By John Blake, CNN
President Barack Obama was sharing a pulpit one day with a conservative Christian leader when a revealing exchange took place.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a conservative Christian who has taken public stands against abortion and same-sex marriage, had joined Obama for an AIDS summit. They were speaking before a conservative megachurch filled with white evangelicals.
When Brownback rose to speak, he joked that he had joined Obama earlier at an NAACP meeting where Obama was treated like Elvis and he was virtually ignored. Turning to Obama, a smiling Brownback said, “Welcome to my house!”
The audience exploded with laughter and applause. Obama rose, walked before the congregation and then declared:
“There is one thing I have to say, Sam. This is my house, too. This is God’s house.”
Historians may remember Obama as the nation’s first black president, but he’s also a religious pioneer. He’s not only changed people’s perception of who can be president, some scholars and pastors say, but he’s also expanding the definition of who can be a Christian by challenging the religious right’s domination of the national stage.
When Obama invoked Jesus to support same-sex marriage, framed health care as a moral imperative to care for “the least of these,’’ and once urged people to read their Bible but just not literally, he was invoking another Christian tradition that once dominated American public life so much that it gave the nation its first megachurches, historians say.
“Barack Obama has referred to his faith more times than most presidents ever have, but for many it’s the wrong kind of faith,” says Jim Wallis, head of Sojourners, an evangelical activist group based in Washington that focuses on poverty and social justice issues.
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“It is not the faith of the religious right. It’s about things that they don’t talk about. It’s about how the Bible is full of God’s clear instruction to care for the poor.”
Some see a 'different' kind of Christian
Obama is a progressive Christian who blends the emotional fire of the African-American church, the ecumenical outlook of contemporary Protestantism, and the activism of the Social Gospel, a late 19th-century movement whose leaders faulted American churches for focusing too much on personal salvation while ignoring the conditions that led to pervasive poverty.
No other president has shared the hybrid faith that Obama displays, says Diana Butler Bass, a historian and author of “Christianity after Religion.”
“The kind of faith that Obama articulates is not the sort of Christianity that’s understood by the media or by a large swath of Christians in the U.S.,” says Bass, a progressive Christian. “He’s a different kind of Christian, and the media and the public awareness needs to reawaken to that fact.”
Some Christians, however, still see Obama as the “other.” He doesn’t act or talk like other Christians, says the Rev. Gary Cass, a conservative Christian president of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission.
“I just don’t see or hear in his accounts the kind of things that I’ve heard as a minister for over 25 years coming from the mouths of people who have genuinely converted to Christianity,” says Cass, pastor of Christ Church in San Diego.
Cass says he’s never heard Obama say he’s “born-again.” There’s no emotional conversion story to hang onto.
Obama talks about his faith and attends church, but Cass says that doesn’t mean he’s a Christian.
“Joining a church doesn’t mean you’re a Christian. “You can put me in the garage, but that doesn’t turn me into a car.”
The origins of Obama’s faith
The suspicion about Obama’s faith may seem odd at first because he’s written and spoken so much about his spiritual evolution in his two autobiographies, “Dreams of my Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.” Other books, like “The Faith of Obama” by Stephen Mansfield, also explore Obama’s beliefs.
The 1925 “Monkey” trial of John Scopes, a high school biology teacher who taught evolution, drove fundamentalists underground, some say.
Mansfield says Obama is the first president who wasn’t raised in a Christian home. Obama’s mother was an atheist and his grandparents were religious skeptics (Obama’s family has challenged the description of his mother as an atheist. Obama called her “the most spiritually awakened” person he’d ever known, and his sister called their mother an agnostic).
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Mansfield called Obama’s boyhood a “religious swirl. He was exposed to Catholicism, Islam, and strains of Hinduism and Buddhism while growing up in Indonesia during the 1960s.
“In our household, the Bible, the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology,” Obama said in Mansfield’s book. “On Easter or Christmas Day, my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites.”
