Independent Journalist Julie Roys on Faith, Pursuing and Reporting Truth, and Why American Christians Need to be More Courageous

Julie Roys

Journalist Julie Roys said she’ll never forget the moments when she discovered stories of abuse and corruption in the Christian world. But she isn’t bitter when she talks about these experiences and the pressure she’s faced from powerful evangelical leaders, and sometimes even friends, to cease her investigations.

In the past two years, Roys has led Christian investigative journalism in reporting on the sins of American church leaders. After reporting on financial mismanagement at Moody while working there, Moody fired Roys from her job as a radio host.

She then started her own investigative journalism site, The Roys Report, where she broke stories about allegations of financial malfeasance and bullying by James MacDonald at Harvest Bible Chapel, sexual misconduct allegations against Bill Hybels at Willow Creek, which he denied, and an alleged online sexual relationship involving the late Ravi Zacharias, along with other stories on leadership failures in church life.

“People honestly didn’t want to hear it,” Roys said about the stories she’s uncovered. “It’s like saying something bad about their grandmother. It may be true, but it’s too painful for them to hear it.”

When she talks, Roys chooses her words carefully, but as a writer does, not as a politician does. She wants to say things right.

Growing up as a missionary kid who spent her first years in Zimbabwe, Roys said she loved growing up in Africa. There, her parents taught her to put service above her own needs, she said.

“Part of that is very good, but sometimes the missionary dynamic can put personal needs on the back burner,” she said.

Roys’ first experience with investigative journalism was in a Wheaton College class, where journalism professor Paul Fromer said Luke was the first journalist. In his Gospel and in Acts, Luke interviewed witnesses to present a detailed and accurate account of Jesus’ life on earth.

“He really engrained in us that journalism was the pursuit of truth,” Roys said. “That resonated with me as a noble calling.”

The class also gave her the first journalism experience she’d never forget. During a reporting project on the effectiveness of short-term missions, Roys said she asked for a publicly available budget from Wheaton’s Office of Christian Outreach. After staff evaded her questions and she continued asking, the director of the Office of Christian Outreach screamed at her until she walked away, shaking, she said.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jackson Elliott

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