By John Blake, CNN
He called himself a “life-long Quaker and a church-going Christian,” and at first there was no reason to doubt him.
He played piano in the church, taught Sunday school, and praised Jesus at revivals. His mother thought he was going to be a missionary. His friends said he would be a preacher.
We now know this former Sunday school teacher as “Tricky Dick” or, more formally, President Richard Nixon. He was one of the most corrupt and paranoid men to occupy the Oval Office. Nixon gave us Watergate, but he also gave presidential historians like Darrin Grinder a question to ponder:
Does a president’s religious faith make any difference in how he governs?
“I don’t think so,” says Grinder, author of “The Presidents and Their Faith,” which examines the faith of all American presidents.
“If I asked George W. Bush what he thought about torture, I think outside the presidency he would say he hates it,” Grinder says. “But he’d do it for the country if he thinks it’s right in terms of American security.”
We elect a president every four years, but perhaps we also elect a high priest. Ever since George Washington spontaneously added “so help me God” to his inaugural oath, Americans have expected their presidents to believe in, worship and publicly invoke God.
A presidential candidate who doesn’t meet these religious expectations won’t go far, Grinder says.
“It’s going to be a long time before anyone who openly admits that he or she is an agnostic or an atheist is elected,” Grinder says. “We tie character and religious beliefs together.”
Piety and presidential greatness don’t always mix
History suggests, however, that piety and presidential performance don’t always match. Some of America’s most religious presidents have been its most brutal. And two of its greatest presidents wouldn’t even be considered Christians today, scholars say.
Consider Abraham Lincoln, who is widely acknowledged as one of the nation’s three greatest presidents, along with Washington and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But Lincoln, who never joined a church, was not a Christian, says Niels C. Nielsen, author of “God in the Obama Era.”
“Lincoln believed in an active God, he believed in providence. But if you asked Lincoln if he believed in the deity of Jesus, he would have said no,” Nielsen says.
Or look at Roosevelt, who is virtually a national saint. With his perpetual grin and a cigarette holder perched jauntily in his mouth, he guided the nation through the Great Depression and World War II. His legacy is built on his New Deal, an array of programs that protected the poor and elderly from the abuses of unrestrained capitalism.
But Roosevelt was no saint in his personal life. He rarely talked publicly about his Episcopalian faith, preferred golf over church (before he was stricken by polio), and likely cheated on his wife, scholars say.
Yet few presidents embodied the biblical concept of “comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable” as much as Roosevelt, who once called the heartless business tycoons of his day “the money changers” in the temple.
Nielsen, the historian, suggests that it was Roosevelt’s suffering that drove him to look out for the most vulnerable, not his faith. According to his wife, Eleanor, polio taught her husband “infinite patience and never-ending persistence.”
“I think it made him more sensitive to the feelings of people,” Eleanor said, according to Nielsen.
Another contemporary president’s concern for others seemed to be driven more by his exposure to suffering than his faith.
Lyndon Johnson plunged America deeper into Vietnam. Yet his “Great Society” programs displayed a concern for “the least of these” in America. Under Johnson, the government launched programs to protect the civil rights of minorities, improve the educational chances of needy children and protect the environment.
Johnson saw poverty as a sin, something that should be attacked and defeated.
But Johnson never seemed to have any problem with a little personal sin. He grew up in Texas, where he affiliated with Disciples of Christ and Baptist churches. But he is widely believed to have stolen one of his earliest elections. He was a womanizer, historians say, and his speech was filled with such vulgarity that reporters had a difficult time quoting him on the record.
“He didn’t have any morality,” says Nielsen.
But he did have the experience of teaching in a poor, rural, immigrant school in Texas, Grinder says, where Johnson once said he learned “what poverty and hatred can do when you see its scars on the hopeful face of a young child.”
One of Johnson’s domestic advisers says in Grinder’s book that Johnson’s commitment to racial justice and eliminating poverty came from his teaching days in Texas.
“Equal opportunity became for him a constitutional obligation, and he pursued it with messianic conviction,” said Joseph Califano Jr.
Our first ‘infidel’ president
Some American presidents didn’t just seem indifferent to religion. They were accused of being hostile to organized religion and dismissive of Jesus.
