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April 14th, 2014
06:06 PM ET

The accused Kansas killer's neo-pagan religion

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) – Frazier Glenn Cross is a white supremacist, an avowed anti-Semite and an accused killer. But he is not, as many think, a Christian.

Cross, who also goes by the name Glenn Miller, is accused of killing three people – all Christians - on Sunday at Jewish institutions in Overland Park, Kansas.

Authorities are weighing whether to file hate-crime charges against Cross, who is suspected of targeting Jews.

The 73-year-old has espoused anti-Semitism for decades. He also founded racist groups like a branch of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Both groups have deep ties to Christian white supremacists.

But according to Cross' 1999 biography, he is an adherent of Odinism, a neo-pagan religion that experts say has emerged as one the most vicious strains in the white supremacist movement.

"The faith’s obsession with genetic purity, racial supremacy and conquering supposedly lesser peoples is a recipe for violence," said Josh Glasstetter, campaign director for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Crime • Discrimination • Neo-Nazi • Neopaganism • Prejudice • Religious violence • Violence

April 14th, 2014
08:30 AM ET

Police arrest 'raging anti-Semite' in Kansas Jewish center shootings

(CNN) – A Missouri man, with a long virulent history of anti-Semitism, is suspected of killing a boy and his grandfather outside a Jewish community center in Kansas City and a woman at a Jewish assisted living facility nearby.

While police in Overland Park, Kansas, stopped short of labeling the Sunday attacks a hate crime until they were further along in their investigation, the suspect – Frazier Glenn Miller – is the founder and former leader of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party.

Both operated as paramilitary organizations in the 1980s, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups.

The 73-year-old Miller, who also goes by Frazier Glenn Cross, faces charges of premeditated first-degree murder. He is expected to appear in court Monday.

FULL STORY

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Uncategorized

April 11th, 2014
09:27 AM ET

Pope asks for forgiveness for 'evil' of sex abuse

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) - Pope Francis made his strongest condemnation of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy on Friday, asking for forgiveness and pledging to impose penalties on "men of the church" who harm children.

“I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests, quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests, to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children," the Pope said in remarks quoted by Vatican Radio.

"The Church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the Church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed," Francis continued. "On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children."

The Pope's new comments, made to a Catholic NGO on Friday, represent a shift from his previous statements on sexual abuse.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Francis

April 10th, 2014
10:04 AM ET

Study: 'Jesus' wife' fragment not a fake

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) – A team of scientists has concluded that a controversial scrap of papyrus that purportedly quotes Jesus referring to "my wife," is not a fake, according to the Harvard Theological Review.

"A wide range of scientific testing indicates that a papyrus fragment containing the words, 'Jesus said to them, my wife' is an ancient document, dating between the sixth to ninth centuries CE," Harvard Divinity School said in a statement.

Scientists tested the papyrus and the carbon ink, and analyzed the handwriting and grammar, according to Harvard.

Radiocarbon tests conducted at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology produced an origination date for the papyrus of 659-859 CE, according to Harvard. MIT also studied the chemical composition of the papyrus and patterns of oxidation.

Other scholars studied the carbon character of the ink and found that it matched samples of papyri from the first to eight century CE, according to Harvard.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • History • Jesus

Archbishop's $2 million mansion gone with the wind?
The $2.2 million mansion where Atlanta Archbishop Wilton Gregory resides -- for now.
April 2nd, 2014
11:17 AM ET

Archbishop's $2 million mansion gone with the wind?

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - Facing sharp criticism for falling out of step with Pope Francis, the Archbishop of Atlanta has apologized for building a $2.2 million mansion on land bequeathed by the family of a famed Southern writer.

Atlanta's Archbishop Wilton Gregory said he approved construction of the 6,000-square-foot home after agreeing to leave the traditional archbishop's residence to make way for priests who serve the cathedral next door.

Gregory moved into the mansion in January.

"What we didn’t stop to consider, and that oversight rests with me and me alone, was that the world and the Church have changed," Gregory wrote Monday in the archdiocesan newspaper.

