Religion and politics, it has been said, rarely mix.
And when they do, they typically don’t mix all that well.
Still, the year’s top religion stories have a heavy dosage of politics.
As it has done since the early 1970s, members of the Religion Newswriters Association voted in a poll for the top stories and newsmakers of 2017.
According to the organization’s website, www.rna.org, here are the top religion stories in 2017:
1. Conservative evangelical Christians find strong representation in the Trump administration, in particular with Vice President Mike Pence, as well on the president’s informal religious advisory board. Polls show that Trump holds onto strong support among white evangelicals.
2. A white supremacist march that included racist, anti-Semitic slogans and symbols on Aug. 12 in Charlottesville, Va., turns violent. Religious groups participate in a counter-protest. A marcher is charged with ramming counter-protesters with a vehicle, killing one and injuring several others
3. A U.S. travel ban affecting several majority-Muslim nations sparks protest at airports before courts delay it and later versions of the ban. Meanwhile, Trump vows to eradicate “radical Islamic terrorism.”
4. Trump in December fulfills a campaign promise when he recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital while calling for continued access to Christian, Jewish and Muslim holy sites. The move is applauded by Israeli leaders and U.S. supporters, while others warn it threatens peace efforts.
5. Myanmar security forces drive more than 500,000 Muslim Rohingya to Bangladesh in a campaign of atrocities. Buddhist-majority leaders stoke the hostility.
6. A gunman in November kills 26 adults and children at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas. In response, churches review security measures as the gun-control debate intensifies. Gunmen also claim lives at or near churches in Tennessee and California.
7. Roy Moore, who gained fame earlier as Alabama’s “Ten Commandments judge,” wins the GOP nomination for U.S. senator with a vow to revive “knowledge of God and the Constitution” if elected. Despite allegations of misconduct with teen girls and women from the 1970s and ‘8o, he retained broad support from evangelicals. It was noted that the Religion Newswriters Association survey ballot was distributed before Dec. 8, when Moore was defeated in Alabama’s general election.
8. Trump and Republican senators place a number of conservatives on U.S. federal courts, including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who echoes predecessor Antonin Scalia’s voice from the right.
9. Black players in the National Football League cite their Christian faith as they kneel during the playing of The National Anthem before games to protest racial injustice. Southern Baptist and Mormon leaders issue statements against alt-right and white supremacy. Confederate symbols are taken down from Washington National Cathedral and other churches.
10. Lutherans and members of other Protestant churches mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on Oct. 31, with books, ceremonies and seminars commemorating Martin Luther’s legacy as a religious revolutionary.
Among other stories that received votes from members of the Religion Newswriters Association:
— The Trump administration backs religious-liberty exemptions in LGBT and other cases, and its Supreme Court brief supports a Christian baker who refused to decorate a cake for a gay wedding. The Trump Administration also ends the Obamacare contraception mandate on faith-based employers.
— Hate crimes rise against Jews, Muslims and other minorities. Six people are slain in a Quebec mosque. An Indian man is killed in Kansas. Bystanders are killed and wounded defending targets of attacks in Kansas and Oregon. Dylann Roof is sentenced to death for a 2015 church massacre.
— The #MeToo campaign, focusing on widespread sexual assault and harassment, prompts #ChurchToo and other looks at offenses by male religious leaders and against female clergy and other women in religious settings.
— A group representing the religious left, composed of a coalition of Christians, Jews, Muslims and others, mobilizes against Trump policies on climate, LGBT, taxes and other fronts. Meanwhile, Democrats debate if their party has room for abortion foes. Religious minorities gain in local elections.
— Faith leaders protest as the Trump administration increases immigration detentions, ends the DACA path to legality for “Dreamers” and slashes refugee admissions. U.S. offers aid to Mideast refugee Christians and other minorities it says the U.N. neglects.
Trump was voted as newsmaker of the year, after his inauguration triggers upheaval on various religion fronts — from white evangelicals’ strong support for and presence in his administration to debates over Muslims, terror, immigration, race and religious liberty.
Other religion newsmakers who received votes include: Martin Luther; Moore, the U.S. Senate candidate from Alabama; and the Rev. William J. Barber II, a North Carolina-based Disciples of Christ minister, Moral Mondays founder and leader of a religious left group that mobilized to fight Trump administration policies on poverty, the environment and other issues. Barber visited Topeka in August as part of his national call-to-action tour for the New Poor People’s Campaign. The local event was sponsored by Kansas Interfaith Action.
Contact Phil Anderson at (785) 295-1195 or follow live reports @Philreports on Twitter. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/philreports.tcj/