James K. Wellman, Jr.

Professor of American Religion, Culture and Politics
Jackson School of International Studies,
University of Washington

Chair, Comparative Religion Program

Term Professor for Global Christianity, Initiative for Global Christian Studies


James Wellman is Professor and Chair of the Comparative Religion Program in the Jackson School of International Studies. Teaching at the University of Washington since 2002, his areas of expertise are in American religious culture, history and politics.

Wellman was recently named to a five year Term Professorship in Global Christianity. He is leading a new Initiative for Global Christian Studies. If you are interested in finding out more about it or contributing to this Initiative, please be in touch with him at: jwellman@uw.edu. Or, if you interested in hearing more about the Initiative, listen here: https://jsis.washington.edu/religion/

Wellman’s most recent book, Rob Bell and a New American Christianity (Abingdon Press, 2012), explores one of the most well-known and controversial evangelical ministers in America. Bell, up until 2011, led a 10,000-member megachurch, and is now pursuing TV opportunities in Hollywood. Bell’s artistry as a preacher, his fearlessness in pursuing various forms of media, makes him an ideal person to examine the future horizon of American Christianity.

As Wellman wrote: “In this way, Bell is a postmodern evangelist–a slam poet, Billy Graham type, who beguiles with words, images, and ideas about a beautiful Jesus, whose stories transfix and transduce words into flesh, making incarnation the arbiter of all value.”

Wellman’s other publications include an award-winning book, The Gold Coast Church and the Ghetto: Christ and Culture in Mainline Protestantism (Illinois, 1999); two edited volumes: The Power of Religious Publics: Staking Claims in American Society, with Bill Swatos (Praegers, 1999), and Belief and Bloodshed: Religion and Violence Across Time and Tradition (Rowman and Littlefield, 2007). His 2008 monograph, Evangelical vs. Liberal: The Clash of Christian Cultures in the Pacific Northwest (Oxford University Press), received Honorable Mention for the 2009 Distinguished Book Award by the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.

Wellman edited a volume with Clark Lombardi, called Religion and Human Security: A Global Perspective (Oxford University Press, 2012). This volume examines case studies of the impact of religious groups on the human security that covers  states in every region of the world.

His next book project, High on God: How the Megachurch Conquered America (Oxford University Press), is based on a national survey of twelve national megachurches, engaging quantitative and qualitative data from interviews with clergy and laypeople. The book explores the powerful affective forces within these congregations and is a fascinating portrait of the dominance of megachurches in American religious life.

Wellman is a Presbyterian minister.  He is recently married to Brooke Wellman and they live in the Seattle area.  He has two daughters, Constance and Georgia, both of whom either attend or graduated from the University of Washington. They are his “bright and shining morning stars.”

Professor – Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies