Top Ten News Stories of 2013

1. Obamacare implodes: The president promised, “If you like your health plan, you can keep your plan; if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor; and you’ll pay hundreds less every month.” The truth of Obamacare—with millions of Americans receiving cancellation notices, finding their favorite doctors and hospitals no longer available, and facing sticker shock from skyrocketing premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, combined with the disastrous rollout of—has raised new questions about Barack Obama’s character and competence.

2. Scandals multiply: Fleeing to Russia, Edward Snowden, an employee of the heretofore little-noticed National Security Administration, revealed extensive administration snooping on the supposedly private communications of American citizens, raising serious constitutional, legal, and political issues that have barely begun to be explored, but further undermining trust in the Obama administration. That trust was further undermined by revelations of IRS pressure against Tea Party groups, stonewalling and lies about the September 2011 Benghazi terror attacks, the Secret Service sex scandal, and secret administration surveillance of Fox News and the Associated Press.

3. Syria’s “red line” vanishes: President Obama warned that a “red line” would be crossed if Syria’s Assad regime used chemical weapons in that country’s civil war. It did so, and the president and Secretary of State John Kerry initially tried to marshal public and congressional support for a military response. Failing to do so in the face of widespread skepticism, the administration stumbled into an offer by Russian President Putin to allow Syria to turn over its chemical weapons without consequence. America’s credibility was in tatters after the fiasco, and Syria’s devastation continued.

4. Iran goes nuclear: The administration stood by as Iran moved inexorably toward developing nuclear weapons. At the end of the year, Obama and Kerry announced a deal with Iran, which drops sanctions in exchange for a delay in production. The bargain was widely panned by leaders in both parties, as well as by Israel. Experts fear that Iran now has both international legitimacy as well as a free hand to go nuclear.

5. Government “shuts down”: “Tea Party” conservatives such as Ted Cruz and Mike Lee attempt a last-ditch effort to defund Obamacare and rein in runaway federal spending, and President Obama “shuts down” 17 percent of the government, making the cuts as painful as possible. Receiving little help from skittish Republicans, the effort fails, and Republicans get blamed for the shutdown. Days later, Obamacare is introduced, and is quickly revealed as the disaster that critics such as Cruz had warned it would be.

6. New pope installed: Argentina’s Pope Francis, the first Jesuit elected pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, takes the world by storm. Eschewing the wealthy trappings of his office, Francis reaches out to unbelievers and the poor, delivering an old message in a new way, winning a hearing for faith in many areas heretofore uninterested in the topic.

7. Religious liberty at issue: Hobby Lobby, a Christian-owned arts and crafts chain, has led the fight against the administration’s attempt to curtail the rights of business owners to run their companies in accord with their religious principles. The Department of Health and Human Services is seeking to force all employers to provide birth-control and abortion drugs in their health plans, even if doing so would contradict a company’s religious principles. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case.

8. Trayvon Martin case inflames racial tensions: The shooting death of an unarmed black teen by a Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida is hijacked by the civil rights establishment as an emblem of continuing (white) racism in the country. When the shooter, George Zimmerman, is acquitted, many African Americans are angry, but violence is muted.

9. Boston Marathon targeted: Two Muslim terrorists set off bombs at the world’s most prestigious marathon, killing three people and wounding 264. The incident is a reminder that Islamic jihadism is alive and well in the world, and the homeland remains at risk, more than a decade after the 9/11 terror attacks.

10. Phil Robertson survives: The patriarch of the Duck Dynasty clan coarsely criticized homosexuality from a Christian perspective and was quickly suspended by the show’s network, A&E, which was under pressure from “gay rights” groups such as GLAAD. Many critics saw this as the latest PC attempt by the Left to muzzle religious freedom. However, a counter-movement from the show’s fans, who like the Robertsons’ emphasis on faith and family, convinced A&E to drop the suspension. Advocates for free speech, traditional values, and religious liberty cheered.

About Stan Guthrie

Stan Guthrie is an editor at large for Christianity Today magazine and for the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. His latest book is God's Story in 66 Verses. He also is author of All that Jesus Asks: How His Questions Can Teach and Transform Us, Missions in the Third Millennium: 21 Key Trends for the 21st Century, and A Concise Guide to Bible Prophecy. He is co-author of The Sacrament of Evangelism. Besides authoring, writing, and editing books, Stan is a literary agent, bringing together good authors, good books, and good publishers. Stan writes the monthly Priorities colum for He has appeared on National Public Radio's €œTell Me More,€ WGN's Milt Rosenberg program, and many Christian shows, including The Eric Metaxas Show and Moody Radio'€™s €œNew Day Florida.€ A licensed minister and an inspirational speaker, he served as moderator for the Christian Book Expo panel discussion, Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference Does It Make?
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