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My Take: When Bedford Falls Becomes Pottersville
December 24th, 2011
03:00 AM ET

My Take: When Bedford Falls Becomes Pottersville

Editor's note: Larry Alex Taunton is the founder and executive director of the Fixed Point Foundation. This article is adapted from his book “The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief.”

By Larry Alex Taunton, Special to CNN

(CNN) - My favorite Christmas movie is, unquestionably, Frank Capra’s 1946 feel-good flick "It’s a Wonderful Life." Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed play George and Mary Bailey, a happy couple living a life of genteel poverty in the small American town of Bedford Falls.

George is a kind and generous man. He is active in his community and in the war effort. Most importantly, George is all that stands between the town’s mean old man, Mr. Potter, and the demise of all that is good in Bedford Falls.

As financial pressures crowd in on poor George, he begins to question his value to the community. So much so, that he wishes he had never been born. To demonstrate to George the folly of his wish, an angel is sent to give him a glimpse of what Bedford Falls would look like if that wish were granted. In Dickensian fashion, the angel takes him from one scene in that small town to another. The difference is stark. Indeed, Bedford Falls isn’t even Bedford Falls anymore, but a place called Pottersville. The town’s main street is a red-light district, crime is rampant, and life there is coarsened.

When George, in desperation, turns to the angel, seeking an explanation for these drastic changes, the angel says, “Why, George, it’s because you were never born!”

According to a recent poll conducted by The Hill, 69% of voters think America is in decline, and 83% say they are worried about the country’s future. And that has generated a lot of finger-pointing: Republicans blame President Obama; Obama blames Republicans; environmentalists blame industrialization; the “Occupy” people blame everybody who isn’t occupying something - most of us agree that there is a problem, but efforts to identify the source of it are incomplete, misguided or downright evil.

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

The problems of human society are the problems of human nature, wrote "Lord of the Flies" author William Golding. Indeed. This was the discovery of the monastics. Seeking to escape the evil of the world, they found instead a doctrine central to Christianity: that evil is innate to us all. History tells us that a given philosophy, creed or religion will either restrain our darker impulses or exacerbate them, but escape them we cannot. Not in this life, anyway.

So what will save us from ourselves and preserve human dignity and life in the societies we create? Democracy? Socialism? Stitching up the ozone?

These days, there is a lot of talk about religion - Christianity in particular - and its role in public life. Whether it is protesting Nativities, the debate over “In God We Trust” as our country’s motto or the controversy surrounding the public faith of Tim Tebow, a national discussion is taking place on what the present and future role of Christianity in America should be. The consensus among the secular elites seems to be that it is a bit like smoking: It is harmful, but if you must do it, do it in the designated areas only. Richard Dawkins, the Oxford scientist and atheist provocateur, calls Christianity a “mental virus” that should be eradicated.

The professor should be more careful in what he wishes for. Like many others, he grossly underestimates the degree to which his own moral and intellectual sensibilities have been informed by the Judeo-Christian worldview.

"It’s a Wonderful Life" is a fitting metaphor for a nation absent Christian belief. Jesus Christ said that his followers were to be like “salt”; that is, a people whose presence is felt for the good that they do. As a man or woman’s evil nature is gentled and restrained by the grace of God, there is a corresponding outward transformation of society. The data bears this out. According to the research of The Barna Group, Christians are the most charitable segment of the population by a substantial margin. Hence, any society that is liberally sprinkled with them has a greater concern for the poor, sick, orphaned and widowed - “the least of these,” as Jesus called them. (This is precisely what Nietzsche, and Hitler after him, hated about Christianity.)

But Christian influence goes well beyond benevolence: Our laws, art, literature and institutions find meaning in a rich Christian heritage. In his new book "Civilization: The West and the Rest," Harvard historian Niall Ferguson argues that the decline of the West can, in part, be attributed to the decline of a robust Christian presence in Western culture. Ferguson’s point is largely an economic one, but the inference that Christianity has served to strengthen the fabric of life in the West as we have known it is unmistakable. T.S. Eliot made a similar observation: “If Christianity goes, the whole of our culture goes.”

