Last year, the number one religion story of the year was the evangelical support of then-candidate Donald Trump. This year, Trump and evangelicals top the list again, but now it's more about the Trump administration's support of evangelicals.
The list of top religion stories is decided by an annual poll of journalists in the Religion News Association and reported by the Religion News Service (RNS).
"They are strongly represented in President Trump's cabinet and religious advisory board and have shaped the administration's priorities ranging from Jerusalem to the Supreme Court to interpretations of religious liberty," RNS President Manya Brachear Pashman said of evangelicals.
God and Donald Trump author Stephen Strang pointed out when it comes to evangelicals, "A large majority are still aligned with the unconventional president, thanks in part to the fulfillment of the promises he made to Christians around the country, such as strengthening religious liberties protections, appointing a conservative jurist to the Supreme Court, supporting pastors and churches, and keeping the American family a priority."
"These so-called "Trumpvangelicals" are enjoying unprecedented access to the Oval Office both through Vice President Mike Pence, a conservative Christian, and an informal advisory panel consisting almost entirely of conservative evangelical Christian leaders," Pashman said.
Also in the top 10 religion stories of the year:
- White supremacists march in Charlottesville, Va. — Neo-Nazis carrying anti-Semitic slogans on some of their signs were resisted by several religious groups.
- The Muslim travel ban — the Trump administration says trying to lessen the chance of terrorists entering the U.S., but some considered the so-called 'Muslim travel ban' anti-Islamic.
- Jerusalem — Trump officially recognizes Jerusalem as Israel's capital, garnering much praise from many Jewish leaders and Israel-backers. But critics blasted the decision and 128 nations in the U.N. General Assembly voted to declare Trump's action "null and void."
- Atrocities against the Rohingya — the Buddhist majority in Myanmar persecutes its Muslim Rohingya minority and chases more than 500,000 of them out of the country.
- Sutherland Springs church shooting — the deadliest mass shooting ever in Texas, killing 26 parishioners.
- Judge Roy Moore's U.S. Senate run.
- The choosing of Neil Gorsuch and other conservative judicial nominees.
- National Football League players protesting during the playing of the National Anthem and the backlash from many NFL fans and viewers.
- The Protest Reformation's 500th anniversary.
It didn't make the top 10, but taking the number 11 spot was the Masterpiece Cakeshop case that ended up putting the question of religious liberty once again before the U.S. Supreme Court.
As for Trump, he was anointed Religion Newsmaker of the Year, beating out Pope Francis, Martin Luther and Judge Roy Moore for the title.
Strang — himself a charismatic evangelical — pointed out many evangelicals during last year's presidential campaign opposed candidate Trump. But a vast majority finally came around on Election Day.
"What was the alternative?" Strang asked, saying of Hillary Clinton, "She became the number one supporter of Planned Parenthood, an advocate for late-term abortions, and a proponent of same-sex marriage. She has never had a meaningful outreach to evangelical Christians and referred to conservatives as a 'basket of deplorables.'"
The Religion News Association which compiled the Top 10 list is the largest organization of religion journalists in the U.S.