Burnout on the God beat – second top religion writer calls it quits

November 15, 2007

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.

Bates article in New HumanistStephen Bates, who recently stepped down as religious affairs writer for the London Guardian, has just published an account of his seven years on the beat in an article entitled “Demob Happy” for the New Humanist magazine. Bates followed the crisis in the Anglican Communion for several years and even wrote a book on it, A Church At War: Anglicans and Homosexuality.

“Now I am moving on,” his article concludes. “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.”

Stephen BatesBates announced his move back in September in another interesting article, this time for the website Religious Intelligence. Writing from New Orleans, where he was covering the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops meeting with Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, he said: “Writing this story has been too corrosive of what faith I had left: indeed watching the way the gay row has played out in the Anglican Communion has cost me my belief in the essential benignity of too many Christians. For the good of my soul, I need to do something else.” Bates, who says he still regards himself as a Catholic, said he was turned off by the intolerance he saw towards gays and the self-righteousness of Christians who “pick and choose the sins that are acceptable and condemn those – always committed by other, lesser people – that are not.”

Shortly before Bates called it quits, William Lobdell, who gave the Los Angeles Times first-class coverage of the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal in California, threw in the towel with a wrenching story of his own struggle with organised religion. His farewell story in July, “Religion beat became a test of faith was a moving testimony of a journalist who started off as a Presbyterian, was active with evangelicals and seriously considered becoming a Catholic. But, during his eight years on the beat, the Catholic clerical sex abuse scandal put him off religion so badly that he lost his faith altogether. For an example of what he came across, take a look at Missionary’s Dark Legacy, a powerful story from 2005 about the trail of sexual abuse a Catholic missionary left behind after seven years among the Eskimos. Nearly every boy in the settlement was abused.

What do readers think? Can you understand how Bates and Lobdell reacted? Do you think a journalist has to be a believer to be a good religion reporter?

67 comments

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As a Christian, I’m saddened by the story. The love of God (Jesus dies for us) and the holiness of God (God hates sin) are often misinterpreted by Christians on either extreme as permissiveness (for example, homosexual sex is acceptable to God) on one extreme, and judgementalism (we are allowed to judge each other). Both opinions are incorrect. These two journalists have lost their faith in man – which is not hard to do.

Posted by A Mohamed | Report as abusive

With so much apostasy these days, its easy to lose faith. But we must remember that the future has already been written. All this must take place, we have to continue to look towards Jesus and Him alone not man-made organized religion. Just Jesus!

Posted by Ryan | Report as abusive

what is the percentage of clergy abuse in the Church? Without any hard evidence, let’s play out the following senario. Assuming, just assuming, 1 out of every 12 clergy abuses, 9 are doing nothing spectacular, and 2 are doing doing wonderful work for their neighbours. Do I then dump the Church for that 1 scandalous person?

Posted by Tony | Report as abusive

I fully agree with the last comment: I don’t want to judge these two journalists, but it is indeed key to distinguis between the love of Christ that knows no boundaries, and the weakness of man in embracing and reflecting that love. They key to understanding Christianity, is to understand that perfection can only be found in the face of God. And that the Creator should not be judged by the failures of his creatures. On the issue of homosexuality: Ultimately, gay men and women have to take responsibility for their lifestyles just like anybody else. It is not up to us to judge them or to condemn them — or to give them absolution. More importantly: Whatever we do or say is irrelevant, because there is only one truth, no matter how hard we try to fight it.

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive

I don’t blame these journalists for despairing. I am an Anglican priest who was raised Catholic, and was myself abused by a Catholic priest when I was a boy. I converted to Anglicanism while at university; before that, I had become so disgusted with religion that I stayed away entirely. I surely empathise with these gentlemen, it is not their job to preach the Gospel, and for the sake of their own souls (as Mr Bates has said), it’s best for them to take leave. At times I think I’d like to leave the hypocritical nastiness revealed by this row. But it is encumbant that I preach the Gospel and live it, especially in the face of this demonic hypocrisy that is destroying so many.

