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Lloyd Steffen, professor of religion studies at Lehigh University

Lloyd Steffen


0041 - Dialogue Center

Brown University, Ph.D., Religious Studies (Western Religious Thought)

Yale University, The Divinity School, M.Div. cum laude

Andover Newton Theological School, M.A. cum laude (Systematic Theology)

New College (Sarasota), B.A., History

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Additional Interests

  • Modern social ethics issues
  • Issues in death and dying
  • Bioethics
  • Ethics of war
  • Religion and psychology
  • Moral theory
  • Radical theology and the death of God
  • Role of religion in environmental ethics
  • Comparative religious ethics
  • Inter-religious dialogue
  • Religion and the First Amendment

Research Statement

My interests in religion and ethics are broad.  In recent years my attention has been drawn to bioethical issues, including long-standing interests in beginning of life issues (abortion, non-treatment of handicapped newborns) and end of life issues, which new technologies have made ever more complicated.  I have been arguing that just war thinking as it comes from natural law ethics provides untapped ethical resources for evaluating ethical options and am planning a book on “exception ethics” grounded in natural law.  


Lloyd Steffen graduated from New College (Sarasota Florida), then spent a year as a professional firefighter in Bradenton, Florida before resuming his education.  He earned two masters degrees with honors (Andover Newton Theological School and Yale Divinity School) the same year he entered graduate study.  He received his Ph.D. in Western Religious Thought from Brown University. His teaching and research are mainly in ethics and moral theory, and much of his work is dedicated to rethinking natural law ethics.  He teaches courses relevant to religion and ethics, religion and psychology, religion and war and violence, and bioethics. He has delivered several endowed lectures, taught as a Fulbright specialist at two Brazilian universities, and has delivered papers or otherwise spoken at numerous universities and colleges in America and abroad as well as in venues such as the National Press Club, the United Nations and the South Africa Religious Leaders Summit. 

An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, Steffen, who is Lehigh’s University Chaplain, writes a column on religion and values for The Morning Call and has been an activist as well as a scholar on issues like the death penalty and women’s reproductive health.  Former Vice-Chair and Secretary of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights he served for seven years as that organization’s NGO representative to the United Nations.  He also served a term on the National Leadership Council of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.  Steffen helped create the Global Citizenship program at Lehigh and has led several trips abroad with students, including trips to Indonesia, Israel, and Italy, including an Iacocca International Internship experience in Rome focused on inter-religious dialogue.  He lives in Bethlehem with his spouse, the Rev. Emmajane Finney, and is father of three sons.


Christianity and Violence.  Elements Series, Religion and Violence.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2021. 

The Ethics of Death:  Religious and Philosophical Perspectives in Dialogue, co-author Dennis Cooley, Minneapolis:  Fortress Press, 2014.     

Ethics and Experience:  Ethical Theory from Just War to Abortion.  Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2012. 

New Perspectives on the End of Life: Essays on Care and the Intimacy of Dying, Lloyd Steffen and Nate Hinerman, eds. Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2013. e-book: Boston: Brill, 2020.

Holy War, Just War:  Exploring the Moral Meaning of Religious Violence. Lanham, MD: Rowman and  Littlefield, 2007.  (Republication of The Demonic Turn, with new material.)

The Demonic Turn: The Power of Religion to Inspire or Restrain Violence.  Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim Press, 2003.

Executing Justice:  The Moral Meaning of the Death Penalty.  Cleveland:  Pilgrim Press, 1998. --Reprint Edition: (Eugene, OR:  Wipf & Stock, 2006).  

Abortion: A  Reader.  Pilgrim Library of Ethics, Vol. 1.  Cleveland:  Pilgrim Press, 1996. --Reprint Edition: Eugene, OR:  Wipf & Stock, 2010.  

Life/Choice:  The Theory of Just Abortion.  Cleveland:  Pilgrim Press, 1994.  -- Reprint edition:  Eugene, OR:  Wipf & Stock, Publishers, 1999.

 Self-Deception and the Common Life.  American University Studies Series.  Series 7 (Theology and Religion), Vol. 11. New York, Berne, Frankfurt/M.: Peter Lang, 1986.

Death, Dying, Culture:  An Interdisciplinary Interrogation.  Edited and introduction by Lloyd Steffen and Nate Hinerman.  Oxford: Interdisciplinary Press, 2013; republished, Leiden, Boston:  Brill, 2019. 

Re-Imaging Death and Dying:  Global Interdisciplinary Perspectives.  Edited and Introduction by Dennis R. Cooley and Lloyd Steffen.  Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2009; republished, Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2020.

Select Articles and Book Chapters (over 90 in total)

“’Is God Still Dead?’: The Legacy of 1960s Radical Theology,” The Christian Century, Vol. 139, no. 15, (July 14,  2022):  26-29. 

“Physician Assistance in Dying: An Option for Christians?” Christian Bioethics: Non-Ecumenical Studies in Medical Morality, Vol. 27, 3 (December 2021):  228-49.

“Forgiveness as Process: A Positive Dynamic in Moral Relations,” Ethical Perspectives 28, no. 3 (2021):  287-310.

