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January 11th, 2013
03:40 PM ET

Hobby Lobby finds way around $1.3-million-a-day Obamacare hit - for now

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor

Washington (CNN) - By Friday, Hobby Lobby would have racked up $14.3 million in fines from the Internal Revenue Service for bucking Obamacare. But in keeping with the great American tax tradition, they may have found a loophole.

The company is facing $1.3 million a day in fines for each day it chooses not to comply with a piece of the Affordable Care Act that was set to trigger for them on January 1. The craft store chain announced in December that, because of religious objections, they would face the fines for not providing certain types of birth control through their company health insurance.

The penalty was set to go into effect on the day the company's new health care plan went into effect for the year.

Peter M. Dobelbower, general counsel for Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. said in a statement released through the Becket Fund that, "Hobby Lobby discovered a way to shift the plan year for its employee health insurance, thus postponing the effective date of the mandate for several months."

The statement continued that "Hobby Lobby does not provide coverage for abortion-inducing drugs in its health care plan. Hobby Lobby will continue to vigorously defend its religious liberty and oppose the mandate and any penalties."

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Last month Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor rejected the company's appeal for a temporary relief from the steep fines while their case made its way through the lower courts.

Hobby Lobby announced a day after the ruling that it "will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees. To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs."

In September, Hobby Lobby and affiliate Mardel, a Christian bookstore chain, sued the federal government for violating their owners' religious freedom and ability to freely exercise their religion.

The lawsuit says the companies' religious beliefs prohibit them from providing insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs. As of August 2012, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare, requires employer-provided health care plans to provide "all Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity," according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Churches and houses of worship are exempt from the regulation and a narrow exemption was added for nonprofit religious employers whose employees "primarily share its religious tenets" and who "primarily serve persons who share its religious tenets."

The Internal Revenue Service regulations now say that a group health care plan that "fails to comply" with the Affordable Care Act is subject to an "excise tax" of "$100 per day per individual for each day the plan does not comply with the requirement." It remains unclear how the IRS would implement and collect the excise tax.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment on the high court's move last month.

White House officials have long said they believe they have struck an appropriate compromise between religious exemptions and women's health. The White House has not commented specifically on the Hobby Lobby case.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

The Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby chain has more than 500 stores that employ 13,000 employees across 42 states, and takes in $2.6 billion in sales. It is still privately held by CEO and founder David Green and members of his family.

"The foundation of our business has been, and will continue to be strong values, and honoring the Lord in a manner consistent with biblical principles," a statement on the Hobby Lobby website reads, adding that one outgrowth of that is the store is closed on Sundays to give its employees a day of rest.

MORE BACKGROUND: Hobby Lobby faces millions in fines for bucking Obamacare

The Hobby Lobby case is just one of many before the courts over the religious exemption aspects of the law. The case represents by far the biggest for-profit group challenging the health care mandate.

Part of the reason Sotomayor rejected their appeal to the Supreme Court she wrote was because their case is still pending in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.

A spokesperson for the Becket Fund said on Friday a date has yet to be set for the case to be heard in the 10th Circuit.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Church and state • Courts

soundoff (4,609 Responses)
  1. mike

    i think it is time we looked at religion asthe business it is. since they want to be so politically involved it is time that they pay taxes. no more free rides for the holier than thou.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • Ann

      IT'S TIME WE STOP MURDERING BBAIES IN MOMMIE'S WOMBS.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • billy

      A morning after pill is murdering real live "BBAIES"??? lol
      And WHY do I need to tell someone named "Ann" this???

      January 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Terrible

      Thank you Ann- well said. It's time we stop worrying about our own convenience and protect the most innocent and vulnerable of our species. If we can't do thaat, not much else matters, because we nothing but heartless animals.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
  2. Jdubba

