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Why young Christians aren't waiting anymore
A young Christian at an purity rally spreads the word.
September 27th, 2011
08:39 AM ET

Why young Christians aren't waiting anymore

By John Blake,  CNN

(CNN) –True love doesn’t wait after all.

That’s the implication in the upcoming October issue of an evangelical magazine that claims that young, unmarried Christians are having premarital sex almost as much as their non-Christian peers.

The article in Relevant magazine, entitled “(Almost) Everyone’s Doing It,” cited several studies examining the sexual activity of single Christians. One of the biggest surprises was a December 2009 study, conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, which included information on sexual activity.

While the study’s primary report did not explore religion, some additional analysis focusing on sexual activity and religious identification yielded this result: 80 percent of unmarried evangelical young adults (18 to 29) said that they have had sex - slightly less than 88 percent of unmarried adults, according to the teen pregnancy prevention organization.

The article highlights what challenges abstinence movements face. Movements such as “True Love Waits,” encourage teens to wear purity rings, sign virginity pledges and pledge chastity during public ceremonies.

Yet many of these Christian youths eventually abandon their purity pledges, Relevant’s Tyler Charles concludes in the article. Tyler talked to people like “Maria,” an evangelical woman who said she wanted to wait until marriage to have sex.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

But she said she started having sex with her college boyfriend when she turned 20 because nearly everyone, even most of  her Christian friends, were having sex.

Maria:

It seemed everyone in my life, older and younger, had “done it.” In fact, I waited longer than most people I knew and longer than both of my sisters, even though we were all Christians and came from a good home.

Relevant theorizes about why it’s so hard for so many young Christians to wait, including the saturation of sex in popular culture, the prevalence of pornography and a popular “do what feels good philosophy.”

Yet the article also asks a question that rarely comes up in discussions about abstinence movement. Relevant notes that in biblical times, people married earlier. The average age for marriage has been increasing in the U.S for the last 40 years.

Today, it’s not unusual to meet a Christian who is single at 30 - or 40 or 50, for that matter. So what do you tell them? Keep waiting?

Scot McKnight, author of “The Jesus Creed,” and "One.Faith: Jesus Calls, We Follow," acknowledges that young, single Christians face temptations that their counterparts in the biblical age didn’t face.

He  tells Relevant:

Sociologically speaking, the one big difference – and it’s monstrous – between the biblical teaching and our culture is the arranged marriages of very young people. If you get married when you’re 13, you don’t have 15 years of temptation.

So what should a Christian parent or youth pastor do? How do they convince more young Christians to wait until marriage, or should they stop even trying?

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Culture & Science • Culture wars

soundoff (5,770 Responses)
  1. marky

    Where in the Bible does it say abstinence?

    January 1, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • marky

      Seems nobody can answer my question. Well then, if God has nothing to say about abstinence it must be a man made prejudice. I for one think people who are prejudice are stupid. My God loves me as I am and Jesus died on the cross for me. So, why do I have to live in the closet in fear of you prejudice ignorant people. I will pray for you. Jesus help us all to be enlightened, in Jesus' mighty name I pray. Amen

      January 2, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • Keith

      Mat 5:27 ¶ Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

      Mat 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

      January 4, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  2. A

    This article is truly a dead ringer. It's really really difficult to wait, but I'm willing to do it. I believe it's a personal decision nowadays, since most people usually don't. Most of my friends have lost theirs, but I choose to keep mine. I also don't see why people need to undermine the Christian religion so much. If you don't believe in our God, then obviously, you will keep finding faults in us, no? I think people just need to respect all the religions that people choose to follow, instead of being snarky over the internet which somehow you think, will prove your point. Our religion is based on faith, and will always will be.

    January 1, 2012 at 4:59 am |
    • stefanopolous

      do you mean preaching abstinence is undermining christianity?

      January 1, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Klaus

      It's difficult if you're an animal/don't understand the grave consequences behind it.

