Last week, CT released its editors' picks for the top 10 religion news stories of 2012. CT decided No. 1 was the controversy—and lawsuits—over the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act and its narrow exemption for employer-provided contraceptives (including emergency contraceptives that many evangelicals believe act as abortifacients).

LifeWay Research president Ed Stetzer also listed the contraceptive mandate as his top newsmaker. So did Associated Baptist Press.

Members of the Religion Newswriters Association (RNA) also voted that the legal battle over the contraceptive mandate was the No. 1 religion story of 2012—but that vote occurred before the December 14 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. In the release of its annual list on Dec. 18, RNA reported that "the No. 1 U.S. religion story in December 2012 was, without a doubt, the school attack and the mournful search for meaning that follows."

Religion News Service (RNS) ranked "Gun violence as a new 'pro-life' issue" as its top way religion made news in 2012, with the second being the rise of the "nones"—the religiously unaffiliated—as the fastest-growing portion of the population. RNS included contraceptive lawsuits over religious freedom as "unexpected entrants" into the 2012 news cycle.

Mass murder also made the list—coming in third place—for The Gospel Coalition's editorial director Collin Hansen. According to Hansen, though, the most important theology news of 2012 was President Obama's decision to back gay marriage. (In response to Hansen's list, Stetzer notes that the president's evolution on the controversial issue was "unsurprising, but still important.")

Meanwhile, Baptist Press (BP) readers couldn't get enough Chick-fil-A. Stories related to the Christian-run fast food chain, which made headlines this summer when it swam "against the cultural tide" of support for gay marriage, occupied 4 of the 10 slots on the organization's annual most-read list. The top story, "'Guilty as charged,' Cathy says of Chick-fil-A's stand on biblical & family values," is the most-read story in BP history.

ABP also offers a list of notable Baptists who died in 2012, including Helen Fling, Henry Langford, and K.H. Ting.

Finally, on a lighter (and unrelated) note, Stetzer is ending the year with a roundup of his favorite "church signs" sighted throughout 2012.

Other notable CT lists of 2012

  • Our annual best albums list includes the usual mix of clearly Christian and "secular" music. The loosely defined criteria for making the cut is essentially this: The album should indicate some sort of spiritual search, a quest for life's meaning. Sometimes the music comes from an orthodox Christian worldview, and sometimes not.
  • Sexuality and relationships kept Her.meneutics readers talking in the blog's most-read posts of 2012, as they have every other year. 2012 also saw the addition of several new writers, several new books from said writers, Her.meneutics's first eBook, plus the addition of a Her.meneutics column in CT print, and changes in its editorial leadership.
  • In October, CT highlighted "50 Women You Should Know." Author Sarah Pulliam Bailey noted that CT's "list is hardly the last word, but it recognizes the growing public role of Christian women in our movement and culture, and suggests the ways they are shaping our future" in 2013.