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November 19th, 2014
02:47 PM ET

Jerusalem terror attack 'strikes at soul' of Jews worldwide

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) – Books, filled with prayers for peace, splattered with blood. Sacred vestments shredded by bullets and knives. Lifeless bodies in the sanctuary.

The rabbis had gathered to ask God to bestow blessings upon their troubled land. Their prayers were interrupted by two men wielding butcher knives and a gun.

An Israeli police officer and four rabbis were killed, including an American whose family is considered "rabbinic royalty."

Combined with the site of the slaughter - a synagogue in West Jerusalem - the targeting of rabbis struck at the soul of Jews around the world, several Jewish leaders said Tuesday.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Israel • Jerusalem • Middle East • Palestinians • Terrorism

November 11th, 2014
02:35 PM ET

Church: Mormon founder Joseph Smith wed 40 wives

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) - The founder of the Mormon church, Joseph Smith, wed as many as 40 wives, including some who were already married and one as young as 14 years old, the church acknowledged in a surprising new essay.

Smith's marital history had been the subject of frequent historical debate, but until recently Mormon leaders had taken pains to present its founding prophet as happily married to one woman. Now, the church says, "careful estimates put the number between 30 and 40."

The church, officially called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, disavowed plural marriage in 1890 under pressure from the U.S. government, which had imprisoned polygamists and seized their assets.

FULL STORY

November 7th, 2014
01:48 PM ET

How Brittany Maynard forced us to look at death

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) - This country is changing rapidly, and at the very time modern medicine puts life-or-death decisions in our hands, organized religion has faded from the lives of many Americans.

As the surgeon and writer Atul Gawande noted in The New York Times recently, our medical system, powerful as it may be, is ill-equipped to step into the breach and answer crucial questions such as, "What is a good death?"

Perhaps that's why Brittany Maynard's death on November 1 stirred such remarkably personal debates. All at once, it seemed, we were confronting the question together: Given a choice, how would we wish to die?

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Death

New Chicago archbishop ditches $14 million mansion
The cardinal's mansion in Chicago is worth at least $14 million, according to appraisers.
October 22nd, 2014
11:18 AM ET

New Chicago archbishop ditches $14 million mansion

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) – Chicago's new archbishop does not plan to live in the $14 million mansion that housed many of his predecessors but was seen by some Catholics as out of touch with Pope Francis' emphasis on simplicity.

Instead, Archbishop Blase Cupich, a moderate in the mold of Francis, will live in the rectory of Holy Name Cathedral, the archdiocese of Chicago announced Wednesday.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Leaders • Money & Faith • Pope Francis

October 20th, 2014
02:50 PM ET

It's hard to change the Catholic Church. Even if you're the Pope.

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) - As Catholic bishops in Rome began a major meeting on modern family life two weeks ago, Pope Francis encouraged them to speak candidly and "without timidness."

He certainly got what he asked for.

Bishops bickered. Conservatives contemplated conspiracy theories. Liberals lamented their colleagues' rigidity.

Through it all, the Pope stayed silent.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Pope Francis • Uncategorized • Vatican

October 15th, 2014
04:33 PM ET

Mark Driscoll, top megachurch pastor, resigns

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) – Less than a year ago, Mark Driscoll, an evangelical pastor, was flying high.

His hometown Seattle Seahawks were in the Super Bowl, and the brash pastor scored a big, faith-fueled interview with five of the team's top players, including quarterback Russell Wilson.

But in a remarkably fast fall from grace, Driscoll resigned Tuesday as pastor of Mars Hill Church, a congregation he founded 18 years ago and turned into a force in the mostly secular Pacific Northwest.

In a statement, Mars Hills' board of overseers said Driscoll hadn't committed any acts of "immorality, illegality or heresy" - sins that have felled many a powerful pastor.

Instead, the board said, Driscoll is guilty of "arrogance, responding to conflict with a quick temper and harsh speech, and leading the staff and elders in a domineering manner."

Driscoll was not asked to leave, the board added, saying they were "surprised" to receive his resignation letter.

FULL STORY

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • evangelicals • Leaders

October 15th, 2014
03:41 PM ET

Why I got arrested in Ferguson

Opinion by Lisa Sharon Harper, Special to CNN

Ferguson, Missouri (CNN) – It seems every few months for the past few decades we witness fresh protests to push a prosecutor to indict the killer of a black man especially if that killer is white.

In fact, these protests have become commonplace, even expected, as if protesters are stock characters in a national theatrical classic, revived in cities across the country every year.