      January 2, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  3. Greg Powell

    Please read http://www.FindingLifeInJesus.com

    January 1, 2012 at 4:18 am |
  4. Greg Powell

    May you and I both have our best year ever of abiding in Jesus, being filled by the Holy Spirit, and resting in Abba's arms. May we love with God's love and patience, battle with God's power and courage, and walk in His ways and will. Since His desire is that every single human on earth be saved and come to a full knowledge of the truth, may we pray and work to that end, trusting in His power, crying out for His grace and mercy. May we be more conformed to His moral likeness and less conformed to the world system than ever. May we bring more pleasure to God, more cause for celebration to the holy angels, and more frustration to the demons than ever. May this be our best year ever because God got so much glory from our broken, humbled, devoted, obedient lives; and because so many hurting, screwed up, sinful image-bearers experienced unmerited, non-judgmental, affectionate, and sacrificially practical love when they let us into their lives; and because we were more zealously focused than ever on the expansion of the Kingdom of Jesus, one heart at a time... starting with our own.

    January 1, 2012 at 4:17 am |
    • Suzy

      And when you hear that a friend's mom is sick...have you gone right away to be there to pray for her/him and her/his mom without waiting to be ASKED?

      January 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  5. George

    Make a resolution this New Year's Day to turn from sin and repent. God will welcome you back. You just have to stop sinning and live a chaste life.

    January 1, 2012 at 2:55 am |
    • johnny cash

      Better: stop listening to false preachers.

      January 1, 2012 at 3:59 am |
    • Rick

      Better yet, stop reading the words of Iron Age sheep boinkers to determine what is "sin"

      January 1, 2012 at 6:39 am |
    • Zanthros

      Yes you too, can become a born again virgin like George, or is it that you are just frigid and feeble, George, and that your time to be fruitful and multiply has gone and withered?

      January 1, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Rick

      Zanthros: I think that is it. Georgie had referenced the early 70's when pill came out as when we became immoral. I think that he is an incontinent, impotent old man. Ironically, his god is the same

      January 2, 2012 at 8:14 am |
  6. greg

    I am a committed christian and there is no need to wait.
    You lock yourself in a castle and judge others from your high tower.

    January 1, 2012 at 2:35 am |
    • George

      You cannot possibly be a Christian and go against the Holy Word of God.

      January 1, 2012 at 2:47 am |
    • john

      The Holy Word of God is holy and should not be abused for teaching abstinence before marriage.

      .

      January 1, 2012 at 3:55 am |
    • bill

      Waiting is what you to do because that's what the Bible teaches. You don't have to believe it, but if you don't, then it's pretty difficult to say you're a Christian.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • Klaus

      You're a committed hypocrite in addition to an im-becile and m-oron.

      Try having thoughts of your own.

      January 2, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
  7. chris

    Why should anyone wait anyway? The article did not say that.
    Abstinence does not make one a better christian.

    January 1, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • Bob

      Because we are called to be "holy"– set apart, different– which means that everything about us should be different. We should be growing in our imitation of Christ and our ability to find our pleasure in our relationship with God, not all of the crap that the world says will give us happiness.

      January 1, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • Rick

      bob: the only people calling you "holy" are yourselves.

      January 1, 2012 at 6:41 am |
  8. chris

    I hope there are scientific studies somewhere comparing the happiness index and divorce rates of couples who waited and who did not. That is the real important question.
    forget all that religious crap in this discussion, only happiness counts. and if believing makes you happy then you've found your way.
    you will disagree, of course, if you believe you will burn in hell for not believing. then of course your top priority is different.

    January 1, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • George

      "forget all that religious crap in this discussion"

      I'm sorry, but this is a belief blog. You will find religion here. Too bad if you don't like it.

      And your happiness seeking sounds like hedonism to me. Happiness is not the goal. The goal is to be closer to God.

