The No. 1 religion news story of 2014?
The extremist Islamic State's reign of terror narrowly edged the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Hobby Lobby case, in balloting by Religion Newswriters Association members.
The results were announced Thursday.
For the second straight year, Pope Francis was chosen as the Religion Newsmaker of the Year.
The full top 10 (actually three, since there were three ties), via an RNA news release:
1. The self-styled Islamic State expands a reign of terror into Iraq and Syria, driving out the Iraqi army from Mosul and exiling ancient Christian communities, Yazidis and other religious minorities on threat of death. The United Nations, Christians and many Muslim groups strongly condemn the videotaped beheadings of American journalist James Foley and other hostages as inhumane and un-Islamic.
2. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court rules that two closely held companies — Hobby Lobby and Conestoga — can claim religious objections to contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The ruling is considered a victory for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and is highly controversial.