The year 2010 brought hundreds of stories and movements to bear on global Christianity. Here are the faces, places, and movements the Crosswalk.com editors believe most impacted Christians around the world.
1. Haiti's earthquake creates multiple aftershocks
When a 7.0 magnitude earthquake crumbled most of Port-au-Prince on January 12, the impoverished country's problems were only beginning. Eleven months after the quake, more than one million people still live in muddy tent cities with poor sanitation. Those conditions have allowed cholera - a disease not seen in Haiti for 50 years - to claim at least 2,000 victims and sicken another 90,000. That's in addition to the 220,000 people killed and more than 300,000 injured in the earthquake. Aids groups descended on the country in droves, shifting from recovery to rebuilding to disease prevention with the season, but have little show for it. Haiti's extreme lack of infrastructure hamstrung relief workers. Confusing bureaucracy led to charges of child-smuggling against 10 volunteers from Idaho. And as the year ended, Haitians crowded the streets of Port-au-Prince in protest of alleged vote rigging in the country's presidential election. Haiti was already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere before 2010; today, the country has a firm hold on the dubious title.
Massive Quake Devastates Already-Impoverished Haiti
Missionary Zeal, Practical Wisdom and Haitian Orphans
2. Pakistan sentences a Christian woman to death for 'blasphemy'
In November, the act of drawing water for her Muslim neighbors earned a Christian woman the first death sentence handed down to a Pakistani woman for blasphemy. Asia Bibi's non sequitur conviction drew international attention to Pakistan's easily-abused blasphemy laws, as further investigation yielded little supporting evidence for prosecutors. Pakistan's court system has said the mother of five children cannot be pardoned until the appeals process is exhausted, which could extend the case for years. Even if acquitted, Bibi's notoriety will remain - one imam offered $6,000 to anyone who murders her.
Pakistan Mother Condemned for ‘Blasphemy' Stunned, Shattered
Pakistan Minister Condemns Reward for Killing Christian Woman
3. Jesus finds trapped miners in Chile
Video feeds and messages in bottles kept 33 trapped miners connected to the world 2,000 feet above them, allowing letters and information - even Bibles and sermon MP3s - to travel through the rock. When the San Jose mine collapsed in August, just three of the men were believers. But at the end of their two-month ordeal, every miner emerged from the escape shaft wearing a shirt saying, "Gracias Senor" - "Thank you Lord." Hundreds of media outlets caught the moment on camera, broadcasting the story throughout the world. Many of miners returned to the site shortly afterwards to commemorate their internment and rescue with a Mass.
Chilean Miners' Altruism Defied Darwinian Explanation
The Story Behind the Chilean Miners' Jesus T-Shirts
4. The ‘Ground Zero Mosque' becomes a national lightning rod
"Islamophobia" became a byword for those opposed to the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. The proposed civic center project, called Park51 and located two blocks from the site of the 9/11 attacks, drew criticism from dozens of Christian leaders and sparked nationwide debate over religious freedom, rights, and cultural propriety. The controversy also fanned fears of retaliation against Christians in Islamic countries when a renegade pastor in Florida escalated the fight, threatening to burn the Koran in protest of the project. Cordoba House is still raising funds for the center, which has yet to break ground.
The Mosque at Ground Zero: Sense and Sensibility
Speak Gently of NYC Mosque, Lest Christians Come to Harm
5. Churches face the reality of gay bullying
After classmates uploaded video of his romantic encounter with another male student, Tyler Clementi wrote a terse message on Facebook: "Jumping off gw bridge sorry." The Rutgers University freshman's suicide thrust the issue of gay bullying into the public spotlight. His death and several similar suicides prompted hundreds of op-eds - and finger-pointing - from gay activists like Dan Savage as well as church leaders like Albert Mohler. The tragedy gave church leaders a chance to distinguish between disagreeing with homosexual behavior and condoning assaults on the vulnerable.
Between the Boy and the Bridge - A Haunting Question
When Teen Suicide Is a Mainstream Medium
6. Assyrian Christians come under fire in the heart of Iraq
When the smoke cleared, 58 people lay dead inside Our Lady of Salvation Catholic Church in Baghdad. An al Qaeda-affiliate took church members hostage during their service on October 31, and Iraqi police eventually stormed the church with disastrous results. The attack was the single deadliest on record against Iraq's dwindling Christian minority. Subsequent attacks on Christian homes caused many to flee the country's cities, leaving ever fewer behind to celebrate Christmas in the once-venerable Assyrian Christian community.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Dead
Iraqis Mourn Victims of Deadly Church Attack
7. In Afghanistan, aid workers receive a deadly welcome
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the deaths of 10 Christian aid workers in the mountains of Afghanistan, but the motives behind their deaths remain unclear. The medical team, which included six Americans and two Afghans, was accused of proselytizing in the Muslim country in August. The group's organization, International Assistance Mission, pointed to their code of conduct and flatly denied the charges, but the killings by alleged Taliban demonstrated that Christian aid organizations are not always welcome.
Motive for Aid Worker Killings in Afghanistan Still Uncertain
8. Christopher Hitchens inspires a day of prayer
When Christopher Hitchens, the outspoken atheist and author of God Is Not Great, announced that he's fighting aggressive esophageal cancer, Christians decided he needed serious prayer. Hitchens protested and asked people not to "trouble deaf heaven with your bootless cries" lest his recovery be attributed to divine healing. Nonetheless, believers staged an international "Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day" on September 20. The attention given to one atheist quickly turned general, however, with a new survey's release just a week later. The survey revealed that atheists and agnostics actually scored better on religious literacy tests than many people who identify as Christians.
Poll Finds Atheists Know the Most about Belief
Christopher Hitchens and Jesus
Religion Today Summaries - Sept. 10, 2010
9. The "Dawn Treader" sails to number one
The 2008 hit "Facing the Giants" tested the potential of faith-based audiences, but the next installment of The Chronicles of Narnia assumed this audience. Disney dropped the franchise after "Prince Caspian's" less-than-spectacular show at the box office, but Fox and Walden Media decided "Caspian" was still popular enough to warrant a sequel. The franchise returned the beloved works of Christian literature to pop culture popularity, and reintroduced Christianity's premier thinker to churches and the wider audience. The movie fell short of its opening goals, but still won the number one spot at the box office its opening weekend.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: An Epic Journey Within
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Takes Lewis Fans on a Fantastic Trip
10. The glass ceiling comes crashing down on Crystal Cathedral
For five decades, Robert Schuller fed the Crystal Cathedral's growing ministry and "Hour of Power" television show on his personal brand of positive thinking. But in October, the megachurch filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy - despite the best cash flow in 10 years - to satisfy its creditors. Schuller's daughter and successor in ministry, Dr. Sheila Schuller Coleman, pledged to continue the ministry's services and broadcasts, but cracks in the Crystal ceiling may be a sign of things to come for other megachurches based in prosperity theology.
Bankruptcy in the Cathedral