Religious News Service accepts funds to provide more atheist articles

As RNS admits taking money, is there any conflict of interest? Ethical questions? Should an "impartial" news agency provide additional coverage in exchange for much-needed cash?

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While there’s no direct evidence that RNS violated these standards, taking money from a special interest group in the faith sphere causes one to wonder how rigorously — or honestly — the subject of atheism was explored. Furthermore, RNS is a wire service that numerous outlets (and big ones, at that) subscribe to. The stories that are written aren’t just published on the RNS web site; they make their way onto the Huffington Post, the Washington Post and other outlets that pay to publish them.

In an interview with TheBlaze, Stiefel discussed his foundation‘s gifts to RNS and said that there’s nothing that his group is doing that differs from what other religious groups currently engage in. While this may be the case, RNS has not yet received funding from any other special interest foundation or religious entity. Currently, the SFF is the only organization providing monies to the news group.

Stiefel reiterated that the purpose of the grants was to increase awareness of atheists and their increasingly-organized movement. He said that he plays no role in the ideological skew of the content.

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 “I have absolutely zero control over what they write, what they choose to write about, what goes in [the articles] — nothing,” he told TheBlaze. “Even some of the stories that have been written, I certainly– there have been some stories that weren’t positive about the freethought movement and certain aspects of it.” He also made note of two articles that RNS wrote about the atheist movement that were negative in nature. TheBlaze located one of these articles from July 2012 entitled, “Do Atheists Have a Sexual Harassment Problem?”

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Billy Hallowell, editor, The Blaze, a daily news, information and opinion site where you'll find thousands of articles about politics faith, technology, business and more
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