By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
Washington (CNN) - When House Speaker John Boehner steps up to the podium at the Catholic University of America's commencement on Saturday, he'll be tap dancing around the line between faith and politics.
On Wednesday, a group of 70 professors, priests, nuns and others from the Washington university and other Catholic colleges around the country fired off a letter calling Boehner on the carpet for what they say is his lack of support of legislation for the poor.
"Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policy makers. Yet, even now, you work in opposition to it," the letter reads.
(CNN) - Evangelist Billy Graham, 92, was admitted Wednesday for treatment of pneumonia following a health episode overnight, according to Mission Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina.
Initial pulmonary testing suggested pneumonia, and further tests showed Graham's heart was normal, the hospital said in a statement.
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 was walking through the streets of Indianapolis with a friend. Whenever anyone asked us for money, she would offer a dollar or two. I asked her why she did this. She replied, “Because Jesus said so.”
I didn’t believe her. “Where in the Bible does it say that?” I asked, and she responded with chapter and verse, Matthew 5:42: "Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you." (Luke 6:30, I should add, says basically the same thing.)
This passage is one of the so-called “hard sayings” of Jesus. It comes in a barrage of equally hard sayings toward the end of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus tells his followers to turn the other cheek, give away your coat if someone sues you for your shirt, and “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:44-45).
The chatter around a poll released Wednesday by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Religion News Service will likely focus on the findings highlighted in their news release: 82% of Americans surveyed believe that bin Laden distorted the teachings of Islam to suit his own purposes; 65% believe the al Qaeda leader is rotting in hell; and 62% think it is wrong to celebrate the death of another human being.
Survey: Most Americans say it's wrong to celebrate bin Laden's death
What amazes me, however, is how disposable Christianity and the Bible are in this conversation. America, it seems, has become a nation of Christians of convenience, who trot Jesus out when he suits their politics and prejudices only to hide him away when he does not.
(CNN) - The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) on Tuesday voted to allow the ordination of openly gay and lesbian ministers.
The church put the vote to its 173 presbyteries, or governing bodies, nationwide.
On Tuesday, the Twin Citites Area presbytery, which covers Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, became the 87th presbytery - and the deciding vote - to approve an amendment that will remove the constitutional requirement that all ministers, elders and deacons live in "fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness."
The change, which opens up the possibility that people in same-sex relationships can be considered for ordination, is expected to take effect starting on July 10. It is the latest move by a Protestant denomination toward the inclusion of gay and lesbian clergy.
"I see this as an opportunity to build a stronger church. Faithful and qualified lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Presbyterians will be able to openly serve the church with energy, intelligence, imagination and love," said Rev. Dr. Janet Edwards, a Presbyterian minister in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, soon after the vote.
Read the full story here.
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - Those who cheered outside the White House and Ground Zero on the night Osama bin Laden was killed may have been in the minority.
A survey released Wednesday showed 62% of Americans agree it is immoral to celebrate the death of another human being, "no matter how bad that person was."
When asked separately if a passage from Proverbs 24:17 - "Do not rejoice when your enemies fall" - applies to how Americans should react to the death of Osama bin Laden, 60% of Americans agreed.
My Take: Poll reveals a disposable Jesus
"There's widespread agreement across religion and party lines about how Americans should act in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden," said Robert P. Jones, president of Public Religion Research Institute, which designed and conducted the survey in partnership with Religion News Service.
Editor's Note: CNN’s Joe Johns will explore the relationship between Newt Gingrich and social conservatives Thursday on The Situation Room at 5 p.m. ET.
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) - How big a stumbling block will Newt Gingrich’s three marriages and admission of an affair pose to his efforts to win so-called values voters?
“It’s a huge hurdle,” said Richard Land, the public policy chief for the Southern Baptist Convention, the county’s largest evangelical denomination.
“I must have asked 500 Southern Baptists about this in individual conversations,” Land said. “Evangelical men are likely to give him the benefit of the doubt. I find an implacable wall of resistance among evangelical women.”
As he announced Wednesday that he'll seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, it's clear that Gingrich is aware of the huge role religious conservatives play in the GOP primaries. But he also knows that his past presents challenges to winning them over.
By Charley Keyes, CNN
Washington (CNN) - The Navy did an abrupt about-face late Tuesday, suspending earlier guidance that could have allowed same-sex marriages on military bases once the Pentagon scraps its present Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy.
A memorandum from the Chief of Chaplains, Rear Admiral M.L. Tidd, suspended one he issued about a month ago.
"My memorandum of 13 April 2011 is hereby suspended until further notice pending additional legal and policy review and inter-Departmental coordination," Tidd wrote on Tuesday to all Navy chaplains and "religious program specialists."
CNN's Anderson Cooper reports on a Pennsylvania pastor who has admitted to lying about being a U.S. Navy SEAL.
By Jim Spellman, CNN
Boulder, Colorado (CNN) – Jamie Korngold calls herself “The Adventure Rabbi.” Based in Boulder Colorado, she can often be found leading her popular “Shabbat on Skis” program or observing Passover while camping in the expansive rock formations of Moab, Utah. She says she hopes to build a “cutting edge model of synagogue life appropriate for 21st century Judaism.”
In her new book, “The God Upgrade,” she argues that our understanding of the world has advanced but our concept of God has not - and it is time for that to change. She sat down for a conversation with CNN to explain why.
CNN: In your book you write about “Reclaiming the word God and redefining it.” Many people will say there is nothing wrong with their God.
Korngold: If you have a clear faith and belief in what God is and that works for you, this book is not for you. I don’t want to mess with those people's faith. I envy their faith. I used to have that faith.
By Wayne Drash, CNN
Tuscaloosa, Alabama (CNN) - I had always heard the stories of Alabama Gov. George Wallace asking for forgiveness from the African-American community for his racist ways.
Yet I had never quite believed it, even if I had read accounts about it. The images of him standing at the door at the University of Alabama to prevent two black students from entering had been seared into my mind.
And so it was a pleasant surprise to stumble upon the Rev. Kelvin Croom amid the destruction left by Tuscaloosa’s recent tornado. The Croom family has been a pillar of the African-American community here for the last five decades.
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.