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Pew poll: Obama opens up lead over Romney among Catholics
Obama has substantially widened his lead among Catholic voters since June, the Pew poll found.
September 27th, 2012
11:24 AM ET

Pew poll: Obama opens up lead over Romney among Catholics

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama has opened up a significant lead among Catholic voters, a crucial swing voting bloc, according to a recent Pew poll.

Obama leads opponent Mitt Romney among Catholic voters by 54% to 39%, according to the survey, conducted from September 12 to 16 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press.

Obama’s lead in the Pew survey comes despite outspoken recent criticism of the Obama administration from America’s Catholic bishops and despite Mitt Romney’s selection of a Catholic running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

The survey was released last week, but the findings on Catholic voters were highlighted this week by the Religion News Service, which notes that Obama held a much tighter 49-47% lead over Romney among Catholics in a June Pew poll.

John Green, a religion and politics expert at the University of Akron, said Obama’s gains among Catholic came from growing support among Hispanic and black Catholic voters, but also from white Catholics, among whom Obama is now tied with Romney.

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“That’s the part of the poll that I think is kind of surprising,” Green said, noting that Obama lost white Catholics in 2008, even as he won the overall Catholic vote.

Green said that it is white Catholics who were most likely to be receptive to the bishops’ recent attacks against the Obama administration over what the church says is the White House’s curtailment of religious freedom.

In its recent “Fortnight for Freedom,” campaign, the church urged American priests to denounce the administration’s requirement that health insurance companies provide free contraception coverage to employees, even if those employees work for Catholic organizations that oppose contraception.

“The bishops were hoping those efforts would bring more moderate and liberal Catholics, not necessarily for Romney but against the administration’s position,” Green said.

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John Allen, CNN’s chief Vatican analyst, noted that at least one other recent national poll gave Romney a slight lead among Catholics, and that Romney leads among Catholics who attend Mass each week.

“That either shows that the more practicing you are, the more pro-Romney (or anti-Obama) you are,” Allen said in an e-mail message, “or it says something about the political message Catholics are getting in their parishes these days.”

Catholic voters, who accounted for more than a quarter of the electorate in the 2008 election, have voted with the winning presidential candidate in every election going back to the early 1990s.

In 2008, Obama beat John McCain among Catholics by 54% to 45%. In 2004, John Kerry - the first Catholic nominee for president since John F. Kennedy - lost the Catholic vote to George W. Bush, provoking Democrats to take Catholic outreach more seriously.

Both major parties had America’s highest-profile Catholic cleric, New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, give the closing prayer at their recent political conventions.

The Democratic Convention also featured a Catholic nun who led a “nuns on the bus" tour attacking the federal budget that Ryan designed in his role as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

The Obama and Romney campaigns have both rolled out Catholic outreach efforts in recent days, and the Romney camp has highlighted Ryan’s Catholicism.

“A faithful Catholic, Paul believes in the worth and dignity of every human life,” Romney said when he introduced Ryan as his running mate last month.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Bishops • Catholic Church • Mitt Romney • Politics

soundoff (1,503 Responses)
  1. HgeStelrFn

    any catholic who votes for this guy with his position on abortion at any time...even perhaps out of the womb should be ashamed. No wonder this country has no hope if even supposedly moral ppl put their support behind the immoral choice.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • OneTruth

      Abortion is a long way from the most important issues facing the USA – I doubt it would even make the top ten. Other issues are much more important including Ryan as VP with his teaparty-nspired budget.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  2. A Young Catholic

    What a bunch of BS! Obama crossed a line by attacking the church with his mandated birth control.

    CNN thinks by saying it enough it will be true. CATHOLICS DO NOT LIKE OBAMA.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      You speak for all Catholics? It's been a long time since anyone could fill those shoes.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • JCS

      I agree. Lots of Catholics I know (including myself) who voted for Obama will not this time around mainly because of this issue.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • voting for first time

      That's not true at my college. None of my friends like Romney at U. Dayton.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • A Young Catholic

      You know whats funny, is that most people think young Catholics are more and more secular, but the opposite is happening. They are becoming apolitical. Just look at a the pic CNN used, its a pic of the Way of the Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge, put on by the movement Communion and Liberation. It a movement that is young, expanding and CATHOLIC. The most important things for those people are if the politicians give room for Christianity to grow – whether it be a republican or democrat. obv, Obama crossed a line as the Bishops pointed out. That is what the young, catholic vote is looking at.

