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Curtis Johnson, Ph.D.

Curtis Johnson


Department of History

Knott Academic Center
Room 200M

+1 (301) 447-5155

Curtis Johnson, Ph.D., came to Mount St. Mary's in 1985. He has served in many capacities including American Experience Director, History Department Chair, and the Director of the America in the World program. He has also led key faculty committees such as the Academic Council and the Tenure, Rank, and Awards Committee.

  • Ph.D., University of Minnesota (1985)
  • M.A., University of Minnesota (1979)
  • B.S., Minnesota State University at Moorhead (Magna Cum Laude) (1972)

The Delaplaine Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities, Mount St. Mary’s University (2020-23)

The John Richards Award for Teaching Excellence, Mount St. Mary's University (2017)

The Class of 1950 Memorial Award (for service to the university), Mount St. Mary's University (2011)

Dr. Johnson's primary fields of study are United States social and political history as well as American religious history. He has also taught electives in United States sports history and the history of American manhood. He has taught a wide range of additional courses ranging introductory freshman courses to the History Senior Seminar.


The Power of Mammon: The Market, Secularization, and New York State Baptists, 1790-1922. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, published 2021.

Islands of Holiness: Rural Religion in Upstate New York, 1790-1860. 1989. Reprint edition: Fall Creek Books, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012.

Redeeming America: Evangelicals and the Road to Civil War. Chicago: Ivan Dee, 1993.

Selected Articles

“The Protracted Meeting Myth: Awakenings, Revivals, and New York State Baptists, 1789-1850.” Journal of the Early Republic, 34:3, Fall 2014: 349-383.

“‘Disordered’ Democracies: Gender Conflict and New York Baptist Women, 1791-1830.” Journal of Social History, 47:2, Winter 2013: 482-506.

“Structural and Ideological changes in the Second Great Awakening” American History. 2008. ABC-CLIO. 29 Dec. 2008

“Sectarian Nation”: Religious Diversity in Antebellum America.” Organization of American Historians: Magazine of History, 22:1, January, 2008: 14-18.

Book Reviews

Curtis Johnson has reviewed more than twenty books in journals including The American Historical Review, The Journal of American History, Reviews in American History, Journal of the Early Republic, Church History, Journal of Southern History, and New York History.

The Power of Mammon Abstract

Perhaps the most common topic in recent religious studies is the rapid secularization of American society over the past twenty years. Academics from multiple fields have investigated this phenomenon, mostly from present-day perspectives. By contrast, Charles Taylor, a philosopher, discusses secularization over a 500-year span, but his work lacks the historical data necessary to support some of his claims.

The Power of Mammon diverges from contemporary “presentism” in that it examines the secularization of New York State Baptists from 1790 to 1922. Unlike Taylor’s A Secular Age, it uses extensive statistical evidence as well as other sorts of documentation in supporting its claims. The manuscript concludes that it was not scientific hegemony nor theological pluralism that secularized New York Baptists. Instead, The Power of Mammon contends that was the market economy and its myriad of cultural and material distractions that were the primary secularizing forces. This claim is supported by individual-level data on nearly 20,000 Baptists from 1790-1850 and data on 16,700 Baptists baptized between 1790 and 1920. The book includes multiple innovative statistical measures that make it possible to quantify secularization patterns over time. The book also provides numerous examples of individuals and congregations that exemplify larger trends. In short, this project is unique in that it discusses the evolution of an important religious denomination in an entire state over 130 years in making its contribution to our understanding of secularization.