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Godless mom strikes a chord with parents
A CNN iReport essay on raising kids without God draws record-breaking number of comments.
January 18th, 2013
06:32 PM ET

Godless mom strikes a chord with parents

By Daphne Sashin, CNN

Deborah Mitchell remembers the time, when her boys were younger, and another mom asked her about her religious beliefs.

Mitchell was raised Catholic but moved away from religion in her early 20s. She told the other mother that she didn’t go to church and didn’t even really believe in God.

Then, she says, the recruiting started.

“She used to call my house and tell me she was praying for me. She’d leave me messages and leave cards in my mailbox with scripture,” Mitchell says. “I do realize that she meant well, but at the same time, I know my views were seen as wrong. I needed to be ‘saved.’”

Mitchell, a mother of two teenagers in Texas who feels “immersed in Christianity,” started a blog about raising her children without religion because she felt frustrated and marginalized. She didn’t want to feel so alone, she says.

This week, she gained a whole new audience and the reassurance that she's not alone. Her essay on CNN iReport, “Why I Raise My Children Without God,” drew 650,000 page views, the second highest for an iReport, and the most comments of any submission on the citizen journalism platform.

It starts:

When my son was around 3 years old, he used to ask me a lot of questions about heaven. Where is it? How do people walk without a body? How will I find you? You know the questions that kids ask.

For over a year, I lied to him and made up stories that I didn’t believe about heaven. Like most parents, I love my child so much that I didn’t want him to be scared. I wanted him to feel safe and loved and full of hope. But the trade-off was that I would have to make stuff up, and I would have to brainwash him into believing stories that didn’t make sense, stories that I didn’t believe either.

Mitchell posted the essay detailing her seven reasons for raising her children without God on CNN iReport because she felt there wasn’t anyone else speaking for women or moms like her. As she sees it, children should learn to do the right things because they will feel better about themselves, not because God is watching. She asks questions like: If there was a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God, why would he allow murders, child abuse and torture?

Lots of people disagreed with her. Tons. They flagged her iReport as inappropriate and criticized CNN for linking to her essay on the CNN.com homepage. But there were plenty of others who wrote thoughtful rebuttals, respectfully disagreeing with Mitchell while not foisting their own beliefs on her. Take, for instance, a Methodist dad, who said faith can be hard to nail down, but “not to avail ourselves of the power of something we don't completely understand is silly.”

Others said Mitchell presented a simplistic view of religion.

“Presentations such as these seem to ignore a substantial percentage of believers - well-educated, compassionate, liberal folk, Christian and non-Christian alike - who, I feel, are able to worship without being blind to the realities of the world, or without lying to their children about their understanding of these complexities,” wrote commenter RMooradian. “I'll be raising my children with God, but I understand those who cannot!”

But Mitchell’s essay also struck a chord with hundreds of like-minded parents raising children in a world where lack of belief puts them in the minority, often even in their own family.

“Thank you for writing this. I agree with everything you say, but I’m not brave enough to tell everyone I know this is how I feel,” a woman who called herself an “agnostic mommy of two in Alabama” posted in the comments. “Thank you for your bravery and letting me know I’m not alone.”

It’s a growing group. One in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion, and that number has grown by 25% in the past five years, according to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Of that group, 88% said they were not looking for religion, although 68% of the unaffiliated said they believe in God. 

Brittany Branyon, an American graduate student and substitute teacher living in Germany, was also compelled to express her thanks to Mitchell. Branyon was raised Southern Baptist in Georgia and Alabama. In high school, when she began to question the theory of creation and befriended gay and lesbian students, she says her mother tried to perform an exorcism.

“She opened all the windows and doors in the house, brought me to the door, held my shoulders and shook me while screaming, ‘Satan, get out of this child!’, ‘Satan, leave this child alone!’.”

After moving away from the South, she and her husband “became more comfortable in our secular ways,” but still take criticism from family members. They are now expecting their first child.

“Though we are elated to welcome our child into the world, we can’t help but dread the religious uproar that is to come from our families,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Such an uproar is familiar to Carol Phillips, a stay-at-home mother in northern Virginia. When she gave birth to her first child, she said her family was shocked that the baby wasn’t baptized. She said her mother-in-law cried and told her the little girl’s soul would not go to heaven.

Then there are the comments from strangers. Last year, Phillips said she and her daughter were at a birthday party when a tornado warning sounded.

“We were all in the basement keeping safe. A little girl was saying baby Jesus will keep us safe. My daughter asked who Jesus was. The rest of the time was spent hearing ‘I'll pray for you sweetie, we can take you to church with us if you want,’” Phillips told CNN.

Commenting on Mitchell’s iReport, Phillips said, “To live out loud and to speak freely about my beliefs brings many clucking tongues. I would think it’s easier to come out as gay than atheist.”

Mitchell said she spent years studying the history of religion and does believe it has “an important place in our community.” She has told her children that she’ll be fine if they decide to join a church when they are older.

She ended her essay:

I understand why people need God. I understand why people need heaven. It is terrifying to think that we are all alone in this universe, that one day we—along with the children we love so much—will cease to exist. The idea of God and an afterlife gives many of us structure, community and hope.

I do not want religion to go away. I only want religion to be kept at home or in church where it belongs. It’s a personal effect, like a toothbrush or a pair of shoes. It’s not something to be used or worn by strangers. I want my children to be free not to believe and to know that our schools and our government will make decisions based on what is logical, just and fair—not on what they believe an imaginary God wants.

After her post ran on CNN, Mitchell said she was encouraged by the number of people who agreed with her, or who disagreed but wanted to have a respectful discussion.

“I’m not saying that everybody should think how I do. I’m saying the people that do should have a place in our society and have acceptance and respect,” she said. “I just want to have children grow up and be able to not be afraid to say ‘I don’t believe that,’ or ‘I’m not part of that.’” 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Christianity • iReport

soundoff (15,081 Responses)
  1. Stephen

    If all the narrow minded, sanctimonious, intolerant zealots are going up, then please god, send me down. Life on Earth with them is enough to endure at times – I can't imagine an eternity with nothing but them.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:26 am |
  2. JIggy

    Let's have stories about Jews who no longer believe. No? Why not? CNN is slowly taking shots at Christianity, slowly publicly eroding it. Boy Christianity seems to be fair game. Oh, I'm agnostic btw

    January 19, 2013 at 8:25 am |
    • notea4me

      We are talking about "all religions". Now go back to watching Glen Beck. No war on christianity here. Just some athiest trying to be free of all religious dogma.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:31 am |
  3. Jim

    Is telling your child that "these are questions they must answer themselves and that no one can answer them for you" an incorrect response?

    January 19, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • JWT

      They are also questions that can be freely ignored.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:28 am |
  4. stevie68a

    Hey, "christians", time to consider that you have been tricked into believing nonsense.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • Jim

      I think its time that arrogant atheists need to have more empathy for others beliefs, even if your right.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • JIggy

      Don't be a phok head

      January 19, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • sam stone

      jim: the same could be said for arrogant christians

      January 19, 2013 at 8:30 am |
  5. It is Called

    Old news No god(s)
    Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says – CNN ...
    religion.blogs.cnn.com/.../heaven-is-a-fairy-story-scientist-stephen-ha...
    May 17, 2011 – Stephen Hawking at the World Science Festival in New York in 2010. ... In a book published last year, Hawking wrote that God did not create ...

    Published on Nov 20, 2012
    Curiosity host Dr. hawking Did "god" create the Universe and can the laws of nature co-exist with a belief in "god".

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkEIpBlqazk&w=640&h=390]

    January 19, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • RODBOY

      Remember Dawkins is a theoretical Scientist, which means they have no facts just thoughts, no proof just guesses, he and Lawerence admit this but we continue to think of their writings as fact. Even their formulas are based on assumption that defy the laws of Physics , go figure.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • notea4me

      So you are a science denyer. Really, you choose fairy tails over science?

