2013: An eventful year in religion

Published on Friday, 27 December 2013 22:08 - Written by By Rebecca Hoeffner rhoeffner@tylerpaper.com

Should 2013 go down in history as one of the most eventful years in religion news history? It’s been a year that has told us much about other faiths, and our own.

In July, Reza Aslan released his book “Zealot,” a book not about Jesus’ divinity but about the political impact that Jesus had on Rome. Controversy e- rupted when a Fox News reporter asked Aslan why he feels qualified to write about Jesus as a Muslim.

It had been about 600 years since the last pope resigned. Then Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world when he announced his resignation because of health reasons. His successor, Pope Francis, has been charming Catholics and non-Catholics alike with his down-to-Earth attitude and kindness.

Matthew Warren, son of famous mega-church pastor Rick Warren, took his own life this year, bringing mental health to the forefront of debate within the faith community.

It has been a big year for women in religion.

A few, such as the Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, the first female Lutheran bishop (ELCA), have moved to positions of leadership.

But my favorite story is about a young woman named Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who stood up to the Taliban for her right to go to school.

In her 2013 book she says “Islam says that it is not only each child’s right to get education, rather it is their duty and responsibility,” and “The Taliban think we are not Muslims but we are. We believe in God more than they do, and we trust him to protect us.”

The Pew Center’s survey of American Jews shed light and made waves.

Some of the most-debated points were that the percentage of Jews with a non-Jewish spouse rose to 58 percent in 2013, and 32 percent of Jewish Millennials said they had no religion.

That sentiment is reflected throughout the Millennial generation, where the number of those with no religion is rising—and this year, the nones have been getting organized; some event attend atheistic “church.”

What do these stories say about our world, and ourselves? People of faith have had some triumphs this year, but by and large, there is still work to be done. Until we can perfectly reflect the love of God, there always will be.