A VIEW OF RACIAL DIVERSITY FROM THE U.S. and ITALY—The photo at left shows the Rev. Dr. France A. Davis, pastor emeritus of Utah’s largest predominantly black church. As a young man, Dr. Davis marched twice with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Davis also has played a major role in groundbreaking relations with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which dominates life in Utah. Recently, two founding members of the International Association of Religion Journalists were involved in lifting up Dr. Davis’s prophetic voice to a global audience. In 2020, regular readers of the IARJ website will be able to enjoy occasional columns featuring stories that connect religion writers on different continents.
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.
IARJ Co-managing Director Larbi Megari reports on the Africa-wide conference for journalists and scholars recently held in Ghana, including some of the emerging challenges: How to connect more effectively with scholars studying religious trends; how to deal with forces that seem to work against accurate coverage of religious diversity; and the challenge of finding more effective professional networks with colleagues.
International Association of Religion Journalists founding member Prince Charles Dickson shares the wide range of topics discussed at the IARJ conference in Ghana, highlighting the great complexity of covering religion in Africa. From trying to cover religious extremism to trying to balance government involvement in religion, or lack of government interest in religion, the professional challenges are enormous, Dickson argues.
IARJ Co-managing Director and Web Editor Elisa Di Benedetto shares her perspective on this year’s conference in Ghana, including a key insight: While everyone who attended was aware of Africa’s religious diversity, the conference also illustrated a diversity in approaches to journalism by reporters across the continent.
We live in an age when a presumed irrevocable gulf between science and religion is perpetuated in the public sphere. But new evidence is emerging that reveals a far more complex picture of the relationship between these powerful social forces. One eight-region study of Religion among Scientists in International Context found a majority of scientists consider themselves either religious or spiritual, or both, in all regions except the United States, United Kingdom and France. However, there is still a lot of work to be done to address long-held animosities. On both sides.
The global refugee crisis represents a potential transformational moment in world history. Nations from Africa to Asia to Europe to North America with troubled pasts of ethnic conflict and of putting political and economic self-interest above humanitarian needs have an opportunity to write new chapters in their national stories. Religion is playing and will play a critical role.