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PBS show ‘Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly’ to end after 20-year run

On the "Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly" set with Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention, from left, Alton Pollard III, dean of Howard University School of Divinity; Kim Lawton, the show's managing editor; and Bob Abernethy, the show’s host/executive editor, in August 2014. Photo courtesy of Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly

WASHINGTON (RNS) “Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly,” an award-winning weekly public television series, will end early next year after a 20-year run.

The last episode will air on Feb. 24, announced WNET, the parent company of THIRTEEN Productions.

Bob Abernethy of Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, left, speaks with Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in a February 2012 taping. Photo courtesy of Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly

Bob Abernethy of “Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly,” left, speaks with Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz in a February 2012 taping. Photo courtesy of Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly

“It has been a great privilege to report the many ways people of faith worship and serve others,” host and executive editor Bob Abernethy said in a statement in a news release dated Wednesday (Dec. 14). “We are deeply grateful to our thoughtful staff and also to our viewers, many of whom have told us the program consistently affirms the values they most respect.”

The show’s 20 years of broadcasting is unusually long for syndicated series and TV programs in general.

Founded by Abernethy and launched in 1997, it provided national and international news coverage and analysis about religion. It included interviews with newsmakers ranging from the Dalai Lama to former President Jimmy Carter, profiles of religious leaders such as evangelist Billy Graham and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, and surveys about faith after 9/11 and about “nones,” or the unaffiliated.

The news release did not give a reason for why the series was ending.

“WNET is honored to have been the producing station for ‘Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly’ all these years,” said Stephen Segaller, vice president of programming for WNET. “We take great pride in all the awards and accolades the series has deservedly garnered during this time.”

The show won more than 200 industry awards, including all of the Religion News Association’s 2016 honors for television news magazine religion reporting, and made similar RNA sweeps in two previous years. It was also honored with the Wilbur, Gracie Allen and New York Festival awards.

The statement said the Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly website, which won five Webby Awards, will remain available. It provides access to an extensive archive, including transcripts of individual shows and streaming videos.

About the author

Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks, production editor and a national reporter, joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.

27 Comments

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  • It is laudable that they will retain a website, but I regret that the broadcast program is ending, I enjoyed the program, though Abernathy’s demeanor was so carefully balanced that he came across as flat in his delivery with little enthusiasm for his reporting. Still as a broadcast precursor to other venues such as RNS it was groundbreaking.

  • Yeah, now we know Evangelicalism is just a guise to hide hate and Totalitarian Nationalism behind Bible quotes, the show were you try to bridge understanding between religions seem irrelevant now in the New Christian Trump America.

  • I have that this program is ending, as I’ve watched many episodes. They could have kept it alive longer by revisiting and updating some of the earlier topics, as the players and dimensions of abuse have changed considerably over the years. This is a dynamic topic which is not so easy to exhaust!

  • Too bad. I liked the show and felt the reporters did a good job. Thanks for the memories Mr. Abernathy and all.

  • I’m sure your favorite program ‘Democracy Now’ will still be on PBS promoting communism, socialism, and atheism..

  • That is some serious twisted thinking especially now that the election is over and it is blatantly apparent it’s the Democrats who are full of hatred.

  • Look up the etymology. different origins. Modern dictionaries skew the definitions so they are both the same thing. Yes the modern dictionaries are wrong.

  • Am really sad to see the program being terminated. During these times of political divisiveness as reflected in inter-politiical – inter-religious – inter-cultural – even inter-tribalism – racism – sexism, weekly feature programming provides a closer look at the determinants and insights for better understanding
    Bob, Kim, Sam, and “Lucky” [sic] are great personalities in their respective reporting! God bless.

  • You may need to look up the etymology. Modern dictionaries skew the definitions so that both are the same. They are wrong. So get some edumucation yourself.

  • Call me weird, but I’d trust a modern dictionary over a commenter’s dug-in heels protesting the evolving definitions of words in the living English language.

  • “Religion”, “ethics”, “facts”, “respect”. For better and for worse, meanings change.

