By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) – The anti-Christ. The Battle of Armageddon. The dreaded Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
You don’t have to be a student of religion to recognize references from the Book of Revelation. The last book in the Bible has fascinated readers for centuries. People who don’t even follow religion are nonetheless familiar with figures and images from Revelation.
And why not? No other New Testament book reads like Revelation. The book virtually drips with blood and reeks of sulfur. At the center of this final battle between good and evil is an action-hero-like Jesus, who is in no mood to turn the other cheek.
Elaine Pagels, one of the world’s leading biblical scholars, first read Revelation as a teenager. She read it again in writing her latest book, “Revelations: Visions, Prophecy & Politics in the Book of Revelation.”
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Even though Roman Catholics are the second-largest religious group in the United States, the tradition has seen an exodus of members in recent decades. One in ten Americans is an ex-Catholic.
If ex-Catholics were counted as their own religious group, they would be the third-largest denomination in the United States, after Catholics and Baptists, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
If it weren’t for the infusion of Catholic immigrants, especially from Latin American, the American Catholic Church would be shrinking pretty fast.
A recent study by two college professor tries to get at a simple question: Why are they leaving?
By Denise Buffa and Samaia Hernandez, Hartford Courant
Stratford, Connecticut (Hartford Courant)–Barbara Cadranel says she's lived all over the world, but decided to settle near friends in Stratford in October 2010.
When she received a mezuza as a gift in the fall of 2011, she put it on the doorpost of the front door of her third-floor condominium unit on California Street, affixing it with Velcro. It was a religious rite that Cadranel, 60, learned in Hebrew school.
It is now a source of controversy. Cadranel is being fined $50 a day by her condo association for hanging the glass mezuza on her doorpost, although she has refused to pay anything so far. She is threatening to take legal action against her condo association and has gained the support of the Anti-Defamation League.
Read the full story from CNN affiliate The Hartford Courant.
By John Blake, CNN
Editor’s note: The CNN documentary 'Slavery's Last Stronghold' airs on CNN International TV March 29, 30, 31 and April 22. Check local listings for times.
(CNN) - Which revered religious figure - Moses, Jesus, or the Prophet Mohammad - spoke out boldly and unambiguously against slavery?
Answer: None of them.
One of these men owned slaves, another created laws to regulate - but not ban - slavery. The third’s chief spokesman even ordered slaves to obey their masters, religious scholars say.
Most modern people of faith see slavery as a great evil. Though the three great Western religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – disagree on many matters, most of their contemporary followers condemn slavery.
Yet there was a time when Jews, Christians and Muslims routinely cited the words and deeds of their founders to justify human bondage, scholars say.
By Brian Vitagliano, CNN
New York (CNN) – Divorce. Dinosaurs, Birthdays. Religion. Halloween. Christmas. Television. These are a few of the 50-plus words and references the New York City Department of Education is hoping to ban from the city’s standardized tests.
The banned word list was made public – and attracted considerable criticism – when the city’s education department recently released this year’s "request for proposal" The request for proposal is sent to test publishers around the country trying to get the job of revamping math and English tests for the City of New York.
The Department of Education's says that avoiding sensitive words on tests is nothing new, and that New York City is not the only locale to do so. California avoids the use of the word "weed" on tests and Florida avoids the phrases that use "Hurricane" or "Wildfires," according to a statement by the New York City Department of Education.
Editor’s note: Edward L. Queen II directs the D. Abbot Turner Program in Ethics and Servant Leadership at Emory University’s Center for Ethics.
By Edward L. Queen II, Special to CNN
(CNN) – The true architects of the Trayvon Martin killing not only will not go unpunished, they also will go unnamed.
Those who created the conditions for Martin’s killing – those who, one might say, invited it – were the Florida legislators who voted for a law that undid not only decades of positive law regarding self-defense but also centuries of legal tradition.
In promoting “stand your ground” laws, self-proclaimed conservatives become grossly irresponsible radicals, drastically and dramatically undoing centuries of accumulated wisdom in their evisceration of the traditional formulation of self-defense.
They rip apart the traditional understanding of the legitimate use of deadly force in self-defense and invite people to kill.
From Mariano Castillo and David Ariosto, CNN
Havana, Cuba (CNN) - Pope Benedict XVI spoke in general terms, saying "Cuba and the world need change," but steered clear of political statements during a Mass he celebrated in Havana's Revolution Plaza on Wednesday.
The pope said that such change can come only if "each one is prepared to ask for the truth and if they decide to take the path of love, sowing reconciliation and brotherhood."
Earlier in his trip, the pontiff had prayed for "those deprived of freedom" and told reporters that Cuba's Marxist political system "no longer corresponds to reality."
Many in Cuba and around the world listened closely to the pope's homily at the enormous open-air Mass to see if the pontiff would expand or be more forceful in his apparent criticisms.
By Patrick Oppmann, CNN
Havana, Cuba (CNN) – Driving out of Havana on the four-lane and mostly empty Carretera Central, it’s easy to miss the future of the Catholic Church in Cuba.
But on the left hand side of the highway is the San Carlos and Ambrosio Seminary, looking more like one of the many sprawling Spanish resort hotels that dot the Caribbean island.
“We are shaping Cuba’s priests of tomorrow here,” said the Rev. Jose Miguel Gonzalez, the seminary’s rector and a Spanish priest, who has worked in Cuba for 12 years.
Editor’s Note: Glenn Beck is a radio and television host and is founder of The Blaze, a news and opinion website, and GBTV.
I have never felt particularly charitable on April 15.
Instead, I typically feel like the victim of the most sophisticated burglary in world history. Yet it is on Tax Day that we learn a lot about the giving nature of our political leaders, at least those who release their tax records. Those documents provide a lens into politicians’ financial priorities and benevolence.
While the American people certainly don’t have a “right” to see the tax returns of any private individual, the public has grown to expect that those running for the highest office in the land will voluntarily allow us to view their filings.
Each election cycle, the media and general public take voyeuristic pleasure in examining how candidates made money and the charities they supported before knowing that the national microscope would be on them.
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.