By Suzanne Kelly, CNN
(CNN)– It's likely not the kind of public relations within the Muslim community that the CIA was aiming for, but when the Arab American News published a recent wire story that was critical of the agency and some of its believed operations in the community, something strange happened.
"We received an email from the advertising agency which handles the CIA's account," publisher Osama Siblani said. "The agency sent an email saying that the CIA wanted to remove their ads immediately for undisclosed reasons. I said 'OK, capture the front page in a picture and let's make the request to the webmaster to remove it.' They would not even wait. They want the ads to be removed immediately without a delay."
The ads seeking linguists interested in working for the agency were undoubtedly strategically placed in the Dearborn, Michigan, newspaper, which serves greater Detroit's Muslim community.
Editor's Note: Rev. David Beckmann is president of Bread for the World and the Alliance to End Hunger. He is the 2010 World Food Prize laureate.
By David Beckmann, Special to CNN
(CNN) – In the midst of a ballooning deficit, an unbalanced federal budget and the upcoming presidential election, Congress doesn’t need to be worried about poverty in America, right?
Poverty is an all-too-familiar struggle for many Americans, and they have a stake in how these issues play out over the next months.
I believe God is calling us to change the politics that render our friends, neighbors and co-workers hungry and poor. To do so, we have to first tackle some common misconceptions about poverty.
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) - The debate over the execution of Troy Davis may have ended in the legal system, but it's continuing in the faith arena.
A day after Davis was executed in Georgia for the 1989 shooting death of Mark MacPhail, an off-duty police officer, one contributor to The Daily Beast asked this question:
How can a “pro-life” Christian support the death penalty?
It’s a question that will probably find its way into some sermons this Sunday. Lee Siegel, though, didn’t want to wait that long to dive into the debate. He says in his piece for The Daily Beast that Davis’ conviction has a “thick cloud of doubt hanging over it.”
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) - As the Palestinians push for statehood recognition this week at the United Nations, perhaps no group has spoken out more against the gambit - or has been more outspokenly supportive of Israel - than Christian Zionists.
"As a Christian I have a clear directive to support Israel," Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry said in New York on Tuesday, after delivering a speech blaming the U.N. and President Barack Obama for the Palestinian statehood push.
A U.S.-based group called Christians United for Israel, meanwhile, this week organized a campaign of more than 45,000 e-mails of support to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"As you stand before the representatives of so many hostile nations," the e-mails said, "we want you to know that you are not alone!"
By Todd Leopold, CNN
(CNN) - Stories of the Rapture usually come accompanied with the operatic drama of bright lights, doomy thunder and the echoing hoofbeats of the Four Horsemen as the world awaits the inevitable apocalypse.
Author Tom Perrotta prefers a little quiet.
In his new novel “The Leftovers” (St. Martin’s), the bestselling author of “Little Children” and “Election” follows a group left behind after something called the “Sudden Departure,” a Rapture-like event in which millions of people suddenly vanished like smoke.
Kevin Garvey is the mayor of Mapleton; his family was left physically intact but psychologically frayed. Nora Durst, on the other hand, lost her husband and children and still hasn’t recovered.
Some characters retreat into cult-like groups. One group, the Guilty Remnant, haunts the living and awaits the end; another, the Holy Wayners, is led by a charismatic hugger who loses his bearings.
Author Tom Perrotta.
Then there’s a local preacher, Matt Jamison, who insists that what happened couldn’t be the Rapture because it claimed flawed humans of all faiths and ethnicities. “I should’ve been first in line,” he insists, while compiling dossiers of the departed’s faults.
Listen to a clip of the audiobook, courtesy Macmillan Audio:
Perrotta talked to CNN about the book, his own faith and putting himself in others’ shoes. Here’s an edited transcript of the interview.
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) – Michigan Pastor Rob Bell, whose recent book created a theological firestorm, is leaving his congregation, Mars Hill Bible Church announced Thursday.
"Feeling the call from God to pursue a growing number of strategic opportunities, our founding pastor ... has decided to leave Mars Hill in order to devote his full energy to sharing the message of God's love with a broader audience," a message on the Grandville, Michigan, megachurch's website read.
"It is with deeply mixed emotions that we announce this transition to you. We have always understood, encouraged, and appreciated the variety of avenues in which Rob's voice and the message of God's tremendous love has traveled over the past 12 years."
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.