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My Take: Which photo will bin Laden be remembered by?
Will bin Laden be remembered by the contemplative image used by newspapers this week?
May 5th, 2011
04:38 PM ET

My Take: Which photo will bin Laden be remembered by?

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

Images matter.

They matter to Greek Orthodox Christians who see the power of God in icons. They matter to devotional Hindus for whom the key moment in worship — darshan, or “sacred seeing” — comes when you look an image of the divine in the eye.

So the question of whether to release the death photos of Osama bin Laden is not a trivial one. It affects how bin Laden will be remembered — as a shahid (martyr), as “a mass murderer of Muslims" (as President Obama called him on Sunday night) or as something else altogether.

I think the president's decision not to release photos of bin Laden’s corpse was a good one. In this era of digital photography and Photoshop, photographs do not prove much. And they prove nothing at all to conspiracy theorists.

So circulating a photograph of bin Laden bloodied by U.S. troops would almost certainly do more harm than good, not least by fueling the perception that the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks is a martyr for true Islam.

But the absence of a death photo does not mean there will not be photos to remember bin Laden by. In fact, the iconography already seems to be emerging, and, at least for me, it is troubling.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Islam • Opinion • Osama bin Laden • Terrorism

Day of Prayer observed as always, with reverence and controversy
May 5th, 2011
04:36 PM ET

Day of Prayer observed as always, with reverence and controversy

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - President Obama bowed his head silently Thursday after laying a wreath at the 9/11 memorial at ground zero in lower Manhattan.  He was in part playing the role of "pastor in chief," taking a moment with the nation to remember the fallen in the decade-long struggle against terrorism.

Last Friday, before he addressed the country late Sunday night to announce Osama bin Laden was dead, Obama issued his yearly proclamation on the National Day of Prayer.  Thursday marked the 60th observance of the day in the United States. In his proclamation, Obama called all Americans to pray for, among other things, the men and women in the military, to ask God for "sustenance and guidance," and to pray for those affected by natural disasters.

"The most popular function for presidents is chief of state, because it's the unifying function," said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.  "They love it  because it unifies people and it seems less political than when they have to make tough policy choices as head of government or brazenly political choices as head of party."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Belief • Christianity • Church and state • DC • Politics • Religious liberty • United States

May 5th, 2011
03:36 PM ET

Is bin Laden pure evil?

HLN's Joy Behar talks with a priest, an imam, and a rabbi about whether or not they think Osama bin Laden is evil.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Interfaith issues • Islam • Judaism • TV

May 5th, 2011
02:56 PM ET

Call me Jacob (again): Hebrew baby names still tops in 2010

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

A few months ago, I wrote about the predominance of Hebraic names for babies born in the United States in 2009.  Today the Social Security Administration released new data for babies born in the U.S. in 2010, and it still looks very much like a Jewish nation, at least in our pediatric wards.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Judaism • United States

May 5th, 2011
10:29 AM ET

My Take: Sea burial shows U.S. religious literacy

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

A few years ago, I wrote a book decrying religious illiteracy in the U.S. population and in the U.S. government. Since that time, I have tried to demonstrate the huge cost of our ignorance of Islam in Iraq, Afghanistan and the wider Muslim world.

So it is only fair to acknowledge when U.S. officials demonstrate real religious literacy, as they have done with the death and burial of Osama bin Laden.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Death • Islam • Islamic law • United States

My Take: My prayer after bin Laden’s death
President Barack Obama greets members of the U.S. military in Washington.
May 5th, 2011
08:26 AM ET

My Take: My prayer after bin Laden’s death

Editor's Note: Karen Spears Zacharias is the author of After the Flag has been Folded, serves on the national advisory board for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and blogs at Patheos.com.

By Karen Spears Zacharias, Special to CNN

The news that Osama bin Laden is dead sent throngs of Americans into the streets hooting and hollering like Super Bowl revelers.

Such a reaction is understandable given the tedious hunt our military has conducted. We should applaud them and their families for the sacrifices they have made and that they continue to make.

No disrespect to President Barack Obama or former President George W. Bush, but it is through the relentless efforts of our military, their unwavering commitment to duty, their love of country and each other that this particular mission has been accomplished.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Islam • Opinion • Terrorism

May 5th, 2011
08:09 AM ET

Bin Laden's wives - and daughter who would 'kill enemies of Islam'

By Brian Todd and Tim Lister, CNN

(CNN) - Eleven years ago, a teenage girl was plucked from a quiet town in southern Yemen and taken first to Pakistan and then on to Kandahar in southern Afghanistan.

Her name was Amal al-Sadah, and a year before the 9/11 attacks she became Osama bin Laden's fifth wife. She was 18; he was 43.

By his own account, an al Qaeda figure in Yemen called Sheikh Rashed Mohammed Saeed Ismail arranged the marriage.

Ismail (whose brother spent time as a detainee at Guantanamo Bay) told the Yemen Post in 2008: "I was the matchmaker for his wife Amal al-Sadah, who was one of my students."

In July 2000, he accompanied the young bride-to-be to Afghanistan.

Last year, Ismail told journalist Hala Jaber: "Even at her young age, she was religious and spiritual enough, and believed in the things that bin Laden - a very religious, pious and spiritual man - believed in."

Read the full story here about bin Laden's wives.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Belief • Islam • Muslim

May 5th, 2011
05:57 AM ET

South Korean man found crucified, police say

By Richard Allen Greene and Judy Kwon, CNN

(CNN) - A South Korean man was found crucified, local police told CNN on Thursday.

Police in Munkyuong said they were overwhelmed with the investigation and declined to provide further details.

But local media depicted an elaborate reconstruction of the crucifixion of Jesus, with the victim wearing a crown of thorns and dressed only in his underwear. He put nails into the cross first, then drilled holes in his hands and hung himself on the cross, reports said.

FULL POST

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Christianity • Faith & Health • Jesus • South Korea

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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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