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March 29th, 2011
03:50 PM ET

Senate hearing looks at anti-Muslim bigotry

Editor's note: CNN's Soledad O'Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible Belt in "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door," Video airing at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 2.

When Sen. Richard Durbin called a hearing on anti-Muslim bigotry, his office insisted it was not a response to a controversial House hearing that recently examined the threat of home-grown terrorism.

"Terrorism is not the subject of today's hearing," Durbin, D-Illinois, said in his opening remarks.

But two Senate Republicans said they couldn't discuss the Muslim-American community without looking at its potential for radicalization. Earlier this month, Rep. Peter King, R-New York, prompted a flurry of controversy and media attention by tackling "the radicalization of American Muslims" in a separate hearing.

Read the full story
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Muslim • Politics

March 29th, 2011
03:15 PM ET

Judge's sentence involving Christian book causes controversy

A new judge in Texas is trying to find a new way to punish criminals, but one of his ideas, involving a book report, is drawing fire.

Judge John Clinton took the bench in January. The retired Houston Police Department sergeant presides over Harris County Criminal Court No. 4.

“I felt it as a calling,” said Clinton. “I’m just trying to think outside the box. Trying to mold the punishment to help these individuals, instead of set them up to fail.”

That’s what Clinton says he was doing last week when he offered nine defendants a unique opportunity in place of community service. He asked them to read the book “The Heart of the Problem” and then come back in a few months and talk with him about the book.

“The Heart of the Problem” is a Bible study that touts itself as a workbook that provides insights for victorious Christian living. The suggestion didn’t sit well with some attorneys who say the judge is violating the constitution.

Read the full story on KHOU.com
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church and state

'10 Commandments' judge explores presidential bid
March 29th, 2011
02:51 PM ET

'10 Commandments' judge explores presidential bid

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who garnered attention and lost his job after building a Ten Commandments monument outside Alabama's judicial building, is considering seeking the Republican presidential nomination, his top aide confirmed to CNN.

Moore plans to announce in mid-April that he is setting up a presidential exploratory committee, the aide, Zachery Michael told CNN.

Moore will potentially seek the nomination because "we've seen the same type of politician running for president – the elitist type," Michael said. "What sets him a part is he can connect to all Americans and has an idea of what Americans are going through. We are seeing the same types of people run and we aren't getting anywhere."

Read the full story about Alabama judge Roy Moore's plans to seek the GOP nomination
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Politics

TIME: The remains of Jim Bakker's former ministry
Light fixtures that were part of the Heritage USA complex are piled near a stained glass window.
March 29th, 2011
02:28 PM ET

TIME: The remains of Jim Bakker's former ministry

In March of 1987, almost twenty-four years ago, pastor Jim Bakker resigned from PTL (Praise the Lord), a ministry he built from the ground up that later inspired a cable TV show, a 501-room luxury hotel, an amusement park and an amphitheater. Andy McMillan’s series of photographs capture demolished parts of what used to be Bakker’s theme park, Heritage USA, as well as more recent suburban developments in the Regent Park neighborhood of Fort Mill, South Carolina. McMillan began photographing the community in 2006 when he returned to his home town 10 minutes away after graduating from the Corcoran College of Art and Design.

See the gallery on TIME.com
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Jim Bakker

March 29th, 2011
12:43 PM ET

Pot shop opens near Michigan church, school

From CNN affiliate WEYI.

A medical marijuana dispensary moves in across the street from a Catholic Church and school in Owosso.

Now city council is considering a new ordinance that would make this illegal.

NBC25 talked to the business owner who wants to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, and some parishioners about what should be done to resolve the controversy.

On M-21 in Owosso you'll find a place where kids go to school and across the street a place to find medical marijuana.

Read the full story about the pot shop controversy at ConnectMidMichigan.com
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Faith Now • Michigan

March 29th, 2011
11:44 AM ET

Priests, nun sentenced to prison for nuclear weapons protest

From CNN Seattle affiliate KOMO

Two Jesuit priests, a nun, a retired teacher and a social worker who cut through fences at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor over a year ago to protest nuclear weapons were each sentenced to prison Monday.

Jesuit priest Stephen Kelly, 61, of Oakland, Calif. and retired teacher Susan Crane, 67, of Baltimore, were given 15-month sentences, while social worker Lynne Greenwald, 61, of Tacoma, was given a 6-month prison sentence.

The judge gave lighter sentences to the two protesters who were over 80 years old. Jesuit priest Bill Bichsel, 82, of Tacoma, was sentenced to three months in prison and three months of home monitoring, while sister Anne Montgomery, 84, of Redwood City, Calif, was sentenced to two months in prison and four months home electronic monitoring.

Read the full story about the sentencing of the Washington State protesters at KOMOnews.com
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Protest

March 29th, 2011
11:03 AM ET

Rabbi pleads guilty to illegally transmitting money

By Katie Silver, CNN

New York (CNN) - A New York religious leader pleaded guilty Monday to operating an illegal money business, officials said.

Rabbi Saul Kassin, 89, the chief rabbi of the Shaare Zion congregation in New York City, was arrested in an FBI-led corruption investigation in 2009.

Kassin admitted in federal court that he accepted bank checks in exchange for checks of a lesser value from a charity he operated and controlled, the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey said.

On Monday, he pleaded guilty Monday to illegal cash transmission - a lesser charge than the original complaint of money laundering, his lawyer Gerald Shargel said.

Prosecutors said Kassin operated an unlicensed money transmitting business in his home from mid-2007 through 2008. Using the bank account he controlled for the Magen Israel Society charitable organization, Kassin accepted checks, deducted a 10% commission and then issued the difference to other organizations, authorities said.

Read the full story here about the rabbi pleading guilty to illegally transmitting money.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Courts • Faith Now • Judaism • New York • United States

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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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