Empathy and the Religious "Enemy"

Dr. Hillel Gray and Miami students interview a member of the WBC in his home
Students watch as Dr. Gray talks with a member of the WBC in her home
 Dr. Gray and a student conduct a filmed interview of a WBC member in her home
 Miami students talk with a member of the WBC while he pickets
Members of the WBC smile at the camera while they are picketing. Two Miami students stand nearby, also smiling.
 Miami students chat with a member of the WBC at church

NEW! Preaching Goes Viral: Responses to the Pandemic

Preaching goes viral. Help us track religious responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Enemy empathy dot comThe COVID-19 crisis has intensified existing theological conflicts and political partisanship over religion. While some preachers are urging their flocks to stay home, others insist that religious duties should not be subject to what they consider secular whims. This health crisis could easily deepen entrenched prejudices of different kinds.

"Preaching Goes Viral" is an extension of the "Empathy and the Religious 'Enemy'" project. In this innovative student engagement initiative, undergraduates are gathering religious responses to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, building a crowdsourced database that will be publicly available to journalists, religious groups, scholars, and other researchers. Students working with Dr. Gray on this project are learning to apply skills in qualitative research and non-judgmental analysis to material produced by diverse religious voices and institutions at a time of global public health crisis and social distress.

Learn how you can contribute sources to the database.

Read a CAS news story that features "Preaching Goes Viral."

Empathy and the Religious "Enemy" is an ongoing project of field work, public scholarship, and student engagement, organized by Dr. Hillel Gray. The project's objective is to increase critical-empathetic, non-judgmental understanding of radical oppositional religious groups, such as anti-Zionist Jews, some Black Hebrew Israelites, and Westboro Baptist Church.

Empathy brings emotions, emotional awareness, and perspective-taking into our understanding of human subjects. Empathy combines cognitive perceptions and affective understanding; it does not mean support, approval, or agreement. In times of conflict, the ability to empathize with one's opponents, religious or political, can diffuse potential tragedies like those that have too often scarred the history of religion in America.

Miami students can participate in this project through coursework and independent research, including study-away experiences. Financial support is available for students' independent research projects.