BOLOGNA, Italy, March 3, 2019—The International Association of Religion Journalists (IARJ) and the Fondazione per le Scienze Religiose Giovanni XXIII (FSCIRE), an Italian research institute focused on religious studies, have joined forces to launch a new award for religion reporting, the Piazza Grande Religion Journalism Award.
This is a perilous period for religious freedom throughout the world. Most large countries officially proclaim religious freedom—but a growing body of research has found that the chasm between promise and practice is wide. In many cases, the promises of freedom are routinely denied. In this important Global Plus column, Roger Finke, director of the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), and the IARJ’s co-founder journalist David Briggs collaborated to offer a compelling, global overview of threats to religious freedom, today.
All journalists regularly covering religion around the world find themselves reporting on Islam and, in 2019, we encounter extreme voices—fueled by a rising tide of nationalism in response to global conflicts, migration and the plight of refugees. IN THIS COLUMN, you’ll find helpful resources you can use today—and a series of fresh ideas about ways you, too, could contribute to the global conversation in a helpful way.
As we continue our series of profiles of our IARJ Regional Representatives, we share inspiring words from Elisa Di Benedetto (our representative for Europe). Even though she focuses on Europe, where she is based, Elisa has become a global public face of the IARJ. In 2012, she was one of our co-founders. She helps to coordinate international conferences to this day. In 2019, she is inspiring American readers of a new book about diversity. And, in this profile, we also share links to follow Elisa online.
In our second profile of our IARJ Regional Representatives, Rachel Kohn (our representative for Australasia) reports on some of the milestones in her own career of covering religion around the world—starting with the challenge of covering the Centennial of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1993. We also share links to follow Rachel’s work, especially her long-running series of broadcasts, The Spirit of Things.
This latest Global Plus column comes from the journalist with the closest, ongoing access to Pope Francis: Sergio Rubin. This noted Argentine journalist collaborated on a book-length biography with Jorge Bergoglio, who now is known around the world as Francis. In this column, Rubin shares his insights into Francis’s attempts to revive and renew the worldwide church.
In a series of profiles of the IARJ’s Regional Representatives, Peggy Fletcher Stack (our representative for the United States) describes the importance of this specialty in journalism and shares links to some of her own recent news stories. Reporting on religion “touches all the important topics—values, ethics, communities, rituals, philosophical underpinnings, politics, meaning. It has some of the most compelling narratives as well as the richest ironies and an extraordinary cast of characters.”
IARJ’s Co-Managing Director Larbi Megari—who was also named the IARJ’s representative for North Africa and Middle East in 2018—reports in the Global Plus series about building friendships across religious lines. He especially explores issues of building social trust and civility between Muslims and non-Muslims. And, at the end of his column, Larbi adds a list of links to additional resources that will be valuable for journalists reporting on these issues.
Reina Lewis examines changing styles and expectations about Muslim women’s fashions. Reina is Artscom Centenary Professor of Cultural Studies at London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London. She is a leading researcher and writer on fashion and faith.
The IARJ not only fully complies with the EU’s new data protection law—we welcome it. In this new column, we explain why journalists around the world should join us in welcoming these new protections. We also explain how we use data and how we follow the new regulations.