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Evangelical Christians prepare for ‘largest ever grassroots push on immigration’
January 12th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

Evangelical Christians prepare for ‘largest ever grassroots push on immigration’

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – When the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez talks about immigration, it is as someone who has witnessed the way a religious community is affected when a family is torn apart by deportation.

“It is personal for me,” Rodriguez said, describing deported friends and congregants as "lovely people. These are wonderful, God-fearing, family-loving people.”

Rodriguez, the head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, has a naturally boisterous voice that booms with authority. When he speaks about immigration, passion oozes out of every syllable. But his voice softens as he speaks of those close to him who have been deported: an associate pastor's wife, a friend from Sacramento, California, a well-known congregant - the list seems committed to memory.

Even as he relives the heartache, the pastor seems hopeful, if not optimistic.

Rodriguez, along with a number of other high-profile evangelical leaders, many of whom who have worked on immigration reform for decades, are betting that 2013 represents the best opportunity they've ever had to get meaningful reforms passed. Proof of their confidence: A coalition of evangelical groups is launching what many are calling the “largest ever grass-roots push on immigration.”

“We have a moral imperative to act,” Rodriguez exclaims. “This is the year. This is the evangelical hour to lead in a justice issue.”

In the mind of many evangelical leaders, the reverend is right.

Betting on 2013

The coalition is called the Evangelical Immigration Table and it is brought together a diverse mix of evangelical groups, including the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, the National Association of Evangelicals, Sojourners and Focus on the Family.

Though the groups began holding broader discussion two years ago, Monday will serve as the campaign's first concerted push on immigration, with the goal of getting meaningful immigration reform through Congress in 2013.

“I think we have a window of opportunity in these first months of 2013,” Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, told CNN. “I think there is a real, new conversation on immigration reform.”

That window, Land acknowledges, is small and could close at any point. Congress has a number of issues to deal with in the coming year; Republican members of Congress hope to focus on government spending and the debt, while the White House is likely to push for gun control early in the president’s second term.

Land, however, says that isn’t an excuse.

“I am hopeful that Congress can walk and chew gum and the same time,” Land said. “I am hopeful they can deal with more than one issue at the same time.”

The group has already released an open letter to Congress and the White House. In it, they the group presses Congress to respect “the God-given dignity of every person” and establish a “path toward legal status and/or citizenship for those who qualify and wish to become permanent residents.”

“As evangelical leaders, we live every day with the reality that our immigration system doesn’t reflect our commitment to the values of human dignity, family unity and respect for the rule of law that define us as Americans,” the letter states. “Initiatives by both parties to advance commonsense fixes to our immigration policies have stalled in years past.”

Since the group's launch last June, organizers have been fundraising and placing people in three states,  Colorado, Florida and Texas, to lay the groundwork with local evangelical leaders and politicians. By making these early investments, coalition leaders hope there will be a highly reactive group of evangelicals ready to push for immigration reform.

In addition to local networking, these evangelical leaders have begun lobbying leaders in both the U.S. House and Senate and plan to do more “grass-roots lobbying,” including bringing people to Capitol Hill in the future.

According to Jim Wallis, CEO of Sojourners and a leader in the coalition, the group has met with “top-level White House officials” as well as Democratic and Republican leaders "from Chuck Schumer to Lindsey Graham."

“Immigration reform, fixing this broken system, has a chance of being the first thing, maybe the one thing, that I think could really be accomplished in a bipartisan way,” Wallis said. “Courageous, bold, bipartisan decisions that do the right thing are not real common (in Washington), but I think this is really possible now.”

Making the focus biblical

For Richard Land and other coalition leaders, this is not just a moral issue, it is also biblical.

“For those of us who are people of faith, these are issues that our faith informs,” Land said. “For us, this is an issue that is rending the social fabric of the nation and causing a great deal of human suffering. As people of faith, we need to address it.”

The campaign will release a video on Monday that features more than a dozen evangelical leaders reading the text of Matthew 25:31-46.

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him…” reads Max Lucado, a well-known evangelical pastor and author.

“He will sit on his glorious throne, all the nations gathered before him…” continues John Perkins, an evangelical author and speaker.

The video continues this way for more than two minutes, evangelical leader after evangelical leader reading a biblical text that stresses the importance of helping “a stranger.”

“'For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me,'” Jesus says, describing the Final Judgment. “'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'”

In addition to the video's release, the coalition organizers have asked local leaders to encourage their congregations to take the “I Was a Stranger Challenge.” Those who take the challenge will receive daily verses of scripture that might apply to the immigration issue – with the hope that they will use them in prayer – and a “Toolkit” to help spread the word on the need for immigration reform.

“So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them,” reads the first text, citing Genesis 1:27.

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands,” reads the last text, citing Revelation 7:9.

Pastors are also being urged to use their sermons to speak about the need to help "strangers" and relate immigration reform to Christian values.

In total, the organizers believe the campaign will reach more than 100,000 churches.

