November 27th, 2013
02:49 PM ET
Washington (CNN) - When the State Department announced it was moving its Vatican embassy to a compound shared with the U.S. Embassy in Italy, some former ambassadors and conservative American Catholics were outraged.
Former ambassadors to the Holy See said moving that embassy would diminish the stature of the mission and conservative Catholic activists seized on the issue.
Addressing the growing controversy in Rome, the State Department arranged a briefing for reporters on Monday with an unnamed senior official who said the purpose for the move was to save money and increase security.
A spokesman for the Vatican said the move was well within the Holy See's requirements for embassies and that relations with the United States are far from strained.
October 11th, 2013
02:33 PM ET
Washington (CNN) – Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky devoted his speech to the socially conservative Values Voter Summit to “a war on Christianity” that is being waged by “fanatics of Islam.”
Much of Paul’s speech was a list of violence against Christians across the Muslim world, highlighting what he said was “not a little problem” and something that is “not going away quickly.”
“Across the globe, Christians are under attack almost as if we lived in the Middle Ages or we lived under early pagan Roman rule,” Paul said. “This administration does nothing to stop it and it can be argued that it is giving aid and comfort to those who tolerate these crimes.”FULL STORY
October 4th, 2013
10:25 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) - American Catholics overwhelmingly support newly installed Pope Francis, according to a poll released Friday, and agree with his statements that the church should focus less on contentious social issues.
Nearly seven in 10 American Catholics say the church has become too focused on same-sex marriage, abortion, and contraceptives, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released Friday.
What's more, 60% of American Catholics support same-sex marriage, a number that continues to be larger than support from all American adults. Thirty-one percent of American Catholics said they do not support same-sex marriage.
This number is consistent with other polls, like a Public Religion Research Institute poll in 2012 that found 59% of American Catholics support same-sex marriage.
August 23rd, 2013
10:12 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN)–With the goal of urging the House to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill, the Catholic Church is organizing a targeted effort to push immigration reform in the pews and target Catholic lawmakers – particularly Republicans – who may be on the fence over the politically tenuous bill.
The movement, which was first reported in The New York Times, will include coordinated immigration reform sermons on September 8, as well as targeted messaging of Catholic lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner and Rep. Paul Ryan, the GOP’s 2012 vice presidential candidate.
July 5th, 2013
08:57 AM ET
By Hada Messia, CNN
Rome (CNN) – The Roman Catholic Church will declare the late Pope John Paul II a saint, the Vatican announced Friday.
Pope Francis signed the decree Friday morning, the Vatican said. John Paul was pope from 1978 until his death in 2005, and was in a way the first rock star pontiff, drawing vast crowds as he criss-crossed the globe.
At his funeral, thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square and chanted "Santo Subito" - Sainthood Now! The Polish-born pope was fast-tracked to beatification and became "the blessed" John Paul II barely six years after his death, the fastest beatification in centuries.
Pope John XXIII, who convened the Vatican II council in the 1960s, will also be declared a saint, the Vatican said.
No date has been announced for the canonization ceremony.FULL STORY
June 28th, 2013
02:08 PM ET
By Dan Merica and Kevin Bohn, CNN
(CNN) - The Obama administration finalized rules on Friday that allow religiously affiliated organizations to opt out of a federal mandate requiring that they provide employees with insurance coverage for birth control.
The mandates give women at nonprofit, religious-based organizations, like certain hospitals and universities, the ability to receive contraception through separate health policies at no charge.
The rules, which were first proposed in February and then open for comment through April, have undergone only minor changes.
Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, deputy director for policy and regulations at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said the rules were "very similar" to the administration's original proposal.FULL STORY
June 22nd, 2013
11:25 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Boston (CNN)-– It’s Sunday in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a rapt congregation listens to a chaplain preach about the importance of building a community.
A few dozen people sit quietly for the hourlong service. Music is played, announcements are made and scholars wax poetic about the importance of compassion and community.
Outsiders could be forgiven for believing this service, with its homilies, its passing of the plate, its uplifting songs, belongs in a church.
If so, it’s a church without one big player: God.
June 4th, 2013
03:08 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
(CNN) – Who can people call when religious doubts arise, but they're afraid to talk to their faith leaders or families?
A group that helps people "recover" from religion says it's ready to pick up the phone.
Recovering from Religion, which has about 40 support groups in the U.S. and Britain, plans to launch a hotline that will offer doubters an anonymous place to ask difficult questions and find communities of like-minded nonbelievers.
The group plans to staff the help line 24 hours a day and is modeling it after services like suicide prevention hotlines.
Sarah Morehead, executive director of Recovering from Religion, told CNN that the mission is to help people, not convert them to atheism.
“A lot of the times they just need someone to talk to," Morehead said.
June 3rd, 2013
02:12 PM ET
(CNN)– For more than two decades, the Rev. R. Guy Erwin couldn't officially be a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. On Friday, he was elected a bishop.
Erwin's election signals a shift not only for the ELCA – the nation's seventh largest church – but also for American Christianity. Only one other mainline Protestant denomination, the Episcopal Church, has elected openly gay and lesbian bishops.
“In these days such milestones seem to be coming at an ever-faster rate," Erwin told CNN, "and eventually what seems revolutionary now will seem normal and predictable."
With more than 4 million members in 10,000 congregations, the ELCA is the largest of several Lutheran denominations in the United States. The ELCA's decision to allow gay clergy has strained ties between those denominations, some of whom have partnered for relief work.
May 29th, 2013
03:06 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) - More than three in four of Americans say religion is losing its influence in the United States, according to a new survey, the highest such percentage in more than 40 years. A nearly identical percentage says that trend bodes ill for the country.
"It may be happening, but Americans don't like it," Frank Newport, Gallup's editor in chief, said of religion's waning influence. "It is clear that a lot of Americans don't think this is a good state of affairs."
According to the Gallup survey released Wednesday, 77% of Americans say religion is losing its influence. Since 1957, when the question was first asked, Americans' perception of religion's power has never been lower.
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 and frequent posts from religion scholar and author Stephen Prothero.