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Near the end of every year, the Religion News Association (the flock previously known as the Religion Newswriters Association) posts its list of the year’s Top 10 religion-beat stories.
It’s tough work, but somebody has to do it. I don’t envy the scribes who have to create the list of events that go on the ballot.
Archive - RNA - Website - Columns - Topic
The archive on the RNA website only goes back to 2002, but I have been writing annual columns on this topic since forever, or close to it (click here for my Internet-era archive). As you would expect, this was the top of the final “Crossroads” podcast for 2019 (click here to tune that in).
When you’ve been studying lists of this kind for four decades, it’s easy to spot patterns. The RNA list will almost always contain:
Event - Trend - Politics - Something - Evangelicals
* Some event or trend linked to politics and this often has something to with evangelicals posing a threat to American life.
* Mainline Protestants gathered somewhere to fight over attempts to modernize doctrines linked to sex and marriage.
Pope - Something - Issue - Politics - Sexuality
* The pope said something headline-worthy about some issue linked to politics or sexuality.
* Someone somewhere attacked lots of someones in the name of God.
Story - Baptists - War - Reason - Authority
* There may or may not be a story about Southern Baptists waging war on one another for some reason linked to biblical authority.
This year’s RNA Top 10 was way more predictable than usual, in terms of offering sort-of-trend updates on old news. The No. 1 story, however, was truly big news:
Investigation - Houston - Chronicle - Hundreds - Victims
An investigation by the Houston Chronicle reveals hundreds of victims of abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention, spurring calls for the SBC to investigate churches that cover up abuse and prompting a lament at the SBC’s annual meeting.
My number one choice was this story, which ended up at No. 10:
Gunmen - Person - Poway - Calif
Gunmen kill one person at a Poway, Calif.,...
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