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September 30th, 2011
05:33 PM ET

Worshippers at al-Awlaki's old mosque 'not glad' he's dead, but 'it's helpful'

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Falls Church, Virginia (CNN)– Worshippers hurried by a host of cameras and reporters on their way to Friday prayers at the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center. Many of those who stopped to ask about the gaggle of media found out for the first time American Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who once stood in their pulpit, had been killed Friday by a CIA drone strike in Yemen.

“I think he should have gotten a proper burial as a Muslim, but as a human being I don’t think he was right for his mentality and his morality,” said Jouwad Syed, who recently started attending the Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center.

“In a way, we’re not glad that he’s dead. At the same token, it’s helpful. We’re trying to clear our name. There’s crazy people everywhere you go in different religions. He’s just one of the few and he definitely doesn’t represent what Islam is all about,” Syed said.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 9/11 • Belief • Islam

Report: Iranian pastor to be put to death for rape, not apostasy
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani preaches in a file photo.
September 30th, 2011
02:15 PM ET

Report: Iranian pastor to be put to death for rape, not apostasy

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN)– Christian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani will be put to death for several charges of rape and extortion, charges that differ greatly from his original sentence of apostasy, the semi official Fars News agency reported Friday.

In a translated Iranian Supreme Court brief from 2010 the charge of apostasy, however, is the only charge leveled against Nadarkhani.

"Mr. Youcef Nadarkhani, son of Byrom, 32 years old, married, born in Rasht in the state of Gilan is convicted of turning his back on Islam, the greatest religion the prophesy of Mohammad at the age of 19," reads the brief.

The brief was obtained by CNN from the American Center for Law and Justice and was translated from its original Farsi by the Confederation of Iranian Students in Washington.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church and state • Iran

College football great’s faith helps in battling rare disease
Former Heisman Trophy winner Danny Wuerffel is fighting Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
September 30th, 2011
11:00 AM ET

College football great’s faith helps in battling rare disease

By Rick Martin, CNN

(CNN) - Former NFL quarterback and college football great Danny Wuerffel faced epic battles on the football field, but now he is facing the toughest in his life, and he is relying on his faith to get him through.

Wuerffel recently announced he was hospitalized and diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the nervous system, according to the National Institute’s of Health website.

GBS, as it’s more commonly called, can be life-threatening. In some cases it can interfere with breathing and is considered a medical emergency, according to the NIH website.

There is no known cure for Guillain-Barre syndrome.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Sports

September 30th, 2011
10:18 AM ET

Military chaplains to perform same-sex marriages

By Charley Keyes, CNN Senior National Security Producer

Washington (CNN) - Ten days after the military dumped its "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays and lesbians, the Pentagon has issued new rules allowing military chaplains to perform same-sex marriages, but only if allowed by law and the chaplain's beliefs.

"A military chaplain may participate in or officiate any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation, provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by applicable state and local law," a memo released Friday says.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture wars • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Military • Same-sex marriage

A letter’s journey, from founding father to religious question
The battle over Washington's letter to a Newport, Rhode Island, congregation rages on.
September 30th, 2011
07:08 AM ET

A letter’s journey, from founding father to religious question

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) - Standing over the letter, one would never know its unique story. Worth millions at auction, reading it unveils that it stands as a testament to religious freedom in America. But as it stares up, idly sitting there, the stories of “erotic” behavior, twisted ownership and historic encounters are lost on those lucky enough to see it.

The primary spirit of the letter is clear – the United States government will assure religious freedom, giving “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”

George Washington wrote those words in a 1790 letter to the the congregation of a synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island. He was hoping to reassure the congregation that the budding government of the United States would allow free expression to all religions. Since then, Jews in America have flourished.

The letter is addressed “To the Hebrew Congregation in Newport, Rhode Island,” but it is kept from public view, which hurts and angers those who think private ownership defies the letter’s original sentiment.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Church and state • Judaism

September 29th, 2011
04:57 PM ET

Christians unfairly targeted at college?

(CNN)–CNN affiliate WSMV reports some Christian students at Vanderbilt University say an anti-discrimination policy is unfairly targeting them.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity

September 29th, 2011
04:45 PM ET

Murfreesboro mosque breaks ground

(CNN)– CNN affiliate WSMV reports only a few protesters showed up at the mosque ground breaking in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The building of the mosque has faced considerable controversy.

The Murfreesboro Muslim community's story was featured this spring in CNN documentary, "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Islam

Archbishop who eulogized John Kennedy dies
Archbishop Philip Hannan, shown here Sept. 15, 2005 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, died Thursday.
September 29th, 2011
03:03 PM ET

Archbishop who eulogized John Kennedy dies

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) -
Retired New Orleans Archbishop Philip Hannan, who served in that role for 23 years and gave the eulogy at the funeral Mass for President John F. Kennedy, died in his sleep Thursday.

"At 98, he lived a full life dedicated to God and his church. We will miss him. We commend him to the Lord," the archdiocese said in a statement.

Hannan served the archdiocese of New Orleans from 1965 until 1988. He had become increasingly frail in recent months due to a series of strokes and other health problems, the archdiocese said.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church

September 29th, 2011
11:09 AM ET

My Take: 'Hate' is too big a word to be used with such little restraint

Editor's Note: Jim Daly is president of Focus on the Family and author of Stronger: Trading Brokenness for Unbreakable Strength (David C. Cook, 2010).

By Jim Daly, Special to CNN

(CNN)– We all know the old saying about falsely yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. It's a metaphor designed to explain that while free speech is protected in our country, speaking with reckless disregard for the truth and inciting panic is, at best, irresponsibly dangerous, and, at worst, beyond the covering of the First Amendment.

The phrase has its roots in a 1919 opinion by Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, but there's a version of it growing increasingly common today: Falsely yelling "hate" in a crowded public square.

A New York Times story over the weekend chronicled how some individuals and organizations eager to see same-sex marriage legalized have stopped trying to win others to their point of view through reasoned argument and have turned, instead, to emotional epithets as their main rhetorical tool.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Gay rights • United States

U.S. condemns Iranian pastor's conviction
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani shown in an Iranian prison.
September 29th, 2011
06:58 AM ET

U.S. condemns Iranian pastor's conviction

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – The White House Thursday condemned the conviction of an Iranian pastor, who may be executed in Tehran for refusing to recant his religious beliefs and convert from Christianity to Islam.

Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani "has done nothing more than maintain his devout faith, which is a universal right for people," a White House spokesman said in a statement. "That the Iranian authorities would try to force him to renounce that faith violates the religious values they claim to defend, crosses all bounds of decency and breaches Iran's own international obligations."

The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an independent advisory group appointed by the president and Congress to monitor religious freedom around the world, Wednesday expressed "deep concern" for Nadarkhani, the head of a network of Christian house churches in Iran.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Iran

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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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