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.
My, my my. What a pleasant way of not calling the President the "n-word".
Bless your heart CNN. To some, CNN is the "wrong" kind of news. That includes me. I haven't watched CNN domestic by choice since the mid-90's.
There's too much "me" in meligion.
I'm a struggling white farmer in the South. I see and hear the racism every day!! I can't count how many times I've heard people here call Obama the "N word" and worse!!!! And talking with them only makes things worse!!! I tried to talk about this in church and almost got ran out of town!!!! I used to put election signs out on my property in past elections, but I'm afraid if I put an Obama sign out they'll burn my farm to the ground!!!
Kay, You may have read the words but,,you missed there meaning. Jesus drew pictures for educated people. Why? Because there hearts were hard. They could not understand even with pictures drawn in the sand. God answered all three of your comments very explicitly. Easy answers. Is your heart hard??
As of today I will boycott CNN permanently.
The "Opinion" of this so-called journalist is and was an obvious slander of our President. Who do you think you are kidding???
There is no one less Holy than a Christian!
Unless it is a Republican!!
CNN stinks. "christians" are of the devil.
The Wrong Kind of Christian is one who questions other people's christian worthiness. Unfortunately they don't even realize it.
Our President understands that "Christian conservative" is a contradiction in terms. The Gospels clearly demonstrate that Jesus was as liberal as they come. He challenged established authority every step of the way, which is why He met with such strong opposition from those in charge. As the article notes, this gross distortion of Our Lord's message by the pharisees of our own day is a relatively recent development that now seems to be in decline among younger believers, and thanks to President Obama for encouraging this return to Jesus' true message of love and acceptance.
Obama & family never attend church in DC except when it is a photo opp. He threw Jeremiah Wright under the bus in the 2008 campaign.
"Obama & family never attend church in DC except when it is a photo opp."
how would you know? if he went and they took a picture you would claim photo opp, and if he went and they didnt take a photo you wouldnt even know about it.
Gloria, Mitt Romney couldn't give a rat's a s s about you! Why don't you all just come out and say what you all really want to??!! Stop being such cowards when you're in a crowd!! Just like all the racist cowards in my town, you all button up when everyone can see and hear what you all are saying!!! Well, let me tell you!! God isn't racist!! God created All of mankind in his image!! In His eyes there are No races!!! And He will condemn all those who've been racist!!!
What does Robnmey believe?? He believes blacks were burned by God to mark them as being wicked!!! He believes American Indians are red 'cos God marked them!!! Well, if you read your Bible (assuming you have one!) you can plainly see that this is just wrong!!! God doesn't mark people like some kind of concentration camp commandant!!!! He Loves All People!! ..except those who hate His people and love MONEY instead!!! Those people He will send to Hell.
Since there is nothing "Christ-like" about Brownbeck's kind of Christian, I would hope that the President of the U S is different from those kind of "Christians".
Jesus said to "give to the poor" by reaching into your own pocket of your own free will. He did NOT say to reach into some other guy's pocket to force him to give to your favored causes against that guy's free will.
you really think jesus would condemn welfare huh? bizarre
You are a disgrace and a coward!! What are you the "Ambassador" of??? Hate???
You complain about being made to pay for something you don't like, but, what makes you think you haven't been paying for the uninsured all along??!! Do you REALLY prefer paying even more???? 'Cos that's what'll happen if Romneycare is overturned!! Healthcare is NOT FREE!! When people go to the hospital and they don't have any insurance, or money, we ALL pay for it, but, we all pay A LOT MORE this way!!!
Your argument is a complete and total failure and it just tells me you're using it as an ignorant excuse to criticize the president!!
