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.
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.
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.
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.
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.