July 11th, 2012
01:30 PM ET
By Anna-Lysa Gayle, CNN
(CNN)–Twitter isn’t exactly scientific evidence, but it can produce conversation starters. Many readers registered a variety of responses to Dan Merica's recent story, about a study that said Americans tweeted more about church than beer.
The study was conducted by Floatingsheep.org, looking at geotagged tweets with the words "church" or "beer" in them. Geotagging allows users of the social media site to indicate their precise location when they send a message.
More tweets about church than beer came from the southeastern United States. On the other hand, more tweets about beer than church came from parts of the Northeast.
Stories that combine alcohol and religion always get lots of attention from our readers. Look no further than J. Wilson's beer-only lenten fast. His story about his 46-day beer-only fast racked up a ton of comments, tweets and Facebook recommends.
The beer/church Twitter comparison also got people typing.
July 11th, 2012
03:00 AM ET
Montreal, Quebec (CNN) – For the secretive Church of Scientology, "there was no bigger recruit than Tom Cruise."
The top Hollywood actor's membership in the Church beginning in 1986 "was huge," says Karen Pressley - a former Commanding Officer of the Church's Celebrity Centre in Hollywood from 1987 to 1989.
"My job was to ensure that celebrities were recruited, that celebrities were well serviced within our organization, and also to open up new celebrity centers around the world," she told CNN.
The high-profile marriage split between Cruise and actress Katie Holmes, who was raised Catholic, has re-ignited media interest in Scientology's influence in Hollywood.
A joint statement released Monday to announce their divorce settlement said, "We want to keep matters affecting our family private and express our respect for each other's commitment to each of our respective beliefs and support each other's roles as parents." It's not known if Holmes joined the Church of Scientology.
Cruise is just one of many celebrity members of the church, including John Travolta, Jenna Elfman and Kirstie Alley.
But Cruise was among Scientology's biggest fish, says Pressley. "Is there a bigger name than Tom? We called him TC."
July 10th, 2012
10:00 PM ET
By Michael Pearson, CNN
(CNN) – Episcopal priests will be allowed to conduct services blessing same-sex relationships under a policy approved Tuesday at the church's national convention in Indianapolis.
The convention's House of Bishops approved the provisional policy 111-41 with three abstentions Monday, clearing it for consideration by the House of Deputies, which approved it Tuesday evening.
The policy was approved in the House of Deputies, following more than an hour of debate, by 78% of the voting lay members and by 76% of clergy.
With the vote, the Episcopal Church will become the largest U.S. denomination to officially sanction same-sex relationships. The Episcopal Church has about 1.95 million members in the United States, down 16% over the last decade, according to the church.
The service is not considered a marriage ceremony, media affairs representative Nancy Davidge said.FULL STORY
July 10th, 2012
04:53 PM ET
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN)– Members of two Islamist militant groups destroyed tombs at a shrine to Muslim saints Tuesday, according to the mayor of Timbuktu, Mali, and other residents.
"The Islamists ordered the people to leave the area before they started smashing the tombs," Mayor Ousmane Halle said. "I saw both members of Ansar Dine and MUJAO, another Islamic faction in charge of the city. They were heavily armed and people had no choice but to leave when they started destroying the shrines."
It was the second time in the past two weeks that Ansar Dine, a militant group that seeks to impose strict Sharia law, has attacked the site's 16 mausoleums, built from mud and wood in the 15th century.
One of the town's residents said the militants surrounded the ancient Djingareyber mosque area at 7:30 a.m.FULL STORY
July 10th, 2012
12:01 PM ET
By Marina Csomor, Special to CNN
(CNN) – People visit Jerusalem for the rich history, interwoven religious narratives and crumbling holy walls. They visit Europe for ornate churches with painted ceilings and golden trim. They visit India for peace of mind, finding serenity in its carved and colorful temples scattered along the sacred Ganges River.
But people rarely travel the U.S. in search of such sanctuaries. After all, what religious wisdom could America, a country still in its youth at 236 years old, have to offer?
Although the country may not have a reputation for religious landmarks, America is home to more than just secular city halls and strip malls. Whether or not you practice a faith, visiting these beautiful and historic U.S. religious spots may provide inspiration.Read more from CNN Travel
July 9th, 2012
11:01 AM ET
(CNN)–William Lynch talks to CNN's Don Lemon about his acquittal of attacking a retired priest who allegedly abused him.
July 7th, 2012
08:00 PM ET
By Paul Root Wolpe, Special to CNN
Every four years, we go through a long and tortuous process of winnowing down a field of candidates to the two that are presumably best suited to lead us. We make our decision by focusing on two things: the candidates’ position on issues and their character.
We seem to spend the bulk of our time on the issues, debating endlessly the details of a candidate’s policies on immigration, health care, foreign affairs or the economy.
Yet the deciding factor, the one that tips the undecided voter, is perception of a leader’s character. We talk about character far less but it weighs upon us far more.
July 6th, 2012
08:22 AM ET
Editor's note: Archbishop Desmond Tutu is often described as South Africa's moral conscience and is a global champion for human rights. A passionate and compelling speaker, he took the anti-apartheid struggle to the world. In his own country, he led thousands of people in demonstrations, always preaching non-violence. In 1984 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and later chaired South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine apartheid-era crimes. Archbishop Tutu is Chair of The Elders.
By Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Special to CNN
(CNN) - In the coming days I will be in Juba and Khartoum, the capitals of South Sudan and Sudan.
My fellow Elders Martti Ahtisaari, Mary Robinson and I are going there to try to ensure that the terrible lessons of war are not forgotten - and to share our hope that these two beautiful countries can find a path to peace. We will relay the world's fears of another deadly conflict that would shatter the hopes of both nations and the broader region. And we will tell the leaders that, while it will take time and patience, we believe - as a result of our own experience - that peace can be achieved.FULL STORY
July 5th, 2012
02:39 PM ET
By Jeffrey Elizabeth Copeland, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The country’s oldest black religious denomination is blasting Congress’s recent vote holding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt as similar to the “evil strategies employed following the Reconstruction era.”
The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church said that House members who voted last week to condemn America’s first African-American Attorney General “have been consistently and systematically disrespectful,” in a resolution passed late last week.
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.