Religion Newswriters Association
Journalists vote for contraception fight as top 2012 U.S. religion story, pick Catholic bishops’ president as top newsmaker
COLUMBIA, MO—As the nation reeled from the Dec. 14 killing of 20 first graders and six adults in Newtown, Conn., religious leaders sought to console a stunned public and to discern religion’s role in future debates about mental health and gun control.
The No. 1 U.S. religion story in December 2012 was, without a doubt, the school attack and the mournful search for meaning that follows.
However, before the shooting, professional journalists who cover religion voted on the year’s other significant religious events.
The U.S. Catholic bishops’ opposition to national health care legislation mandating contraception coverage was ranked the No. 1 Religion Story of 2012 by members of the Religion Newswriters Association.
Related to the top story, the top religion newsmaker was Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who became the point man for Catholic objections to required coverage of contraception, sterilization and morning after drugs in Obamacare.
The Top 10 Religion Stories of the Year are below:
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.
6. 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.
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