Randall Balmer Wins 2024 Marty Award

Awards and Accomplishments

The American Academy of Religion is pleased to announce the winner of the 2024 Martin E. Marty Award for the Public Understanding of Religion, Randall Balmer, who holds the John Phillips Chair in Religion at Dartmouth College. Since 1996, the award has been given annually to an individual whose work has made extraordinary contributions to the public understanding of religion. 

The American Academy of Religion celebrates Professor Balmer’s long and distinguished record of scholarship on religion and politics, as well as his innovative work on documentaries with PBS, his service as an expert witness in several First Amendment cases, and frequent appearances on major national media outlets that deepen our understanding of current issues.

Dr. Balmer is an award-winning author of more than a dozen books published across three decades, including four since 2021: Saving Faith: How American Christianity Can Reclaim Its Prophetic Voice (Fortress 2023); Passion Plays: How Religion Shaped Sports in North America (University of North Carolina Press, 2022); Bad Faith: Race and the Rise of the Religious Right (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2021); and Solemn Reverence: The Separation of Church and State in American Life (Steerforth, 2021). One of his earliest books, Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America (Oxford University Press, 1989), was published in five editions over 25 years and was made into an award-winning, three-part documentary for PBS. Dr. Balmer was nominated for an Emmy for writing and hosting the series.

Dr. Balmer has consistently served as a trusted interpreter and commentator for the media on religion in American public life. He has penned nearly 300 op-eds in national and local newspapers and magazines, and he served as a senior editor for Christianity Today for a decade. Dr. Balmer’s 2014 Politico article, “The Real Origins of the Religious Right,” which demonstrated that the early Religious Right was more concerned about resisting desegregation than banning abortion, became one of the site’s most-cited pieces and permanently changed the public narrative.

For three decades, Dr. Balmer has been a regular commentator on major national networks like, NPR and CNN, as well as on popular shows such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. In addition to his first documentary, Dr. Balmer has produced, written, and hosted two other documentaries: Crusade: The Life of Billy Graham, which appeared on PBS and A&E Biography, and In the Beginning: The Creationist Controversy.

With gratitude for these substantial and ongoing contributions, and his steadfast commitment to public scholarship, the Committee for the Public Understanding of Religion unanimously voted to name Dr. Balmer as this year’s Marty Award winner.