Posted by Terry | Report as abusive

[...] Burnout on the God beat – second top religion writer calls it quits – FaithWorld [...]

I cannot help but wonder if the erosion of these men’s faiths was a result of approaching religion continuously from the perspectives and constraining philosophies of journalism. Modern journalism has its own sets of biases about preeminent truths and is in its own right a subculture and social environment. It seems more that these eventually were incorporated as converts to journalism than that they were lost as adherents of religion.

Posted by adam | Report as abusive

As a believer for over 30 years, this story grieves me. What it tells me the most is that so many of us look to other human beings to strengthen our faith. And it is true that the encouragement and support of others is vital to a healthy faith, but ultimately our faith must absolutely lie in God, He is “the author and finisher of our faith”.
I have seen this happen many times-different denominations-and have experienced it personally. People look up to a pastor, evangelist, or teacher and their faith is misdirected to the person and not to the Lord. If the foundations of our beliefs and faith are in other people and what they do, our faith is mis-focused on a source that will ultimately fail. Pastors, priests, missionaries are humans and they WILL sin (some more than others.) Some people are amazing examples of true faith. We should only look to them so that they can point the way to the Lord, and from there we believers should find our path to personally knowing God, His Son and his Word.
I grieve because these leaders put on a cloak of religion and have done more harm than good to the people they were responsible for. I grieve because these men of faith (the reporters) were derailed by other’s sins. I pray that their faith finds rest is knowing the God of Truth instead of focusing on men of deceit.
It is imperative that our first focus MUST be the Lord, not man. If it is on man more than God, this is idolatry. The Lord must be the only object of our worship. God does not sin and cause these problems, we do. Therefore, He is the only one worthy of our veneration.
If our faith focus is on man, it WILL fail. If on God, it WILL succeed. ~

Posted by Veronica | Report as abusive

These are very bold times we are facing presently. They must be faced, firmly and with conviction.

I feel that the difficulty the the two writers faced was institutional. In Christ, we don’t have a set pattern other than as he commanded; to love everybody as thyself.

That cannot be overlooked, yet is very much so in institutionalised Christianity. If they had chosen to cover the inspirational aspects of individuals practicing their faith through the enrichment of their daily lives – they would still be professional journalists.

The good news is, the sun is still in the sky.

Posted by William D. Jackson | Report as abusive

I reached the same conclusions some years ago, and had never previously believed I could feel such freedom. I accept the need that some people have to believe, and admit that for many religion gives them consolation that reality can’t.

I’ll take my chances, thanks. If there is a god, she knows that I mean well. If not, I’ve saved a lot of time and emotion — better spent trying to do good for men, not please a will o’ the wisp.

Actually, the mystery to me is that so many people maintain their religious belief in the face of so much evidence against them. We should be celebrating these journalist, who are honest enough to admit they were wrong, instead of people like Mother Teresa, who continued enforcing her bizarre religious proscription against birth control even after she lost her faith.

Posted by Jeffrey Shallit | Report as abusive

I am not sure what these two journalist mean by loosing their faith. The faith that I have is in Jesus Christ as Lord. God sent his son, Jesus, to live a human but sinless life, to die as an attoinment for the sins of all that will through faith, trust him for salvation. This requires repentance from our sins. Faith in other men, including church leaders,is not a lasting faith, no matter how spotless they may be.
God is is a forgiving God but we only are forgiven if we sincerely repent of our sins. All churches are made up of saved or lost sinners, depending on each individuals relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and the actions of no human can take this from us. Faith in another human, no matter what title he has, is no real faith.

