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Atheists flying ad campaign meets strong resistance
June 30th, 2011
06:41 PM ET

Atheists flying ad campaign meets strong resistance

By Katie Glaeser, CNN

(CNN)–It's a battle of belief - and the right not to believe - in a country founded on freedom.

"I'm a patriotic American. I served my country. I get out there and celebrate the Fourth, too," Blair Scott, who calls himself a proud atheist, proclaimed.

"This America belongs to everyone."

Blair, the communications director for the New Jersey-based American Atheists, said atheists in the United States often feel alienated and face accusations of being anti-American because of their lack of belief in God.

To combat those notions, his group is using Independence Day to say atheists love their country, too.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • New Jersey • Religious liberty • United States

Weightlifting body changes dress code, benefits Muslim woman
Kulsoom Abdullah covers her body except for her hands and face.
June 30th, 2011
11:21 AM ET

Weightlifting body changes dress code, benefits Muslim woman

By the CNN Wire Staff

Atlanta (CNN) - The International Weightlifting Federation has modified its rules and will allow athletes to wear a full-body, tight-fitted unitard during competition, the group said.

Wednesday's rule change was prompted by an Atlanta woman, who wanted to take part in competitions governed by IWF rules but still adhere to the modest dress of her Muslim faith.

"Weightlifting is an Olympic Sport open for all athletes to participate without discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, or national origin in accordance with the principles of the Olympic Charter and values," Tamas Ajan, IWF president, said Wednesday. "This rule modification has been considered in the spirit of fairness, equality and inclusion."

Before the change, the IWF's technical and competition rules said weightlifting outfits - officially called "costumes" - had to be collarless and not cover the elbows or knees.

Read the full story here about the change in dress code by the International Weightlifting Federation
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Georgia • Islam • Muslim • United States

My Take: Jails need Jesus
June 30th, 2011
10:57 AM ET

My Take: Jails need Jesus

Editor's note: Ronald W. Nikkel has been President of Prison Fellowship International, which cares for offenders and other people affected by crime, for 29 years. PFI is holding its World Convocation this week in Toronto.

By Ronald W. Nikkel, Special to CNN

Over the past 35 years, I’ve visited more than 1,000 prisons on every continent except Antarctica. The more time I spend in them, listening to stories of inmates and seeing the terrible impact of incarceration, the more I believe prison is the most irrational of human institutions.

It makes no sense to confine offenders in a population of other offenders and to expect a good outcome – namely, that prisoners become non-offenders by the end of their confinement.

Yet prisoners can change.

To a point, any relationship in which prisoners are loved and know they are loved can have a positive impact. But prisoners are truly transformed not because of punishment or prison but through the love and grace of Jesus expressed through the friendship and care of chaplains and volunteers. Prisoners awaken to the realization that God’s love is unconditional and that they can be forgiven.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Courts • Politics • United States

My Take: Dutch ban is bigotry
June 30th, 2011
04:00 AM ET

My Take: Dutch ban is bigotry

Editor's note: Since 2004, Shmuel Herzfeld has been the Rabbi of Ohev Sholom - The National Synagogue, the oldest and largest Orthodox synagogue in Washington, D.C. His first book will be published within a year, titled: The Relevance of the Torah for our Modern Lives.

By Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, Special to CNN

The lower house of the Dutch parliament recently passed legislation that would ban ritual slaughter in accordance with both Jewish law, known as shechita, and Muslim law, known as halal.  The legislation would require the stunning of animals before their slaughter, an act that is forbidden by Jewish law.

For Jews, this is a very emotional issue that cuts at the core of who we are.

In our history, we have seen unfriendly governments attack our sacred rituals as a way of sending a message to their citizens that our religion is alien and barbaric.

We know that it often masquerades as a concern for a more humane treatment of animals, but in reality, it is just a smokescreen for old-fashioned bigotry.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Europe • Food • Netherlands

Your take: Comments on Bachmann's evangelical feminism
June 29th, 2011
05:55 PM ET

Your take: Comments on Bachmann's evangelical feminism

By Liane Membis, CNN

(CNN) – The question of whether or not Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann can be considered an evangelical feminist attracted nearly 3,400 comments. However, the first female presidential candidate for 2012 and Minnesota congresswoman begs to differ.

Bachmann told The Daily Beast in an interview that she’s definitely not a feminist but an "empowered American."

Readers shared their views, some said that they believe “evangelical feminism” is a contradiction:

Logic
How can an evangelical be a feminist? Timothy 2:12 states that women aren't even supposed to talk. Much less be in any sort of leadership role.

FULL POST

- Liane Membis

Filed under: Bachmann • Politics • Tea Party

FBI, Westboro Baptist Church members participate in training sessions
Westboro Baptist Church, known for controversial protesting, demonstrates outside the U.S. Supreme Court in March.
June 29th, 2011
04:07 PM ET

FBI, Westboro Baptist Church members participate in training sessions

By Jeanne Meserve, CNN Homeland Security Correspondent

Washington (CNN) – A law enforcement official confirms members of the Westboro Baptist Church, known for its controversial practice of picketing military funerals, participated in training for law enforcement officials at Quantico Marine Base in Virginia.

The sessions were discontinued this spring after Tom Browne, assistant director for the FBI, voiced strong opposition to bringing the group to a military facility.

Members of Westboro were "respectful" when they were on the base and did not cause any disruption, according to the official. He adds, "It wasn't the purpose to give them another outlet to vent their views. It was more academic."

The story about staff training sessions between the FBI and Westboro Baptist Church members was first reported by NPR News on Wednesday.

Read the full here about the FBI and Westboro Baptist Church training together
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • United States • Virginia • Westboro Bapitst Church

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints remind its leadership to steer clear of politics
June 29th, 2011
03:39 PM ET

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints remind its leadership to steer clear of politics

By Padmananda Rama, CNN

(CNN)– The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) is reminding its leaders to stay away from endorsing political candidates or offering political statements.

In a letter dated June 16. LDS President Thomas S. Monson provided LDS members with "further clarification of the church's position on political neutrality."

The letter comes at the early stages of the 2012 presidential campaign in which two Republican contenders - former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman - both have strong affiliations with the Mormon church.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Jon Huntsman • Mitt Romney • Mormonism • Politics • United States • Utah

Jesus or Ayn Rand - can conservatives claim both?
Author Ayn Rand stands in New York City in this 1957 photo. Her criticism of religion outraged some, but her books remain popular.
June 29th, 2011
10:22 AM ET

Jesus or Ayn Rand - can conservatives claim both?

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN)– Can a person follow Ayn Rand and Jesus?

That’s the question posed by a provocative media campaign that claims that some prominent conservative leaders cannot serve two masters: Jesus and the controversial author of  "Atlas Shrugged," Ayn Rand.

The American Values Network, a group of political activists and pastors, sparked a debate when it recently released a video challenging some conservative and Republican leaders’ professed admiration for Rand,  an atheist who saw selfishness as a virtue and celebrated unfettered capitalism.

Eric Sapp,  AVN’s executive director, said the Republican Party cannot portray itself as a defender of Christian values and then defend the worldview of "the patron saint of selfishness" who scorned religion and compassion.

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Business • Christianity • Culture wars • Economy • Ethics • Politics

June 28th, 2011
03:28 PM ET

Yale's flip-flop on anti-Semitism center

Editor's note: Amitai Etzioni is a sociologist and professor of international relations at George Washington University and the author of several books, including "Security First" and "New Common Ground." He was a senior adviser to the Carter administration and has taught at Columbia and Harvard universities and the University of California, Berkeley.

By Amitai Etzioni, Special to CNN

(CNN) – Yale University announced this month that it would close an institute dedicated to the study of anti-Semitism, the Yale Initiative for the Interdisciplinary Study of Antisemitism. In the wake of controversy over that decision, Yale has now announced that it will open a new center dedicated to the same subject.

Between the closing and opening lies a telling tale about research in a politically charged world.

Read more about Prof. Etzioni's thoughts on Yale's anti-semitism center
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Judaism

June 28th, 2011
03:22 PM ET

Muslim woman sues Abercrombie and Fitch

A young Muslim woman is suing Abercrombie and Fitch in a dispute over a headscarf. In the video above, CNN affiliate KGO has the story.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Business • Muslim

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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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