Associated Press Religion Unplugged

Is Nashville the center of the religion news universe? For today, let’s say so

By Bobby Ross Jr. | Religion Unplugged

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Twenty years ago, I moved to Nashville, Tennessee, to work for The Associated Press.

I spent less than a year in Music City before transferring to Dallas, but oh, what a fun 11 months for a religion reporter (and country music fan).

I covered the fight over a proposed Tennessee lottery and a prayer service on the night the Iraq War began, but some of my favorite stories were less weighty:

The Tennessee staff of The Associated Press in 2003

A profile of a man who paid children $10 each to learn the Ten Commandments (until 15,000 “memorization affidavits” from across the nation flooded his mailbox after my story ran).

A feature on Gospel Music Week, when some of Nashville’s most popular bars and nightspots traded lying-and-cheating songs for hymns about prayer and redemption.

An interview with the 104-year-old widow of a famous Black traveling evangelist.

Blame Liam Adams, The Tennessean’s religion reporter, for this trip down memory lane.

In a fascinating deep dive published this week, Adams and his colleague Cole Villena delve into “Williamson County, the suburban ‘new frontier’ for American evangelical Christianity.”

Read the full column.

This column appears in the online magazine Religion Unplugged.

Shutterstock photo

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