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July 26th, 2011
03:07 PM ET

Warren Jeffs seeks to control polygamist sect from jail

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.

FULL POST


Poll shows Americans know little about faiths of Obama, Romney
Mitt Romney announcing his presidential candidacy in New Hampshire last month.
July 26th, 2011
02:44 PM ET

Poll shows Americans know little about faiths of Obama, Romney

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.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Uncategorized

Christian Dems take on debt ceiling in new ads
July 26th, 2011
01:43 PM ET

Christian Dems take on debt ceiling in new ads

By The CNN Political Unit

(CNN) - An organization of Democratically-aligned Christian leaders will launch new radio ads Tuesday attacking Republicans for neglecting Biblical lessons to care for the needy in their plans to raise the debt ceiling, according to the group.

Sojourners, a progressive Christian coalition led by Rev. Jim Wallis, will place ads narrated by local pastors on Christian and country radio stations in House Speaker John Boehner's Ohio congressional district and statewide in Kentucky, targeting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Nevada, in support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The size of the buy has not yet been disclosed.

The minute-long spot attacking Boehner's plan says the book of Proverbs "teaches that where there is not leadership a nation falls and the poor are shunned while the rich have many friends."

Read the full story about the new Christian debt ads on CNN's Political Ticker
- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: John Boehner • Politics

Winehouse burial raises Jewish questions about tattoos, cremation
July 26th, 2011
12:20 PM ET

Winehouse burial raises Jewish questions about tattoos, cremation

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

LONDON (CNN) – Your Jewish grandmother might have told you not to get a tattoo if you want to be buried in a Jewish cemetery when you die. If you ignored her, rest easy - not only progressive Jews, but Britain's Orthodox Jews now have no problem with burying Jews with tattoos.

The question came up Tuesday as the heavily tattooed Amy Winehouse was laid to rest in a traditional Jewish ceremony in London. The funeral was conducted by a rabbi and the Winehouse family will sit shiva - the Jewish custom and tradition of receiving guests in their home - starting Tuesday night, Winehouse spokesman Chris Goodman said.

Winehouse was cremated, Goodman added - a more controversial practice among Jews.

FULL POST

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Death • Judaism • United Kingdom

July 26th, 2011
10:15 AM ET

My Take: Christians should denounce Norway's Christian terrorist

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

Ideas matter; thoughts have force. This is an obvious truth. It is why pastors preach, why professors profess, and why pundits do whatever they do.

Yet whenever ideas do things we do not want them to do, as they did in Oslo , Norway on Friday, we try to pretend that ideas are powerless.

For the last two decades, Christian students have told me that Christianity had nothing to do with the Holocaust. After 9/11, many Muslims said that the men who flew those planes into those buildings had nothing to do with Islam. When Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot, we were told that the crime had nothing to do with our current climate of political hatred.

Unpacking the 'Christian fundamentalist' label for Norway terror suspect?

Now in the wake of the Oslo massacre bloggers and pundits are reassuring us that the crimes of the alleged perpetrator Anders Behring Breivik can be understood simply as the product of a deranged mind. They had nothing to do with his Christian faith or his anti-Islamic ideology. This is wishful thinking of the most dangerous sort.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Christianity • Crime • Europe • Politics • Violence

July 26th, 2011
04:56 AM ET

Atheist group wants to stop World Trade Center cross

A group of atheists has filed a lawsuit to stop the display of the World Trade Center cross at a memorial of the 9/11 terror attacks.

The "government enshrinement of the cross was an impermissible mingling of church and state," the American Atheists say in a press statement.

The group says it filed the lawsuit this week in state court in New York and posted a copy of the lawsuit on its website.

The lawsuit names many defendants, including the state of New Jersey, the city of New York , New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Atheism • New York

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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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