The entanglement of religion in the 1984 presidential campaign was the most significant religion news story of the year, acccording to a year-end poll of the Religion Newswriters Association, an organization of reporters who cover religion for secular newspapers and wire services.
The controversy over anti-Semitic comments that marred Jesse Jackson's run for the presidency, the continued influence of the Christian right on President Reagan, the running battle over abortion that pitted New York Archbishop John J. O'Connor against New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and Democratic vice-presidential contender Geraldine Ferraro -- all these and more kept religion in the forefront.
In second place in the RNA poll was the release in November of the first draft of the Roman Catholic bishops' pastoral letter on economic life, emphasizing the responsibility of government and the private sector to seek justice for the 35 million Americans who live below the poverty line.
The remaining top 10 religion stories in the annual RNA poll are:
3. The clashes in India between government forces and militant Sikhs seeking a homeland, marked by the storming of the Sikhs' Golden Temple and the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
4. The selections of Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu as Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Bishop of Johannesburg.
5. The vote in Congress, despite White House pressures, against the school-prayer amendment. Congress did pass an "equal access" law permitting student groups to use school facilities for religious meetings.
6. From the Vatican, continued moves toward traditional orthodoxy, a clampdown on liberation theology, condemnation of two approved theology books in this country, authorization for limited use of pre-Vatican II Tridentine Latin mass, and a crackdown on American religious leaders who question the church's stance on abortion.
7. The continued swing toward ultra-conservatism by Southern Baptists, who elected the Rev. Charles Stanley as president, tightened control on church boards and agencies, and opposed ordination of women, claiming Eve was responsible for the fall of man.
8. New medical breakthroughs -- artificial heart transplants, the transplant of a baboon heart for Baby Fae, and new life-saving techniques for severely damaged newborns -- that fueled continued debates on ethics and morality.
9. The campaign of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who built his primary political base on church support.
10. The conviction and imprisonment of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon for tax fraud, which prompted protests by a wide spectrum of religious leaders who charged that the government infringed the rights of churches to govern their own affairs.