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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. BobTheBrit

    To quote Richard Dawkins, quoting Douglas Adams..
    "Why can't we just appreciate the beauty of the garden, without having to believe in fairies living at the bottom of it"
    Religious faith (of all descriptions) has more blood on it's collective hands than any other human endeavour. It's time to grow up people. Invest in Science (note the capital), and not in religion. Stop trying to make anyone beleive in sky fairies.
    Most of all, stop a form of child abuse. Brainwashing innocent minds iin Madras's or Seminaries should be made illegal.
    Rant over, I'll getr back to work
    Regards
    Bob
    PS. I really don't expect anything to change. The morons who make up 90% or the human race would not recognise a new thought if it was delivered wrapped round a brick with NEW IDEA in letters of fire.

    January 10, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • Logic

      Bob, how is it reasonable or scientific to think that life, the universe and everything (touche, Douglas Adams) came from nothing? Science says that matter does not come from nothing. Am I supposed to believe that within this mass of ordered things, that everything around me came from a completely random event? A roll of the non-existent dice, perhaps? Astronomers are continuing to find more and more examples of order in the universe. Order comes from chaos? Why are there no observed instances of speciation?

      All of that sounds like a GIGANTIC leap of faith to make. And we're the lunatics?

      January 19, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
      • Religion is NOT healthy for children and other living things

        It is RELIGION that claims the universe was created from nothing! NOT Science! You act as though you have NO CLUE WHATSOEVER what Science is about! You can lead a man to knowledge , but you cannot make him THINK!
        What a shame that such religious nonsense still exists in this new world of enlightenment and technology!

        July 30, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
      • Richard Cranium

        Logic fail
        Since we do not know what happened before the Big Bang, we do not know if everything came from nothing.
        Where did your god come from if not nothing?
        Since your premise that we came from nothing is unture, the rest of your post is irrelevant.

        July 30, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  2. ourpurposes

    I hope that America, after the recent gun violence realizes, though separated religion by church and state, will recognize that we all as one nation under God still need to pray BEFORE and AFTER tragedy strikes; instead of just praying and working together only after the tragedy happened! Americans need to wake up and come closer to God even when times are good and peaceful, which seems to be a time when God doesn't exist.
    By the way, I'm a new author of 'Our Purposes And Why?' visit this blog to read first page of chapter one: http://ourpurposesandwhy.wordpress.com/ or : http://www.amazon.com/Our-Purposes-Why-Knowledge-Forever/dp/1449737773/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1356815295&sr=8-1&keywords=9781449737771#_ .

    December 29, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Religion is NOT healthy for children and other living things

      It does not matter when you pray! Prayer is nothing but wishful thinking and accomplishes nothing. We need to stop wasting time praying to imanginary beings and start taking action to unite our nation as a free socieyty and discard all of this ancient and useless dogma!

      July 30, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  3. Rosalind

    I am a Christian, a true Christian. The question is asked over and over again, "Where is God in all this massacre?" I say he is here..he is always here. He says " I am always at the door, if you knock, I will answer". He is the "Great I AM". We as Christians will ask the same question, so will unbelievers. What is pleasing to God is not pleasing to man. God knows why. We will ask why would he let that happen? He did NOT, the devil DID. America took GOD out of the Schools and so this is the problem that we have. America let the devil win in our Schools. I say "BRING GOD BACK INTO AMERICA, EVERY CITY, EVERY STATE..TO THE RICH AND TO THE POOR, BACK INTO OUR SCHOOLS AND YOU WILL SEE THE DIFFERENCE." If we put GOD first, he promises to watch over his Children. We NEED GOD to mark our School with HIS BLOOD, like he did when he marked the houses of the Israelites with HIS BLOOD. America, you are LOST without GOD. We do not have to await such a tragedy to take place. Even then, it is not too late. ONLY GOD can save America , save us as we are all sinners. He saved me, I was lost but now I am found. Give your life and that of your children to Christ Jesus and God. Now is the time. Hallelujah to the "Lamb that was Slain".

