Dig deeper to find the real news
As voted by the Religion Newswriters Association's members, among the year's most consequential religion newsmakers were Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Pope Benedict XVI, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, and the U.S. bishops.
How would you have ranked them? Has their influence been harmful or constructive? What issue or person do you expect to have the biggest impact in the year to come?
Many of the noted figures making the biggest waves in the world of religion journalism in 2010 have a troubled, sometimes hostile, relationship to religious minorities in general, and modern Paganism in particular. Their prominence and influence are a constant reminder that our freedoms are sustained by secular ideals of a separation between church and state, a concept under constant attack by those who would prefer a "Christian America," or at least one that gave special dispensation to their majorities. This tension is often characterized as a mere difference of opinion, but this is a fundamental disconnect that allows outlandish statements and associations to be ignored by mainstream media outlets.
Looking at the Religious Newswriters Association list, there's Christine O'Donnell, whose unfortunate "I'm not a Witch" incident this year spawned mocking comments about Wicca from across the political spectrum, and shifted the focus from her real stances on social and religious issues towards what she might or might not have done on a "Satanic" altar over a decade ago. Turning to Sarah Palin, everyone seems more interested in her presidential aspirations, or her (and her family's) dalliances with reality television, than with her troubling ties to the New Apostolic Reformation, a movement that exhibits true animus towards modern Pagans. Or take Glenn Beck, whose growing prominence also raises the profile of David Barton, called by Beck "one of the most important men in America." Barton also asserts that modern Pagans aren't afforded the same rights under the US Constitution as are Christians. Add in Pope Benedict XVI, who has repeatedly made insensitive and critical comments about Paganism and indigenous faiths, and you can start to see how this list paints a portrait of concern for religious minorities.
Mainstream religion reporting has become too reactive, too focused on big personalities and stories to dig into the webs of allegiances and their ramifications. After all, it has been shown time and time again that printing uncomfortable facts about certain figures means being cut off from access, the lifeblood of modern journalism. Resources for investigative journalism, particularly religious journalism, have dwindled rapidly in recent years. In its place we have seen the growth of dueling opinions, where all are placed on an equal footing, yet confined to speaking mostly to our own co-religionists and allies. We need to reevaluate religious news, and see if we can't dig deeper, and expect more, not just to enlighten, but to protect ourselves from an imposed and dangerous ignorance.
This week at my own site, The Wild Hunt, I'll be counting down what I thought were the top ten stories affecting modern Pagans this year. I encourage you to visit and see how different these stories can appear from the perspective of a religious minority. What may seem funny or irrelevant to some, can have serious repercussions for others. Finally, I encourage everyone reading this to dig deeper behind these religion stories, and wonder what questions we aren't asking these public figures who've become so important and influential in our lives.
Posted by: wiki-truth | December 31, 2010 6:49 PM
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Posted by: VisionFromAfar | December 29, 2010 9:47 AM
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