The top religion stories of 2010, according to members of the Religion Newswriters Association, involved controversies over Islam: plans to build an Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero in New York, and a Florida pastor's announcement that he would burn copies of the Qur'an in protest on Sept. 11. Journalists who participated in the survey voted Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the leading proponent of the Manhattan mosque, as 2010's Religion Newsmaker of the Year. The results are based on an online survey of more than 300 journalists.
The U.S. Supreme Court convenes for the first time without a Protestant in its number (6 Catholics and 3 Jews). The court hears arguments in the case of the Kansas church that loudly protests at funerals of servicemen; the decision will be handed down this spring. The court earlier allows a cross to remain at least temporarily on National Park land in the Mojave Desert, but then the cross is stolen.
The U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey released by the Pew Forum offers some surprising findings, including that atheists, agnostics, Jews, and Mormons had the highest correct answers.
Bullying draws attention after several suicides are attributed to it. Religious groups condemn it, but some see it as having religious roots, especially in regard to homosexuality. Several religious voices take part in the "It gets better" YouTube video project to urge gay youth not to succumb to depression.
The prolonged economic slump spells trouble for churches and ministries. In the highest-profile case, the Crystal Cathedral declares bankruptcy after downsizing fails. The Lutheran publishing house Augsburg Fortress drops its pension plan; Focus on the Family cuts 110 employees; the Seventh-day Adventist publishing arm removes top executives.
Sexuality continues as a hot topic among mainline congregations. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA votes for the fourth time to lift the ban on noncelibate gay clergy; the presbyteries are again voting on it. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America suffers scores of defections after its 2009 vote. The archbishop of Canterbury asks the Episcopal Church to take a lesser role in the Anglican Communion after a lesbian assistant bishop is ordained.
President Obama signs the health care reform bill for which many faith-based groups labored. Near year's end, the Catholic bishops repeat their strong opposition to it because of the belief that it funds abortions.
The rise of the Tea Party movement is seen by some as a return to political prominence for the religious right; others see it as stressing economic rather than social issues. Election results are mixed. One Tea Party candidate who loses, Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell, is pilloried for responding to critics with an ad that stated, "I am not a witch."
Pope Benedict XVI is accused of delaying church action against pedophile priests in Ireland, Germany, the United States, and other countries when he led the Vatican office in charge of discipline 1981 to 2005. Several bishops resign.
The catastrophic quake in Haiti sparks relief efforts by many and varied faith-based groups, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
One group of Idaho Southern Baptists leads to child-smuggling accusations. Leader Laura Silsby is imprisoned for four months.
A proposal for an Islamic center and mosque near Ground Zero leads to a national debate on religious freedom. A Gainesville, Fla., pastor, vows to burn copies of the Qu'ran in protest but backs down.