      January 1, 2012 at 2:53 am |
    • chris

      not that fast, george. this article is about marriage, and people trying to preach morals to others using
      religion to justify abstinence. You can call this argumentation crap.
      Sorry, but when it comes to dogma or reason, reason and moderation always wins even in religion.

      January 1, 2012 at 4:07 am |
    • bill

      So if it makes me happy to break your car windows with a baseball bat, that's ok?

      January 1, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
  9. Robyn

    In our current culture, educational opportunities (financially), health care, and taxation is all based on whose "dependent" you are. Maybe it's time for the church to crawl out from under that and reclaim marriage as the religious organism it is supposed to be. Not to disregard the "civil union" aspect,once young people have truly become independent. That is in place to protect mutual investment in property and hold people responsible for children,etc. However, that "piece of paper" was not originally required to be married, "Under God and before a company of witnesses." Maybe if we let young people marry when their passion is still high and they've not already had their hearts broken a hundred times, or grown cold from waiting (or not), they would have the emotional stamina to continue with their education, finish growing up,with the blessing of the church and family on their early unions. It's not marriage that cuts opportunity for the young, it's a system that punishes marriage.

    The "kingdom of God" is not a place. It is a culture that honors and blesses commitment, community and individuals as well. If we could just start living by those values instead of submitting to a system that destroys that, we would see more happily married young people, getting on with their lives, in families and faith communities that bless rather than condemn them.

    December 31, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
  10. Similitudes

    Let Mathew 5:13-16 be the guiding scripture for the believer.

    December 31, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  11. tally

    HYPOCRITES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    December 31, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Klaus

      That's what I've said and been saying for a long time.

      I'm really disgusted by this (that is, by what they're doing).

      January 2, 2012 at 12:22 am |
  12. Endy

    Why do people criticize Christian beliefs so much in this country. The fact that some church goers who do not really know what they believe and profess fail in their so called faith does not mean that there are no genuine Christians. Good Christians keep to their faith. These attacks on Christainity only fortifies its authenticity, because the Bible proclaims that we will be hated by all men. Gentlemen and ladies I love you with the love of God, you need to believe in Jesus Christ and keep to His teachings. If you cannot and do not want to, please, leave those who want to believe in Him to have their peace. The more you attack christianity the more you strengthen it. Remember the persecutions of the earliy days of Christianity, it only fueled the faith. God bless you in Jesus name Amen.

    December 30, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Rick

      A person claiming that somewhere, someone is going to criticize absurd beliefs does not verify those aburd beliefs

      December 31, 2011 at 5:57 am |
    • nonbeliever

      I just posted this under your previous comment below, and since you just copied and pasted, I will do the same.

      @Endy-

      How do attacks on christianity fortify it's authenticity? That statement makes zero sense. You say that it makes it stronger, but I have run across maybe two christians on here that can actually carry on in a sensical debate or that even seem to have any idea of what their religion is even about. What makes christianity so dangerous as a religion is how watered down it is. Most preachers avoid the majority of the OT because they don't want to have to deal with hard questions or issues. Scripture is dangerously taken out of context and taught in a manor that I think the early church would find appalling.

      It's like flashing back to Luther and the Ninety-Five Theses. He protested the teachings of the church calling them unbiblical. Today, the same thing is happening by the church, only it is the 'nonbelievers' pointing out the error of the religion as a whole. What fuels the fire of those who oppose christianity is the lack of knowledge of believers. They can't answer questions, they can't defend their faith logically. They result to bullying and name calling, because they just simply are uneducated.

      Christianity if fallible. The NT is horribly inconsistent, preached incredibly out of context, and if you look at the religion as a whole today and study the history of it, then I believe you can see just how much trouble the religion is really in.

      December 31, 2011 at 7:55 am |
    • dtw888

      @Nonbeliever, you mixed up so many subjects together, and some contents make sense, especially you are so familiear church history or OT. I just pick up one point to clarify: Bible is whole bible, the message is the same and consistent, it depends we read it use mind or heart. It is about knowledge because only true knowledge can confirm and strength faith in Christ, but it is not about knowledge, acedamic reading bible will result in bunch of paradox messages.... last piont, true christians do not need know whole bible or church history, it is all about LIFE, it is a living thing which cannot be limited by wording...

