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May 31st, 2013
04:19 PM ET

Baptists plan exodus from Boy Scouts

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - For Southern Baptist pastor Tim Reed, it was Scripture versus the Scouts.

“God’s word explicitly says homosexuality is a choice, a sin,” said Reed, pastor of First Baptist Church of Gravel Ridge in Jacksonville, Arkansas.

So when the Boy Scouts of America voted to lift its ban on openly gay youths on May 24, Reed said the church had no choice but to cut its charter with Troop 542.

“It’s not a hate thing here,” Reed told CNN affiliate Fox 16. “It’s a moral stance we must take as a Southern Baptist church.”

Southern Baptist leaders say Reed is not alone. FULL POST

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Christianity • Church • Gay rights • gender issues • Politics • United States

Poll: America losing its religion
The Reason Rally, sponsored by secular organizations, draws a crowd to Washington.
May 29th, 2013
03:06 PM ET

Poll: America losing its religion

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – More than three in four of Americans say religion is losing its influence in the United States, according to a new survey, the highest such percentage in more than 40 years. A nearly identical percentage says that trend bodes ill for the country.

"It may be happening, but Americans don't like it," Frank Newport, Gallup's editor in chief, said of religion's waning influence. "It is clear that a lot of Americans don't think this is a good state of affairs."

According to the Gallup survey released Wednesday, 77% of Americans say religion is losing its influence. Since 1957, when the question was first asked, Americans' perception of religion's power has never been lower.

FULL POST

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • United States

In Oklahoma, a balm after the storm
Volunteers unload donations for tornado victims at the First Baptist Church on May 23, 2013 in Moore, Oklahoma.
May 25th, 2013
06:05 PM ET

In Oklahoma, a balm after the storm

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - For six days, First Baptist Church in Moore, Oklahoma, provided food and shelter to victims of Monday’s deadly tornado. On the seventh day, the church offers another scarce resource: solace.

“Simply put, we are urging people to draw near to the Lord and near to each other,” said Kevin Clarkson, the church’s senior pastor. “As bad as this time is, we find that God will give us comfort and solace and hope for the future.”

Four of the nine children who died in Monday’s tornado had ties to First Baptist. On Sunday evening, the church will host a prayer service called “Oklahoma Strong: Coming Together in Faith,” which Gov. Mary Fallin is expected to attend.

FULL POST

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Church • United States

Prosecutor: Parents' belief in faith healing led to infant's death
May 24th, 2013
05:22 PM ET

Prosecutor: Parents' belief in faith healing led to infant's death

By Sarah Hoye, CNN

Philadelphia (CNN)–When Brandon Schaible got a rash, his parents prayed.

When the 7-month-old became irritable with diarrhea and lost his appetite, his parents, Catherine and Herbert Schaible, prayed again.

When Brandon had trouble breathing and gasped for air, his parents called a pastor - this, in spite of the fact that a judge had ordered them to call a doctor.

Brandon Schaible died on April 18 from bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and strep, according to the district attorney’s office – all treatable with antibiotics.

On Wednesday his parents were charged with third-degree murder.

The Schaibles are lifelong members of the First Century Gospel Church in Philadelphia, one of several religious groups in the U.S. that relies on faith, and eschews most medical care.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christian Science • Christianity • Crime • Culture & Science • Faith & Health

May 24th, 2013
04:46 PM ET

Has the Oklahoma atheist been saved?

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) - Just days after she announced to the world from tornado-ravaged Moore, Oklahoma, that she is an atheist, it looks like Rebecca Vitsmun has found salvation.

Not from the Lord, mind you, but from other atheists and friends of atheists.

An Indiegogo campaign titled “Atheists Unite,” launched late Thursday by stand-up comic Doug Stanhope, is raking in dollars to help her family rebuild. Less than 17 hours after going live, it met its 60-day goal of $50,000. A little more than an hour later, as we prepared to publish, donations were at $55,000 - and growing.

“Holy @#!%!” Stanhope said, by way of hello when he answered his phone Friday morning.

