Religion News Service (RNS) is an independent, nonprofit and award-winning source of global news on religion, spirituality, culture and ethics, reported by a staff of professional journalists. It was founded in 1934 and features commentary by Thomas J. Reese, Jana Riess, Mark Silk, Simran Jeet Singh, Andre Henry, Omar Suleiman, Jonathan Merritt, Tara Isabella Burton, and other columnists. RNS journalism is republished in secular and faith-based news outlets alike, including The Washington Post, Christianity Today, and Newsweek. RNS, The Associated Press, and The Conversation operate a global religion reporting initiative.
The Religious News Service, its original name, was founded by journalist Louis Minsky (1909-1957) as an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. In 1983, RNS was acquired by the Dallas-based United Methodist Reporter and continued to operate as an independent news agency. In 1994, Newhouse News Service, a major publisher of daily newspapers and magazines, purchased it and changed its name to Religion News Service.
In June 2011, RNS was acquired by the Religion Newswriters Foundation, which became Religion News Foundation in 2016. Today, RNS operates under Religion News Foundation (RNF), a registered 501c3 non-profit organization, under the leadership of RNF CEO and RNS Publisher Deborah Caldwell.
RNS is governed by a Board of Managers in partnership with Religion News Foundation.
In April 2015, the Catholic News Agency (CNA) published an article disclosing that RNS had received a grant of $120,000 from the Arcus Foundation, an LGBT-rights advocacy organization, with the stated intent “to recruit and equip LGBT supportive leaders and advocates to counter rejection and antagonism within traditionally conservative Christian churches.” The CNA story questioned whether the grant had biased RNS's coverage of traditional religion, specifically citing an RNS article on Cardinal Raymond Burke. In response to the CNA report, RNS's then editor-in-chief Kevin Eckstrom denied that the Arcus grant had any influence over editorial decisions at RNS and noted that the grant language is “Arcus’ description of their funding, not ours.” The grant proposal to the Arcus Foundation had stressed only the need to “increase and improve domestic and international coverage of how religion affects a diverse range of LGBT communities.”
- Jones, Kevin (April 1, 2015). "An Arcus news service? RNS denies LGBT money influences religion coverage". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
- O'Loughlin, Michael (April 8, 2015). "Religion News Service defends grant from gay-rights group". Crux. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
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