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Whitworth Welcomes Leading Scholar on Religion and Race Michael O. Emerson on Feb. 16

February 14, 2023

Whitworth University is pleased to welcome Michael O. Emerson, Ph.D., one of the nation’s leading scholars on religion and race, on Thursday, Feb. 16, at 7 p.m. in Weyerhaeuser Hall’s Robinson Teaching Theatre.

Emerson is the department head and professor of sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago and will deliver his presentation, “Healing America’s Broken Church: A Tale of Betrayal and Faithfulness.”

Emerson has written 15 books and nearly 100 other publications, secured over $7 million in research grants, and won several national awards for his research.

Most recently, he and Glenn Bracey, Ph.D., of Villanova University, conducted the most comprehensive study of race and religion in America. Funded by the Lilly Endowment, their research revealed that a large majority of Black Christians, but only a minority of white Christians believe America has a race problem. When surveyed about fairness in hiring, housing, justice and other societal issues, they discovered white Christians were the only ethnoreligious group to disagree that people of color were treated less fairly. 

Emerson has said about his research, “My co-author Glenn Bracey and I are proposing a theory in our forthcoming book, The Grand Betrayal: Most church-attending white Christians are not bad Christians. This is because they are not Christian at all. Instead, we propose they are faithful followers of a different religion: the ‘religion of whiteness.’”

Emerson’s research and expertise have been featured on CBS Evening News, National Public Radio, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, The New York Times and USA Today

The event is free and open to the public. 

About Whitworth University:

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of more than 2,500 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. 


Trisha Coder, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or