Obama became a Christian while he was a community organizer in Chicago. He joined a predominantly black United Church of Christ. The UCC became the first mainline Protestant denomination to officially support same-sex marriage in 2005.
Obama’s faith showed many of the elements of a liberal Protestant church: an emphasis on the separation of church and state, religious tolerance and the refusal to embrace a literal reading of the Bible.
In a 2006 speech before a Sojourners meeting, Obama talked about his approach to the Bible:
“Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application?”
When many people think of Obama’s religious experience in Chicago, though, they cite his exposure to the angry sermons of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and “black liberation theology,” a movement that emerged in the late 1960s and blended the Social Gospel with the black power movement.
Bass, the church historian, says another black pastor shaped Obama’s theology more: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
He attended liberal Protestant seminaries where he learned about the Social Gospel’s concern for the entire person, soul and body.
Obama has reached out to evangelical leaders like Rick Warren, seen here praying at Obama’s inauguration, but many still doubt his faith.
King once wrote that “any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them …is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.”
But King and the black church also fused the Social Gospel with an emotional fervor missing from white Protestant churches, Bass says. Other presidents like Franklin Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were influenced by the Social Gospel, but they weren’t shaped by the black church.
“This is the first time we’re hearing the Social Gospel from the perspective of the black church from the Oval Office. It makes it warmer, more emotive, more communal," Bass says. "There is less fear of linking the Social Gospel with the stories of the Bible, especially the stories of Exodus and Jesus’ healings.”
The emphasis on community uplift - not individual attainment - may strike some Americans as socialist. But the emphasis on community is part of King’s “Beloved Community,” Bass says.
King once wrote that all people are caught up in an “inescapable network of mutuality… I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be.”
“When I listen to Obama, I don’t hear communism, I hear the Beloved Community,” Bass says. “But a lot of white Americans don’t hear that because they never sat in those churches and heard it over and over again. It’s the whole theology that motivated MLK and the civil rights movement.”
Obama is not a Christian, some think
For some, Obama’s actions in the Oval Office seem to contradict Christianity.
Jesus was nonviolent. Obama has ramped up drone attacks in Afghanistan that have not only removed terrorists, but killed civilians.
The Bible talks about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. Obama invoked Jesus when he came out in support of same-sex marriage. “The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule," Obama told ABC News during his announcement.
Jesus talked about helping the poor. But he never said anything about creating a massive health care law that taxed the rich to help the poor, some Christians argue.
But Wallis of Sojourners says Obama’s push for health care was a supreme example of Christian faith.
A situation where 50 million Americans don’t have health insurance is “a fundamental Christian problem,” Wallis says.
“Health is such a Gospel issue. Jesus was involved in healing all the time, and to have some people excluded from health care because they lack wealth is a fundamental Christian contradiction.”
Wallis has been one of the most persistent defenders of Obama’s faith. But no matter how much Scripture he and others cite, doubts about Obama’s faith have followed him throughout his political career.
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson once said that Obama distorted the traditional understanding of the Bible “to fit his own world, his own confused theology.” The Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, publicly questioned Obama’s faith, then later apologized.
Conservative Christian books and websites are filled with stories of Obama allegedly trying to suppress the nation’s Christian heritage.
The Rev. Steven Andrew, author of “Making a Strong Nation,” says Obama is trying to change the national motto from “In God we Trust” to “Out of Many, One,” and he’s ordered the Pentagon to remove biblical verses from its daily report.
“That’s the most serious thing someone can do to a nation, trying to separate a nation from God,” he says. “He seems to be trying to change the Christian laws our Founding Fathers made.”
Andrew says Obama is actually an enemy of Christianity. In his book, Andrew argues that the Founding Fathers were Christians who created a “covenant Christian nation” and calls for a “national repentance.”
“I think he’s an anti-Christ,” Andrew says. Cass, of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, says Obama’s emphasis on helping the poor through social justice isn’t Christianity.
Christians who talk about “social justice” are often practicing “warmed-over Marxism,” Cass says.
