Summer 2012 Newsletter

Summer 2012 RMIG Newsletter

The academic year flew by so quickly we didn’t get a newsletter out to you! So here’s a packed newsletter with details of RMIG programming at the AEJMC Conference, a call for papers, and many more details of interest. We hope to see many of you soon in Chicago for AEJMC’s Annual Conference. There’s much, much more after the jump.

2012 RMIG Programming at AEJMC

Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012 11:45 a.m. to 1:15 p.m.

Referred Paper Session: Use of mass media in the public sphere by religious leaders and religious institutions

  • Islam, Mediation and Technology (Top faculty paper) by Nabil Echchaibi, University of Colorado-Boulder This paper analyzes how historical reactions to print and writing still inform contemporary Muslim approaches to religious communication. I look at how Muslim jurists and scholars have rationalized their rejection of printing during the Ottoman empire in the 18th and 19th centuries and compare their reaction to how contemporary scholars and popular preachers rationalize their adoption of modern communication technologies both during the modernist period of late 19th and early 20th century and today. The recent introduction of television and the Internet for preaching purposes in Muslim countries has brought about similar questions and challenges. This paper reflects on how Muslim (teleda’ias) televangelists straddle both spaces of oral and print communication in their heavily mediated preaching.
  • Missing Voices: A study of religious voices in Mainstream Media reports about LGBT rights by Debra Mason and Cathy Rosenholtz, University of Missouri. A three-year sample of news reports about key political issues within the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual (LGBT) community showed that when media outlets cited religious leaders, they consistently used sources from Evangelical organizations to speak about LGBT issues, and the messages from those sources were significantly more negative than positive. The media used far fewer religious sources from Mainline Protestant, Catholic or Jewish sources, but those messages were predominantly positive.
  • Engaging the Congregation: A Mediated Model of Religious Leaders’ Cues, Environmental Concern, and Environmental Behaviors By Jay Hmielowski, Yale University. Scientists continue to raise concerns about threats from environmental problems such as climate change. Concern amongst scientists have increased efforts to create programs that raise public awareness of these issues. One social institution that could have a significant impact on improving environmental conditions is the church. This study uses data collected as part of the NES panel study in 2009 to examine the direct and indirect effects of hearing church sponsored environmental events on environmental concerns and conservation behaviors. Specifically, this study proposes a mediation model in which hearing a church sponsored environmental message increases concern about the environment, which, in turn, increases the frequency engaging in conservation behaviors and discussing environmental issues with friends and family.
  • The Environmental Movement and American Religion in the Network Society: Reconfiguring Hierarchies to Exist within Heterarchical Organizational Structures By Kathryn Montalbano, Columbia University. This essay is concerned with the characterization and appropriation of the environmental movement by three prominent religious institutions in the United States today?Catholicism, Evangelical Protestantism, and Judaism?and how such religious organizations are affirming human responsibility for global warming (though the Christian campaigns seek to protect the humans over the non-humans). Though the specifics of each religion’s involvement and evolvement with the movement is explored, the essay is primarily a preliminary musing?through the lens of media usage?of the complex relationship between nature and society, between the authoritative and constituent roles within religious institutions, and between traditional, hierarchical religious institutions within a society increasingly comprised of heterarchical institutions?all within the larger, nationwide struggle in the network society to mobilize Americans against the environment’s human destruction.

8:15-9:45 a.m. | Friday, Aug. 10

Panel: Las Vegas Religion: Exploring Sacred and Secular Media in Sin City. Co-Sponsored panel with Visual Communications

  • Religious Images of Las Vegas: From Traditional to Subversive, Paul Lester, California State University Fullerton
  • Desire for the Ungodly Goddess: The Feminine Image Machine of Vegas, Larry Mullen, University of Nevada Las Vegas
  • Blurring the Sacred and Secular: Hybrid Images in Las Vegas Media, Daniel Stout, University of Nevada Las Vegas

11:45 a.m.-1:15 p.m. | Friday, Aug. 10

Panel: The State of the Community 2012 Co-Sponsored session with GLBT

  • Tracy Baim, Editor, Windy City Media Group,
  • Kate Sosin, Reporter, Windy City Media Group
  • Laura Castañeda, Southern California
  • David Scott, Utah Valley

