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May 19th, 2010
09:35 AM ET

Welcome to CNN's Belief Blog

Welcome to CNN’s Belief Blog, where we'll cover the role that faith and belief play in the news - and in our readers’ lives.

We believe that understanding the role of faith in today’s world isn’t optional or nice to know. It’s need to know.

Consider these recent stories: 

An American woman is held in a Haitian jail for more than 100 days after allegedly attempting to traffic children out of the country in the wake of a devastating earthquake.

A young man is charged in a plot to bomb Times Square.  

A Columbia University graduate quits his first finance job for a go at community organizing - the beginning of a political life that leads to the White House.

To understand any of this news, you need to know something about faith.

Laura Silsby, released from a Haiti jail this week, was a Baptist missionary.

Faisal Shahzad, the suspect in the failed New York bombing, is a Muslim who vowed to “fight back” against the Islamic word’s “humiliation.”

And Barack Obama’s early community organizing was sponsored by Chicago churches - an experience that led him to Christianity and to a minister named Jeremiah Wright, who helped launch Obama’s political career and who, years later, almost ended it.

Faith isn’t incidental to these stories; it’s the driving force behind them. Covering those faith angles is this blog’s mission. CNN’s Belief Blog will focus on the places where faith bumps up against the rest of the news and the rest of the world, from breaking news to entertainment, from business to politics, and from foreign affairs to sports.

We’ll also shine a light on religion as most people experience it in daily life. In a shrinking world, knowing what it’s like to undergo an adult baptism or to pray to Mecca five times a day is essential to understanding the world’s most powerful leaders - and, perhaps, the person in the next cubicle.

And as the ranks of the religiously unaffiliated grow, we’ll cover the rising voices of atheists, those who call themselves “spiritual but not religious” and others who are religiously conflicted or confused. Covering the faithful necessitates covering their critics and rivals.

To do the job, the CNN Belief Blog has enlisted CNN’s international newsgathering team, with correspondents, producers, and writers all contributing. We’ll also be posting the opinions of guest bloggers and will feature regular posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero, an expert at revealing the hidden faith angles that explain so much about American life and world geopolitics.

Finally, we're hoping to have some fun here and avoid getting, shall we say, overly reverential about our subject. Have you checked out CNN's recent church sign iReport? There are as many goofy church sign messages as poignant ones, and many are a little of both.

We hope you'll join us in this new conversation about faith. We're reading those comments - let us know what you think.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (358 Responses)
  1. DON ELLIOTT

    We live in a world where a form of medicine called psychiatry is accepted and where a majority believes it works,
    This is a brance of the sciences that is inexact, not to mention the fact that the so called father of this science Sygmund Freud was a cocaine addict whose brains was fried so to speak. This is also the man who wrote the first book on dream interpretation. In my opinion the word INTEGRITY was more than a word back in the times when the scriptures were written. For the unbelievers take some time and read the book of Job. where he wrote about the springs rising from the ocean floor, long before JACQUE COSTEAU showed us for the first time on film, that there were these springs, and this he did in 1975. You dont have to listen to the preachers and thier opinions, just read for yourself, you might be surprised.

    May 24, 2010 at 4:21 am |
  2. Donna Mansker

    I agree with you, cocovalet. I, too am a Christian and refuse to apologize for my trust in Jesus Christ. I am 60 years old, been a Christian all my life but didn't REALLY get serious about it until about 25 years ago. I go to church services on a regular basis and study my Bible daily. I simply could not cope with the reality of today's world without God. There is so much misery and pain around that I cling to my belief in a better world to come and to my eternal life. To me, what would be the point in living if this was all there is? Why would you waste so much time loving and mourning those who have passed on if those emotions were all useless and pointless? And so I believe that we will meet our loved ones in the next World. And I am comforted by that.
    I am not a conservative Christian. But I AM a Christian and will NEVER forsake Jesus.

