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My Faith: After my mosque was torched
The Islamic Center of Columbia, Tennessee, after it was torched in 2008.
August 7th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

My Faith: After my mosque was torched

Editor's Note: This piece was originally published in 2011. Daoud Abudiab is president of the Islamic Center of Columbia, Tennessee, where he works as an administrator for a physicians' group.

By Daoud Abudiab, Special to CNN

Last year, my son and I attended the White House conference on bullying prevention. We heard stories of people being bullied for being black, gay, lesbian and Sikh. The stories were compelling and left me more critical of our culture, in which it is popular to act in ways that dishonor our traditions.

Some of my friends were interested in the details of my Washington trip. I commented on the diversity at the White House event. A friend made a joke about the composition of attendees reflecting a typical Democratic Party gathering.

I thought of it as a typical American gathering. But I have become aware that not all Americans honor my American citizenship.

Read: Missouri mosque destroyed in fire

In some circles, my Muslim faith is not even accepted as a religion.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Islam • Mosque • Tennessee

Missouri mosque destroyed in second fire in a month
The ruins of a mosque in Joplin, Missouri, smolder after a fire early Monday.
August 6th, 2012
04:54 PM ET

Missouri mosque destroyed in second fire in a month

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - A mosque in Joplin, Missouri, was burned to the ground early Monday, just over a month after an attempted arson at the Islamic center, officials said.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the latest fire. The mosque's security cameras were destroyed in the blaze, according to Sharon Rhine of the Jasper County Sheriff's Office.

"This incident should not stop us from worshiping our God," one member of the Islamic Society of Joplin told CNN affiliate KYTV. "We are going to find a place probably to continue our service to God."

Kimberly Kester, another member, said the blaze was so intense that the building's bricks were still sizzling hours after the fire.

Carl Junction Fire Chief Bill Dunn called it a "complete loss."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam

Church that refused to marry black couple releases apology
After their church wouldn't hold their wedding, the Wilsons had to find another church for their ceremony.
August 6th, 2012
01:23 PM ET

Church that refused to marry black couple releases apology

By Jeffrey Elizabeth Copeland, CNN

(CNN)–After barring a black couple from marrying in its Mississippi facility in late July, the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs released a statement Sunday apologizing for its actions.

“We, the church, realize that the Hendersons and Wilsons should never have been asked to relocate their wedding. This wrong decision resulted in hurt and sadness for everyone. Both the pastor and those involved in the wedding location being changed have expressed their regrets and sorrow for their actions,” the church said.

Te’Andrea and Charles Wilson planned for months to marry at the First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs but were asked at the last minute to move.

Their pastor, Stan Weatherford, made the request on behalf of some congregants who didn't want to see the couple married there, according to CNN affiliate WLBT. He performed the ceremony at a nearby church.

Sunday’s statement follows a string of apologies from First Baptist and its congregation for turning away the young couple.

“As a church, we express our apology to Te’Andrea and Charles Wilson for the hurt that was brought to them in the hours preceding their wedding and beyond. We are seeking forgiveness and reconciliation with our Lord Jesus Christ, Te’Andrea and Charles, family and friends of the Hendersons and Wilsons, our church family, and our community for the actions and attitudes that have recently occurred,” the statement continued.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Baptist • Christianity • Church • Race

My Take: Sikh temple shooting is act of terrorism
August 6th, 2012
11:20 AM ET

My Take: Sikh temple shooting is act of terrorism

Editor's note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and author of the book "Islamic Pacifism: Global Muslims in the Post-Osama Era."

By Arsalan Iftikhar, Special to CNN

(CNN)–Imagine that you woke up on a beautiful Sunday morning to hear the news of a brown, bearded, gun-wielding madman who stormed into a Wisconsin church full of blond-haired parishioners and killed six innocent people.

If that scenario did occur, would most Americans have any problem calling that an act of "terrorism"?

Of course not.

Now imagine that the shooter was a white man and the innocent victims were bearded brown men and head-covered women. Suddenly, the discussion of "terrorism" gets a lot more complicated.

Of course, this is exactly what happened in a Milwaukee suburb on Sunday, when six people and the alleged gunman were killed at a Sikh temple.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Crime • Sikh

August 6th, 2012
06:32 AM ET

Temple shooting dredges up memories of long history of bias crimes against Sikhs

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN)–Immediately after the September 11, 2001, terrorist acts, Sikhs came under attack.

Mistaken for Muslims for their beards and turbans, they became ripe targets for zealots seeking revenge.

The first person murdered in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks was a Sikh – a gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona, named Balbir Singh Sodhi who was shot five times by aircraft mechanic Frank Roque.

In the intervening years, the Sikh Coalition, a New York-based advocacy group, reported more than 700 attacks or bias-related incidents.

