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Bob Smietana

Bob Smietana is a veteran religion writer and national reporter for Religion News Service.

All Stories by Bob Smietana

His art was an act of ‘sacred listening’ says ‘Portraits in Faith’ photographer

By Bob Smietana — January 27, 2023
(RNS)— A selection of Daniel Epstein's portraits is now on display as part of an exhibit called 'See the Other,' at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.

‘He Gets Us’ organizers hope to spend $1 billion to promote Jesus. Will anyone care?

By Bob Smietana — January 26, 2023
(RNS)—This year’s Super Bowl will feature a $20 million pair of pro-Jesus ads promoting the idea that Jesus ‘gets us,’ part of the larger ‘He Gets Us’ campaign. Organizers hope to spend a billion dollars in the next three years to redeem Jesus’ brand.

YouVersion Bible app hires former Facebook exec to fuel growth

By Bob Smietana — January 19, 2023
(RNS) — Now in its 15th year, the team behind the popular Bible app has big plans for the future.

At Boston-area church, a theology lab tackles complex topics with humility, curiosity

By Bob Smietana — January 19, 2023
(RNS) — In recent years, Highrock Church has held a series of conversations about topics such as Black theology and American evangelicalism — hoping to model conversations where people with differing points of view can listen to one another.

Johnny Hunt, disgraced former SBC pastor, makes defiant return to the pulpit

By Bob Smietana — January 18, 2023
(RNS) — Hunt told a Florida megachurch that false allegations had ruined his life but he still has faith in Jesus.

Federal court dismisses LGBTQ students’ class-action discrimination lawsuit

By Kathryn Post and Bob Smietana — January 13, 2023
(RNS) — The lawsuit claimed that the US Department of Education failed to protect LGBTQ+ students at religious schools from discrimination.

Diane Langberg on church leaders and abuse: ‘We have utterly failed God’

By Bob Smietana — January 12, 2023
(RNS) — For five decades, psychologist Diane Langberg has worked with survivors of abuse and trauma. She remains amazed by their courage — and dismayed by the way church leaders have failed survivors of abuse.

Dispute over abuse hotline reveals how far the SBC still has to go

By Bob Smietana — January 11, 2023
(RNS) — A group of Southern Baptist leaders is working to implement a set of reforms to respond better to sexual abuse. But many survivors still distrust them.

Chicago pastor James Meeks bids a tearful farewell after 38 years at Salem Baptist

By Bob Smietana — January 9, 2023
(RNS) — After 38 years as a pastor, Meeks said he wanted to leave while his church was still doing well. The Rev. Charlie Dates, who grew up at Salem, will become pastor of one of Chicago's largest congregations. The farewell service was attended by politicians and friends, including Jesse Jackson and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Who are the Christian nationalists? A taxonomy for the post-Jan. 6 world

By Bob Smietana — January 6, 2023
(RNS) — A guide to emerging Christian nationalist voices.

More Americans stay away from church as pandemic nears year three

By Bob Smietana — January 5, 2023
(RNS) — Many Americans already had dropped out of church life before the pandemic. COVID-19 gave them a reason to let go completely, according to a new survey.

In Haiti, a crisis of violence, chaos, and cholera goes largely ignored by outside world

By Bob Smietana — December 27, 2022
(RNS) — Charities do what they can to help the impoverished nation, but international action is needed to bring order and restore infrastructure, experts on the ground say.

How the battle over Christian nationalism often starts with homeschooling

By Bob Smietana and Emily McFarlan Miller — December 23, 2022
(RNS) — Some of the most popular homeschool curriculum textbooks teach that the first Europeans to arrive in Virginia and Massachusetts made a covenant with God to Christianize the land.

Some Americans want less Mariah Carey for Christmas

By Bob Smietana — December 22, 2022
(RNS) — A survey from the global marketing firm Ipsos found many Americans think the meaning of the season is lost.

Black atheist leaders quit Black Nonbelievers over alleged misconduct by president

By Bob Smietana and Alejandra Molina — December 20, 2022
(RNS) — Mandisa Thomas said she mishandled a ‘personal situation’ during a recent cruise held by the prominent Black secular group.
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