    May 23, 2010 at 11:37 pm |
    • Dave

      Thank you for being honest in that your decision to be a christian revolves around your need for a god to be in this world. It is heartening to hear such words in a day when people still hold that their beleif is backed up by some notion of evidence. I am fine with people holding whatever religion they want so long as they don't try and control others actions with it. Your rights end where mine begin. Now, I would prefer for people to have as many true beliefs as possible but actions are more important.

      I think secularism is far superior to theism because it shows us that the world we are living in now is all there is. That let's us cope with the reality of things like pain and suffering and strive to fix these conditions since we are not waiting for the perfect afterlife. Problems must be addressed now instead of waiting for a god to fix them.

      Why should we fix these things if this is the only life we have? Why 'waste" so much on loving the living and mourning the lost? Because we are social, empathic, caring beings who do not want pain and desire companionship and extend these desires to others. We strive to improve the human condition so that the suffering of individuals may be lessened and future generations may live life with fewer hardships than we faced.

      May 24, 2010 at 8:18 am |
  3. bigdaddydan7

    I like your thoughts Elaine. I joined this blog not to preach about what I believe, but to listen and learn. Respect is the key. We spend so much time yelling at each other, that we fail to listen to one another. I am a man of faith, but I welcome the comments and thoughts of different faiths or no faith at all. Thank you for providing this opportunity for dialogue CNN.

    May 23, 2010 at 12:42 pm |
  4. Elaine McEwen

    sorry – typo – should say "Engaging".

    May 23, 2010 at 11:57 am |
  5. Elaine McEwen

    Any discussion with a goal of understanding among people and overcoming ignorance should be welcomed. It's how it proceeds that will be more telling than the intention itself. I think there will be a better chance for healthy discussion if people decide first not to try and "re-educate" those that they deem to be ignorant religious wackos or to just outright condemn people for their belief, but to talk instead about the subject matter of the specific article and how they see religious belief playing a role – whether negative or positive. Engagine each other in conversation is more constructive and informative than condemnation.

    May 23, 2010 at 11:57 am |
    • Guest

      "ignorant religious wackos" and to think I was just about to give up on you....

      May 24, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
  6. Willy

    According to all the facts and evidence we have, God is entirely man's idea.

    May 23, 2010 at 11:11 am |
    • Dave

      And mankind will die to protect it

      May 24, 2010 at 8:04 am |
    • Guest

      That's your belief and you have a right to it. This is such a great country we live in.

      May 24, 2010 at 2:58 pm |
    • paul

      atheists do not believe God exists, so to them he does not,

      God does not believe atheists exist so they do not

      December 3, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
  7. CONSTANTINE

    THE END OF DAYS

    Were spending billions of the dollars on terrorism but what about the quiet
    talk of racism? You know who you are (Rand Paul, etc….). It’s not in your favor to rewrite history and try to crawl (like a serpent) your way into the Government. Remove your mask and show your face. New World Order into a slip into a World not It’s own. Most Americans can't see it. Any civilized person can. You can dislike a person, each race dislikes it’s own, but when someone goes over the top, even children would know “ Why some people the hate?” Number one; STOP ATTACKING THE PRESIDENT! He's done more for this country in a short time than, ANY President in history. Does he get credit? It's not about his policies. and some people just don't like his skin color. DUH! You people are FOLLY! New flash! He's black AND white. Both parents were hard-working intelligent people who biologically created a kid who became President and mom stayed on him. Dad died early rest his soul but he had a mom that made sure, he never allowed no one to crush his dreams. Nobody cried about Bush, who's not even in the President's intellectual league and some can't stand what President Obama has achieved . He doesn't care about credit. He does this because he'll be paid in full. He didn't want to be President; he was spiritually chosen. I tell you the truth, Any jealous, deceitful, malicious, people who plots to take him out, they who touch even a thread of hair on him, will themselves on their death bed, will be preparing their souls for thee Abyss on the day that’s called, The Rapture. The oil already shows 1/4 of our habitat is effecting wildlife and eventual human life. In the book of REVELATIONS; “ A quart of wheat for a day’s wage; three quarts for a days wage, but DO NOT DAMAGE THE OIL!(meaning the spill will destroy the Earth because of the evil greed of man) CONSPIRACY? Skull and bones? Look who’s quiet hummmm…. People are loosing their businesses because of this. Famine and plague eventually begins. Frequent earthquakes, deadly weather, volcanoes erupting, tsunami’s reseding waters shifting islands from their foundations. So Americans WAKE UP! Government is not our fear. Terrorism is not our fear. Racism is not our fear. Money is MEANINGLESS! It doesn't give a rich man knowledge. Why? He can’t even plug an oil hole. I tell you the truth. The best is yet to come. You haven't seen nothing yet. FEAR NOW! So do as you will. It's been foretold. So shall it be.

