Issue

Religion

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 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, 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

The Naxalites

Deep in the virgin jungle of southern Chhattisgarh, Naxalite guerillas live, train and recruit beyond the reach of government forces.

Police and Militia

To improve security in remote parts of the Bastar region, the goverment has sponsored civilian militia as part of Salwa Judum. Known as Special Police Officers, they are free to roam villages armed yet largely unchecked by the state.

The Villagers

The Bastar region is home to a number of indigenous tribes, many of which continue to live in nature as they have for centuries. Since the start of Salwa Judum thousands have been forcibly relocated to government-run camps.

India: Guerillas in the Mountains

To smooth over a nerve-wracking encounter with their village militia, the Naxalite cadres went on a hospitality offensive. An additional four hours' trek into the dense mountain jungle ended at one of their many camps situated on a high plateau where we were welcomed as their "honored guests". Ploughed fields and a vegetable garden were tended by a tribal family living on site, who welcomed our group with a mashed corn drink served in hollow gourds. Their faces bore none of the resignation common to the displaced I had met in the roadside camps.

India: Point of No Return

If our reception by the village militia the previous night was less than warm, the next morning was chilling. Already, Chandan, Arvind and I had been told that while we'd come by choice, there was no guarantee they would arrange a meeting with the guerillas. And either way, leaving was not up to us. So we really fell on the side of prisoners rather than guests, though no one wanted to acknowledge this openly.

India's Killer Buses

New Delhi -- In a dusty alley on the outskirts of this capital city, a group of 30 women stare at the ground in plaintive silence and form a circle around Omwati Kishore, who waits for her husband to return with the cremated remains of their youngest son.