Editor's Note: Eric Metaxas is the author of "No Pressure, Mr. President! The Power Of True Belief In A Time Of Crisis: The National Prayer Breakfast Speech."
By Eric Metaxas, Special to CNN
(CNN)–Imagine that the president of the United States had to sit and listen to you for 30 minutes in a public setting. Imagine that he couldn't escape and had to endure whatever you said. If you disagreed with him politically, would you try to embarrass him? What would you say?
Well, this actually happened to me. A year ago I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, an event attended by the president, first lady, vice president, and 3,500 other dignitaries. No one was more shocked at the invitation than I. Previous speakers include Mother Teresa, Tony Blair and Bono. No pressure.
By the way, I disagree with the president in some important ways. But as a Christian, God commands me to love those with whom I disagree, to treat them with civility and respect, as creatures made in God's image. That's a command, not a request or a suggestion. Again, no pressure.
In my speech I spoke about my heroes, William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Wilberforce's faith led him to fight for the Africans being enslaved by the British; Bonhoeffer's faith led him to fight for the Jews being persecuted by the Nazis. I used them as examples of people who passionately lived out their faith by standing up for their fellow human beings when most around them merely gave it lip service.
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I also joked around a lot, because as any of my friends will tell you, one of the ways I show love is by joking and teasing people. Who said prayer breakfasts had to be boring? At one point I said that George W. Bush had read my Bonhoeffer book, and then I glanced at President Obama and said "No pressure." I'm glad he laughed!
Later in my speech, I talked specifically about the idea of loving our enemies. I said this was the test of real faith. Speaking to my fellow pro-lifers, I said that those of us who believe the unborn to be human beings must love those on the other side of that issue. I also said that those of us with a traditionally biblical view of sexuality are sometimes demonized as bigots, but we must love even those who call us bigots. I cited Wilberforce and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. as two men who took seriously God's command to love their enemies in the midst of the most serious political battles of their day. They honored God in how they fought, and he honored them.
At the end of the breakfast the president told me he would read my book on Bonhoeffer, and Vice President Biden took my picture with the president. No kidding. It was an extraordinary day and I'm not telling the half of it.
President Barack Obama holds up a book given to him by author Eric Metaxas
But the reason I'm writing now is that during the past election I was disappointed to see the president's campaign utterly abandoning these ideals of treating your opponents as you yourself would wish to be treated. Good people with principled and profound convictions about when life begins were cynically demonized as "enemies of women." Americans who had worked hard to build businesses, and who had given millions to charity and to the government, were denounced as fat-cats who weren't "paying their fair share" and whose wealth was ill-gotten gain.
These scorched-earth tactics were not presidential, much less Christian, and because the president openly professes a Christian faith, I feel I must speak about this.
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Of course many will dismiss campaign hardball rhetoric as "what works." This is to miss the point. What we say matters deeply, and how we say it matters deeply. All of it has serious long-term consequences. For all of us.
For one thing, our children are watching and listening. We tell them it's less important who wins or loses than how we play the game. Is there no truth to this at all? Do we not see that this behavior erodes faith in the very political process and in democracy itself? Do we not see that by doing this we encourage our opponents to do the same - and worse - the next time around? Shouldn't we care about that?
Any victory won in an ugly way is somehow a tainted victory. In this case, the president has "won" a deeply divided nation, one that he - alas - has had a hand in dividing. Now what?
If he is to succeed in the tremendous challenges that lay ahead, he must repent of these tactics and must make amends with his opponents, if it's not too late. Or else he will face gridlock and more gridlock. He also must show the door to those who cynically encouraged this "winning is the only thing" behavior.
His legacy and America's future depend upon it. Many will be praying for him.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Eric Metaxas.
@John The blogger John does not like to be reminded of al the name-calling, lying, distortion of facts, hypocrisy, attacks, and unethical behavior Republicans have engaged in and aimed at this president for the last 4 years. He, like most Republicans, only want "civil" debate when their backs are against the wall and facts are about to push them off a cliff.
Their version of civil debate only exists when their points are the only ones being heard.
And, by the way, why on earth is CNN publishing drivel such as this?
@Dulaney Ward My feeling exactly.
