Religion in the media: the apologists


I often see posts in social media that involve a person of faith doing something ‘good’. It’s lovely to see that humanity still exists amongst us despite the troubles we are facing as a planet.

However I can’t help noticing that these often have an ‘apologist’ stance. They’re almost posted to try and say ‘see, not all  religious people (often Muslims) are bad’. This concerns me.

Why do we feel that we have to identify someone’s religion when they do something, instead of looking at the act itself?

Of course, I’m not naive enough not to appreciate that sweeping news headlines sell. But I’m seeing more and more on social media, created by the public. It’s almost a new sensationalist way of telling a story; mention what religion they are and it becomes more interesting.

Consider this example…

Sikh man removes turban to rescue boy hit by car in New Zealand

If we consider the view that the person may be doing that act because of their faith or that for some reason this act is exceptional because of their religion then I think we can get into problems.

In this case, wouldn’t anyone use anything they have to hand that may help the injured? Why is the Sikh man singled out for helping? For all we know, the other people that helped may be doing something that tests their own faith principles.

It almost implies in this kind of reporting that people without a religion wouldn’t have done this or the perception of this religion is the majority of its followers wouldn’t have done this.

In the current climate Muslims are particularly used for apologist headlines. Seemingly, people are proud to post that a Muslim is doing something nice! What does this tell us about our perceptions?

It shows how the media has manipulated us enough to think that this behaviour is the exception. But it’s not.

Every day, people do good and bad things. Some of them have a religion, some don’t. But of course, a headline such as ‘Human helps another human’ doesn’t sell.

So next time you see a story that specially mentions the religion of a participant, think carefully. By sharing or retweeting are you contributing to the current religious apologist culture?

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