By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) - News of Tom Cruise's split with Katie Holmes and questions about any role that Cruise's status as a Scientologist may be playing in the divorce have a lot of people wondering: What is Scientology, anyway?
In a series of tweets on Sunday, News Corp. boss Rupert Murdoch called the religion "a very weird cult" and said that Cruise is the "number two or three" man in the church's hierarchy.
Here are the basics about the religion. What other questions do you have?
By Peter Hamby, CNN Political Reporter
Las Vegas, Nevada (CNN) – In 1986, with control of the United States Senate up for grabs, The Economist dispatched a reporter to Nevada, an important battleground that year, to survey the race between then-Rep. Harry Reid and his Republican opponent, James Santini.
"Mr. Reid's performance in Las Vegas could well turn on the Mormon vote," the correspondent noted, spotlighting Reid's religion. "Though only some 12% of Nevadans are Mormons, they punch more than their weight. Less than half the state's eligible voters bother to register, but Mormons almost always do, which gives them about a quarter of the likely turnout."
Members of the Jesus Christ Church of Latter Day Saints still punch more than their weight in Nevada politics, holding a broad array of elected offices and deep sway within the business community.
But the portrait of Nevada as a sparsely populated desert locale where elections hinge on the Mormon vote now seems quaint.
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
When I first saw the Library of Congress' new list of the 88 “Books That Shaped America,” it looked to me like it was drawn up by the professors who taught me American studies in the 1970s and 1980s.
Unlike E.D. Hirsch’s book "Cultural Literacy," which emphasized the work of dead white men, the Library of Congress' list is admirably inclusive. It includes books by or about various “outsider” groups, from native Americans to gays and lesbians. It attends to the problem of class via Jacob Riis’ "How the Other Half Lives" (not to mention F. Scott Fitzgerald’s "The Great Gatsby," which is also about class).
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: Busing nuns cover 2,700 miles to rally in D.C. against Ryan budget
A group of nuns who took to the road 2,700 miles ago reached Washington Monday carrying the same message they began with: "Reasonable revenue for responsible programs." Standing in front of the United Methodist Building near the U.S. Capitol, the "Nuns on the Bus," as they have billed themselves, rallied an excited crowd with stories from the road and a call to action for future protests to protect social programs. Starting in Iowa, the nuns traveled through nine different states in a trip ended right outside the Capitol building.
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.