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Phi Theta Kappa/Alpha Theta Phi - Honors in Action: 2017-2018


Program Guide

Recommended Readings

The Power of Perspective: Religion, Conflict, and Media

Shared Research Notebook

Summarized by:

Name: Kedar Babu Shrestha

The Conflict Between Religion and Media has Deep Roots

There are many failings with how media represent religion in the mainstream media, many well documented. For instance, false stories about particular groups. There is unfair treatment of Muslims by the certain journalist which is one of the main failings of the media. For instance, media representation of Muslims women wearing the Burkha and media attention to religion of consists of stories about extremist Muslims ignoring the high levels of Christian. The story of good Christian and bad Muslims is another main failings of media; the story is told both by the expression and omission, by naming, or not naming, the religion or ethnicity of terrorists. For example, Norwegian mass murderer Andres Breivik who self-identified as Christian does not receive the label of  Christian terrorist by the media. American religious scholar, Stephen Prothero, describes Breivik action as the political action not religious. 1995 Srebrenica massacre is another example where the massacre of Srebrenica; Serbs killed 8,000 Muslims men and boys. But media describes this incident without noting their religion as Christain. Thus, media is biased towards the Muslim and giving favorable treatment towards the Christian. According to the three best-selling British newspaper, a recent report also shows that, while media misrepresentations usually concern Muslims, the most vocal complaints are Christian. 

According to Dr. Abby Day who is Reader in Race, Faith, and Culture in the Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths, the University of London where she convenes the interdisciplinary BA Religion program; she says there is the deep conflict between media and religion due to:

  • ‘Belief’ is understood deeper,
  • Multi­ dimensional analysis of religion (creating conflict), and  
  • Legitimate authority. (Not only does media and religion tell their chosen story, but they also explain why the events happened)


Day, A. (2016). The conflict between religion and media has deep roots. Religion and the Public Sphere.


Summarized by:

Name: Nikolaos Panaousis

Racism and Talk of Religious War in the Media: The Trump Era

The summarized article is one of the few available online the provides a brief analysis only in the Social media aspect of the media. Newspaper articles do not analyze these topics; research does. Articles, when they do, they offer minimal analysis with reporting being a priority. We can use newspaper articles to support our points with facts and evidence, but to use them as references for academic analysis, as opinions are largely included.

In the twenty-first century, media, religion, and conflict are topics of interest and controversy. We are all familiar with these topics and often hear and read about them in the media, provided the different perspectives that each organization expresses. In the U.S., in the past ten years, a form of media that has gained unpredictable popularity is the social media. Social media enables people to create and share content and to participate in social networking online. The most dominant social media as of now are Facebook and Twitter. The article by the Associated Press focused on how Twitter—a social media network, part of the broader category of media—works as a platform for the spread of news, opinions, but sometimes the spread of propaganda and hatred, which can fuel conflicts. The article, in part, focuses on how the Trump campaign; before getting elected, used the online media to discredit certain ethnic groups, religions, and political parties. The Trump campaign, including the then candidate Trump and his staffers, used social media accounts that promoted an anti-Muslim sentiment, claiming that Muslims are unfit to be U.S. citizens, and labeling as criminals and terrorists, without individually identifying them, but collectively grouping them. This collective grouping, as mentioned later, could be the cause of conflict, both in the U.S. and outside of it. The Associated Press examined several high-ranking social media accounts of more than 50 politicians—Republicans and non—and found a mix of racist, anti-religious rhetoric towards the Muslim population. Among those accounts were searched, several of them; with significant followers, expressed views that racially charged, and which were supportive of violent actions and sometimes hostile to Muslims. The article concludes that such action—which combines religious and political propaganda, and violent tendencies can result in armed conflict and war. Social media—and the media in general—can work collaboratively in a bi-partisan, non-conflicting effort to spread peace; however, it is hard to be achieved since political, economic, and geopolitical interests are always intact.  


Pan, Gregory. "Racism and Talk of Religious War in the Media: The Trump Era." CNBC. CNBC, 22 Aug. 2016. Web. 20 July 2017.


Summarized by:

Name: Chethana Prabodhanie 

The state, media, religion and emerging challenges in Pakistan

The revolutionized media of today has an enormous impact on human life. The impact is in governance, politics, socioeconomic operations, education and even religion which remained unpopular in media before 9/11 attacks. The contemporary media has become powerful enough to manipulate public opinions and behaviors. Religion was not a topic that received as much attention, and a selected group became aware of the use of religious terminology. Today, most countries have declared themselves as a secular state from a non-secular state. Revolutionary media has been able to transform society in every aspect of life including education, politics, IT,  and religion. After 9/11, the media's involvement in religious activities has been continuously under observation because of the role of the media related to religion which "represents" a systematic understanding of Islam, its beliefs, and ideology. Today, media is powerful enough to manipulate the public opinion and behavior in regards to religion. For example, Pakistan is known as an Islamic state where private T.V. channels are free of total government control; thus, a vast transformation is in sight resulting in a powerful media impact on the public opinion. After 9/11, the western media labeled Islam and Muslims as terrorists and this perception contributed in a misconception that all Muslims are terrorists. On the other hand, the role of the Pakistani media was an imitation of the western media. Pakistani's internal security; continuously threatened by the national sub-divisions (Shia, Sunni) of religion which created domestic issues. Until this day, it is still ongoing and has bought the worse hazardous situation for the locals, within the state. Today, Pakistani media is failing to unify different cultural and linguistic groups; instead, it signifies the differences. However, the media has been making an effort to unite the Islamic ideology with the various groups in the state who share same religious values. 

