The Religion Communicators Council

What is the Religion Communicators Council? I’d never heard of it before yesterday. I’ve heard of it now though, and I’m curious. Is it, like, a household name? Is everybody aware of it off in the background somewhere, taking care of Religious Communication?

I don’t know. I think it sounds pretty horrible though.

The Religion Communicators Council, founded in 1929, is an interfaith association of religion communicators at work in print and electronic communication, advertising and public relations.

It’s a PR-advertising outfit for Religion, all Religion, Religion as such.

So it would be a peculiar kind of laurel for a journalist to get an award from them, wouldn’t it? Journalists don’t really want awards from PR outfits and advertisers, do they? Isn’t an award of that kind an announcement that one is not a journalist but rather an advertiser or PR-rep? Aren’t the two lines of work considered opposites rather than colleagues? Isn’t journalism supposed to be fundamentally not about marketing? The way the Religion Communicators Council itself puts it, that seems to be obviously the case:

The Religion Communicators Council and its members promote excellence in communicating religious faith and values in the public arena and encourage understanding among faith groups on a national level. Testaments to our goal of excellence are the Wilbur Awards.

It’s an award not for reporting but for communicating religious faith and values in the public arena. Fundamentally different and antagonistic kinds of thing.

Yet the Religion Communicators Council does give the award to practicing journalists. There’s one for Christopher Hitchens, which seems surprising. And there’s one for Chris Mooney’s Playboy article about “spiritual” scientists.

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