The Year In Religion | KCUR

The Year In Religion

When religion is part of the news stories of the day, it can be very good - as when people of many faiths work together to provide disaster relief - or very bad, as when religious institutions become embroiled in financial shenanigans or sexual abuse.  In today's pluralistic world, even stories that might never be covered by the religion desk - like foreign policy debates, armed conflicts worldwide, or presidential election campaigns - have undeniably religious angles and implications.

Each year, the Religion Newswriters Association announces its Top Ten Religion News Stories of the year. Several of the stories of Kansas City-area connections.

Tuesday on Up to Date, Steve Kraske talks with KCUR's Brian Ellison, a member of the RNA (as well as a local pastor), Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Senior Religion Editor for the Huffington Post, and Kevin Eckstrom, Editor-in-Chief of Religion News Service, about the year's big religion news. They'll explore what made the list and what didn't, and why the organization didn't name a religion newsmaker of the year in 2011.

What's your nomination for, and opinion about the religion stories that shaped our world this year? Give us a call at 816 235 2888 or email us at You can also post comments on KCUR's Facebook page or Tweet us at @KCURUpToDate.


Kevin Eckstrom joined the Religion News Service staff in February, 2000 and became editor in 2006. Prior to coming to RNS, he worked as religion editor at the Stuart/Port St. Lucie News in Florida. He was the winner of the 2000 Cassels Award for small newspapers from the Religion Newswriters Association. Under his leadership, RNS was named Best Wire Service by the Associated Church Press for both 2006 and 2007 - the only time RNS has won back-to-back years. Eckstrom holds a M.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and a B.A. from The George Washington University.  In 2007, he was elected president of  the Religion Newswriters Association. His work was featured in Changing Boundaries: The Best Religion News Writing of 2003.

Contributor and host Brian Ellison has been at KCUR since 2008 in a variety of roles, including producer of The Walt Bodine Show, associate producer of Up to Date, and a regular substitute host of both talk shows. Prior to his work at the station, he was a producer and frequent guest on Up to Date's "Religion Roundtable," as well as a committed listener and volunteer, and has long had a passion for public radio and journalism in general. His work at the station includes exploration of politics and government, local culture and personalities, arts and literature, and the general-interest smorgasbord that is the heart of a good talk show. He enjoys a good conversation, appreciates a good story, and loves to enlighten and inform.  An ordained minister, Brian has served as pastor of Parkville Presbyterian Church since 1999. A graduate of Harvard University and Princeton Theological Seminary, he is also a freelance writer and an adjunct instructor at Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Mo.

Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush is the Senior Religion Editor for the Huffington Post. From 2003-2011 he was the Associate Dean of Religious Life and the Chapel at Princeton University. An ordained American Baptist minister, Rev. Raushenbush speaks and preaches at colleges, churches and institutes around the country including the College of Preachers at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., The Chautauqua Institute in upstate New York, the Center for American Progress, and the New America Foundation. He has appeared on ABC World News Tonight and is a repeated guest on CNN and NPR. He has been quoted in The New York Times and The Washington Post and was an original editor for His first book, Teen Spirit: One World, Many Faiths (HCI) was released in the Fall of 2004. He is the editor of the 100th Anniversary edition of Walter Rauschenbusch's book, Christianity and the Social Crisis – In the 21st Century (HarperOne). His work at Princeton included strengthening the interfaith community on campus. He was the Co-Director of the Program on Religion, Diplomacy and International Relations at The Liechtenstein Institute on Self Determination at Princeton University.