Wherever you look there's news that somehow involves religion
January 07, 2023
There were lots of news stories in 2022 that had various religious lines running through them, from the continued diminishment of American Christianity to resurgent antisemitism and Christian nationalism to the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI -- and more.
And 2023 promises another barrel full of faith-based news stories. But what might they be?
Religion News Service, the stories of which I use here on the blog quite a bit, asked its own reporters to describe what they'll be looking for in this new year. And, in this story, they responded.
It's an interesting list, containing both expected themes and some that were surprising to me. In the latter category was a prediction from RNS reporter Kathryn Post that she'll be keeping an eye "on clinical trials exploring the mystical side of psychedelic experiences, how new and historic houses of worship are using psychedelics as a sacrament and how people unconnected to religious groups may be turning to these substances in underground settings to enrich their spiritual lives."
So we're going to take another swing through the 1960s? Hmmm.
The reality is that it's difficult to name a news story that doesn't somehow have a thread of religion or spirituality running through it. The job of journalists who cover religion is to find those threads and explore how they're affecting the life of the nation and the world.
The problem is that in many communities, including Kansas City, there aren't enough journalists covering this area despite the fact that religion, even though participation in it has slipped in recent decades, remains a vital factor in the lives of many citizens. Just imagine if newspapers or broadcast outlets devoted as many resources to covering religion as they do to covering sports. (This past week, of course, they covered both of those fields in all the responses, including prayers for healing, to the collapse of the Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin and then prayers expressing joy at what appears to be encouraging movement toward his healing.)
If you have ideas about stories or opinion pieces about religion that you'd like to see covered in 2023, I'd like to hear them. I'll think about what I might say about them in this venue as well as in other venues, including the monthly column I write for Flatland, KCPT-TV's digital magazine. Just email me at email@example.com. Thanks. And thanks for being a reader of my work, which I write because faith matters.
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RELIGION'S CONNECTIONS TO THE INSURRECTION
Yesterday's second anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection was another chance to think about the role religion played in that catastrophic event. This RNS story mentions some of that, including a brief note that the Jan. 6 select committee's recent report mentions Christian nationalism only once. I found that lack of attention to that discouraging, given how many of the insurrectionists seemed to be in harmony with that misguided approach to faith. I also found it distressing that two years after the rioters tried to shut down the work of Congress, some 20 Republican members of Congress who have refused to vote for Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House managed to shut down the House for most of a week until McCarthy finally squeaked through Friday night. Imagine that.