By Jacques Berlinerblau, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Jacques Berlinerblau is associate professor of Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University. His book, How to Be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom has just been released.
As far as the Republicans are concerned, President Barack Obama is secularism’s go-to guy in Washington. Newt Gingrich refers to him as a “secular-socialist.” Mitt Romney charges that his opponent advocates a “secular agenda.” And Rick Santorum frets that Obama is imposing “secular values” on “people of faith.”
The president, however, seems not to have received the whole him-being-a-secularist memo. American secularists have thrown up their hands in frustration over his supersizing of George W. Bush’s Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. They roll their eyes at his God talk. As for his recent call for days of “prayer and remembrance” to commemorate 9/11, well, would the late Rev. Jerry Falwell have done it any differently?
After spending years trying to sequence the genome of American secularism, I have arrived at a sobering conclusion: no -ism is as misunderstood as this one. All of which is bad for secularists, secularism and America. Let’s look at some of the biggest misconceptions out there: FULL POST
By Kristina Sgueglia, CNN
New York (CNN) - Jewish and Christian groups have unveiled three separate ad campaigns to counter what they claim is hateful speech toward Muslims contained within an advertisement posted at some New York City subway stations.
The new ads tout religious tolerance and offer support to the Muslim community.
"Help stop bigotry against our Muslim neighbors," reads one. "Support peace in word and deed," reads another.
The campaigns are in response to a controversial "Defeat Jihad" ad that is displayed in 10 of the city's more than 400 subway stations. It reads: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."
New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority initially rejected the ad, which was produced by the American Freedom Defense Initiative. But the authority's decision was overturned when a federal judge ruled that the ad is protected speech under the First Amendment.
From Hada Messia, CNN
Rome (CNN) - The pope's former butler, Paolo Gabriele, was convicted Saturday of aggravated theft for leaking confidential papal documents and sentenced to 18 months in prison.
He was also ordered to pay the costs of the trial at the Vatican City courthouse.
The case is the biggest to go before the Vatican court in decades. It has been the subject of intense interest because a book based on the leaked papers revealed claims of corruption within the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy.
Presiding judge Giuseppe Dalla Torre said he was reducing the three-year term requested by the prosecution to 18 months because of mitigating circumstances.
These included the fact that Gabriele had no previous criminal record and his acknowledgment of "having betrayed" the pope's trust, Dalla Torre said, in a reading of the verdict broadcast on Vatican TV.
Gabriele, who could have faced up to eight years in prison, looked relieved as the 18-month sentence was handed down.
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.