Religion in documentaries- ‘The Overnighters’

By Amber Rosamond

The documentary “The Overnighters”, which was shown at Mizzou RNA’s March meeting, brings into question Pastor Jay Reinke’s motives for continuing his program, despite his communities’ strong disapproval.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the movie, here is a brief intro:

With an oil boom hitting North Dakota and creating an influx of jobs, ambitious souls packed up their things and began the search for a better life.

Upon arriving in North Dakota, many didn’t have a place to stay. But there was one church willing to the give them a home–Concordia Lutheran Church in Williston.

With the overnighters program, ran by Pastor Jay Reinke, workers with no place to go were given a spot in the church or the church parking lot. They agreed to stay no longer than a month, as the church served only as a place to stay while the workers created a new foundation.

Members of the church were at first in support of the program, but grew tired of the constant newcomers quickly. The city disagreed as they felt their town was being taken over by dangerous criminals (as many of the workers who came did have criminal backgrounds). So all in all, Pastor Reinke was the backbone of the program and the majority of people were against him.

Throughout the movie, Pastor Reinke is painted as a man who does good as a way to spread God’s love. He lived a Godly life and seemed to be the only one in Williston who truly understood the meaning of forgiveness and second chances. Even when his supportive family was willing to throw in the towel, Pastor Reinke stuck to his program.

But at the end of the film, we learn that the Pastor has some secrets. He had committed adultery with another man and none of his followers had any idea.

At this point, all of his previous righteous acts are brought into question. Was he living and speaking the Gospel to spread the word of God? Or was it an attempt to prove to himself that he was a good person?

Reinke also commented in the film that his private life and his public life had become too different–a statement that allows a lot of interpretation.

Can a Pastor commit adultery with someone of the same sex and still live a Godly life? Was the overnighters his chance to prove to the world and himself that he was indeed a good person? Would people still have followed him if they knew everything about him?

And finally, what role did journalism play? A reporter constantly pestered him about his life and what he was doing. One of the stories that kept being brought up was how the pastor was housing a convicted sex-offender. The public had a right to know but what consequence does that bring? How are we affecting people when we write these stories?

Let us know what you think!

When Is Speech Too Free?

By Amber Rosamond

In what BBC News called the “worst security crises in decades”, the recent shooting in France has raised an international question: Where is the line drawn for free speech?

As the Missouri School of Journalism, professionals were brought in to help students answer that question. In the Nous Sommes Tous Charlie forum that took place on Tuesday, February 2nd, educated speakers gathered to expand on the idea of too much free speech.

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5 W’s & H series: Why

By Rachel Trujillo

Religion is personal; something that one might share with their loved ones, with the God that they believe in or perhaps just themselves. To some, religion is the one thing they know to be true in this world and the one backbone they can rely on in their daily lives.

This private belief is not really private at all though.

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5 W’s & H series: Where

By Caitlin Kerfin

Religion in news is sometimes very obvious, like the recent popular Pope coverage. However, once you start looking for it, religion can be found in stories read daily in local, sports and national sections. Faith touches all aspects of life, so it can creep into your story easily. Even if you’re not a religion beat reporter, you will find it in your work, and probably not just once.

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5 W’s & H: When

By Ruth Serven

News never stops, and that is just as true for religion reporting as for any other kind of journalism. Religion journalism looks at current events and often uses these events to reflect on past events, or to look forward to the future. It covers more than major holidays or Sunday mornings – it discovers the religious angle of events, issues, or profiles members of the religious community.

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Welcome students!

Although Religion Newswriters Association is 65 years old, it has never had chapters at the nation’s college campuses. Until now.

With the University of Missouri starting the first chapter in 2013, Ohio University followed a year later. Other student chapters are in the works, too.

If you are passionate about journalism and passionate about reporting and writing about religion, then this is the place for you.

Religion Newswriters is the only group of its kind; it’s the only place where people understand what you’re talking about when you say you like to report about religion. We will help mentor you and make sure you’re gleaning everything possible from the professionals who work at media outlets across the globe.