Jason Sexton

Jason Sexton


Office: UCLA Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, 619 Charles E. Young Drive East, LaKretz Hall – Suite 300

Email: jasonsexton@ucla.edu

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Jason S. Sexton is a social theorist who studies internal structural commitments of communities and their members and how these relate to assumed cultural and theological norms that show up in social and ethical action. His research focuses closely on California and its culture, the prison and its governance structures, contemporary religion/theology, and on convergent points where these subjects intersect.

His scholarly work has been published in academic journals like International Journal of Public Theology, Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, Political Theology, ReligionsEcclesial Practices: Journal of Ecclesiology and EthnographyPunishment and SocietyMission StudiesJournal of Theological Interpretation, among others. Contributions in religious studies led to his elected role as President of the largest, most diverse regional body of the American Academy of Religion, the Western Region. And his contributions to California studies led to his appointment as the recent Editor of the UC Press-published journal, Boom California. His academic writing has been published by presses like Routledge and Bloomsbury, while his popular writing has appeared in the LA TimesSF ChronicleZocalo Public Square, Los Angeles Review of Books, HarperCollins, among others.

Prior to joining the California Center for Sustainable Communities at UCLA, he was the Interim State University Associate Dean of Academic Programs and a Visiting Fellow at the UC Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion.


PhD, University of St Andrews


“Seeking Common Ground Between Theology and Science for Just Transitions,” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science (Wiley) 57/3 (Dec 2022), co-authored with Stephanie Pincetl. https://doi.org/10.1111/zygo.12856

“On the Relevant Conversation of Theology’s Relevance in the University and Society Today,” International Journal of Public Theology 16 (2022): 259-62, introducing symposium with Judith Wolfe, Christoph Schwöbel, Oliver Crisp, and Steve Holmes. https://brill.com/view/journals/ijpt/16/3/article-p259_2.xml

“Are Evangelicalism’s Theological Beliefs Coherent with the Eugenic Philosophy that Lent Support to Mass Incarceration?” Theological Puzzles 11 (2022). https://www.theo-puzzles.ac.uk/2022/07/05/sexton/

“Ten Tips to De-Carcerate Your Theology, Ethics, or Religion Classroom,” with Sarah Jobe, Nathaniel Grimes, Vincent Lloyd, Kathryn Getek Soltis, and Mary Beth Yount, Political Theology 23 (2022): 397-405. https://doi.org/10.1080/1462317X.2022.2079238

“Borders and Barriers: Citizenship in California,” in Los Angeles as a Global Crossroads: Migration, Transnationalism, and Faith, edited by Kirsteen Kim and Alexia Salvatierra (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2022), 131-150.

“Everything is Everything: Reevaluating Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen’s ‘Theology of Everything’ and Social Location,” in The Dialogic Evangelical Theology of Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen: Exploring the Work of God in a Diverse Church and a Pluralistic World, edited by Patrick Oden, Peter Heltzel, and Amos Yong (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2022), 229-38.

“The Critical Study of Religion and Division in the Age of Covid-19,” International Journal of Public Theology (Brill) 15/2 (2021): 157-176. https://doi.org/10.1163/15697320-12341652

“Experiencing Justice from the Inside Out: Theological Considerations about the Church’s Role in Justice, Healing, and Forgiveness,” Religions special issue, “Carceral Intersections: Christianity and the Crisis of Mass Incarceration,” 10/2 (2019): 108. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020108

“Redeemed on the Inside: Radical Accounts of Ecclesia Incarcerate,” Ecclesial Practices: Journal of Ecclesiology and Ethnography (Brill) 5/2 (December 2018): 172-90. https://doi.org/10.1163/22144471-00502005

“Confessional Theology in Public Places,” International Journal of Public Theology (Brill) 10/2 (March/April 2016): 234-48. https://doi.org/10.1163/15697320-12341444

“Greystone Chapel: Finding freedom inside Folsom Prison’s walls,” Boom: A Journal of California (UC Press): 6/2 (Summer 2016): 104-110 [after becoming Editor]. https://doi.org/10.1525/boom.2016.6.2.104

“Jesus on LSD: When Religion Met California Blotter,” Boom: A Journal of California (UC Press): 5/4 (December 2015): 78-84 [before becoming Editor]. https://doi.org/10.1525/boom.2015.5.4.78

“Toward a Theology of California’s Ecclesia Incarcerate,” Theology (Sage Press) 118.2 (Mar/Apr 2015): 83-91. https://doi.org/10.1177/0040571X14559159

“Can Theology Engage with California’s Culture?” in Theology and California: Theological Refractions on California’s Culture, ed. Fred Sanders and Jason S. Sexton (New York: Routledge, 2014), 35-67.


Awards & Grants

  • £28,500 for “Theological and Scientific Roots of Mass Incarceration,” a Science-Engaged Theology initiative, “New Visions in Theological Anthropology,” University of St Andrews, Scotland (funded by the John Templeton Foundation), 2020-2022.
  • $29,167 for “A Church Inside the Prison: An Intersectional and Personal Theological Account,” The Louisville Institute (Lilly), January 1-July 31, 2020.
  • $50,000 from Fieldstead and Co. for “The California Dream in Theological Perspective,” 2019-2020, Cal State University, Fullerton.
  • $2,000 for “The California Undocumented Body A working day conference on Understanding and Practicing California theological anthropology,” American Academy of Religion Regional Development Grant, 2018.
  • $1,000 for “Undocumented California” series in Boom California, California Historical Society, Fall 2017.