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Gay bishop named year's top newsmaker

Gay bishop named year's top newsmaker

By Adelle M. Banks

Bishop V. Gene Robinson, elected in June as the first openly gay bishop
of the Episcopal Church, was named the Religion Newsmaker of the Year
by members of the Religion Newswriters Association.

His approval and consecration, and the ensuing threats of schism in the
U. S. church and the wider Anglican Communion, were collectively cited
as the top religion news story of 2003 -- a ranking shared with
criticism of the Anglican bishop of Vancouver, British Columbia, who
approved same-sex unions.

About a third of the 240 members of the Religion Newswriters
Association took part in the annual survey. More than 80 percent of
these selected Robinson as the top newsmaker.

The top 10 religion news stories were ranked as follows:

1. Turmoil mounts within the Episcopal Church and the Anglican
Communion after Robinson's approval and consecration, and Vancouver
Bishop Michael Ingham's action.

2. The pending war in Iraq split religious communities, with mostly
mainline Protestant denominations opposing it and many evangelicals
supporting it.

3. The definition of marriage becomes a key area of controversy after
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court rules gay couples have a right to
civil marriage and the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down a ban against
homosexual sodomy.

4. A Ten Commandments monument is removed from Alabama's State Judicial
Building and the man who got it installed there, Roy Moore, is removed
from his post as the state's chief justice.

5. Roman Catholic Church efforts to implement plans combating priestly
sex abuse draw praise and criticism. Archbishop Sean O'Malley succeeds
Cardinal Bernard Law as leader of the Boston Archdiocese.

6. Pope John Paul II marks the 25th anniversary of his election amid
growing concerns about his health and debate over his eventual

7. Slumping economy prompts budget cutbacks in many denominations.

8. Presbyterian Church (USA) keeps "fidelity and chastity" clause,
maintaining its ban on noncelibate gay clergy. The denomination elects
its first woman pastor as moderator.

9. The U.S. Supreme Court decides to hear a California case challenging
the inclusion of the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

10. The suspension of Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod official David
Benke of New York, for participating in a post-9/11 interfaith service,
is overturned.

Officials of Valparaiso University issued an apology to the
denomination's members after holding an interfaith service marking the
first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.


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