FaithSource Launched to Expand Diversity of Religious Voices in Media

FaithSource Launched to Expand Diversity of Religious Voices in Media

Chely Wright

FaithSource is a new initiative to bring fresh voices of faith into mainstream media to counterbalance often extreme voices that claim to speak for America’s religious majority. An initiative of Auburn Seminary, FaithSource connects journalists to experts and thought leaders who can speak on many issues, from various religious perspectives, about breaking news, for interviews and scheduled appearances.

“We are launching FaithSource at this critical juncture when many Americans no longer want to stand by and watch religious values and beliefs hijacked by a vocal minority for political gain,” said the Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson, President of Auburn Seminary. “FaithSource offers journalists a new group of inclusive, wise, and compassionate voices for this election season and beyond, when religion is being used to divide and distract Americans.”

FaithSource features an initial group of nearly 40 media-savvy opinion leaders, both lay and clergy, who can discuss topics impacting Americans today, such as race, gender, religious freedom, environment, economic justice, LGBTQ equality, reproductive rights, immigration, and foreign policy. FaithSource is a dynamic list of predominantly new faith voices, the next wave of commentators who can speak effectively into the news cycles–current and future–that drive our public debates. 

The FaithSource website includes biographies of the participants, information on the issue areas they can cover, as well as links to recent appearances and interviews.

Among the participants: 

Wajahat Ali, attorney, journalist, and playwright, The Domestic Crusaders. He is currently writing a television pilot with Dave Eggers about a Muslim-American cop in the Bay Area, California. Ali contributes to The Guardian, Salon, Slate and McSweeney’s, and blogs at goatmilkblog.com (Muslim)

Joanna Brooks, Mormon journalist and blogger (askmormongirl.com); author, The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith; senior correspondent, Religion Dispatches; one of Politico.com’s “50 Politicos to Watch;” Professor of American Literature at San Diego State University (Christian, Mormon)

Rabbi Sharon Brous, Founding Rabbi of IKAR, a spiritual community dedicated to reanimating Jewish life through soulful religious practice rooted in a deep commitment to social justice, and one of Newsweek’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis in 2012

Sister Simone Campbell, attorney and Executive Director, Network, a liberal social justice lobby; organizer of upcoming bus tour in response to Vatican reprimand, “Nuns on the Bus: Nuns Drive for Faith, Family and Fairness” (Christian, Catholic)

Bishop Minerva Carcano, United Methodist Bishop of the Desert Southwest Conference, outspoken voice on immigration reform, and the first Hispanic woman to be elected to the episcopacy (Christian, United Methodist Church)

Majora Carter, President, The Majora Carter Group, MacArthur Award-winning environmental advocate, host of American Public Media’s The Promised Land, and founder, Sustainable South Bronx (Spiritual)

Shane Claiborne, Founding Partner, The Simple Way, a faith community in Philadelphia committed to nonviolence and service to the poor; contributor, member, Red Letter Christians (Christian, Evangelical)

The Rev. Michael Ellick, Minister, Judson Memorial Church, former financial analyst, student of Tibetan Buddhism, and founder of Occupy Faith (Christian, United Church of Christ)

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn), first Muslim to be elected to Congress, outspoken voice on economic justice and religious liberty (Muslim)

The Rev. Dr. Welton Gaddy, President, Interfaith Alliance, a national non-partisan grassroots and educational organization; Pastor, Northminster (Baptist) Church, in Monroe, LA; and host of the weekly radio show State of Belief (Christian, Baptist)

The Rev. Dr. Katharine Henderson, President, Auburn Seminary, author God’s Troublemakers: How Women of Faith are Changing the World (Christian, Presbyterian Church USA)

The Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, President, Union Theological Seminary, author, Trauma and Grace: Theology in a Ruptured World,  (Christian, Christian Church: Disciples of Christ and the United Church of Christ)

Van Jones, Co-Founder, Rebuild the Dream, and former green jobs advisor to President Obama (Christian, African Methodist Episcopal)

Valarie Kaur, Director, Groundswell, the social action initiative of Auburn Seminary, graduate of Harvard Divinity School and Yale Law School, and filmmaker of the award-winning Divided We Fall (Sikh)

The Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Lewis, Senior Minister, Middle Collegiate Church, and Executive Director of the Middle Project, a leadership institute that prepares ethical leaders for a more just society (Christian, Presbyterian Church USA)

Bill McKibben, Founder and Executive Director, 350.org; leading environmentalist and climate change activist (Christian, United Methodist Church)

Ruth Messinger, President and Executive Director of American Jewish World Service, which works to alleviate hunger, poverty and disease through grassroots social change grant making, public policy, volunteer service and education about global justice within the Jewish community (Jewish)

The Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III, Pastor, Trinity United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL, committed to preaching prophetically that the message of love and justice are inseparable companions (Christian, Progressive National Baptist Convention and the United Church of Christ)

Eboo Patel, Founder and President, Interfaith Youth Core, an interfaith youth movement using service as the bridge to understanding, member of President Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships, regular contributor to The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Huffington Post (Muslim)

The Right Rev. Bishop Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, LGBTQ equality crusader, and subject of the award-winning documentary Love Free or Die (Christian, Episcopal)

Dr. Cornel West, Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practices, Union Theological Seminary and Professor Emeritus, Princeton University (Baptist)

Chely Wright, openly lesbian country singer and subject of award-winning documentary Chely Wright: Wish Me Away (Christian)

Among the FaithSource participants is Sister Simone Campbell, a singular voice who, when Representative Paul Ryan suggested his budget reflected Catholic teachings, criticized the “continuing misuse of Catholic teaching to defend a budget plan that decimates food programs for struggling families, radically weakens protections for the elderly and sick, and gives more tax breaks to the wealthiest few.” Sister Campbell appeared on The Colbert Report on Monday, June 11, 2012.

Joanna Brooks, who is marching alongside fellow Church-going Mormons in support of LGBT marriage equality, sees “a critical mass of people who want to stay identified with the faith and want it to be better. It’s a significant shift.” The shift is particularly significant as suicide by its gay members has been an unspoken issue for the LDS community. Brooks was quoted in The New York Times story “Gentle Dissent in Mormon Church on Gay Marriage” on Tuesday, June 12, 2012.

Source: Auburn Seminary

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