Thomas Kidd is the Associate Director of ISR, and Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University. His books include American Colonial History: Clashing Cultures and Faiths (Yale University Press, 2016), Baptists in America: A History (with Barry Hankins, Oxford University Press, 2015), George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father (Yale University Press, 2014), Patrick Henry: First Among Patriots (Basic Books, 2011), God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution (Basic Books, 2010), American Christians and Islam (Princeton University Press, 2008), and The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America (Yale University Press, 2007). He has written for outlets including the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Kidd blogs at “Evangelical History,” at The Gospel Coalition website.
Kidd teaches courses on colonial America, the American Revolution, and American religious history. He won a 2006-07 NEH Fellowship, and won a 2004 NEH Summer Stipend. Kidd came to Baylor University in 2002 after completing a Ph.D. in history at the University of Notre Dame, where he worked with the historian of religion George Marsden. He received a B.A. and M.A. at Clemson University. He and his wife Ruby have two sons, Jonathan and Joshua.
Industry Expertise (2)
Areas of Expertise (6)
Eighteenth-Century North America
History of Evangelicalism
Baptists' History in America
Founding Fathers (Benjamin Franklin, Patrick Henry)
Outstanding Professor Award (professional)
Awarded by Baylor University
University of Notre Dame: Ph.D., History 2001
Clemson University: M.A., History 1996
Clemson University: B.A., Political Science 1994
Media Appearances (9)
Benjamin Franklin’s Complicated Faith
The Wall Street Journal print
Column by Thomas Kidd, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of History in Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, about Benjamin Franklin’s belief that God governs in the affairs of humans. At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, several weeks into the proceedings, Franklin proposed that the meetings open with prayer. “In today’s polarized political and religious environment, some pundits seek to remake the Founding Fathers in their own image,” Kidd wrote. “Benjamin Franklin’s example reveals that the historical truth is often more complicated.”
Benjamin Franklin's Faith
VIDEO: Thomas S. Kidd, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of History and associate director of Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, discussed “Benjamin Franklin’s Faith” at the Museum of the Bible symposium, “The Bible and the Founding of America,” which explored the Bible and its influence on the founding of America. Kidd is the author of “Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father,” a new biography based on research into Franklin’s correspondence, essays and almanacs that unpacks the contradictions and conundrums faith presented in Franklin’s life.
Faith and the Founding Fathers
Influence Magazine radio
Podcast interview with Thomas Kidd, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of History in Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, about the role religion played in the lives of America’s founders and the Founding Era. Kidd is the author of “Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father,” as well as biographies of Patrick Henry and George Whitefield.
Polls show evangelicals support Trump. But the term ‘evangelical’ has become meaningless.
The Washington Post online
Who are these rank-and-file Trump supporters who tell pollsters that they are “evangelical”? And what does the label mean, anyway?
I would suggest that something more complicated is going on, something that may have given a generation of Americans the wrong idea about evangelicalism – and U.S. politics. What has happened is nothing short of a watering-down and politicization of the term “evangelical.”
The Missionary Killed by Islamist Terror
The Wall Street Journal online
The 2016 political season is churning with anti-immigrant vitriol and wariness of the outside world. But one group of American Christians—missionaries—continues reaching out instead of walling themselves off. They honor Christ’s message in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25: “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
The selfless work of missionaries was poignantly illustrated by the terrorist murder on Jan. 15 of 45-year-old Michael Riddering, an orphanage director in West Africa.
Hoping for cessation of ‘war on Christmas’ rhetoric? Don’t, historians say
Baptist News online
"Another season of the so-called 'war on Christmas,' especially in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, may be just enough to drive some people over the edge.
And all indications are it isn’t going to go away. 'There is no easier way for politicians or pundits to rally the base this time of year than hyping the ‘War on Christmas’ by liberal elites,' Baylor University history professor Thomas Kidd said in a book review of Gerry Bowler’s Christmas in the Crosshairs: Two Thousand Years of Denouncing and Defending the World’s Most Celebrated Holiday..."
Benjamin Franklin’s American Religion: A Conversation with Historian Thomas Kidd
AUDIO: Thomas Kidd, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of History in Baylor’s Institute for Studies of religion, speaks about Benjamin Franklin — raised as a Puritan but later skeptical about Christianity — who probably published more on religious topics than any other layperson in the 18th century. Shortly before his death, Franklin said he could “never quite convince himself that Jesus was fully divine but figured he would find out soon enough, so it didn’t really matter,” Kidd said. “And so that’s the epitome of that kind of noncommittal, good-natured kind of Franklin skepticism.”
Dr. Thomas Kidd on “Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father”
Point of View online
AUDIO: Point of View radio talk show host Kerby Anderson interviews Thomas S. Kidd, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of History and associate director of Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, about his new book, “Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father,” which is based on rigorous research into Franklin’s voluminous correspondence, essays and almanacs to unpack the contradictions and conundrums faith presented in Franklin’s life.
Ben Franklin’s faith the subject of Baylor prof’s new book
Baylor Proud online
There may be no one more qualified to examine Franklin’s religious life than Kidd. A distinguished professor of history at Baylor and associate director of Baylor’s Institute for the Studies of Religion, he’s also a distinguished author who has authored or co-authored nine books and contributed to numerous others. The influence of religion on America’s founding and founders is a topic Kidd has studied extensively, having previously written books about Revolutionary War-era orator Patrick Henry and “America’s spiritual founding father” George Whitefield. Two other of Kidd’s books on this time period — The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America and God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution — were named among the best books of the year by Christianity Today when they were released.