According to members of the Religion Newswriters Association (he world’s oldest and largest professional association for journalists who write about religion), the top 10 religious news stories of 2012 are
- U.S. Catholic bishops lead opposition to Obamacare requirement that insurance coverage for contraception be provided for employees. The government backs down a bit, but not enough to satisfy the opposition.
- A Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey shows that “nones” is the fastest-growing religious group in the United States, rising to 19.6 percent of the population.
- The circulation of an anti-Islam film trailer, “Innocence of Muslims,” causes unrest in several countries, leading to claims that it inspired the fatal attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya. President Obama, at the U.N., calls for tolerance of blasphemy, and respect as a two-way street.
- Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith turns out to be a virtual non-issue for white evangelical voters, who support him more strongly than they did John McCain, in the U.S. presidential race.
- Monsignor William Lynn of Philadelphia becomes the first senior Catholic official in the U.S. to be found guilty of covering up priestly child abuse; later Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Mo., becomes the first bishop to be found guilty of it.
- The Vatican criticizes the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an umbrella group of U.S. nuns, alleging they haven’t supported church teaching on abortion, sexuality or women’s ordination.
- Voters OK same-sex marriage in Maine, Maryland and Washington, bringing the total approving to nine states and the District of Columbia. Also, Minnesota defeats a ban on same-sex marriage after North Carolina approves one.
- The Episcopal Church overwhelmingly adopts a trial ritual for blessing same-sex couples. Earlier, the United Methodists fail to vote on approving gay clergy, and the Presbyterians (USA) vote to study, rather than sanction same-sex marriage ceremonies.
- Six people are killed and three wounded at worship in a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee. The shooter, an Army veteran killed by police, is described as a neo-Nazi.
- Southern Baptist Convention elects without opposition its first black president, the Rev. Fred Luter of New Orleans.