Retired ProJo religion writer to speak in Bristol

Posted 11/7/19

          How religion has become the target of opposing forces is the topic at the Bosworth Lecture Series on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. at St Michael's …

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Retired ProJo religion writer to speak in Bristol


          How religion has become the target of opposing forces is the topic at the Bosworth Lecture Series on Thursday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. at St Michael's Church, 399 Hope St., in Bristol. The event is free and open to the public.

          "Faith Under Fire" is the subject of retired Providence Journal Religion Editor Richard Dujardin who will discuss how religion is under attack in today's culture. "We are tempted to think religious persecution was only long ago," Mr Dujardin said, "but hostility towards religion exists today and is getting stronger."

          He cites a study by the Center for New Religions that declared Christianity the world's most persecuted religion, with more than 90,000 Christians murdered worldwide in 2016 alone.

          "Except for some horrifying attacks on churches or synagogues," he added, "there have been relatively few people in the United States killed for their faith. But we must not kid ourselves into believing that faith here isn't under fire."

            "One example is the failed attempt by lawmakers in California to force Catholic priests to violate the seal of confession by forcing them to reveal what they heard if someone confesses they were involved in child molestation, a clear violation of Catholic teaching protecting the secrecy of the sacrament," he said.

          "Another is the continued attempts by the states of California and Pennsylvania, to fine and punish the Little Sisters of the Poor, despite earlier court rulings, for refusing to include contraceptives in their employee health  plan."

          "Muslims have also felt under fire," he added, "and a 2017 study found many U.S. Muslims report having faced discrimination, such as being singled out by airport security, treated with suspicion or called offensive names.

            Mr Dujardin also cites a recent Pew Research study that  suggests most Americans believe Muslims are most apt to be discriminated against. "But I think it can be argued that religious freedom even for Christians has come under increased threat here in America," he said.

          Mr Dujardin began writing for the Providence Journal in 1966 and retired in 2013. He covered the heavily Catholic and diverse religious populations of Rhode Island and eastern Mass. He covered Pope John Paul II, Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell, the Dalai Lama and countless stories about lay people in Rhode Island.

          One of his most rewarding stories was Rhode Island’s Muslim community soon after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. He covered many stories about parish closings, Rosh Hashanah reflections, clergy crimes, politicized communion wars and faith-based responses to disasters.

          Particularly poignant was his story on the closing of Rhode Island’s Episcopal cathedral due to membership decline, and his interview with actress Jayne Meadows, whose memories of the cathedral stretch back to when her father was dean there.
          Among his awards are the William A. Reed Lifetime Achievement Award from the Religion Newswriters Association, RNA’s Schachern Award for the best religion section, the Supple Award for excellence in religion writing, and the Templeton Reporter of the Year Award. He received three Wilbur Awards from the Religion Communicators Council and several honors from the RI Press Association. He served at RNA for two years as its president.  

          Dujardin did all this as he and his wife of nearly 47 years, Rose Marie, raised their six children.
          Born in New York City in 1944, Mr. Dujardin grew up in the borough of Queens and the Long Island village of Merrick. He went to an all-boys Catholic high school on Long Island, then to Fordham University where he served on the school newspaper and majored in Communication Arts/Journalism.

          “Religion writing is a satisfying experience,” Mr Dujardin said. “It allows us to ask important questions that most reporters usually ignore, to ask people about their faith and to see what makes them tick. A lot of motivation behind the good things people do springs from their faith and from the way they perceive God.”

The Roswell S. Bosworth Jr. Lecture Series is presented by the Men's Club, a local organization that pays tribute to its founding member, former editor and publisher of the East Bay Newspapers, with lectures of interest to the public. To open the series each September, the speaker addresses First Amendment freedom of the press topics that Mr Bosworth held dear.

Upcoming Bosworth Lectures:
Jan 9 - Jeremy Chiappetta, exec dir/founder Blackstone Valley Prep on charter schools
Feb 13 - Bill Chittick on the Worcester tornado of 1953

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