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Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication
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Mass Communication Course - Communicating religion by Delhi School of Communication

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  • 1. Communicating Religion Communicating Religion Ms. Megha Jaiswal PGDPC XV Executive SummaryReligion is a topic which is most sacred to majority of the people. People are born by it andthey die by it. Religious sentiments are ingrained in people right from the time they cancomprehend things. There are many sections of people who are frantic about their religion.From centuries before, religion has been communicated to keep people informed about theGod’s messages, to transform them and to spread the religion beyond boundaries. Religionhas lead to many wars, bloodshed as well as it unites people and forms communities. Ourreligious belief raises its head on an everyday basis whether in terms of superstition, habit orconscious decisions. Religion is the crux of any society and forms its beliefs and ideas. Sincetime immemorial religion has been injected in people’s blood. Earlier times saw priests orhermits, maulvi’s and Pope spreading knowledge about religion. Even now the scene hasn’tchanged much but with digitalization coming in, things have become more high tech. Thereare different ways through people choose to communicate about their faith in order toinform, address or transform people and this thesis focuses on a few of those.Evangelism- Evangelism is the practice of relaying information about a particular set ofbeliefs to others who do not hold those beliefs. Throughout most of its history, Christianityhas been spread evangelistically, though the extent of evangelism has varied significantlybetween Christian communities, and denominations.Music- At its most basic level, gospel music is sacred music. It is a unique phenomenon ofAmericana which had its earliest iterations toward the end of the nineteenth century. It isfolk music which suggests that it and its secular counterparts are greatly influenced by eachother. Just as much of the contemporary gospel music of today sounds like R & B and Hip-Hop, so did most of the early gospel music sound like the Blues. Gospel, meaning "goodnews," derived its name from it close connection with the gospels (books in the NewTestament). 1
  • 2. Communicating ReligionLiterature- Religion and literature spring from the same fundamental sources. Not only doreligion and literature spring from the same fundamental sources, they also are formed bythe same forces. They both make a constant appeal to life. The translation of the Bible intoGothic by Ulphilas not only preserved the Bible, but also helped to create and to perpetuateliterature. Luthers translation of the Bible and the King James Version are not onlythemselves great literatures, but also have helped to form great literatures in modern life.Websites- Religion has been given new wings by modern day people to reach out tomillions others. Technology has helped it spread its wings. Numerous religious websiteshave come up which preach and influence peoples thinking. 2
  • 3. Communicating Religion Note: The following are the important excerpts from the thesis, please contact the institute for the full Thesis Report. Introduction ReligionReligion is a cultural system that creates powerful and long-lasting meaning, by establishingsymbols that relate humanity to truths and values. Many religionshave narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaningto life. They tend to derive morality, ethics,religious laws or a preferred lifestyle from theirideas about the cosmos and human nature.The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith or belief system, but religiondiffers from private belief in that it has a public aspect. Most religions haveorganized behaviors, including congregations for prayer, priestly hierarchies, holy places,and/or scriptures.Academics studying the subject have divided religions into three broad categories: worldreligions, a term which refers to transcultural, international faiths, indigenous religions,which refers to smaller, culture-specific religious groups, and new religious movements,which refers to recently developed faiths.The development of religion has taken different forms in different cultures. Some religionsplace greater emphasis on belief, while others emphasize practice. Some religions focus onthe subjective experience of the religious individual, while others consider the activities ofthe community to be most important. Some religions claim to be universal, believing theirlaws and cosmology to be binding for everyone, while others are intended to be practicedonly by one, localized group. Religion often makes use of meditation, music and art. Inmany places it has been associated with public institutions such as education, the family,government, and political power.One of the more influential theories of religion today is social constructionism, which saysthat religion is a modern concept suggesting all spiritual practice and worship follows amodel similar to Christianity; social constructionism suggests that religion, as a concept, hastherefore been applied inappropriately to non-Western cultures. 3
  • 4. Communicating ReligionReligion (from O.Fr. religion "religious community," from L. religionem (nom. religio) "respectfor what is sacred, reverence for the gods, obligation, the bond between man and the gods")is derived from the Latin religiō, the ultimate origins of which are obscure. One possibility isderivation from a reduplicated *le-ligare, an interpretation tracedto Cicero connecting lego "read", i.e. re (again) + legoin the sense of "choose", "go overagain" or "consider carefully". Modern scholars such as Tom Harpur and JosephCampbell favor the derivation from ligare "bind, connect", probably from a prefixed re-ligare,i.e. re (again) + ligare or "to reconnect," which was made prominent by St. Augustine,following the interpretation of Lactantius. The medieval usage alternates with order indesignating bonded communities like those of monastic orders: "we hear of the religion ofthe Golden Fleece, of a knight of the religion of Avys".According to the philologist Max Müller, the root of the English word "religion",the Latin religio, was originally used to mean only "reverence for God or the gods, carefulpondering of divine things, piety" (which Cicero further derived to mean "diligence"). MaxMüller characterized many other cultures around the world, including Egypt, Persia, andIndia, as having a similar power structure at this point in history. What is called ancientreligion today; they would have only called "law".Many languages have words that can be translated as "religion", but they may use them in avery different way, and some have no word for religion at all. For example,the Sanskrit word dharma, sometimes translated as "religion", also means law. Throughoutclassical South Asia, the study of law consisted of concepts such as penance throughpiety and ceremonial as well as practical traditions. Medieval Japan at first had a similarunion between "imperial law" and universal or "Buddha law", but these later becameindependent sources of power. There is no precise equivalent of "religion" in Hebrew, and Judaism does not distinguishclearly between religious, national, racial, or ethnic identities. One of its central concepts is"halakha", sometimes translated as "law"", which guides religious practice and belief andmany aspects of daily life.The use of other terms, such as obedience to God or Islam are likewise grounded inparticular histories and vocabularies. 4
  • 5. Communicating Religion Evolution of ReligionReligions success is undeniable. It is in every culture, and in every corner of the world. Wespend billions and billions of dollars on building monuments to it, supporting it, and ofcourse proselytizing on behalf of our own favored brand of it. Individuals give up sex andeschew family and friends for religion. Beyond that, we sacrifice time and effort to itsrituals, and indoctrinate our children and grandchildren to do the same. We are even willingto kill for it.Modern science, particularly modern biology, has given us the freedom to shuck off the ideathat our existence and the existence of the universe requires an intelligent being. In fact, asRichard Dawkins pointed out in The God Delusion, invoking an intelligent being doesntexplain anything -- it just pushes the question back to Who designed the designer? Despitethe illogic of believing that some great being in the heavens, capable of creating not only thelaws of physics, the principles of evolution, and the vastness of time also cares a great dealabout whether or not you use your left hand to clean up after defecating, eat a cracker whilesinless, or not mix cheese with chicken, we still seem to sup it up like mothers milk.The reason religion is so successful is that it taps into our primal-brains in much the sameway that a Big Mac does -- only more so. Religion gained its foothold by hijacking the needto give purpose at a time when humans had only their imagination -- as opposed to theevidence and reason that we have today -- to fathom their world. Spirits and demons werethe explanation for illnesses that we now know are caused by bacterial diseases and geneticdisorders. The whims of the gods were why earthquakes, volcanos, floods and droughtsoccurred. Our ancestors were driven to sacrifice everything from goats to one another tosatisfy those gods.Along with the need to attribute purpose, our faculty to intuit the intent of others spills overinto a predilection for determining the intentions of gods and goddesses (or spirits, demons,and angels). Of course the major problem has been that we can never quite agree amongourselves about gods intentions, which often ends in unfortunate violent discussions. Ourevolved proclivity for aggression feeds into that as well. We justify our prejudices, hatred, 5
  • 6. Communicating Religionmurders, and war by attributing our own biases to a god. As long as we kill in gods name,we are doing good.Our primal-brains that keep track of kin can be easily hijacked through language and rituals,which is why religion uses terms such as god the father, Mary the mother of heaven,brother, and sister. Rituals reinforce fictitious kin through feasts, worship, and ceremoniessuch as marriages and funerals. Despite our smart-brains being able to recognize thedifference between real kin and not, those ties created within religious organizations bindtightly. Leaving the faith one was born into would certainly have led our ancestors to beingshunned if not worse. In Islam, the punishment for apostasy is death. And in Westerncultures, it is not uncommon to hear of individuals whose families and friends have turnedtheir backs because they have disavowed their religious beliefs.The fear of losing family and friends is a powerful force for keeping people in tow. It is fareasier to ignore the evidence that there is no god than to give up the love and friendship of acommunity. Our survival depends much more on being part of a community, even intodays modern world, than on abandoning religion. Psychological studies strongly suggestthat our social network, that is family and friends, are essential to personal happiness. Forour ancestors it was more than that, it was necessary for our very survival itself. Exclusionwould have meant death, and our primal-brains have not forgotten. We did not evolve to besolitary creatures, nor to be independent of social support. Religion has, for better or worse,always offered a ready social network, an entire (fictive) extended family. Our primal brainsare designed to not only strive to maintain close family and social relationships, but whencoupled with the attribution of our own primal fears to the mind of god along with ourtendency for aggression, we are more than willing to commit the most heinous acts toprotect our fictive kin and beliefs.Of course there are other factors that contribute to this tangled web, such as the desire forpower, land, wealth, and, where men are concerned, access to females for reproduction. Allof these extant drives ingrained in the human psyche have also been justified throughreligion. No matter how terrible the deed, by attributing to god our own fears and hatreds --anything could be justified. Religion and gods were extremely useful to the ruthless andpower-hungry. 6
