Controversial pastors, Democrats finding faith and a new darling of the Christian right.


Controversial pastors, Democrats finding faith and a new darling of the Christian right.

Those story lines from the U.S. presidential election led the list of top religion stories in 2008, according to a Religion Newswriters Association survey of more than 100 beat specialists.

President-elect Barack Obama was voted the top religion newsmaker of 2008. Obama received more than 60 percent of the votes.

Journalists chose a trio of pastors who posed problems for politicians as the year’s top religion story.

Incendiary sermons by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright forced Obama to withdraw his membership from Wright’s Chicago church, while Republican John McCain rejected the endorsements of evangelical pastors John Hagee and Rod Parsley over their negative comments about other faiths.

The Democratic Party’s efforts to woo faith-based voters and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s popularity with evangelical voters were the second and third top stories, respectively.

Others making the list: voters in California overturning a court decision legalizing gay marriage, Pope Benedict XVI’s first U.S. papal visit, and deepening divides within the worldwide Anglican Communion.