“Evangelicals have been converted by the Bible and by Jesus on the issue of welcoming strangers,” Wallis said. “It is very clear if you go around the country, this is a conversion here. It is a biblical conversion. What Jesus says is the way you treat the stranger is the way you treat me.”

‘The right thing for the wrong reasons’

Coalition leaders also see the 2012 election results, particularly the fact that Republican nominee Mitt Romney struggled mightily among Hispanic voters, as a powerful tool they can use against reluctant politicians. Land, who has long counseled Republican presidents on religious issues, says he plans to use the 2012 election to his favor when talking to legislators.

“We plan to point out that if the GOP ... wants to be a viable national party in the future, then it is going to have to get more Hispanic votes then it did in the last election,” Land said. When asked if he is comfortable with getting immigration reform passed by using political and election bargaining, Land laughed.

“Maybe [the Republican Party] should do the right thing for the wrong reasons,” he said.

But Republicans are not the only group faced with changing demographics. Evangelical Christians, too, are seeing the makeup of their churches change drastically.

Nearly one-fifth (19%) of Hispanics in the United States identify as Protestant, a Pew Research study found in 2012. On top of that, Hispanics are nearly twice as likely to say they are “born again” or evangelical as opposed to mainline Protestant.

Though Hispanics are still more likely to identify as Catholic – 62% do so, according to Pew – evangelical leaders say they see signs that the number of Hispanics in their churches will only grow in the future.

“The growth in most of our churches is because of immigration. That is the future of our churches,” Wallis said matter-of-factly.

That change is evidenced in the ethnic makeup of the coalition’s leadership. Luis Cortés, president of the evangelical group Esperanza, Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, and Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, all signed on to the group early. Additionally, many of the local pastors are from primarily Hispanic churches.

Wallis concludes: “This is our growth, these are out brothers and sisters. We are a diverse body of Christ, we are a very diverse community. This is our family and this is our future.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Immigration • Latino issues • Protestant • Race

soundoff (1,205 Responses)
  1. Richard

    Why should anyone believe a group of people who worship fairy tales?

    January 13, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • Edweird69

      We shouldn't... it's taken a long time to debunk their religion. People were always afraid to challenge it, for fear of discrimination. One of my family members make sure their children are never around me, as they don't want them exposed to an atheist...I'm seen as a threat to their religion.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • are122

      It's good to know some are born with no meaning, live with no meaning and die with no meaning. I have never heard an atheist attempt to explain the laws (physics) of the universe, why or how they exist or logic behind their non-belief. Tell me, what fairy tale do you have for that?

      January 13, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • dreamer96

      The Earth is flat.....

      January 13, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • Ole Hippie

      You mad because you came out of the closet and don't give a Chit about you?

      January 13, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • ??

      @ Old hippie..Smoke another one ! Sorry-I couldn't resist.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • Edweird69

      @are122 – You have invented something in your skull that isn't real. My life has plenty of meaning, thank you. I mean a lot to my spouse, my family, my colleagues at work. I do plenty for my community. I don't need an imaginary friend for my life to have meaning. You are not special to some magical being. You are part of the living earth...just like all other living things here. Because we don't have an explanation for all things, is not proof your god exists.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  2. a dose of reality

    It is very easy to show how the Judeo Christian god is an invention of man, though.
    1. Only in late Bronze Age Palestine had anybody heard of this god. The millions of people living elsewhere in the World had never heard of it. All of the people living in China, Eaurope, Africa, India, the Australian Aboriginals had never heard of it until humans from Palestine gradually moved out and "spread the word".
    Does it really make sense that a being would create the an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,720,000,000 years ago (the age of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,720,000,000 years for human beings to gradually evolve, then, at some point gave them eternal life and sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.
    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Iron Age Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies.
    Second, does it not appear to you a little silly that, of all the countless millions of people, this god would make the Jews its "chosen race" and obsess with giving them a host of rules, most relevant only to farmingcommunities. Hmmm, did god creat the Jewish farmers or did the Jewish farmers create God....
    Next, the stories of Christianity are not even original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Ho.rus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).
    Next, the Bible is also literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, r.ape and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.
    By the way, we have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. For example, the Gospel of Matthew includes a scene in which Jesus meets Matthew, recounted entirely in the third person!! Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died and do not even claim to have been witnesses. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Koresh at Waco – who wrote 35 years after the fact and wasn’t there.
    When backed into a corner, Judeo-Christianity admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. However, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something (which it most certainly is not, any more than “faith” that pixies exist is) one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Christian based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. In a dark room without features, any guess by a blind man at the direction of the door is as valid as the other 359 degrees.
    Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices. Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?
    No, Kalessein, faith is not even belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, a wish for a god, no more substantial than the hope for a good future and no more substantial that the "hope for a good future" and no more universal universal than the language you speak or the baseball team you support.
    We are a frightened little species and we need to avoid the inevitablility of death. We create our gods to do just that and to explain those parts of nature we cannot explain or control. Fortunately, the penetrating light of science and knowledge has flushed this "god of the gaps" out of his hiding place. He is now forced to inhabit those few remaining dark patches science has not yet fully exposed. The origins of life is one, the uncritical mind of the believer is another.
    Either that, or it all started 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake. Either way “oh come on” just doesn’t quite capture it.

