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Today's Supreme Court
October 7th, 2013
12:31 PM ET

September 9th, 2013
03:29 PM ET

Fox News host: Atheists 'don't have to live here'

By Daniel BurkeCNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) – Fox News pundit Dana Perino said she's "tired" of atheists attempting to remove the phrase "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, adding, "if these people really don't like it, they don't have to live here."

The co-host of Fox's "The Five" was referring to a suit brought by the American Humanist Association in Massachusetts, where the state's Supreme Judicial Court heard a challenge to the pledge on Wednesday.

The group's executive director, Roy Speckhardt, called the suit "the first challenge of its kind," but Perino begged to differ.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Church and state • Courts • Culture wars • News media • Schools • TV

August 14th, 2013
08:25 AM ET

Granderson: A boy named 'Messiah'?

Opinion by LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - I once met a mother who named her newborn daughter Kia Sophia.

Yes, like the car.

Apparently she had one and liked it so much that she wanted to be reminded of it each time she said her baby's name.

As we stood there, I could tell this was something she was very proud of, and so I tried my best not to look embarrassed for her.

Besides, who was I to judge? I'm named after a useless, deadbeat father. At least the car had resale value.

Read LZ Granderson's full commentary here

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church and state • Courts • Opinion

August 13th, 2013
09:09 PM ET

Name 'Messiah' would offend, judge says

By Marlena Baldacci, CNN

(CNN) –Young Messiah, the "happiest baby in the world," according to his mother, is blissfully unaware that a judge ruled that his birth name promises to offend many in his Tennessee community.

His mother, Jaleesa Martin, and father, Jawaan McCullough, who are not married, couldn't agree on a last name for their baby, now 7 months old. That's why they ended up in the courtroom of Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew.

But the judge shifted the attention to the baby's first name, and said it should be changed. FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church and state • Courts • Jesus

August 12th, 2013
01:30 PM ET

Judge: Baby can't be named 'Messiah'

A Tennessee judge has ordered the parents of a 7-month-old boy to rename their son "Martin" instead of "Messiah," CNN affiliate WBIR reports.

"The word Messiah is a title and it's a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ," Child Support Magistrate Lu Ann Ballew said.

Jaleesa Martin, the child's mother, told WBIR that she intends to appeal the decision.

Do you agree with the judge's decision or do you think the parents should be able to name their son Messiah? Let us know in the comments below.

Read the full story at WBIR
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church and state • Courts • Tennessee

Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
July 14th, 2013
12:18 AM ET

Twitter theme: Zimmerman will face a higher Judge

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - As news spread on social media of the not guilty verdict in the Trayvon Martin case, a religious theme soon emerged: Sooner or later, a higher authority will judge George Zimmerman

Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, may have been the first to express a version of this theme:

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Belief • Church • Courts • Ethics • United States

May 20th, 2013
10:28 AM ET

High court to review church-state dispute over public prayers

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

Washington (CNN) - A dispute over public prayers at town board meetings will be taken up by the Supreme Court in coming months, another contentious case over the intersection of faith and the public arena.

The justices announced Monday it will decide whether a New York community may continue what it calls "inclusive" prayers at its town board sessions. The policy now allows Wiccans and atheists to offer invocations.

But some local citizens sued and a federal appeals court found the policy to be an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment Clause, which forbids any government "endorsement" of religion.

The petition will be argued later this year or early in 2014, with a ruling ready by the spring.

The case is Town of Greece, N.Y. v. Galloway (12-696).

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Courts

When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs
The Branch Davidians, a religious sect led by David Koresh, clashed with federal agents in 1993 in Waco, Texas.
April 28th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

When religious beliefs become evil: 4 signs

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) – An angry outburst at a mosque. The posting of a suspicious YouTube video. A friendship with a shadowy imam.

Those were just some of the signs that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, accused of masterminding the Boston Marathon bombings, had adopted a virulent strain of Islam that led to the deaths of four people and injury of more than 260.

But how else can you tell that someone’s religious beliefs have crossed the line? The answer may not be as simple you think, according to scholars who study all brands of religious extremism. The line between good and evil religion is thin, they say, and it’s easy to make self-righteous assumptions.

“When it’s something we like, we say it’s commitment to an idea; when it’s something we don’t like, we say it’s blind obedience,” said Douglas Jacobsen, a theology professor at Messiah College in Pennsylvania.

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Catholic Church • Christianity • Courts • Culture wars • Egypt • Fundamentalism • History • Islam • Jesus • Leaders • Moses • Muslim • Quran

Church gets more drama than it bargained for in film
First time actress Persis Karen plays Annika in the movie 'Not Today.'
April 13th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

Church gets more drama than it bargained for in film

By Alan Duke, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN) - When a film's credits list "prayer coordinator" before the hair/makeup and wardrobe teams, you might guess it is a faith-based production.

"Not Today," which premieres on 50 screens in 20 U.S. cities this weekend, was not funded by Hollywood investors, but with $1.6 million from the collection plate at Friends Church in Yorba Linda, California.

Still, the church couldn't avoid the controversies that seem routine in Hollywood productions — including a lawsuit over pay.

The idea for the film began during a trip to India where the church began building schools for the Dalit class - considered the lowest in India's caste system - in 2002. It's a project that fits Friends Church's Quaker tradition, said Creative Arts Pastor Brent Martz. President Richard Nixon's parents worshiped at the church, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year.

"Our hearts were totally ripped open for the Dalit people," Martz said. Social rules and poverty make their children vulnerable to human-trafficking in labor and sex.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: California • Christianity • Church • Courts • Movies • United States

North Carolina getting a state religion? No.
North Carolina legistators are fighting over a church and state issue.
April 4th, 2013
02:06 PM ET

North Carolina getting a state religion? No.

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.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Courts

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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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