J. Gordon Melton is Distinguished Senior Fellow at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion. Melton holds a Ph.D. in the History and Literature of Religion from Northwestern University, and has been the director of the Institute for the Study of American Religion since 1968. In recent years, the Institute has been located in Santa Barbara, California, where Melton has held a position as a Research Specialist in the Department of Religious Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara.
The author of more than 40 reference and scholarly books, Melton is famous for his Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions first published in 1979 and now in its 8th edition (2009). Melton also co-edited the volume Religions of the World: A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Beliefs and Practices (2002), and other recent titles include: Encyclopedia of Protestantism (2005), Nelson's Handbook of Denominations (2007) and A Will to Choose: the Origins of African American Methodism (2007).