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Religion writers get burnt out easily

Published December 3rd, 2007 by Bobby Henderson

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Reuters has published an article about the trend of religion journalists quitting their jobs.

Covering religion may be harmful to your faith. Two leading religion journalists — one in Britain, one in the United States — have quit the beat in recent months, saying they had acquired such a close look at such scandalous behaviour by Christians that they lost their faith and had to leave.

Journalist Stephen Bates has recently stepped down as religious affairs writer for the London Guardian. He’s just published an article about what he’s seen at that post over the last seven years. The article is up here at New Humanist magazine, and it’s very good.

Bates ends his position with this:

Now I am moving on. It was time to go. What faith I had, I’ve lost, I am afraid – I’ve seen too much, too close. A young Methodist press officer once asked me earnestly whether I saw it as my job to spread the Good News of Jesus. No, I said, that’s the last thing I am here to do.

We talked about this phenomenon of mainstream-religion-burnout a while ago. I mentioned some issues – the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, interference in schools and government – and I received a bunch of emails from readers full of more reasons people are walking away.

I think it’s a good thing. Freedom of religion means freedom from religion, too. For the first time in history, it’s becoming socially acceptable to be a non-believer, or a believer in a non-mainstream religion.

If the big religions want to keep their members, they’re going to need to do more to keep them. That means holding their worst members accountable for their actions.

I am happy to say that I’ve never become disillusioned by writing about the actions of Pastafarians.

The Reuters article can be found here.

The Reuters article is basically just pointing to Bates’ New Humanist article here. So if you’re going to read one of them, read this one.



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