Notions about what religion news is and where it belongs have changed dramatically in the past few decades. For 100 years in the U.S., religion was usually relegated to the “church page,” where stories of denominational policies and church anniversaries played a starring role. Now news about many different faiths tops front pages and homepages around the world. What’s changed?
- Many countries are more religiously diverse, and their religious demographics are constantly shifting.
- People are practicing their faiths in different ways, often switching houses of worship, eschewing the faith they were raised in, blending the practices of more than one tradition, or choosing to express their faith outside of religious institutions.
- Crimes such as sexual abuse, terrorism and financial wrongdoing have thrust religious groups onto the front page.
- Religious freedom and accommodation debates around abortion, end-of-life issues, marriage, gender, sexuality, education, immigration and more are raging internationally.
- While the number of reporters assigned to the religion beat seems to have peaked in the 1990s, in 2013 news organizations such as the Boston Globe and the Washington Post unveiled experiments with online verticals—in-depth religion pages on their news websites. New jobs on the beat are emerging all the time.
FAST FACTS: A major newsweekly once misquoted the late Rev. Jerry Falwell as referring to an “assault ministry” when he actually said “a salt ministry,” a reference to Matthew 5:13.