“Do I believe in caring for the poor and oppressed? Yes. But you don’t do it along the lines of communistic redistributing.”
Obama’s support of same-sex marriage and abortion rights also disqualifies him from being a Christian, Cass says.
“It’s the most pro-abortion administration in the history of America. On every social issue – the sanctity of life and of marriage between men and women – Obama is on the wrong side of every moral issue,” he says.
He says a progressive Christian is a contradiction.
“No Christian says I believe in Jesus Christ and I reject the Bible,” Cass says. “These progressives who say they’re Christians are liars. They’re using Christianity as a guise to advance their own agenda.”
Cass says he doesn’t know what Obama believes.
“He’s conflicted,” Cass says. “He has Muslim sympathies from his upbringing."
How progressive Christianity lost the public square
There was a time when Obama’s brand of Christianity would have been understood by millions of Americans, historians say.
Obama along with first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha leave church after attending a Sunday prayer service.
The Social Gospel and progressive Protestantism dominated the American religious square from the end of the 19th century up to the 1960s. At times, the traditions blended together so seamlessly that it was hard to tell the difference.
The Social Gospel rose out of the excesses of the Gilded Age in the 1880s, when urban poverty spread across America as immigrants crammed into filthy slums to work long hours in unsafe conditions.
Walter Rauschenbusch, a Baptist pastor in a New York slum, urged the church to take “social sins” as seriously as they took individual vices. Churches began feeding the poor and fighting against other social ills.
“The notion that religious people should be about feeding the poor and helping the homeless is a carryover of the Social Gospel,” says Charles Kammer, a religion professor at Wooster College in Ohio. The Social Gospel was adopted by many Protestant churches in the late 19th and early 20th century, says Bass, the church historian. Some of the Social Gospel churches grew popular because they provided the poor with everything from English classes to sewing instructions and basketball leagues.
“The first American megachurches were liberal, Social Gospel urban churches,” Bass says.
The Social Gospel, though, sparked a backlash from a group of pastors during World War I. They were called fundamentalists. They published a pamphlet listing the “fundamentals of the faith:” Biblical inerrancy, the virgin birth, Adam and Eve.
But the fundamentalists lost the battle for public opinion during the “Scopes Monkey Trial” in 1925. John Scopes, a high school science teacher, was tried for violating a Tennessee law that prohibited the teaching of evolution.
Though Scopes lost, fundamentalist Christians were mocked in the press as “anti-intellectual rubes,” and a number of states suspended pending legislation that would have made teaching evolution illegal, says David Felten, author of “Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity.”
The trial drove fundamentalists underground where they created a subculture, their own media networks, seminaries and megachurches, he says.
That subculture thrives today, Felten says, and has infiltrated the political arena. It has created an “alternative intellectual universe” that denies science, rational thought – and any beliefs that violate their definition of being a Christian, Felten says.
“They have millions of adherents who believe in a literal six day creation and a literal Adam and Eve – so it’s not a stretch to believe that President Obama is a Kenyan-born secret Muslim bent on destroying the country,” Felten says.
Progressive Christians eventually lost the messaging wars to this fundamentalist subculture, Bass says. Their nuanced view of faith couldn’t compete with the “spiritual triumphalism” of conservatives.
“If you get up and say we’re right and we have the truth, then you have a powerful public message,” she says. “They have a theological advantage in the public discourse. It’s comforting to have things clear, to have things black and white.”
The result today is that the Protestant tradition that shapes much of Obama’s Christianity is fading from public view.
The share of Protestant Christians in the United States has dropped below 50% of the population, according to a recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
White mainline Protestants make up only 15% of the nation’s population, the survey revealed. The study also found that the fastest growing "religious group" in the country is people who are not affiliated with any religion.
Another generation of Christians, though, may bring a new version of progressive Christianity back.
The lines between younger conservative Christians and progressives are blurring, says Marcia Pally, author of “The New Evangelicals: Expanding the Vision of the Common Good.”
