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I'm an objective reporter on a religion beat. What's it like covering news about faith-based people? Well, I love them. I really do. And God loves them. And here are a few of my favorite, faith-based things:

I get special peace and blessings from religious people I write news about. People from the faith-based groups I cover e-mail me all the time. Lots of times they're nice, God bless them. But when they complain, baby, they preach it: I don't quote them enough. I leave out their group. I diminish their importance because I follow AP style and refuse to capitalize their job title when it appears after their name.

And their job title usually DOES appear after their name, because it's usually something akin to: Most Revered Holy Care Liaison for North American Regional Ethics and Conflict Resolution (MRHCLNARECR) for the United Church of Ramification. The best part is, after they're done giving me their 300-word theological interpretation of why my news is skewed, shoddy and insensitive, and their view on why my story has belittled and diminished their group, they tend to sign their feedback emails with things like "Peace," "Blessings," or "In Christ." I have an eternal and uplifting hope that all the peace and blessings I have gotten over the years will really help me make it to heaven, I mean, Heaven.

It's okay to have a beer with me if they turn their shirt inside out. Yes, church leaders sometimes go have a beer. They just need to take off their robes, or turn their shirts with faith-based logos inside out or simply take their nametags off. Then they go. Because everybody knows that once you hide your logo, Jesus can't see you. And that's cool. They are a lot of fun after that. I've never gotten one of them to do a shooter yet. But I will. Because I have eternal hope, I mean, Eternal Hope.

They're not afraid to make honest, caring, off-the-record theological statements about each other. As in:

"He's a right-wing nut case but he's real reasonable about it."

"She's a liberal pagan from that circle-of-life church, but they do care about the environment."

"He's a rabid Jesus freak but he was on CNN."

"She's just mean. No wonder her congregation hates her, bless her heart."

"He's not being very pastoral, but what would you expect from a New Yorker?"

You get the idea. Last week I was covering a workshop on why pastors should take care of themselves when they're caring for others. The workshop leader said, "If you have a glass of wine with dinner, that's fine. When you start having a whole bottle, that's a sign of job stress." So far, I'm with him, sure. Then, the man behind me hisses in a really righteous voice: "Well, except all alcohol is a moral problem." See? Someone's always sinning. Always. And that's so damn exciting to me!

They all email me the same "really great" story idea: a church service! Stop the presses. Psssssst: There's a church service in the faith community. And for all my colleagues who are war correspondents: Psssssst: There's violence in Iraq.


Bill Adams covers religion for an upstanding publication under a completely different name