    Another prime example is “nice”, which originally meant “foolish”. Ironically, a modern group of incivility experts are working overtime to restore that definition.

    “…it is blatantly apparent it’s the Democrats who are full of hatred.” — Nice.

  • Surely you jest – religion based on morality ?
    Religion is based on subservience – do as I say – not as I do.
    And keep filling my collection plate as your inculcated lord and master….

  • Morality is, or can be, universal. Ethics is the practice of following the customs and practices of one’s fathers, and their fathers.

  • So sorry this show is ending. R&ENW’s balanced presentation is needed more than ever with today’s nasty political climate. Hope some part of it survives somewhere.

  • Yes Abernathy was one of the very rare balanced persons in the media. To me this just speaks to the increased secularization of society.

  • I have been watching this program on frequent (albeit irregular) basis for a very long time. Its discontinuance is both upsetting and inexplicable. Television executives seem almost willing to kill for this combination; a program that informs, is truthful and highly rated. It is my opinion that this termination is one more step being taken to marginalize religious practice and liberty in this country; it is funded by the homosexual and lesbian communities, who voice support for religious freedom and open debate, as long as it fits their own agenda. I wonder how long WNET will last if Washington completely disowns the entire lot? I also wonder how much fun you will find a Congressional hearing regarding the stifling of religious speech? Have fun!!!!!

  • Whaaa?

    Are you seriously blaming the LGBT community for the supposed decline of religion in this country? Do you really think that gays and lesbians are funding some movement to bring religion down? Are you saying they’d try to get a show like R&E off the air? THAT’S what I would call “inexplicable.”

    Many conservative religions have spent literally centuries rejecting, demonizing, abusing, (and/or trying to “heal”) LGBT people, chasing them away from the churches that many of them would have stayed in if they felt welcome and safe there—or if they hadn’t been flat-out traumatized enough to drive them away forever. Who in their right mind could pursue spiritual well-being and growth in an environment rife with people telling them that they’re on the express train to Hell?

    Many churches that have made themselves known as LGBT-friendly have done just fine; mine has been one of them for decades and I can tell you that none of our LGBT members (nor any of my lesbian/gay friends outside of our church) are trying to squash religion, and no, they’re not stomping on anyone’s speech, either.

    You watched the show frequently? It sounds to me like you didn’t watch at all.

  • I join in the voices expressing sadness at the termination of this series. While I’m a secular humanist, I have also been a fierce defender of the religious freedom our nation’s founders wisely implemented. In the current social climate, I think this show is needed as much as it ever was, maybe even more.

  • Rachel Maddow rings a bell, and one cult starts drooling; Sean Hannity rings a bell, and another cult does likewise.

    Perhaps this program could have done an expose on the political, economic, cultural and ideological superstitions that prop up the two crimninal gangs in Washington, who through rules barring access; protecting their cartel, maintain control over our government.

    According to the WSJ, only 20% of registered voters are Repugnicans, while 23% are Dimocrats, making registered independents a majority, who are allowed little voice in the choice of candidates in general elections, through the continued use of closed primaries.

    This is to say nothing of the 46% of eligible voters, so alienated by the two criminal gangs, that they can’t even be bothered to register for the charade.

    Is this a formula for success? Is it democracy? How long will the corporate media be able to prop up the two (minority) criminal gangs and their cartel, as “major” political parties? How long will they be able to hypnotize the two foamy,ranty paranoid and delusional cults, that willingly support what amounts to a protection racket?

    Religion and ethics indeed…

  • P S Drumpf v Clinton (boorish predators v soulless yuppies) is what circling the drain looks like.

    It may be “representative” government, but not for me…

  • I am truly sorry about the length of time since we both voced our views on this subject. I am highly desirous to engage you further, but I have been quite ill over the last year or more. I am old, tired, grumpy and stubborn. I short, I sometimes generate more heat than light. If you are willing, we can continue, and I promise to remain civil and to avoid being disagreeable, as far as I can. Deal?

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