    CONSTANTINE

    May 22, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
    • Guest

      Ever here the song rose colored glasses?, I bet you own a dozen pair

      May 24, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
  8. Waz

    This is a waste of space and bandwith CNN. Let your readers keep their beliefs on belief to themselves.

    May 22, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
    • CocoValet

      A person can state their beliefs they don't have to be kept to themselves... Gays can speak out about wanting to get married... Atheists can speak out about non-beliefs... So I can speak out that I have faith in Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on the Cross and thru His death and resurrection... Waz, you may not believe but I do and Christ commissioned us to carry the Gospel to all nations. Also I'm not ashamed of Jesus Christ and the Gospel so no I'm not going to keep quiet about my beliefs!!!

      May 23, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
    • Guest

      Waz

      This is a waste of space and bandwith CNN. Let your readers keep their beliefs on belief to themselves.

      Your just one word off you should change it into "belief in themselves"

      May 24, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  9. Poly

    Yeah, this is exactly what the world is thirsting for; another news outlet focusing on faith (a.k.a. religion). A day doesn't go by where the religious perspective isn't highlighted and given a soapbox to spew more dogma into our lives while the world burns all around us.

    Here's a novel idea: How about a CNN blog which highlights the daily examples of how big business has cemented an unholy alliance with big government against the interests of ordinary Americans.

    May 22, 2010 at 3:07 pm |
    • Guest

      You are the one allowing it, when are you going to figure it out?

      May 24, 2010 at 2:49 pm |
  10. JAB62

    Can't you find something worth reporting? A whole new section to avoid.

    May 22, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
  11. LouAz

    CNN has slowly evolved to be the National Enquirer and the LA Star of TV and the Nets (as 42 called it). No meaningful content, no in depth reports, but short hot stuff, a quick quote, a photofrom someones phone, a twisted headline to make nothing seem like something. All stories get equal billing, each is treated as newsworthy as the one before or the one after. There is no relative value to any of them. They are all of the same importance according to CNN. This phony belief blog really is a distorted ploy to get readership. It panders to Christians and is about as relevant as reading tea leaves or droped chicken bones. This whole thing will result in no change in anything but a lot of preaching to the choir. Many folks have learned that "discussing" religion (don't avoid the obvious by calling it belief) is like wrestling with a pig in mud. After a little while, you realize, the pig enjoys it. In the end the pig is still a happy pig, and you are covered in mud. This whole idea is pointless. I watched your articles or features for a couple of days now. A 30 word idea is put with a provocative headline, and you sit back and watch. Several words come to mind . . . agitator, provocateur, assassin, spy, double agent. No good can come of this.

    May 22, 2010 at 10:07 am |
    • Guest

      Those books are still not as good as the Bible.

      May 24, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
  12. Jack L. Crain

    I am really tired of trying to watch CNN for news content and getting nothing but religion and rants. Is there anyplace left on the air to go for actual news?

    May 22, 2010 at 2:48 am |
    • Guest

      Nope this is it suuuucks.

