For hundreds of millions of Muslims, Sharia is a way or a path to divine understanding that enables human beings to reach their full potential. So why does so much public conversation about “sharia” or “sharia law” focus on extreme interpretations grounded in intolerance and ignorance? The answers are complex, involving historical, political, cultural, regional and religious factors that need to be understood in context. Yet complexity and reason are often dangerously absent amid the emotion and politics attached to Sharia.
Marking our fifth anniversary as a worldwide organization, our web team invited some active members to respond in this Forum format to the question: “Why does the International Association of Religion Journalists (IARJ) matter in today’s world?” As we raised the question, we wondered whether our original 2012 mission statement was still relevant. We were fascinated—and encouraged—to read these diverse responses from our members.
The IARJ’s mission is to offer online tips and news of interest to professional journalists—as well as online and in-person opportunities for staff development through annual regional conferences. In this online Forum, IARJ members are asked to contribute their thoughts in early 2017 to the question: What religion news stories are under-reported? We hope this Forum will spark journalists to think about topics that our peers consider important this year.
IARJ’s members are active in journalism training. In the latest IARJ @ Work, co-managing director Elisa Di Benedetto describes her participation in the training program by OUSPJ – Ohio University’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.
Who are the nonreligious? Depending on how they are counted, the nonreligious today may be considered the world’s third largest ‘religion,’ trailing only Christianity and Islam. They exercise an increasingly influential voice on issues from the immigration crisis in Europe to secular-religious tensions in Asia Pacific. Now a developing body of research is shedding critical light on the diversity and complexity of this group in an age when the makeup and balance of religious and nonreligious populations, along with their shared history, matters in ways both small and large.