In analyzing religion as it is displayed in the media, one can view a number of patterns that news media use to report on this controversial subject. The book Secular Media, by Mark Silk, discusses several commonly accepted moral themes, called topoi, that are present in the news media’s coverage of religion. Several themes, including good works, inclusion, and opposition to false prophecy, can easily be found when religion is examined in this light. Silk’s writing helps readers to understand what forces are at play when a newspaper decides to write an article on religion by revealing these topoi that allow their stories to be generally accepted by the populace. Indeed, the media both shape and are bound by the moral views of the populace.
While discussing religion in the media, Silk explains that the news media believes that inclusion of diverse religious practices is, to a certain point, a good thing. He refers to numerous examples to illustrate this point. One of his examples is the position of Judaism in America, covering a 1955 article praising the Jews and noting the effect of such articles at decreasing anti-Semitism in the United States. This particular article claims that Jews “have smaller crime, divorce, delinquency, and alcoholism rates than the population at large and more college graduates” (Silk 106) and goes on to discuss how Jews are typical Americans who exist as normal, productive members of society. The media often prints stories about minority religions (at least those it deems unthreatening) seeking to portray their members as conforming to “American values,” which typically include productivity and community involvement through good works, which are expected of religious movements in the public’s eye. On the same vein, the Los Angeles Daily News recently published a religious article seeking to increase acceptance of pagans, a religious minority that has faced a fairly high amount of ignorance and resulting discrimination. It discuses the...
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