In 2012, Bernard Schweizer perceived the need for a Society that caters specifically to scholars and writers who are interested in religiously subversive art. Schweizer assembled a group of collaborators (including professors, novelists, and a Methodist minister) to bring the International Society for Heresy Studies into existence: Valentine Cunningham, Revd. David Dickinson, Gregory Erickson, Damon Franke, Rebecca N. Goldstein, James Morrow, and James Wood. After placing a call for more participants, in early 2013 an Action Committee was founded comprised of the above individuals as well as a number of graduate students: Geremy Carnes, Jordan Miller, Ethan Quillen, Charles Richter, Edward Simon, and Adam Szetela. On May 3, 2013, the Society for Heresy Studies was formally founded at the Torch Club of New York University.
Just over a year after its founding, on May 30-31, 2014, the Society held its first conference at the Gallatin School at New York University. The Society’s bylaws were approved pending revisions to its purpose statement and definitions of key terms, and the first officers and board members were elected. The Society successfully registered as a tax-exempt non-profit organization in August 2014, and it continues to grow quickly, with a newsletter, journal, and collection of essays delivered at the conference planned for publication in the next year.