Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on ReligionInstitute for Studies of Relgion
IJRR :: 2015 Volume 11 :: Article 2
2015 Volume 11, Article 2
Separation Anxiety: Analyzing Media Coverage of Issues of Law and Faith in Town of Greece v. Galloway

Author: Erica Salkin (Whitworth University) and Jonah Brown (Whitworth University)

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In 2008, two citizens sued the Town of Greece in western New York over sectarian prayer at town government meetings. Their dispute worked its way through the federal courts to the U.S. Supreme Court, and with it came a range of media coverage seeking to explain the constitutional question behind this intersection of church and state. This article explores newspaper coverage of Town of Greece v. Galloway at both the local and national levels to determine how reporters tackled the dual challenge of law and faith at the core of this case. A content analysis of media articles indicates that the hesitancy to cover issues of religion and faith that has been well captured in the literature remains alive and well and is joined by an intriguing finding of confluence of Christian speakers and Christian speech. In addition, issues of accuracy in depicting and describing the nature of the Establishment Clause can create dissonance for the audience as they try to understand the nature of this First Amendment right.

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