July 24th, 2012
01:20 PM ET

Henson, Huckabee take sides in Chick-fil-A same-sex marriage controversy

[Updated at 6:41 p.m. ET] The comments about same-sex marriage made by Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy a week ago continue to generate controversy this week, with politicians and puppets, well at least their handlers, weighing in.

"Guilty as charged," Cathy was quoted as saying in the Baptist Press last week when asked about his company's support of the traditional family unit as opposed to same-sex marriage.

"We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business," Cathy was quoted as saying.

That stance didn't go over well with the Jim Henson Co., whose Jim Henson's Creature Shop toys have been served up in Chick-fil-A's meals for kids. Jim Henson Co. is named after the creator of the Muppets, though the company transferred the Muppets' rights and ownership to the Walt Disney Co. in 2003, according to Jim Henson Co.

Correction: Previous versions of this story identified toys given away with Chick-Fil-A meals as Muppets. They were not. The toys are characters from Jim Henson's Creature Shop.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Food • Money & Faith

July 23rd, 2012
08:18 AM ET

My Faith: How Hajj gave us a child

Editor's Note: Shafath Syed is a Silicon Valley entrepreneur and marketing consultant. He runs muslimgoodnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @shafath.

By Shafath Syed, Special to CNN

(CNN) - As our family has been getting ready for Ramadan and I look at my daughter I'm reminded of our Hajj trip and how it completed our family. I didn't fully realize the impact that Hajj would have on our family's life. It not only gave us a spiritual awakening but also brought a child, our child, into our lives. For Muslims, the chance to perform Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, is one of the greatest expressions of our faith.

There are three facets of my life that make me who I am. I'm an American by nationality, a Muslim by faith and an Indian by culture. Faith has always been an important part of my life. It comes from my parents, who exposed me to faith not just with education, but also in practice. For as long as I can remember, they were involved in the Muslim community and even helped to establish our local mosque.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Muslim

July 20th, 2012
02:02 PM ET

Obama, after shooting, tells supporters 'Such evil is senseless'

By Kevin Liptak, CNN

(CNN) – President Barack Obama, speaking Friday at a modified campaign event in Florida, urged a crowd of supporters to set aside politics on a day when the nation's attention was focused on a deadly shooting at a movie theater in Colorado.

"Even as we learn how this happened and who's responsible, we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this," Obama said. "Such violence, such evil is senseless. It's beyond reason. But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the life of another, we do know what makes life worth living."

"I know many of you came here today for a campaign event," Obama continued at the event in Fort Myers. "I was looking forward to having a fun conversation with you about some really important matters we face as a country, and the differences between myself and my opponent in this election. But this morning, we woke up to news of a tragedy that reminds us of all the ways that we are united as one American family."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 2012 Election • Politics

July 20th, 2012
02:00 PM ET

Romney calls for unity following Colorado shooting

By Shawna Shepherd, CNN

Bow, New Hampshire (CNN) – A campaign rally for Mitt Romney was devoid of politics following a deadly shooting in Colorado Friday.

"I stand before you today not as a man running for office, but as a father and a grandfather, a husband and an American," Romney said in New Hampshire. "This is a time for each of us to look into our hearts and remember how much we love one another."

Ahead of Romney's remarks, a couple hundred people who came to watch to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee unleash his latest attacks on President Barack Obama instead were bowing their heads with Father Christian Tutor to pray on behalf of victims and their families.

Campaign signs and slogans ubiquitous at most rallies were gone, except for a few American flags and the Romney stickers people were wearing on their shirts.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 2012 Election • Mitt Romney • Politics

July 19th, 2012
02:44 PM ET

As Ramadan begins, controversial mosque won't be ready to open doors

By Steve Almasy and Melissa Abbey, CNN

(CNN) - Worshippers at an Islamic center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, will have to wait a few more weeks before they can use their new mosque, officials said Thursday.

The mosque - subject of a two-year battle marked by legal wrangling, vandalism and anti-Muslim sentiment - still needs to pass inspection and get its occupancy permit, mosque officials said.

"It is unfortunate that we cannot be in our building for the start of Ramadan tonight," the officials said in a written statement. "However, it does look like we will get to enjoy most of Ramadan in our building, especially the breaking of the fast at the end of Ramadan, on Eid-ul-Fitr."

