Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune. She is the 2005 recipient of the American Academy of Relgion's award for best religion reporting.

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The Unconventional Life of Anne Lister

by Kimberly Winston 11-22-2019
HBO's "Gentleman Jack" focuses on Lister's desire to find a wife and marry her in the eyes of God.

From HBO's Gentleman Jack

ANNE LISTER WAS a woman, but she was certainly no lady. That’s clear from Gentleman Jack, the HBO television series based on Lister’s life, which spanned 1791 to 1840. Gentleman Jack covers her daring ascent of the Pyrenees, macabre interest in human dissection, penchant for risky business dealings, and delight in women—both high-born and low—all while she gads across Europe in a man’s greatcoat, cravat, and waistcoat. We know of Lister’s exploits because she wrote them down, in a secret code of her devising. In between her romps, she recorded everything from the weather and her breakfast to her deepest thoughts and cares. All told, she wrote some 5 million words over 26 volumes. Lister’s diary is so important to the understanding of the private lives of British women in the 19th century that it has been called the “lesbian Dead Sea Scrolls.” “I love and only love the fairer sex,” Lister proclaims in its pages, “and thus, beloved by them in turn, my heart revolts from any other love than theirs.” But while Lister may have been largely unconventional for her time, she was a rather traditional 19th-century Anglican. Gentleman Jack’s focus in its first season (which concluded in June 2019) is Lister’s desire to find a wife and marry her in the eyes of God—something she accomplished by force of will and a prescient faith that, to quote Lin-Manuel Miranda, “love is love is love.”

Journalist Tom Junod on Fred Rogers' 'Spiritual Genius'

by Kimberly Winston 11-20-2019

Image via 'A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood' trailer 

The film also gets right Rogers’ deep belief in God and Junod’s persistent doubt. Junod was raised a Catholic but fell away from the church. For a while he attended a Presbyterian church, but now does not. He is still interested in the spiritual, he says, and a lot of that stems from his relationship with Rogers. This summer, as publicity for the movie was heating up, Junod recovered 70 emails he exchanged with Rogers from an old laptop, many of them about theology.

American Atheists Terminates Its President Over Sexual Misconduct Allegations

by Kimberly Winston 04-17-2018

Image via Flickr

The news of Silverman’s dismissal is a serious second blow to organized atheism, which has long struggled with charges of sexism and discrimination. In February, similarly explosive allegations were made against Lawrence Krauss, a prominent scientist at Arizona State University, best-selling author and popular speaker at atheist and skeptic events.

Cultivating the Connection Between Soil and the Soul With ‘Faithlands’

by Kimberly Winston 04-11-2018

Image via Kimberly Winston / RNS

In an attempt to reframe the story of slavery and reclaim food traditions, she has dedicated a section of the garden to re-creating some of the farming techniques and foods that enslaved Africans brought to America.

From the Black Church to India: The Theology of Martin Luther King Jr.

by Kimberly Winston 04-02-2018

Image via Creative Commons / RNS

“Since being in India, I am more convinced than ever before that the method of nonviolent resistance is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for justice and human dignity,” King said in a radio address in India.

A Brief History of Stephen Hawking’s Atheism

by Kimberly Winston 03-14-2018

British physicist Stephen Hawking delivers a lecture on "The Origin of the Universe" at the Heysel conference hall in Brussels May 20, 2007. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File photo

“What could define God [is thinking of God] as the embodiment of the laws of nature. However, this is not what most people would think of that God,” Hawking told Diane Sawyer in 2010. “They made a human-like being with whom one can have a personal relationship. When you look at the vast size of the universe and how insignificant an accidental human life is in it, that seems most impossible.”

First-Edition Book of Mormon Sells at Auction for $80,000

by Kimberly Winston 03-05-2018

Image via Everything But The House / RNS

The first edition, printed in 1830, is most precious to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because Joseph Smith, the faith’s founder, personally oversaw its production in a small storefront printer’s shop in Palmyra, N.Y. Thousands of Mormons visit a restored version of the shop in Palmyra each year.

Constructing Religious Worlds With Minecraft

by Kimberly Winston 02-06-2018

Image via RNS/YouTube

Some Minecraft users even “build” their own religious icons. Using blocky “skins” — Minecraft lingo for a character — they create Jesuses, popes, priests, rabbis, angels, and more to populate Minecraft worlds everywhere.

Republican Candidate in Hot Water After Tweeting List of ‘Jews’

by Kimberly Winston 02-01-2018

Image via RNS/Twitter

“I see you have me on this list,” New York magazine and HuffPost writer Yashar Ali tweeted. “I’m not Jewish…I’m a practicing Roman Catholic. But I’m in some pretty good company on this list…so feel free to say I’m Jewish.”