Posted by Louie | Report as abusive

When I attended college, the head of the religion department often said in his classes “the food never tastes good when you work too long in the kitchen.” He said that after he served in the clergy he found out that very few ministers and priests really believe the mumbo jumbo they teach which are the essentials of Christianity – a fairy tale. Let’s see – a virgin birth (incorporated into Christianity from pre-existing mystery religions), magical feats, the coming back from the dead – the old story found in many ancient religions of the “resurrecting god.” Most Jesuits and many Protestant Priests are highly intelligent men and don’t believe a word of any of this nonsense. At some time in seminary they probably learned how Christianity wrote its gospels long after Jesus lived and how the writers of the gospels “stole” many of their stories from pagan gods when they grafted them onto the life of Jesus. It is not surprising that the Roman Catholic Church is so cold about this – very, very sad for the boys that experienced this. I hope the victims one day learn that these men never really “worked for God” and that many aspects of Christianity are a fabrication.

Posted by Lee | Report as abusive

I am sorry that these reporters have lost their faith, having gone through that experience myself. It’s almost as bad as learning that there is no Santa Claus. As humans, we have developed many myths to help us deal with our ancient fears. By now, we should understand that there is no super-human watching us from above the clouds. There is no supernatural world. However, as a Christian, I am thankful for the message of Christ, who was a real man. He guides me in my attempt to live as a better person, and to forgive and love those around me.

Posted by Leon | Report as abusive

“Assuming, just assuming, 1 out of every 12 clergy abuses, 9 are doing nothing spectacular, and 2 are doing doing wonderful work for their neighbours. Do I then dump the Church for that 1 scandalous person?”

If the other 11 are covering it up and covering for the scandalous one – YES.

Posted by Kevin | Report as abusive

Tony, you’re over-simplifying the issue. I think the part of clergy abuse that shakes peoples’ faith to the core is when the 11 non-abusing clergy members cover up the abuse committed by the 1.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

Ok… let’s take a different perspective on Tony’s argument. He assumes that 1 out of 12 clergy abuses. Let’s assume that 10 out of 12 clergy abuses. Following Tony’s argument, then clearly the church should be “dumped”. His whole conclusion is based on his assumption that the numebr is low, but he provides no evidence that this is the case. Indeed, given the sheer volume of different cases which have made it to the media, I don’t it’s reasonable to think that the number is as low as his conclusion requires. Is the number 10 out of 12? I don’t know… and that’s the problem. Churches are far to secretive. We’ve seen a lot of evidence surface which shows how much cover-up has been perpetuated by the church. That certainly leads me to believe that the number is probably a lot higher than Tony’s 1 out of 12.

My second point on this is that these two men were journalists. As a consultant, I go from company to company and based on my work can see the inner workings of these companies. I see the things that most people never get to see and I can draw conclusions about those companies which are probably more reasonable than conclusions drawn by people who don’t have access to the kinds of information that I do. Given that these two men were journalists who were specifically assigned to the “church beat” that would lead me to conclude that they had access to a lot of information that the average person just doesn’t see.

No… any reasonable person would not buy Tony’s 1 in 12 figure. I think the figure is quite a bit higher.

Posted by Craig | Report as abusive

I believe it is evasive to say one cannot judge a religion based on its people; no matter how perfect one assumes God to be, we, his creation, are a reflection on him; therefore, I see nothing wrong in losing one’s faith in man as well as God.

I understand how the two reporters reacted; in fact, I would initially say it is better to not be religious in order to cover a religious beat fairly, because then you can provide unbiased perspective. But, thinking about it now, I realize there will be a bias regardless of faith or lack of faith.

Posted by Zach | Report as abusive

Pick and chosing religious acceptablity makes almost anyone spiritually sick (sometimes even emotionally deranged)…best to eliminate the extreme Scriptural Selectivity of Puritan hate-fear-mongers and go for starkly dealing with ones OWN character “issues”…often, the noisy religious “excluders, demoralizers, abominators” spend overly much time AVOIDING looking into the mirror to see the quality of their own being while preaching “what ought be what”….living in a world of pretend/denial is insane and nothing is closer to Godliness than REALITY! No more FALSE interpretations please or SELECTIVELY spewing righteous nonsense.

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo | Report as abusive

I’m sure the victims of the christian abusers prayed to god to save them. But god didn’t save them. God also didn’t bring out the truth or bring about justice. It’s only when the truth was taken out of the hands of christians and their gods, and put into the hands of secular courts, that truths were told and justice was addressed. The courts and the people who run them are far from perfect, but they are better than churches and the people who fill churches. Good for these 2 reporters for acknowledging that.

