). Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill (2015). 
  • Associate Editor, (with Anthony B. Pinn, Editor). Encyclopedia of African American Religious Cultures. 2 Volumes. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO (2009). 

Edited Volumes

  • Co-editor. ‘There Is a Mystery’: Esotericism, Gnosticism, and Mysticism in African American Religious Experience (under contract, Brill).
  • Associate Editor. The Encyclopedia of African American Religious Cultures (2 vols.).

Articles and Chapters

  • "The Afro-Theosophysics of Robert T. Browne: Preliminary Thoughts on Theory and Method in the Study of Religion." Peer-reviewed Roundtable on Theosophy and the Study of Religion. Journal of the American Academy of Religion (Forthcoming).
  • "The Afro-Theosophysics of Robert T. Browne: Race, Theory, and Method in the Study of Religion." (extended book-chapter version). In Theosophy and the Study of Religion. Charles M. Stang and Jason Ananda Josephson Storm ed. (Brill: Forthcoming).
  • [1st author with Biko Mandela Gray and Hugh Page, Jr.]. "Africana Esoteric Studies and Western Intellectual Hegemony: A Conversation with Western Esotericism." History of Religions 60.3 (February 2021): 163-187. Published April 28, 2021. <>.
  • [2nd Author with Hugh R. Page, Jr.]. "What Can the Whole World Be Hiding?" - Exploring Africana Esotericisms in the American Soul - Blues Continuum of the 1970s. New Approaches to the Study of Esotericism. Julian Strube and Egil Asprem, editors. Leiden: Brill (2020): 168-181.
  • "'Make America Great Again': Racial Pathology, White Consolidation, and Melancholia in Trump's America." In The Religion of White Rage: White Workers, Religious Fervor, and the Myth of Racial Progress, pp. 29-42. Edited by Stephen C. Finley, Biko M. Gray, and Lori L. Martin. (Edinburgh University Press, 2020).
  • (2nd Author with Biko M. Gray and Lori Martin). "'High Tech Lynching': White Virtual Mobs and Administrators as Policing Agents in Higher Education." Issues in Race & Society: An Interdisciplinary and Global Journal, 8.1 (2019): 147-175 [Published in April 13, 2020].
  • "Signification and Subjectivity: Reflections on Racism, Colonialism, and (Re) Authentication in Religion and Religious Studies." [Special Edition: Agency Reduction in the Experiences and Realities of Africana People]. (International Journal of Africana Studies, 19.2 (2018): 15-35. [special issue: Agency Reduction; published 2019].
  • "The Meaning of 'Mother' in Louis Farrakhan's 'Mother Wheel': Race, Gender, and Sexuality in the Cosmology of the Nation of Islam's UFO." Journal of the American Academy of Religion 80.2 (June 2012): 434-65, (first published online, May 15, 2012: DOI: 10.1093/jaarel/LFS027). 

Media/Public Appearances