The "right kind of Christian" is not a flip flopper. It amazes me how some of these so called Christians once believed that Mormonism is a cult and then change their views because the GOP candidate who is trying to create this image of what the president should look like makes it okay to be a Mormon. Remember all those ads that came out on Mormonism to get the people to believe that it is okay to be a Mormon. Even the right Reverend Graham took down posts on his website stating that Mormonism is a cult. I wonder why? The bible says that we shall know a false prophet by their fruit. And to the rich, it says that it will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into the kingdom of God. Those who are busy judging the president need to be praying that's if you are the "right kind of Christian" praying to the right God and the God who answers by fire He is God.
Amen!!!! And may God Bless you and America!!!
Utterly ridiculous article. Most people in America pretend to be "christian" or religious just to APPEAR to be better than other people, including the people who write nasty comments here. They all give christianity a bad name.
They are living by their faith, hindu Pharisee ism, filthy hypocrisy.
Christian's, christian, Christian, Do you have any cle what are they talking about, hindu Christian gentile's, ignorant christian slaves.
Does any one know the meaning of word Christian, No, but always claiming to be, having no clue, what are they trying to be. way of hindu gentile's, brain less ignorant slave Christians, repeating words like a bird. To learn truth about hinduism, denial of truth absolute Christianity please visit limitisthetruth.com.
I know perfectly well what it means to be a Christian. And it has Nothing to do with hinduism!! Or Mormonism!!!
What kind of question is that? Especially, when the little blurb above the article says 'one in five Americans have NO religion'.
Is this a question to stir up the base who don't like Romney's lies and Ryan's incompetency and are planning to vote against them? Is this a question to get those who strayed from the party line to vote in their best interests to come back to the fold and vote for the very people who will demean them as soon as they're in office.
Or does this just mean the President is just the wrong kind of 'christian' because he's black?
Pretty unchristian question in the first place, no matter why CNN chose to ask it.
Obama is an atheist who makes a false show of being Christian just to secure votes ... this point was proven in DNC where they had to re-insert God into their platform based on a dubious voice vote. Classic example of using God conveniently when you need votes and dumping Him when it comes to making policies ...
Obama got God re-inserted into DNC platform because he was presented with polls showing God is still important .. not time yet to dump God. Was this a principled stand? NO ... it was based on polls .... Obama is NOT a leader ... he is poll-follower .. who flip-flopped his position on gay marriage solely based on POLLS ... we need a LEADER in WH ... not a POLLSTER ..
Right. Keep in mind that until last week Billy Graham clearly stated on his web site that Mormonism was a cult, not a religion. Graham has not been the only prominent theologian to say. I guess though that when Billy had to choose between supporting a cultist and Obama...well religious convictions get trumped by $$$ every day of the week, whether Billy, the Pope, etc. They all know where the rubber hits the road $$$
Lies. All of it!! President Obama's campaign were the one's who corrected that!
And, in my opinion, President Obama is the most "Christ-like" President we've had since FDR!!!!!
You all who are trying to tear President Obama down with lies and distortions, while ignoring or embracing Robnmey's outright lies make me sick!!
Outrageous article, especially since there are almost two hundred years of history showing that the Mormon church truly is a different kind of Christianity, even though many other Christians do not consider it a christian religion at all. Like most religions, the Mormon religion has a checkered history; however, that history is recent rather than ancient. Blood atonement, polygamy, etc. Seems appropriate that CNN should closely examine that but in their role as the tea party network firmly in the Romney camp, don't hold your breath.
Absolutely correct TM – this is an outrageous article. Everyone knows that CNN was biased left last election and now with new owners/management is leaning more right. I think the "Christian right" who vote on religion would sit out this election . . . but somehow they will find a way to be OK with the Mormon religion . . . which in all previous years they have disparaged. Shows the real motives . . .
Don't forget! The mormon 'church' wanted NOTHING to do with America! For most of it's existence it has hated America!!
Robnmey's family fled to Mexico as wanted criminals!! Look it up if you all don't believe it!!!
