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January 28, 2008

Some top 2007 religion stories reflect reader picks for '08

The other day I came across a list I'd set aside of last year’s top religion stories in the U.S. news. The list was selected by a poll of secular journalists who write about religion (the Religion Newswriters Association). The top stories?

1. Debate over presidential candidates in the U.S., with speculation over who evangelical Christian voters will support, and whether they would vote for Republican Party candidate Mitt Romney, a Mormon.
2. Efforts of Democratic Party presidential candidates, such as Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, to win support from “faith-based” voters.
3. Controversy and debate about gays and lesbians as clergy, particularly in the Episcopal (Anglican) Church.
4. Increased attention from both mainline and evangelical Protestants to the issue of climate change.
5. Debate among religious groups over immigration and non-documented workers.
6. The Buddhist-led protests in Myanmar.
7. Some US Episcopalians’ decision to align with Anglican bishops in Africa and other countries.
8. Three votes by the US Supreme Court on cases with religious implications. One vote upheld a ban on partial-birth abortions. Another allowed schools to establish some limits on free speech rights by students. A third denied a legal challenge to the US administration’s Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.
9. Deaths of evangelical Christian leaders, including Jerry Falwell, D. James Kennedy, Ruth Graham and Tammy Faye Messner.
10. That sexual abuse settlements in the U.S. against the Roman Catholic Church reached $2.1 billion in 2007, including a record $660 million settlement involving the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Many such news items, for The Lutheran, end up as short news summaries on the WorldScan pages. But interestingly, a 2007 poll of The Lutheran's readership to determine The Lutheran’s 2008 cover stories revealed significant interest in a few of those same issues, including immigration (March), the environment and ecological change (May), and church-state concerns (September).

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