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April 9th, 2012
04:53 AM ET

Belief Blog's Morning Speed Read for Monday, April 9

By Laura Koran, CNN

Here's the Belief Blog’s morning rundown of the top faith-angle stories from around the United States and around the world. Click the headlines for the full stories.

From the Blog:

CNN: Tebow talks faith during Easter event in Texas
After being all football in his last press conference following his trade to the New York Jets, Tim Tebow on Sunday was all about his faith, which he discussed at length with a Texas pastor during an Easter event.

Does Easter celebrate a man, a savior, or a myth? Some say Jesus never existed and was a myth created by early Christians.

CNN: The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth
Timothy Freke was flipping through an old academic book when he came across a religious image that some would call obscene. It was a drawing of a third-century amulet depicting a naked man nailed to a cross. But the name on the amulet wasn’t Jesus. It was a pseudonym for Osiris-Dionysus, a pagan god in ancient Mediterranean culture. Freke says the amulet was evidence of something that sounds like sacrilege – and some would say it is: that Jesus never existed.

CNN: After Arab Spring, experts fearful of Christian targeting at Easter celebrations
For Christians in countries thrown into tumult by the Arab Spring revolutions, Easter celebrations may prove dangerous. According to experts and academics in the United States, the changing balances of power in each country, along with a history of anti-Christian sentiment, have made overt celebrations like Easter a cause for concern among Christians.

CNN: Taking a rare tour of a Mormon temple
Elder William Walker slipped white booties over his black wing-tip shoes and instructed his guests to do the same as he led them into the newest Mormon temple in the world. This day was the first chance the public had to see inside the sacred space for the area’s 49,000 Mormons, and it was also one of the last.

CNN: Sacred Spaces: Arabic Christians find a home in the U.S.
Christians have been part of Middle Eastern culture for 2,000 years, but many people don’t realize that a small minority of Arabs are Christians. Pastor Esper Ajaj of the Arabic Baptist Church in Washington said that people often assume he is Muslim because of his background and accent.

Belief on TV:

Tweet of the Day:
From @BeliefBeat: Happy Easter, western churchers. Thanks for the discounted candy & chocolates & decorations for next week's Orthodox Easter : – )

Enlightening Reads:

The Washington Post: At Easter, remembering Passover
On Friday night, many Jewish families held a Passover Seder, and many Christians attended a Good Friday service, focusing their attention on the Cross. Some of us, who live in families that include Jews and Christians, participate in both sacred commemorations.

The New York Times: A Friendship Dating to 1976 Resonates in 2012
The two young men had woefully little in common: one was a wealthy Mormon from Michigan, the other a middle-class Jew from Israel. But in 1976, the lives of Mitt Romney and Benjamin Netanyahu intersected, briefly but indelibly, in the 16th-floor offices of the Boston Consulting Group, where both had been recruited as corporate advisers.

The Press of Atlantic City: A church is a church, even when it meets in a Somers Point bar
Somers Point has several popular bars, places that fill with people every Saturday night. But come Sunday morning, the biggest bar crowd is probably the one that shows up at Sandi Pointe Coastal Bistro, on Shore Road. All those people aren’t there for the food and drink, though. The big draw is the church that meets in Sandi Pointe every Sunday.

Quote of the Day:

I would not vote for a man who was an atheist because I believe you need to have an acknowledgement, a reverence, a fear for almighty God. And I believe that’s where wisdom comes from.

Rev. Billy Graham’s daughter Anne Graham Lotz, to David Gregory on NBC’s Meet the Press.

Today’s Opinion:

CNN: My Take: If I had only a month to live
Pastor Kerry Shook writes about how people can find peace when confronting death.

Join the conversation…

CNN: Your take: Comments on Jesus deniers
Our story on a small cadre of authors challenging the existence of Jesus Christ drew almost 5,000 comments on Easter Sunday, with some upset that we did the story, others objecting to its publication on Easter, and plenty of others defending the article and the run date and debating the merits and implications of the debate.

- CNN's Laura Koran

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Rainer Braendlein

    Once, an officer, Pliny the Younger (reign 111-113 AD), of the Roman Empire had a conversation with his emperor Trajan:

    "It is my practice, my lord, to refer to you all matters concerning which I am in doubt. For who can better give guidance to my hesitation or inform my ignorance? I have never participated in trials of Christians. I therefore do not know what offenses it is the practice to punish or investigate, and to what extent. And I have been not a little hesitant as to whether there should be any distinction on account of age or no difference between the very young and the more mature; whether pardon is to be granted for repentance, or, if a man has once been a Christian, it does him no good to have ceased to be one; whether the name itself, even without offenses, or only the offenses associated with the name are to be punished.