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

An inevitable outcome one would think, the closer one gets to 21th Century christofacism, the uglier it gets.

Huzzah to these two guys for being able to pull themselves out of pretend land, and return to reality.

That’s the thing about religion, the more you know, the more you learn, the more you see what an incredibly, intricate, controling, hypocritical, and sometimes odd institution(s) humans have created to control other humans.

It’s only two guys, at least two guys that make the news, but slowly, agonizingly slowly, mankind is awakening and discarding the chains of religion.

If only I were to live long enough to see the last person awaken, and the beast be banished to history.

Good god, is Reuters only read by Christian fundamentalists?

The number of apologists on this comment board is disappointing and concerning.

The REALITY here is, and as a progressive Christian I think it is a WONDERFUL reality, people are moving away from the judgementalist, fear monger, us vs. them, money grubbing, war mongering version of Christianity that the fundamentalist rapturists have been shoving down our throats for so long.

I think it’s taken WAY too long but I welcome the fact that those who practice a Dark Ages version of Christianity are being exposed as the hypocrites, charlatans and hate mongers that they really are.

Welcome to the twenty first century America.

Posted by Zeke | Report as abusive

I think that it is obvious in the comments why religion is in such difficult times today. In my quick read of the comments, I saw almost no empathy from those who said he was wrong to give up his faith. The faithful should gain more empathy for the pain and suffering of others.

Posted by Robert | Report as abusive

Chris wrote: “Do I then dump the Church for that 1 scandalous person?”

No, Chris, you dump the church because the people in charge at the church protected that 1 scandalous person to the point that he was the 1 scandalous person at my church, then your church, then the church that was a two-hour drive away and then the church that was two states away….

Posted by RCS | Report as abusive

Man this is good stuff! (I’m sure nobody is reading this at this point, but what the hell)

Some good Christians here. In fact, I’d venture to say that all who’ve commented here are good Christians – as well as the two defected journalists. As for the clergy…I’d have to agree that the majority are merely role-playing and paying lip service to the ideals of their faith. There are a select few who are in touch with the divine – and you know it when you’re in their presence even for a minute!

As for the homosexuals…I’m sure Jesus would agree with me when I say that the sin is that the church should judge and/or condemn an act of love betweem consenting adults, while turning a blind eye to the abuse/crime of pushing this ‘love’ on an innocent child.

Judgement is a uniquely human device, and anyone who attributes the divine with such qualities, is simply not in touch with the divine.

Well, I seem to be in the minority in the comments who do not believe in the bronze age fairy tale, and therefore see no sadness or cause for regret that these men have lost their faith / awoken from the delusion.

Now that they’re opening their eyes to the dirty under belly of religion, they will hopefully start thinking for themselves and start questioning the monstrous lies they’ve been fed as part of their religious indoctrination.

With that process moving, they will hopefully see what an amazing, natural universe we inhabit and that we, not some celestial dictator, are responsible for how we live our lives.

Vive la revolution!

P.S. Leon: “I am thankful for the message of Christ, who was a real man”. No. No he was not. There is absolutely no reliable historical evidence that a man called Jesus existed and who said the things he supposedly did, and certainly no evidence for the magic tricks he supposedly performed for the crowds. Jesus is a fable. A set of camp fire stories, handed down, changed a little here, a little there, changed again in translations … until we’re left with a final bastardised version that represents nothing but superstitious bronze age stories.

Posted by MonoApe | Report as abusive

Going waaay out on a limb here, but let me speak for Jesus again (since every bloke with a bible does) and say that God = Love, no?

The bible (not Jesus) and many ‘of the cloth’ would have us believe that God = Judgement.

So, my question is can Love = Judgement?

Methinks not, and methinks this is the paradox what caught up with our journalists, no?

Furthermore, methinks they didn’t so much as ‘lose their faith’ as ‘refined their faith’ – something the lot of christians, muslims, jews and other devotees would do well to do.