  • 7. Communicating Religion Different types of ReligionReligion adds meaning and purpose to the lives of followers, granting them an appreciationof the past, an understanding of the present, and hope for the future. By definition, areligion is a belief system concerning one or more deities and incorporating rituals,ceremonies, ethical guidelines, and life philosophies. Since the early times of Paganism,religion has diversified and grown to include major monotheistic religionslike Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as Indian and Far Eastern religionslike Buddhism and Sikhism, Iranic religions like Zoroastrianismand Bahai, and Africanindigenous-based religions like Santeria. Other belief systems, including Atheism andthe Mormon Church, have also developed with time. While religion dictates peace andgood will, many battles and divisions have taken place because of religion. Religious beliefplays an important role in the history of the world. The people of the world could benefitfrom learning about the different types of religion.Religion defines who you are, what you are, and your views about the world around you.You must understand, a religion is much more than deity worshiping. Religion is thephilosophy of life and a belief system. There are as many as four thousand and two religionsin this world. Surprisingly, people know only a handful of religion. 7
  • 8. Communicating ReligionWorld religions:There are many, long established, major world religions, each with over three millionfollowers. We have shown the five largest North American religions in bold: Bahai Faith Buddhism Christianity; Christian groups, denominations and families (Amish to The Way) 8
  • 9. Communicating Religion Confucianism [Actually, this religion has no formal symbol. But this one issometimes used unofficially] Hinduism Islam Jainism Judaism Shinto Sikhism 9
  • 10. Communicating Religion TaoismNeopagan religious faiths: 1 Neopagan faiths are modern-day reconstructions of ancient Paganreligions from various countries and eras. They experience a high but diminishing level ofdiscrimination and persecution in North America. They were once rarely practiced in publicfor reasons of safety. This is rapidly changing for the better. Ásatrú (Norse Paganism) Druidism Goddess Worship 10
  • 11. Communicating Religion WiccaWitchcraftOther organized religions:These are smaller religions, with a well defined belief in deity, humanity and the rest ofthe universe. Of the many hundreds of faith groups in the world, we have chosen thesebecause of their historical significance, or because of the massive amount ofmisinformation that has been spread about them in North America: Caodaism Damanhur Community Deism Druze 11
  • 12. Communicating ReligionEckankarElian Gonzalez religious movementGnosticismGypsies Hare Krishna - ISKCONIfa, the religion of the Yoruba people of West AfricaLukumiMacumbaMowahhidoonNative American SpiritualityRom, Roma, Romani, Rroma, (a.k.a. Gypsies)Santeria 12
  • 13. Communicating Religion Satanism; The Church of Satan Scientology Unitarian-Universalism The Creativity Movement (formerly called World Church of the Creator) The Yazidi branch of Yazdanism Zoroastrianism Portrayal of Religion in the MediaThe portrayal of religion in media depends from country to country. The first importantfactor lies in the government and the governments policies set for the freedom of the press.Media shares a very give and take relationship of information, and so any kind ofinformation given by us is provided by the media. For instance, media telecast of communalriots. Media doesnt really provide its point of view for any religion.The other form of portrayal could also show some of the religious practices performed bycertain faiths. It could also include the cultural traditions of a community. Sometimes thetelecast is not just countrywide but takes place at an international level as well. For exampleMother Theresa, Princess Dianas andPrince Charles wedding ceremony and lately theattack on Americas World Trade Centre.On December 6, 1992, a group of 120,000 Indian Hindus tore down the Babri Mosque inAyodhya. The Hindu groups believed that the Mosque had been built in the 16th century 13
  • 14. Communicating Religionover the remains of a Hindu temple that had been the birthplace of a reincarnation of thedeity Rama. In retaliation, more than 6000 Hindu temples were torn down in Bangladeshand 3000 in Pakistan. While neither side is without blame, only the Hindu destruction ofthe Barbri Mosque received any Indian press coverage. Muslims were portrayed as thecourageous victims, with the Hindus playing the role of villain.On September 30, 2005, a Danish newspaper published a series of 12 cartoons, featuring theIslamic prophet Muhammad. According to Muslim tradition, any depiction of the prophetis considered too close to idol worship to be tolerated. These cartoons created a world-widecrisis, during which some Muslim leaders called for peace, while other demandedretribution. Some Muslims also saw the cartoons as the expression of a deeply-held mediabias against Islam. The newspaper insisted that the point of the cartoons was to includeMuslims in Danish society and to satirize Islam as they would any other religion. Morethan fifty countries re-published the cartoons over the next few months.On September 12, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI addressed a group of student scholars at theUniversity of Regensburg in Germany. In the speech, the Pope quoted Byzantine emperorManuel II Paleologus, that the Muslim prophet Muhammad contributed nothing tohumanity but “only evil and inhuman”, including a call to violence for the Islam faith (Qtdin Ratzinger). In the long and academically complex speech, the media grasped upon thesingle quotation, centering their articles on the potentially offensive quotation. Thisquotation enraged religious leaders around the world at the insensitivity of the Pope to evenquote such a statement, regardless of the Pope’s intentions. The Pope later explained thatthe quotation bared no semblance to his own opinion on Islam, but had used to quote toshow his clear rejection of the relationship between violence and religion.With these stories, it becomes painfully obvious that the relationship between media andreligion is problematic. The two seem to have difficulty in their coexistence. This raises thequestion of from where the problem stemmed. The answer to this question lays, at leastpartially, in the fundamental difference between religion and media, namely, in the clash offact and beliefs. As writer Jim Stentzel wrote, “In the press one turns over a rock to exposethe dirt; in the pulpit one turns over the dirt to expose the Rock.” (qtd in Bridging the Gap,10)The media is trained and expected to report verifiable fact. Media is, “about questioning,probing, verifying, taking nothing for granted or at face value. Not for nothing has the mottoof Chicagos legendary City News Bureau become renowned as a summation of thejournalists approach to things: ‘If your mother says she loves you, check it out.’” (Wycliff)The media is granted the responsibility of reporting the news as factually and honestly aspossible. Media works with things that can be measured or rationally described and 14
  • 15. Communicating Religionobserved.Religion, on the other hand, relies upon faith and other transcendent intangibles. Faithrequires a leap, a suspension of strictly logical or critical thought in order to seek a deepermeaning or purpose of life. Faith cannot be seen, only experienced by those who choose tobelieve. It can not be objectively observed, only discussed. Almost “by definition, anyreligious faith looks illogical to an outsider, while to the committed adherent it is the sourceof lifes ultimate meaning and purpose.” (Wycliff)The harmonization of these two opposites is where the problem of media and religion lays.The two ideas seem to be almost too much at odds to be reconcilable; however this isexactly what both sides have the responsibility to attempt to do. The attempts can besuccessful, and “the result is a strong, accurate, balanced, fundamentally fair news story.When it is met poorly -- and that too often is the case -- the result is exactly the opposite: aninaccurate, unbalanced, unfair story that is disrespectful to followers of the faith involvedand insulting to the intelligence and fairness of even neutral observers.” (Wycliff)The conflict between faith and fact is not the only problem faced by the media and religiousgroups. Both sides have taken actions, or not taken actions, that have also contributed to thetensions between the groups. On the side of the media, there is a lack of religion reporters.Only the largest newspapers and news agencies can afford to employ a religion-beat writer.Without a thorough background in the very complicated topic of religion, there are almosttoo many little nuances for a reporter to understand and report on the subject. When areligion topic is covered by a non-religion writer, the problem becomes even moretroublesome, as most writers do not have even a little background on the topic. Because of alack of knowledge on the subject, news reporters often gloss over the details that, ifexamined carefully, could explain the situation more thoroughly. The religious groups arealso to blame. They often do not communicate with the media, leaving the media to collectinformation from whatever sources they can. By shrinking away from communicating withthe media, they create more difficulty for the media to report fairly and accurately.While many would say that the media does not need to cover religion, that it is not animportant aspect of the public’s life, this belief is unfounded. A definite need to report onreligion exists. Religion is one of the fundamental ways that people express themselves andis often at the core of their belief system. A specific religion, or even a non-specificspirituality, is often one of the most important elements of a person’s identity. According toa poll taken by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 60% of Americansclassify religion as “very important” to them, making them very likely to be interested in thereporting of religion (Qtd in Primer on Religion). To deny the importance of religion insociety is a large mistake, especially in the field of mass communications. 15
  • 16. Communicating ReligionOnce recognizing the problems of reporting on religion and the importance of fixing thisproblem, the question at hand becomes what can be done. How can the relationshipbetween religion and media be mended?Over the last decade or so, the topic of interaction between media and religion has becomemore prominent, leading many individuals from both groups to work on bridging the gapbetween the two.In India the print media is mostly owned by large business houses with a variety of tradeand commercial interests, and they are keen to propitiate Hindu religious interests. As areaction to the propagation of the majority viewpoint, and many times out of their ownvested interests, smaller non-Hindu sections of the media promote their own religiouslobbies. In an atmosphere which is vitiated by such propaganda it is very difficult for theordinary citizen to sift fact from fiction. When there are inter-religious disturbances, themedia go to town with their distorted version of the happenings, depending on whichevervested interest they represent, so adding fuel to the fire of communal passions. Thisnaturally increases the intensity of the conflict, thereby promoting their agenda andsometimes their self fulfilling prophecies. Usually, after a few days of mayhem order doesreturn. Since the average citizen of India is mostly a peace-loving person, the media stokesthe fires of communal passions proactively. They are kept burning with a low key programof soft communal agenda and promotion of various types of superstition.Almost every newspaper has a column on religious propaganda – even the most so-calledprogressive ones. There are some exceptions to these like those published by some of the leftfront parties. The largest selling newspaper in India, The Times of India, carries regularly onits editorial page, columns like the ‘Speaking Tree’ which is a vehicle for the “thoughts” ofreactionary elements of Hindu leanings while on certain days like Christmas or Eid tokenwrite ups are carried authored by those professing other religions. As the author hasexperienced, there is nothing pertaining to the scientific temper, Humanism of any type orrational thinking ever printed in this column. If one were to send reactions to the drivelpublished therein they would never be published.Take the so-called progressive newspaper The Hindu (it has supposedly nothing to witheponymous religion) originally started from the southern town of Madras (now renamedChennai). It carries a regular column called ‘Religion’ which has write-ups like ‘God’sgraciousness’ (loving devotion to God is an end to itself as a devotee who has reached suchheights of devotion transcends all duality and exists only for His sake). Another one,‘Karma – a binding force’ quotes Swami Paramarthananda as follows:“The universal law of Karma is a binding factor on all human beings. This manifests itselfas the joys and sorrows one experiences in life as a consequence of one’s past deeds, good 16
