Sixty Christian journalists from 15 states met in the nation’s capital on the grounds of the Washington Cathedral, primarily for encouragement and fellowship, elements that are in short supply in their profession. (Surveys show that 86 percent of the journalists in a typical newsroom seldom or never attend a church or synagogue.)

The conference in Washington, D.C., was the brainchild of Time magazine senior correspondent David Aikman, a charismatic Episcopalian who leads a monthly prayer group of journalists in Washington. “Anyone who says there are no atheists in foxholes has never been in a newsroom,” he quipped. But, nevertheless, he sees a place for Christians in secular journalism.

They were exhorted by Regent University journalism professor Cliff Kelly to practice “biblical journalism,” which is “a truthful report inspired by truthful motives brought by truthful means.” Christian journalists must stand for truth as objective reality created by God, he said, so they can “bring light into this present darkness.”

The keynote speaker for the November conference was former Beirut hostage Terry Anderson. Associated Press’s Mideast correspondent in 1985, Anderson was kidnapped and held by Muslim radicals until his release in 1991. Anderson, who had been a nominal Catholic, told the group how nearly seven years in captivity had revitalized his faith. He read the Bible 50 times while in prison. His religious awakening has changed his values so thoroughly that he is not sure he can return to journalism.

The Washington Arts Group, which organized the conference, is looking for seed money to finance future gatherings of Christian journalists. It hopes to address issues left unresolved by this conference, such as how to deal with the anti-Christian bigotry many journalists say they experience at work. Anderson had a partial explanation for that dilemma: “Journalists try so hard to be neutral, to be uncommitted to anything, he said, that seeing someone wholly committed to Christianity makes them nervous.”

By Julia Duin in Washington, D.C.

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