Editor's note: Kirby Ferguson is a New York-based writer, filmmaker and speaker who created the web video series Everything is a Remix. His videos, like the one above, can be found on Vimeo, an online community where artists share their films.
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) - Can you speak Christian?
Have you told anyone “I’m born again?” Have you “walked the aisle” to “pray the prayer?”
Did you ever “name and claim” something and, after getting it, announce, “I’m highly blessed and favored?”
Many Americans are bilingual. They speak a secular language of sports talk, celebrity gossip and current events. But mention religion and some become armchair preachers who pepper their conversations with popular Christian words and trendy theological phrases.
If this is you, some Christian pastors and scholars have some bad news: You may not know what you’re talking about. They say that many contemporary Christians have become pious parrots. They constantly repeat Christian phrases that they don’t understand or distort.
Marcus Borg, an Episcopal theologian, calls this practice “speaking Christian.” He says he heard so many people misusing terms such as “born again” and “salvation” that he wrote a book about the practice.
By the CNN Wire Staff
San Angelo, Texas (CNN) - A Texas judge warned Warren Jeffs against calling "for the jury's destruction" shortly after the polygamous sect leader said Friday during his sexual assault trial that those who prosecuted his church would face "sickness and death."
The comments that precipitated the warning to Jeffs, who has been granted the right to represent himself, occurred around midday after Judge Barbara Walther had sent the jury out of the San Angelo courtroom.
"I, the Lord God of heaven, ask the courts to cease the prosecution of my holy ways," Jeffs said. "There will be a judgment against all those who prosecute the church. ... I shall let all people know of your unjust ways. I will bring sickness and death. Let this cease."
Walther then told him that "if you call for the jury's destruction" while the jury - who will decide if Jeffs is guilty on two counts of sexual assault on a child - is present, "you will be removed from the courtroom."
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) – It’s turning out to be a banner year for nonbelievers.
First came the publication of a secular Bible. Then we saw the birth of the first American college major in secularism. This week, it’s the launch of the world’s first academic journal dedicated to the themes of secularism and nonreligion.
The journal, to be called Secularism and Nonreligion, will begin publishing in January as a joint project of Trinity College in Connecticut and the Non-religion and Secularity Research Network, an international interdisciplinary network of researchers.
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - An AWOL Muslim American Army private arrested near Fort Hood, Texas, told investigators that he wanted to attack fellow soldiers outside Fort Hood, two law enforcement officials said Thursday.
FBI agents discovered a bevy of potential bomb-making materials in the hotel room of Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, who refused to deploy to Afghanistan and later went AWOL from Fort Campbell in Kentucky after being charged with possessing child pornography, said FBI spokesman Erik Vasys.
After a tip-off from a local gun shop, Killeen police arrested Abdo in a traffic stop Wednesday, Vasys said.
Washington (CNN) - Al-Shabaab, the al Qaeda-affiliated militant group in Somalia, has recruited more than 40 Muslim-Americans and 20 Canadians, U.S. Rep. Peter King said Wednesday as he opened a third congressional hearing on Muslim-American radicalization.
Wednesday's hearing of the Committee on Homeland Security will focus on al-Shabaab and the results of a committee investigation into the threat it poses to the United States, said King, a New York Republican, according to a transcript of his opening statement. "The committee has been briefed by intelligence agencies and we have interviewed dozens of experts on al-Shabaab," the transcript said.
A Baptist preacher giving thanks to God for a "smokin' hot wife" in a prayer that opened a NASCAR race last weekend has generated reams of online commentary, with one religion blogger summing up some Christian reaction: "Shocking, I tell you, that a pastor might have a little fun."
The prayer came from Tennessee Pastor Joe Nelms, who told CNN he was taking a line from the Will Ferrell movie "Talladega Nights." In addition to the way it gave thanks for his spouse, Nelms' prayer was noteworthy for invoking NASCAR sponsors:
Thank you for the Dodges and the Toyotas. Thank you for the Fords. Thank you for Sunoco racing fuels and Goodyear tires.
(CNN) – If you think voters are in cranky mood over politics, a new poll suggests that some of the dissatisfaction may run deeper.
God’s job performance has trouble measuring up to many Americans' expectations, according to a poll by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic firm based in North Carolina.
Only 52 percent of Americans approve of God’s job performance, the survey found, though just 9 percent disapprove.
By Tim Lister, CNN
(CNN) - Anders Behring Breivik was a prolific blogger and visitor to online sites that reaffirmed his worldview.
Breivik's taste in online conversation shows a compulsive interest in websites that see the modern world in terms of a "clash of civilizations," where Christian values are supposedly under siege in the face of an Islamic onslaught.
But rarely if ever does he seem to have advocated a violent response to what he saw as the Islamization of Europe, even as he planned a massacre for years.
The head of Norway's intelligence police, Janne Kristiansen, told a Norwegian newspaper Monday that Breivik had "deliberately desisted from violent exhortations on the net. He has more or less been a moderate, and has neither been part of any extremist network."
Editor’s Note: CNN’s Gary Tuchman explores the latest developments in the saga of polygamist Warren Jeffs, the jailed leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in a special report on tonight’s “AC 360” and for CNN Presents, airing Sunday, July 31, at 10 p.m. ET.
By David Fitzpatrick, CNN
El Dorado, Texas (CNN) – Fundamentalist Mormon leader Warren Jeffs has been held in a tiny jail in this west Texas town for roughly three years. According to his jailers, he has spent his time doing one thing above all else: talking on the phone..
Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran told CNN that in one month, Jeffs has spent roughly $3,000 on phone cards.
And while Jeffs was recently held in another Texas jail roughly 50 miles away, he spent close to $10,000 in phone cards in three months.
Reagan County Sheriff James Garner, who oversees that jail, told CNN that no inmate there has ever spent that much money on phone cards.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
Maybe Mitt Romney doesn’t have to worry about his Mormonism after all.
According to a poll released yesterday by the Public Research Research Institute and Religion News Service, most Americans (56%) say it is somewhat or very important for a presidential candidate to have strong religious beliefs.
This conviction is stronger among Republicans (71%) and Tea Party partisans (72%) but it is true even among Democrats, 51% of whom say they want their presidential candidates to have strong religious convictions.
Many Americans do not know, however, just what those beliefs are, even concerning the sitting president.
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.