    January 13, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • Gerald

      Repent and turn from your wicked ways. You are mad at God for your own bad choices

      January 13, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • Gerald

      your truly need a dose of reality and you might just get it. You are a fool

      January 13, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • ericgoestoholland

      What's the point of writing an essay on an article that isn't even about the truth or untruth of religion? Since no one can prove or disprove the existence of god, I would say that you are as passionately religious about your beliefs as the christians are about theirs. Although Gerald isn't doing anyone any favors either. I.e., How can someone be angry at god if they don't believe he exists, and how the hell do you know what kind of good or bad choices this person has made. Gerald, look at yourself: you've decided to approach your response to this commentator by making two judgments of a person you know absolutely nothing about. Do you REALLY want other people to believe in god or not? Because you're doing a good job of making enemies out of strangers.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • John

      Well, I am glad that you discovered that the religion of Hitler, Stalin and Mao is a better fit for you. I bet you would be OK to sending al those who have a different faith than yours to a concentration camp. Your post is so ignorant of the truths that Christianity preaches that it could end up being eternally embarrassing. Get a Bible and do some more reading. Stop building a straw man that you could then easily destroy. What is the scientific law that postulates that matter can apear out of nothing? The Big-bang theory is just that: a big empty bang.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Edweird69

      @John – err... HItler was a Christian. You need to put down your bible, and study history. The other folks you mentioned did fight for the cause of atheism... they had a different agenda. You just made a fool of yourself.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • Edweird69

      ooops...I meant... did NOT fight for the cause of atheism.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:33 am |
  3. ShawnDH

    I am glad to see evangelicals doing something that isn't super-creepy and hateful and focused on oppressing people and stealing or blocking their rights.

    January 13, 2013 at 8:30 am |
  4. dreamer96

    The Catholic Church is big in Mexico today...Ironic since the religious Queen of Spain passed laws in the early 1500's, saying it was okay to make slaves out of their Mexican forefathers and used them to dig for Gold and work the farms.....

    January 13, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • are122

      Religion doesn't corrupt people, people corrupt religion. Sorry you can't see that.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • dreamer96

      Are122

      I would think that was obvious Are122....Just look at Tammy Fay Baker and her husband...

      January 13, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • GodIsLoveIsBlindIsRayCharlesIsGod

      @are122- People created religion and people are corrupt, so consequently......

      January 13, 2013 at 11:03 am |
  5. a dose of reality

    There are many Atheists however who look down upon Christians as being inferior however because they have not made the leap of common sense and logic to understand that their God is a long perpetrated myth. In a sense it is akin to looking at a child who believes in Santa Clause. As adults we know full well he does not exist. The child hasn't grown up enough to shrug off the silly fantasy that has been fed to him/her to placate them. We see ourselves as the new grown-ups and you as the children placated by your Santa. We are urging you to grow out of that myth.

    The thing is, if you had met an Adult who still believed in Santa you would most likely treat them similarly. Think there's something fundamentally wrong with their sense of reality and wish to explain to them how ridiculous it is. The large difference here is in the fact that Christianity as a whole isn't so innocent as Santa. Christianity is guilty of so very many evil deeds in the name of God and the believers in Christianity are guilty of ignorance. Pretend for a second that the majority of people believed in Santa as a true fact and tried to force you to believe, coerce you to believe and judge you for not believing. This of course being the LEAST of what religions have done to people who don't believe them. You know Santa is a farce. You would be annoyed, angry, and feel like common sense had flown the coop.

    That is what Atheists are dealing with.

    All the logic, science, education and clear and obvious data about the world is purposefully ignored by theists and you swallow lies your whole lives, closed off to the possibility that you are wrong. We are not closed off to the possibility that we are wrong.. In fact, that's how most of us got to this stage of sanity. I was a believer who dared to question the "truth" of the gospels. When the answer to my questions were "pray about it" and "have faith" I needed to keep looking.

    We would be less angry if religions kept to themselves and stopped trying to dictate how others lived. If it stayed out of politics, we wouldn't be angry. If it stopped trying to tell people who aren't followers how to live their lives, we wouldn't care what you believed. If religions didn't cause untold millions of deaths, we would just simply giggle at your silly faith. That is not the case at all.

    You don't see us making cases against people who believe in Pagan faiths, we don't typically touch on Buddhism either. Because they don't try to control others. They do their thing and enjoy their beliefs without causing harm. You will never hear any of us speak out against Jainism for example. Never. They have a simple rule "above all, do no harm" and they follow it very closely. If your religion had that as the tenet and nothing else, we would be happy for you.

    January 13, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • a dose of reality

      Obviously I'm not through venting my diseased spleen.

      The hot plate dinner will have to wait.....

