“The Roman Catholic Church wasn’t the only institution battling a sense of deja vu, as some of the most controversial religion stories from the past 20 years returned to the headlines. A 1994-style fight over health care reform not only pitted Republicans against Democrats, but also Catholic bishops against Catholic nuns. Lingering questions about President Obama’s Christian faith morphed into a belief among one in five Americans that he’s actually a Muslim. Nearly 10 years after 9/11, Islamophobia returned with a vengeance as a Florida pastor threatened to torch a pile of Qurans, and Tennessee officials debated whether Islam is actually a religion. This time, the resurrected stories were more pointed, the debates more polarizing. Old stories found new life online, and voices that once would have been dismissed as extreme were amplified by the Internet, Facebook and Twitter.”
Eckstrom quotes religion and media scholar Diane Winston that “new media has had the effect of keeping certain news stories alive, bringing them back from the dead and propelling them into the news.” Looking at my own Pagan-centric picks for top stories of 2009, I can already see some continuity with the list I’m putting together for this year, and I think few will deny that new media had a big amplifying and extending effect on several religious stories this past year (take Christine O’Donnell, please).
While most religion reporters will be focusing on the Pope, the Park 51 building, or atheist Christopher Hitchen’s battle with cancer, I’d like to get your input and feedback on what you thought the biggest religion stories were from a Pagan perspective. What events do you feel shaped us this year? What stories do you think will end up having repercussions for years to come? Your feedback can help me put me own list together, and maybe I’ll highlight some of your recommendations at the end of December.