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.
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:
Religious diversity increasing: Religious diversity in the
U.S. and Canada continues to increase. The U.S. has been called the most
religiously diverse nation in the world. 2Numbers of adults identifying themselves as Christians
are dropping about 8% a decade; those not identified with a religion are
increasing, as are non-Christian believers.
Protestants become a minority: Protestants have recently became a minority in the U.S.
for the first time since the nation was founded. Further, religious polarization is increasing as the percentage of
fundamentalist and other evangelicals within Christianity grows, while
the percentage of mainline Christians continues its multi-decade
Reducing abortion rates: Pro-choicers are directing more
reducing the rate of abortions. There is lots of room for reduction, as the
U.S. has the highest abortion rate of any developed country.
Pro-choicers propose to attack the cause
of the need for abortions -- unwanted pregnancies -- through education
and contraception. Some hope that they can cooperate with pro-life
groups in this area.
Same-sex marriage: Attorney General
Patrick Lynch of Rhode Island said that same-sex marriages solemnized in
Massachusetts are recognized in Rhode Island.
More details. New Hampshire
has legalized civil
details. Same-sex marriage, which is recognized throughout Canada, has
become a non-issue among the Canadian public.
Christmas wars: This
is a conflict in North America over
whether people in December should wish each other: