GetReligion is a new role for me, moving from coverage to commentary. I worked for years until November 2012 with the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, most of it as religion editor. Most of my work focused on the local level, covering the unbelievably rich mix of religions that is South Florida.
Among the stories I produced were two in-depth articles on Holocaust Revisionism, which were cited in a book by the American Jewish Committee; religious groups’ roles in recovery efforts after hurricanes Andrew and Wilma; Luis Palau’s Beachfest, which drew 300,000 people over two days; three appearances of the Dalai Lama, his first-ever to South Florida; the founding of the Jewish Museum of Florida, and in-depth features on Hindus and Muslims in South Florida.
I’ve taken occasional dips in the national pool, though: covering conferences of United Methodists, rabbis, evangelicals, religious broadcasters and two U.S. tours of Pope John Paul II. I also covered the centennial meeting of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago. And I wrote several stories on Heritage U.S.A., before and after Jim Bakker was ousted.
Since leaving the Sun Sentinel, I’ve been working mostly with The Florida Catholic, both stories and photo galleries of art in churches. I’ve edited two academic studies for the University of Florida and a study guide for a series of devotional films. And in the Fall of 2014, I'm doing releases for the Jewish Studies Initiative at Florida International University, Miami.
Besides my paid gigs, I do some volunteer work. I run the Faith and Values page on Facebook. I write God Online, an occasional media review blog that tmatt named. I gave a how-to seminar for Catholic reporters. I helped judge a contest by the Associated Church Press. And since 2009, I’ve been on a project to scan all the religion archives of historical societies around South Florida.
Quirkier stuff: I've judged a sand castle contest by a church and preached a Sabbath sermon for Sukkot. I’ve emceed two interfaith concerts for World Religion Day, produced by a local Baha’i leader. And I took part in an interfaith panel at Florida Atlantic University on faith-based humor, titled “My Religion is Funnier Than Your Religion." (I filled the role of The Baptist.)
Finally, some personal stuff: I was born in New Jersey but moved to South Florida as a boy of 6. I earned a degree in journalism from the University of Florida and took a short fellowship in religion and media in 2000 at Vanderbilt. My wife, Angela, is a retired nurse. Our son, Matthew, is a software developer who lives in Sapporo, Japan.
My personal likes include cats, Narnia, photography, awful puns, science fiction, Colombian coffee, the Lord of the Rings, carrot cake (with walnuts, please), and jazz and fusion music. Not necessarily in that order.