Issue

Religion & Power

Religious faith is central to the lives of billions, a driving force in everything from family structure to relationships within and among the world’s nation states. It is also the venue, and often the source, of conflict.

Religion and Power presents Pulitzer Center reporting on these themes from throughout the world—from the explosive growth of megachurches in Africa and Latin America to intra-Islam schisms of the Middle East, to the self-immolation of Tibetan Buddhist monks and Buddhist soldiers running roughshod over the rights of Burmese Muslims, to the struggles of faith groups everywhere to come to terms with human sexuality.

In some parts of the world, notably China, governments that long suppressed religious expression are now invoking those traditions as part of the solution to environmental and other challenges. Elsewhere, from majority-Catholic Philippines to Muslim Indonesia, religious doctrine on issues like reproductive rights is in uneasy dialogue with the forces of modernization and globalization.

In Religion and Power, we aim for reporting that tackles these tough, core issues—but without the easy stereotypes and caricature that too often make journalism a tool for demagogy. In the Pulitzer Center reporting presented here we seek instead to be a force for understanding.

The Pulitzer Center’s reporting on religion and public policy issues is made possible through the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, the Kendeda Fund, and other Pulitzer Center donors.

 

Religion & Power

'some day, this war will be over.'

Richard Rowley, for the Pulitzer Center
Iraq

until i picked up a camera, i didn't know how to see.

pupils dilate in this strange early dusk.
a damp taste to the air behind the sand storm.
in the shallows of my focus the world deepens into texture.
color rushes in like bruises blossoming in pale skin.
reds and greens.

blue camouflage - the color of twilight among the date-palms.
he waves us off the road.
gun metal clicks against safety-glass.
tattered papers pushed through the window.

About Suffering They Were Never Wrong

the hotel restaurant is almost emptyrussian security guards, turkish beer and bottles of absolut.

baghdad is a warm monochrome yellow-brown - far from the rain-grayed stone of petersburg and the concrete of brooklyn.

regime members once used this place to meet their mistresses.rubenesque portraits of iraqi women and torn velvet curtains.past the snipers' nests you can see the gold domes of Uday's pleasure palace.

'we do most of our reporting by telephone now.''it's a fun story - so many human angles. . .'

about suffering they were never wrong, The Old Masters.

they would understand the hennaed hair of the girls fleeing Taji,

the 100 songbirds above the roar of diesel generators,

the way 50 cals tear sheet metal like paperand safety-glass turns to piles of green tinted diamonds on the floorboards.and seat upholstery drinks in stains - deep, dark, brown

the feel of rosewater on sunburt skin,

the crackling kalashnikov fire - iraq 3, australia 1

. . .three journalists died today.the iraqi stringer called his mother before he died - 'hi mom. i've been shot.'

today is better than tomorrow.

Waiting In Amman

Fans swing back and forth on their columns.The pale woman with dyed black hair, alone in the lobby, staring off into space.The worn wooden desk, the framed portrait of the Hashemite King, the row of keys for rooms that have not been rented in years, the plastic ashtrays scarred by the cigarettes of decades of people left waiting here - just as we are waiting.

She turns, startled, 'Any news from Susan? - We went to school together in Chicago - you know her, I'm sure. . .. . .I'm sure you know her.'

Jameel picks me up in his taxi, on the edge of the third circle. In his wallet is a picture of his father's house in Al Khalil.

The tense heavy feeling of life clotted on hot asphalt - Saadi says - 'like harbor air clots in sea-shells'.

In Mahata, Jawad, sits in his room. The muhabarrat have raided the markets again, and it is not safe to work. . . the scars from his torture have faded now and no Western embassy will take him. Every day he waits for the knock on the door that will send him home to die.

Eight circles of Hell in Amman, you reach the ninth through the airport to Baghdad.

Communications, complications, frustrations

I shouldn't have time to blog this, but I do. That's because we are sitting in the hotel again, with nowhere to go. So far today, Plans A, B, C and our ad hoc plan D have all fallen through. This is due to a mix of not being able to reach people we were supposed to be able to reach, and having some people who promised us meetings having decided against it at the last minute. Everything must be carefully coordinated ahead of time, and it's usually the case that more important things come up for many people than hosting a couple of journalists.

The communications in Iraq, despite the introduction of cell phones
in the post-invasion period, are notoriously bad. There are three
competing cell phone networks across the country which work depending
on the situation and your location, and we have also bought a satellite phone. The general lack of electricity contributes to the problem. 

"In Iraq, you can have four wives and four phones," one of my friends jokes.

So reviled and ubiquitous is the message that plays when a phone cannot be reached ("the number you are calling is either turned off or out of the coverage area") that I've heard otherwise reasonable Iraqis say they'd swear allegiance to the mujahedeen if they were to assassinate the woman who recorded it.

David Enders reports on fighting between Sadrists and the US military in Baghdad

13 people were killed in the second day of fighting between Jeish al-Mehdi and U.S. and Iraqi troops. The U.S. military says it has targeted Iraqi militants linked to Iran in East Baghdad during the last two days, sparking firefights that have left at least twenty-seven people dead, including a Reuters photographer. Today, U.S. troops fought and killed at least six Iraqi police in the neighborhood of Fadhilia. Click the image below to download the RealPlayer radio report.

Listen to this report.

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