Sep 25, 2020

RNF Sept. 2020 Update: Religious Literacy Project

Dear all,

I am very pleased to present to you the following report that covers June to September 2020. As you all know, this period of time has been one of immense upheaval and reckoning – both for the country and the world. We have been confronted by the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic which has thrown our social, economic, health, and other systems into turmoil, and dramatically impacted people in the U.S. and worldwide.  The United States also is facing a long-overdue racial justice reckoning more powerful than many of us have ever seen. In short, this is a time of immense challenges, but also of immense opportunities. I am pleased to share that during this time, Religion News Foundation (RNF) and its subsidiary, Religion News Service (RNS) has sought to meet these challenges and opportunities head-on.

The volume of our output steadily is increasing. This year we already have produced more journalism than we did in the entirety of the last year. Our traffic is steadily growing. June 2020 set record-breaking traffic on our website, and ongoing efforts in marketing, communications, and outreach have led more audience members to visit our site and read our content. We predict a further increase in traffic leading to and following the 2020 U.S. presidential election, which we already have been covering extensively in both news and opinion content.

I am pleased to express our gratitude to our excellent funders – the Lilly Endowment, Solutions Journalism Network, and the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting – and our partners – the Associated Press, The Conversation U.S., and the Association of Religion Data Archives. And, of course, I am always grateful for the support of you, our readers. We do what we do because we passionately believe in and love our work which we couldn’t do without your support. 

Thank you for your support. Stay safe,

Deborah Caldwell

CEO, Religion News Foundation

Publisher, Religion News Service


Jun 26, 2020

RNF June Update: Religious Literacy Project

Hello, all,

March to June 2020 has been a time of great progress at Religion News Foundation (RNF) and its subsidiary, Religion News Service (RNS). I began my new position as RNF CEO and RNS Publisher on Monday, April 6, 2020. Judith Golub also stepped into the role of RNF Director of Strategy and Planning at that time.

In this last quarter, we have worked hard on editorial and business strategy development, assisted by our media strategy consultant Oliver Knowlton. We also have been hard at work on our website, improving our SEO and growing our traffic enormously. A story by Jack Jenkins on police expelling a priest from a church ahead of a photo op by President Trump set our all-time record for pageviews; it currently has over 840,000 pageviews on the site.

We are very proud of the excellent journalism that RNS is producing. This is a time of unprecedented challenge – both in the U.S. and around the globe. During this quarter, the ‘first wave’ of the coronavirus pandemic, which triggered a severe economic downturn, has sweep across the world.  Also during this quarter, protests across America and the world are taking place following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a policeman.  These protests have sparked a vigorous debate about the inequalities African Americans are confronted with in policing and many other aspects of society.  Every step of the way, RNS’s reporters have been there, covering front line essential workers and protesters, raising important issues and covering the religion news angle in ways very few others would or could. I am proud of their hard work in capturing this enormously important moment.

We are deeply grateful for the support of our funders, collaborators, and partners. We cannot do our work without the support of organizations like the Lilly Endowment, Inc., the Fetzer Institute, and Solutions Journalism Network.

 As well, we thank you, as always, for your support. This work is important, and we cannot do it without your help.


Deborah Caldwell

CEO, Religion News Foundation

Publisher, Religion News Service


Mar 26, 2020

RNF March Update: Religious Literacy Project

December 2019 to March 2020 has seen great strides at Religion News Foundation and Religion News Service. As noted in December’s update, we continue to work with the Associated Press (AP) and The Conversation U.S. on the global religion reporting initiative, made possible through a grant from the Lilly Endowment. This time period saw the publication of the first joint project under this collaboration: a series on deaf worship. More joint series are to come in 2020 – stay tuned! As always, we remain grateful for the support of the Lilly Endowment, and grateful to be working alongside the AP and The Conversation.

Our collaboration with the Kalamazoo, MI, based Fetzer Institute continues to be very strong. Articles written under this collaboration are on new forms of religious and spiritual life. In this time period, some topics covered include Beyoncé Mass, a Canadian clergy curling tournament, ‘Lent-ish’ practices, and more.

RNS news and opinion coverage on the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has been excellent. Our Vatican reporter, Claire Giangravè, has been reporting from Rome on the government shutdown, changes to services at the Vatican, and more. Last week, she held a Facebook livestream to document Catholic faithful praying the rosary at the request of Pope Francis. To see our complete coverage, visit

On Monday, March 23, we were pleased to announce via press release that our next Chief Executive Officer will be Deborah Caldwell. A seasoned media executive and award-winning journalist, Caldwell brings decades of leadership experience from corporations, national media and digital startups. Before her current role as vice president of content marketing at Bank of America, she built an e-commerce content marketing strategy for 22 digital magazine brands at Time Inc., created revenue-enhancing editorial initiatives, and led as managing editor. Her first day will be April 6.

As always, thank you for your support of the important work of RNF and RNS. We couldn’t do what we do without you.


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