Ten religion stories that made us ooh, ah, chuckle, scratch our heads and otherwise go 'hmmm' in 2015

Religion news was heavy in 2015.

Heavy, as in weighty subject matter ranging from the legalization of same-sex marriage to the atrocities committed by the Islamic State terrorist group to the shooting deaths of nine worshipers in Charleston, S.C. 

But occasionally this past year — as is the case every year — the Godbeat blessed us with headlines that were a little different. They were heartwarming or quirky or simply far enough off the beaten path to catch our attention.

In chronological order, here are 10 of my favorite GetReligion posts from 2015 that concerned news that — surprise, surprise! — didn't make the Religion Newswriters Association's year-end list:

1. Lawmakers in my home state of Oklahoma made headlines as they considered — seriously, it seemed — getting out of the marriage business.

3. What's not to like about a story involving beer, Baptists and bootleggers? Oh, wait, we found something.

4. Faith played a cameo role as The New York Times highlighted the burger-flipping teen years of then-presidential candidate Scott Walker and not-yet House Speaker Paul Ryan.

5. The Orlando Sentinel explored how creative memorial services "can celebrate a life well-lived without focusing on pain of loss." Ghosts haunted the piece, though.

6. The Wall Street Journal featured "modest" bathing suits on its front page — and yes, there was a religion angle.

7. The Las Vegas Review Journal reported on churches that take their faith — and their coffee — seriously. However, one group was conspicuously missing.

8. Why would a star pitcher decide to be baptized in his baseball uniform? Glad you asked.

9. Reading, writing, arithmetic — and yes, the Rapture — figured in a Texas Supreme Court case.

10. One of the year's must-read, pay-it-forward features involved a homeless man and Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.

Enjoy the reading, and feel free to offer your 2015 comments while there's still time. I'll see you back in this space in 2016. 

Boomer Sooner, and Happy New Year!

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