It's always interesting to consider which news stories will make it to the top of the list of the most significant religious happenings of the year.
Every year, we run a year-in-review story listing the notable religion news events around the nation. My personal top two 2012 religion stories were: faith-based groups' religious liberty battle against the federal government's contraception mandate; and Mitt Romney's presidential candidacy draws increased attention to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I also have my picks for the Oklahoma-related religion stories in 2012. I've never made this type of list for fear that I would leave something out, and I may have. These are just a few of the stories I thought were significant in the state's religious realm.
They are, in random order:
David Green, founder of Oklahoma City-based retail chain Hobby Lobby, announced plans to fight a federal health care mandate that requires employee health care plans to provide insurance coverage for types of contraception that the firm's owners consider to be “abortion-causing.” Green said the mandate conflicts with his religious values that include opposition to abortion.
Oklahoma faith groups, most notably the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, citing a violation of their religious liberty, expressed their opposition against the federal Health and Human Services mandate requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for employees that includes contraceptives they believe can cause abortions. Lay Roman Catholics, in conjunction with Archbishop Paul S. Coakley, held a religious liberty rally in June in downtown Oklahoma City. Messengers attending the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma's annual meeting in November approved a resolution asking President Barack Obama to withdraw the mandate. Leaders at several private Christian colleges and universities across the state, including Southern Nazarene University and Oklahoma Christian University, also expressed resistance to the mandate.
Hobby Lobby Inc. donated $2 million to the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma to purchase the Newburn Conference Center, a youth camp near Davis, from the Oklahoma Assemblies of God.
Baptist leaders, announcing the gift in September, said they plan to relocate the CrossTimbers Children's Mission Camp from McAlester to the Newburn location.
Vandals shot paintballs at the doors of the Grand Mosque of Oklahoma City in August. A mosque leader said the mosque's Muslim congregation received numerous letters and expressions of support from people of other faiths after the vandalism incident.