Washington, the nation’s first president, was not a Christian but most likely a Deist, someone who believed in a divine, beneficent being who ordered the world. Clergy would often try to goad him into publicly stating that he was a Christian, but he refused to do so, Grinder says.
Thomas Jefferson, though, aroused the hostility of more religious leaders than any other president, except perhaps for President Obama.
The nation’s third president once said that he didn’t care if his neighbor worshiped one God or 20, and argued for the separation of church and state. His opponents called him a pagan and an infidel. New England farm wives buried their family Bibles in gardens because they heard Jefferson would confiscate them, Grinder says.
Grinder wrote that one pastor who campaigned against Jefferson’s election warned:
“If Jefferson is elected, the Bible will be burned, the French Marseillaise will be sung in Christian churches, and we may see our wives and daughters become the victims of legal prostitution.”
Most presidents, however, didn't speak out against organized religion like Jefferson. Some took on the high priest role of the office, and few did it as eagerly as our nation’s seventh president, Andrew Jackson.
Jackson was a devout Presbyterian who read three to five chapters of the Bible daily, built a chapel in his Tennessee home and publicly attended two Washington churches while in the White House. He is known as one of the most devout presidents.
Yet he was also known for his violent temper (he killed a man in a duel) and for being a rich slaveholder. Jackson’s claim to infamy, though, comes primarily from his treatment of Native Americans. Some historians describe it as genocidal. He slaughtered Seminole Indians and their families in Florida, and he is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Cherokees, who he forced from their homeland in Georgia.
How could Jackson reconcile his fervent religious beliefs with the mass killings of Native Americans? Grinder thinks he knows:
“He was brutal because he did not believe the persons he was being brutal to were human.”
Obama and his faith
Anyone who doubts that a president’s faith remains important to the American people has only to look at the experiences of Obama.
Obama has declared his Christianity in his biography, and in many speeches. He evoked it recently when he came out in support of same-sex marriages. But arguably no president has had his faith so aggressively questioned. Many Americans still believe he is a Muslim.
Stephen Mansfield, author of “The Faith of Barack Obama,” is a political conservative who has written about the evangelical faith of President George W. Bush. He became curious about Obama and spent time talking to Obama’s spiritual cabinet, a collection of ministers who counsel Obama.
Mansfield says he has no doubt that Obama is a devout Christian. His belief has angered some fellow conservatives so much that he says he has had speeches canceled and received angry e-mails.
“I take him seriously as a Christian,” Mansfield says. “He’s a politically liberal Christian man who is making a deeper journey of faith all the time.”
Mansfield says Obama’s health care law is an expression of faith: his belief that Christians are obligated to look out for the most vulnerable.
“Barack Obama believes that the mechanism of the state ought to be used in service of the biblical idea of saving the needy and the poor and the oppressed,” says Mansfield.
For some, though, Obama’s faith will always be associated with the angry sermons of Jeremiah Wright, his former pastor. Yet Mansfield says Obama has embraced a more traditional form of Christianity since becoming president.
In his book, Mansfield tells a story about Obama ministering to a pastor who had experienced a death in the family. Mansfield says he was stunned that Obama could draw so easily from a deep well of scripture to minister to a minister.
“He is serious about his faith,” says Mansfield, also author of “The Mormonizing of America.” “He’s absolutely not a Muslim.”
Nielsen, author of “God in the Obama Era,” has a theory why some Americans believe Obama is a Muslim.
“They hate him so much,” Nielsen says. “He’s polarized the country.”
Nielsen says Obama’s unconventional religious background may arouse suspicion, but it’s an asset. Obama was raised in Hawaii and Indonesia, where he was exposed to Catholicism, Islam, Buddhism and other religions. When he lived in Chicago, his Christianity was shaped by the black church’s emphasis on social justice.
“He knows more about world religions than anybody that’s been in the White House,” Nielsen says.
The persistent scrutiny of Obama’s faith, though, has helped his presidential opponent more than the president, says Grinder, author of “The Presidents and Their Faith.”
“If [Mitt] Romney had almost any other opponent than Obama, I think we’d be hearing a lot more about Mormonism,” Grinder says. “He would be in the same place that Obama has been in the last five years.”
Once Obama leaves the Oval Office, don’t expect the religious scrutiny of presidents to fade, Grinder says. We still want our presidents to act like a politician and a priest.