Pally spent six years traveling across America to interview evangelicals. She says her research revealed that more than 60% of young evangelicals support more governmental programs to aid the needy, as well as more emphasis on economic justice and environmental protection issues.
“What’s interesting is that these values, associated with Obama and the black Protestant tradition are now also the values of a growing number of white evangelicals,” she says.
Her perspective suggests that Obama’s faith may be treated by history in two ways:
He could be seen as the last embodiment of a progressive version of Christianity that went obsolete.
Or he could be seen as a leader who helped resurrect a dying brand of Christianity for a new generation.
Christianity as seen through the eyes of a few white guys!
And these same whites guys believe there is a different heaven for whites and non whites.mormons believe there are different levels of heaven. I'm sure according to Romney poor people will not end up in the same heaven with him
Your statement also seems to not be a fully formed thought. So, all one really gets out of it is fully formed racism.
Sounds like CNN has switched sides here...so F U CNN and onto some other place to get my news. Besides...any religion is the wrong religion, especially Christianity. Get yourself a "science" section (not technology) and we'll talk.
Would it be hypocritical if I were to evangelize my own religious beliefs, as I condemn that type of behavior in others?
You just did that.
Great article, ill make sure to print it out and email it to all my friends and family. Vote Mitt Romney Nov 6th!
And Jeebus does not perform miracles....it's just a matter of Odds. Contact Vegas...surely there's someone there who can tell you exactly what the odds of about anything are....and given time, things will look like miracles to those who don't understand odds.
Does this mean Romney and his Mormon Church cult are fair game? How many dead people do you think the Romney family have baptized into the Mormon Church? A few dozen, or several hundred? The answer is hundreds. Just search newnamenoah on YouTube and watch as Mormon kids baptize dead people by the hundreds.
Who cares about this, except a very few who wish to slander Mr. Romney's name?
So, you claim Romney baptizes dead people, but you have no problem with Oblaimer, who somehow forces them to vote for him?
This article is might I say, bigoted.
What about a story on how MORMONS believe Jesus and Satan were just brothers. Tell us about the prophet who they believe in not Jesus. Go to Google and google what Mormons believe. Can't believe Graham sold his soul.
Shows how little you really know – about this "Mormon" thing and likely about your own church as well.
Mr. Romney is the clear choice for president. He has the qualifications to be president. He has the work ethic. He has the backing of the business leaders. He has the ability to make the tough choices in the face of difficulty.
Mr. Romney has the ability to work out of a difficulty economic situation. That alone is the qualification that is most important.
He has not had a job in 12 years. What work ethic?
Romney – the clear choice for baptizing dead people.
He fell ass-backwards into a ridiculous amount of money, then spent his adult life pushing that money around to become an ungodly amount of money. How does that qualify as work ethic. As someone who had to work through college while maintaining an academic scholarship, I find your assertion repugnant.
There is no wrong or right kind of religious person. If I actually believed in god then maybe I'd see this differently. The problem isn't how he treats his faith, it's how you religious people look at everyone else that isn't like you as somehow different in a lessor sor of way. Pathetic article.
wow CNN u have set a all new low for articles , who did Romney pay off there to get this article posted , religion and politics dont mix well , stick to the hard core facts , u only look stupid any other way !!!!
Who wasted their time putting this article together? My father is planning another flood, so you better start buiding your ark.
Ha ha funny
There are enough gullible Christians out there that follow the bible blindly. You will not believe they say they literally have a conversation with a "Talking Snake"
Don't have intercourse with men but with women, or have you become mad? God has exterminated whole nations in the past when they legalized se-xual misbehaviour. God is gracious, of course, but sometimes he also judges. Don't challenge Him, Obama.
It is just satanic to mix good (care for the poor) and bad (support of gay marriage) behaviour. Seemingly, Obama wants to entrap the naive multi-tudes by his strategy of mixing good and bad. I guess his heart is not as beautiful as his face.
"..., but he’s also expanding the definition of who can be a Christian by challenging the religious right’s domination of the national stage.
When Obama invoked Jesus to support same-se-x marriage, ... " Mr. Blake said.
