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Religion writer's personal journey

July 24, 2007

Re "He had faith in his job," Column One, July 21

I read with great sadness the story of William Lobdell's experience as a religion reporter and personal loss of faith. Unfortunately, a religion reporter will always be exposed to the sleazy side of religion, because that is where the news is -- scandal and salaciousness are the lifeblood of news reporting -- and unfortunately, I am sure there will always be plenty of fodder.

What is mostly missing from the account is all that is done in the name of religion that is not newsworthy and reflects his original intent of sympathetic reporting: the millions of decisions made daily by flawed human beings to do the right thing, based on and motivated by their religious faith, and the tremendous reservoir of goodwill, integrity and personal sacrifice for greater good that this generates. I hope and pray that this legacy will be remembered and long outlast the evils of the current scandals and the harm they have caused to all.

Greg Fry

Los Angeles

I would like to express my gratitude to The Times for prominently publishing Lobdell's moving account of his journey from irrational faith to reasoned doubt. At a time when bookshelves and talk shows are flooded with lurid confessions by assorted religious charlatans, corrupt politicians and corporate thieves who all proudly claim to have made the soul-cleansing journey from sin to salvation, from self-loathing to self-righteousness, it is very refreshing and truly inspiring to read the honest story of a decent, intelligent man's painful realization that he could no longer pretend to believe what his head and his heart told him was not true. As one who has lived more than 70 years without the alleged benefits of religious belief, I want to reassure Lobdell that it is indeed possible to live a full and happy life without the assistance of priests, preachers, rabbis or imams.

Marvin A. Gluck


The gripping, yet tragic, developments in Lobdell's account serve as a reminder that faith can only be as enduring as the object in which it is placed. Putting one's trust in institutions, people or even a personal "salvation experience" will ultimately prove deceptive. Conversely, true Christian faith is grounded in reason and a real, historical Jesus who lived, died and was resurrected. Far from being a blind leap into the darkness, faith is a step into the light. Lobdell's story demonstrates that faith will inevitably be put to the test by God so that it may be proved genuine.

Drew Jessel

Simi Valley

It appears as though Lobdell has serious questions because of the failings of the Catholic Church. He is confusing belief in an institution with belief in the originator of the universe. Power corrupts. There is a point at which any institution loses sight of its reason for existence and becomes primarily interested in preservation, which leads to corruption. The recent lawsuits and the apparent coverup by the church are only a manifestation of the corruption within the church that has continued for centuries and will continue in the future as long as the church has power.

God has different meanings to each of us, and now that Lobdell believes that God may not exist, he is ready to begin the true search, which may or may not lead him to organized religion. I hope that Lobdell continues to report on religion -- he seems able to do so with intelligence and passion.

Patrick Schlup

Newport Beach

Lobdell's column is a must-read in this age when critical national and world decisions are increasingly based on religion rather than on facts and reason. But Lobdell's transformation is not yet quite complete -- he is still somewhat under the seductive spell of faith, as evidenced by his parting reference to "the gift of faith." Faith is defined as belief in the absence of rational grounds for that belief, or belief in the face of contrary evidence. Faith is not a gift -- it is a curse.

Carroll Slemaker

Mission Viejo

Jesus proclaimed and tried to explain the presence and reality of God's kingdom of truth, love and justice. Any church that claims to represent God's kingdom of truth, love and justice but practices the opposite has invalidated its claim. A reporter who reports truth about those who claim to represent Christ is closer to God's kingdom than those who officially represent it.

Ken Savage

Palm Desert

I found Lobdell's venture into Christianity to be incredibly telling. His story illustrates why some have faith and others do not. If you do not check logic and reason at the door when entering a religion, then you cannot remain devout.

William Linas

San Clemente

I hope that Lobdell continues in his present assignment. After rereading his article, I am convinced that he has finally found his faith. It is faith in himself that is most important, and he is fortunate to have found that faith. People like Stephanie Collopy need someone like him to continue to expose phony "Miracle Crusades" and "prosperity gospels."

Harry Shragg

Los Angeles

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