In order to believe in God, one must turn off a part of one’s brain. Nobody whose mind is both open and logical can buy the idea of God anymore than one can buy the idea of the Tooth Fairy.

Posted by Rick | Report as abusive

second top religion writer calls it quits – cant stand the corruption…

…..they had acquired such a close look at such scandalous behaviour by Christians that they lost their faith and had to leave…….

Sadly, this goes to show the damage one to can do to oneself by following a moral philosophy penned over 2000 years ago.

We do not follow 2000 year old medical texts, so why believe ignorant people who could only rationalise the world by a belief in an invisible, all powerful sky wizard.

Posted by Babson | Report as abusive

Monoape, well said.

On a side note, have you ever noticed that when christofacist speak, or argue, about one detail or another in some passage in the bible, how incredibly innane the whole thing is?

Every time I see people quote something that some monk in Southern Europe wrote 1,500 years ago, it takes me back to my youth, and hearing other nerdlingers arguing about some esoteric rule while playing Dungeons and Dragons…

“But wait! According to rule 15.4, Magic users casting a level 5 sleep spell need to get a 15 or better roll on a 20 sided dice, otherwise the initiative goes to the defender..blah blah blah blah”

Sometimes I wonder if the same gene that causes 8th grade nerd kids to play D&D is also present in the “faithfull” adults who argue biblical scripture ad nauseum to make points that have ZERO relevance to anything in reality.

I feel sorry for these souls, these poor lost souls who look for meaning in this nonsense, I suspect it isn’t until their final moments on their deathbeds that they realize, to their horror, that all they ever really had was, the moment.

[...] Burnout on the God beat – second top religion writer calls it quits – FaithWorld [...]

[...] on the God beat – second top religion writer calls it quits article from [...]

What does it say about christianity, that the more in-depth one studies the details, the less believable the whole thing is. Only the shallowest of students continues believing. “Faith like a child” indeed!

Posted by Martius | Report as abusive

Stupid. Ridiculous. Morons.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

Its not just journalists. Anyone who thinks about it long enough and has enough clear thinking ability will eventually reject organised religion. Its hard to break free from childhood indoctrination, but it is ultimately an untenable position. Hypocrisy and contradiction and absurdity can only be ignored for so long.

Posted by xoc | Report as abusive

Do you abandon the truth for someone else’s behavior?

Do you not belief in that 2 + 2 = 4 because your math teacher can’t balance his checkbook?

Posted by Peter | Report as abusive

I understand both jourlalists atitude.
I am in my mod twenties and as a high-school pupil I was in a ONG in the romanian greek-catholic church. Being involved in social work together with my coleagues I learned how Caritas is doing “business”, I became wery disgusted but I did not lose faith. It si very sad that people became priests but have no calling, and afterwrds do thing that do not fit their position. I think the Christian Church as a whole is loosingvery much this way, they complain not having enough vocations, their do not make propper selection amoung the few they have …

Posted by Marcel | Report as abusive

As a religious journalist myself, covering primarily the Catholic beat, I can understand these journalists reactions to sin, but not their actions. The Church always has been and always will be made up of sinners. Jesus came to call the sick, not the healthy. One does not leave Peter (the Church) because of the sins of Judas. With the clergy sex abuse scandal, or whatever sins plague the Church, we must remember that the actions of its sinful members is not the “Church.” Christ came to save sinners. As he told the woman caught in adultery, he came not to condemn, but tells her, “Go and sin no more.”

Posted by Tim | Report as abusive

Up until now, I have maintained that one’s religious beliefs are a private matter. However, my wife was recently subjected to hateful and unrelenting claptrap spouted by an evangelical bigot she unfortunately found herself seated next to on a long flight. And it is time for me to speak out.