      January 13, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • a dose of reality

      Nice try copying my moniker...why aren't you in church handing over your money to some delusional preacher and then off to Pig Out at some lousy breakfast chain????

      January 13, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • TJ

      How little you know, how ignorant you truly are. I guess what you're saying is neither love nor hate exist. You cannot, after all, see them. There is evidence of them, but you cannot see either of those two – both of which are imposters to people like you who believe as an insect in the woods, never having laid eyes on a human, or anything other than it's own kind.

      As that insect is, so go you.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Thanks

      Well stated!

      January 13, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • cmiller09

      Very well said! AGREE 100%.

      January 13, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • GodIsLoveIsBlindIsRayCharlesIsGod

      Hey TJ, ELABORATE!!!!! How did you get out of Dose of Reality's post that the point he was trying to make was "neither love nor hate exist"???? And how does the existence of these emotions have any relevance on whether or not a god exists? It’s because of bone headed statement like that that atheists tend to look down on Christians. These half –formed conclusions based on fallacious reasoning shows a laziness of thought that, while not all, certainly a majority of the Christians that post on this site exhibit. Maybe if you would think these ideas out a little more thoroughly and logically and not, when faced with concepts that conflict with your world view predicated on the existence of some supernatural being, stop probing any further and fall back on the same old “God did it” explanation for everything, you would have a more coherent argument.

      January 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
  6. a dose of reality

    No matter how you dress it up, there are some fundamental difficulties with Christianity that are pretty hard to overcome.
    1. At its most fundamental level, Christianity requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,720,000,000 years ago (the age of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,720,000,000 years for human beings to gradually evolve, then, at some point gave them eternal life and sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.
    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Iron Age Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies.
    Either that, or it all started 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake. Either way “oh come on” just doesn’t quite capture it.
    2. This ‘all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and spying on the approximately 7 billion human beings on planet Earth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic telepathic powers. He also keeps his telepathic eye on them when they are not praying, so as to know if they think bad thoughts (such as coveting their neighbor) so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.
    3. Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is harbor an honest, reasonable and rational disbelieve in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.
    4. The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze and Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages.
    5. The stories of Christianity are not even original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Ho.rus and Dionysus (including virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).
    6. The Bible is also literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, r.ape and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.
    7. A rejection of the supernatural elements of Christianity does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent we reject Christian morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – we just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.
    Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions. So is telling them it is “wrong to doubt.” This is probably why there is not one passage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant gullibility.
    8. We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. For example, the Gospel of Matthew includes a scene in which Jesus meets Matthew, recounted entirely in the third person!! Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died and do not even claim to have been witnesses. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Koresh at Waco – who wrote 35 years after the fact and wasn’t there.
    9. When backed into a corner, Christianity admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. However, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something (which it most certainly is not, any more than “faith” that pixies exist is) one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Christian based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. In a dark room without features, any guess by a blind man at the direction of the door is as valid as the other 359 degrees.
    Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices. Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?
    Faith is not belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, a wish for a god, no more substantial than the hope for a good future and no more universal than the language you speak or the baseball team you support

    January 13, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • a dose of reality

      There! I said my piece, not that anybody really cares, even though it took me all morning to write it.

      Now I'll slink back into my one bedroom flat and start dinner on the hot plate.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • Bruce H.

      Then find something to believe in because a Big Bang doesn't create order. I would believe God evolved before I would believe man evolved.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • JWT

      And yet there is no need to believe in any of the gods.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • Ed

      I find it entertaining when people attack people for believing in God. Believing in God doesn't prove anything. Satan believes in God. All the dark evil angles of eternity believe in God. It's accepting Jesus as you Lord and Savior that makes the difference. Read Romans. Believing in God has nothing to do with anything.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • albert

      Although I understand where you are coming from, you clearly do not have a clear understanding of the Bible. It was written over a period of 1600 years and has continuity. One cannot ignore the prophecies that have been fulfilled. One also cannot ignore that so-called "Christianity" is far removed from Bible teachings. I think that is where people like you really draw their conclusions from. Christmas, Easter, The Rapture, Eternal Torment, and so many other practices are nowhere to be found in the Bible. Jesus most certainly did not teach or practice these things. I guess what I am trying to say is; don't equate false Christianity with what the Bible actually teaches.
      Much of what you have written can also be written about science. Science speaks in terms of billions of years. Hides behind words such as "probability". For example many scientists will tell you that there is a probability of life form somewhere in the universe. Some take it a step further by saying "There IS life on other planets" and yet, at least within the range of 23 billion light years, (the extent to which man can peer into the universe), there is zero proof of this clam. Although I admire science for its accomplishments, it too has become a form of religion complete with blind followers and false prophets as it were.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • ??