Well I guess it's appropriate to cover the silly NDOP in the Belief Blog. But that was in February. Obviously the twerp is disappointed and needed to find a way to vent.
why is this OPINION drivel? Over 1900 responses seems pretty important to me. Or do you not agree and desire to censure it?
Montrose – have you noticed the tone of the vast majority of the posts? They're against the article.
You need to look up the difference between "censor" and "censure"...
(aw heck, look up "censer" too, for giggles)
could it have anything to do with the fact that this is CNN? Metaxas could have gone to Fox and been applauded.
There's a reason the Fox boards don't allow comments.
@FYI – OMG could it be? Misuse of a word?
@FYI I'm sad I immediately remembered what a censer is. Would have been cool to discover it in this context. (Well played, btw).
Would this gentleman have written the same article if Mitt Romney had won? Would he have told him to "repent"? Doesn't much sound like it. Does he tell those who believe in life at conception to "repent" for vilifying those who believe life isn't viable until it is able to live outside the womb? Does he tell those who say 47 percent of Americans are worthless moochers? Does he tell those who rush us into war killing our young men and women for no logical reason at all to "repent"? Best he look in the mirror and practice repenting before he asks others to do so.
The worship that CNN employess have for Obama is getting a little disturbing. This kind of fanatic following is the same type of blank eyed zealot that has led to radical Christians in the past and muslim terrorists today. Don't think for one single second CNN, that we didn't notice the picture to the link to this article with the intentional angle of putting obamas head in that seal to make him look like jesus in a medieval painting. You Marxists aren't clever and you aren't fooling anyone. We know exactly what you are and nothing about what you are is good.
@Chris Someone has been hitting the bottle a little too hard.
You could at least share, Chris.
Mr. Metaxas cynically distorts the facts in the name of Jesus, and ignores the utter lies spouted by his opponents on an almost constant basis–and his opponent's utter cynicism toward the people of this country. He ignores the fundamental atheism of the Ayn-Rand-based philosophy of the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, epitomized by Romney's entire cynical career, now thankfully over. He somehow confuses a campaign fought over the most fundamental issues of our time with a football game, in which it truly does not matter who and what ideas win. It profoundly matters. The will of Mr. Metaxas's God has prevailed, and his cause has lost. He should drop his sanctimonious pose and accept defeat.
I could not have stated it better. Thanks, Dulaney.
I applaud this post.
Cant be just happy that you got invited by the President of the United States to be a keynote speaker.
If you didnt get the point, he was trying include you the 'conservative', I dont remember conservatives inviting liberals to a prayer meeting. As far as I know from President's actions, he doesnt believe in God, but he does believe in People.
By the way dont judge the president on silly things but base it on decisions made for the betterment of humanity. eg: Not starting a war because someone thought God told him to do so. I want to tell you is to go and learn a skill rather than being a con artist under the name of the God. Dont preach about loving enemies, but try to do so.. By the way who in the sad mind gave you the opportunity to write this stupid article?
Oh, good grief...the POTUS has stated on many occasions that he believes in God...
What? Christian Republicans have been using nasty, divisive tactics for years!!! I wonder if this gentleman thinks invading Iraq on crummy intel was Christian?
I think it's naive to think Obama himself had no input into how the campaign was run. He's the master of the negative attack. He plays Chicago hardball and winning IS the only thing that matters. There will be no "repenting". Only Obama's way or the highway. And I don't think he cares about legacy or any of that garbage. He's out to destroy his political "enemies."
Right. Let's see...Obama is called a Muslim, a communist, a socialist, and is told he is lying about being an American. And those are just by top Republicans serving in Congress. And you say Obama plays dirty. Ridiculous. He was the only adult in the room with a bunch of childish, nasty Republicans.
Romney got the nomination of his party by huge spending on vicious negative campaigns against other Republicans. He did the same against Obama.
@Richard You Republicans are really grasping at straws. For 4 years you did nothing but call the president names and obstruct his policies and ideas. Now, having lost the election, and the President finally, finally playing hardball, you whine and cry like bullies defeated and seeking mercy. Hypocrisy.
WE pay the president's salary. This is not "free time" for him, it is an official event. That is why it is a violation of the 1st amendment.
So if I'm a government employee then I can't go to church? That hardly seems like religious freedom to me.