    December 15, 2012 at 1:23 am |
  4. Come to Heavenly Mother!

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESjVYMlQ5Cc&w=640&h=390]

    November 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  5. Vijai (Vj) Singh

    We have to be very relentless in our effort of inquires before the truth of the our existence, the universe and God can come to light. We do it (townhall debates) almost every day in politics so why not for religion? There is, in a very small scale, some debates going on but they do not include scholars of all faith groups. The same old tune of evolution and creationism has been going on for ages among the same parties (Abrahamic religions and Darwinism) with no party further ahead than when they first started. This in itself shows that those who argue that they are right have great fears of being put to shame by a party outside Western ideology. It is time to give far eastern philosopy a chance in these debates, which unfortunately, so far has eluded the prejudicial western mindset .
    Am I qualified (vjsingh.com) to debate this subject? With an opened mind, you be the judge!

    November 11, 2012 at 11:47 am |
  6. Celeste

    The President is a firm and strong leader, with unyielding Christian beliefs. Solid on human rights, equality for all regardless of race, gender or religion, time for the haves and have not. Sturdy, passionate man, genuine and a strong kindness like this country has never seen, helpful to all and a rare concern for others including his enemies. The President answered a calling for America. We were as low as a country in self-esteem and much needed life support after the eight full years of Bush and Cheney chaos, combined with the Republicans taking advantage of the trust their citizens put in their hands, and adding to the drama by voting no and collecting their welfare checks with Premium insurance and retirement plans, that this President is the best man for this job. The President ‘s Administration came to the rescue of Mississippi, Alabama, Missouri, Florida Louisiana and all the other States with unusual national disasters when your own Republican Congressman’s and Senators stood in his way, trimming your relief and placing road blocks to America’s recovery including your own. President Obama should be rewarded with your vote.
    The new Christian, a wolf in sheep clothing, Willard Mitt Romney who says you are on your own, no matter what, would have left America stranded, while he increased his personal wealth. The new Christians on the block are promising you a steak sandwich, but I see bologna.
    The pretend Christians that wave the flag “I am a Christian” and break the basic 10 commandments will see their judgment day. DEFINE CHRISTIANITY.

    October 22, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • Christian

      While the President professes a belief in christianity, within the past four years has not had any significant displays of Christmas at the White House. I have never seen one White House christmas tree photograph since the President has been in office. I have not seen any White House Christmas displays which have been aired on television. I remember when former First Lady Laura Bush was living in the White House, she did a television show in which she presented the White House christmas tree, and spoke about the efforts in decorating the White House for Christmas. Mormons are christians, and have believed that Jesus Christ is the Saviour. The Mormon Tabernacle has been celebrating Christmas, and the birth and life of Jesus Christ ever since their founding. People often have a mistaken belief that Mormons worship Joseph Smith as if he was a prophet who is the final authority on the road to salvation. This is simply not true. The Book of Mormon is a religious text which describes Joseph Smith's struggle to find the word of Gpd and become a faithful believer in the word of God.

      November 3, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Colette

      @ Christian, the possession of a Christmas tree doesn't define one's belief system. Christmas is about celebrating the birth of our Saviour, it is not about having a tree decorated with lights. The only thing that we can use to quantify whether one is a Christian or not, is by the life they live and how their life measures up to Christ.

      November 7, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  7. Bryan

    I would like to thnkx for the efforts you have
    put in writing this website. I'm hoping cash loans online the same high-grade web site post from you in the upcoming also. In fact your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own blog now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a good example of it.

    October 22, 2012 at 7:48 am |
  8. JerryD

    I assume Mormonism will be covered in depth!!!!!.....waiting I was told ALL CHRISTIANS believe in the Holy Trinity...just saying. Google Mormonism and Joseph Smith and get shocked!!!!

