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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.

But the way they're spreading their message might have Americans looking to the sky this Fourth of July and finding something besides fireworks to stir emotion.

Planes with banners that read "God-LESS America" or "Atheism is Patriotic" will be flying over 27 states on Monday. While people might be leery to see the messages overhead, the $23,000 campaign has had a struggle with those who are supposed to bring it to life.

Justin Jaye of Fly Signs Aerial Advertising, who is orchestrating the flights for American Atheists, said out of the 85 people in the country who fly these sign-pulling planes only about 17 have agreed to fly the messages.

"I've been in this business for 20 years and I've never run into so much resistance on people flying," Jaye said. "I've had pilots who are actual atheists who said, 'Justin, I am an atheist and I won't fly it because I can't wear a bulletproof vest.'"

Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, says the reaction to the organization's campaign before it takes off shows how much work the group still needs to do. "This is a clear reminder of why we need to keep fighting because the bigotry against us is so thick that a lot of the pilots are afraid to fly our banners," he said.

Jaye said while some feared for their lives, others feared for their marriages. He had one pilot say his wife would divorce him if he made the flight.

Red Calvert, a pilot and president of Pro-Air Enterprises in Indianapolis, said his reasons to decline the flight were based on his personal beliefs.

"I respect our country and I respect our churches and we've got enough problems in our country without stirring up some more," he said. "If those people want to do something they believe in, fine, just don't include me."

The American Atheists hope to draw attention and spur public discussion through their campaign on Monday.

"It's going to remind people that atheism is at that ballgame and at that beach and at that parade. We are patriotic people," Silverman said.

- CNN Belief Blog

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

soundoff (2,835 Responses)
  1. Kyle

    I LOVE this article. I would like to see one on the fourth. godless America.

    July 1, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  2. c5qu4r3d

    In the words of George Carlin "I would never want to be the member of a group whose symbol was a guy nailed to two pieces of wood."

    July 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
  3. Daniel

    "I've had pilots who are actual atheists who said, 'Justin, I am an atheist and I won't fly it because I can't wear a bulletproof vest.'"

    This underscores the reason why I do not speak about my lack of religion except to others who lack religion. Religious zealots are literally insane and I totally see them causing harm to others over this.

    July 1, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • FatSean

      So true.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  4. RillyKewl

    How come there's no LIKE button on the end of these posts? I like liking the good comments. Or is that just me?

    July 1, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Laura

      Like πŸ™‚

      July 1, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  5. MikeMazzla

    Some classic comments in here. For eons religious people, churches, etc are bombarding us with religious messages. i see billboards, I see countless TV channels with nut jobs preaching. I see politicians using biblical passages in their speeches. I see religious trying to inject there crazy beliefs into our laws, our schools, you name it. So finally the athiest group does a little of it themselves and you are all shocked and annoyed by it.
    The fact is..and even you devouts know it..there is no such thing as God.. its a story. You an be an atheist and live agood life and still be an athiest.

    July 1, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • RillyKewl

      Even our K-12 textbooks!

      July 1, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Laura

      As a matter of fact, In Texas it is MANDATORY that the bible is taught in PUBLIC schools. They are trying to pass that in Kentucky where I live too.

      I say "go for it" just as soon as they start teaching Math and Science at church. Well maybe not science because then we'd have dinosaurs walking the Earth with man just 2000 short years ago.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • MC

      I’m very interested in knowing how exactly you KNOW there is no God?

      Or are you just making a statement of faith here?

      July 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • An American

      MC – I have wondered the same thing....

      July 1, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
    • Andy Wormhole

      Allow me to just jump in here and say that I KNOW there are no gods as described by most religions. There might be some "super-being" somewhere that would qualify as being a god, but there is NOTHING remotely like the "god" of the Jews, Christians, and Muslims AT ALL.
      And I KNOW THIS FOR A FACT.

      There. I hope you get all puckered up with excitement over my post. I wrote it just for you.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
    • An American

      Andy, Where is your proof? You still haven't proved that there isn't....

      July 1, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  6. Joe G

    What world do Christians live in where THEY are the ones who have other opinions about reality pushed in their faces?

    July 1, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  7. Sn4ke

    I served 6 years in Afghanistan during my tenure with the USAF/AFSOC. I'm also an Athiest. Extensive traveling abroad and fighting in the war brought me to the conclusion that all religion is idiotic.

