- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 13, 2004

A $50,000 fellowship from the Phillips Foundation, presented Tuesday night at the organization’s awards

dinner, will help Washington journalist Mollie Ziegler research the clash of postmodernism with religion.

“It’s such an amazing opportunity. I’m humbled and overjoyed,” said Miss Ziegler, one of seven journalists honored with a yearlong fellowship during the foundation’s 11th annual Journalism Fellowship Awards Dinner at the National Press Club.

More than 200 guests, primarily journalists, attended the event.

The Phillips Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 1990, established the awards program in 1994 to advance the cause of objective journalism and to fund projects focused on some aspect of American culture in a free society.

Miss Ziegler, 29, plans to write a book-length project titled “Interfaith Is No Faith: How Religious Relativism Is Destroying the Church.”

“I’m trying to show the negative impact of moral relativism on all of American churches and how embracing postmodernism and secularism is making our churches impotent,” said Miss Ziegler, a member of the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod and the only metropolitan-area journalist to receive the award.

“We’re unable to be the moral voice of a free society because we’ve been co-opted by the postmodern agenda,” Miss Ziegler said.

That agenda claims all viewpoints to be valid, such that the presentation of Christ in some Christian interfaith prayer services is “one of many equally valid spiritual options, which is in complete contradiction to historic Christianity,” she explained.

Miss Ziegler, a staff writer for the Federal Times, is one of four gold award winners who received a full-time fellowship. The others are Jesse DeConto, reporter and editor at Seacoast Newspapers in New Hampshire; Joshua Kwan, metro reporter at the San Jose Mercury News; and Diana Marrero, staff writer at the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Two journalists, Jeff Chu, staff writer for Time magazine in London and Rich Trzupek, columnist and reporter for Examiner Publications in Chicago, received part-time silver awards of $25,000. Megan Basham, senior editor at Christ’s Church of the Valley in Arizona, received a $7,000 alumni fund award for a magazine-length article.

Candidates were required to have less than five years’ experience to be considered for the awards.

John Farley, Phillips Foundation secretary, said the organization looks for projects “that have an impact on the American scene and are in line with our foundation mission.”

The projects are important, Mr. Farley said, “because the world is lacking in objective journalism in the 21st century. That is the reason we began the fellowship program, to give young journalists an opportunity to devote a year to a project of their choosing that otherwise they wouldn’t have the opportunity to pursue.”

Journalists working in high-pressure environments might not have the time to piece together an in-depth book-length project, said Thomas Phillips, chairman and founder of the foundation.

The fellowship “gives a helping hand to young journalists who have great potential, and it helps them develop their talent more rapidly,” Mr. Phillips said.

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