William Lobdell, the religion beat reporter for the L.A. Times, has an interesting first-person column out about how covering religion for the newspaper made him lose his faith.
He traces the arc of his faith and his job. How, when he was first assigned to the beat, he reveled in the opportunity to cover religion seriously since so many mainstream media treated it like a "circus". Then he immersed himself in the Orange County religious community, his reporting of others’ faith and spirituality deepening his own. And finally the disillusionment: Catholic sex scandals, intolerant sects, and money-hungry TV preachers, causing him to not only stop attending church but to disbelieve in God altogether.
It’s a sobering tale that speaks to me as a "soft" atheist who — like Lobdell, I presume — envies the community and comfort religion affords some people, but in the end cannot make the leap of faith.