That is just another way of saying that the difference between a nation with meaningful Christian influence and a nation without it is the difference between Bedford Falls and Pottersville.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Larry Alex Taunton.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Christmas • Church and state

soundoff (3,025 Responses)
  1. Benjamin

    " According to the research of The Barna Group, Christians are the most charitable segment of the population by a substantial margin. Hence, any society that is liberally sprinkled with them has a greater concern for the poor, sick, orphaned and widowed "

    Data also showed that red states - i.e., the conservative ones with the strongest concentration of Christians - tend to be the most charitable. But that's like arguing that a $5 donation to Salvation Army can compensate for a welfare safety net or a progressive income tax, which those states and voters tend to oppose. The 'secular elite,' on the other hand, tend to be liberal and favor such things. Who really cares for the poor; the ones that want systematic change in order to help them, or the ones who satisfy their guilt with meager donations to charities that serve as a mild bandaid to an overwhelming problem?

    December 24, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • George

      " The 'secular elite,' on the other hand, tend to be liberal and favor such things."

      Yes, they're very generous with other people's money.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Eric G

      The Barna Group found that christians give more to charity. That is because all of the money they give to the church is charity. The money does not always go to those less fortunate.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      They are generous with their own money. I pay taxes, George, probably more than you do. I also give to charity of both my time and my money. So knock off the generalizing.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • George

      @Tom

      If you support welfare and such liberal social programs, you are indeed generous with other people's money. Give all you want, but keep your hands out of my pocket and don't tell me where to give my charity. I certainly do not choose to give it to lazy people who are living off the back of hard working Americans. Keep government out of my wallet!

      December 24, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @George
      "Sell your possessions and give to those in need." I wonder who said that...hmm...could it be...your Jesus? (Luke 12:33) Sounds a bit at odds with your "lazy people who are living off the back of hard working Americans" schtick...eh George. Sounds like your Jesus was a bit of a liberal.
      I guess your magic books really are magic...their meaning can change to fit whatever position you currently occupy.

      December 24, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sure, George. Your acting borders on the William Shatner variety of hamminess. You're not a conservative; you are pretending to be some archetype of the greedy right-winger to elicit responses from other liberals just like you.

      Please, take some lessons in subtlety, dear.

      December 24, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • Keith

      of course the socialist Canadians pay more in taxes.

      December 24, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  2. George

    This is exactly what I've been saying. We need to get America back to God. We have strayed way too far off course. Christianity made America great because it brought God's favor upon us. As we turn our back on God, we are declining both internally and internationally.

    December 24, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Writerscramp

      George ... maybe we should also get America back to some of it's other founding traditions, like slavery and the genocide of nearly an entire race of people who were here before us. I laugh so hard whenever I hear anyone say "America needs to get back to God." like there was ever any golden age of brotherly love on this continent, someone please tell me when such a time ever existed, or when any nation ever achieved perfection because of religion

      December 24, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Sorry, George, you're not going to win the Oscar for acting based on this post. You don't believe anything of the sort.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Rob

      I'm not sure the Native Americans would agree.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • George

      @Writerscramp

      I never said go back in time. I said get back to God. We need Christian values to predominate for God to show his favor upon us. And, yes, there were times when America was greater than it is today. Only an idiot can not see how we are declining.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • baatman74

      George, you sound like an 18th Century Despot! Read "Royal Scandals" and the bible, every rampage thosee folks wre involved in, killing their neighbors, ALL of them did, they always used that one excuse of yours here, if they lost it was because they had 'turned away from god. f they won, it was always because god was on their side. Well, all of them got their killing mentality from god himself, when the children of israel arrived in the pormised land they found it fully occupied by arabs, god said; 'KILL THEM ALL' Among other things, that was the first recorded Ethnic Cleanising, god didn't want the jew blood mixed with the arab. Now, I feel much safer with an Atheist by my side than a christian, christians are the first to reject you if you disagree with them AND if christians had control of our government, YOU and I would wear a tag that identified us, I of course, would be jailed or burned at the stake for not wanting to believe.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • George

      @Writerscramp

      Hyperbole much?

      December 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • George

      Sorry, that was directed @ baatman74

      December 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • SPLAT!~

      OK George, what are these Christian values and when was that period of time, please be more specific.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Writerscramp

      George ... so tell us, when was this great God-filled period you speak of when America was ever greater than it is today ?

      December 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • George

      Following WW II when America was great both internally and internationally.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • baatman74

      Read your bible abd Royal Scandals like I said, no 'hyperbole' here George, I;m as serious as a heart attack, prove me wrong and tell me the killings 'aint' so, my mother, bless her heart, is a religious fanatic, I mentioned the late Madylan O'Haire to her and she responded with conviction, "They ought to HANG that woman." Next?