@Matt, Are you receive a paycheck TO go to church?
"receiving", sorry. And, are you suggesting that going to church is an official governmental event comparable to this prayer breakfast? Lastly, are you comparing your government position to the role of being President in terms of the importance of your presence at such events?
If church is a paying job you KNOW those pews would be full.
it's ok to be wrong N.
That's probably sound advice.
I'm ok with this.
Earlier today, I held my nose and visited his Facebook page. As others had done, I left a comment there decrying his self-serving, self-promotional, illogical article and it's hypocrisy. Just checked just now-–all comments against this article have been deleted. Nothing but the supportive ones remain. Typical Republican response. Preach to the choir.
I do find it sad that this man has not noticed and condemned all the "Conservatives" who have been proudly bearing false witness against Obama.
I'm a Christian, and I'm concerned that you think that CEOs that make 450 times what their employees made characterized as "businessmen who worked hard". The Bible lays out a economic system in the Old Testament that's radical by our standards–debt forgiveness, gleaning laws, and wealth distribution–and Jesus' indictment of the rich in the New Testament is just about as radical as as anything that's come out of the Western canon. While I respect your convictions and echo your call for respectful dialogue, I think that, as one of my faith heroes once said, "our problem is that we accept this filthy rotten system." I hope to see Mr. Obama continue to work to challenge some of the structures of oppression present in our country, and I hope that you'll continue to hold our politicians to a higher standard of rhetoric while challenging systems of gross economic inequity and injustice.
Alright SJ, if you really are a Christian go read Romans 1 and tell me that the things Paul condemns don't sound curiously like the very things that were highlighted in the DNC's platform...
And one thing you forget about the OT, it was a theocracy.
Take a look at the Book of Matthew (especially that Sermon on the Mount) and tell me that this is not in contrast with what the Republicans were promoting. Neither party is well steeped in Christian ideals, just rhetoric.
@John I don't have to be bible-thumper to know that the bible surely speaks against lying and liars like Romney. Or did you read that part?
Romans – OT??
You should be president. You'd get my vote.
(My reply was @John)
QUOTIN FROM THE OT
SHIT JUST GOT REAL
@John, While I hate getting into discussions about long dead people who may be mythological, I would ask, what makes Paul any different from any other preacher who claims to speak for god? I'll never understand the underlying sycophantic desire people have to bow at the feet of anyone claiming to speak in god's name.
nvmature-two things...1st lets dispense with the rhetoric and recognize that politicians lie, all of them, Obama is no different (no tax increase on the middle claass...and we get health care taxes; 800 billion in tax increases...now he wants double that; Bush was "un-american" for increasing the debt...and then he increases it more in four years than bush did in eight).
2nd, wow, you proved the point I've been making tonight in many posts, that when liberals don't have anything to say they just accuse their opponents of being liars, racists, bigots, etc.
@GodFreeNow – yes, I would like an answer to this as well.
@GodFreeNow-my point was not to defend the Bible (which I'm happy to do in another forum), my point was to demonstrate the cherry picking of the initial post, and the complete lack of understanding of the difference in the economic systems. For someone to say that they want to return to the Old Testament economic theocratic rule, but leave out the theocratic moral code relating to personal behavior is a bit of an oversight.
@John Surely you jest. No one, no party, no candidates do more name-calling than Republicans, the Republican Party, and Republican candidates. Lets see: Socialist, Muslim, welfare president, liar, Kenya, etc. Get my point? Per the increases, if I remember correctly, Bush/Cheney had already implemented the bailout (which they created a need for) before Obama took office. He simply agreed it was necessary and successfully used the money to hold our economy together, save the auto industry, save the banking industry, and save the housing industry.
@John, I agree with you there. Then maybe you can explain why the science of the bible as well of the economics of the bible are subject to a modern-day overhaul, but the morals are not. I don't know. Maybe you agree on that too.
Hilarious. Not one bad word about Mitt Romney or the right wing, a bunch of liars who don't give a damn about the poor, or normal, everyday people is this country. Incredibly ignorant!
WIFI doesn't work so hot UNDER Vegas. Home sweet home.
