Lilly Regional Conferences on Religion in the News

Winter 1998

The Lilly Endowment awarded the Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life a grant of

Lilly Regional Conferences 
on Religion in the News

May, 1998
Indiana University Bloomington, IN

July, 1998
University of Washington
Seattle, WA

October, 1998
University of St. Thomas
St. Paul, MN

February, 1999
Texas Christian University
Fort Worth, TX

Summer, 1999
University of California
Santa Barbara, CA

Fall, 1999
Toronto, Canada

Spring, 2000
Georgetown University
Washington, DC

Spring, 2000
Wrap-Up Conference
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 life.