Living with Doubt: Journalist Shares Insights on Religion

By Derek Noble and Elizabeth Roberts
The Pendulum
March 10, 2009

As both a journalist and a Christian, William Lobdell has put his faith to the test. He came to Elon not only to share his experiences, but also to discuss his new book, "Losing My Religion."

"Every place I turned to gather up my faith pointed to a different direction and the opposite direction. This was terribly disturbing to me," Lobdell said.

Lobdell, who found his niche writing for the religion beat in the Los Angeles Times, spent most of his time writing about various scandals within religious hierarchies. While covering clergy sexual abuse cases, Lobdell said started to doubt how the trauma of molestation affected people. "

My little dark journalistic heart thought that was way too much money for being molested," Lobdell said. "It was a couple times, it was 12 years ago. He should be able to get over it." After the press release Lobdell interviewed a victims applicant who read into his questions and invited him to a victims meeting.

"At this meeting there were six people from ages of 20 to 70 and every single one of them had been viciously raped by their priest many times," he said. "They were just changed people. They were empty."

Lobdell listened to their stories and said the tales of how the church hierarchy treated these victims became engraved into his mind. "I had written so much about the redemptive power of faith I had never seen the real and personal way, the opposite, the damage religion can do in the hands of bad people," he said.

Lobdell claimed he was living a double life — going to Catholic conversion classes and at the same time covering sex abuse scandals full-time. He said he viewed the church power structure as the problem but had faith the fundamentals of the church itself and the majority of its followers were pure.

During this time Lobdell went to a church service where the priest was stepping down from his position for a past "boundary violation." After his speech, the entire crowd stood for a standing ovation. After the service the congregation had a meeting in the parish hall and the laypeople wanted to vote to name the new parish hall after him.

"That really shook me up because it was the laity that was so blind," Lobdell said. It was these two particular incidents that caused Lobdell's faith to waiver. "I started to do extra prayer, I started to do extra Bible study and I went on another retreat to try to re-energize my faith," Lobdell said.

"I tried so hard to keep it but now I have to admit what is the truth for me." This truth, according to Lobdell and his book, is that faith no longer exists for him. Lobdell has found peace in this realization.

He said he has found himself living life more in the moment and hopes his publications and various talks will enlighten others who are also struggling with their own faith.


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