      January 19, 2013 at 8:36 am |
    • It is Called

      He is just one source.
      Best thing to do is take a simple blood test go figure !!!

      Published on Jan 15, 2013

      Over 60,000 years ago, the first modern humans—people physically identical to us today—left their African homeland and entered Europe, then a bleak and inhospitable continent in the grip of the Ice Age. But when they arrived, they were not alone: the stocky, powerfully built Neanderthals had already been living there for hundred of thousands of years. So what happened when the first modern humans encountered the Neanderthals? Did we make love or war? That question has tantalized generations of scholars and seized the popular imagination. Then, in 2010, a team led by geneticist Svante Paabo announced stunning news. Not only had they reconstructed much of the Neanderthal genome—an extraordinary technical feat that would have seemed impossible only a decade ago—but their analysis showed that "we" modern humans had interbred with Neanderthals, leaving a small but consistent signature of Neanderthal genes behind in everyone outside Africa today. In "Decoding Neanderthals," NOVA explores the implications of this exciting discovery. In the traditional view, Neanderthals differed from "us" in behavior and capabilities as well as anatomy. But were they really mentally inferior, as inexpressive and clumsy as the cartoon caveman they inspired? NOVA explores a range of intriguing new evidence for Neanderthal self-expression and language, all pointing to the fact that we may have seriously underestimated our mysterious, long-vanished human cousins.

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R00ZT_1JU1g&w=640&h=390]

      January 19, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • It is Called

      @rodboy
      DNR came on private property (Grandpa's place) for a reason to do core samples.. The conculion is the resourses that come with what happened back then is amazing to say the least.
      Thank you
      Peace
      Where Does All Earth's Gold Come From? Precious Metals the Result of Meteorite Bombardment, Rock Analysis Finds

      Sep. 9, 2011 — Ultra high precision analyses of some of the oldest rock samples on Earth by researchers at the University of Bristol provides clear evidence that the planet's accessible reserves of precious metals are the result of a bombardment of meteorites more than 200 million years after Earth was formed.

      Dr Willbold continued: "Our work shows that most of the precious metals on which our economies and many key industrial processes are based have been added to our planet by lucky coincidence when the Earth was hit by about 20 billion billion tonnes of asteroidal material."

      For full article

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110907132044.htm

      January 19, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • Seriously123

      Stephen Hawking is God!

      January 19, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
  6. Connie

    I bet she told them about Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, and the tooth fairy.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • JWT

      all are child hood fairy tales that are not expected to last until adulthood. Fun and fantasy.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • Jim

      I guess we should ban cartoons and Sesame Street as well, since they aren't real either.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • Sensible

      and i bet she also read them many other fairy tales too. but those things are made to thrown away after a time, not to be believed in and followed and preached to the masses

      January 19, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • Chris

      Is there any difference between Santa and God?

      January 19, 2013 at 8:37 am |
  7. truth be told

    No decent person fears an atheist, you are self deluded, all normal people recognize your comments as the lies they are. The only ones who agree with you is other deceived atheists. What one so called atheist lies to all the others swear to, the rest of the world knows you to be of no value.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:22 am |
  8. Joel

    I don't want to believe. It is possible to believe almost anything. I want to know.

