Canada’s last remaining faith reporter reflects the past, and future, of religion

John Longhurst, who writes for the Winnipeg Free Press and The CJN, is the last remaining faith reporter in Canada. His collection of articles, "Can Robots Love God and Be Saved"?, is out June 2024. (Submitted photo)

In 2018, at a time when the faith beat in Canadian newspapers was steadily declining, John Longhurst made an unusual deal with the publisher of the Winnipeg Free Press. He wanted to help expand the paper’s audience by reporting on religion, particularly within local communities: Mennonite, Indigenous, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, whomever. The publisher thought it was a nice idea, but how would they get the money?

For Longhurst, the answer wasn’t difficult. He went out and fundraised it.

Since then, after every other faith reporter in the country has retired, been fired or passed away, Longhurst—who is also a Winnipeg correspondent for The CJN—has found himself the last man standing in his field, his career kept afloat by annual crowdfunding campaigns. And on June 12, he is launching his new book, Can Robots Love God and Be Saved?, a collection of articles and essays he’s written during his decades covering religion.

Longhurst joins Ralph Benmergui, himself a spiritual director, for a zoomed-out conversation about the state of religion in Canada today: what’s changed over recent decades, what the data shows and how reporting on religion has evolved.


Not That Kind of Rabbi is hosted by Ralph Benmergui and produced by Michael Fraiman. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To support The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt, please consider a monthly donation by clicking here.