May 21st, 2013
11:35 AM ET
Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
(CNN) — At first glance, it would seem that the town of Greece, New York, has been brazenly violating the First Amendment. For roughly a decade, it invited local Christians — and only Christians — to offer prayers opening its Town Board meetings.
Two non-Christian town residents — Susan Galloway (who is Jewish) and Linda Stephens (who is an atheist) — objected, arguing that this practice violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.”
The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, finding that the town’s practice of repeatedly inviting Christians to offer demonstrably Christian prayers amounted to an unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up the case.
May 5th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) - When Peter Sprigg speaks publicly about his opposition to homosexuality, something odd often happens.
During his speeches, people raise their hands to challenge his assertions that the Bible condemns homosexuality, but no Christians speak out to defend him.
“But after it is over, they will come over to talk to me and whisper in my ear, ‘I agree with everything you said,’" says Sprigg, a spokesman for The Family Research Council, a powerful, conservative Christian lobbying group.
We’ve heard of the “down-low” gay person who keeps his or her sexual identity secret for fear of public scorn. But Sprigg and other evangelicals say changing attitudes toward homosexuality have created a new victim: closeted Christians who believe the Bible condemns homosexuality but will not say so publicly for fear of being labeled a hateful bigot. FULL POST
April 4th, 2013
02:06 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi and John Blake, CNN
(CNN)– Politicians often declare that the U.S. is a Christian nation, but a group of representatives in North Carolina wants to add a new wrinkle to that argument.
They want North Carolina to be able to make its own laws establishing religion.
Two Republican representatives in North Carolina filed a resolution Monday that would permit the state to declare Christianity its official religion and reject any federal laws or court rulings regarding how the state addresses the establishment of religion.
Critics say the resolution violates the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee that government will not prefer one religion over another. But a supporter of the resolution said it is about protecting another freedom.
February 7th, 2013
12:24 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
The sound reverberated over the quiet of a momentary political cease-fire in Washington.
For the 61st time, the president came to pray with the U.S. Senate and House prayer groups at the National Prayer Breakfast. It is an event that is equal parts prayer and politics, where members of both parties laud one another about a temporary political truce, lay down their partisan ammunition, and pause to pray together.
Members of Congress mixed in across the ballroom with the 3,000 diplomats, dignitaries, clergy, veterans and many more from 140 countries who bought a ticket to join in the ecumenical prayer event.
All told there were four short prayers, delivered by a senator, an admiral, a Cabinet secretary and an Olympic gold medalist, Gabrielle “the Flying Squirrel” Douglas.
The remainder of the 90 minutes was filled with speeches, songs, coffee, mini-quiches, and bagels.
January 12th, 2013
10:42 AM ET
Editor’s Note: Matthew Lee Anderson is the Lead Writer at Mere Orthodoxy and the author of Earthen Vessels: Why our Bodies Matter to our Faith. He is studying for an M.Phil. at Oxford University.
By Matthew Lee Anderson, Special to CNN
(CNN) – The news that Louie Giglio is no longer going to give the benediction at President Obama’s inauguration sent shock waves around the conservative Christian world.
Conservative Christians are right to be concerned about what these events mean for their welcome in the public square. But as Christians we shouldn’t be surprised nor even overly upset. Given the history of our founder, such marginalization is what we can expect.
Giglio is a pastor and runs the Passion Conferences, where some 60,000 college students gather to hear teaching and participate in activist causes. Giglio has been one of the leading voices in the surge of evangelical opposition to human trafficking, which was originally why Obama picked him.
January 11th, 2013
03:40 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
Washington (CNN) - By Friday, Hobby Lobby would have racked up $14.3 million in fines from the Internal Revenue Service for bucking Obamacare. But in keeping with the great American tax tradition, they may have found a loophole.
The company is facing $1.3 million a day in fines for each day it chooses not to comply with a piece of the Affordable Care Act that was set to trigger for them on January 1. The craft store chain announced in December that, because of religious objections, they would face the fines for not providing certain types of birth control through their company health insurance.
January 10th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN)-– Just days after Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii was sworn in as the first Hindu member of Congress, Hindu American advocacy groups made it clear that they hope Gabbard will help represent the nation’s wider Hindu community, on top of her Hawaiian constituents.
Groups like the Hindu American Foundation and the Hare Krishna Society have lists of priorities they plan to present to Gabbard, making clear that expectations are high for the groundbreaking congresswoman.
While many of these groups priorities for Gabbard center on faith – “international religious liberty,” “religious diversity and freedom in America,” and “generating appreciation and respect for Hindu American contributions” – some focus on legislating in general, like being a “voice for moderation and ‘reaching across the aisle’ in Congress.”
January 5th, 2013
09:34 AM ET
By Ben Brumfield, CNN
(CNN) - Men in a civil union will now be allowed to become bishops in the Church of England, but they are not allowed to have sex.
Intercourse between two men - or two women - remains a sin.
"Homosexual genital acts fall short of the Christian ideal and are to be met with a call to repentance and the exercise of compassion," according to Anglican doctrine.
Men and women in same-sex unions were already allowed to serve as priests in the Church of England, but there was a moratorium on advancement to the episcopate - becoming a bishop - while the church considered the issue.
The church announced Friday that if men in celibate civil unions may be priests, then there is no reason for them not to be bishops, as long as they are "living in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality."
December 27th, 2012
07:20 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
Washington (CNN)– Craft store giant Hobby Lobby is bracing for a $1.3 million a day fine beginning January 1 for noncompliance with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, dubbed Obamacare.
The company opposes providing some contraceptives to employees through its company health care plan on religious grounds, saying some contraceptive products, like the morning after pill, equate to abortion.
After failing to receive temporary relief from the fines from the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby announced late Thursday through its attorneys that it "will continue to provide health insurance to all qualified employees. To remain true to their faith, it is not their intention, as a company, to pay for abortion-inducing drugs."
December 10th, 2012
05:00 AM ET
Editor's Note: Eric Metaxas is the author of "No Pressure, Mr. President! The Power Of True Belief In A Time Of Crisis: The National Prayer Breakfast Speech."
(CNN)–Imagine that the president of the United States had to sit and listen to you for 30 minutes in a public setting. Imagine that he couldn't escape and had to endure whatever you said. If you disagreed with him politically, would you try to embarrass him? What would you say?
Well, this actually happened to me. A year ago I was invited to be the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, an event attended by the president, first lady, vice president, and 3,500 other dignitaries. No one was more shocked at the invitation than I. Previous speakers include Mother Teresa, Tony Blair and Bono. No pressure.
By the way, I disagree with the president in some important ways. But as a Christian, God commands me to love those with whom I disagree, to treat them with civility and respect, as creatures made in God's image. That's a command, not a request or a suggestion. Again, no pressure.
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.