    I apologize to those of you for whom belief comes easily, or with only manageable difficulties. It is not that way for everyone. I was raised as a Christian, was a strong believer until my early 20s, and even planned to go into full-time Christian work. But beginning in my early 20s I began to have serious doubts. Then a decades-long period of studying and searching began which ultimately convinced me that my faith was groundless. I wanted to believe, to have that assurance and comfort which religion brings, but I was determined to follow what I perceived as the truth, no matter where that search led me. My reasons for leaving the faith would fill a book.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:22 am |
  9. tom hayes

    just visit or contact those people in Russia or other countries that are under dictatorship and without Jesus Christ and then decide ,or if you are really honest and believe what you are saying here is a test for you but you have to use the same passion in it that you use here #1 say as passionately as you can in believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, just say the name "Jesus: ,seven times ,then #2 say I Love you Jesus ,seven times and then #3 say I release myself to you Jesus in Jesus Holy name and then decide and make your educated answer and then you will probably want to go to Church of His Presence online and confess and watch their services and find out that Jesus really exists and He really Loves you and your seed

    January 19, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • Julie

      Many of those people from Russia and other countries would classify you as having a psychiatric disorder.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • Mxh

      Scandinavia is the least religious place in the world and also the happiest, healthiest and best educated.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:30 am |
  10. Canadian Jack

    Religion killed GOD. Religion requires faith. Faith requires the suspension of rational thought. Theoretical physicists have published in peer reviewed Journals that the Universe is a hologram. Neurologists have published in peer reviewed studies that the data store within the human brain is far too large to be contained within the skull. They have concluded that the Brain is a hologram. Everything you see, feel, touch, or hear is an illusion. Who went to all this trouble? The Master Programmer or Projectionist. GOD by another name. Now world, get ready you must now act out your role. Go into the world with gentleness, humility and compassion for the other. The angels will applaud.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:19 am |
  11. sick of christian phonies

    My daughter was raised without a god. She turned out fine, with a keen sense of morality and appreciation for the world. She works with severely autistic children- thank you for THAT misery, "god"! Some have problems you wouldn't believe- like kids that scream every 15 minutes all day, ones have to wear head protection because they punch themselves... I couldn't imagine doing that. She is a saint, in my eyes. A saint that needs no god.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • CCC

      Well it is great your child makes you so proud. Indeed you probably are not aware of all the details of her life and therefore do not know of her alleged saint status.. As far as Autism goes, you say thanks GOD, how utterly laughable, why dont you thank all your vaccine companies and the federal governemet who pushes this on us. God IS GOOD he works in my life your life and your daughters life everyday. Look at the fruits and see. If no fruits, well you have NO GOD. Repent

      January 19, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • Canadian Jack

      Humans started out as hunter gathers. The man hunted the woman gathered insects and material to be woven into clothing. The woman gatherers caused humankind to evolve into farmer about ten thousand years ago. We domesticated cows and sheep and dogs. Various civilizations were started were steeped in faith. Faith that required human sacrifice. Faith can be cruel and require us to sacrifice our children. God dwells within some of us, the Devil in others. That's why this place so interesting.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:00 am |
  12. notea4me

    They are afraid of us athiest because they assume we have no morals without their religion. Unknow to them morals are unique to their religion and existed long before christianity.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • notea4me

      I meant morals are NOT unique to thier religion.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • Connie

      You just made that up. A person can have morals with or without religion. You're putting all Christians in the same boat as you're saying Christians put athiests in one boat.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • Figgel

      Agreed. Those with faith believe those without cannot lead wholesome lives. That we cannot raise our children to know right from wrong. They fear we won't work hard our sustain our community. But I fear those with faith can be too easily brainwashed and that we'll end up holding the baggage associated with this deep form of deception. The pot calls the kettle black evertime I am judged by a christian who supposedly is taught not to judge. However, if an atheist calls out audacious practices by a christian, they are proverbially hung from the highest windmill. Truth is though, without religion, many would be lost–and that's no way to feel either.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • Sensible

      @connie

      so then the question becomes, can a person without religion be just as moral as someone with it? can they be just as good of a person? a law abiding citizen? a constructive member of society? that is a lot of the drawing points that religious people use to separate believers from non-believers

      January 19, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • notea4me

      Figgel'
      Have to agree with you. There was some research a few years back that identified a god area of the brain. Basically it explains why humans have a need to believe in something, anything. I had a friend many years ago who had went shopping for a religion. He had a laundry list of questions thet he would put forth to priest, ministers and rabbi's. Obviously the only one who had all the answers was the evangeligal minister. Foolish inaccurate answers, but it was good enough for him.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:22 am |
  13. sick of christian phonies

