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Journalists vote evangelical support of Trump administration as No. 1 religion story of 2017

President Trump chosen as religion newsmaker of the year

COLUMBIA, MO, USA, December 15, 2017 / -- Conservative evangelicals' support of and strong representation in President Trump’s administration was voted the No. 1 religion story of 2017 in the Religion News Association's annual Top 10 Religion Stories of the Year Poll.

The story picks up where the 2016 Top 10 poll winner left off — with grassroots support of Donald Trump from white evangelical Christians helping the television personality and business mogul win the White House.

President Trump was selected as the Religion Newsmaker of the Year after his inauguration triggered upheaval across a number of religious fronts, among them the role of evangelical support of his administration; fierce debates over Islam, race and religious liberty; the appointment of conservative Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch; and executive orders relating to immigration and terrorism. Last year Trump was runner-up in this category, behind Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Muslim Gold Star parents of the late U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan.

Other notable newsmakers in recent decades include Pope Francis (2013–15), Barack Obama (2008), Pope John Paul II (2005), Mel Gibson (2004) and Cardinal Bernard Law (2002).

The complete Top 10 list appears below.

Religion News Association members have voted in the annual poll for decades. RNA is an international journalism association for reporters who write about religion in the news media. It offers training and tools to help them cover religion with balance, accuracy and insight.


1. Conservative evangelicals gain strong representation in the Trump administration, notably with Vice President Mike Pence, and on the president's informal religious advisory body. Trump maintains strong grassroots support among white evangelicals, polls show.

2. A white supremacist march features racist, anti-Semitic slogans and symbols in Charlottesville, Va. Religious groups join the counter-protest. A marcher is charged with ramming counter-protesters with a vehicle, killing one, injuring several.

3. A U.S. travel ban on several majority-Muslim nations sparks protest and tumult at airports before courts delay it and later versions of the ban. Trump vows to eradicate “radical Islamic terrorism," a term predecessors avoided, and retweets incendiary anti-Muslim videos.

4. President Trump breaks precedent in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital while calling for continued access to Christian, Jewish and Muslim holy sites. Israeli leaders and U.S. supporters applaud while others warn the move threatens peace efforts.

5. Myanmar security forces drive more than half a million Muslim Rohingya to Bangladesh in a campaign of atrocities. Buddhist-majority clerics stoke the hostility. Acquiescence of State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi dismays former backers of the Nobel laureate.

6. A gunman kills 26 adults and children at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas. Churches review security protocols as the gun control debate intensifies. Gunmen also claim lives at or near churches in Tennessee & California.

7. Roy Moore — Alabama’s one-time "Ten Commandments judge" — wins the GOP nomination for U.S. senator with a vow to revive "knowledge of God & the Constitution." He retains broad evangelical support despite allegations of misconduct with teen girls and women. (Editor's note: the survey ballot was distributed Dec. 8, before the Alabama general election.)

8. Fulfilling a key goal of their religious voters, Trump and GOP senators place numerous conservatives on U.S. federal courts, notably Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who echoes predecessor Antonin Scalia’s feisty voice from the right.

9. Black NFL players cite Christian faith in kneeling to protest racial injustice. Southern Baptist and Mormon leaders issue statements against alt-right and white supremacy. Confederate symbols are removed from Washington National Cathedral and other churches.

10. Lutherans and other Protestants mark the 500th anniversary of the Reformation on Oct. 31 with books, ceremonies and seminars on Martin Luther’s mixed legacy as a religious revolutionary. In an ecumenical era, Catholics join in marking the event.

A list of the remaining ballot choices, along with newsmaker of the year candidates, is available on RNA's website.


Tiffany McCallen
Religion News Association
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