The release said it will take about 10 days to complete the next legal steps.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Memphis ordered Rutherford County to conduct a final inspection on the building, setting aside a local judge's ruling from June that voided a planning commission's approval.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Islam

Chick-fil-A's marriage stance causing a social storm
July 19th, 2012
08:18 AM ET

Chick-fil-A's marriage stance causing a social storm

By Brad Lendon, CNN

(CNN)–The fact that Chick-fil-A is a company that espouses Christian values is no secret. The fact that its 1,600 fast-food chicken restaurants across the country are closed on Sundays has long been testament to that.

But the comments of company President Dan Cathy about gay marriage to Baptist Press on Monday have ignited a social media wildfire.

10 religious companies (besides Chick-fil-A)

"Guilty as charged,", Cathy said when asked about his company's support of the traditional family unit as opposed to gay marriage.

Chick-fil-A controversy shines light on restaurant's Christian DNA

"We are very much supportive of the family – the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that," Cathy is quoted as saying.

CNN's This Just In Blog has the full social media reaction to the latest Chick-fil-A flap
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity

July 19th, 2012
07:55 AM ET

Zimmerman: Shooting 'God's plan'

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) –  It was "God's plan" that brought together George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin in a fatal confrontation in February, Zimmerman told Fox News host Sean Hannity Wednesday in his first television interview.

Zimmerman, 28, has been charged with second-degree murder for shooting Martin in what he says was self-defense. Martin was unarmed when he was killed while walking back to his father's girlfriend's house in a gated residential area of Sanford, Florida.  Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty and has been free on $1 million bail since early July.

Zimmerman, who said he routinely carried a gun except when he was at work, told Hannity he didn't regret deciding to follow Martin that night, after deciding the teen was acting suspiciously, and he didn't regret having a gun.

"Do you feel you wouldn't be here for this interview if you didn't have that gun?" Hannity asked.

"No, sir," Zimmerman responded.

"You feel you would not be here?" Hannity pressed.

"I feel it was all God's plan and for me to second guess it or judge it..." Zimmerman said, pursing his lips and shaking his head.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity

Tennessee Muslims sue to open mosque
A view shows the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in Murfreesboro, Tennessee May 30, 2012.
July 18th, 2012
04:58 PM ET

Tennessee Muslims sue to open mosque

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - A Tennessee Islamic center has asked a federal court to clear the way for a new mosque to open in time for the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at sundown Thursday.

Plans for the mosque in Murfreesboro, near Nashville, have resulted in threats to the center and a lawsuit that led to a county judge's order shutting down the project in June. The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro is now asking a federal judge to allow the mosque to open, arguing that it is being blocked "merely because local anti-Islamic protests have made the mosque controversial."

U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell set a hearing on the issue for Thursday afternoon in Nashville.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the center by the Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, argues that the center was ordered to meet "a heightened standard of notice in the zoning process" because of objections by some Murfreesboro residents.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Courts • Muslim

July 18th, 2012
03:24 PM ET

Olympian counts God as coach

By Alicia Tarancon, CNN

Ryan Hall is the fastest American distance runner competing in the London Olympics and he says he owes it all to his omnipresent coach who has been there with him every step of the way.

“I’ll just be straight forward, my coach is God,” the 29-year-old Hall told CNN.

Last year, after finishing second in the 2011 United States half-marathon Championship, Hall was told to do a routine drug test. The form with the test had a space to fill in the name of the runner's coach.

"I saw the line, it said coach, it was blank, and I said, 'Well you know I have to be honest,' " Hall said, "So I put 'God' down and it turned into a big controversial thing."

"Now whenever I see that line I just leave it blank. I'll just let it slide by," he added.

Hall calls his method of training “faith-based coaching.”  In London, he'll be putting his training to the test in the men's marathon.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief

July 18th, 2012
11:09 AM ET

Pastor handles deadly snakes

(CNN)–CNN's Gary Tuchman takes you inside a snake-handling church in Tennessee.

The death of a Mack Wolford, one of the best known snake handling pastors, put the obscure tradition back in the spotlight in late May.

Death of snake handling preacher shines light on lethal Appalachian tradition

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Content Partner • TV-Anderson Cooper 360

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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.