Emory Report
April 7, 2008
Volume 60, Number 26

Religion Dispatches.org
Special features include:

• RDBlog: A blog from a revolving set of bloggers

• Religion 101: A glossary of widely used terms

• Dispatches From: A rotating series of reports written from the borderlands, the workplace, inside the beltway and a doctor’s office

• International Forum: Contributors write about religion in the global public square

• Multimedia: Interviews, book, film reviews and more


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April 7, 2008
New religion Web site expands dialogue online

By Elaine Justice

ReligionDispatches.org, a new online religion magazine, is into its second month, and co-editor Gary Laderman, professor and chair of the religion department, says the site is getting positive feedback, a growing number of contributors and lots of links with other sites.

Supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation, ReligionDispatches.org aims to “enhance public understanding and debate about religion,” says Laderman. The site’s goal is to “respectfully and critically examine the role of religion and values in the most vital issues of our day.”

Laderman serves as co-editor of ReligionDispatches with Linell Cady, director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict at Arizona State University. Together they preside over a growing list of one-time and regular contributors and two full-time managing editors: Evan Derkacz, formerly from AlterNet, and Lisa Webster, formerly of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review.

“Religion is central to the most significant events we face, on a personal as well as global scale,” says Laderman. Yet religion, religious motivations and religious actors remain among the least understood subjects in the media and public culture in general, he says.

ReligionDispatches covers a broad range of issues, from war to stem cells, political change to sexuality, poverty and human rights. The site’s mission statement says that “rigorous, open and respectful debate about central issues of the day is essential if democracies are to survive and flourish.”

That debate is fostered by a diverse group of writers who are not just from theological and religious studies, but from journalism, politics, law and science, says Laderman. So far, the combination seems to be getting attention.

“The first article we posted was on the movie, ‘There Will Be Blood,’” says Laderman. Surprisingly, Newsweek.com picked up on the story and ran an article on the author of the piece. “We seem to be getting into the blogosphere as the go-to site for more progressive views on religion and society,” he says.

ReligionDispatches, already has begun focusing attention on a range of current issues, from the controversy over Sen. Barak Obama’s pastor the Rev. Joseph Wright, to the activism of Buddhist monks and nuns in Tibet.

ReligionDispatches advisory council includes: Daisy Khan, executive director, American Society for Muslim Advancement; Robert Franklin, president, Morehouse College; Ruth Messinger, American Jewish World Service; Juana Ponce de Leon, executive director, Independent Press Association; Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, author; and Diane Winston, Knight Chair in Media and Religion, University of Southern California.