In 2013, America’s oldest newswire focused on religion and spirituality offered a young writer named Jonathan Merritt a chance to write regularly for their website. During that time, my work at Religion News Service sparked national conversations among Christians from various traditions and attracted more than 4 million readers. Half a decade later, however, my work there will now conclude due to irreconcilable differences with the leadership–both the publisher and the interim editor-in-chief.
Sarah Jones of the New Republic has detailed what she called “the spectacular implosion of Religion News Service.” Those interested in the recent changes and current state of the organization can read her perspective as well as others who have reported on these shifts online. These developments resulted in the firing of a capable and respected editor-in-chief, the resignation of some of the best religion reporters I have ever known, and now, my untimely departure. Though my integrity would not allow me to remain, the details of my disagreements with RNS leadership are unimportant except to those involved and litigating them in public at this time will not serve either party well.
Despite these unfortunate developments, I would be remiss if I did not express my profound gratitude for the many years I spent as a columnist for Religion News Service, and my desire for the organization to regain the standing it once held in the journalistic world. I am grateful that so many of you read, interacted with, and shared my work these last five years. And I’m grateful to have worked with such a talented team. Though I have been the top traffic generator at Religion News Service, I do not overestimate my contribution there. Many outstanding religion writers remain among their ranks, and in the days ahead, I will continue to champion their work and share their stories with all of you.
As for me, do not worry, dear readers. I will continue writing columns about religion as I always have in various other outlets, and you can engage my work in the pages of my forthcoming book, “Learning to Speak God from Scratch.” I remain committed to providing thought-provoking and necessary religion content to help you process and confront the issues we now face.
It has always been for you–my readers–that I write.
And that will never change.