National network of religion sites launches, fills faith and values news gap

Nonprofit niche news company hosted by MU School of Journalism

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— In recent years, many newspapers have been forced to eliminate religion beat writer positions due to budget cuts, leaving religion news largely uncovered throughout many parts of the country. Now, the Religion News Service (RNS), which is headquartered at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, has launched a network of websites to cover national and local religion news thoroughly. “The elimination of the religion beat at many media outlets presents a need for entrepreneurial journalists to fill,” said Debra Mason, a professor of journalism studies at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and director of the Center on Religion and the Professions. “Many meaningful faith and values stories are waiting to be told, which creates great opportunities for these niche religion website startups.”

Religion News Service is a wire service that recently converted from a for-profit to a nonprofit news outlet.

TuesdayâÂ?Â?s Religion News Roundup: Is neurosis Jewish? Richard LandâÂ?Â?s tsuris, Tony Perkins gay dinner, the PopeâÂ?Â?s butler

Woody Allen v. Soren Kierkegaard: Is neurosis Jewish? Daniel Smith asks the question in the New York Times. “No,” he says. On the other hand, he explains… Evangelical tsuris: Southern Baptist macher Richard Land awaits a decision on his fate due Friday. The outcome is not clear, but the repercussions could be big.

COMMENTARY: How did we get off track?

INDIANAPOLIS (RNS) How did we go from building the interstate highway system to not doing anything unless it benefits us? How did the party of Eisenhower degenerate into would-be demagogues defaming anyone who stands between them and power? How did a nation that fought totalitarianism spy on young adults just for questioning Wall Street? By Tom Ehrich.

Sidebar: For female clergy, respect often has to be earned

REPUBLIC, Mo. (RNS) Although attitudes have improved in recent years, it’s still common for women clergy to field doubts about their legitimacy. The first time a church hires a women as pastor can be uncomfortable for both the woman and the congregation, said The Rev. Melissa St. Clair, senior pastor at Republic First Christian Church in the small southwestern Missouri town of Republic. She was the first woman to lead the church in this town of about 15,000 people.

Baptist leader critiques anti-gay comments

(RNS) A Southern Baptist leader who works on gay outreach has criticized recent anti-gay comments by North Carolina pastors, saying they “show a complete lack of understanding of how to minister to those struggling with this particular temptation.” By Adelle M. Banks.

RNS photo by Sally Morrow

Stained glass ceiling remains a hurdle for female clergy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (RNS) Jennifer Harris Dault and her husband Allyn share more than marriage. Earlier this month they joined hundreds of other students graduating from the nation’s more than 220 seminaries with masters in divinity degrees. But as the only woman graduate at Central Baptist Theological Seminary — out of a class of eight master of divinity students — the 29-year-old Jennifer Dault knows getting hired as a pastor likely won’t be easy. “Being a woman, chances are that he (Allyn) will find a job before me, and I want him to have those opportunities,” Jennifer said.

RNS photo courtesy Santa Monica Bal Kendra

Parents take teaching Hinduism into their own hands

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (RNS) When Mudita Bahadur started looking for excuses not to take her children on a 45-minute trip to the Hindu temple every Sunday, she knew she had to make a change. So Bahadur and other parents decided to take their children's religious education into their own hands. By Megan Sweas.