What is a religion writer?
A religion writer is somebody who writes about religion, religious practice, religious…It could be anything. It can be someone inside a religious institutions that covers them, or it can be a journalist at a for‑profit publication or non‑profit, secular publication.
Just writes about everything from the ideas behind religion to the nitty‑gritty practice to the arguments over money, to the institutional politics, and then how religion affects all the different aspects of our lives.
What does a religion writer try to do?
You’re telling stories. You’re not data driven, you’re story driven. The data helps reinforce the story, so you want to know how I’m associated. Say you’re going to write about a particular sect of people.
You really describe it…It’s more like anthropology, sociology. The hard news, you’re looking at their money, and their finances. Sometimes you’re looking at, “Here’s their ideals and do their ideals match up what they actually practice?”
You’re describing it, you’re not really endorsing it or you’re not trying to win. I just tell people, I get to write about people and talk to them about God all day long and never had to win. Now, if somebody’s being a crook, you could say being abusive, that is where you do take a sort of…You describe what they do and where does it fit in ethics and is this harmful?
It’s always hard. There’s kinds of religions that are harmful and there’s kinds of religions that might be dangerous. I’ve covered snake handlers, Pentecostal snake handlers. That’s a dangerous faith, but they’re likely ultimate…They’re the base camp jumpers of religion.
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Bob Smietana is senior writer at Facts and Trends magazine. He previously served as the religion reporter at The Tennessean and is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in USA Today, The Washington Post, and Christianity Today.