Legalization of same-sex marriage voted No. 1 in Religion Newswriters’ 2015 Top 10 Religion Stories of the Year Poll

COLUMBIA, MO. — The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to legalize same-sex marriage this June was voted by a narrow margin as the No. 1 religion story of 2015 by members of the Religion Newswriters Association in its annual Top 10 Religion Stories of the Year poll. In second place were the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have fled to Europe, stirring right-wing resistance in some countries and compassion fatigue in others. Pope Francis was selected as Religion Newsmaker of the Year for the third year in a row, receiving nearly half of the first-place votes.


Five days left to apply for Handa Fellows in Interreligious Communication

COLUMBIA, Mo. — With the generous support of the International Shinto Foundation, the Religion Newswriters Association and the Religion Communicators Council announce the Handa Fellows in Interreligious Communication program for young leaders who specialize in religion reporting or religious communication. Through the Handa Fellows in Interreligious Communication program, each organization will offer training, mentorships and special opportunities for a cohort of up to 12 program fellows, for a potential total of 24 fellows. Between November 2015 and October 2016, Handa Fellows will:

Commit to a one-year program of study and reflection,
Receive a program orientation and be assigned to a program cohort,
Receive scholarships for and attend either the 2016 RNA or RCC annual convention,
Be paired with a seasoned mentor from their professional association,
Participate in a series of six specialized webinars,
Have an opportunity to attend a potential, optional overseas training event as early as December 2015. ELIGIBILITY & HOW TO APPLY
Fellows will be 18–35 years old and will either be college students preparing for careers in religion reporting or religious communication, or be professionals early in the same career paths.

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Buddhist Youth Step Up Momentum toward Nuclear Abolition, Spread Message of Peace

HIROSHIMA, JAPAN: On August 6, members of the Soka Gakkai lay Buddhist association gathered for a memorial prayer meeting in Hiroshima to mark the 69th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city. Prayers were offered in memory of victims of the atomic bombings and for all victims of war. A similar meeting will be held in Nagasaki on August 9. The results of a survey on attitudes toward peace and nuclear weapons carried out by Soka Gakka student members in five prefectures close to Hiroshima were also announced. An increased proportion of respondents (75%) felt it is important for young people to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki in order to raise awareness of the true nature of nuclear weapons and strengthen commitment to abolishing them.

Second Annual “FAITH UNDER FIRE: Documentary Film Festival on Religion’s Hot Topics”

TOLEDO, OHIO — Toledo Faith & Values (ToledoFAVS.com), a nonsectarian, nonprofit news site covering religion and spirituality in the Toledo area, presents its Second Annual “Faith Under Fire” Documentary Film Festival on Religion’s Hot Topics, from 12:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 12. Following the success of last year’s inaugural event, attended by more than 100 people, ToledoFAVS will feature three documentaries at Calvary Church (the former Maumee 18 Cinemas), 1360 Conant St., Maumee, Ohio 43537. The documentary lineup:

12:30 p.m.: “The Jesus Guy” – Some say he’s a “kook.” Others call him “a blessing from God.” Toledo native Carl James Joseph has walked barefoot and penniless, bearded and clad in a white robe, through 47 states and 13 countries on a 19-year mission to tell people about Jesus. 66 minutes. Directed by Sean Tracey.

RNS EVENT: Journalism Between Red Lines: Religion Reporting in a World of Conflict

Journalism Between Red Lines: Covering Religion and Religious Freedom in a World of Conflict
Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at 6:30 p.m.
Knight Conference Center at the Newseum
555 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C.

Religion News Service and the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute invite you to a timely and provocative discussion of the red lines journalists face covering religion around the world. What are the legal constraints on religion reporting — and when are they justified? What role does self-censorship play in covering volatile issues involving religion and religious freedom? What role does media coverage (or lack of coverage) play in fueling religious conflict and division? WELCOME

Charles Haynes, director, Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute
Brian Pellot, director of global strategy and religious freedom editor, Religion News Service


Sarah Cook, senior research analyst for East Asia, Freedom House
Geraldine Fagan, journalist and author of “Believing in Russia — Religious Policy after Communism”
Johannes Langkilde, U.S. correspondent, Danish Broadcasting Corporation
Ebtihal Mubarak, Saudi journalist covering women and youth rights
Pir Zubair Shah, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist

The discussion will be moderated by Katrina Lantos Swett, Ph.D, vice chair, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom

A reception will follow the discussion (co-sponsored by the Center on Religion & the Professions, University of Missouri).

