John Dart, former Century news editor, dies

January 26, 2020

Former Christian Century news editor John Dart died July 3, according to his daughter, Kim Dart Hurwitz. Prior to his 14 years at the Century, Dart spent 31 years as a reporter at the Los Angeles Times, where he specialized in religion and was awarded the Supple Award for excellence in feature writing by the Religion News Association in 1980.

“I do like the intellectual side and the research side,” Dart told the Tacoma News Tribune in 2008 when he was awarded the RNA’s lifetime achievement award. “Motivation almost invariably comes from hearing about a great story that hasn’t been told yet or told well enough to bring out its significance.”

During his career, Dart authored or coauthored several books, including The Laughing Savior and Decoding Mark. As a visiting scholar at the First Amend­ment Center at Vanderbilt University in the early 1990s, he coauthored a study that was largely credited for encouraging newspapers to invest more in religion coverage. He then wrote one of the first primers on religion journalism, which was published by the First Amendment Center.

Dart was riveted by what he de­scribed as the “almost unlimited borders” of religion reporting.

“How many news beats can—and sometimes must—include details from history or ancient tradition to explain current conflicts?” he said in the 2008 News Tribune interview. “How many can deal with different ideas about the future, however misguided as many are, that are causing people to spend great amounts of money and time to spread their visions?” —Christian Century staff