When Michael Brown was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, it looked like Ferguson, Missouri, was going to serve as just one more stop on the national tour of this classic drama. But it didn’t.

We have seen the officer, security guard or vigilante assailant protected from arrest and whisked out of the reach of the angry black people. We have seen indictments await grand jury approval. We have seen prosecutors bungle trials.

But when was the last time we saw the local police department turn on the crowd with the militarized force and vitriol demonstrated by Ferguson’s finest?

When was the last time that we saw a prosecutor and governor play political games to avoid a recusal?

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Black issues • Discrimination • Guns • Opinion • Prejudice • Protest • Race

October 13th, 2014
03:07 PM ET

A new welcome for gay Catholics in the church

Opinion by Francis DeBernardo, special to CNN

(CNN) – I could hardly believe what I was reading as I saw the news Monday morning that Catholic clergy meeting in Rome said gay and lesbian people should be welcomed into the church more warmly.

After decades of hearing messages from high church officials that lesbian and gay people were a threat to humanity and a danger to children, I had to rub my eyes a few times to make sure that I was reading this new, more positive language correctly.

Was this really coming from the Catholic Church?

Most significantly, the document calls on Catholic communities to be “accepting and valuing” of lesbian and gay people's sexual orientation, and to recognize that lesbian and gay people “have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.'”

Quite simply, this is a total reversal of earlier church statements that labelled such an orientation as "objectively disordered," and which viewed gay and lesbian people in faith communities as problems and suspect persons.

The new language recognizes for the first time the reality that I have witnessed in more than 20 years of ministry with lesbian and gay Catholics: “they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home.”

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Opinion • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis • Pope John Paul II • Same-sex marriage • Virgin Mary

October 13th, 2014
11:09 AM ET

Vatican proposes 'stunning' shift on gays, lesbians

By Delia Gallagher, CNN

ROME (CNN) – Using strikingly open language, a new Vatican report says the church should welcome and appreciate gays, and offers a solution for divorced and remarried Catholics who want to receive Communion.

At a press conference on Monday to present the report, Cardinal Louis Antonio Tagle of the Philippines said Catholic clergy meeting here have largely focused on the impact of poverty, war and immigration on families.

But the newly proposed language on gays and civil marriages represents a  “pastoral earthquake,” said one veteran Vatican journalist.

“Regarding homosexuals, it went so far as to pose the question whether the church could accept and value their sexual orientation without compromising Catholic doctrine,” said John Thavis, a former Rome bureau chief for Catholic News Service.

The Rev. James Martin, an author and Jesuit priest, called the report's language on gays and lesbians "revolutionary."

“This is a stunning change in the way that the Catholic Church speaks about gay people.”

"The synod said that gay people have 'gifts and talents to offer the Christian community.' This is something that even a few years ago would have been unthinkable," Martin added.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Culture wars • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Pope Francis • Same-sex marriage • Vatican

Study: Americans want more religion in politics
A growing number of Americans want closer ties between church and state, a poll found.
October 10th, 2014
12:03 PM ET

Study: Americans want more religion in politics

By Sara Grossman, Special to CNN

(CNN) – On Sunday, pastor Jim Garlow of Skyline Church in California stood before his congregation of more than 2,000 and told them he would be making an unusual announcement.

The pastor proceeded to warn his audience against voting for a candidate in the upcoming midterm elections who supports gay marriage and abortion, even if that candidate, Carl DeMaio, is a Republican.

Garlow, an outspoken evangelical who played a major role in organizing Christian groups in support of California’s anti-gay marriage Proposition 8, spoke plainly: He would not be supporting the Republican in this race.

“I know enough that you cannot have the advancing of the radical homosexual agenda and religious liberty at the same time, in the same nation,” he preached. “One will win, and one will lose.”

Instead, Garlow told his followers he would be endorsing DeMaio’s rival, Democratic incumbent Scott Peters, representative for California’s 52nd District, to send a scathing message to Republican leadership that candidates who back abortion and gay rights are unacceptable to the party’s Christian base.

Garlow is one of a growing number of Americans who say that religion should play a greater role in politics, according to the findings of a recent study by the Pew Research Forum's Religion & Public Life Project.

The study found that almost three-quarters of the American public — 72% — believes that religion’s influence is waning in public life, the highest level in Pew Research polling over the past 10 years.

And many Americans say that trend is a bad thing, the study found.

“A growing share of the American public wants religion to play a role in U.S. politics,” the Pew study authors write.

What kind of role?

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church and state • Culture wars • Gay marriage • Houses of worship • Politics • Polls • United States

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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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