A Look Back at 2022

As the new year approaches, we look at the events of the past year—both in the world of religion and in World Religion News.

What were the year’s biggest religion stories?

The reversal of Roe v. Wade 

The reversal of Roe v. Wade by the SCOTUS decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization opened the door for states to ban abortions. Some hold that abortion is antithetical to their faith, while others believe the restriction of abortion is a rights violation.

In its wake, the polarization of American culture found a new focus, with almost half of U.S. states “likely to enact new laws as restrictive as possible or seek to enforce current, unconstitutional laws prohibiting abortion,” according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We are seeing states divide into abortion deserts, where it is illegal to access care, and abortion havens, where care continues to be available. Millions of people living in abortion deserts, mainly in the South and Midwest, are forced to travel to receive legal care, which results in many people simply being unable to access abortion for a variety of financial and logistical reasons. It is critical that ‘Not Protected’ states create a state right to abortion, and that the ‘Protected’ states enact laws and policies that move them into ‘Expanded Access.’”

Antisemitic hate crimes

The New York Police Department announced a 70 percent increase in hate crimes in November and a spike of 125 percent increase in antisemitic attacks. New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg pointed out that while antisemitism has a long history in America, for example, this year saw it moving into the mainstream, with thought leaders like Kanye West’s, now known as Ye, brazen attacks on Jews.

Is the U.S. a Christian nation?

And speaking about mainstream, the Pew Research center reports that if recent trends continue, Christians could make up less than half of the U.S. population within a few decades.

Religious persecution unabated

Persecution on the national scale continued in areas such as Burma with millions of Rohingya Muslims fleeing to Bangladesh and other neighboring areas. And the persecution of Uyghurs in China continued with over a million arbitrarily detained.

The Year at WRN

2022 has been a great year for World Religion News.

We did a full facelift with a new look and new features.

We also opened up our website to unique content from bloggers, journalists and anyone wishing to have a voice on the subject of religion to submit an article or blog. We want to make this a forum for all voices, no matter where they fall in the religious or social spectrum. All we ask is that the article or blog is original content (no plagiarism), and we will not publish hate or antireligious content. Provide your original photos or those covered by an appropriate license.

Our hope is that this will increase the range and variety of the conversation on this very vital subject.

Among the significant news stories covered this year at World Religion News was Kanye West’s (Ye) dive into antisemitism and the strong response by Jamie Lee Curtis, hate speech on Elon Musk’s Twitter, the population of Earth crossing the 8-billion mark, and the rise of censorship in America affecting religious liberty.

Many popular artists found their faith in the public eye and on WRN this year including Dolly Parton, Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian, and Montell Fish. And religion in film and TV including Mark Wahlberg in Father Stu, Ray Liotta in Syndrome K, and Dallas Jenkins’ crowdfunded online series The Chosen.

Many series of articles ran in 2022, including the “Gifts of…” series, going religion by religion to see the positive outreach efforts done by each religion, including Wicca, Taoism, Islam and Judaism. And the “Houses of Worship” series highlighted prominent religious sites with Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, the Qatar State Grand Mosque, and the Lotus Temple.

Special thanks to Sam Field who created the popular series “Profiles in Faith,” a series of brief biographies of leaders in the field of religion. We mourn the loss of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, one of the true icons featured in the series, who passed in December 2021.

The biographies covered the religious spectrum from Pope Francis to Neville Callam, head of the Baptist World Alliance, and from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama to the Ayatollah Al-Sayyid Ali Al-Huseinni Al-Sistani, and from Paula Clark, Bishop of the Chicago Episcopal Diocese, to Russell M. Nelson, now 98, who took over the presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints in 2018.

One of the most popular profiles, and one at the opposite end of the age spectrum from Nelson, was of David Miscavige, leader of the Church of Scientology. Miscavige was 12 when he became an “auditor” (the Scientology term for religious counselors), perhaps the youngest ever to be so certified. As noted in his Profile in Faith, as a young man, he worked directly with Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard and he joined the ranks of those responsible for the religion’s “international management.”

A religion rarely segues from the leadership of its founder or prophet to that of its successor without upheaval. The profile sheds light on how Miscavige accomplished the transition while accelerating church expansion. The article also covers Miscavige’s personal supervision of the project to verify, publish, preserve and archive 500,000 pages of writings and 3,000 recorded lectures from Hubbard that comprise the Scripture of Scientology, and having it translated into 16 languages. Not the least of Miscavige’s accomplishments was resolution of a decades-long conflict with the United State’s IRS, resulting in the recognition of Scientology as a tax-exempt religion. 

Looking forward to 2023

We at World Religion News are proud of our work and our new website and are eager to take on more territory over the coming year. Join us as a reader, a blogger or a contributor, or join the conversation in social media—all to provide a voice for religion in the public space and make 2023 an even more spectacular year. 

Happy New Year to all from World Religion News.