Yet another feeble attempt to paint the President as a victim.This election is not about religion or race. The simple truth is that we have proven once more, that the liberal ideology does not work!
oh, I see, you wanted Roe v. Wade repealed; the affordable healthcare act never approved (healthcare for an additional ~30 mil Americans); arming of Iran protesters (during the demonstrations in 2008); bombing of Libya (instead of just support); bombing of Syria (quicker than arming the rebels); expansion of Guantanamo (perhaps legalizing torture so that we could establish such facilities within the US territories); expansion of the PATRIOT act, so that DHS and whoever have no oversight at all; and, finally but not least, establish a theocracy where a newly appointed religious extremist has unilateral power to legislate his morality and determine economic policies (such as 0% tax on the 1% and 100% tax on the 99%)
So what do the results of the last President prove?
"Liberal ideology does not work"??? Ha ha ha ha ha!!!
Okayyyy, and what does work??!!! Neoconservatism (hate)??!!
We tried that and it nearly destroyed this great country!! We're still struggling to repair the damage that eight years of Dubya & Co. did!!! And the only reason it's been so hard, and we're still struggling is because of the haters in Congress led by the s c u m b a g John Boehner!! Take your Tea Party racism and hate and shove it!!!
CNN is clearly the wrong kind of news station. This headline is OBNOXIOUS. I would go further and say this headline is itself evil. How dare anyone define another person's religion. This is fundamentally ANTI-AMERICAN. To publish this two weeks before the election is also a crass attempt to influence the electorate. While I once bought more than basic cable just to get CNN, I now virtually never tune it in. Soledad O'brien is your only real journalist. Who owns CNN right now? I've forgotten, but it is clear the station's agenda has nothing to do with truth or integrity. I am even more disgusted than ever. Good job, CNN. You have fundamentally misunderstood Americans and the 21st century and are trying to push us backwards into the 19th.
With headlines like these, it seems like they're trying to out-Newsweek Newsweek these days.
So if defining another's religion is wrong and Anti-American then what exactly was that film depicting the Muslim faith doing?
Gotta love em'!
I do not think he is a Christian but, most likely a Muslim.
Did you see him eating that pork sandwich a while back ? You logic is seriously flawed !
I do not think you are a Christian but more likely a follower of the devil's lies.
I'm glad that nobody cares what you think.
I agree. I do not believe he is a Christian at all. If he has any faith at all, it is for the Muslim Allah.
i seriously wonder for the mental state of those people that still want to claim his is a muslim.
grow up people, seriously grow up.
the same actions that you would use to claim his isnt christian can also be used to show he isnt a muslim.
Jack Smith, just like Mormons, Muslims do not drink alcohol!! Obama brews his own beer in the White House!!!!!
Spreading lies and hate (hopefully) won't get you anywhere!! This white male farmer from Alabama aint fooled!!
I'm voting for the ONLY Christian candidate running for President! I'm voting for Obama!!! And, until the party returns to it's roots, I'm voting against all things Republican!!! I am so sick of all the racism and hate!!! It's destroying our great country!!
As an atheist, it seems to me that Obama is a Christian more like Jesus was, someone who cares about people, not like the nutbag american type.
I totally agree !
this man knows whats up
yes, you are right. And he wants to redistribute the wealth and turn America into a 3rd world country. All should be brothers/sisters in poverty. Do you remember that this was tried already after WWII? And the regimes failed in 1990 after 50 years of experimenting the "government cares about all people' model? Read some history books or go to visit those countries to see how hard it is for them to fix 50 years of redistributive and 'caring' ideology.
Anne, you have no clue what you are on about. You spout rhetoric and have a bizarre grasp on history.
eqgold: Thank you for saying that!!
Ann: Your comment is sickening.
"Lying for the Lord" refers to the practice of lying to protect the image of and belief in the Mormon religion, a practice which Mormonism itself fosters in various ways.
What about Dominionism, a practice that all Christians in politics carry out
let me correct myself and say *too many Christians
Mor[m]ons aren't lying for Jesus, they're lying for Satan – who they believe is the Son of God!!
Their "religion" is all about making Satan great!! They actually preach that he is Christ's brother!!!
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.