1:30-3 p.m. | Friday, August 10

Scholar-to-scholar paper session: Religion and media: Issues and themes

  • A Parade Or A Riot: A Discourse Analysis of Two Ethnic Newspapers in Northern Ireland By Dave Ferman, University of Oklahoma. The annual marching season in Northern Ireland has long been the site of ethnic/religious controversy and violence pitting Catholics against Protestants. This study analyzes how more than 80 news stories from two Belfast-based ethnic newspapers, the Catholic/nationalist Irish News and the Protestant/loyalist News Letter, framed the 2011 season. The research documents that the discourses and overarching themes presented by the Irish News and the News Letter were vastly different, with the former largely describing the season in negative terms and the source of violence and civil unrest, and the latter portraying the season as a triumphant, and popular, display of loyalist culture.
  • Seeing and Not Believing: Concern for Visual Culture in The Humanist By Rick Clifton Moore, Boise State University. A recent study of a publication distributed by a powerful conservative Christian group determined the organization showed strong concern for “visual culture.” The magazine directed readers on how to understand the seen world. The current study analyzes a periodical of an avowedly secular group to understand how they might manifest similar or different concerns. On the whole, The Humanist appears to indicate that visual culture is as important to agnostics as it is to theists.
  • Rational Choice in Religious Advertising: American Religions Adapt to the Spiritual Marketplace By Andrew Pritchard, North Dakota State University; Julie Fudge, North Dakota State University. Content analysis of television advertising by national religions suggests these institutions have accepted a rational-choice view of their place in American religious pluralism. Their ads employ more generic imagery than religious symbols and emphasize religions’ ability meet psychological and social needs more than traditional benefits of religious participation. Presenting a religion as provider of more than explicitly religious benefits is consistent with active competition for practitioners desiring the best cost-benefit ratio from their religious choice.
  • More Diverse Images of Women Found in Smaller Niche Magazine: Diverse Feminine Images Presented in Christian Teen Magazines By Charlotte Martinez, Ohio University. This research seeks to broaden the knowledge and scholarly literature about teenage, female, Christian magazines and the ideologies they present about femininity. A content analysis of two Christian magazines targeting young girls was undertaken in order to assess whether diverse images of females were present. The study included every image of a female in a composite year for both Brio and Brio&Beyond. Findings indicate that while many scholars espouse Christianity as being a very patriarchal religion that subordinates women, images of women in magazines of this genre were diverse in ways that align closer with Feminist Theory which empowers women and does not subject them to stereotypical roles.
  • Turning the Tide: The Religious Press’ Role in the Passage of the Civil Rights Act By Mike Trice, Florida Southern College. In recent years, much has been said about the religious right’s efforts to play a significant role in policy making in the United States. Such participation by religious groups is not new. This paper examines one of the most aggressive efforts by the church to influence government – the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 – and how the religious press played a significant role in those efforts.

3:15-4:45 p.m. | Friday, Aug 10

Panel: Religion, Politics, and the Quest for the White House. How Religion and Identity are Discussed in the current Political Climate. Co-Sponsored with Mass Communication and Society 

  • Ascribing Religion in the 2008 Presidential Election. Kimberly Davis, Doctoral Student, University of Maryland
  • Religion as Distraction: The Three Republican Parties of 2012. John Williams, Associate Professor, Principia College
  • Leader-endorsed and deity-approved: The role of religious affiliation and participation in elections in the new millennium. Amanda Sturgill, Elon University
  • Campaign as Teaching Moment. Manya Brachear, Religion Reporter, Chicago Tribune
  • Front Page News Values in a National Sample of U.S. Daily Newspapers: A Preliminary Report. Janet Bridges, Sam Houston State; George Sylvie, Texas at Austin; Lamar Bridges, Texas A&M-Commerce; Sandra Utt, Memphis