      December 24, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Writerscramp

      OHHHH ... you mean that magical period from about 1945 to about 1963 when a huge number of American citizens were still living in conditions not much better than slavery, with no civil rights and where they could be lynched simply because of the color of their skin, with very little punishment for those involved. Yes yes, that was indeed a magical time where God blessed truly America. George, your Caucasion rose-colored Christian view of history is showing through badly.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • George

      @baatman74

      No one is seriously suggesting hanging, burning at the stake or otherwise harming atheists and to suggest that they are is hyperbole.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • George

      @Writer

      I knew someone would bring that up. It's the usual trick of atheists. Indeed, it was a great sin. However, except for the racial discrimmination, America was far more great then than now. Today we are in the moral sewer. Then family values prevailed. Today the dominate morality is relative morality – "if it doesn't hurt anyone, it's moral." This is a false morality and has caused God to turn his back on America.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Yeah, sure, George. Women stayed in the kitchen and didn't take jobs away from men, right?

      December 24, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Shelia Barnsworth

      George knows no history. Jews and Blacks were discriminated against, women could not vote. Indeed, let's go backwards.

      December 24, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • TRH

      "except for the racial discrimination".....LOL!!!!!!!!!! Oh, that little blip in our wonderful history?? The post WWII period was not the utopia you refer to either my friend. Remember the House UnAmerican Activities Committee? Careers were destroyed piecemeal in that one. Oh yes....all the "under god" references in the pledge and other places were added in the 1950's during that same period as an affront to "godless communism."

      The more I read your posts, the more I'm convinced you are truly delusional.

      December 24, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  3. Writerscramp

    “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” ... Mahatma Gandhi

    December 24, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Eric G

      "A flute with no holes, is not a flute. A doughnut with no hole, is a danish" – Ty Webb

      December 24, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Writerscramp

      Eric, exactly ! and I am the Walrus .... koo koo kachoo

      December 24, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • KB

      While I understand the sentiment of the quote it is not true on a whole. There are many of us who practice Christianity as set by Jesus ... to accept that we all have a place in God's heart if we seek Him. That our individual stories about God collectively tell God's whole story. No one voice is correct but all are together ... And not just with in Christianity. I think there are a lot of Christians who understand this. We are just drowned out by the those are looking to capture the attention. Ghandi was powerful ... but he too was just a man.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • KB

      Sorry ... I spelled Gandhi's name wrong. Very sorry about that!

      December 24, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I suspect Mahatma won't mind much.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • Keith

      Don't worry, the spelling/puncuation Nazi will give you a free pass if she agrees with you.

      December 24, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Gandhi may have been just a man, but at least we know he existed. The jury is still out on jesus...

      December 24, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Keith

      Maybe Hitchens can ask Ghandi about Jesus? I'm sure they both are painfully aware who He is and who they are not.

      December 24, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • TRH

      You beat me to that one Writerscramp. Kudos!

      December 24, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  4. TR6

    Typical self important, bigoted Christian. Every thing good is because of Christianity and everything bad is because of its absence.

    If Christianity is so influential, positive and important explain why Italy, one of the most religious and Christian countries in the world, is broke, corrupt and failing while Sweden one of the least religious countries is rich, honest, successful and healthy?

    And let’s not forget the modern day slaughter of over 8000 unarmed Muslims by our good Christian friends at Srebrenica in the ‘90’s

    December 24, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • baatman74

      amen

      December 24, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  5. John

    I'm not an expert but I wonder if J. Robert Oppenheimer was an atheist after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

    December 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  6. Josh

    The world is heading into the cesspool anyway, but it is indeed sad that so many sarcastic, mean, and cruel people choose to tear down some of the last elements of decency and true humanity left in the world. For most, I can excuse their crass views as ignorance, for most do not know any better. However, this heartlessness that is so prevalent these days will manifest itself in tomorrows doctors, nurses and politicians and it will not be pretty. Humanity is destined to ruin itself and really already has. Very sad this most wonderful season of the year.

    December 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • TR6

      “The world is heading into the cesspool anyway… Humanity is destined to ruin itself and really already has.”

