View from the Pew
Impact of spirituality
Religion: It's not limited to praise and worship, spirituality and Sabbath.
That's the view of journalists who write about religion and faith-based values in the mainstream press. Most of the Top 10 religion stories of 2005 were about the impact beliefs have in the public arena of politics, science, medicine and lifestyle.
Good deeds in the name of God accounted for only one of the faith-based news stories selected by members of the Religion Newswriters Association. That continuing story line was the response from many churches and faith-based agencies to help the survivors of natural disasters from tsunamis in South Asia, Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf states to earthquakes in Pakistan. The undertone on that subject was discussion by some apocalypse advocates that God uses nature to lash out at people.
The reporters chose as the top story the death of Pope John Paul II and his impact during a 26-year tenure not only on the 1 billion-member Catholic Church, but on the secular world as a leading voice on moral issues and a defender of human rights.
John Paul II was named top religion newsmaker of the year by 68 percent of the journalists responding to the survey. The 100 participants work for secular newspapers, magazines and electronic media. They voted as other top stories:
2. High-profile Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was named pope in a widely televised Vatican process and is being watched for the effect he will have as Pope Benedict XVI.
3. Comatose Terri Schiavo died in a Florida nursing home after her feeding tube was removed. President Bush, Congress and state lawmakers joined faith-based groups in the debate over her death and the right-to-die issue.
4. Religious groups spent millions of dollars and volunteer hours in the relief efforts for disaster victims.
ASSOCIATED PRESS / JULY 2002
The death and legacy of Pope John Paul II, who led the Catholic Church for 26 years, was voted the top religion story of 2005.
5. Mainline denominations continue to wrestle with the question of accepting homosexuals as clergy. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America defeated a measure to allow ordination of gays. The United Methodist Supreme Court reaffirmed the defrocking of a lesbian pastor and backed a pastor who removed a gay man from church membership. The Episcopal Church and Canadian Anglicans skipped an international Anglican Consultative Council as the ordination of a gay American bishop continues to divide the church.
6. Debate on evolution vs. intelligent design, the 21st-century name for creationism, played out as a public school board in Kansas approved standards that cast doubt on the evolution theory, and another in Dover, Pa., insisted that intelligent design be taught in biology class. After the reporters voted, a federal judge rejected the Dover policy.
7. The U.S. Supreme Court weighed matters based in religious beliefs. It allowed the Ten Commandments to be displayed outside the Texas state capitol but rejected posting the biblical code in Kentucky courthouses. The high court upheld the rights of prisoners to practice their religion and heard arguments on two abortion cases and the Oregon euthanasia law. A ban on "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance was reinstated by a federal judge in California, and the question is expected to go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Terri Schiavo is shown in August 2001; a "Ten Commandments" monument sits near the Texas state capital in Austin, Texas; the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church, symbolizes the heated issue of homosexuality.
8. Church groups zeroed in on the beliefs of three Bush nominees to the high court. The selection of Harriet Miers, touted by the president as a born-again Christian, was ultimately derailed by conservative Christians leery of her seemingly conflicting positions on abortion and gay rights.
9. The Vatican contribution on homosexuality was the first instruction from the new pope, barring from seminaries those who are actively out as gays and support a gay subculture.
10. Billy Graham ended 60 years as the world's best-known traveling Christian evangelist with a farewell crusade in New York City.
11. Israel's withdrawal from the Gaza strip was hailed by some liberal Christian groups as a step toward peace in the Middle East. Meanwhile, some Jews and conservative Christians criticized the Presbyterian Church USA and United Church of Christ for seeking divestment from companies seen to be contributing to Israeli acts against Palestinians.
12. More church leaders have added their voices to the growing call for U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, where Muslim suicide bombers, partially motivated by their religion, attacked Americans. Terrorist bombings in London led to a rise in anti-Muslim hate crimes in Britain.