5-6:30 p.m. | Friday, August 10

Research panel: Social media and religion—influence and practice

  • Holy App! An Exploration of Christian, Jewish, and Islamic iPhone Applications (Top student paper), Wendi Bellar, Syracuse University. The more apps become available for mobile users to download, the more aspects of life that are engaged through mobile technology, including religion and spirituality. The purpose of this study is to explore the phenomenon of Christian, Jewish, Islamic iPhone apps using textual analysis of the app pages on iTunes. The intent is to discover what these apps are communicating about religion and also how the apps attempt to help users navigate their religious and spiritual lives. Four universal themes emerged including Spiritual Proximity, Mode of Spiritual Proximity, Translation, and Sharing. While these themes were consistent across all three religions, other findings include the differences across apps for Christianity, Judaism and Islam. These differences regard motivations for using apps which reflect the cultural and historical context on each religion.
  • How Buddhism Communicates via Sina Weibo, Meng Shi, American University; By Xiao He, American University. Social media is becoming increasingly popular among various business organizations and other interest groups. Religious groups also have begun to use social media to promote their truth claims and attract followers. In China, Buddhist leaders are particularly active on Chinese Twitter-equivalent micro-blogs. This article will take Buddhism as an example to introduce the Buddhism communication activities on Sina Weibo, which is the most popular Twitter-equivalent in China.
  • Christian Communication in 140 Characters or Less, Brittany Pruett, University of Southern Mississippi. The purpose of this paper is to examine how Christian leaders utilize Twitter. This paper took Rybalko and Seltzer’s (2010) study of dialogic principles in Twitter and applied it to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler, using a sample of his tweets from February 2012. This was done by categorizing the dialogic principles based on the two main functions of Christian mass communication, evangelizing non-Christians and edifying current Christians. This paper sought to answer whether or not Mohler utilized these dialogic principles, whether his tweets favored one purpose of Christian mass communication, and if present dialogic principles affected Mohler’s likelihood of being retweeted. The results of the content analysis indicated that Albert Mohler’s tweets did contain dialogic principles that address Christians and non-Christians, but the dialogic principles favored the edification of current Christians over evangelizing non-Christians.
  • The Megachurch Tweets: How 13 Large Churches are Using Twitter, Sheree Martin, Samford University. This study is a content analysis of all tweets from the primary Twitter account of 13 of the 15 largest churches in the U.S. during the month of February 2012. Results indicate that Twitter is mainly used to promote church activities using a one-to-many broadcast approach rather than conversational and relational communication techniques associated with social media, relationship marketing and relationship management theory. Each of the churches in the study uses Twitter in a different way. Four churches dominate the results, with three of the 13 churches tweeting, on average, less than once each day.
8:30-10 p.m. | Friday, Aug. 10
Religion and Media Interest Group Business Members’ Meeting

Moderating/Presiding: Cecile S. Holmes, South Carolina

3:30-5 p.m. | Saturday, Aug. 11
Panel: Veiled messages — Framing of hijab and Muslim identity in Western media. 
Co-sponsored with the Commission on the Status of Women and RMIG
  • Defining Islamophobia, Brian J. Bowe, Grand Valley State University / Michigan State University
  • Above the fold and beyond the veil: Media depictions of Muslim women, Nahed Eltantawy / High Point University
  • Hijab and Muslim Comedians: Challenging Stereotypes with Humor, Ammina Kothari, Doctoral Candidate, Indiana University
  • Veiling the news, reporters in hijab: Deconstructing the framing of Western journalists who wear the headscarf in the field, Rosemary Pennington, Indiana University

Saturday, August 11; 5:15–6:45 p.m.

