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.
Nigerian journalist Odinga Adiwu writes about the role journalists who specialize in reporting on religion can play in the overall search for peace in the midst of the world’s diversity. The journalist’s goal of reporting fair, accurate and balanced accounts ultimately can help to break down dangerous stereotypes and work against the rise of hate speech in the world.
The Population Reference Bureau (PRB) is accepting applications for its new Women’s Edition-Africa program, which brings together 10 to 12 senior-level women journalists from low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa to examine important topics related to women’s health and development.
In this interview in our Journalism Spotlight series, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation’s Albert Ken Dapatem talks about the challenges of covering religion in such a diverse nation. He also talks about the rise of Pentecostalism in his region of Africa and discusses the challenges he faces between his personal and professional roles in religion and spirituality.
Atsoutse Tossou is a researcher with a special interest in religion in today’s world. Originally from Togo in West Africa, Atsoutse Tossou is co-founder of the Africa and Religions project. Initiated by students from various African universities, the project aims to provide legal and sociological information on religion in Africa. In this interview he describes his project and share ideas on how journalists and scholars can work together for excellence in religion journalism.
In a series of scientific advances, researchers are developing a body of evidence challenging old stereotypes of humility as the province of weak-willed, stoop-shouldered individuals of low self-worth. The reality, research shows, is that it takes a strong will and courage to celebrate the gifts of others, while being honest about one’s own shortcomings. But it pays off. Just as a lack of humility can lead to a downward spiral of suspicion, distrust and violence, so, too, can the practice of humility reinforce other virtues and contribute to a more generous, inclusive, caring society.