Portrait image of Richard McCarty
Richard McCarty

Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs, Professor

Contact Information

OFFICE: Preston 205
PHONE: 814-824-2033

Dr. McCarty engages in ethical inquiry from the perspective of critical realism. This approach seeks to discern and name practical frameworks of morality for the sake of human flourishing—mindful of how critical theories can reveal deficiencies and injustices within existing moral, social, and religious systems. Dr. McCarty joined the faculty of Mercyhurst University in 2008. He serves the wider community as an ecumenical clergyperson. Dr. McCarty is also the co-founder of two nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, which serve educational and funding needs in the area.

About Dr. McCarty
    • Ph.D., University of Iowa, Religious Studies
    • M.Div., Western Theological Seminary, Theology, Ethics, and Pastoral Counseling
    • B.A. Iowa State University, Religious Studies
    • What is Religion?
    • World Religions
    • Introduction to Ethics
    • Contemporary Moral Issues
    • Religion and Biomedical Ethics
    • Independent Study: Women and Islam; Religion and Politics
    • Faculty Led Study Abroad, Ireland, France/Italy, Italy/Greece
    • Religious Perspectives on Human Relationships
    • Contemporary Folklore, Legends, and Mythology
    • Senior Capstone Ethics
    • Peace and Justice
    • Senior Capstone Religious Studies
    • Senior Thesis
    • Virtue ethics and natural law theories from Aristotelian and Thomistic perspectives
    • Metaethics, moral theory, and applied ethics/social justice
    • Systematic Catholic moral theology and Protestant theological ethics
    • The sources and ethics of critical realism
    • Eschatological influences on Christian ethics
    • Christian sexual ethics
    • LGBTQ+ theologies 
    • Religion and the paranormal in North America
    • The American Academy of Religion (AAR)
    • Gay Men and Religion Program Unit (AAR)
    • Status of LGBTIQ Persons in the Profession (AAR)
    • Mentorship Program Sub-Committee (AAR)
    • Religion and Monster Seminar (AAR)
    • The United Church of Christ
    • Open and Affirmation Coalition
    • Penn West Conference, Lake Erie Association
    • The Society of Christian Ethics
    • Cultural Analyses of Religion, Politics, and Social Ethics: The Writings of Hector Avalos. Co-editor Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2024. 
    • Theology and the Paranormal: Wrestling with Strange Angels. Lexington Books/Fortress Academic (Forthcoming)
    • Under the Bed of Heaven: Christian Eschatology and Sexual Ethics. State University of New York Press (December 2021; and paperback edition July 2022)
    • Sexual Virtue: An Approach to Contemporary Christina Ethics. State University of New York Press (February 2015; paperback edition July 2015). 
    • “Critical Realism and LGBTIQ Rights for Africa,” Public Religion and Issues of Homosexuality. Routledge/Ashgate Publishing, 2016.
    • “Evangelii Guadium, Academic Freedom, and LGBT Scholars and Scholarship,” Journal of Academic Freedom (September 2015). 
    • “Objects of the Inquisition: The Trials of Religion Scholars Who Engage in Sexuality Studies within Catholic Institutions,” Academe. (January 2014).
    • “Eschatological Sex: Metaphors for the Reign of God,” Theology & Sexuality: Vol. 19, No 2 (2013).
    • Innocent Ecstasy: How Christianity Gave America an Ethic of Sexual Pleasure by Peter Gardella, Oxford University Press, for the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.
    • Religion and LGBTQ Sexualities: Critical Essays by Stephen Hunt (Ed.), Ashgate Publishing, for the Journal of Theology and Sexuality.
    • Do the Gods Wear Capes by Ben Saunders, Continuum Press, for the South Atlantic Review.   
    • “On the Phenomenological Reality of Monsters: Cosmological and Ethical Implications,” American Academy of Religion, Annual Meeting, Denver, CO (November 2022).
    • “Sex in Heaven? Traditionalists, Utopians, and Reformers on the Afterlife and Sexual Ethics,” Chautauqua Institute, sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist House, Chautauqua, NY (July 21, 2022).
    • Religious Ethics: When the Bible is Used as a Moral Authority,” Wartburg College, Waverly, IA (February 24, 2020).
    • “An Eschatological Challenge to Homonormativity,” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, San Diego, CA (November 2019). 
    • “Play and Promiscuity in the Ethics of Sex: New Models for Christian Morality,” Binghamton University, Binghamton, NY (April 4, 2019). 
    • “Christian Eschatology and Sexual Ethics,” Religious Studies Speaker Series, Iowa State University (April 7, 2016).
    • “Transhumanism, Postmillennialism, and Queer Visions of Eschatology,” American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting, Atlanta, GA (November 2015).
    • “The Religious, the Secular, and the New Humanities,” Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH (May 6, 2015).
    • “A New Hope? Pope Francis, the Academy, and LGBT Scholars and Scholarship,” American Association of University Professors (AAUP) 2014 Conference on the State of Higher Education, Washington, D.C. (June 13, 2014).
    • “Queer Life after DOMA: The Triumph of Gay Marriage in the Age of Family Values,” Panelist, Yale University, New Haven, CT (April 25, 2014). 
    • Carpenter Fellow for the Religion and Sexuality Symposium, Emory University, Atlanta, GA (June 2010); San Francisco, CA (November 2011)

    In addition to serving as Professor of Religious Studies, Dr. McCarty also serves the university as the Dean of Faculty; and from 2009 to 2023, he served as the liaison and moderator for the Annual Ethics Symposium (engaging over 1,300 area high school students in the study of ethics)—an event that is sponsored by Mercyhurst University, the Evelyn Lincoln Institute for Ethics and Society, and the Rotary Club of Erie.