On World Press Freedom Day: The Importance of Responsible Coverage of Religion
On World Press Freedom Day May 3, the Church of Scientology emphasizes that with freedom must come responsibility.
As the Washington Post stated in a recent article, we live in “a media environment that thrives on conflict.” But when that conflict marginalizes people because of their religion, the consequences can be dire.
With its purpose to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world, the Scientology Religious Freedom website and its religious freedom blog promote responsible coverage of religion, religious beliefs and practices, and adherents.
For example, the Scientology Religious Freedom Blog covered two recent studies that found nearly 60 percent of print articles and just under half of all television clips in the British media associate Muslims with terrorism or extremism.
But it is not only Muslims who suffer from slanted and biased media coverage. Hate crimes against Christians in 2020 rose 70 percent over the previous year in Britain, Germany, France, Spain and Sweden, and one factor was found to be “a high level of religious illiteracy” among journalists.
In India, mainline as well as social media is being blamed for anti-Muslim violence.
And this is not just a recent phenomenon. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has documented how media “served as an important tool to win over the majority of the German public who had not supported Adolf Hitler and to push forward the Nazis’ radical program, which required the acquiescence, support, or participation of broad sectors of the population.”
The Church of Scientology publishes the booklet “What is Freedom of Religion,” which can be downloaded from the website. The Church does so because a vital component in preserving this fundamental human right is ensuring an understanding of the right to freedom of religion or belief and its meaning under universal human rights principles and international human rights law.
The booklet is designed to inform the public regarding the detailed and complex nature of the right to freedom of religion for believers and religious organizations of every faith.
An important feature of this booklet, and one particularly relevant to United Nations World Press Freedom Day, is the “Charter on Journalistic Ethics in Relation to Respect for Religion or Belief.” This is a journalistic code for the coverage of religion. The code is based on the principle that journalists “are accountable for the social and political consequences of their actions and have a duty to maintain the highest ethical and professional standards.” The standards the charter puts forward are based on broadly accepted human rights codes and instruments referred to in the booklet.
It is the responsibility of those who cherish freedom to ensure fair and accurate reporting of religion. Religious liberty has been likened to a canary in the coal mine—one we ignore at our own peril. Because when religious freedom is ignored, stifled or attacked it predicts the loss of other human rights.
From its beginnings the Church of Scientology has recognized that freedom of religion is a fundamental human right. In a world where conflicts are often traceable to intolerance of others’ religious beliefs and practices, the Church has, for more than fifty years, made the preservation of religious liberty an overriding concern.
The Church of Scientology publishes daily blogs on this website to help create a better understanding of the freedom of religion and belief and provide news on religious freedom and issues affecting this freedom around the world.
The Scientology religion was founded by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard. The first Church of Scientology was formed in Los Angeles in 1954 and the religion has expanded to more than 11,000 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups, with millions of members in 167 countries.
Church of Scientology Media Relations
(323) 960-3500 phone
(323) 960-3508 fax