By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
Newark, New Jersey (CNN) – Mayor Cory Booker waits in his wood-paneled city hall office for his next visitors. His life, even on a Sunday, is tightly scheduled. He checks the time on his cell phone and lets the ribbing of his two friends, who are now late, begin.
“Jewish time is even worse than black time,” he says, “although I should never drag all the Jewish people down with Shmuley.” And then, about the other guy: “I thought Mormons were always 15 minutes early?”
If the friendship between these men – a black Christian mayor, a rabbi running for Congress and a Mormon university president – wasn't so real, this would sound like a bad joke. Instead, it’s a reflection of how three men from profoundly different backgrounds met 20 years ago, connected and changed one another.
So when this unusual trio got together for a rare meeting this spring, we jumped at the chance to join them.
But before the others arrive, let’s introduce the players.
Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
Where I live in Massachusetts, Catholicism is in the blood - even if you aren’t Catholic.
Coaches scheduling practice times for their soccer teams had better figure out when catechism classes are happening, otherwise they are likely to be playing a scrimmage with one defensive player and a wing, and perhaps no one on the opposing side.
But how does Massachusetts Catholicism match up the rest of the country? Where is Catholicism weak? Strong? And how will those strengths and weaknesses play into the 2012 election?
According to data provided to me by Rich Houseal of the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies, Massachusetts is the most Catholic state in the nation. Here 44.9% of the total population are Catholics, versus 44.3% in Rhode Island, 36.8% in New Jersey, 35.1% in Connecticut, and 32.4% in New York.
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.