Grace Farms Foundation welcomes journalists Wajahat Ali (The New York Times and CNN contributor) and Michelle Boorstein (The Washington Post) for an in-depth conversation on religion and its portrayal in American media today. The conversation, moderated by Lisa Lynne Kirkpatrick, Community Initiative Director at Grace Farms Foundation, will take place in the Foundation’s award-winning River building from 7:30-8:30 pm on Friday, July 20. The event is free and open to the public.
Boorstein and Ali will share insights and personal stories about writing on faith in American life. Their experiences as journalists will inform their dialogue and allow for discussion on how individuals can contribute to civil discourse and their capacity for greater compassion in America’s pluralistic society. When asked why these types of public conversations are important the journalists remarked:
“In a dozen years covering religion, there is one obvious truth that stands out day after day: Americans desperately need to talk. We live in a country that doesn’t teach about religion and has a credo that it’s impolite to speak about the topic in public. Then add the incredible churn in religion in the last half-century and you have a country of people who often aren’t sure what we believe, where we belong and if we’re allowed to discuss it. And yet people share so many common experiences and yearnings around faith, and it can be so thrilling to make those connections, if we can just bring ourselves to broach the topic,” said Boorstein.
“Most interfaith dialogue revolves around pleasantries. But, in order to truly heal the fault lines and make in roads, we have to confront difficult questions and realities head on. That requires listening, being open to contrasting ideas and narratives and making space for people you disagree with. It means opening yourself up to uncomfortable disruptions – but that’s the only way to grow, both personally, and as a pluralistic country,” said Ali.
Ali is a journalist, writer, lawyer, an award-winning playwright, a TV host, and a consultant for the U.S. State Department. He contributes Op-Ed’s for The New York Times on the issues of religion, family life, and politics in America. He is also a correspondent for CNN covering the same topics. In 2012, Ali was honored as a “Generation Change Leader” by Secretary of State Clinton and as an “Emerging Muslim American Artist” by the Muslim Public Affairs Council.
Boorstein covered regions across the United States for the Associated Press before joining The Washington Post to report on religion. She has been awarded “Religion Reporter of the Year” three times by the Religion Newswriters Association in 2011, 2013, and 2017. In 2017, she studied the renegotiation of religion’s place in American public life as a Harvard University U.S. Neiman Fellow.
The program Portraying Faith: An Inside View of Religion and the Media is part of Grace Farms Foundation’s Faith Initiative, which offers opportunities for contemplation, dialogue, study, and human flourishing through the provision of ongoing programs and expansive space at Grace Farms. Public programs aim to bring individuals together to build empathy across lines of religious difference and pursue the common good.
Portraying Faith will follow the Foundation’s July Community Dinner, from 6-7:30 pm. Registration can be found at gracefarms.org/events/faith-portrayed/.