Referred research panel: Islam: Frames and themes in the mass media

  • The Muslim Fallacy: An Examination of Public Opinion and the Framing of Barack Obama’s Religion, Joseph Kasko, University of South Carolina. President Barack Obama has consistently stated that he is Christian and numerous media reports have repeated his pronouncement. However, there has long been confusion over the president’s religious beliefs. This study conducted a textual analysis of print stories that mentioned Obama’s religion, in order to examine the role media coverage of the president may have played in misconceptions about his religious beliefs. Specifically, this systematic content analysis examined news stories published in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. These outlets were also chosen for comparative study because many observers believe they carry their own political leanings, with the NYT leaning left and the WSJ leaning right.
  • Muslim media in the United States and their role in the American Public Square, Mohammad Siddiqi, Western Illinois University. This study focuses on emerging Muslim media in the U. S. and their role in helping Muslims understand and participate in the American public square. A content analysis method is used to analyze the contents of a sample of the leading Muslim magazines and newspapers. The study focuses on the general themes and contents of Muslim media and the shift in themes, contents and priorities over a period of the past ten years.
  • The Othering of Terrorists: An Analysis of Two Major U.S. Newspapers’ Use of the Word Terrorist and Subsequent Mention of Religion, Jennifer Hoewe, Pennsylvania State University. This study analyzes use of the word terrorist in the headlines of the New York Times and Washington Post and the subsequent mentions of specific religions. A six-year content analysis revealed a strong relationship between the word terrorist in these publications’ news story headlines and mentions of Islam within the stories. The argument is made that the word terrorist in the headline of these news story serves as a prime, which is then continually associated with Islam. This process perpetuated by two major U.S. news sources creates or maintains the Muslim terrorist stereotype. Moreover, since the word terrorist is connotative of Otherness, this study contends that individuals associated with the word terrorist become the Other. Thus, the findings indicate that Muslims, as portrayed by the Muslim terrorist stereotype, are depicted as the Other in two major news sources.
  • Male in the Masjid: Framing men on Little Mosque on the Prairie, Rosemary Pennington, Indiana University. Little Mosque on the Prairie premiered on the CBC in 2007 to an audience of 2.1 million viewers. The sitcom focused on the lives of a small Muslim community living in the fictional rural town of Mercy, Saskatchewan. This textual analysis of the first season examined the framing of Muslim men on Little Mosque and found several different types of Muslim men were featured, all representing a type of Muslim at ease in the West.

Elon Religion and Media Conference call for papers

Elon University invites paper entries and panel proposals on any aspect of Media and Religion for the 4th Elon Media and Religion Conference to be held in March 2013 on the university’s campus in Elon, NC. Papers and panels may be on any topic, including international perspectives on media and religion, papers on popular culture and religion, and the intersection of faith and new or traditional media forms.

Papers dealing with any faith tradition are welcomed. Research papers and panels submitted to the convention should not have been submitted to or accepted by another convention. Top research papers may be included in a proposed scholarly book. Authors may submit only one paper. Research entries must be no longer than 25 pages of text, double-spaced, in 12-point type, excluding notes. The Chicago Manual of Style is preferred.

Papers should be submitted electronically. Papers must be presented as either a PDF or an MS Word document with author identification and affiliation on a title page only. Each paper must be submitted as an attachment with a 100-word abstract and contact information in the text of the email to Professor Anthony Hatcher:

Panels should be submitted as a 1-2 page attachment, either a PDF or MS Word document. Panel proposals should include: 1) a brief description; 2) names and affiliations of moderator and participants; 3) a brief summary of each participant’s presentation. Proposals should be in 12-point type. Submit panel proposals to Professor Don Grady: Deadline for paper and panel submissions is Nov. 1, 2012. For questions, contact Anthony Hatcher, Ph.D.)

Diverse journals well-suited for religion and media research

Finding the best journal to submit religion and media research is not always easy, because media can be interpreted as anything from popular culture to communication. The followin gis a helpful list for beginning scholars seeking the best places to conduct literature searches and to submit research for publication.

Journal of Media and Religion addresses the question of how religion as a social and cultural phenomenon broadens understanding of mass communication in society. The journal examines a full range of religious traditions (e.g., Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Eastern religious philosophies, and new/alternative religious movements). The journal discusses implications of the relationship between religion and mass media, generates theory about the nature and behavior of religious audiences, explores the social and cultural impact of religious involvement in public discourse about media, and provides a central forum for scholarly discussion in a number of relevant fields.

The Journal of Communication and Religion (JCR) is an online journal published by the Religious Communication Association and is a result of cooperation between the RCA and the Communication Institute for Online scholarship (CIOC).

Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion (JFSR) is the oldest interdisciplinary, interreligious feminist academic journal in religious studies. Founded in 1985, it is published twice annually, in the spring and fall. Located at the intersection of feminist theory and studies in religion, it welcomes contributions that explore a diversity of feminist theories, practices, cultures, and religions.

