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A mom and daughter smile at each other as they prep Easer eggs and cakes
Publisher Kimberly Griffin explains how she lives out her faith through her work as publisher in nonprofit media. Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on Pexels

Publisher’s Note | Placing Faith in Things That Matter

We should probably call this my annual Easter publisher’s note because I’m always writing one of these right before Easter Sunday. Next year, I might send y’all a recorded Easter speech, much like the ones I grew up giving. This year, I’m tasked with creating four Easter baskets for my niece and three nephews, and I’ve not picked up one item for said baskets. 

I’m a holiday person. I love gathering and eating and carrying on with my family. Easter might be my favorite holiday of the year because only the kiddos usually get gifts, and my mother makes me an Easter bunny cake. OK, so the cake is for everyone.  One year, she frosted a pound cake for the bunny cake. I asked, “Mama, is this a pound cake you frosted?”  She said, “Yes, I thought it would be good.” One cannot trust the naturally thin, I tell you. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to live out my faith, not just because a presidential candidate is trying to hawk a $60 Bible as he battles a mountain of legal trouble. Over the last 12 months, I’ve learned that two of my favorite national news leaders went to seminary as I did, and another has a spouse working on a degree from one of the leading protestant seminaries in the country. 

As a Southerner, talking about my faith is normal. Black Church and Black Southern are basically the same. Often through the day, when something is going right, Black Southerners will say, “Look at God,” from something as simple as finding your favorite treat at the back of the refrigerator or when a loved one receives a good health report. Faith runs in our bones even if we don’t get to a house of worship. Most of us rest easy in the knowledge that something more than us got a group of people from slavery to our first Black president. 

A few months ago, I caught up with my friend, whose spouse is in seminary, at a national media gathering. She happens to be another Southern woman. We talked about how our Christian identity has been hijacked by the far right-Christian nationalists. We talked about how, at these national media gatherings, we are less likely to put our faith on display because people make assumptions about anyone who expresses any belief in any God now more than ever. 

We both agreed we are doing our community of faith and our media friends and colleagues a disservice because, frankly, they aren’t seeing enough models of average, sane, steady people talking about Easter or Passover services or explaining they were passing up a meal because it’s Ramadan. 

I call Christian nationalists the yellers. It’s easy to pay attention to them because they take up a lot of space screaming Bible verses they don’t understand. It’s also easy to focus on sensationalist news stories or to follow flashy but insubstantial headlines down internet rabbit holes that lead nowhere. For me, that’s where my vocation and my faith collide. A lot of what our newsroom does isn’t sexy or glamorous or doesn’t appear earth-shattering in the moment. 

Look at our Trusted Elections project, where our team meticulously fact-checks precinct locations against what is published on the Secretary of States site, or our groundbreaking Solutions Circles, where we gather, sometimes in a church over snacks reminiscent of Vacation Bible School, with our chairs in a circle facing our fellow Mississippians to have a conversation that matters about issues that affect all of us—not us, them or those people. 

The best of every faith tradition calls us to see our fellow humans as just that: human. We mess up religion, and it’s us who continue to mess up the media because we feed the beast of misinformation and sensationalism with our attention. Let’s work on doing better in this season of renewal and hope: Happy spring, Easter, or fill-in-blank. Wish Auntie good luck on this Easter basket assembly line. 

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