Top 10 Christian News Stories of 2009

Top 10 Christian News Stories of 2009

December 31, 2009

The year 2009 brought hundreds of stories and movements to bear on global Christianity. Here are the faces, places, and movements the editors believe most impacted Christians around the world.

1. Iran election protests catch fire
Thousands of Iranian youth marched Tehran's streets to protest an allegedly fraudulent election in June. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government took extreme measures to silence protesters, but only brought international attention to political and religious suppression. The state's ongoing crackdown on Christians and political dissidents leaked out via Twitter and social networks, despite government censorship.
Read more:
Protests Continue to Spread in Iranian Election Aftermath
Freedom's Martyr: The Power of an Image

2. Rifqa Bary's fear forces a second look at honor killings
A teen convert from Islam to Christianity forces Americans to acknowledge the reality of Muslim honor killings. Sixteen-year-old Rifqa Bary ran away from her Muslim parents in Ohio after her father found out about her conversion and allegedly threatened to kill her. Whether motivated by teen angst, naïveté or legitimate concerns, Rifqa's frightened face brought honor killings out of the Middle East.
Read more:
The Case of Rifqa Bary: An Honor Killing in America?
Fleeing Sharia Law in America?

3. The Manhattan Declaration controversy stretches the limits of ecumenical cooperation
The Manhattan Declaration reignited questions of theological versus moral cooperation between Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians. The 4,000-word document vowed civil disobedience, if necessary, to protect life, traditional marriage, and religious freedom. Signers included BreakPoint's Chuck Colson and the Southern Baptist Convention's Albert Mohler, but the document was rebuffed for its "common faith" language by evangelicals such as R.C. Sproul and John MacArthur.
Read more:
The Manhattan Declaration: Defending Life, Marriage and Freedom
The Manhattan Declaration Controversy

4. Denomination fractures extend beyond the Anglican Communion
The question of gay clergy split another denomination in 2009. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America no sooner voted to allow openly homosexual clergy in August than a CORE group announced their intention to break away. Anglicans and Episcopalians continued their not-always-amicable parting after the election of a lesbian bishop in California, while Pope Benedict XVI opened the door for disenchanted Anglicans to return to the Catholic Church.  
Read more:
Lutheran Dissidents Say New Church Body in the Works
Wearing the Disguise of Faithfulness
Vatican Opens Door for Disenchanted Anglicans

5. Disasters strike Southeast Asia
In September, a triad of disasters killed hundreds in Southeast Asia while relief groups scrambled to help. Millions were displaced by the Samoa tsunami (at least 100 dead), back-to-back earthquakes in Indonesia (700 dead, 1,000 missing), and typhoons in Philippines (300 dead). Nearly 4 million people were affected in Samoa and Philippines. The Indonesian quakes devastated infrastructure in the city of Padang, Sumatra, bringing the city of 900,000 people to a grinding halt.
Read more:
Recent Typhoons, Tsunamis Devastate Developing Countries
Christian Relief Groups Tread Carefully in Indonesia

6. North Korea holds jouranlistic freedom hostage
Two American journalists endured a harrowing four months of uncertainty in North Korea after they were arrested for illegally crossing the border in March. Laura Ling, 32, and Euna Lee, 36, were initially sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in the country's notorious labor camps. The women had intended to videotape the underground railroad North Korean defectors - including persecuted Christians - use to flee into China. North Korea faced intense international pressure to release the women, and eventually agreed after former President Bill Clinton personally came to retrieve the women in August.
Read more:
Freed U.S. Journalists Arrive Home from North Korea
Raising Our Voices for North Korean Brethren

7. The NIV update/TNIV dismissal announced
Zondervan announced that a revamped version of the bestselling NIV Bible will hit the shelves in 2011. The new version will incorporate elements of the controversial TNIV, which will be discontinued after the new release. While many agree the 1984 translation needs an update, many evangelicals worry that the gender-neutral language of the TNIV might creep into the beloved translation.
Read more:
NIV Will Be Revised in 2011; TNIV Will Be Discontinued
The NIV Announcement - A Statement

8. Christian media stars fall from grace
Carrie Prejean and Jon and Kate Gosselin fell from their pedestals as Christian media heroes to become cautionary tales. Prejean, hailed for her support of traditional marriage during the Miss USA pageant, quickly became a model for the cause. With the revelation of semi-nude photos and sex tapes, however, some supporters beat a hasty retreat. Meanwhile, the publically pro-life and evangelical stars of "Jon & Kate Plus 8" announced that their 10-year marriage was over with little apparent effort to save it.
Read more:
Carrie Prejean Defends Photos
Jon & Kate Gosselin: A Family Tragedy Times Eight

9. John Calvin gets hip
Christians in reformed traditions loudly celebrated John Calvin's 500th birthday in June, catching the attention of major publications like TIME magazine. So-called "New Calvinists" like Kevin DeYoung and Mark Driscoll have given Calvinism a public relations makeover, taking the tradition from dour fatalism to a trendy theology touching everyone from John Piper to graduates of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Read more:
TIME on ‘10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now'
Even at 500, Calvin Isn't Slowing Down

10. Sex trafficking awareness looks close to home
Jaycee Dugard's unexpected rescue spotlighted the ease with which domestic sex trafficking can operate. In Texas, federal officials busted the largest ring of sex trafficking ever found in the U.S., freeing 120 victimized American women and children. Reports showed that an estimated 100,000 American children are victimized through prostitution every year. These stories forced Americans to realize that sex trafficking happens not just in Cambodia, but in our own backyard.
Read more:
Sex Trafficking: It's Happening in Our Backyard
Six Charged in Largest Domestic Human Sex Trafficking Case in Houston

Notable Deaths of 2009

The founder of First Things journal Father Richard Neuhaus passed away on January 8. The Catholic priest advocated thoughtful conservatism and co-authored the landmark document "Evangelicals and Catholics Together." He was 72.

Star quarterback-turned-politician Jack Kemp passed away on May 2. The former Buffalo Bills quarterback "set the stage for the Reagan Revolution" with his strong sense of justice. He was 73.

Late-term abortion doctor George Tiller was gunned down at his church on May 31. Pro-life groups denounced his murder by a rogue activist, but his death permanently closed his Wichita, Kansas, abortion clinic. He was 67.

Homeschooling rights and religious freedom champion Chris Klicka passed away on Oct. 12. A charter member of Home School Legal Defense Association, Klicka helped win legal approval for the movement in the 1980s. He was 48.

Pioneering evangelist and charismatic leader Oral Roberts passed away on Dec. 15. Roberts closely associated himself with miraculous healings and "seed faith," and founded Oral Roberts University in 1963. He was 91.