The Lilly Endowment awarded the Center for the Study of Religion in
Public Life a grant of
on Religion in the News
Indiana University Bloomington, IN
University of Washington
University of St. Thomas
St. Paul, MN
Texas Christian University
Fort Worth, TX
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA
Trinity College, Hartford, CT
$142,330 to support a series of regional conferences
bringing together journalists and academic specialists in religion.
The grant supported seven one-and-one-half day conferences between the
spring of 1998 and the summer of 2000 around the United States and Canada at which leading
religion scholars met with editors and news managers from the print and
broadcast media to discuss the role of religion in contemporary society. The
discussions helped develop a basis for further conversations and a lasting network of
relationships that will improve coverage over the long term.
The initiative supported by the Lilly Endowment was designed to enhance
news managers' understanding of religion in contemporary times, and thus lead to better
coverage of religion stories. The program focused on serving news managers, rather
than specialist religion reporters, because news managers make critical editorial
decisions about the broad scope of coverage in their publications and broadcast outlets.
By helping them explore the religious dimensions of the news, the Center's program
aimed to contribute to the development of broader understanding in the nation's newsrooms of
religion's continuing impact on American society.
The program was co-sponsored by seven of the regional organizations
of the American Academy of Religion, the major professional organization for academic
specialists in religious studies.
It permitted scholars and journalists working in a given region to
explore the special factors and characteristics of religion and society in their region.
While all of North America is characterized by religious diversity, the religious
(and non-religious) demographics vary significantly from one region to another, with the
culture of each of North America's regions profoundly shaped by its distinctive mixture of
religious affiliations. Good journalistic coverage depends on the recognition and
analysis of regional religious factors in many areas of social, political, and community