      Typical blind, self serving Christian spreading his myopic interpretation of reality. For all the worlds faults: more people are feed, fewer people are sick, more people are educated and more minorities have more rights than ever before in all of human history and it is infinitely better than when Christians ruled the western world during the dark ages

      December 24, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  7. Louis

    That's quite a leap–that not having Christianity means living in Pottersville. Christianity was certainly of a time and place, but religions, cultures, societies, epochs, change. One dominant belief is supplanted by another, and you will have those believing their philosophy is the end-all, I do accept that most people do need the crutch of a religion to make sense of their lives–and need the noble lie to live virtuously. I would only ask that the religious people, no matter their religion, do no harm to those of us who believe that living virtuously is its own reward.

    December 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Janet

      Well said.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  8. Eddie Nicea

    Very well said Mr. Taunton. My heart goes out to all the respondent naysayers who don't know any better.

    I'll bet that if they read your entire book or perhaps Alivn Schmitt's "How Christianity Saved the World" then at least 10% of your readers would change their minds. The other 90% are lost anyway unless they are changed by God's intervention through the act of sending us a babe in a manger who then died for the evil sins that some don't think they have.

    Merry Christmas, Mr. Taunton, and Happy Holy Day!.

    December 24, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • TRH

      How unbelievably arrogant.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  9. Joshua

    Actually, this just goes to show in the comments what type of people read the state-controlled media like CNN. Left wing nutjobs.

    December 24, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  10. Mick

    A Christian equating his faith with morality is the ultimate arrogance. Did people in pre-Christian societies always run around robbing and killing? Does Taunton not know that the Golden Rule didn't originate in the New Testament, but with Confucius – ca. 500 BC? (Though, he was doubtless not the first person to dream up the concept). Has he never read of the unspeakable evils carried out by the Church in it's less-than-unblemished history? Morality has nothing to do with whether or not you believe there's an invisible magician in the sky.

    December 24, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  11. Kevin Cantu

    I would like someone to point out to me how if some people choose not to believe in Christmas or not wish anyone a Merry Christmas how it's taking away from the holiday spirit? If your willing to let other people ruin your Christmas because they don't believe or choose not celebrate it. Then you have serious issues and I take issue with this article because he makes it sound like the end of the world. You know once upon a time Christmas wasn't celebrated among Christians and yeah that was long time ago but still doesn't change the fact that it wasn't. However people came around and eventually then did. You can either except the fact that not everyone celebrates Christmas or you whine about it. Either way you have to get over it and quit trying to lump this whole country into one group. If an Atheists buys up a bunch of plots in Santa Monica, California to deny a nativity scene, then speak your peace and just be glad the first amendment doesn't apply to a select few. You can throw a nativity scene somewhere else and you can still celebrate Christmas at the same time. The world isn't right but at the same time you can celebrate Christmas which I'm doing with my family and friends. No one is going to take that away from me or from anyone else in this country. So instead of complaining and trying to scare people why don't this author get into the Christmas spirit and quit letting his fellow Americans ruin it for him.

    December 24, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  12. Brad Rainier

    Christian sin and are not perfect (unlike Jesus)- but the Bible does expect Christians to sin-less. So yes- all Christians are 'hypocrits' but we are to keep trying to live a holy life that we are called to live, to love one another and care for one another. I am sure there are plenty of good, loving atheists out there but according to the Bible- they have chosen to reject the Lord who saved them and they sadly will one day be isolated completely from God's love and protection. Plenty to learn about Christianity. Bottom line- Chrisitans sin and mess up. Sometimes we mess up badly but by God grace- we are expected to pick ourselves up and continue to fight the daily fight against sin and evil and our own sinful nature that Paul speaks of in the Book of Romans. Chapter 7 vs. 14.....

    December 24, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  13. TRH

    "The Corruption of Unbelief?"

    Really. How arrogant. Sounds like "pray away the gay."

    December 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  14. RichardSRussell

    The only reason the Barna Group (which has strong religious ties) was able to "discover" that Christians are "more charitable" than everyone else is because they counted contributions to churches as charitable. Take those out of the mix and the picture is reversed.
     