      @ Bruce.Go well with your will-full ignorance my friend.Go well.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Paul Klein

      Mr, Dos Reality, You have written a cogent, comprehensive, and lucidly clear, intelligent treatise on the frivolity and incongruity of religious belief. Thank you sincerely. I am cutting, pasting and saving your intelligent critiques for personal use as necessary to respond to those who cannot see. Thank you.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • Steve

      A lot of people care but lack the tools or time to respond to an articulate, well developed essay. They can agree or disagree with your premise but are only able to cite a single counter example, restate their own beliefs or repeat the talking points that have resonated with their own world view. Mounting any rational response at all is beyond many and they can only respond with threats of hell fire or post a link to some blog or another. As long as you will take the time to make a rational point, develop your argument within the bounds of civil discourse and put it out for folks to see, we are not quite yet a mob. So, thank you.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • ??

      @albert..and just who are the false profits of science? 23 billion light years really?So your god created the universe more than 23 billion years ago?This is new info.Perhaps you can provide some sources for this knowledge.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • cmiller09

      Ed:
      I find it entertaining when people attack other people for not believing in God, or Jesus. These are the same people who are pushing for "love, and peace", yet they continue to condemn those who don't have the same beliefs that they do. Seems like it is a double standard. Believe what I believe or else be sent to hell. That was the message I learned during my 30 years of going to a "christian" church. More hate is taught than anything.

      January 13, 2013 at 10:46 am |
  7. albert

    The more religion gets involved in politics, the more they prove how un-christ-like they are. This false religion must be abolished. In fact, according to their very own Bible, it will be.

    January 13, 2013 at 8:15 am |
  8. angel

    World Wars One and Two were fought mainly by people who called themselves Christians,by leaders who couldn't get along with each other,even hated each other.And even now we still vote for and give power to these same kinds of people,leaders who have trouble getting along with each other,and with other people here and in other parts of the world. Instead of voting for people who have the character of Jesus,we vote for and give power to people who reflect our own views.Just suppose we voted for and gave power to leaders who were more like Jesus,who said: Do to others as you would want others to do to you,instead of as leaders do now in Wars,they do to others what they don't want done to them. And leaders who followed Jesus' teaching of: Expect no reward from God loving who love you,even sinners love their own,instead as leaders do now in Wars,they love only those that love them. And leaders who do as Jesus says: Love your enemies,instead as now in Wars,they kill their enemies.But the Media and others,and most leaders who call themselves Christians push Jesus into the background,or don't follow him at all.Many of these people not only don't follow the Bible,but they rebuke it.

    January 13, 2013 at 8:08 am |
    • albert

      How very true. Then their is all the pagan worship perform by all of these false religions. Christmas, Easter, The teaching of eternal torment, The Rapture, overall Idol worship, etc. None of these things were practiced by Jesus or his followers from Bible times. Needless to say, these teachings are not found in the Bible. The Bible even mentions that the world is round, but you still had these anti-science / anti- Christians stating otherwise.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • Scott

      Hitler was not a christian. He was secular, with a penchant for the occult, pushing a eugenics agenda.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • ??

      @ scott.Yes,Hitler had a PENCHANT for the CULT of christianity.Do some research.

      January 13, 2013 at 9:18 am |
  9. Manuel J.

    There sure are a lot of so-called tolerant Liberals on this blog. Does it make you feel good to demagogue people of faith? If so, YOU ARE WORSE than the people you claim to describe.

    As for Stephen Hawkings, this is the first time I read that he was around when the world was created (sarcasm).

    January 13, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • Sane Person

      Demagogue is a noun. You can't "demagogue someone". See, now if you put down your bible, and picked up a dictionary, you'd know that. (Not to mention, that if we "demagogued you", that would make you the rabble-rouser using fear and prejudice to make your point, which is ironically, apropos)

      January 13, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • a dose of reality

      FYI: 2dem·a·gogue verb \ˈde-mə-ˌgäg\
      dem·a·gogued also dem·a·gogeddem·a·gogu·ing also dem·a·gog·ing
      Definition of DEMAGOGUE

      intransitive verb
      : to behave like a demagogue
      transitive verb
      : to treat (as an issue) in the manner of a demagogue
      Variants of DEMAGOGUE

      dem·a·gogue also dem·a·gog
      Examples of DEMAGOGUE

      But Clinton's boldness seemed to work, at least within the Beltway. House Republicans mostly stifled the urge to demagogue against his plan. —Tom Morganthau et al., Newsweek, 11 Dec. 1995

      January 13, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • Edweird69

      I do believe your religion is gasping for its last breaths. only the inner...more redneck backward states for the most part, are considered evangelical. They are losing their foot hold...FINALLY. Go spend eternity with your murderous god... I think I'll pass.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • Origin of Life

      @Manuel J. simple blood test will tell you how much Neanderthal you have in your DNA !!!

      Origin of Life no religions needed.

      They just want $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ and votes

      NOVA: Decoding Neanderthals – PBS Pressroom
      pressroom.pbs.org/.../n/NOVA/4002-Decoding-Neanderthals.aspx
      NOVA: Decoding Neanderthals. Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET. Check your local listings. Decoding Neanderthals Ep Main. Find out what

      January 13, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • Origin of Life

      @Manuel J. Simple blood test will tell you what % of Neanderthal is in your DNA

      Origin of Life no religions needed.