“The religious rhetoric gets louder each year,” he says. “That’s not going to change anytime soon.”
I'd rather have a President that doesn't believe in fairytales and invisible, magical beings. I'd rather have a president that is intelligent and believes in science, logic and reason instead of ancient mythology.
Obama goes to church. I guess he is an idiot?
All religious people are just a little off in my opinion. Not playing with a full deck.
time to support politicians who believe in science over religion.
No, he just puts on a charade, a little show, for approval. He needs to get those votes!
Unrelated: how honest of him
I have faith in Obama. If you watch some of his pre-presidential speeches, he's an atheist.
But if you didn't profess to be a Christer, you'd never have a snowball's chance in heII in this Krazy Kristian AmeriKa.
Unrelated: he was a member of the Rev. Wrights church for 20 years. How is that an atheist?
Most atheists I know arent members of a church.
Well now you have neither. A faithless idiot.
Your lack of faith disappoints him. He's gonna force choke you from across the room.
'people die out of ignorance"
"do not be deceived by wolfes who dress in sheep's clothing but inside are ravenous wolfe's deceiving to lead you to your death"-- Jesus was talking of the religious people.... not the people who follow God....which is someting that most humans cannot understand because they do not study the Word of God, and the Bible is not written for everybody but only for God's children. So unless you are one of God's children, you cannot understand His letters either. 'AGONIZE to enter thru the narrow road for ample is the path that leads to destruction and many follow it"–JESUS SAID when he was asked which was the way to God. THE NARROW ROAD...the obedience to God almighty road...Christ the god died for you and horribly...if you cannot understand His sacrifice it doesnt mean it didnt happen...but if you refuse to love the very Creator of your body and mind, or indirect creation , you will suffer the consecuences becaue this life is a journey back to God from a state of eternal death to a state of eternal life,...thru JESUS...the Son of God...(so Islam will never get to Heaven bc they deny all of Christ, God and the Trinity and why?...antoher story). IT IS SO EASY TO BELIEVE WHEN GOD FAVORS YOU BUT WHEN GOD IS SILENT IT MEANS YOU MAY HAVE DONE SOMETHING FOR WHICH YOU WILL BE ALONE FOR IT THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. God is forgiving but it is humans who are not....humans are to blame for wars...not God. Humans are in charge of thsi world...so look at it good....it is not God here...amongst yourselfes because humanity is sinful and God is not. and the only God who can rule is one who does not demand for bloodshed....NEW TESTAMENT...JESUSCHRIST FINISHED THE BLOODSHED...DYING ON THE CROSS...ever since...God demands peace! and look at the world? lead by who ? god? not so. Everybody (except me and a few others) wants no peace but murder and eye for an eye. That is exactly what will condemn you even if you only thought it. GOD IS A JUST GOD...HE DOES NOT DEMAND TO KILLYOUR NEIGHBOR AS ISLAM DOES. That is because Islam does not have a god but satan behind their isntructions. GOD, JESUSCHRIST IS THE ONLY DIVINE POWER WHO CAN PERFORM MIRACLES AND HAS, SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE WORLD, the beginning of the Holy Scriptures all wriotten by JESUS our Lord to us...
I would rather vote for a president whose pragmatic, whose views are more broad and open. and not affected by his religion, race or preference, not partisan and clingy.`whose values are about the people, for the people and to the people, and not those whose claims that they are the only American.
you mean for the people and by the people
I think the author is confusing practical faith with proclaimed faith. Calling yourself a Christian means nothing if your actions don't match what you proclaim with your mouth. So, the issue here is not faith, but hypocricy.
Actions speak louder than words. My preference, in order would be:
1. A proclaimed Christian who practices what he preaches.
2. A non-Christian whose actions are in line with Christian teachings
3. A Christian who rarely practices true Christianity
So in the photo above Bill Clintons prayers dont matter?
I think the elephant in the room, where the Presidential oath is concerned, is more about the trust we place in this mortal person, who wields tremendous influence, if not direct personal power, over hundreds of millions of lives... yet still answers to a "higher" power. Somehow it makes it easier to live with ourselves if we believe evil deeds will be corrected in a later existence.
easier for the "faithful". Note easier for those of us that know we have only this one life and that some people do in fact get away with being "evil".