If he is representative of modern Christians, then I am really worried. He stated that, because my wife didn’t believe in his God (or is it Jesus, or the Angels – I can never work out which is the one true deity) he reserved the right to kill her. Seriously. She was trapped on a flight with a man interviewing for a job as a pastor, who believed that he had a duty to either convert her or wipe her out. Frankly, I think he was shocked to meet a human being who didn’t need a religious crutch to know how to be kind and decent. And I am proud of my wife for not losing control and for standing up to him.

Am I surprised that these two reporters lost their faith after taking a close look at Christians? Of course not.

Posted by Dave | Report as abusive

Finally, this problem is being acknowledged! Privately, dozens of journalists have told us that the on-going child sex abuse and cover up scandal has been very difficult for them personally.

We in SNAP are very grateful to the many hard-working, compassionate, fair professionals who cover religion, even though in recent years the beat has ‘morphed’ into a depressing and disillusioning one at times.

David Clohessy
National Director
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

For those who have professed to have lost their faith because of the scandals that have beset the Church, a reflective reading of these scriptural passages should prove instructive: Luke 8:11ff; Matt 16: 21-22; Gen. 18:23ff. A test of faith does not necessarily have to come in the form of a Neronian persecution.

Posted by Ted | Report as abusive

many here are saying that these men were wrong to reject religion based on the actions of men. I must point out that since god does not seem to be very involved with this world, other than through his followers(so many of them claim)it is perfectly legitimate to judge the faith by the followers. Surely if the faith helped them be better people this should be seen by the casual observer. If in their years of observing the religious they have come the the conclusion that it does nothing or makes them worse then it is only logical that they come to the conclusion that religion is a bad thing.

Posted by atheist | Report as abusive

“he lost his faith altogether”
Let me be the first to welcome these writers back to reality. Religiocity has gotten a lot of undeserved respect for centuries which has allowed it to get away with things like abusing children and many other atrocities. But no more! People are starting to wake up to the idea that it’s OK to criticize and ridicule preposterous superstitious believes which are based on nothing. This trend will continue as the human race leaves the dark ages behind. Praise the FSM!

I am a recovered Catholic. I started leaving the hypocracy of religion as the advancements of Vatican II dwindled. I looked at these advancements as a starting point. But they have all but been plowed under by subsequent popes. Living in the south, I get first hand views of the unbelievable levels of hypocracy of what I now term “Talichristians”. I now think that if there is an interactive God, he put Baptists, evangelicals and pentacostals on earth to make Catholics look good. The more people wrap themselves in the Bible (or Koran for that matter), the more evil they seem to be and the greater evil they become capable of rendering on other life forms – humans included.

My only conclusion based on history and personal observations is: Religion is inherently evil and must be avoided at all costs.

Posted by Michael | Report as abusive

I am not surprised that these two men walked away from Christianity. This is a religion that is mired in a medieval worldview and that simply refuses to evolve. Fundamentally, it is a cult of personalities that purport to spread the “word” of “God”, with little in common with the teaching of unconditional love on which this religion is supposed to be based.

Posted by James | Report as abusive

I would have more respect for these two journalists if their rejection of religion was because they had realised, belatedly, that religion is ridiculous poisonous nonsense.

Disgust at the hypocracy of religious individuals is not, in itself, a reason for defection.

That it should take years of close observation of religious hypocracy to trigger their change-of -heart shows the effectiveness of religious indoctrination.

Posted by Peter Angus | Report as abusive

My deconversion was also in part triggered by the cover-up scandals. But only a trigger – it made me start reflecting on christianity for the first time in my life. I soon came to realise: its incoherency (a supreme being has to have himself horribly tortured to death in order to appease his own anger over his imperfect creation?? Why not just forgive us without the blood sports!); its lack of historical evidence (I discovered there is absolutely no contemporary mention of Jesus during his lifetime. Nothing. And the gospels were written at least 40 year later. Jesus may plausibly be a myth like Osiris, Hercules, etc.); and its immorality (I actually read the bible and discovered how totally disgusting it is – genocide, slavery, Job’s torture, etc are never condemned and often instructed by god). I also realized that it was supremely egotistical to think that a warm fuzzy feeling of jesus’s presence must be genuine in my case but a delusion for the millions of other persons who express similar claims for other gods. It was actually not that hard to let it go.

