Barbara A. McGraw

  • Former Visiting Fellow

Barbara A. McGraw is a former visiting fellow with the Mercatus Center's Program on Pluralism and Civil Exchange. McGraw is Professor of Social Ethics, Law, and Public Life and Founding Director of the Center for Engaged Religious Pluralism at Saint Mary’s College of California. A champion for religious liberty and the value of religious pluralism, Dr. McGraw’s research interests center on American identity and its moral foundations, the role of religion in public life, and interfaith engagement. Building on her earlier work, her current work advances the idea that the value and practice of religious, spiritual, and other worldview pluralism is foundational to the American ideal.

Dr. McGraw holds a Ph.D. in Religion and Social Ethics and a J.D., both from the University of Southern California. She is author, coauthor, or editor of several books, articles, and chapters, including author of Rediscovering America’s Sacred Ground: Public Religion and Pursuit of the Good in a Pluralistic America (SUNY Press, 2003); co-editor (with Jo Renee Formicola) of Taking Religious Pluralism Seriously: Spiritual Politics on America’s Sacred Ground (Baylor University Press, 2005); editor of the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Religion and Politics in the U.S. (John Wiley & Sons, 2016); co-author (with James T. Richardson) of “Tolerance and Intolerance in the History of Religious Liberty Jurisprudence in the United States and the Implementation of RFRA and RLUIPA,” in Secularization, Desecularization, and Toleration, edited by Vyacheslav. G. Karpov and Manfred Svensson (Palgrave MacMillan, 2020); and co-author (with Robert S. Ellwood) of Many Peoples, Many Faiths (Routledge, 11th ed, forthcoming 2023).

For more than two decades, Dr. McGraw has also trained governmental officials on religious diversity and religious liberty rights as a part of her center’s work on religious pluralism engaging the public square.

Fellowship focus: 

  • Discovering a common American mission, touchstone, or sacred ground that is rooted in pluralism and unites Americans from all common backgrounds
  • Equal dignity
  • The roots of pluralism in American history
  • Religious pluralis
  • The American Sacred Ground
  • Religious freedom