That theory worked well. under the reign of George Dubya Bush.
Since this pres has taken office, I found it very interesting on his approach towards religion and the church he attends. He has kept, for the most part, quiet; and that is his right. What the problem that many have is his approach about going to the National Cathedral by not going to it on a regular basis, saying he did not want to distract the churchgoers from what was said in front of the pulpit. Of course, he would not admit that many presidents have gone there and they didn't see it as a problem. Again, he does have the right to go wherever he wants to go, his choice being a small chapel outside the DC area, but we certainly don't hear to much about him going there. But, I know people who don't go to church, but have a religious conviction better than mine. Lastly, we should not judge a politician for his religious beliefs, but some have made that an issue.
obviously it's an issue to you or you wouldn't practically be staking him, and blathering about it here.
While the Presidents faith may not matter. Our faith in our President matters greatly. You will find out in November what I mean.
too bad our November choices will be BS or more BS....yes please, may I have another
I choose the guy who doesnt want to force me to spend an extra $75 a week against my will.
Actually, Romney is almost as liberal as Obama. So no matter who becomes president next year, the Dems win.
You sure will find out in November, Paulie, when President Obama wins re-election in a landslide. I can't wait. Roll on November!
TrueBlue: yes I hope you look forward to more of what we have now
YOu havea choice: "I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me"....Jesuschrist did not say "you have budism, or Islam or Catholicism and their Jesuit an Dominican killing orders....Jesuschrist said 'I AM THE WAY...I AM THE TRUTH...I AM THE LIFE...eternal life....NO ONE CAN GET TO GOD'S KINGDOM UNLESS IT IS THRU ME...so where in that statement fits that there are other religions and other gods? nowhere
God the Father which many of you dont know bc of your own idolatries, has spoken:
Isaiah 45:5 I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from me there is no God.
NEED IT SPELLED OUT?
Get a brain.
who's jesus? who's god? Sorry, it's all silly.
-I T MEANS THAT IF YOU ARE GOING TO LEAD A COUNTRY WITHOUT OBSERVING FIRST GOD, YOU WILL NOT MAKE THE RIGHT CHOICES BECAUSE WHEN GOD IS NOT IN ONE, SATAN IS WAITING TO ADVICE. IF YOU BELIEVE that all these is a fairy tale that is your choice. The Lord does not push the choice , He gives you time to get to the truth and forgives you over and over. If you lead a nation under satan's advice you will not help that nation but will bring a heck of a lot of people into the wrong path, economy, chaos, nothing good. If you lead a nation godlessly you are responsible for the murder of millions who follow you believing too that since you have no God they too will not have one, and many will follow that order. Believe in no god, or that you are god yourself, and you become Hitler II.
Yes having God in our life is of the utmost importance, muchmore leading a country under advice that comes from God not satan. But you will soon find out that without God we have nothing.
Hitchens said that even talking to such as you is akin to talking to a tree and about as pointless, but i will try anyway. Enjoy your fantasies. Peace and love to you and yours. May your hatred of those that do not believe as you do be tempered before it destroys you.
How utterly stupid.
Fall off the soap box honey.
Nobody wants to hear it.
President Bush banned forms of stem cell research for religious purposes, he knew that when the time came for organ repair or replacement, he would have no problem finding a donor organ due to his infamy as a president of America. Imagine if he didn't have this privilage of wealth and fame, would he have made this decision so easily?
He would. The suicide bomber killed themselves flying airplanes into a building.
Most of my church-going friends overwhelmingly support the death penalty. I never quite understood that paradox.
Because once you're no longer a fetus then you have no value. Especially if you're too dark by a few shades.
I agree. Most Right to Lifers also support capital punishment. No reasoning involved, or they would understand the conflict in these ideas.
They even have a cognitive dissonance when it comes to the commandment : Thou shalt not kill. I've heard their preachers twist it to say it means that you shouldn't murder people. Thou shalt not kill means just what it says. Not for wars, not for punishment of a crime, not even for self defense. That's why that other little caveat is in there...that if someone smite you on one cheek, turn also to him the other. If you can't follow these simple things, you're not a Christian.
Perhaps the lesson here is that people who claim to be religious while also seeking power are not necessarily all that faithful to their religions.
