Karen V. Guth



Religious Studies

Associate Professor
Ph.D. University of Virginia

Fields: Christian social ethics, public and political theologies, feminist ethics and theologies


Contact Information

Email: kguth@holycross.edu
Office Phone:  
Office: Smith 430
Box: 0042A

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Karen V. Guth is an associate professor of Religious Studies and is affiliated with the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies and the Peace and Conflict Studies programs at the College. She holds a Ph.D in religious ethics from the University of Virginia, an M.T.S. in Religion and Society from Harvard, and an M.Th. in Literature, Theology, and the Arts from the University of Glasgow. She received her B.A. in religion from Furman University. Before coming to Holy Cross, Professor Guth was a postdoctoral fellow in Religious Practices and Practical Theology at Emory University (2011-2012) and an assistant professor at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN (2012-2016).

Professor Guth’s areas of specialization include Christian social ethics, public and political theologies, and feminist ethics and theologies. Her most recent book, The Ethics of Tainted Legacies: Human Flourishing after Traumatic Pasts (Cambridge University Press, 2022), theorizes “tainted legacies” as a pressing moral problem and explores the ethical ramifications of engaging religious, political, and cultural traditions tarnished by the traumas of slavery, racism, and sexual violence. She is also the author of Christian Ethics at the Boundary: Feminism and Theologies of Public Life (Fortress, 2015), which places the theologies of Reinhold Niebuhr, John Howard Yoder, and Martin Luther King Jr. in dialogue with feminist and womanist theologies to identify new trajectories for the field of Christian ethics. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and publications including the Journal of Religious Ethics, the Journal of the Society of Christian EthicsTheology TodayThe Christian CenturyTeaching Theology & ReligionThe Other Journal, and The Hedgehog Review. She currently serves on the board of the Society of Christian Ethics and is the co-chair of the Bonhoeffer: Theology and Social Analysis Unit of the American Academy of Religion.


  • MONT 100D Biography as Theology
  • MONT101D The Beloved Community
  • RELS 143 Social Ethics (includes Community Based Learning Component)
  • RELS 294 Sexual Justice
  • RELS 299 Everyday Ethics
  • HONS 395 The Ethics of Tainted Legacies

Selected Publications

“Lessons from Anabaptist Women’s Responses to John Howard Yoder’s Sexual Violence,” in Liberating the Politics of Jesus: Renewing Peace Theology through the Wisdom of Women, eds. Elizabeth Soto Albrecht and Darryl W. Stephens. New York: T&T Clark, 2020, 199-212.  

“‘Heritage Not Hate’ or ‘Heritage and Decay’?: Lessons for White Christians from Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the Confederate Monuments Debate,” in The Political Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, edited by Lori Brandt Hale and W. David Hall. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2020, 157-174.   

“Laying Claim to Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Legacy: An Ethical Assessment of Social Gospel Historiography.” Journal of Religious Ethics 48, no.1 (March 2020): 26-44.

“Sacred Emblems of Faith: Womanist Contributions to the Confederate Monuments Debate.” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 39, no. 2 (Fall/Winter 2019): 375–393.

“Moral Injury and the Ethics of Teaching Tainted Legacies.” Teaching Theology and Religion 21, no. 3 (July 2018): 197-209.

“Moral Injury, Feminist and Womanist Ethics, and Tainted Legacies.” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 38, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2018): 167-186.

“Claims on Bonhoeffer: The Misuse of a Theologian.” Christian Century 132, no. 11 (May 27, 2015): 26-29.

“Doing Justice to the Complex Legacy of John Howard Yoder: Restorative Justice Resources in Witness and Feminist Ethics.” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 35, no. 2 (Fall/Winter 2015): 119-139.

 “The Feminist-Christian Schism Revisited.” The Journal of Scriptural Reasoning 13, no. 2 (November 2014): 1-16.

“To See from Below: Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Mandates and Feminist Ethics.”Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 33, no. 2 (Fall/Winter 2013): 131-150.

“To Change the World: James Davison Hunter’s ‘Faithful Presence’ Meets Political Theologies on the Margins.” Theology Today 69, no. 4 (January 2013): 511-518.

“Reconstructing Nonviolence: The Political Theology of Martin Luther King Jr. after Feminism and Womanism.” Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 32, no. 1 (Spring/Summer 2012): 75-92.