Here are my picks for the Top Ten developments in Church-State Separation/ Free-Exercise of Religion in 2006. They reflect my judgment on the relative lasting importance of the many judicial, legislative and political events of the past year. This year, international stories have often carried a high profile, and several of the picks reflect this. Each development has been the subject of many postings over the year. A link to one typical story on the issue accompanies each pick. I invite comments by those who agree or disagree with my choices.
1. Muslim nations react strongly to publication of Muhammad caricatures by Danish newspaper.
2. Fundamentalist Christian clergy work to energize conservative voters for November elections, walking fine line on IRS limits.
3. Military chaplains split on support for guidelines emphasizing inclusive prayer at military events.
4. A federal district court strikes down Iowa’s faith-based prison rehabilitation program.
5. Muslim women around the world find increasing resistance by government agencies, courts and politicians to their wearing of niqab (veil), or even hijab (headscarf).
6. Polygamy begins to regain respectability despite prosecution of FLDS leader.
7. Supreme Court holds religious use of hallucinogens is protected by RFRA.
8. Attempts in courts and Congress to save the Mt. Soledad Cross continue.
9. The Rahman case in Afghanistan and the punishment of proselytization and conversion in Asia and the Middle East capture world attention.
10. Politicians and commentators object to swearing-in on Koran for first Muslim member of Congress.
You can compare the top ten picks for 2006 by the Religious Newswriters Association. Their poll looks to all the year's "religion stories", not just the ones that involve legal or church-state issues. Interestingly, we agree on the top story, but not on many of the others. And if you want to review my 2005 picks, they are still online from a year ago.
UPDATE: Here is another top ten list posted just this morning by Don Byrd at Blog from the Capitol.