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
Over the last few days, CNN’s Belief Blog has received more than 10,000 responses to its question, “Where was God in Aurora?”
The underlying concern here has vexed theologians for centuries: How can evil happen in a world that is lorded over by a good and all-powerful God? As CNN's readers struggled to make sense of God's presence (or absence) in the Aurora, Colorado, massacre, I counted seven different answers to this question:
1. There is no God.
Self-professed atheists may make up only 2% of the U.S. population, but they are extraordinarily active online, and on CNN's Belief Blog. A commenter who identified as Jason spoke for them when he wrote, “Where was God? He was where he has always been. Nowhere because God does not exist.” Bob Dobbs agreed: “God is imaginary. The question is moot.”
By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
(CNN)– Billy Graham, the dean of American evangelists, has once again broken his usual silence on hot-button issues, defending the president of the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain for his opposition to same-sex marriage days after issuing a letter decrying what he sees as the nation's moral decay.
Earlier this year, the ailing preacher publicly endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay unions in North Carolina, raising eyebrows among many who'd watched Graham studiously avoid thorny social issues for years.
On Thursday, he issued a statement of support for the popular fast-food chain. Many people have slammed Chick-fil-A President Don Cathy for saying his company backs the traditional family unit and is opposed to same-sex marriage.
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) – Americans have limited knowledge of the presidential candidates’ religious faith, but their concerns about the candidates’ respective religious beliefs are unlikely to play a major role in the 2012 race, according to a Pew survey released Thursday.
Most Americans, 60%, know that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is a Mormon; he would be the first member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints elected to the White House. Among those who are aware of Romney’s religion, 81% say that they are comfortable with it or that it doesn’t matter to them.
At the same time, 32% of Americans don’t know that Romney is Mormon, and another 9% identify him as the member of another tradition, the Pew survey found. Earlier surveys have suggested that those who don’t know that Romney is a Mormon are less likely to vote for a Mormon candidate.
The Pew survey showed that only 49% of Americans identify President Barack Obama as Christian, though that number has grown from 38% two years ago.
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) - A large majority of black and Hispanic Americans identify as both “pro-life” and “pro-choice” when it comes to abortion, according to a survey released Thursday. The poll finds that both minority groups are more likely than Americans in general to embrace or to reject both labels.
Large majorities of African-Americans identify both as “pro-life” (71%) and “pro-choice” (75%), according to a Public Religion Research Institute survey released Thursday. Hispanic Americans harbor similarly complex views on abortion, with 77% identifying as “pro-life” and 72% calling themselves as “pro-choice.”
The survey found that 52% of black Americans and 47% of Hispanic Americans acknowledge that they embrace or reject both labels, proportions that are higher than those for Americans overall. Thirty seven percent of all Americans embrace both labels or neither label.
The numbers show that most people see the pro-life and pro-choice identifiers through their own unique prisms, says Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute.
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: Driven by personal tragedy, man builds crosses for Aurora victims, thousands of others
In a vacant lot across from the site of last week’s movie theater shooting, 12 white crosses stand solemnly, their arms covered in messages of hope and the ground around them full of flowers. For the loved ones of the 12 killed in the Aurora, Colorado, theater, the crosses have become a focal point of remembrance, a place to memorialize victims and pray for their families and friends. But for the man who built the white crosses, each just over 3 feet tall, the crosses are something more: symbols of his own survival since tragedy struck his family 16 years ago.
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.