Emile Lester

Headshot of Professor Emile Lester.


Ph. D., University of Virginia

Areas of Specialization:

  • Political Philosophy
  • Research Methods
  • Religion and Politics
  • Presidency
  • American History


Scholarly Achievements:

  • Author of Equipping Educators to Teach Religious Literacy: Lessons from a Teacher Education Program in the American South (Routledge, 2022, co-authored with W.Y. Alice Chan)
  • Author of Liberalism and Leadership: The Irony of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. (University of Michigan Press, 2019)
  • Author of Teaching Religions: Democratic Approach for Public Schools (University of Michigan Press, 2011)
  • Author of Learning About World Religions in Modesto, California (First Amendment Center, 2006).
  • Author of “A Triumph of Ideology Over Ideas: A Review of U.S. Government Grade 12 Textbooks in Texas” (Texas Freedom Network, 2014), “Denying Diversity: A Review of Mexican American Heritage,” (Texas Freedom Network, 2016), and “Taking Politics Out of the Texas Social Studies Curriculum Standards” (Texas Freedom Network, 2017).
  • Author of articles on religion and politics, political thought, and the American presidency in scholarly journals including The Review of Politics, Polity, Journal of Church and State, Politics and Religion, and Public Affairs Quarterly.
  • Author of four published book chapters including “Is Democracy for Religion in Public Schools Possible?” published in The Oxford Handbook on Religion and Education (Oxford University Press, 2018).
  • Special Consultant for Texas Freedom Network (TFN) on biases and inaccuracies in Texas public school history and social studies textbooks and curriculum. Testified several times before the Texas State Board of Education, and made numerous media appearances on behalf of TFN. Publishers made significant changes in their materials on issues relating to religious and racial diversity on the recommendation of Dr. Lester.
  • Special Consultant for the Religious Freedom Center (RFC) at the Newseum. Official evaluator of the RFC’s Georgia 3Rs initiative to teach about religion in public schools in Georgia.
  • Dr. Lester’s research has received coverage from The New York Times, Washington Post, Politico, USA Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Reuters, Salon, MSNBC.com, The Raw Story, The Huffington Post, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Education Week, C-Span, NPR, and a significant number of additional media outlets.
  • Author of op-eds in The USA Today, Dallas Morning News, and Houston Chronicle.
  • Author of several articles in public-interest magazines including The American Interest, and Phi Delta Kappan, and Miller-McCune magazine.
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Religion and Education

Check out a guest blog in the Washington Post by Professor Lester on his book.


  • Recipient, research grant from the RFC at the Newseum for 2017-2019.
  • Recipient of 2019-2021 Waple Professorship.
  • Recipient of 2010-2011 Jepson Fellowship.
  • Member of the editorial board of the peer-reviewed journal, Religion & Education.

Contact Information:

To contact Professor Lester, send an e-mail at: elester@umw.edu