When was the last time you actually gave money to the poor? The conservatives that you rail against give more to charity every year than liberals do...and it's not close. We care for the poor, but instead of trying to take other people's money through the vehicle of a bloated bureaucracy we choose to go right to the source and nobody notices. Demanding that other people give more isn't charity, it's jealousy and it's covetousness and it's theft.
You're right, John. But they have an excuse. They are SOCIES!
EVERY liberal in this nation has to pay more in taxes to cover what your conservative churches doesn't pay in taxes. Many of those churches then spend money to deny equal rights for gays. Sound fair to you?
First off, no one is denying equal rights to anyone....because a true right comes from "nature" and "nature's God" and can't be given or taken away by government.
Second, I would have no problem with churches having to pay taxes if you are also willing for all of your liberal non-profits to do the same...? Oh, I know, ACORN is righteous so we shouldn't touch them, right?
Third, no one said anything about churches, you brought that into the conversation.
Fourth, EVERYONE (that is, who pays taxes) has to cover for the funds that are written off.
How about we just go with a simple system. 15% (or some %, I don't care) across the board, 1st dollar to billionth dollar, and no writeoffs what-so-ever. That's as fair as you can possibly get.
>>The conservatives that you rail against give more to charity every year than liberals do...and it's not close
Specious, foolish, unfounded argument. I slap you with a smelly trout.
@John Conservatives care for the poor? Really? I think they actually put more money into Super PACs than they would dare give to the poor.
Hey John, guess what: the religiously inclined make themselves loudly known while giving. The rest do not; we need no acclaim, we don't convert. We do so quietly, for the sake of giving, and move on.
I feel a need to respond to John's comment about Republicans giving more to charity. I find the claim to be highly dubious at best. Lets start with the first flaw. Donations to the Church. The question is do we count this as giving to charity? Tax law would say yes absolutely always. However what do you consider charity? If I give to a church and they use that money to run projects to help the poor or work on curse for disease ect then yes that is charity.
On the other hand many times that is money spend on a new sound system a new TV a bigger building or remodel. These things are not charity.
Likewise I see many donations to charity outside just the religious that are not actually charity just abuses of the system. If for example Mitt Romney Gives 2 million to some right wing political hack group running as a non profit well congrats. He just got a deduction for giving to charity.
If we are going to talk about who gives more I think its important that we first set some reasonable guidelines as to what really counts as charity.
"First off, no one is denying equal rights to anyone....". Absolutely DELUSIONAL. So do you support gay rights?
Talking about ACORN, guess you missed the story on the company used by Republicans in several states to get voters. They were caught faking names on voter registrations.
The ignorant flat tax helps the rich and hurts the poor and would be a disaster for people getting subsidies like farmers. You know about them, right? A large number of them are Republcans. Ooops.
Conservatives only give more if you count giving to churches
As a pastor I know that much of what goes to churches goes for buildings, programs for church members, pastor's salaries (and conservative pastors often spout things that are far from charitable)
If you count charitable giving, after having deducted giving to churches its a far different story.
Nie, the page changed, and I cannot see tthe last page.
NO, I don't want any OT bullsh!t; I am not looking up sh!t.
Read my posts again; do I SEEM like a fvcking fundie?
He's usually more chill than that, he must have totally misread you. LOL
Wow, I guess so...LOL.
Sorry, page changed, I've read and made WAY TOO MANY posts. This article infuriated me, I guess I was blind with rage. I do get a kick out of the "fundie" word. Carry on.
Is he really defending Wall Street as a "christian" in this article? Unbelievable. What a long-winded article where he tries to gain credibility as a more reliable narrator than other evangelicals, but it's just to suck you into his right-wing politically motivated hackjob. I know what it's like for these guys....they go to a lot of events where all these people identify as conservative and are "persecuted" cause of their christian beliefs. They honestly see themselves as being the modern equivalency of a Bonhoffer or a Wilburforce as "standing up for what's right." What they fail to see is that their so-called causes are not even remotely on the same moral high ground. whether you agree w/ abortion or not, the science is split on when exactly life begins. And what's so wonderful about denying people a right? How are you gonna fly a flag and cry to freedom to that one? A lot of people will pat this pastor on the back and tell him he is doing God's work. But he is actually giving into the temptation to revel in being a revered figure in his isolated community, which shows moral failing, not a moral champion.