  • 17. Communicating Religionand bad. What is the solution for these? …the Karma Kanda section of the Vedas suggestsritualistic solutions for the varieties of problems the mankind faces while also offeringmethods and skills for diagnosing them.”If this is the sort of thing published in a newspaper with a ‘progressive’ outlook one canimagine what the others do.With reference to the newspapers published in Indian languages, the biases are even moreblatant and their role in the spread of superstitions and communal hatred is legendary. Inthe state of Gujarat the newspapers belonging to a certain section incited passions andactively assisted in the Muslim genocide of 2002.In Muslim dominated areas like the city of Hyderabad in southern India the Urdu press(Urdu is a language identified with the Muslim community) has incited riots, communalhatred and intolerance. In his hometown of Mangalore in the southern state of Karnataka,the author can vouch for the role of the local and state level newspapers in pursuing ahidden communal agenda with a view to making it as communally polarised as the state ofGujarat. The largest circulating newspaper of the region called Vijaya Karnataka was firstowned by a transport baron who later on joined the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party(which was instrumental in opening up communal tensions in 1992 with the destruction ofthe Babri Mosque in North India, a structure owned by both Hindus and Muslims to becommunally sensitive, thus unleashing communal riots in the entire country), got elected asa Member of Parliament on their ticket, resigned from that and started his own party.During his ownership, the newspaper was promoting his ideology. The newspaper wastaken over by The Times of India group, arguably the largest media group in the country butthe editorial policy did not change. The newspaper caters to all sorts of superstitions andcarries columns one of which called all Muslims ‘terrorists’ and had to face their ire. Onething in common to all of the columnists is the hatred towards the forces of reason, rationaland Humanist thought.In the area where I reside, the largest circulated newspaper called the Udayavani is uniquein having no editorial section. This lack does not mean that it has no agenda – in thatdepartment this rag is very strong. It promotes the communal interests of one communityand the upper castes in particular. It goes to great lengths to glean pearls of communalwisdom and stories of so-called miracles from everywhere. As is the usual practice,reactions to these are never carried and even if carried are heavily edited and the debatedistorted to make it appear as if the forces of rational thought have been defeated.Thanks to these, minor incidents like a Muslim vendor pricking a girl with a needle havebeen projected as Hindus being infected with AIDS, minor quarrels between communitiesprojected as major riots (the resulting reactions fulfilling their own prophecies). In anothercase a tableau depicting a Muslim bowing before a Hindu goddess (which was a part of a 17
  • 18. Communicating Religionlocal legend in which there is a temple built for that goddess by a Muslim and named afterhim) resulted in communal riots. These resulted in almost three days of round the clockcurfew in certain areas and the loss of several dozen innocent lives. All this because themedia had projected such a minor incident as a great affront to the faith of some. This hasbeen going on for a long time and has resulted in benefit to the Hindu right who have gaineda lot of political advantage. The Bharatiya Janata Party has won several seats to thelegislative bodies.One may question why voices of reason are not raised against these. The unpalatable truthis that the media is in the hands of a few powerful barons who claim to mould publicopinion.The new age guru Ravi Shankar who attaches two ‘Sris’ before his name (it is like beingaddressed as Mr.,Mr.!) and titles like Guruji Maharaj (Lord and Mentor Supreme) ispromoted by the media as a saviour of mankind. He promotes something called art of living,probably implying that those do not undergo his course are dead, which is a mishmash ofyoga and some Hindu superstitions. All his fame has been due to the support of a section ofthe media and unreserved acceptance by others. Then there is one Ram Kishen Yadav, whocalls himself Baba Ramdev (Father Ramdev), who claims to be a yoga expert and promiseshealth for all and cures for every possible disease through his untested, unprovedconcoctions. He is almost solely a product of media hype. The success of these godmen isprobably due to their publicity on TV channels, but the print media has also played a largerole in promoting them.On the other hand, rational forces within the media can find themselves harassed by the lawunder various obscure sections of the Indian Penal Code. When B.V.Seetaram, columnist ofthe Kannada newspaper Karavali Ale, questioned the propriety of Jain ascetics goingaround stark naked and why that did not attract the provisions of the Indian Penal Code onnudity, he was arrested and paraded around in chains like a criminal. On the personal front,when the writer of this article, who is the president of the Federation ofIndian Rationalist Associations was queried at a public meeting about the efficacy of cow’surine as a panacea, he replied that urine of all animals whether a cow or a dog was anexcretory product. This was highlighted in a newspaper famous for its reactionary views. Itwas followed by a campaign orchestrated by statement and the person who made it withthreats to prosecute him under any possible sections of the Indian Penal Code. Thecampaign came to an end only after a legal luminary suggested that no legal action could betaken as the author was a Hindu (despite his claims to the contrary) and that every Hinduhad the right to criticise and try for the reform of his own religion!One has to understand the role of the media in the Indian context to know its effect andefforts to promote religion and related superstitions. Though most of my analysis had beenof the Hindu right and its efforts in promoting the Hindutva (radical Hindu) agenda, one 18
  • 19. Communicating Religioncannot discount the role of the followers of the other proselytizing religions like Islam andChristianity. But due to the smaller number of the followers and their realisation that itwould better for them to be in the good books of the secular non-believers, they have toneddown their attacks against most of us. Of course Taslima Nasrin and Salman Rushdie whohave chosen to launch direct attacks on their prophet are exceptions to this! The Christiandominated media is at the very fringes in most of India and they have not succeededanywhere except in the southern state of Kerala (which has a large Christian population),where they own a newspaper chain. Their utilisation of the media has been mainly throughthe power of money and claims to empathy from Sonia Gandhi, leader of the rulingCongress Party, whose Roman Catholic origins have made the party faithful obsequious tofollowers of their leader’s faith. Under these circumstances it is very difficult for Humaniststo make our voices heard. We are provided a platform by a very small section of the mediasympathetic to us to express our point of view, and sometimes heavily edited versions of ourside are also published to make a show of fair play. Religious reporting in IndiaThe word diversity best describes India. In his book The Argumentative Indian, India’s NobelPrize-winning economist Amartya Sen says, “India is an immensely diverse country withmany distinct pursuits, vastly disparate convictions, widely divergent customs and averitable feast of viewpoints.”The diversity offers excellent potential for reporting religion, but it also poses manychallenges, as realities change from rural to urban areas, from one state to another, and evenfrom one region to another within a state. Given that India has 28 states and six Unionterritories, one can understand how diverse the realities must be.It would be safe to assume that reporting of religion and religion-related issues in such asituation will not be homogeneous by any stretch of imagination. An endeavour to identifyblanket trends will be a futile exercise.Although a majority of the 1 billion-plus population of India is Hindu, there is a sizeablenumber of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and people from other religions — even atheists,who have coexisted with the people belonging to the “majority” religion for centuries. 19
  • 20. Communicating ReligionIn The Argumentative Indian, Sen points out that while most of Catholic Europe was givenover to the Inquisition, and in Rome Giordano Bruno was being burned at the stake forheresy, in India the 16th-century Mogul emperor Akbar was declaring, “No man should beinterfered with on account of religion, and anyone is to be allowed to go over to a religionthat pleases him.”Today, India has the world’s third-largest Muslim population, after Indonesia and Pakistan.In addition, about 2.2 million people in India follow the Bahá’í faith, forming the largestcommunity of Bahá’ís in the world. India is also home to followers of Zoroastrianism, whoin India are called Parsis. They represent about 0.006 percent of the total population, with aconcentration in and around the city of Mumbai, the capital of the western state ofMaharashtra.Religion plays a key role in the lives of Indians. Rituals, worship, and other religiousactivities form a very prominent part in the daily life of an individual. Religion alsoorganises social life, especially in rural parts of the country.India hosts numerous pilgrimage sites for almost all religions. Most festivals are celebratedby people of all communities, irrespective of which religions these festivals belong to.Unlike the West, where a drift away from religious orthodoxy is a visible trend, the peoplein India are generally drawing closer to traditions in search of their identities in the wake ofglobalization.The number of Hindu gurus (and of their followers) is increasing. The number oftemplegoers is also on the rise. Even in the national capital, Delhi, young and old Hinduscan be seen going to a temple barefoot and carrying a bowl of milk as part of a religiousritual. People prostrating themselves in front of a temple on a busy road has also becomecommonplace. Generally speaking, people in smaller cities and rural places are morereligious than in bigger cities.Sections of the upper middle class are also drawing closer to materialism and the New Age,like in the West. However, it must be acknowledged here that Hinduism is conglomerate ofdiverse beliefs and traditions, and not a “religion” as understood in the West, and thereforethe diversity within it is so immense that any generalization is extremely difficult.Indian Muslims and Christians too have started asserting their religious identities, perhapsas a reaction to the rise of Hindu extremism, because Muslims are seen with suspicion in thewake of the “Global War against Terrorism.” On Fridays, Muslims can be seen kneelingpublicly on roadsides or in parks to offer “Namaz.” Similarly, Christians too can easily beidentified as most of them owning a car will either have a cross hanging in the car or aChristian sticker on the back screen. 20
  • 21. Communicating ReligionThere are at least 14 religion channels in India, and the number is growing by the year.There are close to 6,000 daily newspapers published in over 100 languages, in addition tomore than 40 domestic news agencies in the country. The reach of the press medium (dailiesand magazines combined) has increased from 216 million to 222 million during the lastyear. The number of readers in rural India (110 million) is now roughly equal to that inurban India (112 million).Similarly, there are more than 100 TV channels, and the number of news channels isgrowing. Satellite TV has grown considerably in reach — from 207 million watching in anaverage week in 2005 to as many as 230 million in 2006 — further expanding its lead overthe number of readers.Hate Campaigns against Minorities in Hindi MediaReports on Christian missionaries indulging in “conversions” are commonplace in Hindinewspapers. The largest selling Dainik Jagran daily is the best example of this trend.The local edition of Dainik Jagran in Himachal Pradesh state has been carrying provocativestories maligning the local Christian community for the last two years. It has beenpublishing a series of reports with the same headline, “Isaiyon ka gorakh dhanda”(Misdeeds of Christians), each time carrying a picture that shows a trishul (trident, one of thesigns of a Hindu god) piercing the cross and stains of blood.Several Dainik Jagran stories have alleged that Christians eat beef (the cow, considered aholy animal, is worshipped by Hindus) and “forcibly” convert Hindus, identifying Christianworkers with their names. According to local evangelical Christian organisations, theextremists somehow get hold of their in-house magazines and misquote from thesepublications in the newspaper to support their allegations. 21
