A new report has been released calling for better regulations on religious representation within the media industry to reduce negative press which it says leads to hate crime incidents.
The study, by the Faith & Belief Forum and the Department of Psychosocial Studies at Birkbeck calls on media organisations to provide more opportunities for religious groups to represent themselves and more accurate representation by members of the press.
Media, Faith and Belonging found that inaccurate, sensationalised and simplistic media coverage reinforces negative stereotypes of religious groups and increases the potential for suspicion, fear and communal violence, with spikes in hate crime often accompanying negative media stories about religious groups.
It stresses the need to challenge and prevent inaccurate stories through government regulations and better cohesion between journalists and those from different faith backgrounds.
The report suggests a number of recommendations to address the issue including training to educate journalists on spiritual terminology and practices and a more religiously diverse hiring system within newsrooms to ensure better representation of faith groups.
It also calls for those from different belief backgrounds to be given more opportunities to share their own stories.
The report authors said: "When the media reinforces a message that certain people do not belong, this stokes suspicion and encourages division between people of different faiths and beliefs.
"Working together, we can ensure that our media more accurately reflects the reality of the everyday lives of religious people, challenges negative and inaccurate stereotypes, promotes curiosity and builds empathy and connection."
Media, Faith and Belonging is the third and final in a series of reviews exploring different aspects of belief and belonging.