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Army begins training chaplains on new 'don't ask' policy
March 25th, 2011
06:08 PM ET

Army begins training chaplains on new 'don't ask' policy

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor

The U.S. Army is getting to the hard work of training chaplains as it begins to implement the repeal of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy, which for years required gay and lesbian service members stay quiet about their sexual orientation.

For the past month the Army chaplain corps has been training its 2,900 members on what the policy changes will mean for them. The training stresses that not much will be different for chaplains, but that those who cannot "reconcile" the change in policy are able to seek a voluntary separation from the service.

During a comprehensive review process last year amid the debate over whether to overturn "don't ask, don't tell," the military sought input from denominational groups and chaplains. The responses they received led to concern that if the policy was overturned it might cause chaplains to leave the service or that denominational groups might pull their chaplains.

A chaplain must be endorsed by a religious group to serve in the armed forces. Withdrawing that endorsement would force a chaplain to leave the service.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Church and state • Faith Now • Homosexuality • Military • United States

March 25th, 2011
05:59 PM ET

'Good against evil' in Iowa

By Kevin Bohn, CNN Senior Producer

Washington (CNN) – Several potential Republican candidates emphasized various themes important to social conservatives – a key constituency in Iowa – during speeches there at a conference of several hundred pastors.

On Thursday night, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee told the Rediscover God in America event, held in West Des Moines, that the country is in a battle pitting good against evil.

"I pray that God will raise up spiritual warriors who will say America will not fall – that we will not let this nation fall to the hands of those that will enslave us. This battle is one that pits good against evil. There are things that are right and there are things that are wrong and the great battle that we will live or die by to preserve this nation is one in which we identify and then we fight for until the last breath – that there are some things that are holy and pure and that are just," he said.

"I still want you to understand fully that the greatness of this nation and the hope and future of this nation is not dependent on who we elect in a human position as much as it is that the pastors of this nation on their faces before God then on their feet before their people bring fire to their pulpits and bring revival to this great land and remind us whose people we are and we say we will never fall again," he told the group.

Read the full story
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Culture wars • Politics

March 25th, 2011
04:06 PM ET

Jesuits pay record $166.1 million in child abuse case

By Michael Martinez, CNN

The Society of Jesus' Pacific Northwest unit and its insurers have agreed to pay a record $166.1 million to about 470 people who were sexually and psychologically abused as children by Jesuit priests from the 1940s to the 1990s, the victims' attorneys said Friday.

Blaine Tamaki, an attorney in Yakima, Washington, described the payment as "the largest settlement between a religious order and abuse victims in the history of the United States."

The Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus is now in federal bankruptcy court in Portland, Oregon, the attorneys said. Insurers will pay $118 million, and the Jesuits' Pacific Northwest province will pay $48.1 million, Tamaki said.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Courts • Sex abuse

Amid March Madness, some Christians decry sports worship
Those kids at Duke sure are passionate about their basketball.
March 25th, 2011
02:21 PM ET

Amid March Madness, some Christians decry sports worship

Believe it or not, there are Duke University students who were fired up Friday morning, even though their Blue Devils lost to Arizona Thursday night in the NCAA basketball tournament.

They may be a minority, but these students feel like the same passion that goes into cheering on the basketball team should go into worshipping the Lord.

They've been holding outdoor worship services on campus all week and are sponsoring an afternoon-long Christian music concert on Saturday. Think of it as faith-based March Madness, though officially the events are part of Blue Flame Worship Explosion 2011.

"While our whole school is seemingly captivated by basketball, we are proposing an alternative to bring more peace to March," said Regine Jean-Baptiste, one of the organizers of the Duke Christian events, wrote in an e-mail message.

“Often times everyone in life gets wrapped up in something … more than they should,” she wrote.

FULL POST

- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Culture & Science • Ethics • Faith • North Carolina • Sports

March 25th, 2011
01:23 PM ET

Opinion: Westboro church is homophobia stripped bare

Editor's note: Jane Velez-Mitchell hosts "ISSUES with Jane Velez-Mitchell," a topical event-driven show with a wide range of viewpoints that airs every night at 7 ET on HLN.

What does homophobia look like when it's stripped bare of fancy costumes like family values and tradition? It looks like that group of strange, angry people who protest at the funerals of U.S. soldiers who've died fighting for our country.

You know them. They hold up signs that say "God Hates Fags" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers." (The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this month that the group's actions are constitutionally protected free speech.)

The group's hypothesis is that God is punishing America for its acceptance of homosexuality. Many of us wonder, to borrow a phrase from Jerry Seinfeld, who are these people?

Recently, on my HLN show, I got some insight during an interview with Nate Phelps. He's the estranged son of Pastor Fred Phelps, the leader of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, which organizes those anti-gay protests.

Read the full story
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Homosexuality • Opinion • Westboro Bapitst Church

March 25th, 2011
09:34 AM ET

Christian to Muslim: A change of faith

Editor’s Note: "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door" features the Muslim community of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where Matthew Miller has lived since age 15. CNN’s Soledad O’Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door” airing at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. E.T. April 2 on CNN.

By Elizabeth M. Nunez, CNN

The actual conversion was brief. It only involved one sentence: “I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship but God, I bear witness that Mohammed is the messenger of God.”

For 30-year-old Mathew Miller, those words represented the culmination of a long religious transformation from Christianity to Islam.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Faith Now • In America • Interfaith issues • Iran • Islam • Mosque • Muslim

My Take: A concerned evangelical's open letter to Charlie Sheen
March 25th, 2011
09:23 AM ET

My Take: A concerned evangelical's open letter to Charlie Sheen

Editor's Note: Margaret Feinberg is an international speaker and author of "Scouting the Divine" and "The Organic God." Follow her on Twitter.

By Margaret Feinberg, Special to CNN

Dear Charlie,

As one of your 3 million Twitter followers, I’ve given you the ability to speak into my life in 140 characters or less, so I figure the least I can do is return the favor (with a few extra characters). You’ve been on quite a ride: setting a new Twitterlicious record for bagging the most followers in 24 hours, reducing "Two and a Half Men" to reruns on Monday nights, and displaying behavior that defies any sense of rational behavior (even among warlocks).

“Charlie Sheen LIVE: My Violent Torpedo of Truth” tour selling out in just 18 minutes, Brooke Mueller dropping the restraining order, and a big wet kiss from Jimmy Kimmel may make you feel like a #winner, but as a well-meaning fan, I’m asking you to put away the Tiger Blood T-shirts and pull back from the Hollywood media blitz long enough to consider the following:

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Celebrity • Christianity • My Take • Opinion

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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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