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This year the Ethics Unit welcomes individual proposals, pre-arranged paper sessions, and roundtables on the following themes:

Anger, Contempt, & Affect in Religious Ethics
The confluence of social, political, and economic crises which engulf the globe in the early 2020s prompt reflection on the role of affections and emotions—particularly negative emotions—as both the causes and responses to our society’s most pressing issues. The Ethics Section seeks proposals addressing these themes in religious ethics, with particular emphasis on the role of anger, contempt, shame, incivility, and negativity in political, cultural, and religious discourses, practices, and aesthetics. In particular, we welcome proposals that engage these themes in relation to the Covid-19 global pandemic, state violence against minoritized racial, ethnic, and religious communities, white supremacist violence, and the role of anger and outrage in the current media environment.

Religious Hope and Religious Ethics
The increasing prevalence of various sorts of pessimism heightens the salience of religious hope. We invite papers exploring the relationships between religious ethics and religious hope. In particular, we seek papers that examine how hope complements and / or complicates ethics, for instance by sustaining moral resolve and / or by undermining moral urgency.

Reconsidering the Political Theology of J. Deotis Roberts
This session invites papers that critically examine the contemporary relevance of J. Deotis Roberts' political theology as it relates to Black religious life and politics, theology and praxis, engagements with Black freedom movements and other liberation theologies, and contemporary discourses in political theology. Given the reemergence of white supremacist politics, rise of abolitionist movements, deepening economic inequality, and other factors influential in the formation of the Black Social Gospel tradition, we also invite proposals that compare, contrast, or otherwise connect Roberts' political theology with the Black Social Gospel, in particular concerning abolition, racial capitalism, Black internationalism, gender, and current social movements.

Big Data and Religious Ethics
For a possible co-sponsored session with the Science, Technology, and Religion Unit on Big Data and Religious Ethics:
The accumulation and analysis of big data is touted as harboring immense new economic, political, and medical power. We invite papers exploring the potential use and ethical significance of big data for religious traditions. We are particularly interested in proposals that examine whether religious ethical traditions have sufficient resources to assess the collection, interpretation, and use of big or require fundamental conceptual and theological innovation to do so.

The Black Social Gospel Tradition and the “Spiritual Left.”
For a possible co-sponsored session with the Black Theology Unit and Theology of Martin Luther King Jr. Unit on The Black Social Gospel Tradition and the "Spiritual Left":
In accordance with the theme for AAR 2021, “Religion, Poverty, and Inequality: Contemplating Our Collective Futures,” the Theology of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ethics Units invite papers that examine theologies and ideologies that resist social inequalities and re-imagine different worlds and other futures. To achieve this goal, we seek proposals that place King in dialogue with a Black Social Gospel tradition and the rise of the spiritual left. The most recent Georgia senatorial race, for example, put on display a Black Social Gospel theology as performed in the ministry and politics of Rev. Raphael Warnock, who pastors a church once led by King. Issues such as universal healthcare, worker’s rights, political disenfranchisement, and equal education standards, are deemed as “radical” by the so-called “Christian right.” We invite papers to consider the “radical” and the “extreme” in the thought of Martin Luther King, Jr. How might reading King in the Black Social Gospel tradition and the spiritual left lend insight into a theology that imagines our collective future? We invite papers to reflect creatively on this theme and take up a host of issues that shed light on new ways of reading the Black Social Gospel and the spiritual left.

Mission Statement:

The Ethics Unit seeks to serve the AAR by providing a forum for scholarly engagement with the ethical dimensions and interests of religious traditions.

Method of Submission:




Nichole Flores, nichole.flores@virginia.edu

Frederick Simmons, frederick.v.simmons@gmail.com


Steering Committee:

Courtney Bryant, revdr.courtneybryant@gmail.com

Keri Day, keri.day@ptsem.edu

Melanie Jones, melaniechantejones@gmail.com

Christophe Ringer, christophe.ringer@ctschicago.edu


Session Allotment: Tier 4 – Two 2-hour sessions and three 90-minute sessions

Next Review: 2022