Which Planet Are We On? — Boundaries in News Reporting of Religious Issues
On a glorious Sunday morning last September, I swam in the Mediterranean, just 110 km from Rome. As I enjoyed the limpid waters and the glorious sunshine, my feeling was that I was definitely on planet Earth.
Back home, just 10 minutes away by car, I switched on the TV news. I was watching RAI News 24, which is a prestigious channel and part of the Italian national broadcasting service. As usual, they were giving some coverage of the Pope’s Sunday audience. Nothing unusual about that, I thought, as they always do.
The news tickers floated by, Trump, Brexit, North Korea, Iran. Then one caught my eye. It actually read “Pope — In the Kingdom of God, nobody is unemployed.” I thought I had misread it. I watched again and of course, missed it the second time. I always do, don’t you? But the third time, it confirmed my worst fears.
Fears? The Italian national public broadcaster is mentioning the Kingdom of God in a major headline at the start of the news- almost breaking news! Maybe they are just giving the Pope’s views on what to expect in the afterlife. It could be a Utopian view of how everyone should be gainfully employed. A model for this troubled planet of ours? There was then an extract from his speech. He said that everyone was paid a fair wage in the Kingdom of God.
Now, I am a great supporter of Pope Francis as I admire him for speaking out on very important topics. Climate change, migrants, human trafficking, racial prejudice, and a host of other issues which are extremely relevant. I think it is vital to report these as they affect us all. He is telling us how to look after each other and the planet we live on. That’s planet Earth.
Now I want facts, news of people, places on this planet and events which will affect how we live or die. I also expect to hear people’s opinions and beliefs on how to tread this planet. That can include anything on moral issues, politics and yes, even religion. I am free to accept or reject these views.
But why report on a non-existent kingdom? Is it news to mention this? They have made no contact with us on planet earth. Angels have not appeared for centuries. Maybe they are unemployed or have gone on strike because of the overcrowded…