News Release: Religion and Ethics

Oct. 27,  2009

Religion Magazine Gets Major Grant

Grant is one of largest in the history of Emory College

Religion Dispatches, the online religion magazine based at Emory University, has received a grant of $870,000 from the Ford Foundation for its operations over the next three years.

The award is one of the largest single grants to the humanities in the history of Emory College, says Robert Paul, dean of Emory College of Arts and Sciences.

Launched in February 2008, Religion Dispatches already has passed the two million page views mark and is on track to reach a million readers a year, says Gary Laderman of Emory, who with Linell Cady of Arizona State University is Religion Dispatches executive editor and co-director. They attribute that success to growing demand for online analysis and commentary on religion and public life.

"Religion Dispatches meets a critical need for progressive expertise, public scholarship and informed perspectives at the intersection of religion, social justice issues and policy debates," says Cady. "It provides a platform for a variety of voices, from experts to journalists and activists, both secular and religious, to explore the religious dimensions of political and social issues."

The magazine features a diverse group of writers in terms of race, ethnicity, sexuality, religious identity and professional expertise "who offer perspectives that have been marginalized in recent decades," says Laderman.

Religion Dispatches' highest-traffic story to date is an article on gay marriage titled "A Marriage Manifesto — of Sorts," which has received nearly 200,000 views. In addition to offering analyses and commentaries on the biggest stories of 2008, the economy and the presidential election, the magazine also has covered extensively religion and social justice issues, including race, immigration, health, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) rights.

"We are driven by what's happening in the world now, but not only that," says Laderman, professor of American religious history and culture. "Part of the nature of this beast is to be fast on your feet and be constantly ready to change."

In coming months, Religion Dispatches will roll out a new design and architecture with an eye toward expanding multimedia content on the site. Plans also include marketing its content to religion scholars as a resource for classroom use, and continuing outreach to other web and social networking sites. Religion Dispatches stories already have appeared on sites such as the Huffington Post and Washington Post's "On Faith" blog.  

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