      They just want $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ and votes

      NOVA: Decoding Neanderthals – PBS Pressroom
      pressroom.pbs.org/.../n/NOVA/4002-Decoding-Neanderthals.aspx
      NOVA: Decoding Neanderthals. Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET. Check your local listings. Decoding Neanderthals Ep Main. Find out what

      January 13, 2013 at 8:40 am |
  10. Julia

    When, oh when, are we going to stop lumping "immigration" in with "ILLEGAL immigration?" The two are not one in the same. I welcome anyone from anywhere in the world if they come to America legally. Let's stop sugar-coating the fact that illegal immigration is wrong, and let's stop handing out rewards to those who break the law by coming here ILLEGALLY.

    January 13, 2013 at 8:07 am |
    • Bruce H.

      Amen

      January 13, 2013 at 8:33 am |
  11. socrateahcer

    Okay.. this gentleman wants immigration reform. So do I. In this piece of writing, though... I see LOTS Of rhetoric. I still don't know what Richard Land believes should happen. He defines part of the problem, but offers no suggested solution. Or did I not read carefully enough?

    January 13, 2013 at 8:04 am |
  12. Notevangelical

    Seeing hyperconservatives like James Dobson and progressives like Jim Wallis both involved in this is the most striking thing I see. What is the human cost of our broken immigration system? Laws, to be any good, have to be enforceable, reasonable, and humane. Our immigration laws fail on all 3 points. They can start by fixing the status of young people who may have been here their whole lives who suddenly find themselves deported with no recourse. Since when do we punish children for the crimes of the parents?

    January 13, 2013 at 8:03 am |
  13. a dose of reality

    A few questions should help shed light on the relationship between religion and rational thought.
    The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the field of:
    (a) Astronomy;
    (b) Medicine;
    (c) Economics; or
    (d) Christianity
    You are about 70% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are a:
    (a) historian;
    (b) geologist;
    (c) NASA astronomer; or
    (d) Christian
    I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am
    (a) A gifted psychologist
    (b) A well respected geneticist
    (c) A highly educated sociologist
    (d) A Christian with the remarkable ability to ignore inconvenient facts.
    I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am
    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;
    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly
    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or
    (d) your average Christian
    Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:
    (a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;
    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;
    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or
    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.
    I believe that an all powerful being, capable of creating the entire cosmos watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty". I am
    (a) A victim of child molestation
    (b) A r.ape victim trying to recover
    (c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions
    (d) A Christian
    The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:
    (a) Architecture;
    (b) Philosophy;
    (c) Archeology; or
    (d) Religion
    What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:
    (a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they are morally obliged to believe on pain of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;
    (b) Religion can make a statement, such as “there is a composite god comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;
    (c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas religion is regional and a person’s religious conviction, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than an accident of birth; or
    (d) All of the above.
    If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:
    (a) a deep psychiatric issue;
    (b) an irrational fear or phobia;
    (c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or
    (d) my religious belief.
    Who am I? I don’t pay any taxes. I never have. Any money my organization earns is tax free and my own salary is also tax free, at the federal, state and local level. Despite contributing nothing to society, but still enjoying all its benefits, I feel I have the right to tell others what to do. I am
    (a) A sleazy Wall Street banker
    (b) A mafia boss
    (c) A drug pusher; or
    (d) A Catholic Priest, Protestant Minister or Jewish Rabbi.
    What do the following authors all have in common – Jean Paul Sartre, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Milton, John Locke, and Blaise Pascal:
    (a) They are among the most gifted writers the World has known;
    (b) They concentrated on opposing dogma and opening the human mind and spirit to the wonders of free thought and intellectual freedom;
    (c) They were intimidated by the Catholic Church and put on the Church’s list of prohibited authors; or
    (d) All of the above.
    The AIDS epidemic will kill tens of millions in poor African and South American countries before we defeat it. Condoms are an effective way to curtail its spread. As the Pope still has significant influence over the less educated masses in these parts of the World, he has exercised this power by:
    (a) Using some of the Vatican’s incomprehensible wealth to educate these vulnerable people on health family planning and condom use;
    (b) Supporting government programs that distribute condoms to high risk groups;
    (c) Using its myriad of churches in these regions to distribute condoms; or
    (d) Scaring people into NOT using condoms, based upon his disdainful and aloof view that it is better that a person die than go against the Vatican’s position on contraceptive use.

    ReplyReply AllMove...mls

    January 13, 2013 at 8:02 am |
    • Bruce H.

      You must try to use your logic on every religious topic on the web. Copy and Paste. If a Muslim is raised Muslim he will have that pattern of believe. Same with Christianity. When you were raised by the Media you will believe like an Atheist and be violent in your comments.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • Manuel J.

      Haven't you noticed? The more we've pushed God away, the worse this World has become.

