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Donald A. Westbrook

Donald A. Westbrook


Donald A. Westbrook
Los Angeles, California

Research Foci

History of Religion, New Religious Movements, American Religious History, Coptic Studies, Middle Eastern Christianity, Sociology of Religion, Ethnography, Diaspora Studies


  • Ph.D. Religion, Department of Religion, Claremont Graduate University (2015)
    Dissertation: "A People’s History of the Church of Scientology"
  • M.A. Theology, School of Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary (2009)
  • B.A. Philosophy, University of California, Berkeley (2006)

Academic Appointments

  • Hoogleraar (Professor) and Mentor of Research Team, FVG (2016-present)
  • Lecturer, Center for the Study of Religion, University of California, Los Angeles (Spring 2016-)
  • Adjunct Assistant Professor of Church History, Department of Church History, Fuller Theological Seminary (2015-present)
  • Research Associate, St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society, Los Angeles (2015-present)
  • Research Associate, Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia (CCE) Project, Claremont Colleges Digital Library, Claremont, CA, USA (2012-present)

Selected Publications

  • (Does Not Include Forthcoming/In Process)
  • Westbrook, Donald A., and Saad Michael Saad. “Religious Identity and Borderless Territoriality in the Coptic e-Diaspora,” Journal of International Migration and Integration (2016).
  • Westbrook, Donald A. “Walking in Ron’s Footsteps: ‘Pilgrimage' Sites of the Church of Scientology,” Numen: International Review for the History of Religions. Special Issue on Scientology 63:1 (2016): 71-94
  • Saad, Saad Michael, and Donald A. Westbrook. “Copts, Scripturalization, and Identity in the Diaspora.” In Vincent L. Wimbush, ed., Scripturalizing the Human: The Written as the Political. New York: Routledge, 2015.
  • Westbrook, Donald A. “Christian Science and Scientology: Ecclesiologies Compared," Acta Comparanda: Subsidia II. Special Issue on Christian Science (2015).
  • ___. “Saint Hill and the Development of Systematic Theology in the Church of Scientology (1959-1967),” Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review 6:1 (2015): 111-155.
  • Saad, Saad Michael, Nardine Saad Riegels, and Donald A. Westbrook. “Traditions of Selecting Coptic Patriarchs Over Two Millennia.” Journal of Coptic Studies 16:1 (2014).
  • Westbrook, Donald A. “Scientology as ‘Spiritual Technology.’” Cosmologics Magazine. Harvard Divinity School, 3 September 2014.
  • ___. “Freedom of Religion as a Human Right: The Council of Europe’s Upcoming Vote on ‘Sect Observatories.’” World Religion News, 19 March 2014.
  • ___. “Coptic Monastic Inspirations for Lent,” interview with Rev. Dr. Tim Vivian. Watani International, 18 March 2013.
  • ___. “Catholic-Mormon Relations.” The Religious Educator 13:1 (2012): 35-53.
  • ___. “A Very Brief History of the Lausanne Movement.” Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue. 1(2) (2010): 17.
  • Review of Gawdat Gabra, ed. Coptic Civilization: Two Thousand Years of Christianity in Egypt. New York and Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2014. In Watani International, June 2014.
  • Review of Carolyn Ludwig and Morris Jackson, eds. The History and Religious Heritage of Old Cairo: Its Fortress, Churches, Synagogue, and Mosque. New York and Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2013. In Watani International, June 2013.
  • Review of Mark A. Noll and James Turner, The Future of Christian Learning: An Evangelical and Catholic Dialogue. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2008. In Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue, Spring 2010.

Recent Presentations

  • “Copts, e-Diasporas, and Dynamics of Identity Formation Post-Arab Spring: Three European Case Studies,” Conference of the Italian Society for Middle Eastern Studies (SESAMO), University of Catania, Sicily (March 2016)
  • “The Art of PR War: Scientology, the Media, and Legitimation Strategies for the 21st Century,” Workshop on New Religious Movements and Media, University of Montreal (March 2016)
  • “Keeping Scientology Working: Systematic Theology, Orthodoxy, and Heresy in the Church of Scientology,” British Association for the Study of Religion Annual Conference, University of Kent, Canterbury (September 2015)
  • “Forces and Fields of Identity Preservation in the Coptic Diaspora,” with Dr. Saad Michael Saad, Seventeenth St. Shenouda-UCLA Conference of Coptic Studies, University of California, Los Angeles (July 2015)
  • “‘Out of Egypt I Have Called My Son’: Hybridized and Digitized Identities of Copts in the Diaspora,” Defining and Identifying Middle Eastern Christian Communities in Europe (DIMECCE) Conference, University of St. Andrews, Scotland (May 2015)
  • “Christian Science and Scientology: Ecclesiologies Compared,” presented in absentia, The Evolution of Christian Science in Scholarly Perspective, Observatory of Religion and Secularism, Antwerp, Belgium (April 2015)
  • “Coptic Religious Identity and Borderless Territoriality in the Electronic Diaspora,” with Dr. Saad Michael Saad, Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, San Diego, CA (November 2014)
  • “A ‘People’s History’ of the Church of Scientology: Conclusions from Ethnographic Research in the United States,” Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, San Diego, CA (November 2014)
  • “Scientology, Resilience, and the Category of Religion: Conclusions from Research in the United States,” British Sociological Association, Sociology of Religion Study Group, University of Sussex, UK (July 2014)
  • “From American to World Religion: L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology’s Roots in the American West,” International Conference of Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), Baylor University, Waco, TX (June 2014)
  • “Invitation to Future Research on the Church of Scientology,” INFORM Anniversary Conference on Minority Religions: Contemplating the Past and Anticipating the Future, London School of Economics (February 2014)
  • “Invitation to Future Research on the Church of Scientology,” First International Conference on the Study of Scientology, FVG (January 2014)


  • International Society for the Study of New Religions
  • American Academy of Religion
  • American Historical Association
  • Society for the Scientific Study of Religion
  • St. Shenouda the Archimandrite Coptic Society
  • Institute for Signifying Scriptures

    Full CV available upon request

[Revised 2 March 2016]


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