    July 1, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Adam

      Thank you for your service, sir, and for providing evidence for the fact that there are indeed atheists in "foxholes," and that one can respect and honor his/her country without also having to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Andy Wormhole

      Sn4ke, thanks for showing these Christian pukes what's what.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  8. JW

    The reason I talk on these blogs is because I find discussion on religion to be interesting and because I dont think we all need to hate each other. I dont see why it has to be about converting or about competi tion between the groups.

    July 1, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  9. An American

    Wait, so should be get rid of the Easter Bunny because people don't believe in it? Should we fly banners proclaiming there is no Easter Bunny? ROFL Why don't you protest things that actually matter. Like improving the economy, improving the education our children receive, or improving care for the elderly? Why waste time touting your non-belief belief?

    July 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Adam

      What people believe is important. There are necessary behavioral implications to what we believe. And when we allow people, without societal and conversational pressure, to believe things upon insufficient evidence then we allow them to freely adopt beliefs that do not seek to comport to how the world actually IS. I for one, have seen enough people hit the wall at 400mph to understand that beliefs do, in fact, matter. Including to those who do not hold them.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Frogist

      An American: None of the banners say :There is no god. And certainly there are other things worthy of promotion, but expressing your ident!ty as a call for tolerance is no less important than any of them.

      July 1, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  10. Veritas

    Americans are....fat, stupid and religious....they disgust me.....

    July 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • An American

      Then why are you on CNN? An AMERICAN news website?

      July 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Randy

      Because this is The United States you can say that not get killed by the government. Now excuse their is a buffet i am late for.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  11. rtbrno65

    I am an atheist and I don't support this at all. This directly contradicts what atheism is. It is not a belief system, it is simply rejecting the notion of a supreme being. It is impossible to prove a negative so what is the point in drawing attention to it other than to upset people and cause controversy?

    July 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Paula A.

      Thank you for a fair and honest reply. I am a Christian and rarely see either side be respectful of the other.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Adam

      Many people find it impossible to believe that one can be a proud citizen of this country and reject the notion of a supernatural agent who reigns over our universe. I think this is one way to let people know that the two positions are not mutually exclusive. You are right to say that it is silly that one must feel the need to profess to be an atheist–one does not feel the need to profess to believe that Elvis is not circling the Earth in a spaceship–but at this time, in this country, which is both remarkably religious and yet secular, I think it is a point that needs to be made.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • manyfaucets

      I certainly don't believe that there is a christian "god" or any other deity that willfully modifies reality . However, I have to disagree. Atheism is a religion. Buddhism is a religion that in its original form does not include a deity. It's a belief system. It is taken on faith. I would agree that there is much more in the way of observable fact that would support the idea that there are no willful deities but it is still a belief.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      """Atheism is a religion."""

      For the thousandth time – NO, IT'S NOT.

      Consult your Funk & Wagnall or other dictionary of choice, and look up "religion".

      Atheists are not believers. Religion is simply not a part of their lives.

      July 1, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Paula A. I think there needs to be a serious discussion somewhere about "respect" – what it is and how it is expressed. It seems your post is about whether you agree with rtbrno65. Agreement is not respect anymore than disagreement is disrespect. I don't mean to rant, and I'm glad you are in agreement, but it seems we should never mistake the two concepts. Sorry had to get that out there.

      July 1, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Fuzzy

      @Frogist
      Very well said...as usual! πŸ˜€

      July 2, 2011 at 1:00 am |
  12. RillyKewl

    Happy 4th of July to all Americans.
    The only tragic part of this story is the fear exhibited on the part of these pilots. The materialist messages they normally wave above us all summer long, every year, have obviously never made them think about bullet-proof vests before.

    July 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  13. manyfaucets

    The fact is that you have to be cautious about being an atheist. There are many who would not think twice about denying an atheist employment. The patriotic connection is very important because atheists like Jews and other religious minorities are often seen as NOT patriotic. Of course it is baloney but there are many who don't understand the connection. It is important to note that you can be a patriot without killing someone. Defending the rights of the people to practice their beliefs free from the interference of the government is an important aspect of patriotism and should be celebrated. More than ever, we are at risk from religious fanatics whose goal is to impose their beliefs on everyone.