      As for the science aspect, I find it humorous how you can be so arrogant as to think everything just happened, based on a single random event. Statistically speaking, it's impossible for this to have occurred randomly; as in infinitely impossible.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • a dose of reality

      Bruce, have you taken your meds today?
      Ten Reasons You Know you are an Atheist.
      1. You were likely brought up a theist (probably a Christian if you live in the USA) and had to do your own thinking to rise above the beliefs that still occupy the mind of the believer. This usually involved being smart and working hard at school and college so as to get a good, accurate view of the natural Universe and overcoming significant social pressure to dumb yourself down and conform. In short, you had the guts to ask the hard questions and the brains to spot the weak answers. The more you came to understand the Universe, the less reason there was to believe in a god and the more you came to appreciate human nature, the more you understood why billions of us still do.
      2. While rejecting the supernatural elements of the Bible, you nevertheless retain a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent you reject Christian morality, it is where it is mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, your basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – you just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over your head in order to act in a manner that you consider moral.
      3. You know a great deal more about the Bible than most believers. This is because you took the time to read it yourself and did not rely on the primary-color simple stories you learned in Sunday school. You have also probably done some research into the historical Jesus and have a good handle on where he REALLY fit in to the broader picture of the Middle East at the time. Needless to say, his miracles and other magic powers soon started to look pretty unlikely.
      4. Your knowledge of basic science and history is much stronger than that of your average believer. You likely have a basic working knowledge of physics, astronomy, evolutionary biology and cosmology and a good idea of the history of life on this planet. This acc.umulated knowledge puts you in a position to judge the claims of the Bible in a critical light and they are almost always found wanting. To the theist, this makes you “elitist” and ‘arrogant”.
      5. You relish your role as a religious minority in the USA, as this gives you an impetus to fight and you understand how others with unpopular, but doubtlessly correct views have felt throughout history. There is something altogether satisfying to you about having a deep conviction you are right and being viewed with disdain for your views by the errant majority. You feel a quiet confidence that future generations will look back on you as a member of a class of trailblazers, as religious supersti.tions go into inevitable decline in popularity.
      6. You are likely more environmentally aware than your theist friends and colleagues and unlikely to fall for claims of industry and wind-bag politicians concerning the impact of man’s activities on the environment. You could no more act in an environmentally irresponsible manner because “god will keep us safe” than you could jump of a ship, believing King Neptune will keep you safe.
      7. You generally have a live and let live atti.tude, but will fiercely defend any attempts by theists to thrust their views on you or your children, directly or through control of school boards, the legislature or the executive. While you are prepared to debate and argue passionately with the theist on an intellectual level, you would never wish them harm or ill will. You know you are likely to be smugly told you will “burn in hell for all eternity” for your healthy skepticism. This highlights what you despise about religion, as you would not wish a bad sunburn on another, simply because they have a different religious view to you. You have never heard of an evolutionary biologist strapping a bomb to himself and running into a church yelling “Darwin-u akbar”.
      8. You likely know more about other religions than your average theist. This makes you less fearful of them and enables you to see parallels. You realize that, if you were born in India, you would have been brought up with a totally different religion. You realize that every culture that has ever existed has had its own god(s) and they always favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams and prejudices. They cannot all exist and you see the error all faiths make of thinking only theirs exist(s). This “rising above” the regional nature of all religions was probably instrumental in your achieving atheism.
      9. You likely have a deep, genuine appreciation of the fathomless beauty and unbelievable complexity of our Universe, from the 4 nucleotides that orchestrate every aspect of you, through to the distant quasars, without having to think it was all made for you. You likely get more out of being the irrelevant ant staring up at the cosmos than you do in having to pretend that it was all made to turn in majestic black-and-white pirouette about you.
      10. While you have a survival instinct, you cannot fear death in the way the theist does. You know that the whole final judgment story, where you may be sent to hell if you fail, is Dark Ages nonsense meant to keep the Church’s authority. You also know that you were dead for 13,700,000,000 years before you were born. It is impossible for you to fear death, for the simple reason that you know the capacity to fear (or to feel pain or discomfort) itself dies. You will not even know you are dead. Fear of death is as meaningless to you as is the fear of a vacuum, the fear of not being born. You feel a lot more secure, and indeed a deep comfort, in this knowledge, than you would in trying to yoke yourself to some quasi-hope that every part of your intellect tells you is untenable.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Manuel J.

      to clarify everything, I mean how the world has evolved to what we know today (plants, animals, intellect...)

      January 13, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • alynn

      Awesome.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Science

      @a dose of reality
      The popes stance on condoms is a threat to the World Health Org. and peace.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • rick

      I find it humorous how evangelicals can be so arrogant as to think they speak for god

      January 13, 2013 at 8:18 am |
  14. Jt_flyer

    The very word 'evangelical' send chills down my spine.

    January 13, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • JJ

      The more accurate word is Talibangelicals.

      January 13, 2013 at 7:56 am |
    • jt_flyer

      I'm also a total idiot. You just agreed with a total idiot.

      How's it feel?

