Faith in the Story: Hindsight is 2020 Panel Discussion
June 28, 2021
In the United States, 2020 was marked by a mismanaged response to a global pandemic, a nationwide uprising against racist police brutality, and an electoral referendum on Donald Trump and his style of partisan politics. The year's events prompted Americans to tell new stories about who we are in relation to each other and the rest of the world. Yet in American popular imagination, religion continues to play similar roles: “Bad religion” destroys individual freedoms and blocks social progress while “good religion” repairs damage to the social fabric or sustains the struggle. Are we continuing to tell the same old story about religion in American life? If so, whose stories are we ignoring and which stories are we forgetting?
June will mark six full months into 2021: six months of a new presidential administration, reckonings for racial injustice, and the unpredictably evolving post-coronavirus reality. Six more months of hindsight with which to clock what even happened that year, and also for evaluating how the events of 2020 have continued to produce after-effects in both the news cycle and everyday life.
Was faith in the stories we told about 2020, or was it missing? Six months later, are nuanced portraits of how faith informs our shared social life together still missing in action? What lessons can we draw from how religion in the United States captured the journalistic imagination over 2020? Here, our speakers reflect on the stories we got right, the stories we got wrong, the stories that we missed, and the stories that are still happening today.
Pew Research Center
Simran Jeet Singh
Columnist, Religion News Service
Host, “Anti-Racism as a Spiritual Practice” podcast
Visiting Professor, Union Theological Seminary
Director of Research
Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities
Adjunct Assistant Teaching Professor
Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion