Eugene V.  Gallagher

Eugene V.  Gallagher

Rosemary Park Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies
Founding director, 1996, the Joy Shechtman Mankoff Center for Teaching & Learning
Faculty Fellow, Joy Shechtman Mankoff Center for Teaching & Learning, 2002-2010 Associate Editor, "Teaching Theology and Religion"

Joined Connecticut College: 1978-2015

B.A., La Salle University
M.A., Ph.D., University of Chicago


History of religion

New religious movements

New Testament and early Christianity

Western scriptures and traditions

Gene Gallagher retired from teaching in 2015. His interests focus on new religious movements with a comparative and historical perspective. His intellectual interests in this area shape how he teaches a series of case studies, including courses on Understanding Global Religions, Cults and Conversion in Modern America and Holy Books: Scripture in the Western Tradition.

Gallagher was named the 2004 Connecticut State Professor of the Year by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. In 2001, he received the American Academy of Religion's Excellence in Teaching Award.

Gallagher's interest in religion as a whole is reflected in courses on "The Study of Religion" and "Theories of Religion." He uses the development of the early Christian movement in the Greco-Roman world as a paradigm of how an initially obscure and suspicious cult movement can enter the social mainstream and achieve a position of power and respectability.

His familiarity with early Christianity decisively shapes his understanding of contemporary new religions, or so-called "cults." In both instances he is particularly interested in forming an understanding of the processes of conversion and dis-affiliation as well as a group's missionary activity and self-defense ("apologetics").

His most recent book is Reading and Writing Scripture in New Religious Movements: New Bibles and New Revelations (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). He is the author of The New Religious Movements Experience in America (Greenwood, 2004); Divine Man or Magician? Celsus and Origen on Jesus and Expectation; and Experience: Explaining Religious Conversion. He is the co-author of Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America, described by Kirkus Reviews as "a thoroughly absorbing... analysis of the Branch Davidian movement and critique of America's stance toward 'cults'... the questions raised here deserve to be answered."

Among Gallagher's other publications are:

  • " 'Present Truth' and Diversification among the Branch Davidians" in Revisionism and Diversification in New Religious Movements, E. Barker, ed.
  • "Sources, Sects, and Scripture: The ‘Book of Satan’ in The Satanic Bible" in The Devil’s Party: Satanism in Modernity, Jesper Aagaard Petersen & Per Faxnald, eds.
  • “Reading the Signs: Millennialism, Scripture, and Tradition” and “Catastrophic Millennialism: Expecting Cataclysmic Transition to a Collective Salvation” in the Oxford Handbook on Millennialism
  • “Sectarianism” in Peter Clarke & Peter Beyer, eds., The World’s Religions: Continuities and Transformations
  • The entry on “Religion” in the Encyclopedia of Leadership
  • With W. Michael Ashcraft he has edited the five-volume Introduction to New and Alternative Religions (Greenwood, 2006)

He has also written extensively on teaching, including “Sketching the Contours of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion” (with Patricia O’Connell Killen), in Teaching Theology and Religion; “Teaching for Religious Literacy” in Teaching Theology and Religion; “Spirituality in Higher Education? Caveat Emptor” in Religion and Education; and “Responding to Resistance in Teaching about New Religious Movements” in David Bromley, ed., Teaching New Religions (Oxford, 2007).

He serves on the editorial board of Teaching Theology and Religion, and has been active in offering workshops on teaching and in consulting with some forty colleges and universities.

He received the 2006 Helen B. Regan Faculty Leadership Award that recognizes faculty members who exemplify the College's commitment to shared governance, democratic process and campus community development.

He is also the recipient of teaching awards from the College's Student Government Association and the Sears Roebuck Foundation. In Fall 2002, he was given the College's John S. King Memorial Faculty Teaching Award. It recognizes high standards of teaching excellence and concern for students. As the King recipient, Gallagher delivered they keynote address at the College’s Honors and Awards Ceremony on April 20, 2003, titled “The Best Book About Education Ever Written: The Autobiography of Malcom X.”

Also in Fall 2002, Gallagher received an honorary doctorate of humane letters from La Salle University, from which he graduated in 1972. 

Gallagher was the founding director of the Joy Shechtman Mankoff Center for Teaching & Learning (CTL) at Connecticut College, and was a Gibney faculty fellow of the CTL from 2002-2010.

"One of the fundamental purposes of education in the liberal arts: to situate students’ experience in the “here and now” in terms of multiple instances of “there” (other cultures) and “then” (other times). The comparative study of religion aims to fulfill that purpose by inviting students to entertain a variety of “what if” questions that can provide multiple points of entry into the religious worlds of others. That process of entertaining seriously how others make meaning of the world through their religious acts and convictions, much more than the factual knowledge it yields, is the beginning of religious literacy." - Eugene Gallagher

Visit the religious studies department website.

Majoring in Religious Studies.

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Mailing Address

Eugene V.  Gallagher
Connecticut College
Box #5452
270 Mohegan Ave.
New London, CT 06320