Professor of Religious Studies
“I love everything I do. The life of a professor — that is, reading, synthesizing knowledge, producing scholarship, transforming that scholarship so that it is accessible to students in the college classroom — is what I would choose if I had a magic wand.”
Dr. Craig Martin has always had a passion for learning. Dr. Martin joined the STAC team back in 2008 and has been an asset to the college in countless ways. His strong interest in education shines through in his courses. Dr. Martin teaches a variety of courses including Religion & Society, Hebrew Bible, New Testament, Islam, Hinduism &, Buddhism, Religion & Capitalism, Religion & Gender, Evolution of Jesus, Ethics in a Technological Society, Politics, Religion, & Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Social Science, and lastly Philosophy of Religion.
Dr. Martin’s expertise lies in the study of theory and method in the study of religion, focusing on discourse analysis and ideology critique. Dr. Martin says “My first book, Masking Hegemony: A Genealogy of Liberalism, Religion, and the Private Sphere, was about how the language we use to talk about separation of church and state may function to increase the influence of religious institutions on the state. My second monograph, Capitalizing Religion: Ideology and the Opiate of the Bourgeoisie, argued that scholarship on spirituality reflects the values of capitalism, and that much of what goes under the name of spirituality is capitalist ideology designed to adjust professional class workers to exploitation by market forces. My textbook, A Critical Introduction to the Study of Religion, focuses on how elements of religious traditions can be deployed to reinforce social domination, including racism, sexism, and classism. I have another book, coming out later this year, it’s titled, Discourse & Ideology: A Critique of the Study of Culture; this book offers scholars a post-structuralist approach to performing discourse analysis and ideology critique, with special attention to ideologies that reinforce social domination. A thread throughout all of my works is the following: societies are never set up in ways that benefit everyone equally; social order always functions to benefit some individuals or groups over others. In addition, we can pay close attention to why this often goes unnoticed, how differential or discriminatory treatment is legitimized or justified, and how asymmetrical power relations can be contested. These issues appear in my courses as well; my teaching often focuses on issues related to sexism, racism, and classism.”
One of the many reasons Dr. Martin thrives at STAC is because of the connection he has with his students. He says, “I often try to make myself an example in the analysis of what we’re talking about. The more I can show how the course content is relevant to my own life, the more they can see how it might be relevant to their own.” He loves challenging his students, pressing them to think new things, to question what we usually take for granted. His favorite way to end class is have his students leave the classroom thinking with a new perspective about the discussion held.
Dr. Martin has inspired and guided countless students at STAC. One student, Christina Willems says, “Dr. Martin possesses what I would consider rare qualities in a professor. He certainly cares that his students understand what he is teaching, and he treats us as equals — no power dynamic of professor/student. I wouldn’t say he is as passionate about teaching religion as a subject more than he is about using it to enlighten his students and open our eyes to misconstrued truths. In his class, you will not only learn about the subject, but you will be encouraged to think critically and question what you think you know — lifelong skills! I’ve had several stimulating, and enriching conversations with Dr. Martin outside of the classroom about heavy world issues. He has a genuineness to him that some other professors lack, and I admire his intellectuality beyond his religious studies. My gratitude for the opportunity to experience a professor like Dr. Martin is infinite.”
Dr. Martin’s incredible efforts as both mentor and professor have led him to win Faculty Member of the Year three times since coming to STAC! As if that was not impressive enough, he also served as Executive Secretary of the North American Association for the Study of Religion from 2011 to 2016. He also edited a small journal called the Bulletin for the Study of Religion from 2007 to 2012. Dr. Martin currently edits a book series with Bloomsbury Publishing, titled Critiquing Religion: Discourse, Culture, Power. He also used to oversee the STAC House Band, in which he served as a lead guitarist for many years!
Outside his scholarship and teaching, Dr. Martin has been a lead guitarist in a 90s alternative rock cover band for the past few years; he plays covers of songs by Foo Fighters, Green Day, Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and many more bands.
Dr. Martin is an invaluable member of the STAC faculty and has had so much life experience which he brings to class with him daily. Having lived in different parts of the country including Louisiana, Mississippi, Indiana, California, and New York, Dr. Martin has a lot of background knowledge from meeting different people throughout his life. He is also a longtime vegetarian and enjoys watching the New Orleans Saints play in the NFL, or perhaps his favorite movie, The Big Lebowski. Dr. Martin embodies all the incredible qualities that a professor should have and STAC is beyond grateful to have him play such a large role on campus!