    When churches and cuckoo whacked out religious organizations start paying taxes like the rest of us, then and only then should they have the right to skirt legislation and laws. As it stands, if you don't pay up, then shut up, because the rest of us are carrying you in more ways than you think. Then there are simple issues at hand here, and all you bible thumpers and worshippers are gonna get mad but it's time for today's little aggravating bit of logic......god and religion is a belief, not truth, not fact, not tangible, not a shred of physical proof, but a choice to find faith in some invisible higher power....then there are the rest of the real things on earth here that we deal with everyday and the laws which help formulate a code of rules and ethics that apply to the general public in an effort to promote a greater good. When your god or whatever you worship out there fixes the wrongs, feeds the hungry, stops children from being tortured and abused, punishes those who commit crimes against the world and the environment, elminates disease, stops it own frigging priests from touching little boys and does all the things you claim a god is capable of, look me up and I will extend my apology as I confess my new belief in your god. Until then, religion and god is a stone cold scam that used to concentrate power and wealth to those with an agenda. Prove me wrong, I dare ya.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • Rick H,

      With that mentality...then 46% of the US population should shut up and have no say. WAIT....that would have been 46% who voted for Baraky....well well...the low information voter who lives on handouts....

      January 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  3. Dave The Butcher

    I think we should pay people to have abortions. It would be cheaper than paying for sending your spoiled brats to school.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • Ann

      So your for murder. Wow, nice guy you are.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
  4. kp

    Pregnancy in itself is not a disease!

    January 12, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
  5. Theboss

    So Sad. I will not longer be shopping at Hobby Lobby.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Sailor101

      Why? What does their health care plan have to do with the products they sale or the service they give. You are just a bigot!

      January 12, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
  6. Ann

    GOOD FOR HOBBY LOBBY. I'm for life not death. I'm for MORALS. Everyone should fight back against Obamacare. We will destroy our country if we keep up this moral decay. God will not help us and that my friends, is a fact.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Ana

      Must be great not to have been an unwanted child. I cant say the same.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • midwest rail

      No, it is not a fact.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • mendacitysux

      You're right. God won't help us. Because something that doesn't exist can't help anybody.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Laura

      Yes, Hobby Lobby is very moral for selling slave-made products. Yep.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • JJ

      Oh boy, here come the delusionists and their deities. If "god" gave a flying intercourse about you chumps he wouldn't have sent Romney's derriere back home with 90% of his rear end done gone. What's even more hilarious if that if your "god" existed, you chumps haven't figured out yet he's been punishing you for YEARS, giving clear evidence he prefers moral atheists over hypocritical ässwïpë "khristians." LISTEN UP, FOOLS! FIDEISM IS NOT A WAY OF LIFE. IT IS NOT A PHILOSOPHY. IT IS A GENETIC DEFECT! Thankfully, it can be easily cured with education. Knowledge, the mortal enemy of faith. :)

      January 12, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      a question for you Ann, hope to get an honest answer, do you work? are you going to quit your job, if your employer provides coverage for the morning after pills?

      January 12, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
  7. fredkelly

    The owners of a private company refuse to comply with a law that tries to force them to violate their consciences and religious beliefs? What monsters! I will certainly not shop there anymore. In fact, from now on I'll only purchase my hobby supplies from an establishment that has received the left-wing seal of approval. Or Planned Parenthood.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Ann

      So you are for the SLAUGHTER OF HUMAN LIVES.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
  8. JJ

    It's time for Hobby Lobby to close shop and move to any other country that will cater to its antics. (Wait, what? Most of the products they sell are made in countries where religious and reproductive rights are NOT respected, you say? Oh, my goodness. Lookit what we have here. Another putrid, disgusting latrine-full of religious hypocrites. LMAO!)

    January 12, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      We have a First Amendment that should cater to their needs.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • LL

      It's okay to pay Chinese atheists as long as you pay them less than they can live on, provide no benefits, and work them to death. That's okay with Jesus.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      China has no bearing on our First Amendment, neither does Jesus.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • JJ

      First Amendment does not protect against braindead hypocrisy, foolish tool. Ask the Catholic Church about that, and specifically the chump signing the child molestation settlement checks. :)

      January 12, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      You're the king of non sequiturs, aren't you? What does that have to do with Hobby Lobby?

      January 12, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Sailor101

      What antics? You are just a bigot!

