Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Top Religion Stories of 2006???

His Barking Dog has been preoccupied with activities within the Baptist clan during 2006. But, wiser heads have observed newsmaking events and trends in the broader culture. Their findings?

The Religion Newswriters Association has released its annual survey:

"The online poll of RNA members was conducted Dec. 8th to 12th. A total of 149 people voted for a response rate of 35 percent. RNA has conducted the poll since the 1970s. This year's results appear below.

1. Muslims in a number of countries react violently to publication of Muhammad cartoons in Denmark and other European nations. Scores of both Christians and Muslims are killed in riots in Nigeria.

2. Pope Benedict XVI angers Muslims by including in a speech a centuries-old quote linking Islam and violence. He apologizes and later smooths the waters on a trip to Turkey. Earlier, he begins to downsize the curia and emphasizes God's love in his first encyclical.

3. The Episcopal Church riles conservatives when the General Convention elects a presiding bishop who supported the consecration of a U.S. gay bishop, which conservatives oppose as unbiblical. Seven Episcopal dioceses refuse to recognize the leadership of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who is also the first woman elected to the top post. Later, the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin becomes the first diocese to adopt measures that set the stage for it to secede from the denomination.

4. Charismatic leader Ted Haggard resigns as president of the National Association of Evangelicals and is dismissed as pastor of the huge New Life Church in Colorado Springs after allegations surface of gay sex and methamphetamine use.

5. Candidates backed by the Religious Right suffer a series of defeats in the fall elections, with many voters citing morality as one of the strongest motivators in the way they cast their ballot.

6. Religious voices grow louder for peace in Iraq, but by year's end experts fear the spread of sectarian tensions throughout the Middle East. Conflicts between Sunni and Shiite Muslims increase, and the Israeli incursion in Lebanon aimed at curbing attacks by Hezbollah touches off major strife within Lebanon. Christian churches also reconsider efforts to pressure Israel on the Palestinian question.

7. The schoolhouse shooting deaths of five Amish girls in Bart Township, Pa., draws international attention on the Amish community's ethic of forgiveness after some Amish attend the killer's funeral.

8. (tie) The release of the film "The Da Vinci Code" adds to the previous buzz about Dan Brown's novel. Religious critics, who say the book portrays traditional Christianity as a fraud, are divided over whether to boycott the film or hold discussion groups. Controversial plot lines include Jesus marrying Mary Magdalene and conceiving a child.

8. (tie) Same sex marriage bans pass in seven of eight states that hold referendums on the issue during mid-term elections; Arizona becomes the first state in which voters defeat a same-sex marriage ban. Meanwhile, the New Jersey Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples are entitled to the same benefits as married couples.

10. President Bush casts his first veto to defeat a bill calling for expanded stem-cell research, to the delight of religious conservatives and the disappointment of more liberal ones. The issue is later credited with playing a deciding role in the key Missouri Senate race. Meanwhile, progress is reported in efforts to create stem-cell lines without destroying embryos."

What do you think? Are there events the religious newswriters missed that you think are of seminal significance? Are some of their choices less important in the long run?

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