I would far prefer a president who is atheist. Better to have a leader whose only higher power is rational thought than one who claims belief in a religion he doesn't follow.
Hear hear, Drew.
Not only has CNN taken on a campaign agianst conservatives and Christians of late but conveniently puts articles like this up on Sunday morning when most conservative Christians are in their houses of worship. How convenient to time it such as to elicite the flooding of the comment boards with anti-Christian and atheistic opinions, so that anyone happening upon the article can be influenced by the thought that most Americans must feel this way since that is the majority of the comments. They keep taking polls hoping for different results, but repeatedly they keep getting the same result.....more than 90% of Americans believe in some form of a higher power. I can't believe I am saying this, but MSNBC has actually become more fair minded and news worthy than CNN. I guess they got tired of their dismal ratings, hopefully CNN will get the same hint in due time.
Conservative Christians? Isn't that kind of an oxymoron?
A person can either be a Conservative or a Christian. The two are mutually exclusive.
I don't understand how you can read an article explaining why religion is unimportant when it comes to matters of the state (ie: the President's religion is unimportant) and claim it's a direct attack on Christians specifically. :/ Separation of Church and State has existed since the US has existed, it isn't anything new, and everything isn't about hating religious people and their ideals and ideas.
last time I knew conservative can be used as an adjective or a noun
since the article centers on the Christian faith and portraying its consideration in terms of an election choice in a negative manner, then yes I consider it an attack directly on Christianity.
The sabbath is on Saturday.
Its in your book.
this is news??
It is in the religion section of the stie
If there was a god and she did guide the USA in every possible case, why would it matter who the president was? If this spirit in the sky was all knowing wouldn't the USA bein a much better place than it is now. Why don't you elect someone on who thet are and what they have done rather than what they believe in.
ok, so tell me all the great achievments Obama did prior to his Presidency? Technically I'm more qualified than he is (by light years) and even I am not so self absorbed to not know there are far better men and women out there to do the job.
Now that President Obama has some momentum back, it was expected that CNN and his mainstream media diciples would introduce this theme for consideration. After all it conveniently sweeps under the rug our sitting Presidents connection to religious hate mongerers like Rev. Wright, and justifies his overt sympathy/solidarity with the Muslim POV.
In so doing the mainstream media can now fire all its guns at Mitt Romney for being a Mormon. Like being a Mormon is horrific when compared to President Obama's perspective. Sure other parts of the world do their thing, but this is America.....Most of us live by a code (religious or otherwise) and we vote most often for the individual who comes closest to sharing that "code". The dissapointment often comes later on when its revealed, the individual we voted for was a fraud.
Voters in 2012 would be wise to consider this perspective vs. political party lines as they go to the polls.
Romney is a little Richie Rich monster that hates G ays, He shown that at age 18 years of age and being a rich kid had no fear of consequences. Romney is out of his element and invented Obama Care in his state with forced health care. He is a flip flopper that offshored jobs and took his state to number 48 in Debt.
This person is out of touch with all except the top 2% of the US. Vote him in and watch the middle class fold and the elderly get their bennies stipped. SO IF YOU HATE YOUR FOLKS OR GRANDPARENTS THEN BY ALL MEANS VOTE THE ROMNEY PLAN IN AND OF COURSE WATCH YOUR PLANET GO UP IN POLUTION AS HE IS IN BED WITH THOSE AGAINST THE EPA.....
Romney= Looser for the US...
I'll take a Mormon over a muslim any day.
I can't stand Romney but lets be fair in our labels....Obama is a co-flipper flopper himself.....might I remind you of the campaign reform he championed until he raised so much money he decided not to run with limited funds per the guidelines he formerly championed........the White House web site still says his will be the most trasnparent presidency in history until its convenient to declare executive priviledge when the heat is on......lets call Bush a war monger for helping knock off Hussein in election years and then help Gaddafi get knocked off while I'm President. Talk is just talk, until you walk the walk....unfortunately you'll get that from neither candidate in the next 4 years.
Booskoo as you can tell from my posts I am no Obama fan but let's be fair....if the guy publicly professes Christ as his Lord and Savior and is a Muslim he would be marked an infidel. Please stop drinking the punch....that punch is no different than the one the other side drinks, its just colored red instead of blue
After all it conveniently sweeps under the rug our sitting Presidents connection to religious hate mongerers like Rev. Wright, and justifies his overt sympathy/solidarity with the Muslim POV.
