A project launched this autumn to enhance religious literacy and understanding in a landscape often fraught with misconceptions and assumptions on both sides.
“Creating Connections, where Religion meets the Media”, organised by the Religion Media Centre, features a series of events to improve links between religious groups and journalists in England.
They are an opportunity to explore the way religion and worldviews are interwoven into community life, as people from long-standing and diverse communities share their stories and open the window into their world.
Five cities have been chosen to host the events, which all take place in the afternoon. These unique occasions are free and open to all to attend but booking ahead is essential. Booking links and further details are available on each of the links below:
- Leeds 14 October (report of the event here)
- Plymouth 15 November (programme details here)
- Nottingham 18 November (programme details here)
- Birmingham 23 November (programme details here)
- Manchester 24 November (programme details here)
Through workshops and presentations, it is hoped that key stories on religion and belief will be brought to the forefront in media outlets and lasting contacts for the future will be made. The audience will include journalists, teachers, academics, religious leaders and invited guests. Creating Connections is supported by councils in each area, recognising the importance of religion and belief in public life.
Michael Wakelin, executive chair of the Religion Media Centre, says: “In today’s diverse society, understanding beliefs, cultures and practices has never been more important, to nurture respect, build relationships and improve social cohesion. Our purpose at the Religion Media Centre is to help to raise levels of religious literacy and the understanding of the media, so that communication is improved and concerns addressed.
“Frequently, we hear from faith groups and organisations that they feel misunderstood, misrepresented and ignored, causing them to retreat into silence. The gulf this creates is not good for journalism or faith groups or society at large.”
In April 2021 the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Religion and the Media produced a report on the need to learn to listen in a diverse society, highlighting the work of the Religion Media Centre in providing training, research and events to aid understanding.
Yasmin Qureshi MP, who chairs the group, and co-chair Baroness Butler-Sloss, say in the foreword: “We believe that religious literacy is essential for anyone who seeks to understand society today. A public conversation which treats religion as outdated and irrelevant to today’s world will leave a growing number of our fellow citizens increasingly isolated and marginalized.”
The Religion Media Centre is an independent organisation unaffiliated to any group, which seeks to help the media be better informed and have greater awareness of religion and worldviews in the UK.
The Creating Connections project has been generously funded by Culham St Gabriel’s Trust, an organisation that believes broad-based, critical and reflective education in religion and worldviews contributes to a well-informed, respectful and open society.
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