      January 13, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • Julie

      Or zealot.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:18 am |
  15. rr

    We should be preaching the word of God and salvation of Jesus Christ. When are our religious leaders going to stop playing politics and start preaching hell fire and repentance again? This group has its priorities mixed up. This nation is going to hell in a hand basket and all they want to talk about is immigration? No wonder so many people get gunned down in America. Here is an idea instead of preaching immigration how about preaching God and the value of human life and the ten commandments. Especially the one that says "Tho shall not murder"!

    January 13, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • Science

      Stephen Hawking: God didn't create universe – CNN
      articles.cnn.com/.../hawking.god.universe_1_universe-abrahamic-fait...
      Sep 2, 2010 – God did not create the universe, world-famous physicist Stephen Hawking

      January 13, 2013 at 7:57 am |
    • JJ

      Because most people at the age of 2 know that you should not kill another person. If you require threats from some sky god that he/she/it will roast you in a lake of fire for eternity if you do something bad then you have mental issues and I don't what you anywhere near me an my children.

      January 13, 2013 at 7:59 am |
    • northern light

      "We should be preaching the word of God and salvation of Jesus Christ. "

      Why?

      January 13, 2013 at 8:00 am |
    • Sane Person

      We should stop humouring the silly, make-believe invisible sky fairie crowd. There is a reason all this god nonsense is only allowed in the blog pages. There is a reason that god is not in school text books (Well, except in texas..). Rational people know its a bogus concept, and are merely being polite letting you blather on about your imaginary friend and his ever changing set of laws. There is a reason we have fire and policement, rather than let god protect us. We go to doctors, rather than count on god for our bypass. Why? Because when all the silliness is over and real things have to be done, we get down to the human science of it and get it done. There is no longer time to play around with your man made fantasies of being "holier" than everyone else.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:08 am |
    • Julie

      Maybe because no one has ever seen or spoken to god except the delusional. Maybe because every word in the bible is always someone says what jesus said. Because we all know jesus and or god never wrote anything. So you are saying to believe what you are saying based on faith and not fact. If I did that I would be just as delusional as you are.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:27 am |
  16. Bruce H.

    The use of Matthew 25:31-46 to push this reform is all wrong. The story is about two different groups of people. The first group did what they did naturally and didn't even realize what they were doing. They were welcomed into heaven. The second group thought they were doing everything right and was cast in hell. It is not about doing good. Christianity is all about the heart and how it is focused on Jesus Christ resulting in how we live out our lives for others naturally. Yes, we do need reform on immigration, however, we also need to realize that when there is a "No Trespassing" sign posted, you shouldn't trespass. BTW, when believers are deported, they go back as missionaries to minister to their people. That is how God was successful in spreading the Gospel when the church was persecuted and scattered.

    January 13, 2013 at 7:49 am |
  17. why

    Do not let churches make immigration laws. Deport illegals!!!

    January 13, 2013 at 7:46 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Second.

      January 13, 2013 at 7:55 am |
  18. infidel

    why can't we just enforce the laws?????? oh! this is about destroying the republic...

    January 13, 2013 at 7:46 am |
  19. Origin of Life

    Origin of Life no religions needed.

    They just want $$$$$$$$$$$$$$ and votes

    NOVA: Decoding Neanderthals – PBS Pressroom
    pressroom.pbs.org/.../n/NOVA/4002-Decoding-Neanderthals.aspx
    NOVA: Decoding Neanderthals. Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 9:00-10:00 p.m. ET. Check your local listings. Decoding Neanderthals Ep Main. Find out what

    January 13, 2013 at 7:43 am |
    • Bruce H.

      You can only see one aspect of one crooked religion and apply it to all religions. I know an atheist who was a murderer. Using your same logic, I could apply that to you. Guys like you need to grow up and quit trusting in PBS. That is a religion, too.

      January 13, 2013 at 7:57 am |
    • a dose of reality

      Bruce, please grow up and see the difference between LOGIC/Rational thought/Science vs Faith in myths and fairy tales.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:05 am |
    • northern light

      @ Bruce H

      "Guys like you need to grow up and quit trusting in PBS. That is a religion, too."

      So tell us Bruce ...where are the atheist holy places....the books, the rituals and the grubbing for money to support the atheist cause......the intervention in government to have an atheist viewpoint enacted into law?

      There ain't any ....cause it ain't a religion founded in the bronze age by sheep herders

      Being a non believer is simply a realization that there is no god never was no how.....and "we" can mentally handle it .....you seem to need it ....and we pity you.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • Origin of Life

      @ Bruce H
      Simple blood test to track your % of Neanderthal DNA in your family tree !!!
      What made the GOLD ?

      January 13, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      @Bruce,

      Not believing in religion is a religion just like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:29 am |
  20. Leftist Liberal Democrat

    Don't worry, Obama will deport you or at least into a FEMA Camp even if you are American citizen.

    January 13, 2013 at 7:42 am |
    • ShawnDH

      Good God. Give it a rest. Your obsessive and pathological Obama Derangement Syndrome is getting old.

      January 13, 2013 at 8:28 am |
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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.