FULL POST

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Atheism

May 23rd, 2013
06:16 PM ET

My Take: Why my family is quitting the Boy Scouts

Editor's Note: John Stemberger is an Eagle Scout and president of On My Honor, a coalition of concerned parents, Scout Leaders, Scouting donors, Eagle Scouts and others affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America who are united in their support of Scouting’s timeless values and their opposition to open homosexuality in the Scouts. Find more information at www.OnMyHonor.net.

By John Stemberger, Special to CNN

(CNN)– On Thursday, delegates to the Boy Scouts of America’s national conference met in Grapevine, Texas, to determine the fate of one of the most beloved organizations in this country’s history. This organization that has stood the test of time will probably be destroyed now that they have decided to admit openly gay boys as Scouts.

Sex and politics have no place in the Boy Scouts, and allowing open homosexuality will lead to myriad bad consequences.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture wars • Gay rights • Opinion • Politics • United States

Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate
Pope Francis greets the faithful as he leaves St. Peter's Square at the end of his weekly audience April 10 at the Vatican.
May 23rd, 2013
03:59 PM ET

Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) -– American atheists welcomed Pope Francis’ comments that God redeems nonbelievers, saying that the new pontiff's historic outreach is helping to topple longstanding barriers.

“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone,” the pope told worshipers at morning Mass on Wednesday. “‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”

Francis continued, “We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”

Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said that although he has been skeptical of Francis' outreach to the nonreligious, he welcomed Wednesday’s comments.

FULL POST

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Pope Francis • Vatican

May 22nd, 2013
06:20 PM ET

This Oklahoma atheist isn't thanking the Lord

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) – Behind her were ruins, a tangled mess where structures once stood. Cradled in her arms, the mother’s 19-month-old son played with a snatched microphone, unfazed by the chaos swirling around him. And in front of Rebecca Vitsmun stood CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, who – after asking her about the decision that saved her and her son's lives – had one more question:

“I guess you got to thank the Lord, right?” he asked.

“Yeah,” she mumbled, smiling and looking down.

“Do you thank the Lord for that split-second decision?” he continued.

“I, I, I,” the 30-year-old stay-at-home mom stammered before adding, “I’m actually an atheist.” FULL POST

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Atheism • iReport • News media

May 22nd, 2013
05:05 PM ET

Brutal cleaver assault on man in London street is suspected terror attack

By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN

London (CNN) - A man thought to be a serving British soldier was killed by two armed men in a frenzied attack on a London street Wednesday, in what the government is treating as a suspected act of terrorism.

Witnesses told of a gruesome scene in which the man was hit by a car, then hacked with cleavers and his body dumped in the middle of the road in Woolwich, southeast London.

The two suspects in the killing were injured in a confrontation with police and have been taken to two hospitals, where they are being treated.

CNN affiliate ITN aired a video showing a man with bloody hands and holding a meat cleaver, who says, "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you."

The man, who seems to have a London accent, carries on: "The only reasons we killed this man this is because Muslims are dying daily. This British soldier is an eye for an eye a tooth for tooth.

FULL STORY
- Dan Merica

Filed under: Europe • Islam • Terrorism • United Kingdom

May 22nd, 2013
08:34 AM ET

My take: Keep bad theology out of Oklahoma

Editor's Note: The Rev. Ian Punnett is the author of "How to Pray When You’re Pissed at God (Or Anyone Else For That Matter)" and a veteran talk show host. He has been married for 28 years and is the father of two college age boys.

By Ian Punnett, Special to CNN

(CNN) - “God never gives us more than we can handle.”

God, have I learned to hate that cliche.

As a clergy person, as a hospital chaplain intern and as a father, I have come to believe that, at best, that platitude is a classic example of meaningless bumper-sticker theology. It's easily said and only makes sense when it goes by you so fast you don’t have time to think about it.

At worst, however, claiming that God scales a tragedy up or down depending on our ability to handle loss is as heartless as it is thoughtless.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Opinion

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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.

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