2012 in review: Contraception vs. religious freedom

I posted last week on the Top 10 religion stories of 2012, as chosen by the Religion Newswriters Association.

Readers who responded to the RNA’s list did not seem to disagree with the No. 1 story so much as the characterization of it:

1. 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.

Regular reader FW Ken commented:

The HHS mandates represent a first step towards publicly funded abortion, and, as such, it’s easily the most important religion story in the list. Calling it a “contraception fight” is simply minimizing spin.

The RNA provided a little more context in its description of its Religion Newsmaker of the Year:

1. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York becames a point man for Catholic objections to required coverage of contraception, sterilization and morning after drugs in Obamacare. But Dolan also took heat from the right when he invites the President to the traditional Al Smith Dinner in New York.

Interestingly, unless my eyes are playing tricks on me, the contraception/religious freedom issue failed to make HuffPost Religion’s Top 10 stories of the year.

Christianity Today ranked the issue as its No. 1 story of 2012, describing it this way for its evangelical audience:

Christian colleges and for-profit businesses sue over the Obama administration’s narrow religious exemption to its insurance requirements for birth control, including emergency contraceptives.

Continuing its dedication to scare quotes on this issue, Religion News Service listed A bitter pill: Rallying against contraception in the name of “religious freedom” among its 10 ways that religion shaped news in 2012.

If you can’t get enough of year-end lists and religion news, The Tennessean’s Godbeat pro Bob Smietana reflects on the biggest religion news in Nashville during 2012. World magazine recounts its top 25 articles of 2012. The Associated Baptist Press reviews 2012, The Gospel Coalition examines the top theology stories, and Ed Stetzer weighs in on the top religion news. Baptist Press shares its most-read stories of 2012. The Christian Chronicle highlights its most-viewed blog posts and quotes of the year. Vatican expert Sandro Magister looks at 2012 and makes predictions for 2013. And Christianity Today rounds up more year-end religion lists.

Image via Shutterstock

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About Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning reporter and editor with a quarter-century of professional experience. A former religion editor for The Oklahoman and religion writer for The Associated Press, Ross serves as chief correspondent for the The Christian Chronicle. He has reported from 47 states and 11 countries and was honored as the Religion Newswriters Association's 2013 Magazine Reporter of the Year.


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