  • 22. Communicating ReligionIn fact, there is a feeling among local Christian workers that it is a result of the anti-Christian campaign in the local media that the Congress Party government in HimachalPradesh Assembly passed an anti-conversion bill on December 30, 2006, alleging that“conversions” were happening, leading to law and order problems in the state, and the localpeople wanted a law to ban “forcible” conversions.Hindi news channels’ obsession with spiritual healing and occultism is easily perceivable.Reporting on such practices features in almost every news bulletin. To give an example, theAaj Tak channel on July 28 showed a “healer” stepping on young children to “heal” theirdiseases. The coverage lasted for more than 15 minutes, and the clip repeated several timesin the day.TV channels recently showed devotees of the Hindu god Ganesha in Delhi and other partsof the country offering milk to the idol, claiming that it was actually drinking. The coveragewas shown the whole day after short intervals, and Hindu priests were interviewed on thepossibility of an idol drinking milk. A few days later, the channels showed a clip of devoteesof a temple on a seashore in Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra, drinking sea water, whichhad reportedly turned sweet. The devotees attributed the “miracle” to their god.In fact, there are special half-hour programs on most Hindi channels showing the fame andclaims of occultists claiming to have supernatural powers. English news channels also reporton incidents related to people’s superstitions, but the frequency is way lower than theirHindi counterparts. From time to time, superstitions do figure in debates on Englishchannels.The media can blame the viewers for this trend, as such coverage does increase the TRP(Television Rating Points) of a channel, but it is also true that this is promoting superstitionsamong the people.Lack of Serious Religion Articles in NewspapersMost newspapers have special religion columns, but they lack serious content.The Hindustan Times has a column called “Innervoice” which appears each weekday.“Innervoice” normally features articles on the philosophy of religion written mainly by thereaders. Till last year, it carried contributions from popular Hindu gurus, clergy fromdifferent religions and freelance writers. Of late, the policy of the newspaper changed andthe column was made open to readers’ contributions. The flip side of this policy is that it hasbrought down the quality of the articles.On Saturdays, the newspaper features a special page on religion, “Faith on Saturday,”which carries four columns. These columns normally feature “entertaining” stories relatedto religion, like the beauty of the building of a temple, with almost half the page devoted to 22
  • 23. Communicating Religiongraphics. One does not find spiritual articles meant for followers of a religion, except somequotes from various scriptures on a topic.The Times of India has a column, “Speaking Tree,” which appears from Monday toSaturday. The articles in this column mainly talk about Hindu scripture Vedas or Reiki,Feng Shui (an ancient Chinese practice of arranging space to achieve harmony with theenvironment), and Vastu Shastra (traditional Hindu canons of town planning andarchitecture), etc.The daily also carries a special page on Sundays, “Mind Over Matter,” which normallyfeatures articles by famous New Age gurus like Deepak Chopra or those who advocateusing spirituality for enhancing management skills and success in worldly matters.The Hindu‘s column, “Religion,” also runs from Monday to Saturday. The newspaper hasits own writers for this column, which invariably talks about Hinduism. The articles do notcarry a byline. Only on festivals celebrated by other religions does it feature articles byclergy or writers from other religions.Until recently, The Indian Express had a biweekly religion column “Faithline,” but as of now,it does not have any religion column.The trends in the way religion and religion-related issues are reported in India give us atleast three inferences:First, the Indian media give substantial coverage to religion and religion-related issues, buthighlighting mainly the negative and divisive aspects — which perhaps is the case in generalreporting too. For instance, many religious communities are doing commendable socialwork, but their work rarely gets the attention it deserves. This is perhaps a result of mostmedia being market-driven, rather than having an agenda, which compels them to use onlystories that are potentially sensational and can sell.Second, there is a decline in seriousness in the various religion columns in newspapers.Maybe this only reflects popular Indian religiosity, which seems to lack spiritual substance.Third, generally speaking, the Indian media promote false spirituality. Perhaps the popularIndian gurus, who seem to be very shallow in the spirituality they preach and practice, aregood in public relations skills and are aggressive evangelists.It would be naïve to expect that the media leadership will take any initiative to deal withthese predicaments, but it is possible for individual reporters and editors to do their bit inbridging the gaps in reporting religion as news. 23
  • 24. Communicating Religion Press Freedom vs. Blasphemy: An Indian PerspectiveThe publication of cartoons of Prophet Mohammed in the Danish newspaper Jylland-Posten led to outrage, boycott calls and violence in many countries. People were killed,newspapers were closed and editors sacked. The controversy has been narrated as a clashbetween two civilizations. It has also been described as an encounter between freedom ofexpression and religious fundamentalism. While many cited the publication of the cartoonas an example of irresponsible journalism, another section stood by the Danish newspaper,arguing for the unlimited freedom for the press.The cartoon controversy was the third modern transnational incident of blasphemy sparkingpan-Islamic outrage preceded by the Salman Rushdhie episode and the protest movement of1969 following an attempted attack on the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem by an Australianarsonist. All three incidents were initially local in nature and then developed into global 24
  • 25. Communicating Religionnews event with different meanings and interpretations for different countries andcivilizations.RESPONSE IN INDIAIndia has also witnessed protests in different parts of the country including Delhi andMumbai. Four persons were killed in Luknow, the capital city of Uttar Pradesh. Politicalparties have expressed solidarity with the minority Muslim community. The state electionsfor various legislative assemblies in April-March 2006 compelled political parties toorganize demonstrations against western media accusing it of anti-Islamic propaganda.Minority vote bank politics touched a low when a minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh HajiYaqoob Qureshi announced a reward of Rs. 51 crore for beheading the Danish cartoonistwho drew the offensive caricatures of the Prophet.The Government of India expressed deep concern over the controversy and suggested to theDanish government that it seek an assurance from the newspaper that it would not publishsuch cartoons in future. Anticipating a communal clash, the Prime Minister of India cameout with a statement, saying (Mujataba S.Ali, 2006 Sept.29),It is incumbent on all of us to be sensitive to the beliefs and sentiments of other and avoid allactions that cause hurt to them [Muslim Community]. India’s commitment to religiousharmony and tolerance is unshakable and actions that cause hurt to the sentiments of anypart of our people are not acceptable.Moreover, the Indian Government diplomatically dissuaded the Danish Prime MinisterAnders Fogh Rasmussen from visiting India around the end of March 2006, saying thecontroversy surrounding the cartoons of the Prophet would overshadow the visit.Rasmussen’s visit was planned by both countries well before the controversy over thecartoon erupted.PRESS FREEDOM VS. PUBLIC INTERESTThe Jyllands-Posten apologized for hurting the feelings of the Muslim Community but wasnot ready to change the earlier stand regarding the right to publish the cartoons. Rose (2006)says, “I acknowledge that some people have been offended by the publication of thecartoons, and Jyllands-Posten has apologized for that. But we cannot apologise for our rightto publish material, even offensive material. You cannot edit a newspaper if you areparalyzed by worries about every possible insult.”When Rose says that the newspaper has the right to publish even offensive material itcontradicts his earlier stand. Offensive material always provokes the affected party and therewas no doubt that the controversial cartoons would be an insult to the Muslim community.The newspaper was not bothered about the outcome of the publication of the cartoons. 25
  • 26. Communicating ReligionThey simply wanted to prove a point at the cost of universal peace and harmony. It not thatmedia should not publish any offensive material but any such decision should be taken onlyafter considering the possible fallout of that action. Any possible risk regarding thepublication of any kind of offensive material should be weighed against the public interest.It is imperative on the media to asses the possible impact of the publication of any materialon its readers. In this case, was the publication of the cartoons by the Jyllands-Posten inpublic interest? Was it prudent to put society in danger in order to achieve the limited goalof provoking the European media regarding self-regulation? The Jyllands-Posten shouldanswer these questions.The irresponsible and short-sighted behaviour of the press often puts society in danger andthere could be irrecoverable damage. While pointing out the importance and possibilities ofthe modern media the US Commission on the Freedom of the Press cautions about thedanger of irresponsible and unregulated media. In the report it (1947) says,The modern press itself is a new phenomenon. Its typical unit is the great agency of masscommunication. These agencies can felicitate thought and discussion. They can stifle it.They can advance the progress of civilization or they can thwart it. They can debase andvulgarize mankind. They can endanger the peace of the world; they can do so accidentally,in a fit of absence of mind. They can play up or down the news and its significance, fosterand feed emotions, create complacent fictions and blind spots, misuse the great words, anduphold empty slogans. Their scope and power are increasing every day as new instrumentscan spread lies faster and farther than our forefathers dreamed when they enshrined thefreedom of the press in the First Amendment to our constitution.Media organizations have the primary responsibility of creating an informed citizenry inorder empower society and strengthen democracy. Media should also play an active role inenhancing social and religious harmony and the upliftment of the poor and the needy. It hasto fight against corruption and social injustice. At the same time media has to perform itsresponsibility with out challenging the harmony and peace. If it fails to protect the interestof the public or challenges the law of the land, other regulating agencies come to playincluding the government and the court. The Press Council of India (Norms of JournalisticConduct, Section 23:I) says,Newspapers shall, as matters of self-regulation, exercise due restraint and caution inpresenting any news, comment or information which is likely to jeopardize, endanger orharm the paramount interests of the state and society, or the rights of individuals withrespect to which reasonable restrictions may be imposed by law on the right to freedom ofspeech and expression under clause (2) of Article 19 of the Constitution of India. 26
  • 27. Communicating Religion Music 27
  • 28. Communicating ReligionReligious music (also sacred music) is music performed or composed for religious use orthrough religious influence.A lot of music has been composed to complement religion, and many composers havederived inspiration from their own religion. Many forms of traditional music have beenadapted to fit religions purposes or have descended from religious music. There is a longhistory of Christian Church music. Johann Sebastian Bach, considered one of the mostimportant and influential European classical music composers, wrote most of his music forthe Lutheran church. Religious music often changes to fit the times; ContemporaryChristian music, for example, uses idioms from various secular popular music styles butwith religious lyrics. Gospel music has always done this, for example incorporating funk,and continues to do so.Monotheism and tonality, all tones relating and resolving to a tonic, are often associated,and the textures of European homophony, equated with monotheism, may be contrastedwith Asian heterophony, equated with poly or pantheism. Navajo musics cyclic song andsong-group forms mirrors the cyclic nature of their deities such as Changing Woman.Christian MusicThe earliest Christian or Jewish notion of a song devoted unto God, was mentioned in thewhole chapter of Exodus 15, where the Israelites returned from egypt, and had seen whatGod had done once they crossed the river (and Pharaos armies where destroyed in theriver). The musical notes where lost just as every of the old psalms.A Christian view point of Sacred Music is to be fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, to bringforth musical tones and words (sometimes accompanied by musical instruments); in honorand reverence to God. Many christians consider sacred song to be a spontaneous revelation,opposite to a song that is sung over and over again.Sacred music or Sacred song is also known in Christian circles as Inspirational music,Free Worship, Free Flow and Prophetic song; they are very close connected to Free 28
