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Reporter Seeks To Defend Religion, Loses Faith Instead

By Michael Krahn     Jul 31, 2007 in World
When experienced journalist and Christian William Lobdell asked to be put on the religion beat for the Los Angeles Times, the last thing he expected to discover was that his doubts would become stronger than his faith.
In a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, Lobdell describes the initial excitement of the job. “I had been on the religion beat for three years,” he says, “I couldn't wait to get to work each day or, on Sunday, to church.”
Investigating a case of clergy sexual abuse changed all that.
The clergy sex scandal would become the primary source of Lobdell’s disillusionment. As his investigation turned up credible sources that revealed the lengths to which the church had gone to protect a priest, his disappointment grew.
This particular scandal has been hugely detrimental to the church, a problem further exacerbated by investigations and subsequent revelations of blatant cover-ups and the shuffling of guilty priests to other dioceses.
All this led Lobdell to a question that deserves to be answered or at least explored by people of faith: “Shouldn't religious organizations, if they were God-inspired and -driven, reflect higher standards than government, corporations and other groups in society?”
Adding to his growing cynicism was what Lobdell discovered about Trinity Broadcasting Network, who went so far as to ask people already deeply in debt to make donations on their credit cards. At the same time, network co-founder Paul Crouch and his wife enjoyed $180-per-person meals paid for with tax-free donor money.
“As the stories piled up,” Lobdell says, “I began to pray with renewed vigor, but it felt like I wasn’t connecting to God. I started to feel silly even trying.” This led to the consideration of another possibility: “Maybe God didn’t exist.”
This consideration, one suspects, is not all that uncommon in today’s world, as books by atheists have become best-sellers and major topics of conversation. Obviously these authors have tapped into a growing irritation with the actions of people who claim to represent Jesus. Lobdell’s loss of faith stands as but one story of a growing number.
Listen to an NPR interview with Lobdell.
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