Anthony Hatcher publishes essay on student encounters with the 'other' in Religion and Media class

Communications associate professor Anthony Hatcher's work was published in the Raleigh News & Observer and based on experiences of students in his course.

Anthony Hatcher

Anthony Hatcher, an associate professor in the School of Communications, wrote an essay for the Raleigh News & Observer about Millennials’ attitudes toward religion based on an assignment from his Religion and Media course.

The assignment required students to attend houses of worship outside their personal faith and to interact with people they feared, avoided or just never thought much about. The entire class expressed enthusiasm for the opportunity to get out of their religious comfort zones. Once they met the “other” face-to-face, fear and prejudice vanished.

Students reported on their experiences and interviewed church leaders and congregation members, researched the tradition or denomination and reported on media use during services.

“Today’s college students were toddlers or just starting school when the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 occurred,” Hatcher writes. “They have come of age in a time of ISIS, religious assaults on abortion providers, moral protests concerning gay marriage and stories of Catholic priests and pedophilia.”

Millennials tend to pray less and fewer of them attend religious services. Encountering religious people on unfamiliar turf, though, allowed students to see that though others have different beliefs, in many ways, they’re “just like us.”