The majority of the people of Pakistan do not see religion as a taboo topic. However, the electronic media, contributed magnificently to manipulate the religious perception of the Pakistani people. Thus, the media's influence over 9/11 attacks created a barrier between two of the largest religions. 


Sabir, M. (2011). The state, media, religion and emerging challenges in Pakistan. South Asian Studies26(1), 69

Summarized by:

Mary Naughton

Media’s Use of Propaganda to Persuade People’s Attitudes, Beliefs, and Behaviors

Focusing in on propaganda, we know propaganda is the spread of information, ideas, facts or alternative facts to further a person or group’s cause or viewpoint. Propaganda has been around as long as people have wanted to hold sway over others. However, only the past 100 years, have provided the technological resources possible to escalate propaganda more virally. Much of the noticeable propaganda takes place during times of war, though it has been present throughout many presidential elections as well. Modern propaganda uses all forms of the media to spread its message. Some examples include door-to-door canvassing, street names, flyers, social media, press, music, poetry, awards, prizes, and sporting events. Although media is referred many of these forms that are called media, likely surprising- this just proves it isn’t always easy to spot the propaganda. One study that has a focus on propaganda involves an outline which shares how to analyze propaganda, by looking at case studies of the media’s portrayal of nuclear power for France and Pakistan. These countries were chosen, based on what would seem to provide a substantial advantage for the United States to favor the power of one over the other. Specifically regarding France, dating all the way back to the American Revolution, France was the ally of The United States. Relations with Pakistan, a Muslim nation, have been strained due to the U.S. support of Israel. Also, seemingly, U.S. stands to gain nothing from the creation of a strong Pakistan. Based on the relations between The U.S., France, and Pakistan, the prediction made is that American media propaganda would portray the nuclear technology of France more favorably than of Pakistan. In the analysis, propaganda was broken into ten stages, they are (Jowett and O'Donnell 213) :

  • The ideology and purpose of the propaganda campaign 
  • The context in which the propaganda occurs  
  • Identification of the propagandist  
  • The structure of the propaganda organization  
  • The target audience  
  • Media utilization techniques  
  • Special various techniques  
  • Audience reaction to different techniques  
  • Counter-propaganda, if present 
  • Effects and evaluation

The study focuses in on questions six and seven, the techniques the media uses to reflect tailored views of a less favorable country. This first case study focused on exploring the coverage in the media around Pakistan’s nuclear achievement. It becomes evident that some propaganda pieces were used to make Pakistan appear threatening. The media information did nothing to praise the country for developing the technology; rather the focus was presented to make Pakistan look like a potential enemy. For instance, one piece of propaganda- “At the same time, the prospect that Pakistan could share its nuclear technology with other Islamic states, or serve as their protector. This concerns many Western analysts, who fear that nuclear materials and techniques may fall into the hands of countries the West has branded sponsors of terrorism, such as Syria and Libya” (Moore and Khan A19). In the second case study, the focus centers on the American media’s portrayal of the stability of Pakistan. The Washington Post quotes Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani engineer behind the nuclear development, "I am one of the kindest persons in Pakistan. I feed the birds; I feed ants in the morning. I feed monkeys that come down the mountain" ("Quote of the Day" 38). While there is recognition of the nuclear accomplishment, there is also the quote which shows a life much different from American views of technological advancement and civility. Instead, it seems rather barbaric, and it’s supposed to. The third case study focuses on the media coverage around France’s nuclear advancement. The media portrayal of France shows an active and even congratulatory stance surrounding news of their nuclear technology. An example from the New York Times reports, "By joining the atomic club, de Gaulle hopes to gain a voice in big power disarmament decisions and to increase the influence of French diplomacy" (Sulzberger 22). Here it is evident that while a potentially dangerous weapon has been created, it is merely reported as aiding as a voice in big power disarmament. Ultimately, it is recommended that with regards to the media, to discern any biases, be aware of the perception of others by the way the issue is being framed.


Bruck, J., & Manzaria, J. (n.d.). Media's Use of Propaganda to Persuade People's Attitude, Beliefs, and Behaviors. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from EDGE: Ethics of Development in a Global Environment: 


Action Item List

Background research and definitions

Theme 4: Peace and War

How does conflict impact people and the way in which the world works?

