July 15th, 2012
03:00 AM ET
Editor's Note: Joseph Loconte, Ph.D., is an associate professor of history at the King’s College in New York City and the author of The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt.
By Joseph Loconte, Special to CNN
(CNN)–The results of the investigation into the sexual abuse scandal at Penn State University, released last week, suggest a crisis of conscience in the academy. The report blames “the most powerful leaders at the university” for concealing vital facts about football coach Jerry Sandusky’s chronic record of child abuse. Singled out are university President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley, Vice President Gary Schultz, and head Coach Joe Paterno. “Our most saddening and sobering finding,” the report said, “is the total disregard for the safety and welfare of Sandusky’s victims by the most senior leaders at Penn State.”
Last month Sandusky was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse, including rape and sodomy. If the investigation’s conclusions are correct, he had help. It seems that all these individuals, men of public achievement and outward propriety, conspired together to protect a serial pedophile. How is it possible?
July 14th, 2012
01:30 PM ET
(CNN)–Dozens of believers gather on the lawn of a Baton Rouge family after their statue of the Virgin Mary appears to bleed. CNN affiliate WBRZ reports.
July 14th, 2012
06:00 AM ET
Editor's Note: Reba Riley is a graduate of 15,000 hours of Christian education, the Focus on the Family Institute and the Ohio State University. When she isn’t selling construction materials for a living, she’s writing a reverently irreverent memoir about Thirty by Thirty: 365 Days. 30 Religions. 1 Chance to Recover Faith by 30.
By Reba Riley, CNN
(CNN)–At 20, while studying for Christian ministry, I became a victim of "post-traumatic church syndrome."
The how isn’t as important as the what: My soul had grown obese with doubt, and I could no longer squeeze into my religion. Like every good Evangelical Poster Child, I had been raised with Believe-It-All theology (lest God spit me out of His mouth in disgust!), so when I chose to Believe-It-None I became God’s holy puke.
When faith is your whole identity, rejecting it is not unlike swan-diving into a bed of nails. It’s spiritual suicide; you’ll be forced attend a thousand little funerals for your shattered self, each worse than the last.
The pain is so brutal, so intense, that it’s easier to tell yourself lies: Faith isn’t important; I don’t need God; I can partition off my soul with demolition tape and tip-toe around the condemned site forever.
Except that eventually? I couldn’t play pretend.
July 13th, 2012
09:00 AM ET
By Effie Nidam, CNN
New York (CNN) – The sounds of hammers and saws fill the air in the small workshop of the Byzantion Woodworking Company in the Queens neighborhood of Astoria. The smell of sawdust and wood polish is thick.
At the center of it all, woodworker Konstantinos Pilarinos lovingly chisels elaborate carvings destined for Greek Orthodox churches across the country.
“The pieces I make by hand, that people pray upon in church, are like my children,” he says.
A series of tragedies brought Pilarinos to this city and this profession.
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.
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.