This is why we can't have honest debate...because when a guy is civil and gives a defense of conservative principles you liberals go off...If a conservative disagrees with a liberal politician it's always because he/she is bigoted, or racist, or hates women; it's your punt when you don't have anything meaningful to say in response. Thanks for proving the point.
John – you merely mimic others.
I don't see how it's ruining the debate for someone to say "I think your argument reflects the fact that you and I value historically marginalized people like women and the poor in different ways, and we have fundamentally different ideas about what will help said groups achieve liberation and justice." When someone says that Republicans or conservatives hate women/minorities/poor people, that, in an abrasive way, is what they're saying. It's a critique of the underlying principles that lead to conservative policies wrapped up in an ad hominem argument. It's not sophisticated or productive as a rhetorical device, but it's also not fair to say "these liberals ruin debate when they start critiquing my underlying assumptions."
Thanks for proving my point, no attempt to debate, just a call to a cliche or an appeal to an extreme...
SJ-what you said again demonstrates what I am talking about. Why is it that every time a conservative defends their position they are accused of having "underlying assumptions" of racism, hatred of women, bigotry, etc.? You poison the well so that no one can disagree with you without you assuming some awful underlying reason for their belief...
John, what you want is total agreement to your ideas, not a debate.
What he was trying to do WAS debate you...and you chose to answer with "just call a cliche..."
It seems EVERY response John gets proves his point. That's magical.
I've noticed this about John. He attacks and then he tries to pretend that he's the voice of civility. I think the only person he fools is himself.
the National Day of Reason needs to replace the prayer BS...separation of church and state..
@ SAM , GALATIONS 5:2-11. in response to your comment about the law. christ fulfilled the law. read gal 5:2-11.
you can't be saved by following the law. no one is capable. if you think you can then you don't consider
yourself in need of a savior and that say's it all about you not understanding gods sacrifice on the cross.
I hardly think this guy can be accused of the Galatian heresy. Works don't save you, but they are important and are a sign of your faith..."show me your faith without works and I will show you my faith by my works...." Sound familiar?
I'm imagining a true saviour. He pulls me unconscious and unwilling from the midst of sin and saves me. Nothing I do saves me, the saviour does it. Then why am I not saved now? Why are you saved?
@ john, my statement is i r esponse to sam's earlier comment on my response to amy about being totally cutoff
in the old testament and anyone being put to death who was not of the faith. i responded by telling her the old
testament was mosaic law and that jesus rebuked peter for cutting off the soldiers ear. all can follow christ
in the new testament, not just the god of abraham but a personal god after the veil being torn in half. sam made
a comment about having to follow the whole law. but in the new testament the apostle paul speaks against that
in gal 4: and also 5:
If that's your previously referenced Bible quote, @gman... the flagged word is circ-umcised (you really are dense, aren't you?).
if a human can't see the HUGH moral disconnect in the idea of a God having his son killed, they probably won't notice they are following a bronze age sadomasochistic religion
You are sailing the fail boat inside a bigger fail boat on the Sea of Failure, moving inexorably toward the Inlet of Bullshit, where you will get stuck on the Sandbar of Dumbassery. I hope your insurance is paid up, cracklobster.
@ i_get_it. maybe ! but there has been far too many other instances of censure.
Paranoid whackadoodle cootie wrangler.
Instances of censure? Like what?
@ sam , so what's your point ? that you are saved by works or you don't believe in the bible ?
my bet is you don't believe in gods word or his work on the cross.
my insurance is paid up with ' JESUS CHRIST MUTUAL LIFE "
same thinks he knows better than anything you say. he is brilliant in his own little way.
Who the hell is 'same'?
gblog – ingenius argument. Work on your delivery.
@ sam, there is nothing ingenius about it. it's what the bible says. it also says let your yes be yes and your no be no.
jesus rebuked satan when peter tried to keep jesus from being crucified. so if you can't acknowledge your
belief in jesus christ then i'll assume i'm speaking with him when you blog.
>>so if you can't acknowledge your belief in jesus christ then i'll assume i'm speaking with him when you blog.
What the – omg wtf. We have achieved maximum crazycakes. Bring the frosting and sprinkles.
