By Dan Gilgoff and Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editors
(CNN) – As he waited with parents who feared that their kids were among the 20 children killed at a Connecticut elementary school on Friday, Rabbi Shaul Praver said the main thing he could do for parents was to merely be present.
“It’s a terrible thing, families waiting to find out if their children made it out alive,” said Praver, who leads a synagogue in Newtown, Connecticut, and was among nine clergy gathered with parents at a firehouse near Sandy Hook Elementary School, where the shooting occurred.
“They’re going to need a lot of help,” Praver said of those who are close to the dead.
From the first moments after Friday’s massacre, which also left six adults and the shooter dead, religious leaders were among the first people to whom worried and grieving families turned for help.
Over the weekend, countless more Americans will look to clergy as they struggle to process a tragedy in which so many of the victims were children.
This month marks the 10th anniversary of the best-selling hardback book in American history: Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life."
We reached out to scholars, religion experts and Warren's wife, Kay, to ask about the book's impact after a decade.
Here's what they told us:
Kay Warren is an author, speaker and co-founder of Saddleback Church.
I knew when I was reading the unfinished manuscript of “The Purpose Driven Life” that I was holding a treasure in my hands, but I was clueless as to how deeply the book would strike a nerve in the souls of millions of people around the globe.
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) – The Alabama-based evangelist Christopher Hudson has posted online videos promoting his Seventh-day Adventist faith for years, but none generated the response of the one he posted a few days ago, featuring “Two and a Half Men” actor Angus T. Jones.
The video shows Jones, the CBS sitcom’s “half man,” describing the show he has appeared in for nearly a decade as “filth” and discouraging viewers from tuning in – which has attracted a crush of media attention.
Hudson, who flew to Los Angeles last week to tape the video with the 19-year-old actor, says his phone has been ringing off the hook ever since he posted the video online on Sunday.
Suddenly, reporters and plenty of others who’ve tuned into the wildly popular “Two and Half Men” want to know about the Seventh-day Day Adventist tradition, which Jones says in the online video he has recently joined, connecting his conversion to his new outlook on the show.
By Sarah Hoye, CNN
Coney Island, New York (CNN) – Pastor Connie Hulla heads down the street toward the setting sun, her cowboy boots clicking against the sidewalk.
“Don’t worry, we have plenty of food inside,” she calls out over the rumble of a commercial generator to a line of residents snaking around her Coney Island Gospel Assembly church. “Sorry for the wait. We had to restock.”
It’s been three weeks since Superstorm Sandy ravaged the Northeast, killing more that 100 people and causing an estimated $50 billion in damage.
Despite power being restored in most areas, schools reopening and life beginning to go on as usual, there are many homes in need of repair from flood damage – and entire blocks reduced to rubble - leaving a strong demand for the good will of others.
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) – To English speakers, the name of Israel’s anti-Hamas campaign sounds pretty straightforward: “Operation Pillar of Defense.”
But reading the name of the Israeli operation in Hebrew might provoke some head-scratching. In Hebrew, the Israel Defense Forces have branded their recently launched anti-Hamas effort as “Operation Pillar of Cloud.”
An IDF spokesman explained that most Israelis would recognize “Pillar of Cloud” as a biblical reference.
By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
London (CNN) – The Church of England named former oil executive Justin Welby as the next archbishop of Canterbury, making him the titular leader of the world's 77 million Anglicans.
Welby, who has been a bishop for only a year, is considered an outspoken critic of the excesses of capitalism, a supporter of women bishops and an opponent of gay marriage.
He will be enthroned as archbishop of Canterbury on March 21.
Speaking as his appointment was announced Friday at Lambeth Palace in London, Welby said it was a privilege to take the helm at a time when the "tide of events is turning" and the Church has great opportunities to be involved in a changing world.
Washington (CNN) – For many conservative Christian leaders, it was a nightmare scenario: Barack Obama decisively re-elected. Same-sex marriage adopted by voters in some states. Rigorously anti-abortion candidates defeated in conservative red states.
On multiple levels, Tuesday’s election results raised questions about the Christian right’s agenda on American politics, eight years after the movement helped sweep President George W. Bush into a second term and opened the era of state bans on same-sex marriage.
“For the first time tonight, same-sex marriage has been passed by popular vote in Maine and Maryland,” said Robert P. Jones, a Washington-based pollster who specializes in questions about politics and religion.
(CNN) – It's an election issue that gets virtually no attention, but we found out today that many of you do feel strongly about it: Churches being used as Election Day polling places.
A guest Belief Blog piece on the subject Tuesday morning, "My Take: Stop using churches as polling places," fetched more than a thousand comments, prompting us to ask Twitter followers to share their church-based voting experiences and pictures. Then we noticed the "My Take" rising to near the top of reddit politics, sparking a lively discussion there.
Lots of you who cast ballots inside a house of worship today were bothered by it. Others were bothered by the notion of church-based voting, whether or not you participated in it. A sampling of opposition to church-based voting:
(CNN) – Just because President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney mostly have avoided talking religion during this campaign doesn't mean religion won't play a big role in determining the winner of the presidential race. Here are six ways religion's role in the electorate may shape the outcome on Tuesday.
What factors would you add? Let us know in comments.
1. Will Catholics pick the winner, again? Representing more than a quarter of the electorate and voting with the winner of the popular vote in every presidential election since at least 1972, Roman Catholics are quintessential swing voters. They encompass such a diverse set of concerns and ethnic groups that some challenge the very idea of a Catholic "voting bloc.” However, both campaigns have conducted intense outreach to Catholic voters and have Catholic vice presidential nominees – Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.
(CNN) – In campaign time, it’s ancient history: a 2007 video showing a testy off-air exchange between Mitt Romney and a radio host over the candidate’s faith and his stance on abortion.
But the back-and-forth has resurfaced in the days before Election Day. Video of the exchange posted on YouTube on October 31 had garnered nearly 1.8 million page views as of noon ET Monday.
“You don’t understand my church like I do,” Romney tells conservative Iowa radio host Jan Mickelson near the beginning of the roughly five-minute video, recorded in August 2007. “I understand my faith better then you do. You don’t believe me, do you?
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.