      welcome to the new era.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • brightapplestudios

      So you speak for all Catholics, I presume? I'm Catholic and, while I don't care for Obama or Romney, I do know plenty of Catholics who absolutely love Obama. I have yetto find anyone, Republicans and Tea Partiers included, who is gung ho for Romney, let alone even likes the fellow.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • voting for first time

      You are stupid Young Catholic. Obama hasn't crossed any line. My friends don't like Romney because you can't trust what he's saying from one time to the next. But my parents don't like him because of things they said about medicare and more health things. My best friend's parents are the same way. I don't know much about the health thing, but it's like bad news all over for Romney. He should just concede.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @A Young Catholic

      Tell me, have you actually read the law on the birth control issue? Have you read the Affordable Care Act? Have you actually listened to Romney and his lack of any kind of details in his economoic "plan"? The way you type, I would say you haven't, which would explain why you are angry about something that hasn't even happened. Do your research, be a responsible voter.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • A Young Catholic

      Its like this guys – Christianity is only interesting if it makes life BETTER. If it is something that really does change your life. For me, and most Catholics, it does make life better. So the important thing is to let Christianity GROW. IE let that better life, grow and flourish.

      When any politician makes laws that restrict the public manifestations of Christianity (punishing hospitals that dont provide contraception) ITS HURTING CHRISTIANITY.

      The common mentality wants to make you think Christianity should be something you do at home, behind closed doors. But CATHOLICS dont play that way.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @A Young Catholic

      1) If a church wasnts to support or fund a hospital, that doesn't mean they get to push their religion on everyone else, beacuse 9 times out of 10, people cannot choose which hospital they go to, especially if they are in an ambulance.
      2) Would you be willing to make the same statement of a Jehova Witness run hospital, and you need a blood transfusion?

      September 27, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • A Young Ctholic

      @hawaiiguest

      I dont think condoms fall in the same category as a blood transfusion. Youre not going to die if the hospital doesnt pay for your trojans or pills.

      Catholics welcome debate when it comes to what they believe, and they ALWAYS have. In fact, it seems the main problem with social issues liek this, is that people DONT think reasonably about them. You my friend are a shining example of this.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • OneTruth

      Voting for the first time. What has Obama said about Medicare that has upset your parents? More to the point, why do they think Ryan's plan is better?

      September 27, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @Young Catholic

      Congratulations, you have completely missed the point, which is that it is a religious conviction, and should not be forced on the public that come to use a service available to everyone. Not to mention, you are also ignoring the fact that hospitals get financial aid from the federal government, and according to United States law, that money means that the business (hospitals are still businesses) cannot push religious convictions, and cannot discriminate. This isn't about discussion of what you believe, it's about not forcing your convictions onto others. If you cannot see that, then you are part of the problem.

      September 27, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Huebert

      @Young Catholic

      Why is the catholic church against birth control?

      September 27, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  3. Seth Hill

    Could it be that the Catholic rank-and-file may not agree with the Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals, and Pope on the issue of birth control?

    September 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • SAM246

      then don't call yourselves Catholics!

      September 27, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Jerry

      Deeper than that Seth. Older catholics hold to the faith but the younger ones are more like the secular world. Most are Catholics to hedge their bet just in case it's true. Most of them live their lives similar to secularists.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Birth control is one thing, but abortion is another.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Actually my observation is the opposite. There is a groundswell of Catholic revitalization going on that harkens to the call of the mass, the practice of the sacraments and the study of doctrine. Cultural Catholics (we are cuz mom and dad were) are transforming into Intentional Catholics (we are because it's right).

      September 27, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • OneTruth

      SAM264. In that case you'll lose >90% of catholics as that is how many have used birth control other than rhythm.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
    • SAM246

      Gosh ONe Truth,
      How did you get into everyone's bedroom to come up with the 90% figure? Or is that just what the little pea inside your craniel, came up with??