Simply the fact that Obama supports same-se-x marriage, and blasphemously appeals to Jesus in this context, is a clear indicator or evidence that he is no Christian at all.
A gay man is simply a maniac concerning his s-exuality. He has completely forsaken the trust in the Lord that he may give him a wife in due course, and know he fuc-ks with men. Such a disbelief should not be supported by the society or the state.
We should not support gay marriage but help single men and women to find appropriate partners of the opposite gender.
We have too little people in our society which bring about healthy community, this is our problem. Community is nothing which is there for no reasen but must always be promoted and supported by highly spiritual people.
Such an unselfish love which wants to bring about community is typical for real Christians. As we become more and more lonely this is a clear sign that the true Christian faith is about to disappear from the earth.
"Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother's eye."
If you are a Christian, you should believe in helping the poor. The problem is that helping the poor isnbeing brought into the political arena. Taking care of the poor should be done by churches. Liberals declare "separation of church and state" until it helps the political agenda which is what Obama is doing. The church can handle the needs of poor through Bblical giving rather than taxation by the government. There is a reason these programs were started by churches. As a conservative, i do not want the government in the church business. Liberals are blurring these lines, not conservatives. Stay out of the church's business because the church performs these functions much better than the government.
I would say that you have it opposite. Conservative Christians are constantly trying to push their religious ideals into government, be it denying women's rights to choose, marriage equality, or freedom of (or from) religion. They simply don't understand that not everyone shares their religious ideas and not everyone is a Christian. Some Jewish people don't eat pork, but they're not trying to pass laws banning everyone from eating pork. Do you see the difference?
There is an old-fashioned belief that helping the least fortunate of us hellps ALL of us. It's not just in the Bible: it's called the "velocity of currency ". Money in the hands of people on the lower economic rungs circulates through the econometric more times before getting sidelined in investment accounts that do nothing to create jobs. Thursday wealthy wind up with even more when they are forced to invest in programs for the rest of us. Their greed is bad for their own bottom line. But panderers have clouded their minds.
Tax cuts for the rich led to increased money on the sidelines. There is now 1.2 quadrillion dollars in the derrivatives markets and that's over 25 times combined global GDP.
I attribute liberal's positions more to evil than to ignorance.
Their social justice agenda allows them many things.
They get to demagogue anything and everything.
They get to glory in their own envy.
They get to glory in their own jealousy.
They get to glory in their own hate.
They get to steal money from successful people, who tend to be more conservative.
They get to use that stolen money to buy more liberal votes.
They think they can usurp the rightful place of God & Love, by perverting it into the The Government.
Amen Jim. Most of the adults who attend my church have no idea that I am so liberal. I've become more outspoken about scriptural evidence that Jesus was pretty darned close to a socialist as you could ever get. Many of his direct quotes (ala Gospels) inspired the concept of the social contract. My approach – rather than confront my fellow parishioner, I have chosen to conceal much of my 'liberalness' and teach Sunday School to their Jr Hi/High School kids – enact change from within. Use Gospel teaching to demonstrate that Love, Hope and Faith are more than just words. They're a calling to do more to ease the pain of others; reach out and help believers and nonbelievers; teach with an open hand.
So the church owns poor people now? If so, they're doing a terrible job of providing for them, as poverty is at a historical high. The government is stepping in because these people are American citizens and the role of government is to protect its people.
Jesus had a very clear message on taxation: "Render unto Caesar." The meaning was clear, don't obsess over mundane matters such as money, but rather, give your whole attention to the divine.
I attribute religious right's positions more to evil than to ignorance.
Their claim that they speak for G-d's agenda allows them many things.
They get to demagogue anything and everything.
They get to glory in their own envy.
They get to glory in their own jealousy.
They get to glory in their own hate.
They get to steal money from poor and uneducated people, who tend to be more Christian.
They get to use that stolen money to buy more votes from religious poor people.
They think they can usurp the rightful place of God & Love, by perverting it into the The Government.
