Buckner won second place in the 2012 American Academy of Religion’s journalism awards. The annual awards recognize “well-researched newswriting that enhances the public understanding of religion,” according to executive director John R. Fitzmier. Founded in 1909, the AAR is the world’s largest association of academics who research or teach topics related to religion, with some 10,000 members in North America and abroad.
Buckner submitted articles on Satan in American culture; Mormonism becoming part of the American mainstream; congregations striving to be more racially diverse; concepts of Hinduism widely accepted in the United States; and a pastor’s stance on homosexuality and church teachings that put him at odds with his congregation.
Buckner’s religion reporting also won a second place award from the national Society for Features Journalism. Buckner won second place in specialty reporting in the Division 1 category (for newspapers with up to 90,000 circulation).