Posted by W Clifford | Report as abusive

[...] religious affairs correspondent, Stephen Bates, and his poignant essay Demob happy. And now I read in Reuters that William Lobdell of the LA Times has also quit. Read his farewell essay, “Religion beat [...]

The true tragedy here is not that these journalists lost their faith, but that they’ve felt that such a loss disqualifies them from continuing to report on issues of faith. What readers need more than ever is unbiased reporting that reveals the world’s religions as the irrational and corrupt institutions they are, and who better qualified to provide it than those who have removed their blindfolds and taken a good long critical look at the subject?

Posted by Smartypnts | Report as abusive

Indeed, Smartypnts…perhaps an Atheist would be the only fair eye when viewing religion. Reporters covering given political situations are supposed to be unbiased. Atheists would be more likely than anyone to treat all religions equally. Their distaste for it all should be irrelevant.

But I can’t be too upset with these two gentlemen for changing their profession after seeing so much of “how the sausage is made”.

Elise
a thankfully Atheist daughter of a former Episcopal seminarian

Posted by Elise | Report as abusive

Stephen Bates wrote that he was disgusted by the self-righteousness of Christians who “pick and choose the sins that are acceptable and condemn those – always committed by other, lesser people – that are not.”

I think this quote sums up quite succinctly the basic and terminal problem with Christianity, particularly in the U.S. It is absolutely noxious, poisoning our federal government. Sinclar Lewis was spon on when he wrote when fascism comes to America, it will be draped in the flag and carrying the cross. The nightmare he envisioned is our reality today.

Posted by Pacific231 | Report as abusive

The hypocrisy in this comments section is choking on its own ignorance. Jesus

Commenter 1: They have lost their faith in any kind of caring loving god because of what they have seen in man. Why would he create such.

Commenter 2: Jesus is a man made religion.

Faith Is Believing What You Know Ain’t So
Mark Twain

Eventually you need to admit that Man made Gods instead of the fantasy that Gods made Man

Posted by Rich | Report as abusive

This is ridiculous. The issue is not whether (on the speculations offered above) only 1/12 priest are abusive. The issue is that the church obviously has a huge problem if 1/12 priests are abusive, and it refuses to acknowledge this problem by IGNORING the victims. That is what makes this an institutional matter rather than merely one of ‘a few bad apples,’ namely an institutional hypocrisy. And, if it is an institutional problem, it will do no good to say that it is the ‘evil of men’ rather than of God, since in Catholic doctrine, the church is the necessary intermediary between man and God. The institution vested with the authority to “grant” baptism, communion, penance, marriage, and the rites of death is itself corrupt–that is what gets people angry, and makes them “lose faith.”

Posted by AG | Report as abusive

Dear Stephan and your readers:
Religion poisons everything.

Posted by Michael Carlon | Report as abusive

[...] Dallas Morning News Religion Blog posts a fascinating Reuters story on religion reporters losing their faith. The Reuters piece concludes with a question for readers: [...]

These reporters have confused religion for
Christianity. They are not the same.

Posted by Dale | Report as abusive

Keep The Faith … Save a reporter

http://yhvhathome.multiply.com/

They should not have quit, but kept on reporting on the bigotry of religious people. Now that they are truly independent, they can report without compromise.

But I naturally understand any person who want to remain his sanity. Well done for speaking out at least!

Who’s next?

The person who is really correct is the one that observed that there was a little confusion in biblical interpretation. Where it reads “and man was created in God’s image” it really read “and God was created in man’s image”!!

Posted by John | Report as abusive

I hope this reporter (and other’s) who have become disillusioned continuing writing and exposing the hypocricies of faith. Any authority without oversight has the potential to become abusive and terroist.

That doesn’t say religon has no merit, but if it’s not riegned it with some reason, it will self-destruct. Right now, that’s the trend.

Posted by aikanae | Report as abusive

I read the bible when I was a child in China. It is such a petty piece of business that I was shocked to find, upon my emigration to the USA, that people actually believe in a god that would wipe out his own creations for “sin”.

