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.



You can/can't go home again

There are approximately 5 million refugees inside and outside Iraq. Yesterday Rick and I went back to Chikook, a refugee neighborhood on the north side of town that is home to, by local estimates, some 4,000 families. Even though the sectarian violence around Baghdad has largely ended for the moment, the neighborhood is still growing as families who had been renting houses in other neighborhoods run out of money and are forced to move there.

Maoists in the Forest: Tracking India's Separatist Rebels

The express bus from Hyderabad to Dantewada takes fifteen hours on a good day. As the suburbs of the software hub are left behind, and then the wrought-iron gates of Ramoji Film City, the smooth pavement falls apart. But the sweep of paddy fields and palms—a facsimile of the INCREDIBLE INDIA! billboard hanging at the Delhi airport when I first arrived—grew more hypnotic with each mile, making up for the rough going. Hills loomed in the hazy distance. Cowherds shunted their stock out of harm's way, and women carried grain in clay pots on their heads.

Iraq: Ghosts

Baghdad is certainly safer now, but the scars of war are still raw. This afternoon I ran into a man I had not seen for more than three years, a clerk at a hotel I used to stay in. As we reminisced about crazy days in 2005, he suddenly mentioned that he had lost his son in crossfire in 2006.

He put his eyes down and began to fidget nervously.

"I have two daughters, but he was only son," he said. "What should I do? I am too old to get married again."

Motlagh Interviewed by the South Asian Journalist Association

By Arun Venugopal

Jason Motlagh, a roving journalist who covers South Asia, has written an extensive piece for the Virginia Quarterly Review on insurgencies that persist across India, despite the country's record economic growth. Motlagh's 9,562 word piece (you read that right) involved months of reporting, and took him to remote areas of Assam, Chhatisgarh, Orissa and Kashmir. His work — including the photographs he took — was funded by a grant from the Pulitzer Center.

Falluja, revisited

Rick and I spent Saturday and Sunday in Falluja as the guests of one of the local sheiks and a leader of the Sahwa Movement. Things are much better than they have been at any time since 2004, though a conflict between the Iraqi Islamic Party and the Sahwa threatens to turn violent as provincial elections approach.