1) Obama is not a Muslim.
2) Rev Wright has made thousands of speeches
but the one you refer to – Obama wasnt even there.
3)Swept under the rug ?
You just braught it up.
4) You are a moron.
Our brains are wired a certain way at an early age. Some adopt religion and others become rational thinkers. Neither group can claim to be any more "moral" than the other.
Religion is always forced. Nobody adopts religion, if it was so, one should wait until 18 to make that decision.
I believe that if you look at the fact, more hatred and violence has been inflicted on the world in the name of religio than anything else.
says you (a religious person I'll bet). I can honestly claim, because it's true, that by the very things which religous people judge everyone else, I AM more moral than most Christians, and I don't believe in the entire concept if religion.
In all honesty, I do not care with what religion my president is as long as they stick to their job and do it well. If their religion doesn't influence on how the said person does their job i see no problem. I tend to like the idea of separation of the church and state, like entirely.
'god' is an idiotic idea promoted by immoral people to control and pacify the weak minded.
my guess is that many who run for office lean on religion for votes. In actuality, my guess is they really don't fully believe. Those who do actually believe seem to be the angriest and hateful to the least of people.
Most religious leaders are actually athiests. I believe even the pope is one.
Here is the the propaganda machine at work trying to make Romney's Mormon faith a non-issue. Any faith that claims Indians came to North America by the way of submarines should raise some skepticism.
Gotta admire any religion who's motto is "I don't care how many you bring, just Bring 'em Young!"
You're absolutely right! I wouldn't want the man who is invincible when he wears his magic underwear to have his hand on the switch to Armageddon!
yeah, gotta question a person who believes a guy died and came back 3 days later. Crazy stuff for sure.
It has nothing to do with our leader's faith; it has everything to do with the younger generation not buying into the fairy tale nonsense that is Christianity and other forms of theist religions. You could have the Pope as our president and the youth of our nation would still be turning their back on religion in droves. Why? Because religion has proven itself to be a hypocrisy, extremely judgmental, and a source of hate. Our youth are smarter than previous generations because they question everything and do not buy into the nonsense religion tries to force on others. You can thank your god (and its followers) for that
FOR YOUR INFORMATION GOD IS NOT RELIGION, A BUILDING/CHURCH IS NOT GOD NOR CAN YOU FIND HIM THERE MUCH LESS IN A POPE (THE ANTICHRIST). If you choose to say that God is nothing, that Jesus doesnt do anything for you, you are not only a fool you are an ungreatful misfit intolerant to anything that is love and peace and productive not warring. If you don't appreciate the fact that your stinking body got a chance to have an eternal life if you follow that fairy tale God you so call, and the fact that the fairy tale God Jesuschrist died on a cross for you, his skin was peeled, his flesh torn, his hands and feet nailed with the thickest rudimentary nails ever and a sword went thru his chest, if that is not enough for you to bow down and thank HIM for HIS GREATEST SACRIFICE FOR ANOTHER MAN...ALL MANKIND...then you truly dont deserve to see Him either. YES INDEED THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD, CHRIST, NOBODY CAN MATCH HIM, HE IS THE ALPHA AND THE OMEGA AND NO OTHER GOD EXISTS BUT HIM....no one can do what Christ did for humanity...because no one is DIVINE and no one is good and sinless. Jesuschrist is both God and Sinless. No match for Jesus. If you believe this is not true and call Jesus and intolerant, you deserve to be burn in hell for satan is in you and if you decide to include me in your unbelief...dont blame me....it is all written. yOU just havent gotten to it. Ungreatful generation of no faith you all are who refuse the Lord who made you and still feeds your damned soul. Keep speaking up against the Lord and you will soon find out that HE IS LOVE but the one you follow (not the true God) will mean you total harm. All you naysayers are influenced by the devil...which indeed exists in the minds of all of you who love to mock Christ divine.
You know what with your response you just proven Athies4evr's point
"For behold the majesty of my imaginary friend."
Somebody take her off her leash and get her a bowl of water.
I think she is hyperventilating.
Growl, woof, snort.....
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.