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How Japan's religions confront tragedy
A religious statue in a tsunami-devastated area in Natori city, along the coast.
March 14th, 2011
04:43 PM ET

How Japan's religions confront tragedy

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Proud of their secular society, most Japanese aren't religious in the way Americans are: They tend not to identify with a single tradition nor study religious texts.

"The average Japanese person doesn’t consciously turn to Buddhism until there’s a funeral,” says Brian Bocking, an expert in Japanese religions at Ireland’s University College Cork.

When there is a funeral, though, Japanese religious engagement tends to be pretty intense.

“A very large number of Japanese people believe that what they do for their ancestors after death matters, which might not be what we expect from a secular society,” says Bocking. “There’s widespread belief in the presence of ancestors’ spirits.”

In the days and weeks ahead, huge numbers of Japanese will be turning to their country’s religious traditions as they mourn the thousands of dead and try to muster the strength and resources to rebuild amid the massive destruction wrought by last Friday's 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Asia • Buddhism • Faith Now • Japan • Shintoism

March 14th, 2011
04:17 PM ET

Prayers spark scare on airplane

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

On Sunday, three Orthodox Jewish businessmen triggered fears on a flight from Mexico City to Los Angeles.

Passengers on Alaska Airlines Flight 241 became alarmed when the three men began to pray out loud. "Shortly after takeoff ... three passengers were praying out loud in a language other than Spanish," according to an airline spokeswoman.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • California • Faith Now • Judaism • United States

Exiled lawmakers to debate Dalai Lama's plan to leave politics
The Dalai Lama speaks during a students' gathering at Mumbai University in Mumbai on February 18, 2011.
March 14th, 2011
01:57 PM ET

Exiled lawmakers to debate Dalai Lama's plan to leave politics

Exiled Tibetan lawmakers are set to hold a historic debate on the Dalai Lama's offer to shed his political role, the speaker of their parliament said Monday.

The statement came after the speaker read to the legislators the spiritual leader's proposals to accord greater powers to their elected representatives.

"The essence of a democratic system is, in short, the assumption of political responsibility by elected leaders for the popular good. In order for our process of democratization to be complete, the time has come for me to devolve my formal authority to such an elected leadership," the Dalai Lama said in his message to Tibet's parliament-in-exile, which is meeting at Dharamsala, India.

Read the full story
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Buddhism • Dalai Lama • Tibet

Egypt's military begins rebuilding burned Coptic church
Thousands of Coptic Christians have protested outside the Egyptian state broadcast office for nine consecutive days.
March 14th, 2011
10:28 AM ET

Egypt's military begins rebuilding burned Coptic church

From Reza Sayah, CNN Correspondent

Egypt's military has started rebuilding a church burned down in an outbreak of unrest between Christian Copts and Muslims, a military official told CNN on Sunday.

The Shahedin Church in Helwan province south of Cairo, the capital, was burned earlier this month in what was believed to be a feud between a Muslim and Coptic family. Further clashes last Tuesday killed 13 Copts.

"The engineering department of the Egyptian Armed Forces has started to rebuild the church in Atfeeh today at the same exact location," Army spokesman Maj. Mohamed Askar said. "The Armed Forces will bear all expenses."

Meanwhile, thousands of Christians in Cairo have protested outside the offices of the Egyptian state broadcaster for nine consecutive days, demanding the rebuilding of the church and an end to what they call government persecution and discrimination.

Read the full story here about the Egyptian military rebuilding a Coptic Church.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Bible • Christianity • Church • Coptic • Egypt • Faith Now

March 14th, 2011
10:18 AM ET

Japan earthquake unleashes prayer Tweets

The Twitter hash tag #prayforjapan was trending during parts of the weekend and again on Monday morning, drawing many tweets from Japan - and from many other parts of the the world.

Here's a quick sampling from early Monday:

Manga University After two days filled with anxiety and despair, we are just incredibly sad right now. Please pray for Japan. #prayforjapan

Nikki Blade Found out my mate who lives in Japan is fine!!! Thank GOD!!! Praying that everyone else finds their loved ones. #eqjapan #eqjp #prayforjapan

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Asia • Faith Now • Japan • Technology

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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.

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