February 6th, 2014
04:07 PM ET
Opinion by Greg Kandra, special to CNN
(CNN) – When the news broke the other day that Philip Seymour Hoffman would receive a Catholic funeral on Friday, a few people on social media expressed surprise.
One commenter on my Facebook page questioned whether it was appropriate for the church to provide a high-profile Catholic funeral to someone whom she described as "a public sinner."
As you probably know, Hoffman, one of this generation’s most celebrated actors, died last weekend of an apparent heroin overdose.
The Facebook critic recanted her comment when I explained that the funeral will not be high-profile. Instead, the Hoffman family is holding a private ceremony Friday at St. Ignatius Loyola Church in New York.
Although Hoffman was nominated for Oscars twice for playing religious figures - a Catholic priest in “Doubt” in 2009, a cult leader in “The Master" in 2012 - his own faith wasn’t widely known.
December 19th, 2013
01:49 PM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) – While controversy swirled around Phil Robertson Wednesday evening, the "Duck Dynasty" patriarch was at his longtime church, praying for a young woman who suffers from cancer, the TV star's pastor told CNN in an exclusive interview.
"Phil led us in prayer," said Mike Kellett, senior pastor of White's Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, Louisiana. "There were greater things on our minds than the firestorm of controversy about this article."
Asked how Robertson is taking the fierce criticism of his remarks on homosexuality, Kellett said, "He's very calm, and very confident that if he serves the Lord, God will take care of everything."
October 18th, 2013
10:17 AM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editorFollow @BurkeCNN
(CNN) -- Declaring himself "American's most famous Catholic," comedian Stephen Colbert roasted church leaders at a charity event in New York on Thursday, taking aim at Pope Francis and Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
"As an observant Catholic, I believe the Pope is infallible," said Colbert, a Communion-class teacher at a parish in New Jersey. "But he's also wrong about a lot of things."
Colbert, whose bombastic persona on the "Colbert Report" often takes a conservative slant on Christianity, poked fun at the new Pope's humble lifestyle, saying that if the pontiff were in charge of the white-tie charity event, it would have been held at an IHOP, not New York's glitzy Waldorf-Astoria hotel.
October 16th, 2013
03:20 PM ET
(CNN) - To some, Oprah Winfrey appears to have an almost godlike status. Her talents are well recognized, and her endorsement can turn almost any product into an overnight bestseller.
This godlike perception is fitting, since in recent years Winfrey’s work has increasingly emphasized spirituality, including programs like her own "Super Soul Sunday."
But what happens when an atheist enters the mix?
A few days ago Winfrey interviewed long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad on Super Soul Sunday. Nyad identified herself as an atheist who experiences awe and wonder at the natural world and humanity.
August 7th, 2013
02:58 PM ET
Opinion by Larry Alex Taunton, special to CNN
(CNN) - Being a sports fan these days almost requires a law degree. What with all the legal troubles of athletes, who can keep up?
Lawyers certainly have the edge in the fantasy leagues. The rest of us keep one on retainer.
Still, even they might have some difficulty predicting outcomes. Will the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez actually be suspended? Will Riley Cooper be cut from the Philadelphia Eagles? Will Johnny Manziel lose his NCAA eligibility?
June 27th, 2013
09:40 AM ET
By Father Edward L. Beck, CNN Faith and Religion Commentator
(CNN) – The only time I met James Gandolfini, we talked about God.
It was a chance meeting at the Broadway play “God of Carnage,” in which he was acting. I went backstage to see someone else but was introduced to James.
When he heard that I was a priest he laughed and said, “Gee, Father, I hope you didn’t think this was a play about God.”
“No, I didn’t,” I said, “but I was surprised to find out that it actually was.”
He looked perplexed by my answer, hesitated for a moment, and then said, “Well, we’ll have to talk about that sometime.”
June 21st, 2013
06:19 PM ET
SAVANNAH, Georgia (CNN) - The Food Network announced Friday that it will not renew the contract of Paula Deen after she admitted using a racial epithet – but a black pastor who is friends with the celebrity chef said she "can't be a racist."
Deen apologized Friday for "the wrong that I've done," a move that follows revelations this week that she admitted saying the N-word.
But Pastor Gregory A. Tyson Sr. from First Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia, defended Deen to WTOC, a CNN affiliate.
"I know her," Tyson said. "My children have been to her house. I've been to her house, I've sat on her furniture. I've been all through her house. What racist would let a black man walk all through her house?"
June 20th, 2013
04:56 PM ET
(CNN) Kanye West wants his listeners to know that he is “a close high” to God.
His latest album, “Yeezus,” released Tuesday, offered several controversial track titles, including “New Slaves,” “Black Skinhead” and the most audacious, “I Am a God.” The track’s credit says “featuring God,” as if He’s just another artist – a Rick Ross or Pharrell Williams – stepping into the studio to spit a couple of verses.
The song closes with the verses, “I just talked to Jesus/he said, ‘What up, Yeezus?’/I said “S*** I’m chilling/trying to stack these millions'/I know he’s the most high, but I am a close high.”
So, does Kanye really think he's God's match?FULL STORY
June 14th, 2013
04:05 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, Co-Editor CNN Belief Blog
Baltimore, Maryland (CNN) - As the new Superman movie takes flight this weekend, filmmakers are hoping the Man of Steel lands not only in theaters, but also in pulpits.
Warner Bros. Studios is aggressively marketing "Man of Steel" to Christian pastors, inviting them to early screenings, creating Father’s Day discussion guides and producing special film trailers that focus on the faith-friendly angles of the movie.
The movie studio even asked a theologian to provide sermon notes for pastors who want to preach about Superman on Sunday. Titled “Jesus: The Original Superhero,” the notes run nine pages.
“How might the story of Superman awaken our passion for the greatest hero who ever lived and died and rose again?” the sermon notes ask.
October 20th, 2012
05:09 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - Thou shalt not Tebow, for the wages of Tebowing is trademark infringement.
A management and consulting firm representing New York Jets back-up quarterback and evangelical sports icon Tim Tebow has moved one step closer to holding the trademark "Tebowing" for use on things as widespread as clothing, pencil sharpeners and holiday ornaments.
Tebow has long been very public about his Christian faith. In college, he sported Bible verses on his eye black, which the NCAA went on to ban after his graduation. Tebow invoked God frequently at news conferences and wrote at length about his faith and growing up the son of evangelical missionaries the Philippines in an autobiography.
"Tebowing" became part of the American lexicon when Tebow, then a second year player for the Denver Broncos, was photographed bowing in prayer in the end zone on one knee, helmeted head bowed a top a clenched fist. It quickly became an Internet meme.
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.