  • 29. Communicating Religionworship inspired by the Holy Spirit in Tongue language; which is basically the singingof speaking in Tongues or otherwise known as rivers of the spirit.There is virtually no record of the earliest music of the Christian church except a few NewTestament fragments of what are probably hymns. Some of these fragments are still sung ashymns today in the Orthodox Church, including "Awake, awake O sleeper" on the occasionof someones baptism. Another early hymn is the Phos Hilaron (Greek for "GladsomeLight") which was part of the Liturgy of the Hours morning prayers (matins) in the earlyChristian Church. It is a hymn describing the morning light. Being Jewish, Jesus and hisdisciples would most likely have sung the psalms from memory. However, the repertoire ofordinary people was larger than it is today, so they probably knew other songs too. EarlyChristians continued to sing the psalms much as they were sung in the synagoguesin the firstcentury.Hindu MusicHindu music is music created for or influenced by Hinduism. It includes Indian classicalmusic Kirtan Bhajan and other musical genres. Raagas are a common way of Hindu musicin classical India.The most common Hindu bhajan in North India is "Om Jai Jagdish Hare." Gods arereligiously chanted to often include Vishnu and his incarnations, Shiva and the Goddess(Parvati, Shakti, Vaishnodevi).A bhajan is a Hindu devotional song, often of ancient origin. Bhajans are oftensimple songs in lyrical language expressing emotions of love for the Divine, whether for asingle God/Goddess, or any number of divinities. Many bhajans feature several names andaspects of the chosen deity, especially in the case of Hindusahasranamas, which list adivinitys 1008 names. Great importance is attributed to the singing of bhajans with Bhakti,i.e. loving devotion. "Rasanam Lakshanam Bhajanam" means the act by which we feelmore closer to our inner self or God, is a bhajan. Acts which are done for the God is calledbhajan.Traditionally, the music has been Indian classical music, which is basedon ragas and tala (rhythmic beat patterns) played onthe Veena (or Been), Sarangi Venu(flute), Mridanga(or Tabla) (traditional Indianinstruments). The Sikh Scripture contains 31 ragas and 17 talas which form the basis forkirtan music compositions.Jewish MusicThe earliest synagogal music was based on the same system as that inthe Temple in Jerusalem. According to the Talmud, Joshua ben Hananiah, who had served 29
  • 30. Communicating Religionin the sanctuary Levitical choir, told how the choristers went to the synagogue from theorchestra by the altar (Talmud, Suk. 53a), and so participated in both services.Sephardic music, the music of Spanish Jews, was born in medieval Spain, with cancionerosbeing performed at the royal courts. Since then, it has picked up influences fromacross Spain, Morocco,Argentina, Turkey, Greece and various popular tunes from Spainand further abroad. There are three types of Sephardic songs — topical and entertainmentsongs, romance songs and spiritual or ceremonial songs. Lyrics can be in several languages,including Hebrew for religious songs and Ladino.Rastafarian MusicNyabinghi music is the most integral form of Rastafarian music. It is played at worshipceremonies called grounations, which including drumming, chanting and dancing alongwith prayer and smoking of ritual ganja. Nyabinghi probably comes from an East Africanmovement from the 1850s to the 1950s that was led by women who militarily opposedEuropean imperialism. This form of nyabinghi was centered around Muhumusa, a healingwoman from Uganda who organized resistance against German colonialists. The Britishlater led efforts against nyabinghi, and classified it as witchcraft through the WitchcraftOrdinance of 1912. In Jamaica, nyabinghi was appropriated for similar anti-colonial efforts,and is often danced to invoke the power of Jah against an oppressor. The connectionbetween the religion and various kinds of music has become well-known due to theinternational fame of musicians like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh.African-Caribbean MusicRastafarian music is not the only kind of religious music in the Caribbean. Religious sectshave their own musical styles, though they vary from island to island. Obeah and Myal aswell as Christiansects associated with revivalism are common in Jamaica. These styles havealso influenced Jamaican dances. Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Haiti in particular have alsodeveloped African-influenced musical styles that are used in religious rituals associatedwith Santeria, Vodou, and Espiritismo. 30
  • 31. Communicating Religion Literature 31
  • 32. Communicating ReligionReligion and literature spring from the same fundamental sources. Not only do religion andliterature spring from the same fundamental sources, they also are formed by the sameforces. They both make a constant appeal to life. The translation of the Bible into Gothic byUlphilas not only preserved the Bible, but also helped to create and to perpetuate literature.Luthers translation of the Bible and the King James Version are not only themselves greatliteratures, but also have helped to form great literatures in modern life.Anti-Catholic stereotypes are a long-standing feature of Anglo-Saxon literature, popularfiction, and even pornography. Gothic fiction is particularly rich in this regard. Lustfulpriests, cruel abbesses, immured nuns, and sadistic inquisitors appear in such works as TheItalian by Ann Radcliffe, The Monk by Matthew Lewis, Melmoth the Wanderer by CharlesMaturin and "The Pit and the Pendulum" by Edgar Allan Poe.Such gothic fiction may have inspired Rebecca Reeds Six Months in a Convent whichdescribes her alleged captivity by an Ursuline order near Boston in 1832. Reeds claims inspired an angry mob to burn down the convent, and her narrative, releasedthree years later as the rioters were tried, famously sold 200,000 copies in one month. Reedsbook was soon followed by another bestselling fraudulent exposé, Awful Disclosures of theHotel-Dieu Nunnery, (1836) in which Maria Monk claimed that the convent served as aharem for Catholic priests, and that any resulting children were murdered after baptism.Col. William Stone, a New York city newspaper editor, along with a team of Protestant 32
  • 33. Communicating Religioninvestigators, inquired into Monks claims, inspecting the convent in the process. Col.Stones investigation concluded there was no evidence that Maria Monk "had ever beenwithin the walls of the cloister".Reeds book became a best-seller, and Monk or her handlers hoped to cash in on the evidentmarket for anti-Catholic horror fiction. The tale of Maria Monk was, in fact, clearlymodeled on the Gothic novels popular in the early 19th century. This literary genre hadalready been used for anti-Catholic sentiments in works such as Matthew Lewis The Monk.Maria Monks story exhibits the genre-defining elements of a young and innocent womantrapped in a remote, old, and gloomily picturesque estate; she learns the dark secrets of theplace; after harrowing adventures she escapes. The anti-Catholic Gothic tradition continued with Charlotte Brontës semi-autobiographicalnovel Villette (1853). Bronte explores the culture clash between the heroines EnglishProtestantism and the Catholicism of the environment at her school in Villette(aka Brussels) before magisterially pronouncing "God is not with Rome." In a chapter of Fyodor Dostoevskys The Brothers Karamazov called The Grand Inquisitor, theCatholic Church convicts a returned-from-Heaven Jesus Christ of heresy and is portrayed asa servant of Satan.Dan Browns best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code depicts the Catholic Church asdetermined to hide the truth about Mary Magdalene. An article in an April 2004 issueof National Catholic Registermaintains that "The Da Vinci Code claims that Catholicism is abig, bloody, woman-hating lie created out of pagan cloth by the manipulative Emperor ofRome". An earlier book by BrownAngels and Demons, depicts the Church as involved in anelemental battle with the Illuminati.The oldest known religious texts are Pyramid texts of Ancient Egypt that date to 2400-2300BCE although there are older quasi-religious texts that indicate a religious undertonewithout specifying the actual incantations performed (e.g. the Sumerian "Locust Charm"text that is a listing of someone clearing out pests from various peoples fields). The Epic ofGilgamesh from Sumeria is also one of the earliest literary works dating to 2150-2000 BCE,that includes various mythological figures . The Rigveda of Hinduism is proposed to havebeen composed between 1700–1100 BCE making it possibly the worlds oldest religious textstill in use. The oldest portions of the Zoroastrian Avesta are believed to have beentransmitted orally for centuries before they found written form, and although widelydiffering dates for Gathic Avestan (the language of the oldest texts) have been proposed,scholarly consensus floats at around 1000 BCE. 33
  • 34. Communicating Religion The first scripture printed for wide distribution to the masses was The Diamond Sutra,a Buddhist scripture, and is the earliest recorded example of a dated printed text, bearing theChinese calendar date for 11 May 868 CE.The sacred literature of Hinduism can be divided up into two distinct categories: sruti andsmriti . Shruti , that which is heard or divinely revealed, consist of the Vedas , the mostancient of the scriptures, the Upanishads , the Brahmanas , and the Aranyakas . Shrutisrefer to the manifestation of the divine in the world, and more specifically, the truthsrevealed by the dieties to the early sages or rishis . There are four collections which comprisethe Veda , the Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda , and Atharva Veda . The Veda containaccounts of creation, information on ritual sacrifices, and prayers to the dieties. TheUpanishads are considered to be the most important of the remaining three scriptures ofshruti literature. It is believed that these texts were secret scriptures taught by a sage to adisciple.The other type of Hindu literature, smriti , that which is remembered or handed down.These texts are also considered to be based upon revealed truths, however, theyare ofhuman composition as opposed to that of the divine. The Epics, the Sutras and the Puranascomprise the bulk of the Smriti literature. The earliest of these epics are the Mahabarata ,which includes the Bhagavad Gita , and the Ramayana . These sacred texts are lenghtypoems which narrate episodes in the lives of the great warriors. Krishna appeared in thefirst, and Rama had a central role in the second of these great epics. The Sutras contain anumber of important texts concerning subjects such as dharma, yoga and Vedanta. Themost important of these texts was the Manusmriti or Laws of Manu, which dealt withHindu law and conduct.The Puranas are mythological texts which often told the stories ofthe gods and goddesses.As a people who derive their identity from a sacred book, Mormons have a natural interestin religious texts and narratives. Indeed, they are in a significant way a "people of the book,"for the Book of Mormon as a religious text is both a keystone of the Latter-day Saint churchand an expression of the deepest matters of faith for each member. Along with that book theoften-told story of Joseph Smiths 1820 theophany in the woods of upstate New York hasbecome a sacred narrative of the highest significance as it both identifies and narrates thebeginnings of this new religious tradition. This interest in religious expression is of course atleast as inclusive as it is exclusive. That is why the suggestion of a symposium at BrighamYoung University devoted to the literature of belief met with such an immediate andenthusiastic response when it was first proposed almost two years ago.We knew, of course, that any attempt to be either comprehensive or exhaustive with such avast subject as religious literature would be foolhardy. From the sutras of Buddhism and theepic tales of the Bhagavad Gitato the ancient creation narratives of Moses and the modernwarnings of approaching apocalypse, the array of forms and modes and subject matters of 34