      January 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • JJ

      LOL! "Non-sequitur," the eternal excuse of the braindead fool who knows if he doesn't back off his ïdïötïc logic he's going to get smoked into a compact pile of ash. Shoo, boi. Back to your teagagger sandbox. :)

      January 12, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Resort to personal insults when you're stuck, huh? By the way, I 100% do NOT support the Tea Party.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
  9. Rick H,

    Wow such hate for a company that simplies espouses its chritian beliefs. I agree if you don't like them don't shop there. But to see such hatred amoung the CNN liberal crowd. Wow....keep showing your true colors. BTW...Chic Filet is good food!

    January 12, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • JJ

      Sit your useless behind in that high chair, boi. If men could get pregnant you'd be firebombing Hobby Lobby stores like a good little right-wing tool that you are. Shoo. Back under your rock.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • Laura

      Hobby Lobby knowingly sells items made by child and/or slave labor (made in China, India).

      I'll pass on those christian values.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • drDave

      Now that I know their "beliefs" are more important than providing legal medications for their employees, I will not shop there, and I will encourage everyone I know to avoid them like the plague.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
  10. JJ

    Corporations do not have religious liberties. Period. End of discussion.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Of course they do.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • JJ

      No, they do not. Corporations are not people. Finito with that stupid argument.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Corporations are made up of people. People have religious liberty, ergo corporations should have religious liberty.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
    • JJ

      Corporations are made of paper, not people, foolish tool. Religious rights of people do not translate to imaginary corporate rights. Follow the law of the land or get out. Good luck finding a country that'll put up with this BS. They can run, but they can't hide. Their mouthpieces will run out of ideas, and the hammer will come down on their behinds. End of story. :)

      January 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • JRob

      Private, non-public stock companies do have religious freedom, i.e. Chic Filet.... ask any lawyer with a brain. Read much?

      January 12, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • JJ

      Wrong again, bubba. Paper is paper. No difference there. Try again when mama gives you more quarters, sonny.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • Michelle

      If any of you are interested in reading more about the legality of David Green's choices I urge you to google "An open letter to David Green of @OfficialHobbyLobby.
      If you're not inclined to do so, I will sum it up. Denying employees birth control because an employer religiously disagrees with it's use is a civil rights violation, due to the fact that this is religious discrimination against the employees who don't share these views. This is not a loose interpretation of the civil rights act of 1964; it's fairly literal.
      On a personal note, I find it reprehensible that this man elects to push people around who are quite unable to defend themselves. They cannot bite the hand that feeds.
      I don't care if birth control is used for family planning or hormonal reasons or to regulate a menstrual cycle. It's medicine, and it's high time people stop cramming their beliefs down other people's throats. It doesn't effect David Green if one of his workers has a child they cannot afford to support because they are denied birth control. He does not have to feed, clothe and educate these children. The workers have to do so.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • Terrible

      When michelle says 'family planning' she means killing the unborn, but family planning sounds - ill say 'cleaner' any immoral crime you want to committ, just make up- a diversionary innocent sounding name for it, and we'll pretend we dont know what it really means to please the democrats. That's how low we have sunk.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
  11. erivera63

    It's a lot easier to NOT shop there,than it is to ALWAYS shop there.. I mean, how much cheap ,made in china hobby crap does one need?...They will learn what a stupid decision they made thanks to the media attention and have to give in , much like Chik-a-fil did..A smart businssman knows not to mix personal belief with making money..

    January 12, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
  12. dharma bum

    so the real question is. .. how many hobby lobby employees file for abortion drugs and how many of these employees are aware that their employee will not cover them based on religious beliefs. If that is so then how many Hobby Lobby employees have the same religious beliefs as their employer and if they do then who cares.. If your are an independent thinker may you should not be working for a fundamental organization like Hobby Lobby. The fact remains if they are 13,000 string, who cares. Give the kid up for adoption, put the responsibility on the employer and walk away ..