What Drives People to Snake-Handling Churches?

by Kimberly Winston 01-29-2018

Image via National Geographic Channels / RNS

They also routinely drink poison — strychnine is the usual cocktail — and apply flames to their hands or feet to show the power of God.

Four Faiths, Four Perspectives: A Year in, How Trump's Presidency Galvanized People into Action

Image via RNS/Jerome Socolovsky


“I really feel like activism is a form of sharing that love that God has given you,” she said. “Realizing that this world is made for all of us is something that’s transcending, and we have to inspire each other.”

Texas Church to Be Demolished, Like Other Mass Killing Sites Before It

The playground at the site of a shooting at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, U.S. November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking

“I have said sometimes there is a fierceness for survivors who say, ‘We have survived this and we have a faith that survives even in the face of something like this,'” Walsh said. “It is a reclaiming and it is a marking of a place as not just a place of death, not just a place of loss, but of life.”

Jehovah’s Witness Detained in Tajikistan for Objecting to Military Service

by Kimberly Winston 10-26-2017

Image via Jehovah's Witnesses / RNS

The right of Jehovah’s Witnesses to adhere to their faith’s rejection of military service — they believe their allegiance is to God alone — is recognized in the U.S. and other Western countries. But Tajikistan has no law concerning conscientious objectors.

New Film on Mark Twain Highlights His Religious Doubts

by Kimberly Winston 10-17-2017

Image via RNS

“I have a religion — but you will call it blasphemy,” he wrote in a letter in 1865. “It is that there is a God for the rich man but none for the poor … Perhaps your religion will sustain you, will feed you — I place no dependence in mine. Our religions are alike, though, in one respect — neither can make a man happy when he is out of luck.”

Sermon on the Strip: ‘Where Is God?’

by Kimberly Winston 10-09-2017

Image via RNS/Kimberly Winston

“We always know we need God,” he said, walking back and forth by an elevated slender podium, a microphone headset catching his every word. “But if there ever was a week when we really know we need God, this has been that week.”

Seven days ago — though most people here said it felt much longer — Stephen Paddock shot hundreds of people from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel before shooting himself. Fifty-eight people were killed — most of them tourists — and almost 500 were wounded.

‘The Cake Case:’ Freedom of Religion or Freedom to Discriminate?

by Kimberly Winston 10-04-2017

Image via RNS/Joel Kramer/Flickr, Creative Commons

All eyes should be on Justice Anthony Kennedy. At 81, Kennedy is the longest-serving, second oldest justice on the court and is a conservative — except when he’s not.

Kennedy has sided with the court’s more liberal justices on several landmark cases, as he did in Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 decision that made same-sex marriage the law of the land. But he also sided with the conservative judges in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, a ruling that the Christian-owned chain of craft stores could deny contraception coverage.

Will the World End on Saturday?

by Kimberly Winston 09-20-2017

Image via

Who can forget Harold Camping, the Christian radio media mogul who picked two dates in 2011, hit the airwaves, put up billboards, solicited money — and nada. He joined some rather famous names — Edgar Cayce, Sun Myung Moon, Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson [at least twice, but before he had access to the White House], and John Hagee among them — of failed futurists. Heck, Sir Isaac Newton himself, great astronomer and mathematician, bet that Jesus would return in the year 2000.

Some Americans Don’t Believe Muslims, Atheists Have First Amendment Rights

by Kimberly Winston 09-18-2017

Image via RNS/

More than half of Americans surveyed — 53 percent — believe undocumented persons have no constitutional rights when, in actuality, they do.

‘Christian America’ Dwindling, Including White Evangelicals, Study Shows

by Kimberly Winston 09-06-2017

Image via RNS/Sally Morrow

Almost every Christian denomination in the U.S. shows signs of growing diversity as white Christians, once the majority in most mainline Protestant and Catholic denominations, give way to younger members, who tend to be of different races, according to a study released Sept. 6 by the Public Religion Research Institute.

And American evangelicals — once seemingly immune to the decline experienced by their Catholic and mainline Protestant neighbors — are losing numbers and losing them quickly.

Rabbis Forgo Annual High Holy Days Call with President Over Charlottesville Remarks

by Kimberly Winston 08-24-2017

Image via  Nicole S Glass /

“Responsibility for the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, including the death of Heather Heyer, does not lie with many sides but with one side: the Nazis, alt-right and white supremacists who brought their hate to a peaceful community. They must be roundly condemned at all levels.”