Comment: My picks for top 10 religion stories of 2012
(RNS) Rabbi A. James Rudin, the American Jewish Committee’s senior interreligious adviser, is the author of the recently published “Cushing, Spellman, O’Connor: The Surprising Story of How Three American Cardinals Transformed Catholic-Jewish Relations.” Here are his picks for top 10 religion stories of 2012.
1. Islam dominated the year, with power struggles between Islamists and secularists in Egypt and Turkey and the brutal Syrian civil war with Bashar Assad killing thousands of his own people. An obscure anti-Muslim video produced in California triggered riots throughout the world. In November, Hamas, cited by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization, and Israel engaged in armed conflict until a cease-fire was declared. Christian minorities in Muslim societies suffered in 2012, especially the ancient Coptic Christian community in Egypt.
2. The “religious right” and Christian leaders Franklin Graham, Richard Land and Ralph Reed were losers when President Obama was re-elected, and three states legalized same-sex marriage and a fourth rejected a gay marriage ban. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops publicly opposed the federal contraceptive mandate, but Obama narrowly won the Catholic vote. He lost the Protestants by 15 points, but his biggest supporters — by a 70-point margin — were the “nones” who profess no religion. For the first time in history, no white Protestant was on either party ticket.
3. Mainline Protestant churches continued to lose members, and the number of Americans identifying as Christians also declined. The big gainers were the “nones” — now about one in five Americans.
4. The Anglican Communion’s new leader, former oil executive Justin Welby, succeeds Rowan Williams as the archbishop of Canterbury. Both men favor women as bishops, but the Church of England’s General Synod rejected the idea. Interestingly, the presiding bishop of the U.S. branch of Anglicanism, the Episcopal Church’s Katharine Jefferts Schori, is a woman.
5. The Catholic Church’s continuing sex abuse scandal was highlighted by the criminal conviction of Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City, Mo., who was found guilty of not reporting one of his priests who had taken hundreds of pornographic pictures of minors. Finn faced one year in jail and a $1,000 fine, but he was sentenced instead to two years of court-supervised probation, a first for an American bishop. A high church official in Philadelphia was also convicted for shuffling known abusive priests around his archdiocese.
6. For nearly a decade, the Presbyterian Church (USA) has debated whether to divest its investments from companies doing business in Israel. The proposal was defeated at the denomination’s General Assembly in Pittsburgh. Similar efforts by several other Protestant church bodies also failed.
Christian-Jewish relations suffered a setback in October when 15 church officials, mostly Protestants, issued a letter urging the U.S. to reconsider aid to Israel because of the Jewish state’s alleged “human rights violations” and “breaches of international law.” Jewish leaders criticized the letter, calling it one-sided and an example of a myopic “double standard” toward Israel, and withdrew from interfaith talks.
7. Anti-Semitism remains a pathological force in Europe and the Middle East. A recent soccer match in Rome turned ugly when fans began yelling anti-Jewish slogans at a visiting British team. Ten fans were injured by an Italian gang wielding baseball bats, knives and broken bottles. Officials were investigating whether anti-Semitism was behind what appeared to be an organized attack.
In Hungary, some right-wing politicians want to “screen” and register Jewish citizens in government because they are all considered “security risks.” More than 10,000 Hungarians in Budapest rallied against rising anti-Semitism. Many political, literary and academic European elites supported boycotts and sanctions directed against Israel.
8. Pope Benedict XVI, 85, was the subject of speculation about his increasing frailty and fatigue and whether he might be the first pontiff in 700 years to retire. There was also conjecture about his possible successor. However, during 2012 Benedict published a new book on Jesus and began to post messages on Twitter.
9. The year saw the proliferation of “couch churches” or “sofa synagogues,” decentralized gatherings of Jews and Christians who study, pray and share meals in a nonstructured form without benefit of clergy or the need to attend services in “big box” sanctuaries.
10. Notable deaths included the 26 innocent children and teachers at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.; Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon; former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir; and on a personal note, Lawrence Guyot, with whom I marched during a 1964 voting rights drive in Hattiesburg, Miss.
- Cheyenne Tomlison published the blogpost Why My Child is More Important Than My "Mothering".
- Jon Stallings“May I say to all I meet, I am journeying toward the Lord’s given place, come with me for your good.” – The Valley of Vision
- Michael Ernest published the blogpost ‘Love Displayed’ by Justin Kintzel (Free download + Video).
- Ron Edmondson published the blogpost How Some of the Best Discoveries Are Made – In Life and Leadership.
- Cheyenne Tomlison just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Brad Hambrick published the blogpost MP3 of SBC Panel Discussion on “Mental Illness & the Mission of the Church”.
- Anna Brown published the blogpost 5 Content Marketing Facts That Will Make You Feel Shocked.
- Wayne Stiles published the blogpost I’m Writing a New Book, and I’d Like Your Opinion [Survey].
- Mark McIntyre published the blogpost Christianity Boosts Education, Quality of Life in Asian Countries.
- Diane Paddison published the blogpost Mentors, Millennials and Monthly Favorites in This Week’s Friday Faves.
- Barry Pearman published the blogpost Do You Have A Soul Believer? 3 Qualities To Look For.
- Adam Smith published the blogpost No Time for Social Media? Hire a Virtual Assistant – Reade Milner.
- George Krickl published the blogpost The Plow: Moving from Biblical Examples to Our Ministry Manifesto.
- Janet Ridgeway published the blogpost Get Clean With Cottonelle And Save With A High Value Coupon.
- Jeffrey Totey published the blogpost Jet City's 'Wise Guys' - Squeaky Clean Show with F-Bombs.
- FaithVillage Administrator published the blogpost Emote Control - Part 8 - Depression - Emote Control.
- FaithVillage Administrator published the blogpost Emote Control - Part 9 - Cultivating Godly Emotions(1) - Emote Control.
- FaithVillage Administrator published the blogpost Emote Control - Part 10 - Cultivating Godly Emotions(2) - Emote Control.
- Brad Russell published the audio Social Media Mastery with Nils Smith | Pro Church Podcast.
- Brad Russell published the video No Man Is An Island | Tenth Avenue North [Music Video].
- Brad Russell published the video Promoting Charities on Social Media | Reggie Escalante.
- Brad Russell published the video The Difference Between 'Studying' and 'Reading' the Bible | Eugene Peterson.
- Brian Niece published the blogpost Street Theology Vol. 1 :: Lecrae “My Whole Life Changed”.
- Michael Ramsey published the blogpost The Essential Art of Saying "No" and How You Can Get Better At It.
- Kelley Mathews published the article How to Make Your Wedding Day the Best Day of Your Life.
- Mike Kim published the blogpost Free Webinar: How To Write An Effective Support Letter.
- Brad Russell published the article 'The Good of Politics' | James W. Skillen [Book Review].
- Brad Russell published the article 4 Questions to Ask When Creating A Church Social Media Position.
- Juan Galloway just moved in. Take time to say hey.
- Kelley Mathews published the video Engaging with LGBT Persons | Dallas Theological Seminary.
- Kelley Mathews published the video Ministering to People Wrestling with Sexual Identity | Darrell Bock.