I've been a Christian since the 60s. I'd love to interview Obama about his beliefs and the first thing I'd ask him is "If you can say 'Holy Koran' why do you refer to the Holy Bible as 'scripture'?"
Because he is the president of the United States, a nation of many different people and ideologies and a man in his position should not show favoritism towards any one religion, regardless of his personal beliefs. Would you feel better if he called them "the Koran" and "the Bible"? Remember: America is a free nation, not a Christian nation. You cannot have a nation with an official religion and still call it free.
Christians get bogged down on the most arbitrary pieces of minutia and wonder why they country is pulling away from them.
Interesting that you would pick such a meaningless question of semantics when asking the President a question about G-d.
"... challenging the religious right’s domination of the national stage."
He may be lousy on the economy & foreign policy but this I completely agree with!!
Very well written and balanced article. I see the Sam Brownback brand of Christianity as "upside-down "Christianity". It believes that God rewards the faithful with wealth and punishes sinners with poverty. This is behind the Republican backlash against the poor. It has gotten to the point where you think they believe it it God's work to rub the faces of the poor just to demonstrate their superior relationship with Jesus.
Larry Flynt and Hugh Hefner must be paragons of virtue then, because they have stupid amounts of money. To ascribe to a Calvinist belief in this day is baffling considering how much we know about how wealth is amassed and who gets stepped on in the process.
In fact, the Bible has many accounts of the righteous being given unfathomable hardships by God himself to test their faith, such as Abraham being instructed to kill Isaac and the many trials of Job. There are no stories whatsoever of a righteous man (or woman, but there aren't very many stories about women in the Bible at all) being rewarded on Earth for his actions.
In fact, Jesus so famously said "It is easier for a camel to pass through the Eye of a Needle than for a rich man to get into heaven." This quote is often misconstrued, the Eye of a Needle was actually the nickname for the gate of the walls of Jericho, that was renowned for being particularly narrow and short. Camels passed through it all the time, but always with great difficulty, requiring the camel to drop to its knees and be pulled through.
This is why your network is dead LAST in viewership. Your COMMIUNIST bent on everything even perverting religion to make it fit to a man's idead's instead of what God clearly states. Candy Crowley, the entire lot of you at CNN are a bunch of Propagandists who care nothing for the truth.. just your own leftist agenda. America isn't having any of it. :-) Less than three weeks and morning in America will return once more.. Your candidate Obama will be thrown out.
Your rant begs the question. Can you give a definition of communist for us? I would be interested in your answer.
What does Faith Hope and Love mean to you, Tat? Just words, or weapons you use against nonbelievers?
God doesn't clearly state anything. The Bible is an amalgam of different books, written by different people, translated from different languages multiple times. Ever play the game "telephone" as a kid?
obama is too smart to have faith. intelligent men changed their beliefs based on evidence, something faith does not allow. he goes along with christianity because he has to to convince the faithful in this country to do things that are morally right, but that they have no interest in.
I love having an Athieist President. But I understand he must wear a light veil of religious belief, he needs the votes from the religion industry.
CnN trying hard to brand him as a Christian
He is not a Christian nor a supporter of Christianity
Last four years proved that! !!
Arrogance – check. Condescension – check. Hatred – check. Congratulations, you are a true modern faux Christian.
LOL... not at all the type of Christianity that Jesus ministered.
Obama isn't the wrong kind of Christian - he's crypto Muslim. If you've ever watched his speeches ridiculing Bibles ... and around the same era you'll see him reminiscing about growing up a Muslim as if it were his most cherished memory. Yet Muslims actively kill people worldwide in the name of their religion. Awesome President and 'wrong kind' of moral human.
anyone who is not actively killing people in the name of the bible, as the bible itself instructs you, is not a real christian. muslims actively kill people because they actually believe the insane things that they say they do. americans don't believe in the bible, they just say they do- obama is just intelligent enough to point this out. anyone who is exposed to more than one religion gains the insight that they are all just attempts to teach lessons and control people, not actual truth
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.