    October 21, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  9. Lauren

    During every presidential election the issue over what role religion should play in politics arises. In regards to this question I feel like it is important to first remove the labels of what religions the candidates choose to associate with, and instead focus on what values that religion has given them. Both Obama and Romney have openly discussed what role they feel their faith plays in politics (here’s the link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/obama-and-romney-answer-q_n_1818290.html ). As Obama put it, “faith motivates people to do incredibly compassionate and good work that helps our nation thrive.” Yes, he is saying this from a Christian background, but the important point to come from his speech is the fact that he is advocating certain values over religious affiliation. Romney takes a much stronger stance on the role of religion in American politics, but he too said “…while we are a country with so many differences in creed and theology, we can all meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview.” Taking off the label of what religion they claim first allows us to focus on how those values will play out in our futures. Then we can focus the bigger picture of religion in politics.
    Once we have taken a look at the values that the candidates are advocating, then I feel it is fine to discuss religion’s role in politics. One of the greatest things going for our country is the fact that we allow for such diversity in thoughts and ideas. We do not have a set national religion or language with which we require everybody to be a part of. Given that America prides itself on diversity I think it becomes our responsibility to allow religion in politics. We tackle every issue from abortion to taxes in politics, so can we really claim to be democratic if we leave the issue of religion out of politics? Democracy requires shared participation in discussing the issues that play a role in shaping how our nation is run. Religion or lack thereof, is some of the focus that shapes cultural perspectives and morals. By leaving it out of the conversation all we are doing is suppressing a large part of what is shaping our values and opinions, and in turn hindering democracy. So yes, we should be talking about religion and what role it plays in politics. There are plenty of views from atheist to secular beliefs and as a nation that has such diversity we need to be talking about it.

    October 8, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  10. Anthony John Purich III

    The Mormon claim that the Book of Mormon is "another testament of Jesus Christ" is false. It is a book that contradicts the Bible. (Mormonism – Book of Mormon vs The Bible by Jack H. Williams copyrighted 1999.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      So it contradicts the self-contradictory New Testament? Well we can't have that!

      October 18, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Book 1 = Smitey God of the Jews
      Book 2 = Son of Smitey: The Pacifist Martyr
      Book 3 = American Jesus

      July 25, 2013 at 10:12 am |
  11. Alan

    How about instead of an article explaining what religious beliefs cause these radical muslims to go crazy and riot and mass murder innocent people in the name of their religion, Islami, do an article explaining to Muslims that we have freedom of speech here, so learn to live with it.

    September 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • TruthMatters

      There are articles like that. This is also a needed article.

      September 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
  12. Anang

    Hello: I would like to invite you to my Fall & Winter Fashion Showcase as a VIP guest on September 24, 2011. If intsteered, please e-mail me at or by phone at 2814311230.Blessings,K. ShalaineMERo & Co.

    September 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  13. OneCerebrum

    We now know the fundamentals of how all life on earth originated and evolves. There is no other credible explanation.
    We should therefore all follow the following guiding principle:
    "Societies advance when minds are opened by wonder, and stagnate when minds are closed by belief"
    “Live a life guided by truth, rather than one lost in faith”

    Those who continue to believe in imaginary Gods a a major impediment to our intellectual and non-violent growth as a society.

    September 1, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • TruthMatters

      That's completely false. There are many examples of violence for no faith based reason. Most violence in the world is faithless. Besides criminal activity, most wars have been fought for land and resources or race superiority. If religion ever does end, humans will still be murdering each other.

      Second, there are many examples where faith was a factor for peaceful interactions with others. To shut your eyes when you see something that doesn't fit in with your ideas makes you ignorant and untrustworthy. Wisdom doesn't shut its eye or ears.

      September 17, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  14. jan

    I read in the Bill Nye article, 'both ideas concerning our past'...really?? ideas?? These are not ideas: One is fact and the other is myth. Some people live in the real world and others live in a make believe world. And, 'never the twine shall meet'.

