10 Cool Things that happened in Religion in 2019

Religion has had a rough 2019. From the rise of anti-Semitism here in the US and around the world to the Trumpification of evangelicalism to the attempted purging of Muslims by India’s leader to watching Notre Dame burn to the heart-breaking loss of Rachel Held-Evans, religion has been hit hard. Yet, religion and religious communities keep keeping on.

In spite of all the bad news, I’ve managed to find 10 really cool things that happened in the world of religion in 2019. (Full disclosure: Doubting Believer is a community of progressive and inclusive Christians. My list of cool things reflects that.)

It was late in coming, but one of America’s top evangelical publications finally published an editorial asserting that President Trump most definitely does not espouse Christian values, and that evangelical Christians need to cease their unwavering support of him.

Beloved Bible study guru Beth Moore stood up and spoke out about a woman’s place in the pulpit.

An interfaith group in Germany pledges to use religion’s influence to address climate change and poverty.

Churches all over the country are helping people pay off their medical debt. Here’s a story about one of the many.

Mr. Rogers. Two hit movies showcased the neighborly faith of the Rev. Fred Rogers. Don’t we all feel better about ourselves and the world?

Though the crisis at our border with Mexico continues to be a heartbreaking humanitarian crisis, there has been amazing and inspiring interfaith cooperation in bringing aid and support to those detained.

Brigham Young University’s valedictorian came out in his graduation speech and talked about what it means to be gay and Christian. It went viral. I’m going to guess it saved more than few lives.

Speaking of speeches, the Pope’s Christmas message was particularly good this year. One of the highlights for me: “You may have mistaken ideas, you may have made a complete mess of things, but the Lord continues to love you. How often do we think that God is good if we are good and punishes us if we are bad. Yet that is not how he is.” You can watch the message in its entirety below.

As my daughter would say, “Snaps to the confirmands who refused to join their church because of their stance on LGBTQ inclusion.” These are the kind of Christians the church needs. Those are willing to stand up for what they believe in–even when it challenges the church.

In spite of the damage that has been done in the name of religion, it still makes our lives better. A new Pew Research Center study confirms (once again) that “people who are active in religious congregations tend to be happier and more civically engaged than either religiously unaffiliated adults or inactive members of religious groups.” Pew Research Forum

I find this list a really good reminder that, no matter how bad the world gets, where people of faith are at work, good things are happening. What good things would you add to this list?

May we all be a part of making more good things happen in the year to come.

Rev. Anne Russ is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), currently based in New York City. Doubting Believer provides tools and encouragement for the rollercoaster ride of your faith journey. Follow me on Facebook , Instagram and YouTube. You can also follow on TikTok. Get emails to keep up with all that is happening.

How about starting the New Year with a discipline to make other’s lives better? Join us for You Got This: The Intentional Encourager and learn to be intentional about encouraging others in ways that go far beyond “You got this!” and “Way to go!” Join us as we focus on encouraging others in the eight weeks between New Year’s Day and Ash Wednesday.

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