Guest Contributors

Guest Contributors are listed in order of their appearance on Religion Nerd and not alphabetically. 

Christa Lasher

Christa Lasher has earned a BA in Religious Studies at Georgia State University (2008) and will be completing an MA in Religious Studies at Georgia State University in May, 2010.  Her main interests include Religion and Law, Religion in America, New Religious Movements, and Theories and Methods of Religious Studies.  Earlier this year, she presented on a panel at SECSOR’s annual conference on Gary Laderman’s Sacred Matters.  She intends to start a joint Ph.D./J.D. program in the fall of 2011.

Hannah Spadafora

Hannah Spadafora has completed the requirements for a BA in Religious Studies with a minor of English at Georgia State University, and will have finished up with a second BA in Philosophy by her expected graduation date in Summer 2011. Her significant areas of interests include Religion and the Modern Day, Religion’s Role in Media, Pop Culture and Literature, and Theories and Methods of Religious Studies. She intends, over the next couple of years, to gain further publishing of both scholarly and literary works, and to enter into a Masters Program focused in the social sciences.

Ashley Gnat

Ashley graduated magna cum laude from Emory University in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Religion.  She is currently in the process of earning her masters degree in religious studies from Georgia State University.  Her interests lie in the religious landscape of China.  Recently, she has been focusing on the Cultural Revolution and is attempting to make it more intelligible as a religious phenomenon.

Bob Cornwall

Bob Cornwall is Pastor of Central Woodward Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of Troy, MI and Editor ofSharing the Practice, the journal of the Academy of Parish Clergy. Holder of a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary, he loves to write, having authored several books, having most recently co-edited with William Gibson, Religion, Politics and Dissent, 1660-1832 (Ashgate, 2010).  He has a book on the Lord’s Prayer entitled  Ultimate Allegiance:  The Subversive Nature of the Lord’s Prayer due out this fall from Energion Publications.  Besides writing nearly every day at his personal blog Ponderings on a Faith Journey, he contributes to several other blogs, including the Christian Century blog Theolog and a Disciples of Christ blog [D]mergent.

Dale McGowan 

Dale McGowan left a 15-year career as a college professor in 2006 to pursue writing full-time. He edited and co-authored Parenting Beyond Belief and Raising Freethinkers, the first comprehensive resources for nontheistic parents. He writes the secular parenting blog The Meming of Life, teaches nontheistic parenting seminars across the United States, and serves as executive director of Foundation Beyond Belief, a 501(c)(3) humanist charitable and educational foundation based in Atlanta. 

In September 2008 he was named Harvard Humanist of the Year by the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University.  Dale holds degrees in physical anthropology and music from UC Berkeley and the University of Minnesota. He and his wife Becca, a first grade teacher, live near Atlanta with their three children.

Tobias Winwright 

Tobias Winright is associate professor of theological ethics at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri.  Dr. Winright previously taught at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa (1998-2003) and Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio (2003-2005) where he was given the Educator of the Year award in 2004. He also has prior experience in youth and campus ministry, as well as several years of experience in law enforcement (corrections and policing).  He has taught ethics classes for the Des Moines Police Department Regional Police Academy and the Saint Louis County and Municipal Police Academy.   He has co-authored a book with Mark J. Allman–After the Smoke Clears: The Just War Tradition and Post War Justice.

Chris Stedman

Chris Stedman is the Managing Director of State of Formation at the Journal of InterReligious Dialogue. Chris received an MA in Religion from Meadville Lombard Theological School at the University of Chicago, for which he was awarded the Billings Prize for Most Outstanding Scholastic Achievement. A summa cum laude BA in Religion graduate of Augsburg College, Chris is the founder and author of the blog NonProphet Status. Previously a Content Developer and Adjunct Trainer for the Interfaith Youth Core, Chris is a secular humanist working to foster positive and productive dialogue between faith communities and the nonreligious. He is currently writing a book on this topic and serves on the Leadership Team of the Common Ground Campaign, a coalition of young people standing up in response to the recent wave of anti-Muslim rhetoric and violence in America.  

