One World, Many Faiths, Perpetual Conflict

One of the subjects you avoid at dinner parties — religion — crosses borders, spans oceans and embeds itself into every person’s life (whether they want it to or not). As such an integral part of humanity’s existence, religion has been covered by journalists in all its forms. From cults to religious orders, journalists have covered it all.

Even though there are hundreds of religions in the United States, the default setting within American media is coming from a Protestant Christian background as well. Those that do not prescribe to the Anglo-Christian norm are often considered “other.” Mostly, because they all come with their own practices, beliefs and stereotypical media portrayals that are not always familiar to practicing Christians.

The three Abrahamic religions — Judaism, Christianity and Islam — are the most practiced. These three religions in particular hold the most influence over American history, and even, this presidential election. News coverage of each has been unique and interconnected. Since the ’50s, coverage of Christianity has changed substantially.

When President John F. Kennedy was running for office, mainstream media questioned his Catholic beliefs and the future of America. The media have also covered Westboro Baptist Church, an extremely homophobic place of worship in Topeka, Kansas whose members most recently staged protests outside the funerals of the Orlando shooting victims.

And during the presidential campaigns, a focus on the politicization of Christianity — or politicians and other individuals who use Christianity as a reason for holding certain political beliefs — has risen to the forefront.

No faith, however, has been under as much scrutiny as Islam. Since 9/11, mainstream media have demonized Muslims of all sects. Muslims have been blamed for every terrorist act and hated even if they were leading quiet and respectable lives.

We’ll explore the impact news coverage has had on the way we look religion and faith.

USC Students Express Thoughts on Religion and Coverage

By Billy Rehbock, Catherine Clark and Intisar Seraj