What is it with religious news? (You need a Jerry Seinfeld tone with that.) People just don't know how to cover religious news. I'm not sure I know how either. But basically there several types of stories that are repeated over and over, and in my humble opinion, it just ain't news.
The first type of story is poll which does not talk about anything new. We find out people are religious but not too religious. People have conflicting belief patterns, for instance those who are trusting in Christ for their salvation but think there is no hell. What exactly are they saved from? (I know sin but still...) Polls are center on man, not the work of God. The assumption behind a poll is that you are documenting social phenomena. This fits well with the assumption that religion is a social construct that helps individuals and society give transcendent explanations. Polls also emphasize American individualism and also emphasize the function of the church as an institution to serve individuals as opposed to please God. Mind you, I'm a 40 something year old guy who enjoys trendy music and contemporary worship which is connected to the best music and practice from the history of the church. But it really is not about me is it.
The second type of religious news is that of scandal. Preachers who steal money from the church, have an affair or a fight of some sort. Of course in a sense this about the lack of religion not true religion.
The third type of story is legitimizing of some off the wall theory held by some group of so called scholars. The Jesus Seminar has receive some press as has the best selling book The Da Vinci Code. I see this a more news than the prior two but only accentuates on the esoteric.
I think journalists need a formula for writing this sort of news. Twenty years ago who would have believed that there would be a specialized market for software news or health news. Both of these are easy to find and follow. I would like to hear what others think my be a good way to actually cover religion without it being a story on politics and religion. Comments are welcome.