  • 35. Communicating Religionreligious literature both written and spoken make the whole field infinitely vast andcomplex. So we knew to begin with that any symposium could offer only tantalizing bitsand pieces at best. But the idea itself was so appealing that we could not resist making anattempt. We were fortunate in this regard in being able to have the support of two importantorganizations on campus, the Center for International and Area Studies and the ReligiousStudies Center. Drawing on the impressive backgrounds of our own colleagues in thesecenters, we were able to bring together their combined resources in a remarkable effort ofmutual support and unselfish cooperation quite unusual even for a college campus. Withthis support we were able to invite scholars from within the borders of our own country andothers from halfway around the world as participants in the conference.As the acceptances began to come back, we could tell that our highest hopes for thesymposium were being realized. Not only would the topics be exciting and varied, but thespeakers would, without question, be some of the most significant scholarly voices of ourtime.When sessions got underway that Thursday and Friday, March 7-8, 1979, the enthusiasticreaction of the audiences demonstrated that the symposium was everything we had hopedfor. From the exotic and stimulating presentation of Joseph Campbell, through the dance-like lecture of Wing-tsit Chan, to the enchanting narratives of the charismatic P. Lal, thedifferent sections of the symposium presented us all with a varied and unusually appealingintellectual feast.But if good luck and good management of car pools, room assignments, and microphonescan make a good symposium, far more is needed to make a good book. While we hadhoped all along to be able to publish the proceedings of the symposium, we recognized asthe program went on that we had before us an array of presentational modes that fit thesymposium format splendidly, but were less easily set down in cold print.It was at this point that we received unusual help, not just from the symposium participantsthemselves in shaping their manuscripts, but from two remarkable and capable people,Lavina Fielding Anderson and M. Gerald Bradford. Lavina has helped us not only with thepreparation of the copy for the book itself, she has helped find appropriate manuscripts tocover some of the obvious gaps which the symposium itself, because of the limits of time,had simply to acknowledge and pass over. Gerald, out of his own scholarly background andsense of friendship to BYU, stayed with us throughout this whole project as advisor, editor,and as an essential guide, steering those of us less knowledgeable away from the pitfalls ofour own ignorance. If errors persist, they are ours, not his. Anyone who reads theintroduction which follows will sense the contributions that Gerald has made to thisvolume. 35
  • 36. Communicating ReligionMany others deserve thanks as well: A. Terry Schiefer, JoAnn Allen, Cloma E. Callahan,Lillian M. Osborne, and my colleagues in the Center for International and Area Studieswho were the originators and organizers of many of the sessions where these materials werefirst presented. I especially want to acknowledge the substantial assistance given to thesymposium and this volume by the World Religions area of the Religious Studies Centerand by the general director of the Center, Ellis T. Rasmussen. Dean Rasmussen has beenimpressively patient and supportive as the effort to get these pages prepared has movedslowly along since the original symposium in the spring of 1979. His unflagging interest keptalive a project that, given the difficulty, may have otherwise quietly expired.Finally, no one knows more than those of us who have worked on it how eclectic, evenfragmented, this collection of papers may seem. However, like a collection of fine crystals,each piece casts a particular hue that considered along with the others creates for theobserver a rich and pleasing experience. Seeing each of these pieces in the context of the restwill, we believe, be a rewarding experience. 36
  • 37. Communicating Religion WebsitesAfter doing a regular bi-monthly literature review online I have come across a few neewstudies and articles on religion and the Internet that look worth checking out.First in Islam and the Internet, the journal Contemporary Islam has published a piece byHeather Marie Akou has written an article entitled Interpreting Islam through the Internet:making sense of hijab that focuses on how the Internet has emerged as a place whereMuslims from diverse backgrounds can meet to debate ideas such as wearing the hijab.In the study of Buddhism a Recent PhD from University of Queensland-AustraliaentitledBuddhist Meditation Through the Medium of the Internet investigates extent towhich the rituals constitutive of the Buddhist practice of meditation have been achieved byCybersanghas. Joanne Miller studies online mediation websites to look at the limitation ofonline religious experiences. 37
  • 38. Communicating ReligionThe journal of Asian Social Science has published a study on interface between religiosityand Internet use of Filipino migrants in Japan that creates long-distance ritual practiceentitled Religiosity Online: Holy Connections with the Homeland by Filipino Migrants inJapan.I highly recommend Sanderson & Cheongs study of how fans of deceased celebrities createand disseminate web-based memorials using new social media practices inExpandingTweeting Prayers and Communicating Grief Over Michael Jackson Online in the journalthe Bulletin of Science Technology Society.And finally, I am looking forward to reading Bobkowski & Kalyanaramans study on theEffects of Online Christian Self-Disclosure on Impression Formation in the Journal for theScientific Study of Religion which looks at the extent to which Christian identity isassumed in social networking profiles by viewers.Over the past decade there has been continued debate as to whether the internet simplyencourages communities of consensus or can be used to bridge communication gaps andencourage diverse and heterogenous relations. The Huffington Post engaged these issuesrecently in an article entitled Cyber Dialogue: The Future of Interreligious Engagement. Init the author stress how social networking sites help to religious communities communicatetheir messages internally and externally and asks to what extend can/do online forumsencourage inter-religious dialogue. He sites successful examples such as Patheos. Othenotable examples could be Children of Abraham orBeliefnet.Related to this a call has been issues for nominations and self-nominations forContributing Scholars for a new blog, called State of Formation. The blog is sponsoredby Journal of Inter-Religious Dialogue, in partnership with the Parliament of the WorldsReligions and seeks to engage religious and philosophical thinker on questions related to lifein a religiously pluralistic society. The call goes out to young scholars and/or religiousleaders who are currently learning about and reflecting on religious and moral issues whosee a unique opportunity for public dialogue and mentoring.A recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit puts an interesting spinon the online community/church question. According to their decision in thecaseFoundation for Human Understanding verses the US, a religious organization thatprimarily holds their worship services on the Internet (or radio), did not meet the InternalRevenue Codes definition of a "church." That means they are not eligible for tax-exemptstatus.The criteria for what makes a church is not cut and dry. The IRS states that the entity musthave a recognized creed and form of worship; a formal code of doctrine and discipline; a 38
  • 39. Communicating Religionmembership not associated with any other church or denomination; ordained ministersselected after completing prescribed studies; and holds regular religious services.While anonline or cyber-church can arguably have many or most of these characteristics they stillhold "electronic ministry" does not fit the criteria (seesummary at Law.com).The official court ruling is meant to crack down of online entities collecting money forbogus purposes and organization, however this also a huge ideological impact on the natureand definition of religion online.The full ruling it explains this online church failed meet a 14 criteria test set out by the IRSon the form/function of a church. This includes proving it is "a cohesive group ofindividuals who join together to accomplish the purposes of mutually held beliefs".Therefore, by my reading, to legally be considered a church there would need to be things inplace like formal record keeping, defined authority structure online/offline and ability toclearly define membership and host a "gathered" annual membership meeting etc. This forceany online church to function within offline boundaries/structures if they want to beconsidered/protected as a church and remain tax-exempt. So to have validity the online willbe forced to establish offline structures of accountability. That seem an important shift tome.Today we witness an unprecedented proliferation of the internet and satellite television aswell as growing interdependency of various media outlets in the Middle East and theMuslim world. This process includes media that morph into each other, messages thatmigrate across boundaries, and social networks that utilize multiple technologies. Theunanticipated assemblages formed by these media contribute simultaneously to preservingtraditional cultural norms and religious values while asserting cosmopolitan and globalidentity; appealing to a local audience while addressing transnational communities; andasserting conformity with existing political order while fueling resistance and publicdiscontent. Therefore, this special issue of CyberOrient aims to transcend the media-centriclogic and to analyze the impact of the internet and new media in the light of theinterdependency and hybridization within broader social, cultural and linguistic context ofthe Middle East and the Muslim world.An Islamist terrorist group on May 22, 2003, attacked Christians for the first time inKashmir valley, a region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir that is infamous for persistentbloodshed due to conflicts between India and Pakistan. The attack on a Christian school inNai Basti in Anantnag district, Saint Luke’s Convent School, followed media reportsalleging that some Christian groups were using money to convert Muslim youth in theValley. 39
  • 40. Communicating ReligionAn opinion article in The Indian Express daily by BJP legislator Balbir K. Punj said: “TheVatican and allied Christian groups make no bones about using money as their primalleverage for ‘harvesting souls’ . . . And it’s no surprise that the Campus Crusade for Christcould afford to pay every fresh recruit in the Valley Rs.2,000 per month, plus perks andother expenses . . . Would this then not appear to be a more lucrative career choice for someKashmiri Muslim youths — with hard cash which not even a terrorist organisation wouldhave paid him for picking up an AK-56 against the Indian Army?”Such newspaper reports merely reflected what the three-part investigation report in TheIndian Express, on April 6, 7 and 8 (2003), claimed. Titled “It’s conversion time in Valley,”the report stated, “At least a dozen Christian missions and churches based in the U.S.,Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland have sent evangelists to the Valley and arepumping in money through intermediaries based in New Delhi . . . Christian groups areputting the number of neo-converts at over 10,000 . . . and a Sunday Express [the Sundayedition of the newspaper] investigation confirms that conversions have been taking placeregularly across the Valley.”The newspaper’s idea to conduct the investigation originated out of a claim made in awebsite by the U.S. evangelical magazine, Christianity Today, which said that thousands ofMuslim youth were accepting Christ in Kashmir.Titled “Harassed Kashmir Christians reach out to discreet Muslims,” the article appearedon the website on September 9, 2002. “Thousands of mostly young Kashmiri Muslims,disillusioned by Islam, are seeking new ways to resolve Muslim-Hindu violence. . . .Wearied by violence, thousands are interested in the Prince of Peace,” it said.BJP leader Punj also quoted from other Christian websites in his article. He said, “TheWorld Evangelisation Research Centre estimates that it takes 700 times more money tobaptise a convert in rich countries like Japan and Switzerland than in a poor country likeNepal.”In February 2004, an 11-page cover story in the weekly Tehelka carried another articlequoting from Christian websites. Titled “George Bush has a big conversion agenda forIndia,” the article was based on material available on the websites of the “AD 2000 andBeyond” movement and “Joshua Project” I and II.The authors of the story sought to portray Christian missionary work in India as a “sinisterand disturbing phenomenon” that should “ring alarm bells within the intelligence agenciesin India.” They misunderstood, or maybe misused, the term “spying of the land” done byJoshua in the Old Testament, which Christians understand in a spiritual context, to meanspying in a political context. They alleged that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) wasbehind the preparation of data about postal codes of India by Christian missions. 40
