May 18th, 2012
02:58 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – In an anticipated and controversial address Friday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius delivered a speech that blended inspirational messages to graduates with a discussion of public policy's tough decisions, including health care and honoring religious freedom.
Her speech at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute awards ceremony had been considered controversial by conservative Catholic organizations that saw her appearance as the university validating her positions on abortion and contraception.
The speech did not mention the controversy directly, but Sebelius did address faith in public life in a section of the speech devoted to John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president of the United States.
"Kennedy was elected president on November 8, 1960," she said. "And more than 50 years later, that conversation, about the intersection of our nation's long tradition of religious freedom with policy decisions in the public square, continues."
April 12th, 2012
03:14 PM ET
By Paul Steinhauser, CNN Political Editor
Washington (CNN)–Two leading national anti-abortion organizations Thursday endorsed Republican Mitt Romney for president.
The moves may be the first indications of social conservatives coalescing around Romney after their first choice, Rick Santorum, dropped out of the race.
In backing the former Massachusetts governor and all but certain GOP presidential nominee, both National Right to Life and the Susan B. Anthony List highlighted what they called Romney's strong "pro-life" positions and criticized President Barack Obama for what they call a "pro-abortion agenda."
"On pro-life issues, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama provide a stark contrast. As the country's most pro-abortion president, Barack Obama has pursued a radical pro-abortion agenda," said National Right to Life President Carol Tobias. "It is now time for pro-life Americans to unite behind Mitt Romney. For the sake of unborn children, the disabled, and the elderly, we must win."Read the full story on CNN's Political Ticker.
March 21st, 2012
10:45 AM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) – A Washington advocacy group training in-the-trenches religious leaders to speak out on hot-button issues like abortion is nothing new.
But a liberal beltway group training left-leaning clergy to speak out for abortion rights is.
“Religion does support a woman’s personal decision-making about whether she is ready to become a parent,” said Sally Steenland, director of the Faith Initiative at the Center for American Progress, a progressive group that launched its Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute on Tuesday.
February 7th, 2012
12:44 PM ET
By Mollie Ziegler Hemingway, Special to CNN
Faced with a deluge of media opposition and pressure from lawmakers, the Susan G. Komen foundation amended its decision to cut off funds to Planned Parenthood last week. Afterward, Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer and NBC’s Andrea Mitchell complimented each other on getting Komen to buckle under pressure.
Mitchell’s hostile interrogation of Ambassador Nancy Brinker, Komen’s CEO and founder, was widely viewed as a key moment in Planned Parenthood’s campaign against Komen.
“I thought you did such an interesting interview with the ambassador yesterday,” Boxer said to Mitchell during a televised discussion, “which I think helped bring this about, if I might say.”
February 1st, 2012
09:23 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi and Brianna Keilar, CNN
(CNN)–After years of bridge building with the Catholic Church, the Obama administration may have damaged some of the good will it built up with the nation's 70 million Catholics, which could have steep consequences at the polls in November.
Some rank and file Catholics are beginning to express the same frustrations as clergy about a new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services policy requiring all employers, including religious ones, to pay for FDA-approved contraceptives, such as the birth control pill and Plan B, through health insurance plans. Churches are exempt but hospitals and schools with religious affiliations must comply. The new policy goes into effect August 1, 2012, but religious groups who oppose contraception have been given a yearlong extension to enforce the policy.
"What's offensive is that we're being told, our Catholic institutions which serve this nation well, are being told you who find these things offensive, you should pay for them, in fact you must pay for them," Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, told CNN.
Catholic teaching opposes the use of contraceptives. Wuerl acknowledged the clergy and the faithful have been at odds over the teachings on contraceptive use. But on this policy he said both are in lockstep over what is being perceived as a violation of religious liberties.
January 31st, 2012
11:11 PM ET
By CNN Political Unit
(CNN) – The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation revealed Tuesday it was cutting funds to Planned Parenthood, sparking an outcry from abortion rights advocates blaming “political pressure” and praise from an anti-abortion group.
The major breast cancer research group cut funds to the prominent family planning organization after Planned Parenthood has come under increasing scrutiny from Congress over how it provides abortion services. The Komen Foundation gave few details on the reasons behind the decision, attributing the announcement to "changes in priorities and policies" and the need to "most fully advance [its] mission."
"It is critical to underscore that the women we serve in communities remain our priority. We are working directly with Komen Affiliates to ensure there is no interruption or gaps in services for women who need breast health screening and services,” the group said in a statement.
The Komen Foundation did not respond to repeated requests for more information about the decision.FULL STORY
January 23rd, 2012
10:01 AM ET
Editor's Note: R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.
By R. Albert Mohler Jr., Special to CNN
After recently addressing a large secular assembly on issues of moral controversy, I turned and faced a woman who urgently wanted to ask me a question: “Why won’t the abortion issue just go away?”
I knew exactly what she was asking. I often meet abortion rights advocates who honestly thought that the national controversy over abortion would simply melt away within a few years of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, handed down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973.
That was clearly the hope of the Supreme Court majority that signed onto the opinion written by Associate Justice Harry Blackmun. In a note he wrote to himself as he drafted the final opinion and looked to its aftermath, Blackmun revealed a rather optimistic assumption: “It will be an unsettled period for a while.”
Surely, he didn’t mean for that “while” to extend four decades.
December 15th, 2011
08:49 AM ET
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that Lifeway Christian Bookstores carried the “Cancer Awareness Bible.” The chain never carried that Bible.
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) - A Christian publisher is withdrawing copies of the "Breast Cancer Awareness Bible," from stores because the Bible helped raised money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which contributes to Planned Parenthood.
Many conservative Christian groups oppose Planned Parenthood because of its role as an abortion provider, though many of the group's services are not abortion-related.
The "Breast Cancer Awareness Bible" is described "as a way to place God's Word into the hands of those suffering through breast cancer." It was published by B&H Publishing Group - a division of LifeWay Christian Resources, which is owned by the Southern Baptist Convention - and was sold with the stipulation that $1 from the sale of each book would go to the Komen Foundation to support breast health education, screening and treatment programs.
December 9th, 2011
04:21 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The decision by Kathleen Sebelius to keep age restrictions on the purchase of the “morning after pill” puts some conservative religious groups in an unfamiliar position – endorsing a move by the Obama administration.
Groups like the Family Research Council, who regularly find themselves on the opposite end of decisions made by the Obama administration, came out in support of the administration and in particular, Sebelius, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was right to reject the FDA recommendation to make this potent drug available over the counter to young girls,” stated a release by the pro-life Family Research Council.
November 9th, 2011
08:41 PM ET
Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
(CNN) - On Wednesday, my students and I discussed Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris. Like other atheism books, this is a rant against the unreasonableness of religion. In that sense, at least, it is timeless.
But it derives much of its urgency from its claim that the Christian Right is taking over contemporary American politics.
As I was preparing for class, I learned that Mississippi’s voters had rejected the so-called “Personhood Amendment,” which would have outlawed abortion in the state by affirming as a matter of law that human life begins at conception.
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.