West Hills, California (CNN) - A Los Angeles Christian church and school that had planned two host two Chinese students who died in Saturday's Asiana 214 crash in San Francisco grieved at a worship service on Sunday.
West Valley Christian School says 35 Chinese students on the Asiana flight were scheduled to live with church families and join its youth summer camp, where they would learn about American culture and improve English fluency.
"We want to grieve. We want to be real and we want love these families that have lost their loved ones,” Derek Swales, a school administrator, told KCAL, a CNN affiliate.
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The world is religiously diverse and overwhelmingly faithful, according to a study released Tuesday by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
The study, which is a snapshot of world religions in 2010 and does not show trends, brings to light a unique religious landscape that's defined by a burgeoning Islam, a shifting Christianity and a large group of religiously unaffiliated. It took Pew three years to compile.
Five big takeaways from the study:
1.) Muslims and Hindus are noticeably young
The median age of Muslims (23) and Hindus (26) is significantly lower than the global median age of 28 years old.
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) – It has been a busy week for Pastor "Bob" Xiqiu Fu, a pastor from Midland, Texas, who has spent considerable time on the international stage working for the release of Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese activist who arrived in the United States on Saturday after weeks of diplomatic back and forth between two global super powers.
Weeks ago, when Chen escaped from house arrest by jumping over a high wall and hiding out in a pig sty, Fu was the first to know.
Chinese activists arrives in U.S.
When Congress called two hearings in 10 days to address Chen's situation, Fu was front and center.
Both times, Chen called Fu's cell phone and he translated for the Congressional hearings, and the English speaking world, the concerns of the blind activist for his extended family.
"It's really an answer to prayer," Fu told CNN of Chen's arrival to the United States.
By Richard Allen Greene
LONDON (CNN) – The Dalai Lama refused to answer a question Monday about whether Tibetan monks should stop setting themselves on fire to protest China's occupation of Tibet.
"No answer," he said, saying it was a sensitive political question and that he had retired from politics.
He handed over political leadership of the Tibetan community to an elected prime minister last year.
Self-immolation is becoming an increasingly common form of protest for Tibetans who want genuine autonomy from China and accuse Beijing of repression.
More than 30 of them took place in the last year in China, Tibetan advocacy groups say.
The Dalai Lama was speaking in London, where he is accepting the Templeton Prize, an award worth £1.1 million ($1.74 million) which honors "outstanding individuals who have devoted their talents to expanding our vision of human purpose and ultimate reality."
The Dalai Lama will give $1.5 million to the aid organization Save the Children, he said.
He is giving another $200,000 of the prize money to the Mind & Life Institute, and $75,000 to his own monastic community.
By Vicky Kung, for CNN
Hong Kong (CNN) – A skull bone believed to be from the original remains of the Buddha will be on display in Hong Kong for six days, the first time the relic will be displayed outside mainland China.
The parietal bone will be enshrined for worship at the Hong Kong Coliseum from April 25 to April 30. China is sending the relic to celebrate the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China, said Venerable Yin-chi, the secretary general of the Hong Kong Buddhist Association. The display also coincides with the World Buddhist Forum in the city and Buddha’s birthday, celebrated in Hong Kong on April 26.
“The Chinese government had sent us the Buddha’s tooth once in 1999 and the finger bone once in 2004,” Yin-chi said. “But this is the first time that the parietal bone is being moved away from the mainland for a public worship.”
By Eunice Yoon, CNN
Beijing, China (CNN) – The congregants were seated in rows of folding chairs, clasping their hands in prayer or studying passages in their Bibles.
The choir was sitting up front ready to sing on cue. A cross hung behind the pastor. The service looked like a Christian service you would see pretty much anywhere else in the world. But this is Beijing, and the recent Sunday service was illegal.
I couldn't stop glancing at the door and wonder - are the authorities on their way?
By Jo Ling Kent, CNN
Beijing, China (CNN) – This calm denim-clad 28-year-old identifies herself only as Water, based on the Chinese characters that make up her first name. She has been deemed an enemy of the state, an unlikely label for a petite and well-educated woman who eschews violence and confrontation.
Here in China, Water is living her life in fear, under the close watch of the Chinese government for practicing Christianity at Beijing's underground Shouwang Church. She requested her Chinese name not be published for safety reasons.
Editors note: "Jaime's China" is a weekly column about Chinese society and politics. Jaime FlorCruz has lived and worked in China since 1971. He studied Chinese history at Peking University (1977-81) and served as TIME Magazine's Beijing correspondent and bureau chief (1982-2000).
Inside Beijing's Immaculate Conception Cathedral more than 1,000 parishioners gather to say mass.
A young Chinese priest conducts the service, which is punctuated by hymns and Christmas carols sung by a choir. The priest enjoins the congregation to "pray for the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI and the Chinese bishops."
It is a stark change from Chairman Mao's time in the 1960s and '70s, when religion was banned in China as the "opiate of the people" and Christmas was taboo.
In the early 1980s, years after Mao died, the government began loosening its religious restrictions. Back then, some Catholic friends and I would bike to Immaculate Conception for midnight mass. At the gate, wary church officials screened people who wished to enter.
A long-simmering battle between the Vatican and China over control of the Chinese Catholic Church blew up this week over the creation of a new Chinese Catholic bishop without the pope's permission.
The Roman Catholic Church said Beijing forced bishops to participate in the ordination of Joseph Guo Jincai, while China charged the Vatican with interfering with religious liberty in China.
Guo was ordained a bishop on Saturday, the Vatican said, calling the unauthorized act "a grave violation of Catholic discipline."
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Thursday that the Chinese Catholic Church was independent and that any "intervention" constituted "restriction of freedom and non-tolerance."
Editor's Note: Arri Eisen is a professor of pedagogy in Biology, the Institute of the Liberal Arts, and the Center for Ethics at Emory University.
By Arri Eisen, Special to CNN
Why has the Dalai Lama become more than just another leader in exile, just another Nobel Peace Prize winner? Why is he now an international icon of peace and positive possibilities?
The other day, some friends and I were sitting around chewing the fat, and I brought up this question because the man himself was preparing to visit our campus.
Just 20 years ago, as a Harvard scientist named Herbert Benson tells the story, he asked about inviting the Dalai Lama to the U.S. and the response was ‘Dolly who?’
What’s happened in the meantime?
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.