April 20, 2005
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—David W. Wills, the Winthrop H. Smith '16 Professor of American History and American Studies (Religion and Black Studies) at Amherst College, is the author of Christianity in the United States: A Historical Survey and Interpretation ($13, 140 pp., University of Notre Dame Press, South Bend, Ind. 2005), a brief but comprehensive study that provides a broad interpretation and a wealth of factual information on the history of Christianity in the United States.

Wills considers the diversity of American Christianity, charting the growth of American religious pluralism, but he also emphasizes Christian efforts to build a “holy commonwealth” and the role of religion in the nation's effort to come to terms with the realities of race. Placing the history of Christianity in the United States in the larger context of the globalization of the Christian religion, Wills links the rise of African-American Christianity with the emergence of Christianity in the non-western world. He also argues that the history of Christianity in the United States concerns itself in a central way with the relation of religious ideas, institutions, constituencies and practices to the creation and exercise of political power.

Wills, who has taught at Amherst since 1972 is the general editor of African-American Religion: A Documentary History Project, a comprehensive view of African-American religion from the earliest 15th-century African-European encounters along the African coast to the present in the United States. Wills received his A.B. degree from Yale University, a B.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. from Harvard University, and has been a fellow of the National Humanities Center and the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for African-American Research, among others.