A reporter for the LA Times looks at how the stories he covered affected him and his spiritual journey. William Lobdell relates how he went from enthusiastic believer to despair over the actions of the leaders and members of churches, especially as they covered up sex abuse by clergy.
When Times editors assigned me to the religion beat, I believed God had answered my prayers.
As a serious Christian, I had cringed at some of the coverage in the mainstream media. Faith frequently was treated like a circus, even a freak show.
I wanted to report objectively and respectfully about how belief shapes people's lives. Along the way, I believed, my own faith would grow deeper and sturdier.
But during the eight years I covered religion, something very different happened.
Sexually abusive priests, in all denominations, who are moved around and allowed to continue to work as clergy; fake healing ministries, and the prosperity gospel purveyors gradually sapped his faith.
My soul, for lack of a better term, had lost faith long ago — probably around the time I stopped going to church. My brain, which had been in denial, had finally caught up.
Clearly, I saw now that belief in God, no matter how grounded, requires at some point a leap of faith. Either you have the gift of faith or you don't. It's not a choice. It can't be willed into existence. And there's no faking it if you're honest about the state of your soul.
This "de-evangelization," as I call it, continues in all faith groups. Wherever power and secrecy are allowed, people will arise to use it for their own purposes and not the purposes of holiness.
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