Monday, December 28, 2009

Top Ten Religion Stories of 2009.

From Religion Clause comes this list, below. See the bottom paragraph of Howard Freidman's post for two more lists:

Top 10 Church-State, Religious Liberty Developments In 2009

Here are my nominations for the 2009 Top Ten Developments in Church-State Separation/ Free-Exercise of Religion. The choices are based on the long-range implications of the developments on legal doctrines and on future of relations between government and religion. Some of this year's top picks continue trends selected last year. (2008 Top 10.) Others reflect new concerns. I am sure that some readers will disagree with the picks, so I invite your comments. Most of these developments were reflected in a number of Religion Clause postings over the year. Links are to representative posts on the issue.

1. U.S. Catholic bishops are at increasing odds with President Obama over abortion. Very public disputes, sometimes splitting the Catholic community, erupted over Notre Dame's award of an honorary degree to Obama and over the USCCB's insistence on strict language in health care reform bills to limit abortion coverage.

2. Conservative Christian groups mount extensive but unsuccessful attempt to prevent passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act.

3. The Freedom From Religion Foundation becomes a major player in pressing for church-state separation by challenging a wide variety of practices, from sectarian prayers at city council meetings, to the tax code's parsonage allowance, to engravings at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center.

4. The Rifqa Bary case requires Florida and Ohio courts to become involved in run-away teenager's claim that her Muslim father threatens her life because of her conversion to Christianity.

5. U.S. Supreme Court rules that a Utah city can refuse to allow the religious group, Summum, to put up a monument containing its "Seven Aphorisms" in a public park, even though a 10 Commandments monument and other monuments are already there.

6. Britain's new Supreme Court holds that a Jewish school's admissions policy using the traditional Orthodox definition of who is a Jew amounts to ethnic, and therefore racial, discrimination.

7. Courts around the country decide disputes over ownership of property after numerous conservative Episcopal parishes move to Anglican affiliations.

8. South Carolina's attempt to issue state-sponsored "I Believe" license plates is ruled a violation of the Establishment Clause.

9. France convicts Scientology and its leaders of fraud while German court limits tactics of German government against Scientology.

10. A Utah trial court rejects a settlement proposed by Utah's Attorney General in the complicated attempt to reform the FLDS United Effort Plan Trust, while the estate of a deceased leader of the polygamous FLDS Church seeks control of the $120 million trust.

There are at least two other Top 10 lists published this month on religion related stories. You may find it interesting to compare their picks, many of which differ a good deal from mine, though they were using somewhat different criteria. They are Don Byrds' Top 10 Religious Liberty Stories of 2009; and Religion Newswriters Top 10 Religion Stories.

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