  • 41. Communicating Religion Religion and PoliticsThe voters in India can broadly be classified into religious and caste communities.Generally speaking, the Christian and Muslim communities support the Congress whilesections of the Hindus vote for the BJP – a considerable number of Hindus believe insecularism.More than 80 percent of the country’s more than 1 billion people are Hindu, while Muslimsand Christians account for 13.4 and 2.3 percent of the population respectively.‘Dalits’ are generally pro-Congress, given the party’s policy on affirmative action ingovernment jobs and educational institutions. However, the votes of Dalits are divided insome states, as there are numerous caste-based parties, such as the Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP) in Uttar Pradesh state and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) in Bihar state. The BJP, onthe other hand, is seen as an upper-caste party.Dalits were formerly known as ‘untouchables’ because they were considered to be outsidethe confines of caste by so-called high-caste Hindu Brahmins, the priestly class. Dalits, whoare classified in the Indian Constitution as ‘Scheduled Castes’, account for 16.2 percent ofthe total population.Another cluster of communities recognised as the “Other Backward Classes” or OBCscommunities, which are believed to be socially and educationally backward. Almost allparties, including the Congress, the BJP, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, Janata Dal-United,Janata Dal-Secular, the LJP, the BSP, and the Samajwadi Party (SP), try to woo differentcommunities within the OBCs. According to some estimates, the OBCs account for morethan 50 percent of the country’s population.The use of religion in Indian politics can be linked to the country’s pre-independence era. Itis believed that the British, who ruled India for more than 100 years around the 19thcentury, pitched one community against the other to weaken the freedom struggle. Theyespecially succeeded in infusing a feeling of anxiety among sections of the Muslimcommunity concerning their wellbeing in a country that had a majority Hindu populationand emerging Hindu nationalist voices. As a result, the Muslims demanded reserved seats inthe legislature and a separate electorate. The British acceded to their demands throughlegislation, known as the Act of 1909.The tensions between sections of the Hindu and Muslim communities resulted in the IndianMuslim League demanding a separate nation for Muslims. When the British were toformally leave the country in 1947, the British India was divided into the ‘Hindu-majority’India and the ‘Muslim-majority’ Pakistan. The Partition resulted in a mass migration of 41
  • 42. Communicating Religion14.5 million people from India to Pakistan and vice versa, and the killing of around 1million people – Hindu, Sikh and Muslim – in the violent clashes that followed.Role of Religious LeadersReligious leaders have enormous followings and acceptability in India. Not only the people,but also the politicians seek their “blessings”. There are many Hindu gurus who are knownfor their overt support to the BJP’s Hindu nationalist agenda. These gurus include SadhviRitambhara, Morari Bapu, Asaram Bapu, Vasudevanand Saraswati, and SwamiSatyamitranand Giri.In July 2008, high-profile spiritual gurus, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Swami Ramdev, werethe special guests at the launch of the Hindi version of BJP leader Advani’s autobiography,‘My Country My Life’, in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh state. The gurusreportedly praised Advani in their address.How the Indian Media Cover Religion and PoliticsAlthough stories on religion and its use in politics occupy a substantial part of the mediacoverage, religion is not a separate beat yet. As a result, reporters are generally ignorantabout basic religious issues.A story on the website of The Hoot, a private media watchdog, gives one such example:“Sometimes all that is needed is a word to index a problem. What is then necessary is toexcavate its nature, its whys and wherefores. The Telegraph reporting on an incident inJodhpur where a temple of Shiva and Navagraha was shut down following protests fromVHP supporters against an idol showing Ravana “offering prayers and water to Shiva,believed to be his favourite deity, in an unusual glimpse of the demon king’s religious side”.The word that merits our attention is ‘unusual’.“The idea that this idol provides an unusual glimpse to Ravana’s religious side begs thequestion: to whom does this side offer an ‘unusual’ glimpse. To the thousands, naythousands of thousands of believers who are conversant with one version or the other ofRamayana? To the writer of this story who is reporting from Jodhpur? To the sub who hasinserted it into the text? The answer to the first has to be an emphatic ‘no’ because all thepopular narratives of Ram’s story inevitably lay great emphasis on Ravana’s religious andheroic nature.”In a symposium on ‘Reporting Religious Controversies’, organised by the Oxford Centre forReligion and Public Life and the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India’s Commission forSocial Communications on September 8, 2007 in New Delhi, Obeid Siddiqui, a seniorjournalist and a lecturer in Jamia Milia University, said ignorance and prejudices were themain obstacles in fair reporting of religious controversies. He pointed out that many 42
  • 43. Communicating Religionjournalists who report about fatwa did not know that everybody cannot issue it, and nor is ita ruling; that it is just an opinion, and not binding on everyone.He also pointed out that while the print media allowed a multi-layer reporting, in theelectronic media, the time was always limited, which was a major handicap for acomprehensive reporting.Intersection of religion and politics in itself should not be a matter of concern. After all,Mahatma Gandhi, known as the Father of the Nation, led India to win independence fromthe British rule through a struggle that was founded on religious beliefs. Gandhi said hismission was to win ‘Swaraj’ (self-rule), a just and humane government and society, which,according to him, was realising God on earth. Winning independence politically was only asmall part of it. Religion, he said, in its broadest sense governs all departments of life,including politics.Unfortunately, it is the misuse of religion that we see in politics today, and not the use ofvirtues found in it. What is more unfortunate is that almost all political parties are, in oneway or the other, guilty of using religion-related issues for narrow political gains, and eventhe hands of religious leaders are not clean. This is perhaps because religion is a source ofidentity and a bonding factor in the lives of people, mainly in developing societies like India.And politics in a democracy that is still maturing is inevitably coercive and amoral.What does the future hold? There is a hope given the developments after the process ofeconomic liberalisation that began in 1991 under then Prime Minister Narasimha Rao –when Dr. Manmohan Singh, the incumbent prime minister, was the finance minister. In thelast 17 years, India has seen many changes that can be linked to the liberalisation. Themiddle class has expanded, the economy is booming, the IT industry has made a markglobally, and a cosmopolitan culture is emerging in most metropolises. As a result, thepeople are increasingly becoming more concerned about development rather than respondto identity-based issues. Social scientists anticipate that the Hindu nationalist movement willdie a natural death in the future.Freedom vs. Social ResponsibilityWhile enjoying freedom, the media should also be responsible to society, nation and worldat large. There is no freedom without responsibility. Press freedom imposes a correspondingresponsibility upon the press, involving the acceptance and compliance with high ethicalstandards by editors and journalists. Freedom of the press is not absolute, unlimited andunfettered at all times and in all circumstances as this would lead to disorder and anarchy.The US Commission on Freedom and the Press also emphasize the huge responsibility ofmedia organizations. In its report, the Commission says (1947: 87), “we insist that, morally 43
  • 44. Communicating Religionconsidered, the freedom of the press is a conditional right, conditional on the honesty andresponsibility of writer, broadcaster, or publisher.”The Jyllands-Posten has been defending the publication of the cartoons and the cultureeditor of the newspaper in an article published in the Critique, (vol. 5, No.12) says,I commissioned the cartoons in response to several incidents of self censorship in Europecaused by widening fears and feelings of intimidation in dealing with issues related to Islam.And I still believe that this is a topic that we Europeans must speak out. The Idea wasn’t toprovoke gratuitously—and we certainly didn’t intend to trigger violent demonstrationsthroughout the Muslim world. Our goal was simply to push back self-imposed limits onexpression that seemed to be closing in tighterAccording to Rose, the newspaper did not intend to provoke the Muslim world butchallenge the European media to abandon its self-imposed regulations. Even though, theintention of the newspaper was not to provoke the Muslim community, the ultimate resultof the publication was protest and violence. The newspaper can argue that there was noprotest or violence for three months and the atmosphere began to change when politiciansand extremist elements started taking advantage of the situation. Media organizations havealso played a role in escalating the matter further by asking comments from the Muslimleaders about the controversial cartoons. The cartoons were uploaded on the Internetmaking it accessible to all. The Jyllands-Posten can argue that the Muslim community wasnot provoked by it but by the after effects of the publication of the cartoons. But it has to beremembered the basic issue behind the protest was the publication of the cartoon by theJyllands-Posten. It has also been alleged that the cartoons were uploaded in the Internet bythe Muslim fanatics to take advantage of the situation and divided the world but that wouldnot justify the editoral decision of the Jyllands-Posten. Even if that is true, the newspapershould be blamed for becoming an instrument of the communal elements by makingdangerous editorial decisions.The media has freedom as well as responsibility and publication of offensive material shouldbe done only in public interest. Journalists should play a constructive role rather thandestructive in matters of peace and social harmony. It is advisable for media to impose self-censorship in the publication of sensitive matters to avoid violence and anarchy. Whenmedia fails to uphold high ethical standards and law of the land, external agencies includingthe Government may try to regulate them. The new communication technology demandsthe media to be more vigilant and sensitive as it is an opportunity as well as threat. Thisdoes not mean that the media should not publish anything against religions and impose self-censorship in all sensitive matters. Media has to oppose all kinds unhealthy attitude ofreligions based on real incidents or stories. The argument is that the media do not have theright to publish blasphemous or objectionable, imaginary materials putting society at risk inthe name of the press freedom. 44
  • 45. Communicating Religion Research AnalysisMy research was prepared through primary research and secondary research.Primary research- Primary research involves the collection of data that does not alreadyexist, which is research to collect original data. Primary Research is often undertaken afterthe researcher has gained some insight into the issue by collecting secondary data. This canbe through numerous forms, including questionnaires, direct observation and telephoneinterviews amongst others. This information may be collected in things like questionnairesand interviews.Secondary research- Secondary research involves the summary, collation and/or synthesisof existing research rather than primary research, where data is collected from, for example,research subjects or experiments. Secondary research can come from either internal orexternal sources. The proliferation of web search engines has increased opportunities toconduct secondary research without paying fees to database research providers.No. of people targeted: 50 (31 female/19 male) Male Female 38% 62% 45