    Things are changing. I used to say I was agnostic, so as to not invite the contemptuous or pitying looks from others. That stopped when the religious zealots of the right started pushing their agenda, years ago. My daughter- a fine, moral person- was raised without a god. Most of her friends are non-believers. Hopefully the tide will grow, and perhaps one day the cancer of religion will be conquered.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:17 am |
  14. Theamology

    The little child's comment in the article, "Baby Jesus will take care of us," is a self contained wonderful little religion. It implies the benevolent loving God we can all see by simply observing the decisions of God. After all, the decisions of God are clearly evident in the universe; we just have to look at them. We have never needed a Bible or a Quran or a teacher or a parent or even a single word from God to see the decisions of God, the very decisions made this very morning, the decisions to create and give life to children and then to entrust them to humanity, arms outstretched, offering love and trust for us. The God we can all see is beautiful and benevolent.

    Then, so sadly, for these thousands of years we have become trapped into the closing our eyes and fastened to belief that these sad ancient books of scripture are infallible, books that speak of a false God who is hideous, an angry seething God who revels forever in the glory of the sound of the eternal screams of physical anguish of non believers; a God who commands the slaying of entire villages, the beating, stoning, kidnapping and raping of women, the sacrificing of children. That God has never existed. We can all see this by observing the decisions of God.

    The books are traps. Once you accept them as infallible you become truly blinded and trapped with little chance for escape. "After all," your logical mind will think, "what the book says might be true, the creator of hell might exist and I better worship him and I better do so perfectly, even if this means acting in violence against those who do not believe, to physically punish them to prove to the angry seething God that I worship and believe."

    It takes great courage to escape from this trap, but the path is clear: Close the book and open your eyes once again to observe the decisions of God we all can see. She is very beautiful and benevolent and she loves you dearly, having thought about the possible existence of you, and then observing that this was good, she created you, she gave you life at birth, infilling your lungs with the sustenance of her creation, and she has entrusted you to all of us in this beautiful earth , warmed every day by our beautiful star, surrounded for all these ages by ringed and striped and clear blue planets, the cosmos beckoning for us to explore as deep as our courage will carry us, our minds equipped with the capacity to teach ourselves how to do it.

    Created or evolved, we all awaken in a universe to find ourselves entrusted to each other and as such, we can see that we are to be our brothers keeper, to share with each other and to watch each other’s backs; to embrace life itself as both a gift and a basis for all moral values, to guide us to create societies where life can flourish, where the resources of the earth are shared, where knowledge is shared quickly and openly, where the children of man are born into a world of absolute equivalence of education and opportunity.

    We should settle for nothing less than this, we should re-create ourselves to be as beautiful as the universe, and indeed, if she does exist, as beautiful as she waits for us to desire to be, by loving the things she so dearly loves, by loving each other, we who are the children she has created.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:16 am |
  15. Roger

    Thank you, Deborah Mitchell.

    I used to be religious, very much so, but then I did rigorous study of the actual history of Christianity. The archeology, the politics, the "other" writings, the associated religions, the history of the world in which it developed.

    To quote Elaine Pagels, "God created man, but man created God."

    January 19, 2013 at 8:15 am |
  16. Steve

    It's very hard to keep 'religion in the home or family'. We live in a world where many points of view are vehemntly shoved into our faces – be it secularism, the desire to get promoted, to win, to do whatever you want, to get material possessions and so on. If everyone keeps their 'beliefs' at home, we'd all walk around in silence never doing anything like automatons.

