Interfaith Etiquette Common Mistakes to Avoid
Copied with permission from Interfaith Alliance
It’s “Reform” Judaism, not “Reformed” Judaism. (The confusion arises from Protestant circles, where you have the “Reformed” tradition to which Presbyterians and the Reformed Church in American belong.)
Spelling: It’s “Pentecostal, “not” Pentacostal.” (The “Pentagon” influence.)
Make sure your news organization is consistent on the use of “the Rev. Jane Jones,” not simply saying “Rev. Jane Jones.”
Episcopalians say “We are nouns; don’t use us as adjectives. “That is, it is not an “Episcopalian” parish. It’s an “Episcopal” parish. The “Episcopal Church is the official name, not “Protestant Episcopal Church” as it was until a few years ago.
Southern Baptists don’t send “delegates” to their annual meeting, they send “messengers.” But if you can’t get that by a city editor, try avoiding both terms.
In controversy stories, identify which Lutheran denomination or which Presbyterian denomination you are describing.
Watch that you (or copy editors) don’t mix up the liberal United Church of Christ and the conservative Churches of Christ.
Never use “Mohammedanism” or “Muhammadanism.” That is an outdated term of Islam. And make it “Muslim,” not “Moslem.” Most news groups write “Koran,” but “Qur’an” would match U.S. Muslim usage.
A preacher can say flatly, “Jesus said thus and thus,” but a journalist should attribute his words to a source, such as one of the four Gospels.
Do not refer to “the Old Testament” in a story about Jews or Jewish studies; instead of that Christian name, use “the Bible” or “Hebrew Scriptures.” “Old Testament “is fine in a story about Christians or Christian studies.
“Spirituality,” a frequently used word for personal religiosity and piety, should not be confused with “spiritualism,” which deals with beliefs that the living can contact deceased spirits.
Don’t use “theologian” as a synonym for biblical scholar, or, for instance, for specialists in the sociology of religion or religious history. There are exceptions, but most scholars in religious studies do not write about the nature of deity, the sacred and doctrine the way that theologians do.