As a religion and ethics editor, my work overlaps closely with politics – after all, religion has historically been used to validate policy decisions.

So it wasn’t surprising that one of our most-read stories over the past year was on the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Christians on both sides of the partisan divide used the Bible to justify their individual assertions. However, Biblical studies scholar Melanie A Howard’s piece explained that the 2,000-year-old text says nothing about abortion.

Other stories that interested readers also had to do with religion’s influence on U.S. politics. With some politicians supporting the wave of “Christian nationalism,” scholar of racism and communication Samuel Perry’s piece explaining the history of the movement and its involvement in militia groups and attacks on abortion providers was a timely and important read.

On a lighter note, it was a “Twosday” year – with the unprecedented and somewhat magical numerical pattern 2/22/22 showing up in February. According to scholar Barry Markovsky, people can often find shared purpose – meaning hope – in such occurrences, and his article resonated with our readers.

May you, our readers, find hope, joy and meaning as we travel into 2023.

Kalpana Jain

Senior Religion + Ethics Editor

Reader favorites

Activist Jason Hershey reads from a Bible as he protests in front of the U.S. Supreme Court with the anti-abortion group Bound for Life in 2005 in Washington, D.C. Win McNamee via Getty Images

What the Bible actually says about abortion may surprise you

Melanie A. Howard, Fresno Pacific University

Faith can inform opinions about abortion on both sides of the political debate, but the Bible itself says nothing directly about the topic, a biblical scholar explains.

Separation of church and state: no longer so separate? Amanda Wayne/iStock/Getty Images Plus

After Trump, Christian nationalist ideas are going mainstream – despite a history of violence

Samuel Perry, Baylor University

Distrust of government blended with strains of Christian fundamentalism can produce a violent form of Christian nationalism, a scholar explains.

Is “Twosday” as special as some corners of the internet seem to think? articular/iStock via Getty Images Plus

Happy Twosday! Why numbers like 2/22/22 have been too fascinating for over 2,000 years

Barry Markovsky, University of South Carolina

Numerology ties in with how our brains work, but that doesn’t mean its claims make sense.

Editor's picks

Abortion-rights protesters shout slogans after tying green flags to the fence of the White House in Washington, D.C. on July 9, 2022. AP Photo/Gemunu Amarasinghe

Religious liberty has a long and messy history – and there is a reason Americans feel strongly about it

James Hudnut-Beumler, Vanderbilt University; James P. Byrd, Vanderbilt University

Historians of American religious history explain why the Supreme Court’s recent religious liberty rulings are an example of America’s long struggle to define religious freedom.

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa’s volcano is erupting for the first time in nearly 40 years. Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Native Hawaiians believe volcanoes are alive and should be treated like people, with distinct rights and responsibilities

Richard W Stoffle, University of Arizona

The eruption of Mauna Loa is a profound spiritual experience for many Native Hawaiians. An anthropologist explains Native American beliefs on the living Earth and volcanic lava.

Protestors are pressing the Iranian regime for changes since the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. AP Photo/Emrah Gurel

Who are Iran’s morality police? A scholar of the Middle East explains their history

Pardis Mahdavi, The University of Montana

Morality police first appeared in Iran soon after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. But similar forces were present in parts of the Middle East even prior to the date.

The Conversation Quiz 🧠

  • Here’s the first question of this week’s edition:
    Which of the following holiday ‘treats’ is one of the longest-lasting foods in the world?

    1. A. Peppermint bark
    2. B. Snowball cookies
    3. C. Bûche de Noël
    4. D. Fruitcake

    Test your knowledge