Top Articles from Religion Unplugged, 2020 - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Top Articles from Religion Unplugged, 2020

Religion Unplugged is an award-winning, nonprofit news organization based in New York, providing international coverage through The Media Project, a global journalism platform,  which helps provide their funding. The two organizations have committed to “original reporting of high quality that is public service by nature and focused on religion.” Upholding the set of ethics and standards of the Society of Professional Journalists, Religion Unplugged aims to produce content that is “accurate, fair, and of the highest quality.”

Their top three articles from 2020 further speak to their mission and journalistic realm:

1. Responding to an article published by the New York Times titled “Christianity Will Have Power”, Religion Unplugged offered an insider commentary on the small college town of Sioux Center, Iowa. It was there, on the campus of Dordt University, where Trump gave a campaign speech including the words: “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?”

Extrapolating on this and other words from the 2016 speech made by Trump, the New York Times criticized the community’s support of the Republican candidate, postulating that the Christian community supported him out of a desire for power. Offering a counter-perspective, however, Religion Unplugged writer Lee Pitts describes Sioux Center as interconnectedly diverse, incredibly hospitable, and deeply committed to service. Pitts is not a reporter passing through. He has lived there for five years since moving from Washington DC to teach at Dordt. In those five years, he has gathered a picture of Sioux Center that was misrepresented by the New York Times, and he provided it through Religion Unplugged and its commitment to true and factual reporting.

2. The downfall and scandal surrounding former Liberty University President Jerry Falwell, Jr. was examined by Religion Unplugged as a case study for the necessity of accountability. Writer Karen Swallow Prior, in an article titled “Let Liberty University Be A Lesson In Unchecked Power”, pointed out that even within American Christianity, unchecked power continues to corrupt those who wield it. Prior has particular experience with Liberty, having taught there for 21 years of her career. She has seen the struggles of conservative, evangelical communities who “conserve the wrong things” and “evangelize for the wrong gods.”

For the sake of the vulnerable people whose bodies, hearts, and souls are the expense of this corruption, Prior brings light to the grave danger of power without accountability, using Liberty University in 2020 as an example.

3. The New York Times may have criticized evangelicals for their Trump support, but far beyond such levels of temperance ventures the Unification Church led by Rev. Hyung Jin Moon. Known by his followers as the “King of kings”, the son of the “second coming of Jesus Christ”, or simply “Sean”, Moon reportedly advocated for the taking up of arms to ensure the reelection of President Trump, regardless of the voting results.

Timothy Nerozzi, writing for Religion Unplugged, covers the brief history of the Pennsylvanian church, founded by Sun Myung Moon in Seoul, before being passed to his son Hyung Jin. Complete with a Bible-supplementing text, mass arranged weddings, a crown of ammunition, and a host of various legal allegations, the church calls for gun ownership and opposition to any forms of invading communism.

Sitting on the Board of Directors for both Religion Unplugged, as well as The Media Project, is southern California writer, Roberta Green Ahmanson. Ahmanson, a former reporter on religion for multiple southern California newspapers, has been named among the Top 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America by, together with her husband Howard Ahmanson, Jr.

Fieldstead & Co., their private philanthropy in Irvine, California is one of the eight most generous financial supporters of Religion Unplugged, a media outlet whose commitment to factual and religious reporting was shown in their work throughout 2020.

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