Some Sikhs had their houses vandalized; others were spat upon. In some extreme cases, Sikhs were set upon by groups of people and beaten.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Crime • Houses of worship • Religious violence • Sikh

Gunman, six others dead at Wisconsin Sikh temple
Police guard the front of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin where a gunman fired upon people at a service on Sunday Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
August 5th, 2012
08:39 PM ET

Gunman, six others dead at Wisconsin Sikh temple

By the CNN Wire Staff

Oak Creek, Wisconsin (CNN) - The FBI will investigate Sunday's rampage at a Sikh temple in a Milwaukee suburb as a "domestic terrorist-type incident" that left at least six people and the gunman dead, the town's police chief said.

Another three people were wounded, including the first officer to respond to the scene, Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said. A second officer returned fire, killing the suspect, according to the chief.

All three of the wounded were in critical condition at Milwaukee's Froedtert Hospital, spokeswoman Carolyn Bellin told CNN. The congregation's president was among the wounded, his nephew said.

And another man told the CNN affiliate WTMJ, "Nobody's angry here. We're just confused. Was this a random act? Was this directed at us because of the way we look?"

Police did not release information about the gunman, with Edwards saying, "That is being checked into and is part of the criminal investigation." Nor would he disclose specifics of why the attack was being classified as an act of domestic terrorism.

The Sikh religion originated in northern India around 1500 and has about 25 million followers, 700,000 of them in the United States, according to the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund. Because of their customary beards and turbans, Sikh men are often confused for Hindus or Muslims - and have been the targets of hate crimes since the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, said Surinder Singh, a spokesman for the Guru Nanak Mission Society of Atlanta.

Complete Coverage
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Crime • Sikh

August 5th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

10 years after Sikh murder over 9/11, community continues to blend in and stand out

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story ran in 2011, around the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

By Jose G. Santos, CNN

Fairfax Station, Virginia (CNN)– Ten years ago, Balbir Singh Sodhi was gunned down, apparently because he looked Muslim or Arab.

He was neither.

Sodhi was a Sikh. Members of the religious tradition say he was the first person to be murdered in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks.

That claim has been backed up by the Justice Department.

"The first person killed in post-9/11 violence, Balbir Singh Sodhi, was a Sikh, shot while pumping gas at his gas station in Arizona four days after 9/11," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez in congressional testimony earlier this year.

For American Sikhs, Sunday's deadly attack on worshippers at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee dredged up memories of other recent attacks against their community.

At least seven people, including a gunman shot by a police officer, were killed in Sunday's attack.

In the case of the post 9/11 attack on in Arizona, a 45-year-old aircraft mechanic named Frank Roque gunned down a bearded, turban-wearing Indian immigrant outside a Mesa gas station. Roque drove up to the station, fired a handgun  at Balbir Singh Sodhi - who owned the station - five times, then fled.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Sikh • United States • Virginia

My Faith: The danger of asking God ‘Why me?'
August 4th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Faith: The danger of asking God ‘Why me?'

Editor’s note: Timothy Keller is senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York and author of The New York Times best-selling book "The Reason for God." His book for church leaders, "Center Church," will be published in September.

By Timothy Keller, Special to CNN

(CNN)–When I was diagnosed with cancer, the question “Why me?” was a natural one.

Later, when I survived but others with the same kind of cancer died, I also had to ask, “Why me?”

Suffering and death seem random, senseless.

The recent Aurora, Colorado, shootings — in which some people were spared and others lost — is the latest, vivid example of this, but there are plenty of others every day: from casualties in the Syria uprising to victims of accidents on American roads. Tsunamis, tornadoes, household accidents - the list is long.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • God

Documentary seeks to explain why Albanians saved Jews in Holocaust
Norman Gershman and Stu Huck discuss a portrait in a documentary about Albanians who rescued Jews during the Holocaust.
August 3rd, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Documentary seeks to explain why Albanians saved Jews in Holocaust

By Laura Koran, CNN

(CNN) – How many people would lay down their lives for a stranger?

It’s the question at the center of the new documentary “Besa: The Promise,” which premiered last weekend at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

The filmmakers’ answer: “Albanians would.”

During one of humanity’s darkest chapters, when millions of Jews, gays, communists and racial minorities were rounded up across Europe, many Albanians put up a fight to save complete strangers.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture & Science • Holocaust • Islam • Judaism • Movies

Your take: Snoop, Rastas and weed
August 3rd, 2012
01:39 PM ET

Your take: Snoop, Rastas and weed

By Anna-Lysa Gayle, CNN

(CNN)–Snoop Lion, as Snoop Dogg now calls himself, has thrown his fans a curveball. The popular West Coast rapper has taken himself from ‘thug’ life to ‘Rasta’ life.

His new image isn’t the only thing that has changed. His latest song "La La La," produced by Major Lazer, has garnered plenty of attention for its reggae sound.

Curiosity drew a lot of fans and others to our post “Snoop Dog is a Rasta now, so what’s Rastafari?

Here's a look at some of comments and conversation around the piece.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized

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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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