      December 31, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Keith

      nonbeliever is a seminary drop-out. Satan put a stumbling block in his path. Like an IED going off, the concussion has left him dazed and confused.

      December 31, 2011 at 8:45 pm |
    • Rick

      And Keith is a parrot.....come on, Keith, squawk.......

      January 1, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Keith

      And little Ricky Ticki Tavi here seems to be my shadow. Hi there, Ricky! What's that? You want some scripture? Hbr 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

      Hbr 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

      January 1, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • bill

      I would say to Rick and nonbeliever that you need to look at the person of Jesus Christ. Christians are most definitely hypocrites and do stupid things frequently, but so does everyone else. As John Wooden said, we're all underachievers. If you want to look for truth, look at Jesus, not his followers. We do our best, but it's nowhere close to who He is.

      January 1, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • Keith

      bill, you're correct. For us it is sanctification-setting ourselves apart, and it is a life-long process once we've been justified. And it is important because it will determine our position in the millenium and eternity. You can't/shouldn't just be satisfied with justification(be saved).

      January 1, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • Keith

      bill, Rick, and nonbeliever; I know I'm not perfect-I'm far from it. But I'm not satisfied to sit quietly and wait to either die or be raptured and just mind my own business. We are to go out to the world with the Gospel. And I can't think of bigger battlefield than this blog. I'm grateful to Jesus for what he did for me that I'm willing to suffer a little humiliation at the hands of these hostile people. If only ONE can be saved, there will be rejoicing in heaven, and it will have been worth it.

      January 1, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • Rick

      Wow, a scripture. How frigging novel. Squawk, little fella

      January 2, 2012 at 8:16 am |
    • Rick

      I suppose I don't accept that idea that we need to be saved from anything. Heaven and Hell are man made concepts.

      January 2, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • Suzy

      Then welcome persecution...

      January 2, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  13. BK Smith

    Why does anyone want anyone else to sign pledges. If my word isn't good enough neither is my signature on a pledge. If you can't remember what you believe in (or what other people want you to remember they told you to believe in) then I guess you had better write it down and sign it, if you can read.

    December 30, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • James Edgar

      Yep. You said it very well!

      December 31, 2011 at 7:19 am |
  14. Amudhan

    I am over 30. I am an Indian Hindu living in America. Purity is a fundamental value to Indian Hindus just like Christians. From a broader perspective, Purity is really not about religion or being sin free – it is about one's own integrity. And, I have never dated a girl yet. I am still waiting for that one true love who would take the lifelong promise of Holy Matrimony with me – and that is why it is called 'Holy' matrimony. Like Lacey says, it is worth a wait and the couple would feel the beauty that is so precious. Yes, it is hard in today's world. It takes loving, strong parents & family to be committed to the values and impart them to their children. Beyond religion and everything, I believe that my heart, body & soul belongs to only my future wife and nobody else comes into that special reserved space. And, that is the best gift that I can ever give for my true love from life to eternity.

    December 30, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • Cielo

      Man if you are waiting for "true love" then you will wait forever! Finding relationships involves taking risks emotionally. It involves finding out what YOU want and what you are willing to put up with. It involves ALOT of hard work. I've been in a wonderfully fulfilling relationship for 18 years, and it hasn't always been easy. If you don't get in the game, you can never win. Of couse, most Hindis still have arranged marriages and THAT makes me want to puke. Take a chance and date a nice woman. Or a nice guy. Either way, FIND LOVE.