    The truth is that what we believe always impacts the way we live so we can never keep our beliefs in the family. My belief in God is what motivates my whole life – with teens, in schools, prisons etc! I'm not proselytizing, I'm living a life for God and for others, as Jesus has called me to. A study in Wales a few years ago showed the church contributed well over £1billion to the Welsh economy for free in things like youth clubs, help for those in poverty, work with the homeless, helping police and so on. I'd say that this shows exactly why people's beliefs should be allowed to be displayed. Unlike many 'beliefs' and 'rights' which can be incredibly harmful, this kind of thing is incredibly positive and loving and doesn't come with conditions attached!

    Additionally, children are impacted by what their parents believe so they will live and speak things that take their beliefs 'outside the home'. Sadly when some kids have done this and speak about God they've been told to be silent. Deborah Mitchell's children are free to believe what they want and she has the choice for them not to learn about God. Conversely, those children who believe in God should also be free to believe. I'd argue that it's increasingly the case that those who don't believe in God have vastly more 'rights' than those who do, whose voices and being silenced. (Ironically, where countries eg Iran have tried to silence Christians, the church always grows!)

    If you don't believe in God that's fine, just be respectful as this lady has been. Unlike many of the comments on here, there is no need to be abusive or disparaging, that says far more about you than it supports any argument you make ;)

    January 19, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • Sensible

      i agree with a lot of what you're saying. i just believe that religion should just be left out of politics and shouldn't be pushed on anyone. i don't think there's anything wrong with believing what you want or talking about it or putting up a billboard proclaiming it. but when it begins to dictate what others who don't believe can and cannot do, that's when i think it goes too far.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:27 am |
  17. Julie

    I agree with this mother. She understands that children are being indoctrinated from birth into an imaginary fantasy world of make believe characters and refuses to participate with her own children. Whats wrong with that? Just because a parent was manipulated from birth by means closly related to the "Stockholm Syndrome" doesn't mean they have to continue the cycle. Teaching a child to live a life of fear because of religion is in my opinion a form of child abuse. Religion should only be taught at a college level for a historical purpose and not use to brain wash innocent children. Fortunately religion is dying a slow death her in the U.S. as more and more people understand the same thing this mother does.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • notea4me

      That's why the religious right is trying to tear down the public school system and replace it with local religious schools vouchers. Basically to indoctrinate another generation and take us all backward. Once you put the boogie man in a childs mind it lingers for a lifetime.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:26 am |
  18. huimiy

    The belief that God doesnt exist is very child like. Children cover their eyes and think that others disappear. Some cover their own hearts with hardness and think that God doesnt exist.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • Sensible

      so you believe it's child-like to hear these improbable stories and not believe them?

      January 19, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • JWT

      Hmm you have a god and I do not. Both true.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • Casey

      Actually, I feel it's quite the opposite. Children have imaginary friends, not adult.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Sensible

      to further casey's statement, i also think that it's children who sometimes need to given a false sense of security. to be told everything's gonna be alright, when it may not be

      January 19, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • notea4me

      If you stand back and look at the whole picture, god looks more and more like a childs fantasy.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • sam stone

      others feel that they have some authority to speak for god

      January 19, 2013 at 8:35 am |
  19. w o s

    the Gospel of Thomas teaches "the kingdom of god is within us" we don't need religion we never have.
    I loved the article and the comments. My wife and I have raised wonderful children who have god in there lives but not religion

    January 19, 2013 at 8:11 am |
  20. Robert in Florida

    THANK YOU for your courage! I know that more blood has been spilled in the name of religion than any other cause and I'm frightened about how easily it can be used to control people. With that said, I understand it had a crucial role in organizing and developing our society and for that I recognize and thank the religious past. Now, at this point in history I want us to unify as a planet but as long as there are opposing religious groups it will never happen. All I can do as a member if this growing minority is not indoctrinate my children and continue with what no longer serves us.

    January 19, 2013 at 8:11 am |
    • Sensible

      humankind has been around a lot longer than christianity or any modern organized religion. i wouldn't give it so much credit for organizing and developing society. i'm sure you'd agree we had morals and knew right and wrong before being re-taught so 2000 years ago

      January 19, 2013 at 8:20 am |
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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.