Top religion stories of the year
Posted January 1, 2010
President Barack Obama deserved the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, said the Norwegian Nobel Committee, because his “extraordinary efforts to strengthen ... cooperation between peoples” had created a “new climate in international politics.”
Even Obama’s fiercest admirers admitted that his best work for peace occurred at lecture podiums, where the new president offered more of the soaring, idealistic words that helped him rise to power. Nobel judges, in particular, had to be thinking about his June 4 address at Cairo University, in which he promised an era of improved relations between America and the Muslim world.
It’s crucial, he said, for Americans and Muslims to realize that their cultures “overlap, and share common principles — principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
Muslims and Americans must, for example, find ways to work together to defend religious liberty.
“People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind, heart and soul,” he said.
“This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive.... The richness of religious diversity must be upheld — whether it is for Maronites in Lebanon or the Copts in Egypt.
“Freedom of religion is central to the ability of peoples to live together.”
The Cairo speech — which included quotes from the Koran, the Bible and the Talmud — was the year’s most important religion story, according to a poll of mainstream reporters who cover religion news.
The role of Obama’s liberal Christian faith in the White House race topped the 2008 Religion Newswriters Association poll.
Religious-liberty issues will continue to test the Obama team, as illustrated by the sobering numbers in a new “Global Restrictions on Religion” study released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.
It found that citizens in a third of all nations — representing 70 percent of the world’s population — are not able to practice their religion freely, due to government policies or hostile actions taken by individuals or groups.
Among the world’s most populous nations, Egypt, Iran, Indonesia, Pakistan and India had the most intense restrictions on religion, especially limits on the rights of religious minorities.
The nations offering the greatest freedoms on religious practice were the United States, Brazil, Japan, Italy, South Africa and the United Kingdom.
Here’s the rest of the Religion Newswriters Association top 10.
Please click on "external source" for the rest of the winners...