  • 46. Communicating Religion Age group 26-35 28% 15-25 72%Age group:15-25:- 72%26-35:- 28% 46
  • 47. Communicating Religion Occupation 20 19 16 15 10 9 5 4 2 0Occupation:Government sector- 8%Private sector- 38%Public sector- 4%Business- 18%Others- 32% 47
  • 48. Communicating ReligionWhich religious category do you fall into? Spiritual 25% Theist 53% Agnostic 16% Atheist 6%Spiritual- 25%Agnostic- 16%Atheist- 6%Theist- 53% 48
  • 49. Communicating ReligionHow often do you pray? Rarely Not so often Often Very often 0.00% 10.00% 20.00% 30.00% 40.00% 50.00%Rarely- 25.81%Not so often- 25.81%Often- 41.94%Very often- 6.45% 49
  • 50. Communicating ReligionIn the growing up years what has been your source of learning aboutreligion? Websites Others Religious Evangelism 2% 6% books 0% 17%Religious songs 2% Family 59%Religious sects 6% Friends 8%Family- 59%Friends- 8%Religious sects- 6%Religious songs- 2%Religious books- 17%Evangelism- 0%Websites- 2%Others- 6% 50
  • 51. Communicating ReligionApart from your beliefs, what other factors influence you towardsreligion? Films Songs Drama Pictures Festivals Politics OthersFilms- 12.82%Songs- 10.26%Drama- 5.13%Pictures- 2.56%Festivals- 41.03%Politics- 2.56%Others- 25.64% 51
  • 52. Communicating ReligionHow often do you discuss religion with your family and friends? 60.00% 40.00% 20.00% 0.00% Very Often often Not so Rarely oftenVery often- 3.13%Often- 18.75%Not so often- 46.88%Rarely- 31.25% 52
  • 53. Communicating ReligionWhich is more important? 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% Religion Spirituality NoneReligion- 16.13%Spirituality- 61.29%None- 22.58% 53
  • 54. Communicating ReligionHave you been influenced by any other religion than yours, if yesthen how? Religious discourses Television serials/movies Politics NGOs Books OthersReligious discourses- 16.67%Television serials/movies- 22.22%Politics- 2.78%NGO’s- 2.78%Books- 36.11%Others- 19.44% 54
  • 55. Communicating ReligionHow has religion evolved in your life? Politics Religious sects NGOs Religious discourses Television serials/movies OthersPolitics- 8.57%Religious sects- 20%NGO’s- 2.86%Religious discourses- 20%Television serials/movies- 28.57%Others- 20% 55
  • 56. Communicating ReligionWhich of these rituals do you observe? 35.00% 30.00% 25.00% 20.00% 15.00% 10.00% 5.00% 0.00% Fasting on Wearing particular Tying specific Others days religious color on threads particular daysFasting on particular days- 28.95%Wearing specific color on particular days- 7.89%Tying religious threads- 31.58%Others- 31.58% 56
  • 57. Communicating ReligionWhich color do you associate with these religions?Christianity: Blue Black 10% 12% White 52% Red 26%Hinduism: Yellow 14% Saffron/Ora Red nge 28% 58% 57
  • 58. Communicating ReligionIslam: White 16% Black Green 22% 62%Sikhism: Blue 16% Yellow Orange 26% 58% 58
  • 59. Communicating ReligionBuddhism: White 16% Red Maroon 44% 16% Yellow 24% 59
  • 60. Communicating ReligionHow do you pass on your religious beliefs to other people? 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% Discussion Self Organising Others practice prayer meetDiscussion- 62.50%Self-practice- 18.75%Organising prayer meets- 0%Others- 18.75% 60
  • 61. Communicating ReligionIn present times, who is your reference regarding religion? Others Websites Books Friends Family Guru 0.00% 20.00% 40.00% 60.00%Guru- 8.70%Family- 43.48%Friends-13.04%Books- 17.39%Websites- 8.70%Others-8.70% 61
  • 62. Communicating ReligionIn present times how often do you seek information on your religion? Very often 6% Often Rarely 23% 39% Not so often 32%Very often- 6%Often- 23%Not so often- 32%Rarely- 39% 62
  • 63. Communicating ReligionHow important do you think religion will be in future? It will be staunchly present It will be 14% neutral to It will loose its change significance 41% 24% Different religions will merge 21%It will be neutral to change- 41%It will loose its significance- 24%Different religions will merge- 21%It will be staunchly present- 14% 63
  • 64. Communicating ReligionIdentify the religious symbols-Christian cross: Christian Cross 100%Swastik: Other 2% Swastik 98% 64
  • 65. Communicating ReligionMenorah/Hanukkah: Menorah 18% Christianity 8% Other 74%Crescent Moon: Don’t know 12% Crescent Star 88% 65
  • 66. Communicating ReligionTaoism/Yin and Yang: Don’t know 24% Taoism/Yin Buddhism Yang 14% 62%Om: Om 100% 66
  • 67. Communicating Religion ConclusionOne of the many empowering realizations that an evolutionary worldview gives us is thatwe can make some reasonable guesses about the future based on long term trends of thepast. We can enter the future with trust and with our eyes open, poised for some likelyscenarios, instead of being blindly buffeted by inscrutable Fates.Some events cant be predicted very well, such as distant supernovae or the direction of nextweeks stock market movement. Others, however, are the result of long-term trends, andcan at least be estimated based on those trends. For instance, world population has beenincreasing rapidly for centuries, and it appears likely to continue to do so for several decadesinto the future. When our day-to-day experience is affected by long-term trends, thosetrends can predict part of what our future (and our kids future) will be like. Out of all theaspects of society that affect our lives, lets look at religion.The last two decades have also seen an increase of the "non-religious": Agnostics, Atheists,and a resurgence of Deists. In 1901, Australians were over 95% Christian. This dropped to76% by 1981, and to 64% by 2006. Minority religions are rapidly growing (and were at5.6% in 2006), and the Non-Religious have grown from near zero in 1966 to between 20 and30% in 2006, and are even higher among the young. Evolutionary forms of all religiouspaths also evaporate the conflict between believers in God and Atheists. An evolutionaryunderstanding of God is not something can be disbelieved in - the evolutionary God is asobviously and undeniably real as our own bodies. This is discussed in detail in manyprevious blog posts here, such as "Metaphorical Gods vs. Reality: Part 1 and Part 2". Whenevolutionary forms of religion and non-religion are adopted, the whole Atheist/Theistquestion becomes irrelevant, and we are all freed to celebrate our lives together, and freed toconcentrate on the real problems of building a bright and sustainable future for our greatgreat grandchildren.Religious faith and freedom in this century has trod through the valley of the shadow ofdeath, surviving the Soviet gulags, the Nazi death camps and Cambodian killing fields.With the end of the "Cold War" many have thought this persecution, or to be specific,martyrdom, was a thing of the past. But that is not so. Although it has dropped from itsyearly rate of 330,000 at the height of the Soviet state, it still averages 160,000 martyrs ayear. You can add to that figure of premature death, a ten-fold number of religious peoplewho are harassed, arrested, tortured, imprisoned for their faith each year.Many of those killed fall under the definition of martyrdom, that is people whose lives areprematurely taken due to their religious faith. Religious persecution, in Africa or Asia is byno means directly solely against Christians (as in the statistics above). Muslims suffer 67
  • 68. Communicating Religionpersecution in Algeria, Bahais lose their lives in Iran. And Shik violence against Hinduscontinues in Northern India.The third trend which frames out our century-end context is Islam. Among world religions,Islam ranks as the fastest growing faith. This is demographically driven by higher birth ratesin the third world rather than by an increase in conversion growth. Worldwide, the numberof Muslims has doubled since 1970 to 1.2 billion adherents.Religious researchers project the growth of Islam to roughly 2 billion adherents by 2025,Christianity to 3 billion. That is out of a projected world population of 8 billion. It is lesslikely that Islam will overtake Christianity in sheer numbers in the mid-range future. Yet inlong-range statistical scenarios reaching out to the year 2200 and beyond, it is possible thatIslam will surpass Christianity in absolute number of adherents.This century has witnessed the shift of Christianity from a white to a majority position ofnon-white followers. Today more than 60% of all Christians come from non-white racesoutside Europe and America.This shift in the center of Christian gravity southward into the Third World has come aboutfrom evangelical Protestant church growth in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Thisproduces all kinds of interesting facts, such as the largest Presbyterian church in the world isnot found in Scotland, but in Seoul, Korea, or the statistical mean follower of Christ today isunder 20 years old, living in Asia, with a per capita income of less than $600 a year.By 2000, the tribal religions will have shrunk from 6.5% in 1900 to 1.6% of worldpopulation. There are still some 5,000 ethno, folk or tribal religions among indigenouspeople of Africa and Asia number. By mid-century many western religionists thought thatthese ethno-religionists would disappear by 2000. And despite large numbers converting toIslam or Christianity in Africa, the worlds ethno-religions remain stable at about 100million. But in terms of keeping pace with world population, they have shrunk from 6.5% to1.6% of world population.While the growth rate of Islam is increasing, the worldwide growth of persons professing noreligion, whether agnostics, freethinkers, atheists or non-religious humanists appears to haveplateaued since the collapse of communism. Statistically speaking, the non-religiouspopulation of the world is holding its own at 15% of the worlds population, and willcontinue so as we enter the 21st century.Another century-end trend which religionists encounter is growing pluralism. This isparticularly so within the West. Driven by multi-culturalism and internationalization of theWest, increasing diversity in society is both an opportunity and a challenge for religions.Increasing cultural diversity and interfaith contact can offer opportunities for mutualunderstanding, growth and dialogue. On the other hand, the challenge of modernity, with 68
  • 69. Communicating Religionits relativism and individualism continues to undermine traditional beliefs that onceinformed shaped various common creeds, producing culture wars between traditionalistsand progressives.Many people argue that religion grows. Others argue that religion is declining. I say thatnumber of religious people stay the same. From ancient times to now, the vast majority ofpeople feel and logically understand the existence of a First Cause for the Universe. Fromancient times to now, the vast majority of people feel and understand the intelligence theworld has embedded in its mechanisms. 69
  • 70. Communicating Religion BibliographyBooks 1) Everday Religion- Nancy Tatom Ammerman 2) Religion and Globalization- Peter Beyer 3) Encyclopedia of Religion, Communication and Media- Daniel A. Stout 4) Religion, morality and communication between peoples- George F. McLean, Heinz Holley, John A. Kromkowski and Robert R. Magliola 5) Rethinking media, religion and culture- Stewart M. Hoover and Knut Lundby 6) Bridging the Gap: Religion and the News Media- John Dart and Jimmy Allen 7) Marketing in a Multicultural world: Ethnicity, Nationalism and Cultural Identity- Janeen Arnold Costa 8) Religion and Communication: A Selected, Annotated Basic Bibliography- Eugene D. Tate and Kathleen Mc. Connell 9) Symbols for communication: an introduction to the anthropological study of religion- Juan Baal 10) Religion and Media- Kent de Vries and Samuel Weber 11) Media, religion and democratic participation: community communication in Zimbabwe and Norway- Kunt Lundby 12) Dieties and Deadlines: A Primer on News Coverage- John Dart 13) Foundations of Religious Tolerance- Jay Newman 14) How to Be a Perfect Stranger: The Essential Religious Etiquette Handbook- Stuart M. Matlins and Arthur J. Magida 15) Blind Spot: When Journalists Don’t Get Religion- Paul Marshall, Lela Gilbert and Roberta Green Ahmanson 70
  • 71. Communicating ReligionWebsites 1) www.jstor.org 2) www.thereligiousstudieswebsite.com 3) www.udaipurtimes.com (Topic- God’s Brand: Commercialization of Faith) 4) www.meditation-techniques-for-happiness.com 5) www.atheistrev.com 6) http://richarddawkins.net/articles/3534-the-evolution-of-religion 7) http://www.ocrpl.org/?cat=3 8) http://religionmeetsnewmedia.blogspot.com/ 9) http://thankgodforevolution.com/node/1764 10) http://knol.google.com/k/religion-statistics-trends# 71
  • 72. Communicating Religion 72

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