Miguel A. De La Torre
De La Torre in 2009
|Nationality||Naturalized U.S. citizen|
|Alma mater||Temple University|
|Known for||Scholar-activist whose works analyzes social ethics and hispanic religiosity|
|Awards||"Outstanding Hispanic Educator" award by the Michigan Hispanic Legislative Caucus|
"2016 Outstanding Faculty Award" by University of Denver/Iliff Joint Doctoral Program
|Fields||Social ethics, theology of liberation, Latinx religiosity, Santería|
|Institutions||Iliff School of Theology|
Miguel A. De La Torre (born 6 October 1958) is a professor of Social Ethics and Latino Studies at Iliff School of Theology, a scholar-activist, author, and an ordained Southern Baptist minister.
Born in Cuba months before the Castro Revolution, De La Torre and his family migrated to the United States as refugees when he was an infant. For a while the U.S. government considered him and his family as "illegal aliens". On 6 June 1960, De La Torre received an order from Immigration and Naturalization Service to "self-deport." He attended Blessed Sacrament, a Catholic elementary school in Queens, New York, and was baptized and confirmed by the Catholic Church. Simultaneously, his parents were priest/priestess of the religion Santería. He refers to himself as a "Southern Baptist, Roman Catholic child of Ellegúa." He left Queens, moving to Miami, Florida in his teens.
At nineteen years of age he began a real estate company in Miami called Championship Realty, Century 21; becoming at the time the youngest real estate broker in the State of Florida. The office grew to over 100 sales agents. During this time he obtained a Masters in Public Administration from American University in Washington, DC. Eventually he was elected president of the Miami Board of Realtors. He was also active in local politics, becoming the founding president of the West Dade Young Republicans. In 1988 he was a candidate for the Florida House of Representatives, District 115, but lost to Mario Díaz-Balart.
In his early twenties he became a "born-again" Christian, joining University Baptist Church in Coral Gables, Florida. In 1992, De La Torre dissolved the thirteen-year-old real estate company to attend Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in order to obtain a Master of Divinity and enter the ministry. During his seminary training he served as pastor at a rural congregation, Goshen Baptist Church in Glen Dean, Kentucky. While doing pastoral work in rural Kentucky, De La Torre had experiences that caused him to begin exploring the church's power structures and what the dominant European American culture could learn from the Latino margins.
De La Torre continued his theological training and obtained a doctorate from Temple University in social ethics in 1999. According to the books he published, he focuses on ethics within contemporary U.S. thought, specifically how religion affects race, class, and gender oppression. His works 1) applies a social scientific approach to Latino/a religiosity within this country; 2) studies Liberation theologies in the Caribbean and Latin America (specifically in Cuba); and 3) engages in postmodern/postcolonial social theory. De La Torre is considered to be the most published Latino in the field of religious studies with over thirty books and hundreds of articles.
In 1999 he was hired to teach Christian Ethics at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. In 2005 he wrote a column for the local newspaper, The Holland Sentinel, titled "When the Bible is Used for Hatred." The article was a satirical piece commenting on Focus on the Family's James Dobson outing of SpongeBob SquarePants. Dobson responded to the article.
A controversy over these articles ensued. A few months afterwards, De La Torre was forced to resign his tenure and took the position of associate professor for social ethics at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado. He became a full professor in 2010.
Since obtaining his doctorate in 1999, De La Torre has authored numerous articles and books, including several books that have won national awards, specifically: Reading the Bible from the Margins, (Orbis, 2002); Santería: The Beliefs and Rituals of a Growing Religion in America (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2004); Doing Christian Ethics from the Margins, (Orbis, 2004); and Encyclopedia on Hispanic American Religious Culture, Volume 1 & 2, (ABC-CLIO, 2009). Within the academy he has served as a director to the Society of Christian Ethics and the American Academy of Religion. Additionally, he has been co-chair of the Ethics Section at the American Academy of Religion.
He is the founder and editor of the Journal of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion, and co-founder of the Society of Race, Ethnicity, and Religion, which held its first meeting in Chicago in 2013.
De La Torre has been an expert commentator concerning ethical issues (mainly Hispanic religiosity, LGBT civil rights, and immigration rights) on several local, national, and international media outlets. He also writes monthly articles for Ethics Daily and Associated Baptist Press which create controversies within Christian circles.
During the January, 2011 gathering of the Society of Christian Ethics, De La Torre was elected Vice-President of the organization and President-elect for 2012.
In 2016, De La Torre released a documentary for which he wrote the screenplay and coproduced based on his immigration book. The film, Trails of Hope and Terror, has been shown at academic settings and houses of worship.
In 2021, De La Torre won the Excellence in Teaching Award given by the American Academy of Religion.
Updated on 19 June 2014.