Hartford Faith & Values, Yale Humanist Community host “Ask an Atheist” forum

Hartford, Conn. — Hartford Faith & Values (HartfordFAVS.com), Connecticut’s nonsectarian,  nonprofit religion news website, has teamed up with The Yale Humanist Community to host the forum “Ask an Atheist” at the Yale University campus in New Haven. The April 7 forum will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in Linsly-Chittenden Hall, room LC 102, at 63 High St. The forum will provide the public and faith community the opportunity to ask questions to secular groups in Connecticut. Panelists include:

Chris Stedman, Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, atheist columnist for the Religion News Service, author of Faitheist, and Coordinator of Humanist Life for the Yale Humanist Community
Dennis Paul Himes, Connecticut State Director of American Atheists
Tanya Barrett, co-chair, Connecticut Coalition of Reason
Dan Blinn, co-chair, Connecticut Coalition of Reason and Humanist columnist for HartfordFAVS

The forum is free for Yale University students and open to the public.

Spokane Faith & Values hosts “Faith Feast: A Progressive Intercultural Dinner” March 30

SPOKANE, WASH. — Back by popular demand, Spokane Faith & Values (SpokaneFAVS.com) is proud to announce its annual event “Faith Feast: A Progressive Intercultural Dinner” will take place at 4 p.m. on March 30. The dinner will kick off with Japanese appetizers at The Spokane Buddhist Temple. Then, guests will travel up the street to Temple Beth Shalom for a kosher entrée, followed by a dessert buffet at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ South Hill Stake. “People are often curious about places of worship in their community, but timid to explore them on their own.

Faith & Values team takes home honors at 64th Religion Newswriters Association Awards for Religion Reporting Excellence

Austin, Texas — Two Faith & Values (FAVS) websites were honored Saturday, Sept. 29 at the 2013 Religion Newswriters Association Awards banquet. The contest honors religion reporting excellence in the mainstream media. Spokane Faith & Values (SpokaneFAVS.com) won third place in the Schachern Award for Online Section of the Year, and Wilmington Faith & Values (WilmingtonFAVS.com) won an honorable mention in the RNA Radio or Podcast Religion Report of the Year Award. Editors Tracy Simmons and Amanda Greene oversee the Spokane and Wilmington sites respectively.

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From Bullets to Burnings: Religion & Violence in America

Religion News Service’s regional hubs — the Faith & Values news sites — debut their first team series, “From Bullets to Burnings: Religion & Violence in America.” Part 1: The Business of Church Safety
In its first weeklong series, Faith & Values news explores what happens when violence crosses thresholds in churches, synagogues and mosques. Though deadly shootings  happen every week in public spaces, have these incidents become more commonplace in the holiest of places? How are houses of worship responding and preparing to defend themselves from intruders and attacks? To answer these questions, we’ll look at five cities in America and the painful realities, lessons and decisions taking place each day to keep worshipers safe.

Connecticut-based HartfordFAVS.com marks fifth faith and values community news site launch for Religion News LLC

Oct. 12, 2012
Contact: Tiffany McCallen


(Hartford, Conn.) — The recent launch of HartfordFAVS.com marks the fifth faith and values (FĀVS) community news site for Religion News LLC, the parent company of Religion News Service. The Connecticut-based site is a unique combination of professional and community-driven, daily content that covers all faiths, values and ethics through stories, blogs, panel questions, multimedia storytelling, social media forums and more. Hartford Courant alum and award-winning reporter Ann Marie Somma manages the site. “I’m very excited about the launch of Hartford Faith and Values and the opportunity to share stories and viewpoints of the Hartford religious community,” Somma said.

All FAVS positions have been filled

As of July 1, 2012, all FAVS positions with Religion News LLC have been filled. Please check back in the summer of 2013 about potential hiring announcements. Direct any hiring inquiries to: Tiffany McCallen.

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.