Faith leaders, an amateur filmmaker, the LDS Church, a Sikh college student and a Muslim woman were among the top religious newsmakers for 2012. Click through the list to learn more about these individuals and other newsmakers.
The Religion Newswriters Association's list of five newsmakers was topped by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, who became a point man for Catholic objections to the Obamacare contraception mandate. But Dolan also took heat from the right when he invited the president to the traditional Al Smith Dinner in New York.
Second on the RNA list was Fred Luter, the first black president of the sprawling Southern Baptist Convention, who is expected to help the SBC become more racially diverse.
Ranked third was Mark Basseley Youssef, an Egypt-born Christian whose work has been condemned by the Coptic Church and who provoked rioting in the Muslim world with his film trailer “Innocence of Muslims.” He was jailed in California on probation violations.
No. 4 was Mormon voters, who enthusiastically backed one of their own for president and helped overcome suspicions of them by other faiths.
In fifth was pro-football quarterback Tim Tebow, whose book about his faith was on the best-seller list, he inspired the term “Tebowing” for kneeling in prayer and led to polarized discussions about the role of faith in sports.
The Huffington Post picked a person of the year. For 2012 it was Balpreet Kaur, an Ohio State University student who responded to a denegrating photo of her posted on Reddit by eloquently explaining "who she was, why she looked the way she does, and the tenets of her Sikh faith with a remarkable generosity of spirit."
The response spawned an online discussion on outward appearance and religion and elicited an apology from the person who posted the photo: "It was an incredibly rude, judgmental, and ignorant thing to post. … I've read more about the Sikh faith and it was actually really interesting," the person wrote. "It makes a whole lot of sense to work on having a legacy and not worrying about what you look like. I made that post for stupid Internet points and I was ignorant."
Three individuals were highlighted in the Christian Post's top stories of the year list: Chen Guangcheng, whose escape from China reignited attention to the country’s one-child policy; Rimsha Masih, a child who was charged with blasphemy but international pressure forced Pakistan to drop the case; and Justin Welby, an evangelical who became the new archbishop of Canterbury and leader of 80 million Anglicans worldwide.