Religious News 2006 (Part 1)

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  December 29, 2006 — Leave a comment

There were a lot of hot religious stories in 2006, and it being the end of the calendar year many are counting down what they think are the most influential. The Religious Newswriters Association has published their results of a members-only poll of the top religion stories of 2006. Major themes seem to be political and moral shakeups within the Religious Right, the rise of liberal/moderate faith, and tensions in the Middle East.

While modern Paganism isn’t mentioned in any of the top stories (or runners up), our communities were involved in several of their top news makers. For example, “The Da Vinci Code” film.

“The release of the film “The Da Vinci Code” adds to the previous buzz about Dan Brown’s novel. Religious critics, who say the book portrays traditional Christianity as a fraud, are divided over whether to boycott the film or hold discussion groups. Controversial plot lines include Jesus marrying Mary Magdalene and conceiving a child.”

Over the past year reporters have wondered if Da Vinci-related books are taking over shelf space once reserved for modern Pagan titles, claimed that Goddess spirituality has benefited from the book and film, that the Christian God is being replaced by the Divine Feminine (some even argued that the divine feminine is whole reason for the popularity of the book/film), and caused some soul-searching on if the attention generated by “The Da Vinci Code” was good for us or not. My official take on the film can be found, here.

Several top stories touch on the rise of the “Religious Left” including victories in the midterm elections (which makes Christianity Today’s top ten as well), louder religious demands for peace in Iraq, and the appointment of the first woman presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

“The Episcopal Church riles conservatives when the General Convention elects a presiding bishop who supported the consecration of a U.S. gay bishop, which conservatives oppose as unbiblical. Seven Episcopal dioceses refuse to recognize the leadership of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who is also the first woman elected to the top post.”

Issues regarding the “Religious Left” and its leaders were commented on several times in this blog. Isaac Bonewits wondered if the “Religious Left” was really the “fuzzy middle”, meanwhile I (and Slate.com) wondered how inclusive this movement was really going to be, and speaking of the Episcopal Church, conservative Anglicans were still on the hunt for “Episcopagans” (when they weren’t busy trying to leave).

So while we didn’t top the lists, modern Paganism is an ever growing aspect of mainstream religious news. Tomorrow, I will count down the top ten modern Pagan news stories of 2006.

Jason Pitzl-Waters

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