COLUMBIA, MO. – The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision to legalize same-sex marriage this June was voted by a narrow margin as the No. 1 religion story of 2015 by members of the Religion Newswriters Association in its annual Top 10 Religion Stories of the Year poll. In second place were the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have fled to Europe, stirring right-wing resistance in some countries and compassion fatigue in others.
Pope Francis was selected as Religion Newsmaker of the Year for the third year in a row, receiving nearly half of the first-place votes. This year he earned the top spot by enthralling masses and infuriating others with his appeals to the poor and marginalized, his denunciations of greed and environmental destruction and his charismatic presence while visiting the U.S., Africa and Latin America.
In his third Newsmaker of the Year selection in as many years, Pope Francis beat out five other candidates, among them members of Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., Rowan County, Ky., Clerk Kim Davis, and the Islamic State/ISIS.