      September 27, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  4. loone22gurl@gmail.com

    I am a stay-away Catholic, still loving many things in our religion..but so repelled by the pedophile scandal and their two-note rally against abortion and gay marriage! I see no compassion or anything that JESUS

    September 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Greg s

      Jesus is Jesus, the Catholic Church is the Catholic Church, Don't beat Jesus over the head with this Church, He didn't create it or sanction it, Men did. You want the truth on Jesus read your Bible!

      September 27, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • JCS

      Then what Church, pray tell, did Christ create? Like you said, read the Bible.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  5. Greg s

    Printing BS like this on a Belief blog, just amazing CNN If a News outlet could go to Hell yours surly would.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  6. Rosslaw

    Real tough choice for Catholics, 98% of whom use birth control, to chose between President Obama or church leadership which tied in with the republicans seeks to impose America's version of sharia law on women. The only surprise should be that common sense prevails.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • Howard

      I DON'T BELIEVE THIS B.S. POLL .. ANY MORE THAN THE OTHER PR0-OBAMA B.S. POLLS.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • voting for first time

      Howard – do you just scream all the time? You sure have some crazy ideas.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • Greg s

      Its the democrats that are in Love with the Muslims, Not the republicans, If you remember it was the Democrates that voted God out of there party and had a two hour Muslim Prayer service to kick off there convention, Your BS is outstanding though!!

      September 27, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • EPAB

      Then hang onto your socks, Howard. Becausr Mitt is about to get hammered.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  7. TSB8C

    Unfortunately, as the economy worsens and the number of jobless climbs (gov not reporting real unemployment amount) many people will support the candidate promising the most handouts and security. What is sad is that Obama can't deliver on the promises he is making about keeping those handouts coming.We will end up like Greece, Portugal, and others – bankrupt, downgraded credit, and riots in the streets when the promised gov goodies dry up.

    September 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • OneTruth

      The USA is a long way from being like Greece and Portugal – they were struggling countires before joining the EU. Then, like the Bush administration, decided to borrow and spend. As their economies are much weaker than the USA they have no way out. The USA will not go bankrupt any time soon.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  8. TruthPrevails :-)

    I'm sorry everyone, I have been so misguided and a fo ol. I'm just a hopeless, Obama rainwashed. I've jusnapplied for additional welfare, and I'm a bit nervous these days.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  9. bugbreath

    Most Catholics are good smart people. They are not any happier with some of their administrators than the rest of us are.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  10. voting for first time

    I was pretty excited before about voting for the first time. But none of my friends at college are voting for Romney. Like none of them. Shouldn't he just concede the election now that things look so bad for him? I mean, like he should be teaching a course now if waffling from all these different things he has said. I think it would help save money if he just admits that he has lost. People just don't trust him. It's obvy.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • voting for first time

      LIke a course in waffling, not if waffling. you know, like Waffling 101.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Howard

      That's because the professors who are brain washing you and your friends, are all left wing obama stooges, who want obama pay raises and pensions, based on tenure, rather than teaching you something that can get you a job when you graduate.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • voting for first time

      What??? None of my professors talk about politics or religion, Howard. What kind of college did you go to?? I mean like, I could just see my Calculus professor start talking about politics – we would just walk out. That's just crazy, Howard.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • SAM246

      first time,
      you're too ignorant to vote!! Please grow up a little and don't believe everything you see or hear especially on CNN or MSNBC!!

      September 27, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • therealpeace2all

      @Howard

      " rather than teaching you something that can get you a job when you graduate. "

      Hmm... like what exactly... 'creationism' as science ? LOL ! 😀

      Peace...

      September 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • EPAB

      Voting – Open minded people seldom vote for the GOP. That's why people like Santorum and the Catholic Church discourage young people from going to college.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  11. John N Florida

    Could it be that the Church doesn't have a Cardinal on Kobol?

    September 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  12. babs

    American Catholics have increasingly distanced themselves from the "johnny one-notes" that dominate the official position of the hierarchical church on issues of birth control. Republicans are deluding themselves by assuming that there is still a Catholic "bloc."

    September 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  13. Frank

    The Catholic Church did call Mormonism an abomination and cult for their extra Bible book. Why would they support Mitt? The guy made millions disposing of aborted babies and he killed a Catholic Priest in France.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • ChristoInferno

      Wait, seriously? He killed a priest? Wha?