    September 1, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • TruthMatters

      Hate to break it to you but alot of science is a bunch of ideas until it can be recreated. And until we can recreate the creation of life from seemingly nothing then its just an idea. Scientists shouldn't forget that. Theories are not facts. They are what makes the most sense based on the info at hand. Thats it. To stretch that any further requires faith in the unknown, which is exactly what religious people do. You're no different.

      September 17, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  15. Matt #2

    ...and for devout religious folks, who are the most narrow minded, self centered, war starting, conflict inducing, my religion is better than yours, holier-than-thou hypocrites...you know who I'm talking about...you are the ones who will learn the least amount of lessons on this earth and are most likely to go to your envisioned "bad place" upon your passing. Everyone is born equal, and when your beliefs try to change that right to suit your causes, you are no longer a healthy spiritual person. You can believe without the contraints of the bible and religion.

    August 13, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  16. Matt

    Ok, I've read through many of the posts on this blog and they are very interesting to say the least; however, all the dicussions have been in balck and white. Athiests and religious folk. Hmmm....have you been reading any of the latest stats on how beliefs have been shifting in our society today?!?!? I have. And I am in one of the largest growing belief systems out there, spiritualism. Basically, we believe in the afterlife, that good people live, and have lived, on this earth bringing good deeds by helping others, e.g., Jesus Christ, Mother Theresa, and so on, but this is done by choice. We all have lessons to learn in this lifetime, and we have the free will to do so. I cringe when I see someone thank God for example when they accomplish something difficult....it wasn't God or a God who did this for him/her, it was that person's hard work, blood, sweat and tears; hence, the lesson. Look, I grew up Catholic, went to Catholic school for six years, traveled around the world in the military, and now am living in Utah for the last 10 years because it's where the military brought me. I can educatingly say this..."Mormans, come on man! Really?!" One of the worst, most hypocratical religions around! Athiests, you are correct, in my humble opinion (my fiancee is borderline athiest so I have experience) about RELIGION (Some of the comments on your billboards)....not a lack of an afterlife. I've had too many experiences in my life, though, which lends me to believe there is something else. Religion is man made, and I don't have to be a member of that type of fraternity to believe certain things. I also think religion has turned you away (I understand why) from believing anything exists but us. We all believe what we believe, but believe me, there is no black and white. I don't have all the answers, Christians don't, Athiests, don't, Agnostics don't...and I don't think we are supposed to in this lifetime. Just live your lives, learn your lessons and move on to wherever you think you're going...or not going!

    August 13, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  17. ourhumanevolution

    Joseph Loconte's religious commentary about the Olympics is unfortunately misguided from a impartially philosophical point of view.. All religions but especially Catholicism expropriate Humanities' noblest aspirations and most civilized qualities as a reflection of divine behavior. Man up Mr. Loconte! You try to brainwash people as you yourself were brainwashed. There is no God. Get off your knees. Try to be the best you can be on your own. Show a little courage! William.

    August 12, 2012 at 11:28 am |
  18. nancy

    Adam Smith:

    Thanks for the "purposeful" video dude. Bet you felt pretty terrible this moring when you awoke a realized it wasn't all a dream. Hope your next job is not at a Chick Filet drive thru. God bless.

    August 4, 2012 at 7:04 am |
  19. nancy

    Someone needs to tell that idiot CEO in Arizona that Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences of that speech.

    August 4, 2012 at 6:45 am |
  20. John

    At the end of the day, America is a still "one nation under God". We are still a Christian nation (remarkably) and one where the vast majority of its citizens are believers regardless of what you read and see on TV and the Web.

    The Chick Filet company pays its taxes AND makes huge donations to charitable organizations AND employs tons of people. They are sustainable. If we had 200 new companies like them we would erase our nations $15 trillion dollar debt. Please pick on somebody else.

    August 4, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • lamb of dog

      Did you do the math?

      September 1, 2012 at 10:50 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.