May 24th, 2013
05:22 PM ET
By Sarah Hoye, CNN
Philadelphia (CNN)–When Brandon Schaible got a rash, his parents prayed.
When the 7-month-old became irritable with diarrhea and lost his appetite, his parents, Catherine and Herbert Schaible, prayed again.
When Brandon had trouble breathing and gasped for air, his parents called a pastor - this, in spite of the fact that a judge had ordered them to call a doctor.
Brandon Schaible died on April 18 from bacterial pneumonia, dehydration and strep, according to the district attorney’s office – all treatable with antibiotics.
On Wednesday his parents were charged with third-degree murder.
The Schaibles are lifelong members of the First Century Gospel Church in Philadelphia, one of several religious groups in the U.S. that relies on faith, and eschews most medical care.
May 23rd, 2013
03:59 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
(CNN) -– American atheists welcomed Pope Francis’ comments that God redeems nonbelievers, saying that the new pontiff's historic outreach is helping to topple longstanding barriers.
“The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone,” the pope told worshipers at morning Mass on Wednesday. “‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone!”
Francis continued, “We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said that although he has been skeptical of Francis' outreach to the nonreligious, he welcomed Wednesday’s comments.
May 22nd, 2013
08:34 AM ET
Editor's Note: The Rev. Ian Punnett is the author of "How to Pray When You’re Pissed at God (Or Anyone Else For That Matter)" and a veteran talk show host. He has been married for 28 years and is the father of two college age boys.
By Ian Punnett, Special to CNN
(CNN) – “God never gives us more than we can handle.”
God, have I learned to hate that cliche.
As a clergy person, as a hospital chaplain intern and as a father, I have come to believe that, at best, that platitude is a classic example of meaningless bumper-sticker theology. It's easily said and only makes sense when it goes by you so fast you don’t have time to think about it.
At worst, however, claiming that God scales a tragedy up or down depending on our ability to handle loss is as heartless as it is thoughtless.
May 21st, 2013
04:45 PM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) – God may not notice the thousands of prayers tweeted for victims of Oklahoma’s devastating tornado – but Ricky Gervais sure has. And he is not pleased.
As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 75,000 people have used the hashtag #PrayForOklahoma, including pop starlets, pastors and politicians, according to Topsy.com, a trend-monitoring site.
For example, the White House tweeted,
But the hashtag and the sentiments it promotes prompted a fierce backlash on social media, led by Gervais, a British comedian, and other prominent nonbelievers.
And while one Oklahoma City pastor says he appreciates the Twitter prayers, some religious scholars say devout petitions require more than moving your hands across a keyboard. FULL POST
May 21st, 2013
02:55 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
(CNN) – A Vatican spokesman on Tuesday refuted claims that Pope Francis performed an exorcism on a man in St. Peter’s Square after Mass on Sunday. But he did not altogether deny the encounter.
“The Holy Father had no intention to perform any exorcism,” the Rev. Federico Lombardi said in a statement. “Instead, as he frequently does for the sick and suffering persons who approach him, he simply meant to pray for a suffering person who was presented to him.”
Speculation that Francis performed an exorcism began to ricochet around the Internet when video of the encounter from TV2000, a Catholic television station in Italy, was posted online.
In the video, Francis smiles and takes the hand of an unnamed man in a wheelchair. After a priest whispers in the pope's ear, his demeanor changes and he places his hands on the man’s head. The video shows the man in the wheelchair convulsing before his body goes limp with his mouth agape.
May 19th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
By John Blake, CNN
“God, help me!”
Eben Alexander shouted and flailed as hospital orderlies tried to hold him in place. But no one could stop his violent seizures, and the 54-year-old neurosurgeon went limp as his horrified wife looked on.
That moment could have been the end. But Alexander says it was just the beginning. He found himself soaring toward a brilliant white light tinged with gold into “the strangest, most beautiful world I’d ever seen.”
Alexander calls that world heaven, and he describes his journey in “Proof of Heaven,” which has been on The New York Times bestseller list for 27 weeks. Alexander says he used to be an indifferent churchgoer who ignored stories about the afterlife. But now he knows there’s truth to those stories, and there’s no reason to fear death.
“Not one bit,” he said. “It’s a transition; it’s not the end of anything. We will be with our loved ones again.”
Heaven used to be a mystery, a place glimpsed only by mystics and prophets. But popular culture is filled with firsthand accounts from all sorts of people who claim that they, too, have proofs of heaven after undergoing near-death experiences.
Yet the popularity of these stories raises another question: Why doesn’t the church talk about heaven anymore? FULL POST
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 11th, 2013
10:00 PM ET
Editor’s note: Justin Lee is the Executive Director of the Gay Christian Network and author of Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-vs.-Christians Debate.
By Justin Lee, Special to CNN
(CNN)–In high school, I was a Christian know-it-all.
My nickname was "God boy," and I was known for regularly preaching at my friends about social issues of the day. I dismissed their objections - and accusations of homophobia - as intolerance for my faith.
"I'm just telling you what God's Word says," I'd argue.
Years later I realized my mistake. What my peers most objected to wasn't my beliefs - it was my condescending attitude. I debated and preached when I should have listened. I thought that stating my position loudly and unyieldingly was a sign of strength. In the process, I alienated my friends.
I'm still an evangelical Christian, but one thing is now crystal clear to me. American evangelicals' bad reputation isn't just because of what we believe. It's mostly because of how we behave.
May 10th, 2013
10:42 PM ET
By Tom Watkins, CNN
(CNN)–The lead singer of the metal band As I Lay Dying has been arrested and charged with seeking to have his wife killed, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department said.
Authorities said Tuesday that Tim Lambesis tried to contract an undercover detective posing as a killer for hire to murder his estranged wife, who lives in Encinitas, California.
Arraignment was set for Thursday afternoon at North Division Court in Vista.
The department said it learned on May 2 that Lambesis, 32, had asked someone to carry out the killing and an investigation was initiated.
The investigation culminated Tuesday afternoon, "when Lambesis solicited an undercover detective to kill his wife," it said. He was arrested without incident at a business in Oceanside and taken to the Encinitas Station and booked into the Vista Detention Facility.
Last September, Meggan Lambesis filed with San Diego Superior Court to have the marriage dissolved.FULL STORY
May 10th, 2013
04:09 PM ET
By Tricia Escobedo, CNN
(CNN) – A nun and two peace activists could spend the rest of their lives in federal prison after being convicted of breaching one of the nation's most secure nuclear facilities.
After two days of testimony, a federal jury in Knoxville, Tennessee, found Sister Megan Rice, 83; Greg Boertje-Obed, 57; and Michael Walli, 63, guilty of destroying U.S. government property and depredation against federal property exceeding $1,000.
That could mean up to 30 years in prison, according to WATE, CNN's affiliate in Knoxville.
The three are scheduled to be sentenced on September 23.
When the guilty verdict was read Wednesday evening, the three defendants appeared content, even singing along with protest hymns before they were taken into custody, according to WATE.FULL STORY
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.