The archbishop's apology began by citing an e-mail from a Catholic woman who chided Gregory for failing to follow "the example of a simple life as Pope Francis calls for."

Gregory said he agrees and will consult church leaders about selling the mansion, which sits in Atlanta's upscale Buckhead neighborhood.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Church • Pope Francis

Hollywood's religious revival
March 28th, 2014
01:22 PM ET

Does God have a prayer in Hollywood?

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Los Angeles (CNN) – Forgive Darren Aronofsky if he’s begun to identify with the title character of his new film, “Noah.”

Like the infamous ark-maker, the 45-year-old director has weathered a Bible-sized storm – and it’s not over yet.

Aronofsky’s epic, which stars Russell Crowe and boasts a $130 million budget (with marketing costs to match), rode a swelling wave of controversy into American theaters on Friday.

Despite fierce criticism from some conservative Christians, "Noah" was the top box-office draw last weekend, raking in $44 million in the United States.

Part Middle-Earth fantasy flick, part family melodrama, the film is an ambitious leap for Aronofsky, director of the art-house hits “Black Swan” and “The Wrestler.”

Both of those films were showered with praise and awards. “Noah,” on the other hand, has sailed into a stiff headwind.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Art • Bible • Business • Christianity • Media • Money & Faith • Moses • Movies

Pope Francis: Church could support civil unions
Pope Francis speaks at St Peter's square on December 11, 2013.
March 5th, 2014
10:04 AM ET

Pope Francis: Church could support civil unions

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - Pope Francis reaffirmed the Catholic Church's opposition to gay marriage on Wednesday, but suggested in a newspaper interview that it could support some types of civil unions.

The Pope reiterated the church's longstanding teaching that "marriage is between a man and a woman." However, he said, "We have to look at different cases and evaluate them in their variety."

States, for instance, justify civil unions as a way to provide economic security to cohabitating couples, the Pope said in a wide-ranging interview published Wednesday in Corriere della Seraan Italian daily. State-sanctioned unions are thus driven by the need to ensure rights like access to health care, Francis added.

A number of Catholic bishops have supported civil unions for same-sex couples as an alternative to marriage, including Pope Francis when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2010, according to reports in National Catholic Reporter and The New York Times.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Culture wars • Discrimination • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis • Vatican

February 19th, 2014
02:36 PM ET

Funeral held for snake-handling pastor

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Death • Faith • Pentecostal

February 17th, 2014
06:41 PM ET

Satanists: Accused Craigslist killer not one of us

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) -  She's not one of us.

That's what Satanists are saying about accused "Craigslist killer" Miranda Barbour.

The 19-year-old told The Daily Item, a Pennsylvania newspaper, that she joined a satanic cult in Alaska when she was 13 and participated in several murders.

Barbour, who has been charged with one slaying in 2013, told the newspaper that she has been involved in  at least 22 killings.

But authorities haven't corroborated her claims, and top Satanists say they have no ties to Barbour or her husband, Elytte Barbour, who is also charged in the 2013 killing of 42-year-old Troy LaFerrara. Police say LaFerrara responded to a "companionship" ad placed by Miranda Barbour on Craigslist.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Crime • Cults • Satanism

February 17th, 2014
10:29 AM ET

A faithful death: Why a snake handler refused treatment

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) – In the close-knit town of Middlesboro, Kentucky, almost everyone knew what was happening inside the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name Church including Police Chief Jeff Sharpe.

Despite a Kentucky law that prohibits snake-handling at religious events, Sharpe said he "made a decision not to involve this police department in somebody's church service."

"I'm not going to tell you that I didn't know what was going on. This is a small town," Sharpe said. "But we're not going to bust into anybody's church on Sunday morning."

The trouble at Full Gospel Tabernacle began on Saturday night, when Pastor Jamie Coots, whose serpent-handling religious rituals made him a reality TV star, died after a rattlesnake sunk its fangs into his right hand.

Coots was a third-generation serpent handler and aspired to one day pass the practice, and his church, on to his adult son, Little Cody.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Death • Prayer

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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.

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