December 15th, 2011
05:09 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The killing of Osama bin Laden was voted the top story of the year by the Religion Newswriters Association, beating out Rep. Peter King’s hearing on the radicalization of U.S. Muslims and Catholic Bishop Robert Finn’s failure to report the suspected abuse of a child.
Though on face bin Laden’s death is not a religion story, it created conversation on a number of faith topics, the RNA said.
“Faith-based groups reacted to the terrorist leader’s death with renewed sympathy for victims’ families, scriptural citations justifying the demise of evil, and hopeful prayers for peace among the nations,” stated the RNA release.
The honor of Religion Newsmaker of the year was not awarded in 2011 because after voting was finished, three newsmakers were within one vote of each other.
Harold Camping, the radio evangelist whose failed end-of-world predictions became a widely talked about story in 2011, was the top vote getter. Pope Benedict XVI finished a close second, with voters citing, “his efforts to improve Jewish relations, beatify John Paul II, and his triumphal return to his German homeland” as reasons for his second place finish, according to RNA.
And just one vote behind the Pope was Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who has made religion a staple of his campaign.
Here is the complete list of the top 10 news stories of 2011, according to RNA:
1. The death of Osama bin Laden spurs discussions among people of faith on issues of forgiveness, peace, justice and retribution.
3. Catholic Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City. Mo. is charged with failure to report the suspected abuse of a child, becoming the first active bishop in the country to face criminal prosecution in such a case.
5. Presbyterian Church (USA) allows local option on ordination of partnered gay people. Church defections over the issue continue among mainline Presbyterians, Lutherans, and Episcopalians.
6. Pope John Paul II is beatified—the last step before sainthood—in a May ceremony attended by more than million people in Rome.
7. California evangelist Harold Camping attracts attention with his predictions that the world would end in May and again in October.
8. A book by Michigan megachurch pastor Rob Bell, "Love Wins," presenting a much less harsh picture of hell than is traditional, stirs discussion in evangelical circles. Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention rebut it.
9. The Personhood Initiative, designed to outlaw abortion by declaring a fetus a person, fails on Election Day in Mississippi, but advocates plan to try in other states. Meanwhile, reports show the number of restrictions adopted throughout the country against abortion during the year are far more than in any previous year.
10. Bible translations make news, with celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the King James Version; criticism, notably by Southern Baptists, about gender usage in the newest New International Version; and completion of the Common English Bible.
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.