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10 | OCTOBER - Diversity
Where the soul takes root - Alexandra Mantler, Editorial Office "Religion and Ethics
On the evening of All Saints' Day, the programme "Memo", which always invites listeners on acoustic excursions through the history of Central European culture and ideas, told us "How Austria almost became Protestant". It was about the first Christians on the territory of today's Austria at Pentecost and about Easter cots and Calvaries at Easter. Religions, their festivals and customs have shaped Austrian history and identity and continue to do so today, and are thus part of a pluralistic society.
73 percent of Austrians believe in God, is a finding of the latest European Values Study from 2018. However, fewer and fewer people attend religious services or pray regularly. Religiosity seems to be less and less tied to institutions, even though more than 60 percent of those surveyed describe themselves as religious. In addition, there is a not inconsiderable number of people who would not describe themselves as religious or are opposed to religion/s per se, but are nevertheless interested in objective and professionally competent media coverage of the political, social, cultural and phenomenological modes of action of religion/s.
According to Jocelyne Cesari, Professor of Religion and Politics at the University of Birmingham, during the Corona Crisis, religions experienced an upswing worldwide. According to Cesari, religions offered security that many secular institutions could not provide. This is not only about material security, but also about psychological support. Religions have an identity-forming effect - despite changing values and secularisation. Especially in times of crisis, people look for meaning, orientation and community.
In addition, new ethical questions have arisen in the past two years in view of the Corona pandemic: What is the relationship between individual freedom and social solidarity? What protection is due to vulnerable groups? Is compulsory vaccination ethically justifiable or even necessary? Furthermore, the new regulations on euthanasia, the nursing emergency and the climate crisis led to lively discussions about values.
In this socio-political situation, which is marked by great uncertainty about the present and the future, but also by a longing for individual spirituality and a sense of home, the programmes of the ORF's multimedia department "Religion and Ethics" on TV, radio and online are more in demand than ever and offer interested people - regardless of their ideological background - a wide variety of offers.
Assembly bans and lockdowns became a challenge for those people for whom attending a church service is a weekly ritual that stands for familiarity, community and home in addition to the spiritual aspects. Since the Corona pandemic, ORF has been broadcasting church services on television and radio every Sunday and public holiday, which are also available as a livestream on religion.ORF.at. For many people, these offer a piece of spiritual home - mediated by the media.
Even in times of increasing digitalisation and the triumph of on-demand offers, TV and radio programmes represent fixed points in the lives of many people and give structure to everyday life: The Ö1 magazine "Lebenskunst" on Sunday mornings offers encounters with religious initiatives, with art and literature and spiritual music from Gregorian to gospel. The "Feierabend" on ORF2 introduces people who help shape society out of their faith. The "Thoughts for the Day", a feuilletonistic miniature immediately before the Ö1 "Morgenjournal", offers a daily impulse for reflection shortly before the news, created by very different thinkers, each with a different religious-philosophical and socio-political background.
In its programmes, ORF illuminates the work of all recognised religious communities in Austria, journalistically, critically and independently. With the expertise that characterises a specialist editorial team, socio-political commitment as well as developments and conflicts at the interface of religion and politics are thematised in the daily news coverage, in the magazines "Praxis" (Ö1) and "Orientierung" (ORF2) and on religion.ORF.at. Even in times when religion is a priori declared to be a private matter, religion is increasingly at the centre of public attention, which must also be taken into account in the reporting of a public service medium.
However, in a time of increasing individualisation, the understanding of religion and spirituality can no longer be limited to the institutional religious communities, but must be understood more broadly today: It is ultimately about the big questions of life and its finitude, about guilt and forgiveness, about values and goals, about ethical demands and limits, about the whence and whither of human beings. These questions occupy far more people than just those who would call themselves religious, and they come up and into the picture in programmes like "Kreuz und Quer", "Logos" or "TAO".
And in the end, the wisdom that also characterised this year's four-part series of talks "kreuz und quer gedacht" about the cardinal virtues from Admont Abbey with the theologian and cabaret artist Stefan Haider probably applies: What makes an individual happy, what distinguishes his or her life as successful, can be very different in detail. According to Aristotle, however, what people have in common is that they can only achieve true happiness through ethical action.
§ 4. (1) The Austrian Broadcasting Corporation shall ensure the appropriate consideration of all age groups, the appropriate consideration of the concerns of families and children as well as the equality of women and men, the appropriate consideration of the importance of the legally recognised churches and religious societies.
§ (2) The programme service shall be oriented towards the diversity of interests of all listeners and viewers and shall take them into account in a balanced manner.