Through direct engagement and interviews with faith leaders, ministers and the media, Dr Penny Pritchard is facilitating a wider conversation concerning the changing cultural role of faith in the twenty-first century. Her aim is to contribute to the improved training offered by different faiths to clergy and other celebrants of funeral rites in their liaison with the media.
This project examines the challenges faced by multi-faith celebrants of high-profile funerals marked by trauma and heightened media scrutiny, both in representing their faith and the character of the deceased. When violent or traumatic death captures the public's attention, a presiding minister or priest can be called at a moment’s notice to act as spokesperson, not only for their faith, but on behalf of a much wider community – of many faiths or none at all - to meet the public demands of global broadcasting and social media.
In this context, the media inevitably broadcasts partial or heavily-edited versions of sermons and funeral rites offered in commemoration of the dead; in the face of violent or newsworthy death, are clergy sufficiently prepared to articulate their faith's calls for tolerance and peace to a global audience primed for hatred and division?