      September 27, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Gee-wiz, tone down the lies! If you lied maybe only a bit, someone fool may actually believe you!

      September 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  14. Yeppers

    The Catholic teaching focuses on helping the poor, which is why as soon as Ryan got on the ticket so many flocked to Obama. His budget decimates aid to the poor.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • TSB8C

      Yet tax returns show that Romney helps the poor far more than Obama ever dreamed of doing. And Romney spent over 15 years as an unpaid minister helping the poor by directly providing housing assistance, medical bills, utilities and food.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Jerry

      Since Obama came to office there are more people on welfare than ever before. The unemployment rate for blacks has risen and our public schools have gotten worse. "What has he done for you lately?" bumbumpbumppabum.......

      September 27, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • John/kc

      Many Catholics are leaving the Church because of the Bishops emphasis on abortion and birth control over the nuns trying to raise the poor people out of poverty by limiting the number of new babies born to poor families. The Bishops stress having as many children as you can in order to prop up the dwindling numbers in the Catholic Church. Face it, the more children you have the poorer you will be. The church with its tax exemption not only gets that exemption in the church, but in all the businesses it runs, such as colleges, hospitals, and ect. Freedom of religion doesn't mean a church is free to own businesses and other property at the taxpayers expense.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  15. ray

    ROMNEY AND RYAN AND THE RACISTS ON THE RIGHT HAS A SPECIAL PLACE IN HELL SOON.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  16. SAM246

    Any Catholic that votes for Obama is a hypocrite!!

    September 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
    • Yeppers

      Actually the hypocrites are those who like scribes and Pharisees wag their finger at others in the name of doctrine, forgetting all about compassion and mercy.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
    • John N Florida

      Does that include the ones who are thankful for Birth Control?

      September 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Greg s

      Why would a catholic vote for the man who is forcing Abortion and birth control on them, this is the biggest whopper Ive seen so far on CNN and there Lies just never stop. No two polls are the same but the liberal media contiues to say Obama is ahead by 10 points and independent polls are not supporting these numbers, CNN said yesterday that Obama was ahead by 12 points in Ohio, really! Yet Obama is still campaigning hard and heavy there whats he shooting for 20 points, get real These lies hint of a real problem for Obama, He is struggling.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Greg

      Why do you say that, SAM246?

      September 27, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • SAM246

      For Yeppers

      sounds like Jeremiah and brother Obama.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • morning mama

      You are so right. As a Catholic we do support the poor but our number one fight is against abortion. Obama is using our tax money to pay for abortions as well as forcing Dr. to perform them against their will.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • SAM246

      Greg,
      If you're a catholic you the teaching and beliefs of the church.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Joe

      Greg s ... no one is 'forcing abortion or birth control' .. that is called CHOICE. Something that some people want to take away. You can argue the unborn child is being forced ... but until the unborn is viable, it is not really a child, just a bunch of cells which may .. or may not end up being born.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Quasit

      Yes, how DARE they use free will? Don't they know that God meant them to be mindless, obedient robots? Free will was included in human nature by accident. Wait, no, I mean that SATAN caused it. No, wait, that's the Manichaean Heresy...give me a minute, I'll come up with something...

      I know! It's against The Book of Mormon to vote for a blackamoor. That's it! Yes, voting for a Democrat makes baby Joseph Smith cry.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Larry in Houston

      Thanks Sam246 – I'm not in love with obama, and I also dis-agree with a few of his policies, but he's a LOT better than the "other guy" I was born catholic / raised catholic / went to a catholic school – til I was smart enough to figure out that I needed to get the heck out of a catholic school – ( 4th grade) and as far as "catholics" goes, I know More people that are catholics that give their Own Kids some type of birth control, (let alone take it their selves) and still attend church services. You must be living under some type of rock , or something. Hate to be a bearer of bad tidings, but if you haven't noticed, people are having LESS kids now days, not MORE. I mean they are quitting after 2 or 3 or 4 – They aren't having 5 , 6, or 7 , or 8 or More. They already know if they had a dozen kids or more, their church wouldn't cover the cost of putting them through school, feeding them, clothing them, & etc – no to mention college. SO – Bottom Line IS – They already know most of the Priests are pedophiles, so they figure : they will end up doing what they want, as far as birth control goes, and bringing up their kids the way they want.
      Vote Democrat – 2012 (for the middle class)

      September 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • SAM246

      Larry,
      You're a hypocrite!!

