Bob Smietana is a veteran religion writer and national reporter for Religion News Service.
All Stories by Bob Smietana
Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer’s plot to ruin Christmas, and America
By Bob Smietana — December 7, 2023
(RNS) — Jews have long played a role in shaping how Americans celebrate Christmas. For Christian nationalism leader Andrew Torba, their contributions are a sign of a plot to remove Jesus from the Christmas story.
Warren Throckmorton takes on David Barton and ‘Christian nationalists’ revisionist history’
By Bob Smietana — December 1, 2023
(RNS) — Despite past controversy, Barton’s influence has found an eager audience with the rise of Christian nationalism in the age of Trump.
Amid war in Israel and polarization in America, the Telos Group seeks peace
By Bob Smietana — November 30, 2023
(RNS) — For years, the Telos Group has worked on peacemaking in the Holy Land — and imagining a world where Israelis and Palestinians can both flourish. Their work continues despite the war in Gaza. And they've also begun to apply the principles of peacemaking to America’s polarization.
How a game designer turned Jesuit ended up writing about space religion
By Bob Smietana — November 21, 2023
(RNS) — In writing one of Starfield’s religions, Shane Liesegang drew on his studies as a Jesuit priest in training.
Art Simon, founder of Christian anti-hunger group Bread for the World, dies at 93
By Adelle M. Banks and Bob Smietana — November 17, 2023
(RNS) — ‘We can be accidental accomplices in keeping people poor,’ TV travel host Rick Steves said he learned from Simon.
‘No Small Endeavor’ host Lee Camp searches for the good life on the radio
By Bob Smietana — November 16, 2023
(RNS) — Once a Nashville-based variety show, the podcast has evolved into a conversation about the meaning of life. The show currently airs on a handful of public radio stations, with aspirations of going national.
Pastor and author Scott Sauls has resigned from Nashville megachurch
By Bob Smietana — November 13, 2023
(RNS) — Sauls, a protege of the late Tim Keller, was placed on indefinite leave this past spring after apologizing for an unhealthy leadership style.
Colleagues mourn the loss of Richard Gustav Niebuhr, religion journalist and professor
By Bob Smietana — November 10, 2023
(RNS) — A former national religion reporter for The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and New York Times, Niebuhr is remembered as a careful reporter and generous colleague.
How a bucolic Tennessee suburb became a hotbed of ‘Christian Nashville-ism’
By Bob Smietana — November 8, 2023
(RNS) — The mix of religion, power, money and influence around Nashville and its suburbs makes it fertile ground for a Southern evangelical take on Christian nationalism.
Mike Bickle, leader of IHOP movement, accused of sexual abuse
By Bob Smietana — October 29, 2023
(RNS) — Former IHOP leaders say several women have credibly accused Bickle of clergy sexual abuse. Leaders of the Kansas City-based prayer group say they are aware of the allegations.
Chaos erupts over SBC legal filing in Louisville abuse lawsuit
By Bob Smietana — October 26, 2023
(RNS) — A friend-of-the-court filing has led to questions of whether the Southern Baptist Convention has changed its ways in dealing with abuse.
In tough times, churches can’t afford to go it alone, new book advises
By Bob Smietana — October 20, 2023
(RNS) — Samford University sociologist Jennifer McClure Haraway looks at the way congregations in Alabama work together — and what congregations around the country can learn from them.
Islamic Relief, other charities call for cease-fire to allow aid to reach Gaza
By Bob Smietana — October 19, 2023
(RNS) — Aid groups are doing what they can but worry that time is running out to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.
Want to fix America’s woes? Start by getting to know your neighbors, researcher says
By Bob Smietana — October 18, 2023
(RNS) — Seth Kaplan, a researcher at Johns Hopkins who studies fragile states around the world, argues that rebuilding social capital— including religious congregations — can help address some of the more pressing social problems.
In new letter, US evangelical leaders support Israel’s right to self-defense
By Bob Smietana — October 11, 2023
(RNS) — Southern Baptists and other evangelical leaders call on policymakers to protect the lives of innocents and say Hamas is the enemy, not Palestinians.
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