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News & Press: Development

Stiefel Freethought Foundation awards grant to RNLLC

Monday, August 22, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rachel Friel
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August 22, 2011

Contact: Yonat Shimron



Stiefel Freethought Foundation awards grant to RNLLC


Religion News LLC, the parent corporation for Religion News Service (RNS) was recently awarded a generous $50,000 grant from the Stiefel Freethought Foundation for coverage of the growing community of atheists, agnostics, humanists and freethinkers.


The grant will allow RNS to bolster its coverage of this segment of the U.S. public with a series of news, investigations, feature stories and photos.


RNS is a trusted source of authoritative news about religion, spirituality and ideas. Monday through Friday, the Washington, D.C. –based wire produces dozens of news and feature stories and distributes them to 200 media organizations, including The Washington PostUSA Today, and The Huffington Post. RNS also has many religious media subscribers, including National Catholic Reporter and Christianity Today.


Surveys consistently show that the number of people who say they are unaffiliated with any particular faith is growing. A recent Pew survey indicated 16.1 percent of the U.S. public now considers itself unaffiliated, more than double the number who said they were not affiliated with any particular religion as children.


While not all unaffiliated Americans are atheists, this particular group has shown a newfound willingness to assert its presence and demand equal treatment. In addition, academics are beginning to study the non-religious, sometimes known as "nones,” to probe what unites and divides them. The Stiefel Foundation grant allows RNS to expand its reporting staff to cover the movement, which tends to be portrayed selectively or sensationalized in other media accounts.


"Numerous studies have shown that non-believers are growing faster than many traditional religious groups,” said Kevin Eckstrom, editor-in-chief of Religion News Service. "If we want to better understand the values and beliefs of the American public we need to pay more attention to this group. We are grateful this grant allows us to do that.”


Todd Stiefel, the founder and president of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, is a former pharmaceutical executive and full-time activist who lives in Raleigh, NC. He has given more than $3 million dollars to support various freethought causes.


Founded in 1933, RNS was recently sold to a group of professional religion reporters in the secular media who have restructured the service as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. It does not endorse or promote any particular religion, creed or set of beliefs or non-beliefs.




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