It's never too late to praise good work. Right?
It took a while, but our colleagues at The Media Project asked a large circle of journalists around the world -- 800-plus, including members of the GetReligion team -- to send in a list of 10 religion-news stories from 2017 that we thought were truly exceptional.
The result is hardly a scientific survey. However, several stories kept showing up over and over. So they prepared a list of 10 stories, in no particular order, as well as a list of honorable mentions.
Some of these stories -- no surprise -- will seem familiar to GetReligion readers. For example, you may remember one of my recent posts that started like this:
Now, here is a sentence that I didn't expect to write this week.
Here goes. If you really want to understand what has been going on in the hearts and minds of many evangelical voters in Alabama, then you really need to grab (digitally speaking, perhaps) a copy of The New Yorker. To be specific, you need to read a Benjamin Wallace-Wells piece with this headline: "Roy Moore and the Invisible Religious Right."
This New Yorker essay didn't portray evangelical voters -- and Alabama religious believers in general -- as some kind of single-minded army. Here was a passage I praised then and I'll praise it again now.
Many evangelical leaders experienced Donald Trump’s ascendance as a personal emergency. Some pastors watched, with dismay and confusion, as members of their congregations defended the moral character of a flamboyantly immoral casino mogul turned politician. During the primaries, the major evangelical pastors were generally allied with other candidates (polls tended to find that they preferred Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz), but, as the campaign developed, and as polls continued to find that evangelical voters held a strong preference for Trump, that general resistance began to weaken. Some pastors talked themselves into Donald Trump, while others remained horrified but kept quiet. “I was flabbergasted that pastors would get up and talk about the goodness of Donald Trump,” John Thweatt, who is the president of the conservative Alabama Baptist Convention, told me this week. “I was really flabbergasted that we were going to throw away Biblical values and dictates because he’s going to fit our party line.”
So, here are the other nine stories in our Top 10 (one again, in no particular order). Yes, a current GetReligion scribe is in the list, as well as a former member of the team. No apologies, folks.
* The New York Times: "The Two Americans" by Sabrina Tavernise, and then the follow-up story, "The Vandal and the Mosque: A New Chapter of Forgiveness in Arkansas." Then there was a related podcast: "The Daily: Two Lives Collide in Western Arkansas," by Michael Barbaro of The Daily.
* Washington Post Sunday Magazine: “She Led Trump to Christ -- The Rise of the televangelist who advises the White House” by Julia Duin. (Click here for Julia's background post about the reporting of this story.)
* The Atlantic: “China’s Unregistered Churches Drive Religious Revolution" by Ian Johnson
* BBC Newsnight Post: "Murder on Campus: The story of Mashal Khan" by Sikindar Kirmani
* San Antonio Express News: “A month after church massacre faith and healing in Sutherland Springs” by Silvia Foster-Frau. (Click here for the Bobby Ross, Jr., post on this story.)
* Sports Illustrated: “You Can’t Give In: Monty Williams on Life After Tragedy" by Chris Ballard. (Click here for Bobby's post on this story.)
* The Washington Post: "How the prosperity gospel is sparking a major change in predominantly Catholic Brazil" by Sarah Pulliam Bailey. (Click here for Bobby's post about this story.)
* The New York Times: “Motives in Egypt’s Deadliest Terrorist Attack: Religion and Revenge” by Nour Youssef. (Click here for my post about this story.)
Now, one other word about the limitations of this list. The Media Project announcement added:
We received hundreds of nominations but most of them came from media outlets based in the U.S. and UK. We had hoped to receive more stories from other parts of the world. Please keep us posted of top religion stories you come across this year so we can include them in our "Top 10 List" next year.
Yes, even journalists in other parts of the world tended to nominate stories from the dominant Western news organizations. I imagine that there were some translation issues, as well as a few pay-walls to climb. However, we really do hope that we receive more material from around the world, at the end of 2018.
Dig in. There are amazing stories here to read and file away.