The Journal of Religion & Society has been established to promote the cross-disciplinary study of religion and its diverse social dimensions through the publication of research articles, essays and opinions, review articles, and book reviews. The focus of the journal is American religions and Western religious traditions.

The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture is a web-based, peer-reviewed journal committed to the academic exploration, analysis and interpretation, from a range of disciplinary perspectives, of the interrelations and interactions between religion and religious expression and popular culture, broadly defined as the products of contemporary mass culture. The journal is based in Canada, but international in scope, and open to explorations of religion and popular culture in a variety of nationalities and cultures.

Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion (IJRR) was founded to publish very high quality, original research on religion by scholars, regardless of their field of specialization. Unfortunate accidents of history separated the social sciences into an archipelago of fields and departments. Efforts to break through these artificial barriers by publishing interdisciplinary journals have been handicapped because these publications have conferred less prestige to authors than have the best journals focused on a single field. Consequently, some of the most important articles published by the specialty journals are difficult for nonspecialists even to be aware of, let alone appreciate fully, while interdisciplinary journals have lacked the space needed to include the additional explanations, definitions, and context to make many important articles fully accessible to nonspecialists. IJRR eliminates these barriers.

The Journal of Southern Religion is a fully peer-reviewed academic journal reflecting the best traditions of objective and critical scholarship. It is published, in its entirety, on the Web at

The Journal of the American Academy of Religion is generally considered to be the leading academic journal in the field of religious studies. Now in volume 77 and with a circulation of over 11,000, this international quarterly journal publishes leading scholarly articles that cover the full range of world religious traditions together with provocative studies of the methodologies by which these traditions are explored. Each issue also contains a large and valuable book review section.

Journal of Contemporary Religion is an international peer reviewed journal. Its purpose is to both document and evaluate the anthropological, sociological, psychological, and philosophical aspects of emerging manifestations of religiosity in any part of the world—whether within innovative movements or mainstream institutions. The term “religion” in the title of this journal is understood to include contributions on spirituality.

The Journal of Religion and Theatre is a peer-reviewed journal. The journal aims to provide descriptive and analytical articles examining the spirituality of world cultures in all disciplines of the theatre, performance studies in sacred rituals of all cultures, themes of transcendence in text, on stage, in theatre history, the analysis of dramatic literature, and other topics relating to the relationship between religion and theater. The journal also aims to facilitate the exchange of knowledge throughout the theatrical community concerning the relationship between theater and religion and as an academic research resource for the benefit of all interested scholars and artists.

RELIGION is an internationally recognized peer-reviewed journal, publishing original scholarly research in the comparative and interdisciplinary study of religion. RELIGION accepts papers on all religious studies topics, including the history, literature, thought, practice, material culture, and institutions of particular religious traditions and communities from a variety of perspectives such as social scientific, cultural, cognitive, ethnographic, economic, ecological, and geographic (but excluding theology or philosophy of religion).

Finalists in Student Religion Reporting Contest Named

Religion Newswriters last week released its Top 10 Chandler Student Religion Reporters of the Year names. The top three winners will be announced at Religion Newswriters’ Awards Banquet, Oct. 6th in Bethesda, MD. The finalists were selected from nearly 40 entries. The Chandler award is in its 8th year and is supported by former Los Angeles Times Religion Reporter Russell Chandler and his wife ML. First place wins $600. All undergraduate students who have not already worked full time as a journalist (excluding internships) are eligible. The finalists, in alphabetical order:

  • Joshua Bolding (BYU)
  • April Burbank (Wheaton)
  • Jim Jenkins (Harvard)
  • Grace Lyden (U. of MIssouri)
  • Annalisa Musarra (Gardner Webb U.)
  • Catherine Newhouse (U. of Missouri)
  • Ryan Schuessler (U. of Missouri)
  • Tiffany Stevens (U. of Georgia)
  • Megan Sweas (U. of Southern California)
  • Gentry Weston (U. of Colorado-Boulder)

That’s it for this newsletter. Check back with us in the spring for more from RMIG! Thanks for reading!

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