Matthew Cressler

2023 Crossroads Community Stories Fellow


Matthew J. Cressler, Ph.D. is a scholar of religion, race, and culture. He is the author of Authentically Black and Truly Catholic: The Rise of Black Catholicism in the Great Migrations and numerous peer-reviewed articles on Catholic and African American religious histories, clerical sexual abuse, horror movies, comic books, and more. He has written for America, The Atlantic, National Catholic Reporter, Religion News Service, The Revealer, Slate, U.S. Catholic, and Zocalo Public Square. Together with Adelle M. Banks, he co-reported the Religion News Service series “Beyond the Most Segregated Hour,” which won a Wilbur Award from the Religion Communicators Council. 

Crossroads Community Stories Fellow Project

Bad Catholic Comics

Bad Catholics Comics is a digital home for webcomics that tell true stories of Catholic racism and antiracism in a medium suitable for all ages. Playing on the double meaning of “bad,” each story features bad Catholics committed to upholding an oppressive status quo and bad Catholics who took to the streets in the struggle for justice. The project illustrates how Catholics disagree on what it means to be a “good” or “bad” Catholic in the first place. This grant will support a webcomic based on the life of Judge Arthur McFarland. McFarland desegregated Bishop England High School in 1964. He helped lead “the Black revolution on campus” at the University of Notre Dame and went on to serve as a municipal court judge, supreme knight of the Knights of Peter Claver, and co-president of the Charleston Area Justice Ministry. Through oral historical interviews, collaborative storytelling, and art by Marcus Jimenez, we hope to share his inspiring stories far and wide!