Faith and belief aren’t based on buildings and institutions. Journalists need to remember that stories about faith and belief shouldn’t usually be based on buildings and institutions, either. One of the most important trends in religion coverage is the increasing number of stories that show that religion is mostly lived outside the walls of churches, synagogues, mosques and temples. Many of the best religion stories are about what happens when people live out their beliefs in everyday life, particularly when they interact with people who hold different beliefs.
In this chapter we’ll explore four areas that are fertile ground for stories on all kinds of topics, from education and business to politics and pop culture. In this age of individualism, people are expressing their spirituality in unusual and nontraditional ways. Stories about ethics – from the largest corporations to the smallest choices in everyday life – are an increasingly telling barometer of life in America today. Relationships among people of different faiths affect international, national and neighborhood affairs. In the end, many of the highest-profile stories about religion occur when clashes of belief occur in public, from religious holiday displays to government policies on scientific research.