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16 Good Starts On Religion Stories In 2016


The religion beat has a reputation for causing trouble. Readers are especially sensitive to mistakes and vocal about their displeasure, which makes it tempting to avoid religion altogether.

Year in and year out important and fascinating religion stories are lost to "mainstream" audiences this way.

But worthy religion stories do find their way out into the open every year. These reports are rarely the final word. There is always more to be said about the big religion stories of the day - additional angles, implications, and questions for follow up.

TMP asked our leaders and global network for some of the "good starts" they've seen on stories from the world of religion in 2016 that deserve journalists' attention again in 2017.


1/16: The rise of Hindu nationalism in India has put Muslims and Christians in that country on the defense. This story of a Muslim man allegedly attacked by a Hindu mob for eating a cow, was met with silence by India's Hindu leaders, for example. The problems of inter-religious conflict provoked by Hindu nationalism in the world's largest democracy merits more critical coverage. International media have more freedom to work on this issue than local reporters due to cultural taboos around religion and proselytism.
2/16: Famously secular Europeans are reclaiming a religious identity, including media personalities. Two high-ranking journalists "came out" as Christians in the pages of their news organizations this year. The UK's Tim Holland spoke out in the New Statesman about being "thoroughly and proudly Christian," and Germany's Daniel Böcking did something similar in BILD. What are the implications for European media as the religious preferences of reporters start to surface?

3/16: Few journalists noticed that French citizens were more offended by the murder of priest Fr. Jaques Hamel, whom Islamists attacked as he offered communion, than even the mass murders on Bastille Day. Hamel's murder caused portions of France's secularized population to begin identifying again as Catholic. Islamist attacks in Europe have Germans identifying publicly as Christian again, as well. Journalists should pay attention to the ways that global terrorism motivates average citizens to reclaim their lapsed faith.

4/16: The religious shifts in Latin America are a growing story. Catholicism is in retreat across the continent in the face of evangelical expansion. This is coupled with a religious resurgence in the region's most secular country, Uruguay, where leaders are now lamenting its "de-Christianization." What will Latin America look like as 500 years of religious tradition begins to crumble?

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