Each year, Time Magazine summed up the news stories of the previous year and selected the top ten stories of the year. Religion is a large item and it has it own set of top ten. If you are interested in the details of these stories, you may wish to read them at Time. Here is a gist. It could shed some more light on the religion delusion.
1. Secularism or Bust
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the crucifix hanging on the walls of many Italian public schools is a violation of religious and educational freedom. In France and Italy, Muslim women wearing religious swimwear were kicked out of public pools. French President Nicolas Sarkozy urged members of Parliament to consider banning burqas in public. Swiss voters approved a measure to prevent the building of mosques with minarets.
Secularism is strong in Europe, with more than two-thirds of survey respondents in countries such as Britain and France considering that religion is not important to them.
2. What Reformation?
Five centuries after Henry VIII left the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he was creating a way for disaffected Anglicans to come back. The Vatican would allow Anglicans, including married priests, to practice Catholicism while using much of their own liturgy.
Many critics charged that the move was simply a way to encourage a full-fledged schism within the Anglican Communion’s 80 million members worldwide.
Some Catholics expressed concern about the precedent of allowing married Anglican priests in the church while maintaining the requirement of celibacy for Catholic clergy.
3. Keeping the Faith-Based
Many Barack Obama’s supporters thought he would not keep the controversial White House faith-based office created by George W. Bush. However, he expanded the office and created the new Presidential Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
Some of the 25 secular and religious leaders who serve on the council have complained that they don’t feel heard by the White House.
4. Faith Healing Turns Fatal
When Dale and Leilani Neumann’s 11-year-old daughter became severely ill, they prayed. They continued praying as their daughter slowly died. Kara Neumann died at her Wisconsin home of a treatable form of diabetes. Her parents were convicted this year of second-degree reckless homicide, and in October they were both sentenced to six months in jail.
The judge told them, “God probably works through other people — some of them doctors.”
5. Going to the Chapel
The gossip magazine TVnotas published two dozen photos of Father Alberto Cutie engaged in uncelibate behavior with a woman on a beach. The handsome Cutie admitted that the woman was his girlfriend. In response, the Miami Archdiocese removed him from his parish post and barred him from leading Mass. In May, Cutie announced that he was leaving the Catholic Church and becoming an Episcopalian. Two weeks later, the pair married in Coral Gables.
6. Dr. Dobson Has Left the Building
James Dobson announced in February that he was stepping down as chair of Focus on the Family, the Colorado Springs-based organization he founded in 1977. Chuck Colson is now the only remaining member of the quintet that launched the Religious Right to still hold a position of authority.
Focus on the Family has struggled with budget crises in recent years and has been forced to make severe layoffs to stay afloat.
7. Obama’s Notre Dame Touchdown
University of Notre Dame invited Barack Obama to address graduates at the commencement. Right-wing Catholics demanded that Notre Dame rescind the invitation and descended on the campus when it did not. The day of the speech was marked by blood-covered baby dolls. Obama responded to the furor with an address about how to deal with disagreement in a democratic society.
Pope Benedict XVI declined to weigh in on the controversy, and three-quarters of American Catholics surveyed thought it was no big deal.
8. Americans Go Church Shopping
More Americans than ever are leaving church. But those Americans are also going back to church or changing churches if the first few they try don’t quite work.
A report found that 44% of adults in the U.S. have changed faiths at least once. Some converted from one religion or denomination to another; others grew up with no tradition only to adopt one as an adult; still others left their childhood faith and found themselves with no religious home.
9. Banning the Baha’i
The government of Iran has held seven leaders of the Baha’i faith in prison for more than a year without formal charges, access to their attorneys or a trial. Baha’i is a monotheistic religion founded in 19th century Persia. She considers that all religions are derivatives of the same god.
The Baha’i tradition is outlawed in Iran, and some government officials have claimed that the prisoners are guilty of spying for Israel or insulting Islam. Several times, the government has scheduled capital-punishment hearings for the seven, only to cancel at the last minute. As of early December, the Baha’i leaders remained in prison with no trial scheduled.
10. Religious Runaway
17-year-old Rifqa Bary ran away from her home near Columbus, Ohio, and bought a bus ticket to Florida so she could live with a Christian pastor whose wife she had met on Facebook. Bary claimed that her parents, Muslim immigrants from Sri Lanka, had threatened to make her the victim of an “honour killing” for recently converting to Christianity. The girl’s parents said they had never threatened her and just wanted her to come home. Investigators found no credible threat to the girl.