From Kiran Khalid CNN
Rye, New York (CNN) –What was meant to be a celebration marking the end of Ramadan turned into a melee at an amusement park on Tuesday when a group of Muslim women were told they weren't allowed on certain rides with their headscarves.
Rye Playland was full of visitors celebrating Eid al-Fitr when the festive mood turned angry. Westchester County Police said the women wearing the hijab, a traditional Muslim headscarf, became argumentative when park employees enforced the no-headgear policy and men sprang to their defense.
By Rosalina Nieves, CNN
Los Angeles, California (CNN) – At first glance, the blown-up plastic bags affixed to a jungle gym-like frame residing in a University of Southern California courtyard looks like a piece of public art, pure and simple.
But the structure's creator says it’s something more: a sacred place for people of all faiths. He calls it an inflatable chapel.
“I wanted to create a spiritual structure, so I combined every symbolic piece of religion and geometrically combined them to represent them in this chapel,” says Gail Peter Borden, an architect and assistant professor at the USC School of Architecture who designed the structure.
By Elizabeth Yuan, CNN
(CNN)– Malaysia's first openly gay pastor has chosen Wednesday, coinciding with the country's Independence Day, to get married to his American partner in New York, barely a month after same-sex marriage became legalized there.
"It means a lot to be married that day, to honor my country and people in Malaysia," said Rev. Boon Lin Ngeo, who also goes by his pen name O.Young or Ouyang Wen Feng, in a telephone call from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Malaysia's Sabah state, during a visit there last week.
He said the date was chosen to remind others that "we need to keep fighting for our rights and be independent from all kinds of oppression."
By Eric Marrapodi and Chris Lawrence, CNN
Fort Jackson, South Carolina (CNN) – The summer sun beats down on camouflaged Kevlar helmets. Weighed down by heavy body armor, men and women of the cloth are crawling through sand, under barbed wire and learning how to run with soldiers.
Explosions in woods simulate the battlefield as an instructor barks commands.
"You are not following simple instructions! Cover me while I move! Got you covered! Let's go!"
This is the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, where the Army trains clergy of all faiths how to survive in combat.
By the CNN Wire Staff
Dallas (CNN) – Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs remained in critical condition in a Texas hospital on Tuesday, but was not in a coma and is expected to recover, state prison officials said.
Jeffs fell ill while fasting in a prison in Palestine, Texas, where he is serving a life-plus-20-year term for sexual assault, Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said. But while a source familiar with Jeffs' condition told CNN Monday that the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was in a coma, Clark said Tuesday that Jeffs was conscious.
"He's somewhat sedated, but he is responsive," Clark wrote.
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
News that polygamist leader Warren Jeffs has landed in the hospital and is in critical condition raises the question of who will lead his breakaway Mormon sect when Jeffs dies or if he becomes incapacitated.
It turns out that Jeffs, 55 and serving a life-plus-20-year prison sentence, is likely to be replaced as head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in the relative near term, even if he survives for decades to come.
Jeffs had succeeded in leading his church from jail in Texas in the leadup to his trial on sexual assault charges this summer, but prison is much more restrictive.
(CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann defended her recent comments about natural disasters in Washington, D.C. serving as messages from God, saying she was joking.
"I have a great sense of humor and I think it's important to exhibit that humor sometimes when you are talking to people as well," Bachmann said Monday at a campaign event in Miami. "Of course I was being humorous when I said that."
By Richard Allen Greene and Yasmeen Amer, CNN
For Christians, the wild celebrations of Mardi Gras come before the solemnity of Lent, a last chance to celebrate before the abstinence marking the 40 days to Good Friday and Easter.
Muslims do it the other way around. First comes the month of daytime fasting during Ramadan, then the eruption of joy called Eid al-Fitr, marked with gift-giving, new clothes, donations to the poor, feasting and festivities.
But as the sighting of a crescent moon officially marked the beginning of Eid on Tuesday, feelings are decidedly mixed for many Muslims.
There's joy tempered with concern on Tahrir Square in Egypt, which saw a successful revolution topple President Hosni Mubarak this year. And there's optimism in Libya, where 42 years of rule by Moammar Gadhafi seem to be coming to an end.
By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
People look at Zeinab Chami a little warily sometimes, she says, especially when she travels outside big cities.
She started wearing a headscarf when she was in her early 20s, making herself "a visible Muslim."
That "can really be an emotional strain," she says.
Life is getting harder for American Muslims, she says, given the media's portrayal of Muslims, the false perception that President Barack Obama is Muslim, and the rise of the tea party, whose most vocal leaders, according to Chami, "spew vitriol against anyone perceived to be 'foreign.'"
A New York Times column by outgoing Executive Editor Bill Keller has unleashed a hailstorm of online criticism among religious bloggers and conservative activists. The fact that the column compares religious believers to folks who think that space aliens are residing on Earth is just the beginning.
Keller’s column, “Asking Candidates Tougher Questions About Faith,” argues that the crop of candidates competing for the White House next year should be grilled on their religious beliefs and on how those beliefs inform their political views.
That’s especially true, Keller reasons, because many of this year’s GOP contenders hail from “churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans.”
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.