IRLA Secretary General Urges Religion Communicators to Speak Language of Human Dignity

Religion writers, reporters, and communicators, no matter what faith tradition they represent, share a common responsibility to promote universal values of peace, tolerance and human dignity, according to Dr. Ganoune Diop, Secretary General of the International Religious Liberty Association.

Dr. Diop made his remarks during a keynote address earlier this year at the Religion Communicators’ Council convention held March 31 to April 2 in New York City. He told the group of some 140 top religion communicators from across the United States that their work will be at its best when it’s “informed by the reality of human dignity.”

“Effective religion communication deliberately avoids violence, desists from coercion, force, intimidation, fear tactics, or the indignity of shouting at people even—and especially—if it is in the name of God,” said Dr. Diop.

“History shows that God is can be used as a disguise for paternalistic, infantilizing and insulting practices, which demean the dignity of others,” he added. “Instead, religion communicators have the unique opportunity to highlight the best that faith offers in lifting up humanity.”

Dr. Diop gave his presentation on the final day of the convention, and shared the platform with Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord George Carey. They each gave their perspective on the changing global religious landscape, with Dr. Diop focusing on effective communication of religious ideas and values within the setting of the United Nations. He urged attendees to explore areas where the goals of the UN intersect with those of many faith different communities.

He also challenged communicators to take advantage of the space offered by United Nations for religious groups and individuals to help shape the international discourse of human rights. Input from religion communicators can “enrich the world of values upon which the edifice of the United Nations is built,” he said.

The Religion Communicators Council, founded in 1929, brings together communication professionals from a wide range of faith-based organizations in the United States. At its annual convention, the Council provides training and insights from experts in communication, religion, and public policy. Among the other presenters at the 2016 event were The New York Times journalist Laurie Goodstein, Dr. James A. Forbes Jr., Harry Emerson, Distinguished Professor at Union Theological Seminary, Dr. Azza Karam, senior advisor on culture and social development at the United Nations Population Fund, and Debra Mason, executive director of the Religion Newswriters Foundation.