      December 30, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • Endy

      Why do people criticize Christian beliefs so much in this country. The fact that some church goers who do not really know what they believe and profess fail in their so called faith does not mean that there are no genuine Christians. Good Christians keep to their faith. These attacks on Christainity only fortifies its authenticity, because the Bible proclaims that we will be hated by all men. Gentlemen and ladies I love you with the love of God, you need to believe in Jesus Christ and keep to His teachings. If you cannot and do not want to, please, leave those who want to believe in Him to have their peace. The more you attack christianity the more you strengthen it. Remember the persecutions of the earliy days of Christianity, it only fueled the faith. God bless you in Jesus name Amen.

      December 30, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • dtw888

      AMDHAN, you see, there is one significant difference of Christian faith and all other religions, all other religions pursue purity/holiness state through effort, but Christinans are through effort to maintain what restored by faith in Christ. The holiness/righteousness and purity is a gift and conclusion through the blood of Jesus, it must be printed into each soul of CHRISTIANs, otherwise, we say "Not saved yet". With this saved state, so Christians have the root to live out purity and holiness, but not make effort to gain holiness. I would recommend you try faith in Jesus Christ, see how he restore the whole humanity purity into your heart. Cheers.

      December 30, 2011 at 11:52 pm |
    • nonbeliever

      @Endy-

      How do attacks on christianity fortify it's authenticity? That statement makes zero sense. You say that it makes it stronger, but I have run across maybe two christians on here that can actually carry on in a sensical debate or that even seem to have any idea of what their religion is even about. What makes christianity so dangerous as a religion is how watered down it is. Most preachers avoid the majority of the OT because they don't want to have to deal with hard questions or issues. Scripture is dangerously taken out of context and taught in a manor that I think the early church would find appalling.

      It's like flashing back to Luther and the Ninety-Five Theses. He protested the teachings of the church calling them unbiblical. Today, the same thing is happening by the church, only it is the 'nonbelievers' pointing out the error of the religion as a whole. What fuels the fire of those who oppose christianity is the lack of knowledge of believers. They can't answer questions, they can't defend their faith logically. They result to bullying and name calling, because they just simply are uneducated.

      Christianity if fallible. The NT is horribly inconsistent, preached incredibly out of context, and if you look at the religion as a whole today and study the history of it, then I believe you can see just how much trouble the religion is really in.

      December 31, 2011 at 7:54 am |
    • Isaac

      @dtw88 – and thats exactly whats wrong with christianity – "confess" your faith and then do anything you like coz "you are still going to heaven" despite whatever actions you do. I would rather make efforts to have moral virtuous actions than judge people based on their faith like christians do

      December 31, 2011 at 9:10 pm |
    • chris

      "I believe that my heart, body & soul belongs to only my future wife and nobody else comes into that special reserved space. And, that is the best gift that I can ever give for my true love from life to eternity."

      Over 30 and never dated a girl?

      man, that is disaster waiting to happen. Either you will be waiting forever (and you are already 30) or you will be having a partner who sooner or later will walk all over you and trashing that gift in utter disrespect.
      wake up, human relationships is one of the most complex topics you can think of and you still have zero experience.

      January 1, 2012 at 12:32 am |
    • Pastor Brian LeBaron

      Stated as well or better than many so called Christians Amudhan!

      January 1, 2012 at 3:25 am |
  15. Missingout

    @Anthony: How many little boys have turned you on recently is the question?

    December 30, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  16. Mabelle

    I waited to find someone I genuinely wanted to be with, and then made love to them when i was in a committed relationship and even though were not together anymore i dont regret it at all because at the time we were in love and trusted each other. we remain good friends too. marriage isnt such a huge part of our society any more lots of people dont believe in it and so many end in divorce anyway, which is why i think that its the fact you are in a loving relationship which is what matters

    December 30, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  17. believer

    i'm a believer and i agree with the "nonbeliever plus it is not our business to know who waited and who didn't when there were married is not like we were them with them.

    December 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  18. vbscript2

    The article is right about one thing, though. The much later age of marriage does make it a lot harder on our generation than most previous generations.