Bryan Parys

Bryan Parys is an adjunct instructor of writing at the University of New Hampshire, and reviews instrumental music for The Silent Ballet. He holds a BA in English from Gordon College and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from UNH. His Master’s thesis, Wake Sleeper, chronicles his upbringing as a Christian, and how this journey was marked at age four with the passing of his father. The images of waking and sleeping show up throughout to suggest the literal and metaphoric struggles between night/light, life/death, and faith/doubt. His blog of the same name serves as an active forum for parsing the disparity and mystery behind endings and eternity.

Josh Lupo

Josh Lupo earned his BA and MA in Religious Studies from Georgia State University. His research interests include: philosophy of religion, religious ethics, and political theory.

Audra Esker

A chronic student, Audra Esker is currently completing her MA in Religious Studies at Georgia State University after earning a BA in Religious Studies from Georgia State, as well as BA in Germanic Studies from Indiana University.  Her interests include the intersection of art and religion, all things Nietzsche, and religious violence.  With the hopes of one day completing a PhD, she is presently content looking at art and writing about it.


Nehemia Stern

Nehemia Stern earned an M.A. from Binghamton University in anthropology.  He is currently pursuing a PhD in the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University, with a focus on the anthropology of Jews and Judaism.

Teo Sagisman

Teo Sagisman holds a BA in Business Management from the Middle East Technical University Ankara, Turkey and a MS in marketing from Georgia State University.  He is co-founder and web master for Religion Nerd.

Suzanne Degnats

Suzanne Degnats in currently working on her MA in Religious Studies at Georgia State University.  She is specifically interested in personal religious/spiritual narratives and the religious experiences and biographies of ordinary people.

Hesham A. Hassaballa  

Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago doctor and writer. He has written extensively on a freelance basis, being published in newspapers across the country and around the world. He has been a Beliefnet columnist since 2001, and has written for the Religion News Service. His articles have been distributed worldwide by Agence Global, and he is also a guest blogger for The Chicago Tribune. In addition, Dr. Hassaballa has appeared as a guest on WTTW (Channel 11) in Chicago, CNN, Fox News, and National Public Radio. 

Dr. Hassaballa is co-author of The Beliefnet Guide to Islam (Doubleday), and his essay, “Why I Love the Ten Commandments,” was published in the award-winning book Taking Back Islam (Rodale). His latest book, Noble Brother, is the story of the Prophet Muhammad told entirely in poetry.

In 2007, this blog was nominated for a Brass Crescent Award for a blog that is “the most stimulating, insightful, and philosophical, providing the best rebuttals to extremist ideology and making an impact whenever they post.” God, Faith, and a Pen has also received an award for being one of the Top Muslim Blogs for 2010 by Awarding The Web.

In addition to writing, Dr. Hassaballa helped found the Chicago Chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations and has served on their board of directors. He also co-founded the Bayan H. Hassaballa Charitable Foundation and serves as its Executive Director.

Michel-Camille Bordeau

Michel-Camille Bordeau is the founder and author of The School of Seshata (, a blog about secular spirituality and the home of the Scriptopedia Project. Michel earned an M.A. in French Studies from The Ohio State University (1998).   Mid-life crisis oblige, he is returning to college in August 2011, to pursue an M.S.W. with a specialization in Mental Health & Drugs of Abuse. 

Before relocating to Atlanta, Michel was an Academic Advisor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor campus, for nearly ten years. He has advised many students (and parents) on academic and life matters.  He taught English, Public Speaking, Humanities, and French at various colleges and universities.  In 2002, Michel published Poire Sucrée, Salée, Epicée, a short novel about a dance teacher forced to face the demons of her past. He is currently seeking representation for Seeing Purple, a dystopian novel set in Anaïs Abelard’s hometown, the New Orleans of tomorrow, also home to the power-hungry mega church known as the Calvinistry. Michel considers himself an amateur ‘atheologist’ and he often writes under the nom de plume Anais Abelard.