Posted by Tsee | Report as abusive

“Religions are all alike – founded upon fables and mythologies.” [Thomas Jefferson]

The two journalists represent merely a small number of the multitudes of people in the Disunited States who have become more and more confused, disgruntled, and disgusted by the sniping and backbiting which has become policy of the American christian right, American catholic diocese, and other organizations which make up the Uber-conservative, Ultra-right wing alliance that makes edicts renouncing the sins of the populace yet trivializes or outright absolves the same sins when committed by influential (read financially solvent) members of their flock.

Modern christianity is a cesspool of lies. The definition of christianity is to be Christ-like, which lead the two journalists to believe that modern christianity has next to nothing to do with Christ other than franchise name recognition.

“Religions are all alike – founded upon fables and mythologies.” [Thomas Jefferson]

“Religion is based . . . mainly on fear . . . fear of the mysterious, fear of defeat, fear of death. Fear is the parent of cruelty, and therefore it is no wonder if cruelty and religion have gone hand in hand. . . . My own view on religion is that of Lucretius. I regard it as a disease born of fear and as a source of untold misery to the human race.” [Bertrand Russell]

“Religion is a byproduct of fear. For much of human history, it may have been a necessary evil, but why was it more evil than necessary? Isn’t killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity?” [Arthur C. Clarke]

“Faith means not wanting to know what is true.” [Nietzsche]

“The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma.” [Lincoln]

How can one deny the crucified God? Don’t leave God for woman or man sake.
Richard Howell
India

I agree these are trying times my brothers and sisters – faith in his noddliness has become more important than ever before. May you all be touched by his appendage as I have been, RAmen.

Posted by Dereck | Report as abusive

noodliness not 2 d’s by the way

Posted by Dereck | Report as abusive

Mr. Bates, Mr. Lobdel,

Welcome to the club.

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive

I’ve seen some hyprocritical things in my time, but a comment below this one *really* takes the biscuit..

“The love of God… and the holiness of God… are often misinterpreted by Christians… for example, homosexual sex is acceptable to God on one extreme, and judgementalism (we are allowed to judge each other). Both opinions are incorrect.”

I love how the poster thought that criticising judgementalism in the *same sentence* as condemning homosexuals was in no way contradictory. While *at the same time* apparently claiming to know what god thinks!

Religion obviously rocks! I wish I could hold that many contradictory beliefs at the same time!

Posted by James | Report as abusive

sad that so many in christianity have so poisoned the rest of the world against any attempt at spirituality.

Posted by Da6d | Report as abusive

It sounds like neither of these men had much faith in the first place and, as usual, don’t understand the Christian religion very well. The question of “why” these Christians do so many bad thigs is quite simple. When you get “saved or born again” and accept Jesus as your Lord, your spirit is immediately changed, you have eternal life and you can go to heaven. But according to Romans 12:2, you must transform or change your mind or soul by reading, studying, and meditating the Word of God until it fills your mind enough that it will talk to you. In other words, the devil or people’s lust told them to do something and there was no Word of God to tell them “no”. Unfortunately, a Christian who does not have the Word of God (The Bible) living in his heart is no better than someone who doesn’t even know God. In fact maybe worse, because now the devil is out to kill or hurt you anyway he can because he thinks you belong to God and yet you have no protection which comes from God and His Word. These people are called carnal Christians because they live by their flesh not by faith. They are the biggest problem we have in the Christian Church. Those of us who are Bible teachers are working hard to help them but very few Christians are willing to submit to the Word yet I can promise you all is not hopeless for God does have an army of people who do know the Word and live by faith! Pray that the Church wakes up and starts doing what the Word says because we are the only hope this world has. And don’t forget, if you haven’t read the back of the Book; God, His Ways, and the Church WIN! Thank you, Cathy

Posted by Cathy Poland | Report as abusive

The spirit is changed, you say? Prove it.

Posted by Anon | Report as abusive