    July 1, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • JW

      I agree with you. I am a Mennonite and since we are generally pacifists we are seen as basically anti-American. However, I pay taxes like everyone else. And many in my faith are involved with providing aid to places including Iraq and Afghanistan.

      July 1, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
    • Frogist

      @JW and manyfaucets: I agree. It seems the concept of "patriot" is used as a bludgeon more than anything else. You have to be a white, gun-toting, Christian, red-meat-eating, republican or you are considered traitorous or unAmerican. It's an unfair distinction that has nothing to do with whether you believe in the rights and freedoms of this country.
      Our president was thought unpatriotic because he wouldn't wear a pin... It's a little ridiculous...

      July 1, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  14. An American

    I get that atheists, don't believe in God. But why do you waste so much time pushing YOUR NON-Belief Belief on people? It's a double standard which you just proved. By pushing that you don't believe on believers you are guilty of the same thing.... LOL Hypocrite.

    July 1, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Curtis Jay

      Did you read the article? They are not trying to push their non-belief on anyone. They are trying to make the point that the stereotype that they are not patriotic is wrong.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I don't claim to be an atheist, but you do not make a good point here. Atheists don't care WHAT you believe, as long as you don't insist on making your religion the basis for laws and policies that affect all of us. Atheists aren't forcing you to do anything or live by their non-belief; on the other hand, many religious believers insist that the government "must" do this or that because their God says so.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • manyfaucets

      Atheists have had to push the notion that their beliefs are as valid non-atheists. Just as many minorities have had to overplay their situation so that they could be recognized appropriately, atheists have had to "come out of the closet". I think that you are forgetting that we live in a world that is dominated by christianity. Christians have been pushing christianity in our face much more than atheism has ever done. The difference is that christianity is the accepted norm. Being an atheist is different so it seems to stand out more. It's an illusion. You are just used to the idea that believing in god is normal. There was a time that believing in "god" was considered to be bizarre.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • An American

      Tom,
      You said, Atheists don't care WHAT you believe, as long as you don't insist on making your religion the basis for laws and policies that affect all of us.

      Do you find the following true?

      Murder is wrong.
      That you shouldn't sleep with someone else's spouse?
      Do you think that kids should listen to their parents and respect their parents?
      Do you take Sunday and Saturday off of work?
      Don't steal.
      Don't lie about your neigbor/co-worker.
      Don't be envious of others.
      If so, you just stated that these shouldn't be law because they are the foundation of all major religions. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Catholicism, Buddhism....

      What Religious people do push is that the government doesn't have the right to say my student that they can't say, "thank you god" or "god bless you" or celebrate Christmas by saying "Merry Christmas". Just the mentioning of God, does not push religion. The government does not have the right to infringe on OUR freedom of speech either!

      July 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      """If so, you just stated that these shouldn't be law because they are the foundation of all major religions. Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Catholicism, Buddhism...."""

      This isn't a valid argument. Many of your examples are simple tools for governing human society (e.g., don't murder, don't steal) that have been incorporated (hijacked, if you will) by religions. That doesn't mean that the laws are inspired by a god or that atheists should automatically reject them.

      July 1, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Andy Wormhole

      Nobody has unlimited freedom of speech. If you don't understand this, threaten any government official and see where that gets you. As you can see, nobody is restricting your freedom to say stupid bigoted things.

      July 1, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  15. cindy

    I am so tired of Christian bashing. I am a Christian and if you are an athiest that is your business. What ever you are is your business. My being a Christian is none of your business! Leave us alone! My gosh!

    July 1, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • An American

      Right πŸ™‚

      July 1, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Joe G

      Leave YOU alone?

      What world do you live in?

      July 1, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • MikeMazzla

      Cindy.. for years religious people and Christianity in general have been throwing religion in everyones face for eons.. so now that the athiests are doing it you get all indignant about it. You act as though Christianity and teh church have been silent about their beliefs...they try to inject their beliefs in every aspect of life. Sucks when the shoe is on the other foot huh?

      July 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • An American

      Mike, Are you made to go to church? Does someone make you open your eyes and read the bible, torah or koran? If not, then nobody is FORCING religion on YOU.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • manyfaucets

      Christianity has held sway over the western world for thousands of years. At the same time, christianity has claimed to hold the high moral ground for bringing peace to the world. So far the science of good intentions has failed, so any bashing that christianity has taken is deserved.

