Religion writers get burnt out easily

Published December 3rd, 2007 by Bobby Henderson


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.

58 Responses to “Religion writers get burnt out easily”

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  1. Jennyanydots says:

    Why on earth should religious faith be a requirement for writing about religious stories in a newspaper? Isn’t that like only having criminals cover the crime stories?

  2. Red DutchPasta Wench says:

    That’s what happens when they start to think about religion. Not just blindly follow but actually use their minds… I do feel for them , it can’t be easy!

  3. Wench Nikkiee says:

    “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.”
    Yes! I’ve always been amazed that religious moderates haven’t taken the blatantly dishonest and hateful
    representatives to task publicly. I think if they are going to hold them accountable they better do it quick.
    In fact I personally believe they’ve left it way too late.

  4. Dr. Jonathan Hansen says:

    FYI, the Guardian newspaper was not established in London, but in Manchester.

  5. Deelawn says:

    Pastafarian writing would actually be more tasteful… lol tasteful… heh… *shifts eyes back and forth*

  6. Pluto says:

    See the more poeple see of it the less they like it!

  7. Perna de Pau says:

    This tends to indicate that the more you know about religion the less you like it.
    It also shows that many of those who consider themselves religious do not in fact know much about their own religion (in this they are very different from pastafarians).

  8. rmw says:

    To be honest, I found those articles heartbreaking. To lose your faith has got to be one of the hardest things a person can go through. Couple that with the scandals that caused that in the first place, and it shows just how screwed up some religions and some people can be.

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