Response on Park51 By C. Nikole Saulsberry

Posted on August 23rd, 2010 | Filed under Faith and Politics, InterViews

Religion today is rarely in the spotlight for positive reasons; “if it doesn’t bleed, it doesn’t read”.  In fact, the only positive aspect of the media’s relationship with religion these days seems to be its unbiased abasement of any religion or worldview. There are always two sides of a story; that is a journalistic given. But more often than not, media outlets today hyper-polarize the opposing sides of every religion story to further instigate the detrimental idea that faith is exclusive and inherently combative.  And we can see this here, in the seemingly unbiased CBS News video.


As a whole, this clip is rather balanced.  Arguably, both sides of the political spectrum are represented and we hear both points of view. But when it comes to religion, only Muslims are speaking in this video and all other individuals are “average Americans” or the American hero (firefighter Tim Brown), subtly suggesting one can either be Muslim or American, but not both. Perhaps the most telling example of religion's controversy with media is shown in the title, "Ground Zero Mosque Sparks Fight". By using the word Mosque, the piece aligns the fight with Islam making it a religious fight.

Why can't more media stories focus on the root of the problem, prejudice and fear?

It is not Islam, Christianity, or even politics that is the issue here, it is fear, and a fear based on prejudice. There are facts and then there is rhetoric. Somewhere along the way we mistook the two and now equate media stories with facts (and not carefully crafted messages designed to persuade).

The overarching question regarding media and religion is; what comes first, the story or the public opinion? Ultimately biased stories would not be published if the public developed a distaste for them, which is where religious pluralists come in. Interfaith work is the catalyst for religious social change, and when society changes, so will the media.

One Response to “Response on Park51 By C. Nikole Saulsberry”

  1. […] Response by C. Nikole Saulsberry: There are always two sides of a story; that is a journalistic given. But more often than not, media outlets today hyper-polarize the opposing sides of every religion story to further instigate the detrimental idea that faith is exclusive and inherently combative.  And we can see this here, in the seemingly unbiased CBS News video. Read more here. Share this! […]