Faith on center stage in 2012
HEADLINES: YEAR’S TOP STORIES SHOW RELIGION’S ROLE IN PUBLIC LIFE
BY AMY FLOWERS UMBLE
THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Faith played a major role in this year’s biggest news stories. Here are 10 ways (in no particular order) that religion shaped our world in 2012:
THE MASSACRE AT SANDY HOOK ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
After a gunman opened fire, killing 26 people at a Connecticut school, religious leaders scrambled to console a grieving town—and to comfort a shocked nation. In the shooting’s aftermath, national religious leaders are contemplating the role of faith in mental health care.
THE BATTLE OVER BIRTH CONTROL
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops protested a part of the health care law calling for mandated contraception coverage. Other faith leaders took up the fight, calling the mandate an infringement on the right to practice religion.
ANTI-ISLAMIC FILM GOES VIRAL
A small Internet film called “The Innocence of the Muslims” created chaos around the world when it led to protests at American embassies in the Middle East.
THE RISE OF THE ‘NONES’
A Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey found that the number of Americans who claim no faith affiliation is rising faster than the number who claim a specific religious affiliation.
THE MORMON MOMENT
Mitt Romney’s faith turned out to be a non-issue.
Before the election season, American voters expressed reluctance to vote for a Mormon.
But white evangelical voters supported Romney in force at the polls.
MARRIAGE EQUALITY AND GAY RIGHTS
Three states—Maryland, Maine and Washington—voted to allow same-sex marriage. And the Episcopal Church adopted a trial ritual to bless same-sex couples.
NUNS UNDER FIRE
The Vatican criticized an umbrella group of U.S. nuns, accusing them of embracing feminist themes and ignoring the church’s teachings on abortion and gay marriage. A separate group of U.S. nuns went on tour to advocate for the poor and critique the budget plans of Catholic senator and GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.
GROWING DIVERSITY IN POLITICS
Hawaii sent the first Hindu Representative to the House and the first Buddhist to the Senate.
THE FALLOUT FROM THE PRIEST ABUSE SCANDAL
Ten years after the sex abuse scandal erupted in Boston, two senior officials were found guilty of crimes associated with the abuses. Monsignor William Lynn of Philadelphia became the first senior Catholic official in the U.S. to be found guilty of covering up child abuse by priests. Later, Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Mo., became the first bishop to be found guilty of child abuse.
SHOOTING AT A SIKH TEMPLE
A gunman opened fire during a religious service in Oak Creek, Wisc. Six people were killed and three were injured. Through the news coverage, many Americans became more familiar with the minority religion.
Information from the Religion Newswriters Association and the Associate Press was used in this story.