      While you may not be one of the fanatic christians that bring so much hate and intolerance to the world, your lack of action serves only to encourage those who do harm in the name of your deity. You may not be actively working to destroy freedom of religion but you are probably standing idly by hoping that the christian right will be successful. The biggest problem with christians is that most are very unchristian. A real christian would actively defend the right of atheists to express themselves. If you can get your fanatic buddies to back off, then so will the atheists.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Todd

      To Joe G: If you are finding that some religious groups are harassing you, then it is up to you to take the moral high ground and not go back in kind.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • cmdvimes

      How many Christian pilots feel they have to wear bulletproof vests for pulling a John 3:16 banner? The loss of christian special privileges is hopefully coming to an end and should not be interpreted as persecution. We will take over the "miracles" from here on out, you can have jesus' images on toast, trees and whatnot. – atheist and scientist.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Laura

      I don't have a problem with God. It's his fan club that I can't stand.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      """Are you made to go to church? Does someone make you open your eyes and read the bible, torah or koran? If not, then nobody is FORCING religion on YOU."""

      Wrong answer. Let me give you an example:

      Whenever creationism is pushed into a school system, religion is being forced on me. Maybe not directly, but I resent having our children getting a dumbed down education because that does affects me – and my country (heh, how's that for staying on topic?).

      It is scientific methodology that advances a society, not religious mythology.

      July 1, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
  16. Ian

    I'm agnostic, but at least I can acknowledge the irony of the article saing that athiests feel alienated, and then go on to fly signs with alienating messages. Man, sometimes I think people make mountains out of molehills with this stuff, considering I can't even remember the last time someone's religious beliefs deeply affected my day.

    July 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • RillyKewl

      If you're not hearing it, you're not listening.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Chris

      Really? How about 9/11? That didn't deeply affect your day?

      July 1, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • manyfaucets

      Alienating??? What is alienating about saying that America is for everyone. The christian right is ACTIVELY alienating huge segments of our population that have the same rights to a puruit of happiness as they do.

      Your not paying attention.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  17. Mark

    I don't get it. I just don't get it. I don't understand why a group of people needs to go to so much trouble to affirm and re-affirm what they AREN'T, or what they DON'T believe. It's like they live in some kind of backwards parallel world where everything is in the negative sense.
    "I am NOT a believer". "I DON'T believe there's a God".

    Anyone who's ever spent any amount of time on this site reading these blogs knows that Athiests really like to draw paralles between God, and the Easter Bunny....or God and Santa Claus...or Unicorns, or elves, etc. Well, if then, in an Athiests mind, God and Santa are indistiguishable in the "believable" category, then why don't we see an equal amount of blogs regarding other "unbelievable" characters? Why the emphasis on God? Why not rail against Santa on Christmas? Why not rail against Leprocons on St. Patrick's day?

    I believe that the hostility comes from the very fact that Athiests know the truth. Because I know the truth about Santa, makes it unnecessary for me to get all ticked off every time someone mentions him. I don't feel the need to rent airplanes with signs on them that say..."Santa is a fake". Wouldn't that seem a little stupid. I mean, how often do you see people campaigning agains things that they don't beleive in?? (I mean other then Athiests).

    July 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • dfergenson

      I'll answer this in one sentence: We don't define ourselves by our lack of belief in the Easter Bunny because other people do not make political decisions that affect us, our children and our country based on their belief in the Easter Bunny.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • BEAR

      A lot of Athiests are Jewish like me. We as a people have been persecuted for centuries. As a Jew and an athiest, I agree with the need to continue to remind everyone that persecution of minorities by Christians continues to this day. They need to be reminded that they do not have exclusive ownership to what is right and patriotic.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • MikeMazzla

      because Mark no one believes in the existence of Santa or the Bunny or leprachauns.. but weirdly enough peolle still believe in the existence of God.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Scowl

      It's ignorant people like yourself that we feel the need to speak out. Can you not see that atheists receive a ton of prejudice just because they don't believe in any fairy tales? In a country such as this one where I, as an atheist am inundated with religious iconography and politicians and voters who forget that this country was founded to be a secular one we feel the need to speak out.

