About Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Sarah Pulliam Bailey

I began reading GetReligion back in the day because my brother Daniel Pulliam (former GetReligion writer extraordinair) set my home page to the site. Little did I know I would end up writing for tmatt & co. one day.

I began covering religion news almost five years ago, thanks to an internship at Christianity Today, a magazine that covers the evangelical mainstream. I worried that religion reporting would put a dent in my journalism plans because I wondered whether editors thought it was a legitimate beat. I then discovered that it was one of the most compelling news beats — period — since it plays such an important part of many people’s lives.

For example, I found that in the military town of Colorado Springs, people were more interested in discussing the local Episcopal church’s split than the recent death toll in Afghanistan. I spent my college summers at newspaper internships, including the Gazette in Colorado Springs and The Columbus Dispatch where I wrote for the religion section (starting the religion podcast) and the state desk.

I studied communication at Wheaton College where I spent most of my time in the college newspaper office. That’s where I discovered for myself that Christians don’t understand journalism just as much as journalists don’t understand religion. But that’s the chicken and the egg question, right? Like every good Wheaton student, I took several Bible/theology classes, plus sociology of religion and sociology of evangelicalism.

Post-Wheaton, I began full time at Christianity Today, where I covered religion and politics during the 2008 election. These days, I focus mostly on writing news, writing and editing the politics and women’s blogs, and also do book interviews and profiles.

In August, I moved to Green Bay where beer, cheese and Packers reign supreme (insert Brett Favre joke). In September, I married my college boyfriend, who is a copy editor and page designer for the Green Bay Press-Gazette. I grew up in Indianapolis attending a Reformed Presbyterian church (an itsy bitsy denomination). On the side, I read, try to cook, and pretend to play the violin again.

Why cover religion?

As my sociology of religion professor put it, “how do you capture lightning in a bottle?” In other words, how do you empirically measure religion’s impact on a society? There are no convenient Dow numbers, touchdowns or votes to report. So while journalists attempt to cover the who, what, where, when, why, and how questions, they often miss the “why” question. Why did he vote for that candidate? Why does she spend every Saturday at a homeless shelter? Why did he give 10 percent of his income?

If journalists keep exploring that “why” question, they’ll often find a religion angle hidden right there in the facts of the story. That’s where GetReligion comes in.

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  • http://blog.christianitytoday.com/women Laura Leonard

    I’m really looking forward to reading your posts, Sarah!

  • Elizabeth

    Having followed your career since we both were playing at the back of the string section (you were always ahead of me) at Wheaton, I’ve definitely enjoyed reading and even watching what you’ve done over the last years. Thanks for keeping it up!

  • Sheerah

    This sounds like fun! I look forward to your insights.

  • Jerry

    Hi Sarah,

    Welcome to the fray.

    “how do you capture lightning in a bottle?” In other words, how do you empirically measure religion’s impact on a society?

    I guess I have to start our “relationship” with a quibble :-) There are many scientific articles purporting to do just that kind of measurement. I’ll grant a large amount of uncertainty, but just to take one favorite example of mine, the impact of religion on the US Civil War is pervasive and pretty decently explored.

  • Elizabeth E

    I look forward to continuing to follow your fantastic writing, Sarah. Great bio. I’m glad that there are young and intelligent women writing in these areas.

    Keep up the good work. ;)

  • Brad A. Greenberg

    Christians don’t understand journalism just as much as journalists don’t understand religion. But that’s the chicken and the egg question, right?

    And with that line, I imagine you’ve set the tone for many a great insights. Welcome, again.

  • Ammon Simon

    Sarah,

    I’m glad to see you’re writing for getreligion.

    I look forward to following your work and know that you’ll do a great job!!!!!

  • Rachel Thomas

    I am excited to read your upcoming blogs:)

  • spulliam

    Thanks for the kind words, everyone.

    Jerry, you are right – there are several scientific studies that try to measure religion’s impact. What I mean is, how do you attribute something to “God’s hand,” an “answered prayer” or “he came into my heart.” You can’t look at someone’s bank records or police report to make sure it actually happened.

  • Liz

    Sarah, I’ve enjoyed reading your work in Christianity Today — looking forward to your posts here!

  • http://www.gaelicgopher.org Greg

    I’m also an avid LOST fan, so come January, I’ll be looking for those religion hooks.

    Andddd I’ll be looking for those for sure. Welcome!

  • Doug Davidoff

    Hi, Sarah. Would you be, per chance, a daughter of Russ Pulliam? I worked with him at the Indianapolis News back in the day.

    Kind regards,
    Doug Davidoff
    Arlington, Mass.

  • Sarah Pulliam Bailey

    Hi Doug, I am Russ’s daughter. Thanks for your comment.