“Sectarian Ethics and the Moral Point of View? Buddhist Views on Withdrawal of Care”  (L’éthique sectaire et le point de vue moral? Point_de vue bouddhiste sur le retrait des soins), Ethics, Medicine and Public Health  (July-September)14, 2020: 100540;

“Questioning POLST: Practical and Religious Issues,” Dalhousie Law Journal, Vol. 41, number 1 (Spring 2018): 173-195. (Published 2019)

“On Kevorkian, Vivisection and Beneficent Execution”, in eds. Lloyd Steffen and Nate Hinerman, Death, Dying, Culture: An Interdisciplinary Interrogation, Amsterdam: Brill, 2019: 107-15.  DOI: ttps://

“The War on Drugs as Harm to Persons:  Cultural Violence as Symbol and Justification,” ed. Fuat Gursozlu, Peace, Culture and Violence, Value Inquiry Book Series, Volume 316, Philosophy of Peace (Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2018):  126-51.

“The Death Penalty and Nonviolence:  Justice beyond Empathy,” The Routledge Handbook of Pacifism and  Nonviolence, ed. Andrew Fiala (New York:  Routledge, 2018): 318-330.

“A Theory of Just Execution,” in Barbara MacKinnon and Andrew Fiala, eds., Ethics: Theory and Contemporary Issues, 9th edition, (Boston:  Cengage Learning, 2018):  406-414.

“Overvaluation:  An Obstacle to Dialogue,” Dialogue and Universalism (Values and Ideals, Theory and Praxis), Vol. 27, no. 1 (2017):  7-22.

“Christian Perspectives on Assisted Dying:  An Issue for Religious Ethics,” chapter 6 in Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide:  Global Views on Choosing to End Life, editor Michael Cholbi (Santa Barbara, CA:  Praeger, 2017): 121-44.  

“Religion and Violence in Christian Traditions,” Chapter 5 in Violence and the World’s Religious Traditions, eds. Mark Juergensmeyer, Margo Kitts, Michael Jerryson (New York, Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2017):  109-139. 

“Core Values in Bioethics: A Natural Law Perspective” (“Valeurs fondamentales en bioéthique: sous l’angle de la loi naturelle”).  Ethics, Medicine and Public Health 2 (April-June 2016): 170-180, DOI Information: 10.1016/j.jemep.2016.03.009

“On War and the Environment:  A Proposed Revision in the Ethics of Restraint,” in Andrew Fiala, ed., The Nature  of Peace and the Peace of Nature (Leiden:  Brill, 2015): 41-51.

“The Ethical Complexity of Abraham Lincoln:  Is There Something for Religious Ethicists to Learn?”, Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics, Vol31, no. 2 (2011): 74-99.

“Warfare Deaths:  Ethical and Religious Understanding in the American Context,” Religion, Death and Dying [Three Volumes]Volume 2:  Special Issues, ed. Lucy Bregman, (Santa Barbara, CA, Oxford, UK: Praeger, 2009): 183-208.

“Nonviolence as Ethical Spirituality:  The Case of the Dalai Lama,” Prajñā Vihāra:  Journal of Philosophy and Religion, Vol. 10, no. 1 & 2 (January-December, 2009):  112-135.  

“Gandhi’s Nonviolent Resistance: A Justified Use of Force?” Journal of Philosophy and the Contemporary World  15: 1 (June 2008):  68-80.  

“Demonic Religion and Violence,” in ed. Arvind Sharma, The World’s Religions after September 11, Vol. I: Religion, War and Peace [Four Volumes], New York:  Praeger, 2008: 19-29. 

“Human Rights:  Virtue’s Last Resort?”, Global Virtue Ethics Review Vol. 6, no. 3 (2011): 83-116.

“What Religion Contributes to an Environmental Ethic,” Environmental Ethics, Vol. 29 (Summer 2007):  193-108.

Select Public Writings (recent) (over 180 published)

“The Misplaced Question of Innocence Distorts the Abortion Debate, The Hill, June 26, 2022.

“The Unvaccinated Owe a Figurative Debt to Society that Should be Literal,” The Hill, January 25, 2022,

“Why First Amendment Should Protect Abortion Rights,” Op-Ed, Town Square, The Morning Call, Tuesday, December 21, 2021:  16. Web published at 

“Abortion Rights Should be Protected under the First Amendment,” Salon, December 11, 2021,



REL 002 Death in Religious Traditions

REL 002 Death and Dying: Religious and Ethical Perspectives  

REL/PHIL 003 Religion and Ethics in Religious Traditions     

REL/PHIL 003 Global Religion, Global Ethics

REL 062 Explorations in Dialogue 

REL 68 Practical Justice:  A Service Learning Course 

REL 68 Practical Justice:  From Social Systems to Responsible Community 

REL 96 Religion and Violence       

REL 96 Religion, Law and Politics

REL/PSY 115 Religion and Psychology

REL/PHIL 116:  Bioethics 

REL/PHIL/Global Citizenship/ Asian Studies/Philosophy 194: Tibet and Buddhism in 

Film and Myth

REL 195 Explorations In Dialogue (with spring trip to Israel); also ARTS 195

REL 225 Pacifism, Holy War, Just War 

REL/POL 126 Religion, Law and the Constitution

REL 162 Building a Compassionate Society

HUMANITIES 180: Introduction to Peace Studies      

REL 225: Pacifism, Holy War, Just War

REL/HMS 226: From the Black Death to AIDS (or COVID-19):  Religion, Ethics, Plague and Pandemic   

First Year Seminars

REL 90 Why am I Here?  

REL 90 Love

REL 90 Lincoln and the Inner Life:  Religion, Ethics, Psychology

REL 90 Murder

REL/PHIL 90 The Listening Point

REL 90 Moral Business

Other Teaching

Faculty leader, Indonesia Partnership (Lehigh, Gadja Mada, University of Michigan)

Faculty Leader, Iacocca International Internship

Project Impact Scholars: Research on Alcohol Use and Abuse