The Top 10 Religion Stories selected by members of the Religion Newswriters Association rated these as the top 10 religion stories in 2008:
1. Controversial sermons delivered in recent years by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright surface, resulting in pressure on Barack Obama, who eventually withdraws his membership in his church, Trinity UCC, Chicago. Meanwhile, John McCain rejects the endorsements of evangelists John Hagee, a critic of Catholicism, and Rod Parsley.
2. Democrats, especially Barack Obama, make a conscious effort to woo faith-based voters. Obama participates in a faith-based debate with John McCain moderated by California mega-church pastor Rick Warren. Unusual attention is paid to evangelicals at the Democratic National Convention.
3. Sarah Palin’s nomination as Republican vice president leads many evangelicals, who had planned to sit out the election, to support the GOP ticket. The choice causes a dilemma for some religious conservatives who oppose women in leadership roles.
4. The California Supreme Court rules gay marriage is legal, but voters in November approve a constitutional amendment overturning the decision. Gay marriage also fails at the polls in Arizona and Florida.
5. In his first U.S. visit, Pope Benedict XVI brings a message of hope during stops in Washington and New York. During the trip, he meets with victims of clergy misconduct.
6. U.S. conservatives alienated from the Episcopal Church say they will ask Anglican Communion leaders for permission to create the Anglican Church in North America, allowing dioceses unhappy in the Episcopal Church to operate under the authority of a North American bishop instead of Anglican bishops in Africa and Latin America, as is now done. The move is considered the most significant threat to the Episcopal Church’s unity since a gay clergyman was ordained bishop five years ago.
7. Terrorism believed motivated at least in part by religious fervor results in the deaths of almost 200 people in a three-day siege in Mumbai, India; one of the major targets is a Jewish center, where an American rabbi and his wife are killed. Meanwhile, attacks on Christians in the eastern India state of Orissa and its neighbors, which began in late 2007, continue during 2008.
8. China cracks down on Buddhists seeking Tibetan independence in a prelude to producing a peaceful Olympics games; demonstrations mar some of the torch passages.
9. The crumbling economy and subsequent drop in contributions force many faith-based organizations to cut back on expenses, at the same time as the need for social services increases.
10. Violence continues in Iraq as Sunnis and Shiites attack each other and Christians are also targeted; Chaledean Archbishop Paulos Rahho is kidnapped and murdered in Mosul. However, some progress toward peace is apparently made.