Matters of Church and State, not so separate among winning entries for 2018 Wilbur Awards

NEW YORK — From the President’s televangelist advisor, immigration, to Muslims in America – this year’s 2018 Wilbur Award winners aren’t afraid to dive into the well of divisive issues to find inclusion, unity and understanding throughout vast communities of diverse belief systems.

The Religion Communicators Council announced 22 Wilbur Award winners March 5. The awards honor excellence by individuals in secular media – print and online journalism, book publishing, broadcasting, and motion pictures – for communicating religious issues, values and themes during 2017.

Welcoming the Stranger, the single program winner in our podcast and radio category by Interfaith Voices, explores multiple religious perspectives on the spiritual imperative to welcome the stranger in the midst of what might be the largest refugee crisis since World War II; Who Would Jesus Deport?, an article from the Texas Observer that examines two ministers’ interpretation on the bible’s take on immigration; a Washington Post Magazine piece about Paula White, the controversial and influential televangelist who preaches the prosperity gospel and is linked to the Presidential family; and a Rowan and Littlefield book, Being Hindu: Understanding a Peaceful Path in a Violent World, are to receive individually crafted stained-glass Wilbur trophies at an awards ceremony in Atlanta next month.

The 2018 awards will be presented April 7 at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel during the council’s 89th annual national convention. M. Alexis Scott – a long-time newspaper journalist, executive, community leader and current political commentator on the Georgia Gang broadcast on FOX 5 Atlanta – will be the host at the ceremony.

Other Wilbur winners include CBS News, BuzzFeed, Deseret News, Bright Magazine, KSHB-TV, and several creative independent contributors. See list below.

The Religion Communicators Council has presented Wilbur Awards annually since 1949. Secular communicators enter work in seven categories. Juries of media professionals, coordinated by council members across the country, evaluate submissions on content, creativity, impact and excellence in communicating religious values.

The award is named for the late Marvin C. Wilbur, a pioneer in religious public relations, longtime council leader and former Presbyterian Church executive.

2018 Wilbur Award winners (for work produced during 2017)

NEWSPAPER ARTICLES print and online

MAGAZINE ARTICLES print and online



  • Drama
    • A Heart That Forgives, M. Legend Brown, director; Kelly Gay, producer; Ken Jenkins, writer, executive producer, screenwriter; TK Henderson, screenwriter; AHTF Films LLC, Plano, Texas
  • Documentary (30 min.+)
    • Bending the Arc, Kief Davidson and Pedro Kos, directors; Cori Shepherd Stern, writer; Kief Davidson and Cori Shepherd Stern, producers



  • News – network or national syndication (up to 8 min.)
    • A Place at the Table,” Richard Buddenhagen, producer/editor; Nancy Giles, correspondent; Rand Morrison, executive producer; CBS Sunday Morning, CBS News, New York, New York
  • News – network or national syndication (8 min.+)
    • Sanctuary,” Scott Pelley, correspondent; Jeff Fager, executive producer; Oriana Zill de Granados, Michael Rey, Dina Zingaro, and Jorge Garcia, producers; Bill Owens, executive editor; 60 Minutes, CBS News, New York, New York
  • News Story – local or regional
  • Documentary (up to 30 min.)
    • Faith on the Frontlines,” Elizabeth Kineke, producer; Elyse Kaftan, editor; Jennie Kamin, associate producer; CBS Television: Religion and Culture, CBS News, New York, New York
  • Documentary (30 min.+)
    • An American Conscience: The Reinhold Neibuhr Story, Martin Doblmeier, writer/director/producer/narrator; Nathan Dewild, videographer/editor/producer; Anthony Bellissimo, graphics; Jen Quintana and Andrew Finstuen, producers; Journey Films (PBS), Alexandria, Virginia


  • Single program
    • Welcoming the Stranger,” Laura Kwerel, producer; Ruth Morris, guest host/producer; Amber Khan, editor; Maureen Fiedler, host of Interfaith Voices; Interfaith Voices, Washington, D.C.
  • Series of programs (two or more)
    • See Something Say Something: Ramadan Series,” Ahmed Ali Akbar, host; Meg Cramer, editor; Megan Detrie, producer; Agerenesh Ashagre, producer; Eleanor Kagan, director of audio; BuzzFeed News, New York, New York
  • Documentary (up to 30 min.)
    • An American Mosque,” Monique Parsons, reporter; Deborah George, editor; Cate Cahan, WBEZ editor; Derek John, sound designer/producer; Produced independently in conjunction with WBEZ broadcasting, Chicago, Illinois

About the Religion Communicators Council
The Religion Communicators Council (RCC), founded in 1929, is an association of communications professionals who work for and with a diverse group of faith-based organizations in the areas of communications, public relations, marketing and development.