    January 12, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Sal Paradise

      Reputedly they schedule very few employees for enough hours to have to do health care. If true, their behavior shows money is more important than the health of their employees, which Jesus said in Matthew, uh, Mark, uh I'm sure it's in there somewhere.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
  13. tj

    Won't be shopping there. Haven't returned to Chic Fil A either. You can choose your hodge podge system of taking a stand against what you think is immoral. Have you checked out which employees are taking Viagra? How about certain anxiety pills? Let's have a manager go to the doctor's appt. with the employee. GOD states over and over - FREE WILL. FREE to sin or to not sin. FREE to make choices! When did you start playing GOD? I hope your employees leave. How is it ethical to sell Chinese junk? Please, oh please, quit your job at what seems to be another WalMart. . . . Private employers can do whatever they wish - so can workers - so can consumers - so can GOD.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • JRob

      It's ok, Chic Filet makes tons of money without you. If you think they're going broke just think again....not happening, sorry.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • JJ

      Shït-Fil-A was bleeding so much money because of the boycott that the franchisees threatened to put Truett's nüts in a permanent sling if he didn't back off. And boy did he back off... like Yosemite Sam screaming "Retreat, retreeeeat!" Apologized lickety split! Their brand value has continued to drop like a rock won't recover even if Truett were to come out of the closet. :)

      January 12, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
  14. Mike in Iowa

    Way to go Hobby Lobby! Screw Obama Care. The govt has NO RIGHT to mandate this and I will shop there as much as possible!

    January 12, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • JJ

      You go, nimrod. No right, eh? Look over here. Here! (smack!) Good boi. See this? It's the LAW. They =already= did. Deal with it. :)

      January 12, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • Terrible

      Yes! we have another chick fila in the pipeline – i couldn't agree more, I never been in one of those stores however, i wil now visit and anything i use to by at walmart, r target or whereeer that I cold buy here- I will And I will continue to do so- . I hope this blazes a path for other companies to have the courage – to do likewise. Great idea- salute!

      January 12, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
  15. Benjamin

    *facepalm*

    1. Birth Control is not 'abortion-inducing'; quite the contrary, it prevents abortions from being necessary.

    2. Religious liberty is not liberty from the law. You can't arbitrarily choose which parts of the law are okay by your religion and which aren't. Otherwise, I can declare myself a Trafficist, and a key tenet will be that red lights are sinful, and thus, I don't have to obey them when I drive. And if you make me obey them, you're violating my religious liberty!

    No, religious liberty means no special favors and no special rules for any specific church.

    3. Birth control could significantly reduce abortion rates through the country and is the single most pressing need of medical care for women nation-wide. It would reduce the cost of health care nationally. It is a social good.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • Pjonh

      Birth control pills can indeed cause abortion. See the packet insert. It causes the uterus to become inhospitable for a newly formed fetus (new life) to which it is then aborted.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • icedino

      Stop with all you logical reasoning and facts! You're scaring people!

      January 12, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • George

      Just so you better understand the point of view of some others: They believe life begins at conception, as in when the egg and sperm meet. Some contraceptives essentially create a hostile environment for the fertilized egg, so it can not attach to the womb and get nutrition needed to develop. It dies. That's where they are coming from when they say that birth control causes abortions. One could certainly argue the "barrier" form of contraception is not unlike the NFP stuff some teach, but the chemical contraceptives are a tougher nut to crack.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
  16. The Voice of God

    HELLO PEOPLE.

    THIS IS GOD.

    I WAS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD AND THOUGHT I'D LOOK IN ON YOU. WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?

    I SENT MY SON BUDDHA TO YOU TO PREACH THE MIDDLE PATH OF TOLERANCE AND COMMON SENSE. WEREN'T YOU PAYING ATTENTION?

    WHERE DID ALL THIS CRAZINESS COME FROM?

    I'M GOING BACK TO MY OWN UNIVERSE. YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • Bob

      You don't exist.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Bob2

      bob doesn't exist.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
  17. Terrible

    they dont want to particiate in the killing of innocent unborn babys, and Obamacare is racking them over the coals for it. Bad enough we fund this blood bath with our tax payer's dollar, now we are at the point of a gun, being told to do it ourselves. I'd like to warn our godless gouls – morality is real, and there is a god - and you will pay for this. Your day is coming..

    January 12, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • Zobit

      So not being religious makes me a ghoul? How thoughtful of you.

      All Christians are like this.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • John Campbell

      Taking birth control IS NOT ABORTION, Well, perhaps, in your tin-foil hat world. But these drugs that Hobby Lobby is fighting against are nothing more, nothing less than birth control pills, albeit in a higher dose. Overwhelmingly, doctors have said over and over that these drugs ARE NOT abortion inducers, but the wacko's keep claiming that they are.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • HJA

      Please explain how tax payers are funding abortions????