@ sam , well as i said earlier i was betting you don't believe the bible or in gods work on the cross. so now that
that seems to be the case by your answer i'll know better who's scathing rebuke of this article is coming from.
oh and lets not forget the 16 year old girl that posted earlier. well done satan.
You do know satan doesn't exist, right? I mean, he's not lurking under your bed or anything, waiting for you to turn the lights out. He's not poised to strike while you try to run from the light switch on the wall to your cold, lonely bed across the room...watching...waiting....
That 16 year old girl is actually a 47 year old woman who lives in Rochester.
She pulls this sh!t frequently.
Don't let her fool you; she is wholly a lying sack of sh!t.
Oh, yeah, she is also a fundie, which makes it all the more ironic; at least I'm honest in my b!tchiness.
@ sam, well now that i have ascertained that there is affirmatively an angel of light in your doctrine and philosophy like
the one that tried to keep jesus off the cross i'll simply say you won't see clearly until you accept christ as your
savior. after that there is nothing more to be said.
@ AKIRA , thanks for the head up akira. that maybe and thankyou for letting me know. But my disagreement is
still with sams quote on the law. There is 2 things that satan loves. one is to think that niether god or he is real,
and the other one for those who believe is that you can earn your salvation. if you want to preach that then
you don't believe in jesus.
@gblog – I'm ok just the way I am, but thanks anyway. A good night to you.
@akira – honesty in bitchiness earns a gold star on the report card of life.
I'll say goog night also with one last quote:
the pharisees and scribes looking to snare jesus by calling him good teacher and jesus being aware of
their attempts to discredit him as the son of god or god in the flesh, said to them " do not call me good for
on one is good, but only God Alone is good " .
edit to last quote: JESUS SAID " DO NOT CALL ME GOOD FOR NO ONE IS GOOD , EXCEPT GOD ALONE "
i.e. if you claim to follow me then acknowledge who i am. JESUS WAS GOD.
Republicans are the masters of lies and smear tactics....Obama the Muslim....Obama not a citizen....etc, etc ad infinitum. Criticizing Obama for running an "unChristian" campaign is pompous hippocracy. This author is the one who needs to see the error of his ways, get down on his knees and plead for forgiveness.
I am picturing him on his knees ... good. But to whom should he plead?
We'll see where you stand in a few months from now!!
Wilberforce's faith led him to fight for the Africans being enslaved by the British; ???? Please read the old testament. Wilberforce was either blasphemous or a human, what is it?
I wrote the White House I asked the President to stop attending this horrible event Write the White House, beg the President to respect the 1st amendment MORE and STOP attending this event. (Somebody said change the name of it, which at least would be a start in a better direction.
Darwin, you're right. No Nat'l Prayer day. No God.
Your rights are alienable, endowed by men... by any man who crosses your path. Your right to live and breath is given to you by that passerby who chooses, at that moment, not to take your life. And you have no right to that life, much less liberty, happiness, or justice. Because ALL your rights are alienable, endowed by men, and taken away by men.
And if there is no God in our Nation, then your life is mine to do with as I please.
By the way, you're wrong about the 1st Amendment, as are all your atheist friends. Too bad you cannot understand what it is you're all reading.
How does attending or not attending this meeting have any impact on the first amendment? Typical Liberal, anything you disagree with you want to shut down and then somehow claim that doing so is preserving the very thing you are destroying.
I don't give a flying fvck if people believe in God or not; keep your religious beliefs out of civil laws.
TJ – no god, therefore chaos?
That kind of statement is the hallmark of someone looking for an excuse. If it takes a god to hold you back, then don't worry – once we get god back out of everything, we'll make sure and put you down like the rabid dog you are.
oh, Akira, where do you think your civil laws started O great profane one?
@leadercraft – long, long before some fools in the desert wrote the bible, tough guy.
I don't give a sh!t where they started; religious-based laws are for a theocratic nation, which this nation isn't.
Religion does not belong in civil law.
then whose philosophy, whose set of rules? You'll create your own and thus create your secular religion.
montrose – I liked that band. Listen, it's obvious. The golden rule covers it, and that's been around since cavemen were cavekids.
know history and you'll be thankful for Christianity.
montrose – get an actual education and be grateful christianity is on its way out.
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.