May 10th, 2011
01:48 PM ET
Editor’s Note: Michael Wahid Hanna is a fellow and program officer at The Century Foundation and a former Fulbright scholar in Cairo, Egypt.
By Michael Wahid Hanna, Special to CNN
Egypt’s ongoing transition toward multiparty elections and the establishment of a democratic order is again being threatened by sectarian tension and violence.
Over the weekend, Cairo was the scene of clashes between Coptic Christians and Muslims after an angry mob massed in front of a Coptic church in a working-class neighborhood.
These crowds had gathered, as is often the case, under a false belief that a convert to Islam was being held against her will in the church – a common and recurring motif and flash point for inciting sectarian sentiments. The end result: 12 dead, over 200 hundred wounded and two churches torched.
The attacks were a reminder of Egypt’s very real sectarian divide. How Egypt’s emerging political forces and its transitional leadership deal with this ongoing crisis will go a long way in clarifying how different Egypt really is after the topping of the Mubarak regime.
May 10th, 2011
09:28 AM ET
Editor's note: Sean Savage is coauthor of "Inconceivable: A Medical Mistake, the Baby We Couldn't Keep, and Our Choice to Deliver the Ultimate Gift" and a cradle Catholic who lives in Sylvania, Ohio, with his wife and three children.
By Sean Savage, Special to CNN
According to the Roman Catholic Church, the only moral route to conceiving a child is through sexual intercourse. As a Catholic, I find the church's position to be discriminatory against couples who have medical conditions that prevent them from conceiving in that manner.
I never intended to challenge the church when my wife and I pursued in vitro fertilization in an effort to expand our family after a decade of unsuccessful infertility treatments. We loved our two boys and we'd always wanted a big family. After a successful IVF procedure in 2007 brought us our daughter in 2008, we tried again so that we could fulfill our commitment to give every embryo we created a chance at life.
When a fertility center made a critical error by transferring another couple's embryos to my wife, we were thrust into an unusual pregnancy and eventually found ourselves at the center of an intense media storm. On September 24, 2009, the day Carolyn gave birth to a very loved baby boy, who was immediately turned over to his genetic parents, the Catholic Diocese of Toledo released a statement to The Toledo Blade condemning IVF as "morally unacceptable."
Because we were the focus of the news, we felt as though the diocese was really condemning us.
May 10th, 2011
08:55 AM ET
By Ivan Watson and Yesim Comert, CNN
Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) - Dignitaries, a red carpet and a child with a bouquet of flowers greeted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he landed at Istanbul airport in Turkey on Monday. It was perhaps the warmest welcome he has received in weeks.
Ahmadinejad's trip to attend a United Nations summit of the world's poorest countries is his first overseas journey since a public spat erupted between himself and Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Top officials and media outlets close to Khamenei have mounted a campaign of criticism targeting Ahmadinejad, while several of his top aides have reportedly been arrested.
The reported arrest of presidential palace prayer leader Abbas Amirifar on charges of "sorcery" is perhaps the best sign of how serious the political feud in Tehran has gotten.
Amirifar produced a controversial film predicting the imminent return of the Shiite saint Mehdi, a messianic prediction that Ahmadinejad often refers to in his speeches.
May 10th, 2011
08:48 AM ET
By Charley Keyes, CNN Senior National Security Producer
Washington (CNN) - A preliminary U.S. Navy plan to allow its chaplains to perform same-sex marriages in military chapels after the end of "don't ask, don't tell" has fired up congressional opposition.
All services are moving forward with the transition from the present ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in uniform. Top Pentagon officials are expected to sign off on the new rules and the progress of training in coming weeks.
An April 13 memo from the Navy officer in charge of chaplains says they "may" officiate at same-sex marriages or civil unions, depending on both local laws and their religious organization.
It is not clear if the other services would have a similar provision.
"Regarding the use of base facilities for same-sex marriages, legal counsel has concluded that, generally speaking, base facility use is sexual orientation-neutral," Rear Adm. Mark Tidd, the Navy's chief of chaplains, said in the memo. "This is a change to previous training that stated same-sex marriages are not authorized on federal property."
May 10th, 2011
07:36 AM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
Arlington, Virginia (CNN) – Jonathan Slye wanted to be a rock star. The wide-eyed 17-year-old spent part of last summer at a Christian rock camp learning how to be a lead singer. But by November he had another thought: he should throw an epic rock show in his hometown.
How hard could it be?
In just a few months, Slye – the son of a pastor – managed to land some of the biggest names in Christian hip-hop, rock and heavy metal to play at his Spring Jam Fest this Saturday in nearby Centreville, Virginia.
He did it through sheer will and a little faith – and at a fraction of the cost of a professional concert.
It helped that no one told him teenagers don’t throw major rock shows.
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 and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.