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June 3rd, 2014
01:02 PM ET

Inside Manhattan's most hipster-y megachurch

(CNN) - While some churches are struggling to attract younger members,  20 and 30-something-year-olds are waiting in long lines to get into Hillsong's services.

Pastor Carl Lentz is the main attraction. He spoke to CNN's Poppy Harlow about the church's success and where he stands on several major issues.

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Celebrity • Christianity • Church • evangelicals • Leaders • Protestant • Sacred Spaces • Trends • TV-Anderson Cooper 360

Philip Seymour Hoffman in his own words
February 6th, 2014
04:07 PM ET

Why Philip Seymour Hoffman deserves a Catholic funeral

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.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Celebrity • Christianity • Entertainment • Faith • Mass • Opinion

December 19th, 2013
01:49 PM ET

CNN Exclusive: Family pastor defends 'Duck Dynasty' star

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."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Celebrity • Christianity • Culture wars • Discrimination • evangelicals • Faith & Health • Gay marriage • Gay rights • gender issues

Stephen Colbert roasts the Pope
Comedian Stephen Colbert roasted Catholic leaders, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Thursday night.
October 18th, 2013
10:17 AM ET

Stephen Colbert roasts the Pope

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor

(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.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Celebrity • Christianity • Leaders • Media • Pope Francis

October 16th, 2013
03:20 PM ET

What Oprah gets wrong about atheism


Opinion by Chris Stedman, special to CNN

(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.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Celebrity • Ethics • Faith • God • Inspiration • Nones • Opinion • Spirituality

Athletes charged with murder
August 7th, 2013
02:58 PM ET

The seven deadly sins of sports

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?

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Celebrity • Crime • Opinion • Sports • United States

The Gospel of Tony Soprano
"The Sopranos," starring the late James Gandolfini, had a surprising religious side.
June 27th, 2013
09:40 AM ET

The Gospel of Tony Soprano

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.”

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Celebrity • Christianity • Entertainment • Media • Opinion

June 21st, 2013
06:19 PM ET

Pastor friend says Paula Deen can't be a racist

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?"

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Black issues • Celebrity • Christianity • Discrimination • Food • Race

Kanye West's God complex
Is Kanye West's braggadocio blasphemy or just showmanship?
June 20th, 2013
04:56 PM ET

Kanye West's God complex

(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
- Lauriel Cleveland

Filed under: Belief • Celebrity • Faith • Media

June 14th, 2013
04:05 PM ET

Superman: Flying to a church near you

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.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Celebrity • Christianity • Church • Entertainment • Media • Movies

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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.

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