November 29th, 2012
04:38 AM ET
By Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, for CNN
Cairo (CNN) - Seven Coptic Egyptians living abroad were sentenced to death Wednesday by a court in Cairo for their connection to an inflammatory anti-Islam film, the prosecutor's office said.
The suspects are accused of being involved with the production of the film in California, said Adel Al Saeed, official spokesman for the prosecutor's office.
Since the Egyptian citizens were tried in absentia, the sentence would be applied only if they returned to Egypt.FULL STORY
October 21st, 2012
06:59 AM ET
By John Blake, CNN
President Barack Obama was sharing a pulpit one day with a conservative Christian leader when a revealing exchange took place.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a conservative Christian who has taken public stands against abortion and same-sex marriage, had joined Obama for an AIDS summit. They were speaking before a conservative megachurch filled with white evangelicals.
When Brownback rose to speak, he joked that he had joined Obama earlier at an NAACP meeting where Obama was treated like Elvis and he was virtually ignored. Turning to Obama, a smiling Brownback said, “Welcome to my house!”
The audience exploded with laughter and applause. Obama rose, walked before the congregation and then declared:
“There is one thing I have to say, Sam. This is my house, too. This is God’s house.”
Historians may remember Obama as the nation’s first black president, but he’s also a religious pioneer. He’s not only changed people’s perception of who can be president, some scholars and pastors say, but he’s also expanding the definition of who can be a Christian by challenging the religious right’s domination of the national stage.
October 18th, 2012
04:14 PM ET
By Jason Morris, CNN
Dallas (CNN)– Cheerleaders from a small eastern Texas town have won the first battle in their crusade to display Christian religious messages on banners at their high school's football games.
State District Judge Steve Thomas of Hardin County implemented a temporary injunction Thursday in favor of the Kountze High School cheerleaders, and by setting a trial date of June 24, 2013, Thomas effectively allows the cheerleaders to keep displaying Bible-quoting signs at Kountze athletic events through the end of this current school year.
Macy Matthews, a 15-year-old Kountze sophomore, was eating lunch at cheerleading camp last July when her friend Megan became inspired by images she saw on social media.
"She saw a picture on Pinterest of a team that had made a run-through sign with a scripture on it, and as we were sitting down eating, she showed us and asked if we would be interested in doing that for the football season. So, we all talked about it," Matthews remembered. "We all loved the idea and thought it was really cool and encouraging."
October 6th, 2012
10:00 PM ET
By Jacques Berlinerblau, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Jacques Berlinerblau is associate professor of Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University. His book, How to Be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom has just been released.
As far as the Republicans are concerned, President Barack Obama is secularism’s go-to guy in Washington. Newt Gingrich refers to him as a “secular-socialist.” Mitt Romney charges that his opponent advocates a “secular agenda.” And Rick Santorum frets that Obama is imposing “secular values” on “people of faith.”
The president, however, seems not to have received the whole him-being-a-secularist memo. American secularists have thrown up their hands in frustration over his supersizing of George W. Bush’s Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. They roll their eyes at his God talk. As for his recent call for days of “prayer and remembrance” to commemorate 9/11, well, would the late Rev. Jerry Falwell have done it any differently?
After spending years trying to sequence the genome of American secularism, I have arrived at a sobering conclusion: no -ism is as misunderstood as this one. All of which is bad for secularists, secularism and America. Let’s look at some of the biggest misconceptions out there: FULL POST
September 30th, 2012
02:48 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN)–Six of the nine Supreme Court justices attended the annual Red Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington on Sunday. The event’s speakers spoke about using faith in decision-making but largely stayed away from the controversial issues the court will face in the coming months.
Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Stephen Breyer, Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Justice Elena Kagan all attended the 60th annual Mass. This was Kagan’s first Red Mass.
Having six justices in attendance ties a record set in 2009. The only justices to not attend this year were Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito, both of whom are Catholic, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is Jewish. Kagan and Breyer, both of whom were in attendance, are also Jewish.
The annual Mass is an event put on by the Archdiocese of Washington and the John Carroll Society and aims to bring people together to pray for the members of the judiciary before the court begins hearing cases each year. It’s called the Red Mass because of the color of the garment worn by clergy.
