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Letter from close friend offers rare glimpse into President Lincoln's 'theist' beliefs
The Raab Collection is offering the letter by William Herndon on President Lincoln's religious views for $35,000.
April 12th, 2011
09:06 PM ET

Letter from close friend offers rare glimpse into President Lincoln's 'theist' beliefs

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) - President Abraham Lincoln was a "theist and a rationalist" who doubted "the immortality of the soul," a close friend said in a letter that provides a rare, intimate glimpse into the Civil War president's religious views.

"Mr. Lincoln’s religion is too well known to me to allow of even a shadow of a doubt; he is or was a Theist - a Rationalist, denying all extraordinary -– supernatural inspiration or revelation," William H. Herndon wrote in a letter dated February 11, 1866, to Edward McPherson, clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Herndon was one of Lincoln's closest friends. The two met in Springfield, Illinois, and practiced law together for 17 years before Lincoln became president in 1861. After Lincoln's assassination on April 14, 1865, he authored "Herndon's Lincoln," a biography based on contributions from Lincoln's friends and contemporaries  considered among the most authoritative for its proximity to the elusive president.

FULL POST

- egrinberg

Filed under: History • Politics

April 12th, 2011
05:58 PM ET

Nails used to crucify Jesus found?

A controversial filmmaker says he found nails that may have been used to crucify Jesus. CNN's Kevin Flower reports from Jerusalem.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • History • Israel • Movies

April 12th, 2011
02:27 PM ET

First woman cited under France's veil ban

By the CNN Wire Staff

Police in the Paris suburb of Yvelines have issued what is believed to be the nation's first fine for wearing an Islamic veil in public.

A 28-year-old woman was fined 150 euros (about $215) Monday evening, the same day the law went into effect, according to police.

Police declined to specify whether the woman was wearing a burqa, a full-body covering that includes a mesh over the face, or a niqab, a full-face veil with an opening for the eyes.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: France • Islam

April 12th, 2011
01:48 PM ET

Debating France's new burqa ban

Eliot Spitzer speaks with Hebah Ahmed, founder of Muslim Women Outreach, on France's controversial ban on wearing Islamic veils such as burqas, which took effect Monday.

Debating Ahmed is Mona Eltahawy, a New York-based journalist and commentator and an international lecturer on Arab and Muslim issues. Her essays make her one of only a few writers whose work appears regularly in both the Arab and U.S. media.

The ban pertains to the burqa, a full-body covering that includes a mesh window over the face, and the niqab, a full-face veil that leaves an opening only for the eyes. French police arrested two veiled women protesting the country's law banning face-hiding Islamic burqas and niqabs Monday, just hours after the legislation took effect.

Read the full post on the burqa ban debate on the In the Arena blog
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: France • Islam

How the Bible was used to justify slavery, abolitionism
April 12th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

How the Bible was used to justify slavery, abolitionism

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - How did churchgoing, Bible-worshiping Christians justify holding slaves? It’s a question I’ve long had as a Civil War buff and that has new resonance on Tuesday, which marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

I’ve read books about politics and generals during the war. But I hadn't read much about the religious dimension to the Civil War until I came across a recent USA Today column.

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Culture wars • History

'Soul Surfer' opens after fights over depicting faith
"Soul Surfer" is a feature film about Bethany Hamilton being attacked by a shark and getting back in the water
April 12th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

'Soul Surfer' opens after fights over depicting faith

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

"Soul Surfer," the feature film based on the true story of surfer Bethany Hamilton being attacked by a shark and her journey back to surfing, opened last weekend in the fourth spot on the box office charts - partly a testament to its appealing family-friendly message and a marketing campaign that heavily targeted religious groups.

But even though Hamilton and her family's faith plays a key role in the film, many audiences would be surprised to learn that the question of how to show their religion in the film caused huge debate on set.

"I think to get anything in the film was a battle," said Sarah Hill, Hamilton's youth group leader at North Shore Christian Church, who was played by Carrie Underwood in the movie.

"Basically, what you're doing is you have all these people who want to make a movie about Bethany and they don't know the Lord and they don't have a personal relationship with Jesus. For what we have in the movie it was such a battle."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Movies • 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.

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