Some of the biggest topics of 2020—the coronavirus, racial justice, Donald Trump, and Ravi Zacharias—continued to make news this year. See which new developments show up on our list of important stories for evangelicals in 2021.

10. Myanmar Coup

The Christian minority in Myanmar rallied in prayer and protest after a coup in February, which has spurred ongoing military violence, including attacks that have destroyed churches and killed pastors, as the country longs for peace.

9. Josh Duggar’s Conviction

Fifteen years after he molested younger girls as a teenager, Josh Duggar was convicted of downloading and possessing material depicting the sexual abuse of children. Christian advocates, including in conservative homeschooling circles, see the case as reflecting larger concerns around how their communities address sexual abuse.

8. Climate Change Activism Around COP26

The United Nations put out a dire summary of the science on climate change—dedicated to an evangelical—and Christians prayed, worked, came together, and walked to Glasgow, Scotland, to pressure the world’s governments to reduce the use of carbon fuels.

7. Reckoning Over Donald Trump’s Defeat

Even though Donald Trump lost the presidential election back in 2020, a prolonged challenge to the results—leading to the January 6 mob at the Capitol—had lingering effects among evangelicals, with some pastors combatting conspiracy theories in their congregations and charismatic prophets questioning the basis for their claims favoring reelection.

6. Abortion Case Before Supreme Court

Evangelicals are awaiting a major turning point in the pro-life movement, as the Supreme Court appears poised to uphold a 15-week abortion ban in Mississippi in a historic case that threatens the future of Roe v. Wade. The court heard arguments in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in December, months after new abortion restrictions went in place in Texas, effectively banning abortion after six weeks.

5. Critical Race Theory

Approaches to racial diversity and racial justice became a firing rod dividing ministries and churches, with fights over the alleged influence of “critical race theory” emerging within the Southern Baptist Convention, Cru, David Platt’s McLean Bible Church, Bethlehem Baptist Church, and other areas of evangelicalism.

4. COVID-19 Religious Freedom Claims

Christians cited First Amendment freedoms as they challenged additional restrictions on worship during the pandemic, with John MacArthur’s Grace Community Church in California and Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist in DC winning legal settlements. Some Christian individuals and institutions also pushed back against vaccine requirements, mask mandates, and other COVID-19 precautions, citing religious freedom and personal convictions.

3. Southern Baptist Convention Abuse Investigation

The SBC Executive Committee (EC) engaged in a protracted fight before agreeing to turn over privileged documents in a major abuse investigation, a dispute that led its president Ronnie Floyd and more than 10 members to leave the EC. The investigation was approved at the SBC annual meeting last June, following leaked information—suggesting the EC mishandled reports of abuse—that came out weeks after Russell Moore and Beth Moore each announced they were leaving the denomination.

2. RZIM investigation and fallout

An independent investigation confirmed allegations that apologist Ravi Zacharias sexually abused women. The fallout started immediately, with books pulled from distribution and an announcement that Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) would change its name and purpose. It continues with high-profile departures and a donor lawsuit in federal court, as other ministries try to learn from RZIM’s mistakes.

1. Afghanistan

Twenty years after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, pastors in New York City were still ministering to the needs of those who rushed toward the towers. The US withdrew from the “forever war” in Afghanistan, raising dire questions about those left behind, the future of humanitarian work in the country, and America’s willingness to accept Afghan refugees.

Check out the rest of our 2021 year-end lists here.