      September 27, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  17. ray

    the catholics are doiing the right thing, GOD TOLD THEM VOTE FOR OBAMA. god told them not to vote for the pathological liar, racists, hypocrite and the king flip flopper romney. AMEN

    September 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • Greg s

      Your tirade against Romney described Obama to a tee.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  18. Ed Wurtz

    Why is this a surprise? Anyone who has studied Catholic Social Justice teachings knows that Catholicism is a radical religion, more prone to support labor, state supported welfare benefits, racial equality, anti-death penalty and anti-war positions. The belief in the dignity of all human life includes more than just anti-abortion efforts. Read the Epistle of St. James regarding the importance of works. What is a greater surprise is why any practicing Catholic would even consider supporting Romney.

    September 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • morning mama

      ummm because we are really against abortion and Obama is sickly promoting it within our country

      September 27, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Joe

      Morning mama .. he is promoting choice .. not abortion. People get a grip ... this has been around for decades. Find a new crusade.

      September 27, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  19. Noches

    If religion is the intoxicant of the mindless, then Catholicism is the crack of religions

    September 27, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  20. freddiebrown

    Study: Networks seized on Romney’s hidden-camera remark, downplayed Obama’s
    Published September 27, 2012
    FoxNews.com

    The big three broadcast networks devoted dozens of stories last week to Mitt Romney’s supposed “47 percent” gaffe but gave just a fraction of that air time to covering an audio tape of controversial remarks by President Obama, according to the Media Research Center.

    The MRC examined how much total air time each story got last week and found coverage of the Romney remarks overpowered coverage of the Obama remarks by a 13-1 ratio.

    The center found that ABC, CBS and NBC – on their evening and morning shows — spent 88 minutes and 42 total stories on Romney. They spent six and a half minutes and eight stories on Obama.

    The Obama quote purportedly was from a 1998 conference at Loyola University. In an audio recording posted online, the young Obama could be heard telling the audience he believes there has been “a propaganda campaign against the possibility of government action and its efficacy.”

    “I think that what we’re going to have to do is somehow resuscitate the notion that government action can be effective at all,” Obama said. “I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution — because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody’s got a shot.”

    September 27, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
    • Amniculi

      Maybe because Romney's quote was contemporary and relevant. Also, get a better source than Faux News.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • LDH2O

      The press gave 13:1 more coverage to a current statement vs. one that is 14 years old is another way to look at it.
      What do you expect? That the press is going to give equal coverage to old events? There is a reason it is called "News" and not "Olds"

      September 27, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • WWYD-MI

      The amount of time and coverage of this has everything to do with the fact that what Romney said was said a few weeks ago. What Obama said was said 14 years ago. What Romeny said had statistics that could be found false very quickly and efficiently. What Obama said was his opinion and it was 14 years ago. As soon as I seen FoxNews.com at the top of your post it became a joke. All the news networks seem to be slanted and biased. But FoxNews has shown more articles/stories that are outright blatant lies than any other network. I fantasize of the days gone by when reporters reported actual news and not their own opinion of it.

      September 27, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • jimfromla

      You got it brown!
      And we will do it by squeezing ALL corporations to raise wages.......or suffer the consequences

      September 27, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
    • Am_Rev_Prof

      Maybe the 13-1 ratio in air time is because Romney's comments were made in May while he was a Presidential Nominee and Obama's comments are from 14 years ago and far less relevant. Anyone who says they are better be prepared to explain the discrepancy between Romeny's statements while he was campaigning and governing a liberal state like MA and his current flip-flopped positions

      September 27, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Joe

      Maybe because one was last week where the other was last century?

      September 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
    • CAMnj

      As other commenters have noted, Romney's remarks came only months ago and included a grossly erroneous assertion of fact, whereas Obama was expressing an opinion 14 years ago. Let me add, because Fox doesn't mention it, that the Media Research Center, despite its bland, nonpartisan name, is a conservative activist organization funded by high-profile far-right millionaire donors. Fox News viewers may remember that the president of the MRC appeared on the network and opined that Obama looked like a "skinny ghetto crackhead."

      September 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
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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.