Top Ten Religion News Stories of 2012

Catholic bishops testify against Obamacare

According to the Religion Newswriters Association, the top religion news story of the year was the way that religious leaders responded to the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre. But they’d already voted on their Top 10 prior to that. So, here are the Top 10 Religion Stories of the Year, from the RNA:

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.

2. 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.

3. 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 toleration tolerance of blasphemy, and respect as a two-way street.

4. 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.

5. 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

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Let Me Repeat: Mitt’s Mormonism Matters

Bishop Mitt Romney, 1984

This morning, Andrew Sullivan penned what I think is a devastating post about Mitt Romney’s Mormonism. In short, Neither Mitt nor Anne nor his parents spoke against their church when it was rabidly racist for decades. Mitt claims that his parents wept with joy when a “new revelation” led church leaders to begin including African-Americans in the 1970s, but what led him to stay so silent for so long?

As Sullivan notes, all churches have their dark histories. But even the powerful and relatively monolithic Catholic Church — to which Sullivan belongs — allows for public dissent. Just drive around Minneapolis this week and see the lawnsigns that read, “Another Catholic Voting No,” in direct defiance of the stated position of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis on the marriage amendment.

Here’s the lede of Sullivan’s post:

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What I Hated about Last Night’s Debate? (Hint: Everything)

It may seem the height of irony, or maybe a double standard. Last night I listened to the third presidential debate as I drove home from a successful pheasant hunt in South Dakota. In my cooler were nine birds — birds that I had shot, that my dog had retrieved to me in his mouth, and that I had cleaned by hand. It’s a bloody business, hunting; admittedly violent.

And yet, as I drove home and listened to our president and his challenger talk about killing people, it just seemed to me that they were altogether nonchalant about it:

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Mitt’s Mormonism Matters: Considering a Candidate’s Faith

Bishop Mitt Romney, 1984

Editor’s Note: This post is a part of our Election Month at Patheos feature. Patheos was designed to present the world’s most compelling conversations on life’s most important questions. Please join the Facebook following for our new News and Politics Channel — and check back throughout the month for more commentary on Election 2012. Please use hashtag #PatheosElection on Twitter.

This week’s question in Patheos’s run up to the election is, Does a candidate’s faith really matter?

I say, yes, of course it matters.

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