Top religious events & trends for 2007
The Religious Newswriters Association polls its members near the end
of each year to assess their opinion on the most important religious news stories across
the world. 1 Their
selections for 2007 are shown in bold below, with our comments:
Republican presidential campaign: A conflict is intensifying among fundamentalist
and other evangelical Christians about whether they can
vote for Mitt Romney -- a
leading Republican candidate who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints -- the Mormons. Evangelicals and Mormons agree on many
topics, such as hatred of homosexuality, hatred of
abortion access, hatred
of pre-marital sex, hatred of
same-sex marriage, etc.. However they disagree in many theological beliefs, such as
the nature of God, Jesus,
Heaven, Hell, etc. Many conservative Protestant
faith groups have declared the Mormons to be a cult,
or sub-Christian or non-Christian. Meanwhile, the Mormons consider
themselves to be the true Christian church. They
teach that the Christian movement deviated from Jesus' and Paul's teachings
and sank into heresy early in its history.
Democratic presidential campaign: Democratic candidates are
promoting their individual religious beliefs after recognizing that the
candidates erred in this area.
"The issue:" Conflict continues within mainline Christian
denominations whether to treat members of all sexual orientations equally
in membership eligibility, acceptance for ordination, and blessing of their
unions and marriages.
This conflict has reached the point of schism within the
Communion. Conservative Judaism became more open to leadership by gays.
Global warming: Faith groups are taking stronger stances on both
sides of this issue.
Illegal immigration: Faith groups are also increasing debate on
both sides of this issue.
Monks' revolt: Buddhist monks in Burma (a.k.a. Myanmar) lead a
pro-democracy, non-violent protest that was violently crushed by their
government with a major
loss of life.
Episcopal Church, USA schism: Some dioceses
attempt to sever ties
with the denomination and seek oversight from foreign provinces in the
U.S. Supreme Court: With the recent installation of justices to
the court who follow a strict constructionist
legal philosophy, many justices now
view the Bill of Rights and the rest of the U.S. Constitution as
enduring documents. This means that they give major weight to the society's
values and the authors' intent during the era in which the text was
actually written. This approach results in a very different
perspective on civil rights, because when the original U.S. Constitution was written:
||Women were excluded from many professions.
||Women were denied the right to vote or run for office.
||Spousal abuse was very largely ignored
||Marital rape was not recognized.
||Many African Americans were not allowed to marry.
||Human slavery was an established institution.
||Homosexuals were jailed and sometimes executed.
During 2006, by the usual 5-4 vote, the strict constructionists
prevailed in three major cases: declaring a ban on
D&X abortions to be constitutional, allowing public schools to place
limits on students free speech, and denying the public the right to
challenge the Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.
Deaths among the leadership: Three leading fundamentalist leaders
died: Jerry Falwell, Rex Humbard, and D. James Kennedy. Billy Grahamís wife,
Ruth, and Jim Bakkerís ex-wife, Tammy Faye Messner also died.
Sexual abuse by Catholic priests: The Roman Catholic Church
settled three major cases for $760 million
dollars. Total to date is about $2.1 billion.
Our picks for 2007:
We agree that the choices of the Religious Newswriters Association are
important news items.
Other important factors are the continuing religious trends that are
slowly changing the religious landscape in the U.S. and Canada:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"Faith and politics top religion news story of 2007," Anglican
Journal, 2008-JAN-01, at:
Diana Eck, "A New
Religious America: How a 'Christian Country' Has Become the World's Most
Religiously Diverse Nation," HarperSanFrancisco, (2001).
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Copyright © 2008 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last update: 2008-JAN-01
Author: B. A. Robinson