October 13th, 2012
06:47 PM ET
By Erinn Cawthon, CNN
NEW YORK (CNN) - New York City's plan to limit an ultra-Orthodox Jewish form of circumcision is the target of a lawsuit filed in federal District Court in Manhattan.
The regulation, passed in September by the city's Department of Health, requires all rabbis, called "mohels" in the context of the ritual, to get parental consent on a form stating that the procedure can lead to health risks.
The suit, filed by several Jewish groups and three rabbis on October 4, argues that "the government cannot compel the transmission of messages that the speaker does not want to express - especially when the speaker is operating in an area of heightened First Amendment protection, such as a religious ritual."
In the ritual, known as metzitzah b'peh, after removing the foreskin of the penis the mohel places his mouth briefly over the wound, sucking a small amount of blood out and discarding it. Antibacterial ointment is applied and the wound is bandaged. FULL POST
September 30th, 2012
02:48 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN)–Six of the nine Supreme Court justices attended the annual Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington on Sunday. The event’s speakers spoke about using faith in decision-making but largely stayed away from the controversial issues the court will face in the coming months.
Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Elena Kagan all attended the 60th annual Mass. This was Kagan’s first Red Mass.
Having six justices in attendance ties a record set in 2009. The only justices to not attend this year were Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito, both of whom are Catholic, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is Jewish. Kagan and Breyer, both of whom were in attendance, are also Jewish.
The annual Mass is an event put on by the Archdiocese of Washington and the John Carroll Society and aims to bring people together to pray for the members of the judiciary before the court begins hearing cases each year. It’s called the Red Mass because of the color of the garment worn by clergy.
September 8th, 2012
05:26 PM ET
By Michael Martinez, CNN
(CNN) - A Christian pastor sentenced to death in Iran for apostasy was reunited with his family Saturday after a trial court acquitted him, said a nonprofit group monitoring the case.
Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, born to Muslim parents and a convert to Christianity by age 19, was released after being held in prison for almost three years under a death sentence, said Tiffany Barrans, international legal director of the American Center for Law and Justice.
Setting aside the death sentence, a trial court convicted Nadarkhani of a lesser charge - evangelizing Muslims - and declared that his prison sentence had already been served, Barrans said.
His case drew international attention after his October 2009 arrest, and the 34-year-old pastor refused to recant his Christian beliefs.
September 2nd, 2012
06:18 PM ET
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - The Rev. Sun Myung Moon - founder of the Unification Church, which gained fame worldwide decades ago for its mass weddings, as well as the Washington Times - died early Monday in South Korea, the church said.
The Universal Peace Federation said on its website that Moon died early Monday morning of complications related to pneumonia. He was 92.
"Our True Father passed into the spiritual world at 1:54 AM Monday, September 3rd, Korea time," a message on a Unification Church English-language website said.
The Washington Times, one of several publications that Moon founded, similarly reported Moon's death.
September 2nd, 2012
03:57 PM ET
By Rachel Streitfeld, CNN Political Producer
Boston (CNN) - The head of the Marriott hotel chain, in deeply personal and reflective remarks at a New Hampshire church Sunday, credited Mitt Romney with changing Americans' perceptions about Mormonism.
J.W. Marriott Jr., a hotel magnate from one of America's most prominent Mormon families, spoke during services at the Wolfeboro branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - where Mitt and Ann Romney were also in attendance.
In his testimony, Marriott said he saw the church "coming out of obscurity" thanks to Romney's prominence as the GOP presidential nominee, and marveled that 90% of the media reports on Romney's Mormon faith had "been favorable."
Read the full story on CNN's Political Ticker.
September 1st, 2012
02:56 PM ET
From Livia Borghese, for CNN
ROME (CNN) - In an interview published a day after his death, a prominent progressive Catholic cardinal left the best summary of his contribution to debates within the Church.
"The Church has remained 200 years behind the times. Why has it not been shaken up?" Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini said in an interview published in Saturday's Corriere dell Sera newspaper. "Are we scared? Fear instead of courage? However, faith is the fundamental to the church."
He died Friday at age 85, the Archdiocese of Milan announced.
Martini suffered from Parkinson's disease and died at his residence in Milan, where he had lived since 2008, when the disease forced him to leave Jerusalem, the archdiocese said. FULL POST
July 7th, 2012
08:34 PM ET
By Pauline Kim, CNN
New York (CNN)– A controversial Jewish circumcision ritual is under fire after allegedly causing the deaths of two infants and exposing potentially thousands more to the risk of herpes infections.
New York City health officials are pushing a proposed regulation that would require parents to sign a consent waiver before they take part in a circumcision ritual called "metzitzah b'peh," typically practiced by ultra-Orthodox Jews. The ritual potentially poses a fatal risk to newborns, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The legislation was proposed at a Board of Health meeting last month by Dr. Jay K. Varma, deputy commissioner for disease control for New York City's health department, after 11 infants contracted neonatal herpes between November 2000 and December 2011, after the circumcision ritual. Two of the infants died.
Jews regularly practice circumcision as part of their religion, but mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews practice metzitzah b'peh, during which the mohel, or person performing the procedure, orally sucks the blood from the infant's newly circumcised penis.
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.