A majority of Americans say that President Barack Obama's religious beliefs are either somewhat different or very different than their own, a poll on religion and the recent elections found.
The poll report, by the Public Religion Research Institute, identified Obama's religion "dilemma," as the institute called it, as one of three significant emerging religious issues to watch toward the 2012 election cycle.
Sixteen percent of respondents said that Obama's views were somewhat different from their own, and 35 percent said his beliefs were very different. Only 40 percent believe that Obama has similar religious beliefs to their own. the poll found.
By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
Religious freedom remains under threat in China, especially for followers of the Dalai Lama and Muslims in the west of the country, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday in a major report.
China harassed members of religions Beijing does not recognize, and disbarred, harassed and imprisoned lawyers who tried to defend them, the State Department said.
And there were "credible reports" that Beijing tried to force Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims to return to China from abroad because of their activism for religious freedom, the U.S. said.
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN
President Barack Obama signed an executive order Wednesday clarifying the ground rules for religious groups partnering with the federal government through the White House's controversial faith office.
The order says that religious organizations receiving federal funds must conduct explicitly religious activities in a time and place that are different from when and where they do government-financed work.
But the order also states that faith-based organizations receiving federal dollars may use their facilities to provide government-backed social services, even if those facilities include religious art, icons, scriptures and other religious symbols.
Pope Benedict XVI called Wednesday for the release of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy.
He also spoke out about the "difficult situation of Christians in Pakistan," who suffer "discrimination and violence," at the end of his weekly general audience Wednesday.
Bibi was sentenced to death for insulting the Muslim prophet Mohammed and for calling the Quran "fake" - a capital crime in Pakistan.
She has filed an appeal and asked for bail, the chief prosecutor of Punjab province told CNN.
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.