Politics and religion passion project

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The Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. (Lauren Malner)

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CHgccuchIqt/?hl=en

In the heat of a presidential election and global pandemic, two Brigham Young University students booked a flight to document a passion project in Washington D.C.  With only weeks of preparation, these students wanted to discover the dynamics between politics and religion.

Andrea Cabrera explained, “We were just trying to think of how we could cater and make our project unique.”

Andrea Cabrera and Sydnee Gonzalez were surrounded by thousands of other journalists covering the elections in Washington D.C.  “To take photos on election night and then to see the next day what major outlets had taken,” Gonzales said. “It was just a confidence building experience for me to be able to see, ok, I could do this professionally.”

Because the project was independent of any university or news outlet, these students were allowed to document their interviews free of any specific angle.  “Being student journalists we had that opportunity that we didn’t have to sway one way or the another,” Cabrera clarified.  “We weren’t reporting for any of these specific new outlets.  It was just through the lens of a student journalist.”

Together, they learned the value of collaborating with both broadcast and print journalism.  “It was really cool to collaborate with Andrea and to learn from her,” Gonzalez explained. “It was really cool to be able to do my first stand-up in front of the White House on election night.  That was a really cool experience.”

As Cabrera and Gonzalez interviewed people from D.C., Cabrera found that, “people have a reason why they think the way they do, there’s a reason to that.”  Gonzalez also described her thoughts, “I recently heard someone compare politics and religion to be a tug of war, if I let go and let someone else talk then I’m gonna lose.  I don’t think it’s like that at all.”  Gonzalez continued, “As a journalist you approach the conversation as just being curious.”

While visiting the Lincoln Memorial, these students reflected on how religion influenced President Abraham Lincoln during a time when America was divided.  One of Lincoln’s quotes was engraved on the wall.  It read, “It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.  The prayers of both could not be answered.  That of neither has been answered fully.  The Almighty has his own purposes.”

To summarize, Cabrera stated that, “We have to become more united as a country.”  Despite the divide in political parties, Cabrera and Gonzalez believe that taking the time to understand each other will help to make our country more empathetic. “I don’t think it’s something that we can ignore anymore,” Gonzalez said. “I think it’s something that you have to confront.”

“We knew it was going to be a challenge,” Cabrera admitted.  “But we decided to keep going forward and doing it anyway because we said you can’t really stop your life, you have to keep going.”

In the upcoming weeks, Cabrera and Gonzalez plan to release their project in a multimedia website.

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