University of Southern California

Center for Religion & Civic Culture

Paula McGee

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Paula L. McGee is an alumna of USC and familiar speaker and guest lecturer on campus. She started her academic career at USC as a student-athlete. She is a member of the 1983-84 women’s basketball championship teams, and has a retired jersey that hangs in the Galen Center. Ordained as a Baptist preacher, Rev. McGee completed a master of divinity from the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Georgia with a focus on womanist interpretations of scripture. She continued her study at Vanderbilt University, where she earned a second master’s degree in Hebrew Bible. She later started Paula McGee Ministries, a non-profit whose mission is to empower others to “accept their greatness.” She returned to Southern California to pursue a doctorate degree and study black megachurches and theologies of prosperity. In 2009, she was awarded the Fund for Theological Education dissertation fellowship for her dissertation entitled: The Wal-Martization of African American Religion: T.D. Jakes and Woman Thou Art Loosed. In 2012, she received a Ph.D. in women’s studies in religion from Claremont Graduate University. Read the dissertation abstract.

Dr. McGee describes herself as a public theologian, because she believes that most social justice issues end up as God-questions, or questions of “ultimate concern.” She raises critical questions about these New Black churches and their celebrity pastors. These religious entrepreneurs are capitalizing on the new identities of post-civil rights, middle-class African Americans, who have become comfortable with their access to the American dream. As a result, many have forgotten the stories of struggle and the social justice mission of the traditional Black Church.

Dr. McGee's research and work is multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary. Her main research interests are Christian Capitalism and BRAND®ed identities. She examines how contemporary social constructions of collective and individual identities impact marginalized communities and argues that advanced capitalism and the market now function as religion has for previous generations.

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