This study explores the use of Christian elements in news discourses and analyzes the functions, as well as differences, in the use of religious elements from a semantic approach. We compare the German, American and Japanese news coverage of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake (3.11 disaster) between March 2012 and March 2017, following a media discourse analysis approach. We qualitatively analyzed 1,550 national and regional newspaper articles and created a newspaper database in order to display the frequency and uncover the functions of the Christian elements in the coverage. We find that Christian elements are employed in the German and American coverage as metaphors, metonymies and personifications, to describe the 3.11 disaster and its social and political aftermath. Taking a closer look, Christian elements in the coverage function in the following ways: To describe the emotional state of the catastrophe's victims, to evoke certain feelings, such as fear of nuclear energy, in the reader, and to emphasize the opinion of the journalist. Differences in the use of Christian elements in the German and American news coverage also highlight differences in the respective national political and social discourses on nuclear energy and reflect different cultural values regarding environmental issues.
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