Share Your Voice: Hephzibah Oluwanusi

Religion and Media

Religions have one thing in common, and that is to promote love, peace and maybe self-awareness.  But the media has in some way portrayed some beliefs differently. I do believe that the impact of media is different in each region or country. I am saying this because I from Nigeria, I have lived there for most of my life and just recently moved to the United States. 

Why am I bringing this up? I mentioned this because in my country we also have terrorists groups that claim to be a particular religion and use the religion to justify their acts of terror. Regardless of this, the media can distinguish between the actions of the terrorist group and the faith. We know that that certain religion does not promote violence and those terrorists are just using the religion to justify their actions. We still converse and have social gatherings with people who practice these religions, knowing that they do not stand for these appalling behaviors. Whereas, in some other countries, the media is not capable of dissociating the acts of terrorism from the religion. 
I came to the United States and was very surprised by the way a particular religion was being discriminated. I know that this religion promotes peace and moral well-being of everyone, so these discriminatory behaviors against the religion took me by surprise. 

I believe that even though the media does not do a superb job in representing every religion accurately, we can do something ourselves and try to inform and educate those who do not know so much about the religion. Change starts with every individual, and we should not wait for the media to praise a religion before we accept it.


Research Questions

How does the Media form public opinion?

M. Naughton
The opinion is based on the view of certain people; often, not all viewpoints are expressed. Also, opinions are not facts, so do we need this opinion in the media? Let’s stick to the truth!

W-C Lin
People get information from media, and they usually believe in what they see without clarifying the information with some other ways.

C. Prabodhanie
Media is the form of communication that informs the public regarding every matter. Therefore, whether the information being given out is manipulated or not, people have no option but to believe things they are being informed about.

C. Wang
As human people, we all have unique viewpoints. Journalists are mostly the ones who share their opinions in public. Therefore, they do it thinking they might be able to make people reflect on specific subjects and then to have their points of views.

A. Singleton
Media forms public opinion by using biases and prejudice to divide. The news plays on peoples fear to have them develop negative ideas on events and people. Manu facing events and alternative facts confuse.

LD Hyolmo
Media is believed to be the source of information for the generation, and we have news every day and every time. When we keep on hearing that news constantly, our mind reacts to it. It gets that information and records it and shapes our mentality. 

KB Shrestha
Framing public opinion, relate topic with politics, and use the wide variety of advertising techniques.

What are the positive and negative effects of media using religion?

C. Prabodhanie

  • Creating conflicts between different religious communities by pointing out each other's differences.
  • Media helps in unifying people belonging one community (be it religious or not) by promoting their shared values, customs, beliefs, traditions.

C. Wang

  • Using religion through media can affect the general public knowing they all have their own opinions and reasons for their choices made. On the other hand, they can observe how the world works and choose to respect one another.

M. Naughton

  • Reinforcing or connecting others as a community; sharing similarities that exist, showing that others may be different but different is not bad.
  • False information, high bias, fear tactics, and misrepresentation of someone’s else culture/ belief.

W-C Lin

  • Have people see “hope” from some religious groups who are doing good things to people in certain different ways.
  • Have people hate some groups by giving people wrong information or not enough information.

LD Hyolmo

  • Providing half information and pointing out whole religion for the deeds of a single individual.
  • It could connect different religion into one telling religion; teach us the same thing.

A. Singleton

  • They bring groups of people together.
  • They turn opposites against each other.

Why do you think it creates conflicts and why do you say it resolve conflicts?

C. Prabodhanie
Media uses religion to resolve and create conflict because it benefits them; this means that whoever is in charge of sharing information manipulates them to their advantage.

LD Hyolmo
Information, education, and awareness about every religion can help to resolve conflict globally.

C. Wang

  • Media is big influencer all over the globe. It can make people believe false information because they don't often look it up. 
  • It can solve conflicts depending on what they make people see.

M. Naughton

  • It creates conflict with misinformation; also by putting groups against each other.
  • Resolving conflict is exhibited to show different religious groups uniting for a cause of setting aside differences for the betterment of the community. 

W-C Lin
By sending wrong information to influence people's minds in the negative way of an event or something.





Brainstorm: Research Question
  1. How is the topic of religion is portrayed in the United States media? what is its connection to war and peace? and how does it affect people on a global scale?
  2. How does media use our religious beliefs to create a bias?
  3. How is United Nation helping in creating peace?
  4. How does the media negatively promote Muslim people?
  5. How is media responsible for the religion war?
  6. How do we create peace and war by using media?
  7. How does the role of media in promoting religion help countries build peace and create war?


Videos (Theme 4: Peace and War)

East & West: Culture Affects Thought Processes

My So-Called Enemy: Celebrating Diversity, Interfaith and Intercultural Understanding

Conflict Reporting: Why Religious Literacy Matters

Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People

Faces of the Enemy


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