13. Faith-based groups continue to press for immigration reform. Southern Baptist leader Richard Land calls for giving illegal immigrants "a compassionate, just pathway to earning citizenship or legal status."
14. In November, more than 80 percent of state voters approved a measure amending the Oklahoma Constitution to prevent state courts from using Islamic law or international law. After a federal judge temporarily blocks the ruling, Oklahoma state attorneys vow to appeal the federal block.
15. U.S. Courts of Appeals rule on a large number of religion-related issues, with mixed results. The 7th okays a moment of silence in schools and says a college student group cannot be denied funds because of its religious activity; the 9th reverses its ‘02 ruling on "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, saying the phrase is not a prayer; the 10th bans metal crosses for deceased Utah police; the 11th says feeding the poor does not qualify as free exercise of religion; the 2nd invalidates FCC indecency policy.
16. Pope Benedict XVI warns against "aggressive secularism" on the first visit of a pope to the United Kingdom in twenty-eight years. Meanwhile, a new survey shows church attendance in Britain has stabilized or gained a little after decades of decline. The UK coalition government said it plans to fund religious schools with state money.
17. The Rev. Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, is disinvited from a Pentagon National Day of Prayer observance because of previous criticisms of Muslims. The Day of Prayer continues despite legal attempts to stop it.
18. President Obama makes a strong pitch for religious tolerance on his visit to Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country. Meanwhile, he continues to seek reconciliation between Jews and Muslims in Palestine.
19. President Obama signs an order reforming the White House faith-based office to improve transparency and clarify rules for religious groups that receive federal grants; members of his advisory committee are generally pleased. The question of hiring and firing on a religious basis will be decided case by case.
20. Hinduism gains more of the spotlight through the book Eat, Pray, Love and word of star Julia Roberts' conversion to it. At least one prominent conservative Protestant leader gains attention criticizing yoga.
Results are based on an online survey of more then 300 journalists with a response rate near 30 percent. The Religion Newswriters Association is the world's premier association dedicated to helping journalists write about religion with balance, accuracy and insight. Founded in 1949, the association is headquartered at the Missouri School of Journalism. The association has conducted its Top 10 Religion News Stories of the Year for nearly thirty years.
This article is reprinted with permission from Religion Newswriters Association.