Cover Story

Religion: Century in Review

Issue: "Year in Review 1999," Jan. 8, 2000

After picking the second millennium's top religion events and developments, the religion writers for secular media looked at the last century. Religion historians might differ significantly with some of the reporters' choices for the Top 10 list for the last 100 years. Missing from the list are such items as the global expansion of Christianity (with notable results in Africa, Latin America, and Asia, especially in South Korea) and evangelical resurgence that began in the post-war 1940s and took off in the 1970s. But if nothing else, the list reveals something about the perspectives of people who report and interpret religion for newspaper readers. The results of their voting:

  • The Holocaust and Israel's founding.
  • The Second Vatican Council.
  • The 1917 Russian Revolution and the advent of communism, with consequences for religious freedom in the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, China, and elsewhere for most of the century.
  • Azusa Street revival.
  • The ordination of women clergy by Protestant Christianity and Judaism.
  • Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947.
  • The rise of radical, or political, Islam, first noticed by most U.S. newspapers when Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in 1979.
  • The 1978 election of John Paul II as the first non-Italian Roman Catholic pope in 450 years.
  • Involvement by religious leaders in the American civil-rights movement, with Martin Luther King Jr. as the most prominent.
  • The success of Mohandas K. Gandhi's non-violent Hindu-based resistance to British rule in India.

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