      May 24, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
  13. esker

    What's interesting to me is that the signs in question state: " Life doesn't have to be Perfect..." Such Church signs are saying the exact same things as Muslims, well if you die in Jihad, well death will be perfect, you get 10 K of virgins. The notion of a difference in religious fervor is simply due to the age of a religion. We've toned down clearly. That being said, life is right here, it's what we know. Attempting to say otherwise, i.e. the afterlife is better, is a good story, so then why live? This is paradoxical. If we don't live for a true reason except to combat non-believers of a faith, then why don't we all just launch into a crusade/jihad and decide once and for all who's more ignorant.

    May 21, 2010 at 10:20 pm |
    • Guest

      and I thought it was 75 virgins, damnit.........whoops:)

      May 24, 2010 at 2:43 pm |
  14. Lisa

    I hope you will also include minority faiths such as paganism and Wicca.

    May 21, 2010 at 8:29 pm |
    • tango

      You need to insure that happens. Make your statements and be a rep.

      May 21, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
    • Trash

      And then watch the hate from all other religions step forward.

      May 22, 2010 at 11:33 am |
    • Pagan Tree Hugger

      I too would like to see paganism and wicca represented here.

      June 30, 2010 at 2:22 pm |
  15. tango

    One of my favorite responses, that I ever saw, to prove that not everyone has the same belief system, came from a young lady in my college speach class. After many days of one individual loudly spouting off, at the end of each class, "God is Great". Finally she had had enough, and when he yelled his phrase, she responded, just as loudly, "Yes SHE Is". He turned very red and displayed his true "goodness" by the scowl on his face. He never did that again.

    May 21, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
    • Guest

      She can't worship a she? I thought the Bill of Rights gave us the right to worship anyway we want, or is that just for people that worship themselves?

      May 24, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
  16. Kevin

    Put this stuff in the spotlight. Trust me, there's no way to convert more people to atheism than to play their arguments back to them.

    Don't worry about the broken-brained believers, though. They are completely un-reachable. You know who I'm talking about.

    May 21, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  17. eric

    All this page can do is foment controversy. By the nature of it's format, it does not permit conversations, only repeated assertions - which guarantees hardening of positions, not mutual understanding. Please, CNN (and other media), please stop spreading gas upon the flames.

    May 21, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
    • Guest

      Why? your the ones who brought it up. Why do you think I need to change my religion to yours?

      May 24, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
  18. GH

    In this time when religious Christian fervor runs rampant in our country, in fear-driven reactions to a black Democrat President and what he might or might not do, my own reaction to this column is to ask: Which born-again on CNN's staff campaigned to have this blog created? I support the right to worship as people choose, but there are too many psychotic people in power exhibiting prejudice, racism and hatred (i.e., big brother-type immigration reforms, the stifling of ethnic studies in schools, the support of rightist leanings in public education) "in the name of God" for me to be comfortable with this. But here this blog is, so we'll see how this goes.

    May 21, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
    • Guest

      Blah, Blah, Blah,......Glad your life is so comfortable.

      May 24, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  19. Gordon

    Why a blog on faith? How is this news? Has there been peer-review study showing god exists or that prayer can actually influence an outcome? No? Then, it appears to me that this is just more pandering to the religious right and their unsubstantiated lunacy. I am alarmed at how often religious bias is creeping into CNN's reporting. Please stop. And please bring back Science reporting.

    Sincerely,
    Gordon

    May 21, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
    • Guest

      Really Gordon people are not interested in hear how you worship yourself.

      May 24, 2010 at 2:35 pm |
  20. tango

    Your "God"s words have been modified to each generations mode of understanding. So I doubt that what you "hear" from the current words even begin to match what was originally said. (Like the old whisper this message to someone else and see what comes out on the other end)

    The "King James" version of the bible does not even match the versions before that, so, I doubt the one you are going by is old enough to link back to what was said BCE.

    May 21, 2010 at 2:31 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.