May 17th, 2013
12:12 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, Co-Editor CNN Belief Blog
(CNN) - The Christian Broadcasting Network regrets the misunderstanding. Again.
Pat Robertson, the network's 83-year-old founder, was not condoning adultery when he answered a viewer's quesion on "The 700 Club" this week, the network said.
The viewer said she was having difficulty forgiving her husband for cheating. Robertson said the “secret” was to “stop talking about the cheating. He cheated on you. Well, he’s a man. OK.” FULL POST
May 10th, 2013
09:09 PM ET
By Greg Botelho and Paula Newton, CNN
(CNN) – The body of one of the two men accused of pulling off the Boston Marathon attack has been buried in rural Virginia - a development that local officials said caught them totally "off guard."
Tamerlan Tsarnaev's remains were accepted "by an interfaith coalition in that community - they responded to our calls," his uncle Ruslan Tsarni, of Maryland, told CNN. The body was buried in an unmarked grave in a Muslim cemetery in Doswell, Virginia, according to Tsarni.
"My tradition was that of a Muslim, and I have that tradition of burial, and people helped me with that," he said in a phone interview.
The death certificate released by Massachusetts authorities indicates that Tsarnaev, whose cause of death was listed as gunshot wounds and "blunt trauma to (his) head and torso," was interred at Al-Barzakh Muslim Cemetery in Doswell, which is about 25 minutes north of Richmond in a rural county of about 30,000 people.
While the news came out Friday, Bukhari Abdel-Alim from the Islamic Funeral Services of Richmond said Tsarnaev was actually buried the previous morning.
Speaking Friday from the cemetery, which his organization owns, Abdel-Alim said there was "no intention to ... make anybody angry," but that he and others felt obligated to do what "God says to do" by putting Tsarnaev's "body back into the earth."
May 9th, 2013
03:20 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
(CNN) - Dwight K. Schrute was many things: paper salesman, beet farmer, lovable dork. Though he came from Amish stock, Schrute showed more interest in martial arts than Bibles and buggies.
But the man who played Schrute for nine years calls religion central to his life, and as Rainn Wilson transitions to life after “The Office,” his Baha’i faith is taking center stage.
Wilson is on the forefront of a campaign called “Five Years Too Many” that calls for the release of seven Baha’i volunteer leaders who have been imprisoned in Iran for the past five years.
“People need to know that this has happened and that this is happening and they don't,” Wilson said. “There are Baha'is rotting in jail on a 20-year sentence on trumped up charges simply because they have a certain set of faith beliefs that run against the theocracy in Iran."
The move from actor to advocate for a world religion is a big shift for Wilson. After a failed movie career and a lot of soul searching he is at peace with his television success and knows that his career might have peaked with “The Office,” which ends next Thursday after nine years on the air. FULL POST
May 2nd, 2013
12:37 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi and Hada Messia, CNN
Rome (CNN) –Pope Francis welcomed his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI back to the Vatican on Thursday afternoon.
The now retired Pope Benedict had been living at the papal retreat in Castel Gandolfo since he formally stepped down as head of 1.2 billion Catholics around the world and left Vatican City on February 28.
Benedict was the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign.
Benedict traveled back to the Vatican on Thursday by helicopter. He will live on the Vatican grounds at a newly renovated convent called Mater Ecclesiae. He was driven from the Vatican heliport to his new residence where he was greeted by his successor. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters that Francis greeted Benedict, "with great fraternal cordiality. Together they went to the monastery chapel for a brief moment of prayer."
April 20th, 2013
07:39 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
Washington (CNN) - Muslim leaders in Boston and elsewhere have distanced themselves from the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, condemning the deadly terror attack and saying they feared reprisals against their communities.
"I don't care who or what these criminals claim to be, but I can never recognize these criminals as part of my city or my faith community," said Yusufi Vali, executive director for the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the largest mosque in the Boston area.
"All of us Bostonians want these criminals to be brought to justice immediately. I am infuriated at the criminals of these bombings for trying to rip our city apart. We will remain united and not let them change who we are as Bostonians." FULL POST
April 4th, 2013
02:06 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi and John Blake, CNN
(CNN)– Politicians often declare that the U.S. is a Christian nation, but a group of representatives in North Carolina wants to add a new wrinkle to that argument.
They want North Carolina to be able to make its own laws establishing religion.
Two Republican representatives in North Carolina filed a resolution Monday that would permit the state to declare Christianity its official religion and reject any federal laws or court rulings regarding how the state addresses the establishment of religion.
Critics say the resolution violates the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee that government will not prefer one religion over another. But a supporter of the resolution said it is about protecting another freedom.
March 28th, 2013
01:25 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
(CNN) — In ancient times, when roads were bad and footwear was worse, the washing of a guest's feet was a required sign of hospitality. Today when someone comes to your home, you’re more likely to offer to take their coat and bring them beverage rather then have the help fetch a basin to refresh their worn feet.
The gesture of a servant's washing a newly arrived guest’s feet is sprinkled throughout the Jewish and Christian scriptures. That the characters in question were respectable, hospitable, and well off would have been culturally recognizable to earlier readers. In the Christian tradition, one story of feet washing entirely changed the paradigm.
In the Biblical accounts of the Easter story, Jesus rides into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday on a donkey to adoring crowds. Just a few days later he gathers his 12 disciples for what would be their Last Supper before he was crucified.
March 23rd, 2013
10:00 AM ET
By Laura Smith-Spark, Ben Wedeman and Hada Messia, CNN
Castel Gandolfo (CNN)–Pope Francis is having lunch Saturday with his predecessor, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in what may be an encounter unprecedented in Church history.
Since a new pope usually takes the reins only following the death of his predecessor, this is a rare occurrence.
Francis, who was inaugurated as the new head of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics on Tuesday, has made some changes since taking the helm - most notably by adopting a simpler, personal style and calling for the Church to focus on serving the poor and needy.
The new pontiff was flown to Castel Gandolfo by helicopter for the lunch date.
March 10th, 2013
11:51 AM ET
Rome (CNN) – Crowds lined the walls and spilled out the front door of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Monte Mario on Sunday to catch a glimpse of the gregarious American Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, who smiled broadly as he came into the church, stopping to wave to photographers and kiss a baby whose parents were holding him up.
Dolan has made the short lists of some Vatican watchers as a likely choice to be elected as the next pope by the College of Cardinals, a designation called "papabili" in Italian.
A local officiant began the service by saying it was great to have Dolan at the church close to Easter.
"All these people are showing the power of the church," he said.
Dolan thanked the officiant in Italian.
March 9th, 2013
10:00 PM ET
Baltimore (CNN) - The capacity crowd at the 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore is bouncing in unison to the most widely sung music on the planet today. The catwalk above the arena is shaking.
Chris Tomlin grabs the microphone and asks the crowd if they’re ready.
"I feel alive, on God's great dance floor!" He leads the packed venue in singing and jumping.
Tomlin is out touring the country with his latest studio album, “Burning Lights.” In January, it topped the Billboard 200 charts. But unlike those who've enjoyed performances by Beyonce, Johnny Cash and a host of others who've played this Baltimore hall, after these fans stream out the doors they will have ample opportunity to sing Tomlin's songs again, as one.
That is the secret to Tomlin’s success – the stage, the lights, the band - aren’t about him. As lively as his shows are, the point is not to get you inside the doors. The point is to get you singing in church.
“I strive for trying to write something that people can sing, that people want to sing, and that people need to sing,” Tomlin explained before the show.
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.