The importance of a good religion reporter

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Back in the 90s I was a devoted Newsweek subscriber. This was before the internet was trustworthy and when a couple of hours a week diving into the world’s events was a treasured break. Among the best aspects of Newsweek was its religion coverage. Kenneth Woodward understood religion. He wrote articles on the various topics in a balanced, fair and informative way which helped one understand what was going on even if one did not agree.

A few years ago he was, for reasons unknown to me, relegated to sidebars in Newsweek as one of the editors, Jon Meacham, took to writing the religion articles. The problem was that while Meacham had a distinct interest in religion, it seemed to be the interest of waning faith. There has been a earnest attempt to understand his own perceptions put into print, leaving us with a curious tale of a faith journey downwards. This is fine, and interesting, but not very good journalism as I never read Newsweek to understand the faith issues of the managing editors.

Woodward wrote with more insight than most Christian magazines on Christianity, and wrote with comparable insight on other religions. Take his most recent article on the Koran. In a short essay he sums up precisely what the American public doesn’t realize, and puts the issue into perspective, noting that we cannot use our conception of the Bible in understanding Islam’s devotion to their holy book.

As always, Kenneth Woodward is worth a read, and his presence is sorely missed at Newsweek.

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