Rev. Samuel Cruz, MA, PhD
Associate Professor of Religion & Society
3041 Broadway, BT 803
New York, NY 10027
B.A., College of New Rochelle, 1987
M.A., Magna Cum Laude, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, 1994
M.Phil., Drew University, 1999
Ph.D., Drew University, 2002
Rev. Samuel Cruz, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Religion and Society at Union Theological Seminary. He completed his Ph.D. at Drew University (Madison, NJ) in 2002 under the directorship of internationally renowned Philosopher and Sociologist of Religion, Dr. Otto Maduro. Dr. Cruz also received his M.Phil. degree from Drew University in 1999 and M.A. degree, Magna Cum Laude, from New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Cruz is a 1987 graduate of the College of New Rochelle in New Rochelle, N.Y.. Prior to Union, Cruz was a lecturer in the Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies Department at Rutgers University. He has also been a professor at Drew University and New Brunswick Theological Seminary.
Dr. Cruz’s publications include two books: Masked Africanisms: Puerto Rican Pentecostalism (Kendall Hunt Publishing, 2005) and Christianity and Culture in the City: A Post Colonial Approach (Lexington Books, 2013). He has an extensive background in the field of Sociology of Religion publishing and presenting ethnographic research on Afro-Latinx spiritualities, most specifically on Pentecostalism and African spiritualities of the Caribbean. Dr. Cruz’s interests have led him to study major social theorists of religion, such as Pierre Bourdieu, Michel Foucault, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Patricia Hill Collins, W.E.B. Dubois, Nancy Ammerman, Mary Jo Neitz, and Juan Luis Segundo. He has lectured throughout Central America, the Caribbean, and the United States. He is currently a guest editor for the Religions Journal’s Special Edition on Global Latinx Pentecostalism and he is working on the publication of his edited volume about African spiritualities in the Americas. Dr. Cruz’s research has remained committed to the intersection of religion and social processes, especially regarding the potential liberation spiritualities/theologies offer those who are oppressed.
With various experiences serving as a pastor in several churches in the Greater New York City region, Dr. Cruz now serves as the Senior Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in the predominantly Latinx community of Sunset Park, Brooklyn. His progressive sermons are known to follow in the legacy of Latin America’s ecclesial base communities and liberation theologians which assist his congregation in being social activists within their community. Pastor Cruz is known in New York City and Puerto Rico for advocating for Afro-Latinx rights regarding sexuality, gender, race, immigration policies, the prison industrial complex/police brutality, environmentalism, fair housing/gentrification, the release of political prisoners, and the independence of Puerto Rico. Dr. Cruz has been featured in the Stop and Frisk docu-series: “The Pastor”; he is a frequent guest on MSNBC, the Melissa Harris-Perry Show, and a guest host to WBAI-FM.
Rev. Dr. Samuel Cruz is a Brooklyn native and Afro-Boricua. He is married to Tania Stanchich and has three daughters: Amber, Jovana, and Naome.
Perspectives on Culture and Race
SPRING 2021, SPRING 2022
Urban religious life and the theory and practice of field research is the focus of this course. The course covers research methods such as oral history, participant observation, and key methodological issues, such as fieldwork ethics and the politics of representation.
FALL 2020, FALL 2021
This course introduces a range of diverse populations by race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and physical differences. Additionally, students examine the role, function, and effects of oppression in society as it relates to social and economic justice. Assumptions underlying theory and research methodologies from which basic constructs of human behavior are drawn are examined to understand how power and other dynamics manage and sustain oppression at the individual and institutional levels. Also of interest is how oppression affects ecclesiastical, local parish, mosque, temple and faith based organizations at micro and macro levels, particularly policies and strategic planning which drive the shape of places of worship.
SPRING 2021, SPRING 2022
Over the past thirty years both the theologies of liberation-be they Latin American, Feminist, Black, Latina or Asian- and the "Pentecostalization" of Christian denominations and independent churches have had an incredible influence upon the Christian religious landscape in the United States. In contrast, liberation theologies are often described as having lost ground and faded away, a perception that this course examines critically. Pentecostal and Neo-Pentecostal churches seem to be the fastest growing religious movements across the globe. The course examines the perceptions that Pentecostalism is an alternative to liberation theologies and/or its diametrical opposite. Students explore how both liberation theologies and Pentecostalism have been transformed, mutated, and revitalized by conservative and progressive churches. Finally, we discover the commonalities, differences, conflicts, and potentialities for social and political action found in liberation theologies and Pentecostalism.
FALL 2020, FALL 2021
A critical analysis of the socio-historical settings of the development of each of the most widely practiced African based spiritual traditions/movements in the Americas. Students engage the African-based practices of Haitian Vodou, Santeria/Palo Monte, Rastafarianism, Espiritismo, Obeah, Candomble, Umbanda, as well as African religious influences in Protestant Christianity. We explore the ways in which these religious movements have been impacted by North and South American cultural and political conditions, and how they have impacted the cultural and political realities in turn. The transformations made by these religious practices in the diasporic communities in the United States are an underlying focus of this course.