      I don't respect your beliefs; I do however respect your RIGHT to believe in whatever garbage you want. I would never deface your property because it had a "Jesus Fish" sticker on it, I would never deface one of the untold numbers of Christian billboards and I would never try to stifle your First Amendments by telling you to "shut up". That is in essence what you are doing with your post: "hey atheists, if you don't believe then shut up".

      The day that I shut up is the day when such things as an "atheist flying ad campaign" or billboard or conference draw no ire from the religious. The day that Christians say "we have Freedom of Speech in this country and while I may not like what they have to say I will respect their right to say it and let them say it" is the day I'll "shut up".

      July 1, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • AtheistSteve

      @Mark

      Well since you're obviously sitting on the other side of the fence you don't get to see the issue from our perspective. We can't take get through a single day without having some sort of religious symbol, remark or att.itude literally shoved in our faces. Campaigns like this flying ad one are not aimed at you anyway. They are designed to alert other non-believers that they are not alone. To reas.sure them that they are not the despi.cable low-lives that you and your ilk portray us to be. Oppressed minorities throughout history have fought back against bigotry and hate and this situation is no different.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Blake

      @BEAR: I don't understand how you can be Jewish and athiest at the same time...unless this just means that you are of Jewish descent but have strayed from the accompanying belief. Could you please elaborate?

      July 1, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  18. Randy

    How about take that 23k and use it to help feed the hungry and homeless. The food banks are always in need of assistance and 23k to promote your lack of religious view is absurd. I am sure you woiuld have a hissy fit it the Christian flew banners saying "God is America" or anything else related to pushing religion on the public. I love the sentiment of the pilots that refuse to do this job. The US has too many things on its plate without you poking the hornets nest with a stick to see how many reactions you can get out of everyone.

    God continue to bless the United States! One nation under GOD!

    July 1, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Robert

      You do realize "Under hog" was added in the 50's right?

      July 1, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • cindy

      Well said!!

      July 1, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Chris

      Even as I stand here an atheist myself, I can say this is nothing but one big theological p***ing match.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
    • Tom Schoening

      "Under God"? By your definition??? Your God?? Freedom should prevail, not religion. Look around the world at "religious" led nations!

      July 1, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Chris

      It amazes me how Christians think this country would be their god's favorite country and that it blesses this country over all others. Can you say arrogant?

      July 1, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • RillyKewl

      How tolerant of you to tell people what they should + shouldn't do with their money.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • Randy

      Love it or leave it. There are millions of people willing to trade citizenships with you right now. Try Greece sounds like they are having loads of fun over there and oh yea Libya is nice this time of year.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:57 pm |
  19. JW

    I think everyone who talks on this blog should get together and have a big party and talk about our beliefs. I would be fun.

    July 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Frogist

      @JW: It sure would be a party! Not so sure if it would work out amicably. But it would be nice to meet some of the regulars like you.

      July 1, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  20. Mitchell Moore

    "Atheists are unbalanced"... Wow. Because they'd rather believe in logic, reason and proof instead of a 2,000 year old book that begins with the most illogical, unbelievable story about the beginning of the world. I've always wondered, if God is so all-knowing and powerful, why in the world would he instruct his new creations to eat anything in the garden EXCEPT the tree of knowledge? Since he's all-knowing, wouldn't he have known that was exactly what they were going to do? Sounds so silly. Either God is all knowing and perfect, or he didn't expect that to happen and he made a mistake. Can't have it both ways, Christians.

    July 1, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      He is all knowing and perfect. What's your point?

      Just because what you feel is evil and wrong (how does logic work into those concepts based on your feelings anyway?) doesn't mean it wasn't perfect.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
    • MC

      So you’re saying Atheism is a belief in logic? Where do you get that definition from?

      Atheism is a belief (which cannot be proven) that there is no god. It is a faith belief every bit as much as Theism.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Kyle

      "Atheism is a belief (which cannot be proven) that there is no god. It is a faith belief every bit as much as Theism."

      We atheist are quite aware that we cannot prove a negative. Atheism is not based of faith. It is based on the logic that if a hypothesis has no supporting evidence, you should not derive facts or conclusions from that hypothesis. The hypothesis here is "God exist." There is no legitimate supporting evidence for this idea, thus we disregard it. This decision making process is considered to be logical process by every modern scientist in the world. It is fundamental to the scientific method.

      July 1, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
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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.