    Meanwhile, in the case of those who were denounced to me as Christians, I have observed the following procedure: I interrogated these as to whether they were Christians; those who confessed I interrogated a second and a third time, threatening them with punishment; those who persisted I ordered executed. For I had no doubt that, whatever the nature of their creed, stubbornness and inflexible obstinacy surely deserve to be punished. There were others possessed of the same folly; but because they were Roman citizens, I signed an order for them to be transferred to Rome.

    Soon accusations spread, as usually happens, because of the proceedings going on, and several incidents occurred. An anonymous docu-ment was published containing the names of many persons. Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ–none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do–these I thought should be discharged. Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshipped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.

    They asserted, however, that the sum and substance of their fault or error had been that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not to some crime, but not to commit fraud, theft, or adultery, not falsify their trust, nor to refuse to return a trust when called upon to do so. When this was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again to partake of food–but ordinary and innocent food. Even this, they affirmed, they had ceased to do after my edict by which, in accordance with your instructions, I had forbidden political associations. Accordingly, I judged it all the more necessary to find out what the truth was by torturing two female slaves who were called deaconesses. But I discovered nothing else but depraved, excessive supersti-tion.

    I therefore postponed the investigation and hastened to consult you. For the matter seemed to me to warrant consulting you, especially because of the number involved. For many persons of every age, every rank, and also of both se-xes are and will be endangered. For the contagion of this supersti-tion has spread not only to the cities but also to the villages and farms. But it seems possible to check and cure it. It is certainly quite clear that the temples, which had been almost deserted, have begun to be frequented, that the established religious rites, long neglected, are being resumed, and that from everywhere sacrificial animals are coming, for which until now very few purchasers could be found. Hence it is easy to imagine what a multi-tude of people can be reformed if an opportunity for repentance is afforded.

    Emperor Trajan to Pliny

    You observed proper procedure, my dear Pliny, in sifting the cases of those who had been denounced to you as Christians. For it is not possible to lay down any general rule to serve as a kind of fixed standard. They are not to be sought out; if they are denounced and proved guilty, they are to be punished, with this reservation, that whoever denies that he is a Christian and really proves it–that is, by worshiping our gods–even though he was under suspi-cion in the past, shall obtain pardon through repentance. But anonymously posted accusations ought to have no place in any prosecution. For this is both a dangerous kind of precedent and out of keeping with the spirit of our age."

    This passage is a clear evidence for the historicity of Christianity. Consider it is from the beginning of the second century. Hence, Christianity could not be invented by any impostor later, but it was obviously a real thing.

    April 9, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      200 years is plenty of time to make something up.

      April 9, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    April 9, 2012 at 7:27 am |
    • Jesus

      `Prayer doesn’t not; you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs! ..

      April 9, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Alfred E Neuman

      I would like to thank "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things' for all the inspiring prayer proofs you posted the other day.

      April 9, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Jesus

      "Alfred E Neuman

      I would like to thank "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things' for all the inspiring prayer proofs you posted the other day."

      More lies since you are one and the same person using different handles....cough..cough..."just sayin" LMAO! What an idiot.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
    • Alfred E Neuman

      Prove it

      April 9, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Jack

      It only makes sense fans of Mad magazine would be trolls.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Joe Friday LAPD

      Just looking for the facts.

      April 9, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  3. Rainer Braendlein

    Someone could remark that the Bible could not be neutral, because it was written by Christians, and thus the stories about Jesus in the Bible may be invented. However, there are accounts about Jesus outside the Bible and the Christian Church. The accounts, I quote below, are even drafted by enemies of Christ and thus historically trustworthy. It should make us minding that Jesus was mentioned even by non-Christians or pagans, which hated him.

    Jesus was historical. It is proved by science of history!

    There was a very famous historian of the Roman Empire, which lived in the first century after Christ (AD 56 – AD 117), that means extremly near-term to the events, which had came to pass in Palestine. He, Tacitus, was a pagan, which had no reason at all to promote Christianity and to tell us lies about Jesus. We can be sure that it was historical, what he wrote about Jesus, because he was an enemy of Jesus:

    "Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superst-ition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multi-tude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind".

    This passage is a clear evidence for the historicity of Christ Jesus.

    There was a famous Jewish historian of the first century, who gives acount of Jesus Christ. Jews have no reason to promote Christianity and thus we can be sure that Flavius Josephus told us the truth about Jesus:

    "And now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus... Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned."

    A Jew confirms the historical reality of Jesus, the founder of Christianity. That is very great!

    April 9, 2012 at 6:47 am |
    • Rainy Wetbraenlein

      Yes, it is very well known that information passed down mouth to mouth for many decades will always be totally unchanged and completely factual and reliable. That's how we know for certain that Hercules waas real and had all those superpowers.

      April 9, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
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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.