It's a big question, and one the University of Colorado's Center for Media, Religion and Culture (CMRC) intends to address Thursday, Jan. 9, through Sunday, Jan. 12, during a conference titled "Media and Religion: the Global View."
The conference is designed to explore religion in the 21st century and its global applications and implications.
Whether it's the impact of a blog, the influence of televangelism, how death is portrayed in video games or the intersection of religion and activism, the globalization of the planet is leading to new and interesting roles for religion in the media, said Nabil Echchaibi, associate director of the CMRC and a CU media professor.
"Conference themes will include how religious identities are shaped and negotiated through a complex and creative use of the media in an increasingly global context," he wrote in an email.
More than 80 speakers and presenters from 23 countries will participate in the conference. The main plenary sessions, which include presentations from scholars, journalists and other experts, are free and open to the public.
When scheduling speakers, Echchaibi said, conference organizers tried to be as inclusive as possible. Speakers come from different faiths, countries and such professional backgrounds as theology, sociology and journalism.
In an interview Friday, Echchaibi said the conference will try to tackle topics such as the ways media and religion influence and shape each other, as well as how people use media to express their views about religion in a broader global context.
"It's not just about (religion's) representation in the media," Echchaibi said, "but how different individuals and collective forces use media for religious expression."
During the conference, a panel discussion will explore the ways digital media has helped distribute information, opinions and understandings about religious ideas, Echchaibi said.
The panel, titled "Religion and Digital Media: Scholarship, Journalism and the Spaces in Between," is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 11 in Eaton Humanities 250.
The conference also includes several plenary sessions that include speakers from around the world who specialize in the ways religion and media have shaped society from Ghana to Indonesia, from the United Kingdom to the United States.
"We wanted a diversity of voices," Echchaibi said.
The speakers will include:
Jane Little, who founded the religion beat at BBC World Service. She is now religion editor for Public Radio International's The World program.
Kwabena Asamoah-Gyadu, a professor at Trinity Theological Seminary in Accra, Ghana. Asamoah-Gyadu, who studies religion, theology and media, will discuss the rise of charismatic Christianity in Africa.
Magali do Nascimento Cunha, a professor at Methodist University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, who researches media and religion, as well as cultural studies and practical theology. She plans to speak about how religion and politics have shaped Brazil, especially after a tense period in the country's history of military rule between the mid-1960s and mid-1980s.
This is the fifth year for the conference, according to the CMRC website.
In past years, the media and religion conferences have highlighted topics such as Islam in the media, digital religion and fundamentalism.
A schedule for the sessions, which will take place at several locations on the CU campus, will be available this weekend at cmrc.colorado.edu.
Megan Quinn writes a faith column once a week for the Camera. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.