    December 30, 2011 at 1:39 am |
    • Anthony

      I think it gets easier as you get older. I'm 27 now and it hasn't even been a temptation since I was maybe 20.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • nonbeliever

      @Anthony-

      Statistically, the older you are the more likely you are to lose your virginity. You're lack of temptation probably stems from the fact that men peak se.xu.ally around 20 and then decline after that as our testosterone dwindles away.

      December 30, 2011 at 9:33 am |
    • greg

      27 years and no temptation in the last 7 years, man, what do you eat?
      no wonder you can wait for the 'pure' one.
      I also wonder if I should laugh or feel pity.

      January 1, 2012 at 2:33 am |
  19. George N

    I was married at 29 and my wife was 28 last year and we both waited. Its only by the grace of God and good parents, not by empty promises or crappy rings.

    December 29, 2011 at 11:08 pm |
  20. Anthony

    I'm a Christian, I'm waiting, and I've never dated a girl that wasn't also waiting. When you include all sorts of people who self identify as Christian but haven't been to church in 6 months or cracked a bible in a couple of years, sure, you'll get these results. Those of us who are committed Christians (at least in my circles) are waiting.

    December 29, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • dtw888

      Keep it up Anthony. Maybe go to church not enough, have a bible study group to grow together. Most importantly, find true joy and freedom in Christ. It is the restored rightousness and holiness to strength us and stand firm.

      December 29, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • Lacey

      Very admirable Anthony! I went to 2 wedding this summer...one where the couple had waited and another where they hadn't. The feel was so different with each. My vote...it's well worth the wait! Everyone at the wedding where they waited were so happy and jubilent. There was such a purity and beauty there. I pray my children all choose to wait too. Blessings Anthony!

      December 29, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • vbscript2

      I'm right there with you Anthony and I'm 25. I agree with you completely about the statistics. They're including a lot of people who self-identify as "Christians," but are not actually committed Christians. The statistics look very different between those groups. Almost all of my close Christian friends are also waiting and/or did wait until they got married. Through the strength we have through Christ and the wisdom granted to us by God, it is most certainly possible.

      December 30, 2011 at 1:37 am |
    • nonbeliever

      I'm not saying I disagree with you, because there are a vast majority of people in America who call themselves christians who know nothing about their religion. This of course goes for any religion. The problem is you are assuming that is the case here, saying "true christians would wait," but you honestly just don't know. In my lifetime I've know many people, some of the strongest christians I know, who just fell to the temptation. Does it make them no longer a christian because they slipped up se.xu.ally? According to scripture, no. It is a sin like any other, wiped clean through repentance. So simply assuming, when you honestly just don't know, is very small minded.

      And Lacey, I've been to weddings of couples that waited that were just miserable and I've been to weddings where people didn't wait and the people looked more in love than any christian couple. I've also seen more divoce among believers than nonbelievers. Personal opinion and personal belief does not always equal fact.

      December 30, 2011 at 9:22 am |
    • faye62

      Sounds like you're being judgemental..like you're "holier" than others...That's not God...Who is to say who is committed?How can you personally know if or when a person's cracked a Bible or when they attend church? The only person you can be sure of is "yourself" and like all the prophets/apostles in the Bible, you'll be guessing for the rest of your life if you're as spiritually close to God as you should be. We're not saved by works. Someone who is full of condemnation is more likely to be closer to God than someone who is full of pride..

      December 30, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • ogal

      Thanks for being an encouragement to all the Christian women out there who are also waiting!

      December 30, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • Rick

      Yes, thanks for all the Christian women whose plumbs are going to turn to prunes waiting for Mr. Right

      December 31, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • chris

      you never dated a girl that also did not wait?
      so two virgins just dating and nothing ever happens?
      until they marry, that is, and then you find your husband is a lame stud, or your wife is frigid.
      and then you live in our world, the 21st cenntury, with media and all that TV, and you wonder....
      hmmmm... maybe I should, maybe I could...
      man, times are changing, adjust or perish!

      January 1, 2012 at 12:00 am |
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