August 27th, 2012
02:18 PM ET
Editor's note: For more on the trial, check out CNN affiliate WOIO-TV in Cleveland.
By Tricia Escobedo and Chris Welch, CNN
(CNN) – Federal prosecutors are expected to argue that an Amish sect leader, accused of orchestrating beard-cutting attacks against fellow Amish men, was operating a cult out of his family compound in rural Ohio.
The sect leader, Samuel Mullet Sr., is one of 16 Amish men and women charged with federal hate crimes in the beard-cutting attacks last year. The trial began Monday with jury selection in federal court in Cleveland. Mullet and several of his sons, who were arrested in December, are among those on trial.
To the Amish, a beard is a significant symbol of faith and manhood.
Prosecutors have said the accused men and women, all members of Mullet's breakaway Amish sect, planned and carried out the attacks "on their perceived religious enemies" under Mullet's orders. CNN has sought a response from Mullet's attorney, Edward Bryan. Bryan has disputed the prosecution's characterization of his client, according to The Cleveland Plain Dealer.FULL STORY
July 19th, 2012
06:18 AM ET
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) – A federal judge ordered a Tennessee county to conduct a final inspection of a new mosque, clearing the way for worshippers to possibly begin using the building in time for the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Thursday.
The ruling by U.S. District Judge Todd J. Campbell is the latest development in a two-year battle over the opening of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, near Nashville, that has been marked by legal challenges and anti-Muslim sentiment.
"If the building complies with applicable codes and regulations, the County shall issue, on or before July 19, 2012, the certificate of occupancy," Campbell wrote Wednesday in his order granting a temporary restraining order against the county.
Campbell's ruling effectively set aside a ruling by a county judge in June that reversed a planning commission's approval of the Islamic Center's expansion because of what he said was insufficient public notice.FULL STORY
July 18th, 2012
04:58 PM ET
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - A Tennessee Islamic center has asked a federal court to clear the way for a new mosque to open in time for the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan at sundown Thursday.
Plans for the mosque in Murfreesboro, near Nashville, have resulted in threats to the center and a lawsuit that led to a county judge's order shutting down the project in June. The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro is now asking a federal judge to allow the mosque to open, arguing that it is being blocked "merely because local anti-Islamic protests have made the mosque controversial."
U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell set a hearing on the issue for Thursday afternoon in Nashville.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the center by the Washington-based Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, argues that the center was ordered to meet "a heightened standard of notice in the zoning process" because of objections by some Murfreesboro residents.FULL STORY
June 26th, 2012
04:39 PM ET
By Sarah Hoye, CNN
Philadelphia (CNN) – The highest-ranking Catholic church cleric charged and convicted in the landmark child sexual abuse trial will remain in jail for the time being, a Philadelphia judge ordered Tuesday.
Monsignor William Lynn was found guilty Friday of one count of child endangerment, the first time a U.S. church leader has been convicted of such a charge.
The trial marked the first time U.S. prosecutors have charged not just the priests who allegedly committed abuses but church leaders for failing to stop them. Lynn is the highest-ranking cleric accused of imperiling children by helping cover up sexual abuse.
He was found not guilty on a second count of endangerment and on a charge of conspiring to protect a priest accused of abuse.
Lynn's defense team argued during the trial that their client repeatedly told higher-ups about the alleged abuse and, under strict orders from the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, had no authority to remove priests from the ministry.FULL STORY
June 25th, 2012
11:58 AM ET
By Dana Garrett, CNN
State College, Pennsylvania (CNN)– Jerry Sandusky sits in a county jail cell in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, but his presence and the weight of the 45 guilty verdicts rendered against the former Penn State football coach on Friday night hung in the air Sunday morning at the State College church where he and his wife are longtime members.
Ed Zeiders, the senior pastor at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, did not shy away from addressing the conviction of his congregant and friend on child sex abuse charges, asking his congregation to “pray for all of those who are victims and for all of those who are predators.”
Zeiders began his sermon with a question.
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.