Despite popular conception, religion continues to remain relevant and does not appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. A look back at the big religious stories of 2012 makes it clear that many of the religious issues today will remain religious issues tomorrow. Religious news will change, no doubt, but it is not likely to disappear.
“Nones” on the rise
- A good case in point was the research published by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life that observed a rise in the US in the religiously unaffiliated people called the “nones.” However, even though the “nones” make up the fastest-growing religious group in modern America (approaching 20 percent of the population) and the third-largest faith group in the world, the study also found that Americans are attending church just as regularly as they have for the last 80 years. In addition, a report from the Gallup group called “God is Alive and Well” suggests that “religion may become increasingly important in the years to come.”
- Unexpected tragedies like the Sandy Hurricane and the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut at Sandy Hook Elementary School remind us that we have a desire for something more than this world. For better or for worse, these tragedies remind us that this world is not perfect, and religion remains the primary way that we wrestle with the imperfections of this world, which will unfortunately, undoubtedly remain in 2013.
“Innocence of Muslims”
- The anti-Islamic film “Innocence of Muslims” was initially uploaded to YouTube in July 2012 and sparked many demonstrations and violent protests against the film in Egypt and other Arab and Muslim nations that resulted in an estimated 75 deaths. The film was originally posted by someone using the pseudonym of Sam Bacile, but it is now reported that the film was written and produced by Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Coptic Egyptian living in LA. The film has sparked numerous debates around blasphemy, freedom of speech, and internet censorship.
Mitt’s Mormon Moment
- When Mitt Romney first ran as a Presidential nominee for the Republican party in 2008, he was open about his controversial Mormon faith. But in 2012, when he won the Republican nomination, he barely talked about his faith, and Christians didn’t seem to care. American evangelicals supported Romney more strongly than they did John McCain in 2008 and seemed happy, in concert with Billy Graham, to remove the “cult” label from the Mormon faith.
Emergence of Sharia Law
- The election of Mohamed Morsi as the President of Egypt virtually ensured the unavoidable rise of an Islamist government in Egypt. Morsi is a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks to establish Islamic Sharia law as the governing constitution of the nation. Unfortunately, Sharia law also ignores the rights of women and religious minorities, including Christians. Egypt is currently in the midst of establishing a new constitution that would officially make Egypt an Islamic state.
- Same-sex unions continue to be an issue inside and outside religion. In the US, Maine, Maryland, Washington, and Minnesota chose to affirm same-sex marriage, and the Episcopal Church has adopted a trial ritual for blessing same-sex couples. But in Uganda, there has been much controversy over the proposal for an anti-homosexual bill that would make homosexuality illegal and represent an unwelcome form of Christendom in the 21st century.