Atheist organizer takes ‘movement’ to nation’s capital
American Atheists president David Silverman in Washington, planning for Saturday's rally.
March 23rd, 2012
11:04 AM ET

Atheist organizer takes ‘movement’ to nation’s capital

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – Sitting in a chilly hotel hospitality suite in a suburban Maryland hotel, David Silverman plans his attack. As the frequently quoted president of the American Atheists and a constant thorn in the side of religious organizations, attack mode comes easily to him.

At the moment, it isn’t the religious right or the “horribly misinformed,” a term Silverman uses for certain religious people, that are in his sights. Rather, it’s a menu.

“Spinach or Caesar salad?” Silverman, 45, asks to no one in particular. His dinner guests, a logistics consultant, a Marriott hotel representative and Silverman’s new administrative director, eat through a few courses before discussion turns to dessert.

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“In the beginning, God created chocolate,” Silverman says, his eyes scanning the table for reaction.

Laughter ensues. But this is a business meal. From choosing salads for a fundraising dinner to studying the timing of the Washington transit system, Silverman has been spending less time recently on the big question of God’s existence and more time immersing himself in the nitty-gritty of planning what he promises will be the largest-ever atheist gathering.


- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • CNN Profile • DC • Politics

The Foer questions: Literary wunderkind turns 35
Jonathan Safran Foer is author of the "New American Haggadah," releasing March 5.
March 5th, 2012
10:11 AM ET

The Foer questions: Literary wunderkind turns 35

By Elizabeth Landau, CNN

New York (CNN) – There's a magical time in the morning between 4 and 6:30 when Jonathan Safran Foer works in quiet. It's before his sons wake up, before he takes them to school, before he goes shopping for milk and diapers - errands in which he takes a certain pleasure.

A few days before his birthday, a recent Tuesday, the internationally acclaimed writer almost forgot he would be turning 35. The milestone doesn't put more pressure on Foer, but he does feel a different sense of urgency.

"I'm less worried about accomplishment - as younger people always can't help but be - and more concerned with spending my time well," he says, "spending time with my family, and reading, learning things."

With wavy hair, an unshaven face and round tortoise-shell glasses, he's easy to miss on the streets of Brooklyn or the West Village. But adoring fans will sometimes blog about possible "JSF" sightings at his local library or park. And Foer's literary and artistic endeavors are getting harder and harder not to notice.

Read the full story about Jonathan Safran Foer
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Books • CNN Profile • Judaism

Keeping the faith, daring to be different
February 5th, 2012
05:33 PM ET

Crossing the plains and kicking up dirt, a new Mormon pioneer

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

San Diego (CNN) – At a 1950s-style house nestled in a peaceful neighborhood nicknamed “Hanukkah Hill,” a smiling Buddha on the porch greets visitors – his arms raised as if to say all are welcome.

Affixed to the doorpost is a mezuzah, a decorative case holding blessings for a Jewish home. Inside, on the family’s refrigerator, hangs a magnet from the Feminist Mormon Housewives blog that says, “Jesus loves us. Who cares what you think?”

In the kitchen stands Joanna Brooks, an accidental, unofficial and admittedly unauthorized source for all things Mormon. She’s making “funeral potatoes,” a classic Mormon casserole, and heaped on the counter are the ingredients: a not-so-healthy dose of cheese, butter, sour cream, hash browns and chicken soup. Her Jewish husband strolls by, takes a look at what’s cooking, and grimaces. Bespectacled and freckled 6-year-old Rosa, standing atop a chair, proudly announces, “I’m Jewish and Mormon!”

The home and life Brooks has created is the product of a complicated journey.

She cannot separate The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from her identity any more than she can leave cheese out of funeral potatoes. But like her persecuted ancestors who braved the unforgiving plains to reach the promised land of what is now Utah, Brooks, 40, fights for her faith. FULL POST

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.