    The closest analogy to what churches mean for charity is the picture of those starving, stick-thin African kids with the big, blotted bellies. The stomach gets 1st crack at all the food the kid eats, so it keeps most of it for itself before grudgingly parceling out the leftovers to the other organs in the body.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • nepawoods

      "The only reason the Barna Group (which has strong religious ties) was able to "discover" that Christians are "more charitable" than everyone else is because they counted contributions to churches as charitable." ... But there's another. They distinguish between (true) Christians and what they call "notional Christians" ... people who have the notion that they are Christian, but actually are not. Notional Christians include any not "born again", as they interpret the words (words that Jesus' own disciples were puzzled by). And one way to know someone is not "born again" is if they are not charitable.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  15. Steven

    Christianity has been instrumental in forging the sensibilities and culture of the West. Evey incident of bad behavior is perpetrated either by those who don't believe or those who misconstrue its meaning. Investment, charity, education, kindness and forgiveness; all are concepts promoted by the Christian Bible.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Relictus

      And stoning. Let's bring back stoning, just like in the bible.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • TRH

      You can't seriously believe that. If you do, you need a history lesson that goes at least back to 410 CE when Emperor Constantine made Christianity the Roman state religion.

      I'm truly dumbfounded by your statement.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Writerscramp

      Steven ... Investment, charity, education, kindness and forgiveness are concepts taught by countless other religions and secular ways of life, Christians do not have a monopoly on any one of them. If it is impossible for any Christian to practice them without the banner of religion wrapped around them, then that person should question why they call themselves a Christian to begin with

      December 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • Steven

      The Christian Bible does not advocate stoning. It promotes a much more compassionate society than exists in modern America.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  16. Jonathan

    A poor argument for Christianity...and a strange comparison of Bedford Falls to America.

    First, implying that if we need one particular religion to have morals is just plain incorrect and arrogant. Sure, Christianity influenced the West, but saying that without it we'd be somehow less moral is wrong.

    Second, in the comparison between Bedford Falls and America both Potter and Bailey would most likely be Christians, only Potter would be the greedy, I'm better than everyone else and God gave me my wealth and if you're poor obviously God doesn't think you deserve to survive kind of Christian.

    Ask yourself, how many wealthy Christians do you think there are in America, and why, like Mr. Potter, aren't they willing to give up most of their wealth to help others?

    In the end this article is looking at Christianity through rose colored glasses (as often happens around Christmas), looking at only the positive things Christians do (or claim to do on behalf of) and ignoring all the negative aspects of it.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Boisepoet

      Good response. What most people seem to not understand is that religion was created to impart morality on the tribe. So morality came first, then the magic mythology was created to help enforce it. Maybe I look at humanity through rose colored glasses myself, but I would hope we could have a 'moral' society without the mythology. Then we could do what is right out of a sense of right, rather than a fear of a mtyhical eternal damnation.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • radiowidow

      Well said!

      December 24, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • George

      No one gets to the Father except through the Son. This means the only way to God is through Jesus. And without God, there is no morality.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You keep saying this, but have yet to offer any evidence that a god is necessary for morality to exist. When do you plan to do that?

      December 24, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  17. Writerscramp

    In addition to everyone being a Christian, thank goodness the author of this article isn't also advocating that in order to be a moral person in America, we must also all wear a mustache a beard that looks like the back end of a skunk. I can't believe CNN devoted front page space to this article, what a load of xenophobic ignorant bigoted Christian BS. I wish someone would pay me to be the 'executive director' of a self-righteous foundation where I could sit around writing stories about why I am superior because I believe in the one true mythical fairy in the sky and everyone else believes in the wrong one; I guess it's good work if you can get it

    December 24, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Concerned

      I think you just summed up the #1 problem with the human race quite nicely.
      Thank you.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • TRH

      Kudos to you once again!

      December 24, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  18. laurelm

    Very simply and beautifully articulated. Thank you.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  19. Christopher M

    "Wow! It is so ironic that you chest pounding atheists who are so superior intellectually and morally act like intolerant children if anyone that has a pro religious message appears on the news wire."

    Yep, any anti-religious response is vile bigotry no matter how intelligently , gently or sanely it's delivered. Because Many religious people are screaming, ignorant wackos. But most of them are nice people.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • Steven

      There is no reason whatsoever to respond to the rants of atheists. Christianity teaches us that the spiritual failures of others will be judged by God alone.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Concerned

      No, Christianity teaches you that everyone who doesn't believe in the same nonsense that you do needs to be condescended to, prayed for, saved or cleansed. Read some history before you cry foul.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Concerned

      Hey Steven,
      Seems you can't follow your own advice.
      Twice!
      You are responding to the rants of atheists AND judging them.
      Looks like eternal hellfire for you too buddy!
      Unless we non-believers are right, then you've got nothing to worry about.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  20. Tyler

    I could teach a monkey to be moral, wait, depending on the Christian definition, they already show these behaviors. Damn it.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
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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.