About Baylor ISR

Byron R. Johnson

Director, Institute for Studies of Religion
Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences

One Bear Place #97236
Waco, TX 76798-7236

Byron Johnson is Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences at Baylor University. He is the founding director of the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR).  Johnson is a faculty affiliate of the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University.  He is a Faculty Scholar in the Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health at Duke University, Senior Fellow with the Witherspoon Institute (Princeton), Senior Fellow at the Sagamore Institute (Indianapolis), and is a Senior Advisor at the Religious Freedom Institute (Washington, DC).  Before joining the faculty at Baylor University, Johnson directed research centers at Vanderbilt University and the University of Pennsylvania. Professor Johnson is a former member of the Coordinating Council for Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (Presidential Appointment).  He has been the principal investigator on grants from private foundations as well as the Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health, and the United States Institute for Peace, totaling more than $80 million.  He is the author of more than 200 journal articles, monographs, or books. He is recognized as a leading authority on the scientific study of religion, the efficacy of faith-based organizations, and criminal justice.  Recent publications have examined the impact of faith-based programs on offender treatment, drug addiction, recidivism reduction and prisoner reentry and is the subject of his book, More God, Less Crime (2011). Johnson also directs the Program on Prosocial Behavior, which examines the ways in which religion impacts key behaviors like volunteerism, generosity, and purpose. These topics are covered in four recent books, The Angola Prison Seminary (2016), which evaluates the influence of a Bible College and inmate-led congregations on prisoners serving life sentences; The Quest for Purpose (2017), which examines the link between religion and finding purpose and meaning, and the subsequent link to academic integrity; The Restorative Prison (2021), which looks at the empirical evidence in support of the link between religion and the emerging sub-field of positive criminology; and Objective Religion(2021), which looks at the relationship between religion and competition, tension, and perseverance. Johnson is currently the project director of the Global Flourishing Study, a longitudinal study which will survey 240,000 participants annually from 2021 to 2026.

Click to read – How Religion Contributes to the Common Good, Positive Criminology, and Justice Reform