      January 12, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • Terrible

      i call them ghouls (correct selling) because that's what they are. Because unborn baby'ss can't vote, doesn't mean politicians shouldn't care. Remember, we aare judged by how we treat the weaest and most vulnerable amongst us, and there are non more weak and vulnerable then the unborn. You can play all the word games you want, but we all know the truth even if it's trendy to at like we don't care.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Rassayana

      Killing of unborn babies? That's what birth control pills, IUD's, and injectable birth control are to you? Birth control for me was a way to tame my irregular menstrual cycle that left me anemic from heavy periods that would last weeks on end. But thanks to folks like you, some women are being denied that.

      I will find a new place to do business with that doesn't begrudge women for having the unfortunate role of being bornfemale and needing women tailored services and medical care.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Laura

      Hobby Lobby happily sells slave-made products. What kind of moral compass is that?

      January 12, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • Terrible

      planned parenthood, performed over 300,000 abortions last year, (like a 20 to 1 ratio, to adoptions as an alternative), and they take something like 500 mill in government subsides last year. that's how our taxes are paying for it. Yeah, the truth isn't always the sme, as what your lead to believe from tv- is it? Think

      January 12, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Michelle

      I admire your method, Terrible. I can tell you're actually one of "us", a pro-choice liberal who is astonished at the state of the world and appalled at the oppression of women, so you come along with fake belligerence, misrepresenting and exaggerating the stupidity of the far right. I kind of feel for them, seeing you here pretending to be one of them. You're like the guy who shows up at a Westboro Baptist Church funeral protest, sidles up to them and proudly holds up a sign that says "Ice cream is God".
      Really, though, even people who categorically disagree with my views on birth control and religion are nowhere near as ignorant and judgmental as you pretend to be. You're overdoing it. Reign it in a bit and you could really, really make the other side look bad.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
    • Terrible

      Entertaining when lefties, start advicing the ones with morals – on how they should act, as if they want the conservatives to succeed.You should be happy Michele that we are shooting ourselves in the foot by attempting to defend the unborn. I'll choose being RIGHT, and be called names and abused, every day of the week – then to give lip services to bunch of liberal frauds. Say hi – to james Cahhhhhhhhhvale.

      January 13, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
  18. OldJoe

    Which God does Hobby Lobby pray to?
    What?
    They have their own religion?
    Profits, you say?
    Can't be, Jesus did not approve of GREED.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • ptneely

      Profits do not equal greed.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • JRob

      King Solomon, King David etc. were quite wealthy. And the guy donating the tomb for Jesus- a believer and wealthy. Wealth and profit do not equal greed and you won't find that in Scripture so let me save you the time. Nowhere does it say wealth is bad. And, nowhere does it say that aborting the not yet born children of America is ok...nowhere.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  19. Bob

    What does your imaginary friend have to do with the law? Its pretty well known fact that gods, fairies, and ghosts do not exist. You are a complete loon if you think otherwise. It is ridiculous that our courts even entertain these "religious" challenges to the law. We are supposed to be a secular country.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • ssdwcc

      I for one have stopped buying anything from HL and hope thousands of others will also. I agree, Christianity and Jesus Christ are the largest hoaxes ever perpetrated against humankind.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:30 pm |
    • JRob

      It's ok, just like we have the right to believe in this country, no one requires you to believe, it's simple. We choose to believe and it's ok that we do. Your call, period.......

      January 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Buster

      Not according to our money, pledge of allegiance, or how we make people swear in. You're the one living in your own reality.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • Laura

      Boycotting Hobby Lobby too.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • Michelle

      One of the marvelous aspects of our country is we are supposed to be free of religious persecution. I'm not a Christian, but ridiculing them for thinking differently than you is mean-spirited. I hope you are very young, and that one day you realize that ridiculing huge groups of people is wrong.

      January 12, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
  20. Allie

    I guess I'd probably boycott Hobby Lobby now, except I had better taste than to ever buy that sort of kitschy crap to begin with.

    January 12, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • ptneely

      Nice priced place to have artwork framed.

      January 12, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
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About this blog

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.