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.
(CNN)–For centuries, artisans have been crafting statues of Hindu deities on the banks of the Hooghly River in Kolkata, India.
Italian photographer Albertina d'Urso recently visited the historic Kumartuli district in the West Bengal capital.
"I think they enjoy their work because they know the idols they create will be enjoyed by others, but most of all because it is creative and handmade work," she said. "It would not be the same if it was a modern factory."
Read the full story from CNN Photos.
By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
Decades before atheist scientist and author Richard Dawkins called God a "delusion," one world-renowned physicist - Albert Einstein - was weighing in on faith matters with his own strong words.
“The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends,” Einstein wrote in German in a 1954 letter that will be auctioned on eBay later this month. "No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”
Dubbed Einstein’s “God Letter” by the Los Angeles-based auction agency that's posting it online, the original document will be up for grabs starting Monday. The opening bid: $3 million.
By Laura Koran, CNN
(CNN) – How many people would lay down their lives for a stranger?
It’s the question at the center of the new documentary “Besa: The Promise,” which premiered last weekend at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.
The filmmakers’ answer: “Albanians would.”
During one of humanity’s darkest chapters, when millions of Jews, gays, communists and racial minorities were rounded up across Europe, many Albanians put up a fight to save complete strangers.
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) - Rapper Snoop Dogg announced Monday that he's burying his name and old career, all because of a religious experience with Rastafari, an Afrocentric religion with origins in Jamaica. Snoop Dogg wants to be called Snoop Lion and instead of rapping on his latest album now he'll be singing reggae.
"I want to bury Snoop Dogg and become Snoop Lion," he said at a Monday press conference. "I didn't know that until I went to the temple, where the high priest asked me what my name was, and I said, 'Snoop Dogg.' And he looked me in my eyes and said, 'No more. You are the light; you are the lion.'
"From that moment on," Snoop said, "it's like I had started to understand why I was there."
Snoop Lion has a new single, "La la la," and a documentary "Reincarnated," which follows his recent trip to Jamaica and chronicles his conversion experience. It debuts at the Toronto Film Festival next month.
So what exactly is Rastafari? Here are some basic questions and answers:
The voice on the other line was slurred and halting. My childhood hero, I realized, was nearing the end of his life.
“Hello, Mr. Bradbury,” I shouted into the phone, so loud that one of my colleagues sitting nearby raised his eyebrows.
The call was supposed to be professional. I had called Ray Bradbury’s daughter to tell her that I wanted to write about a different side of her father: What did this science fiction giant think about God and the afterlife?
But that request was a smokescreen. I just needed an excuse to talk to the man whose books and stories had enriched my childhood. Would he be as fun to talk to as he is to read, I wondered?
Overheard: What CNN.com readers are saying about Bradbury
He was better than I imagined. In more than 20 years of journalism, I have never encountered anyone quite like him.
By Becky Perlow, CNN
(CNN) - When was the last time you sat down and questioned your decision to believe in God?
According to a new study, that simple act could decrease your religious conviction – even if you’re a devout believer.
In the study, published Friday in the journal Science, researchers from Canada’s University of British Columbia used subtle stimuli to encourage analytical thinking. Results from the study found that analytical thinking could decrease religious belief.
By Stan Wilson, CNN
Los Angeles (CNN) – A former veteran systems administrator for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory claimed during opening arguments in a civil lawsuit Tuesday that he was wrongfully terminated for expressing his views on intelligent design.
David Coppedge, who spent 15 years on the Cassini Mission, one of NASA and JPL's most ambitious planetary space explorations, asserts that he was unlawfully fired under his employer's anti-harassment and ethics policies. JPL contends Coppedge created a hostile workplace while expressing his religious views with co-workers.
His suit also claims that supervisors wrongly admonished him for distributing DVD documentary films titled "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" and "The Privileged Planet," which present biological and cosmological explanations for intelligent design, according to the complaint.
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The General Theological Seminary was founded in 1817, making it the oldest Episcopalian seminary in the country. Twitter, on the other hand, was introduced to the public in 2006, making it, by comparison, a newborn.
Colin Chapman and Joseph Mathews, the relatively young founders of Digital Formation, hope to bring those two worlds together.
As a social media consulting endeavor, Digital Formation looks to help clergy and lay church leaders work their way through the ever-changing world of social media. When Chapman and Mathews proposed using webinars and classes as the means of teaching, the leadership of the seminary embraced the idea.
Though the organization is still in its early stages, the fact that Digital Formation was so quickly embraced shows how religious organizations not only desire more exposure to Twitter, but are willing to throw out what Chapman describes as a “behind the times” attitude to get that exposure.
Washington (CNN) – People who are religiously active live more involved and connected lives, according to a Pew Research study released on Friday.
The study, titled “The civic and community engagement of religious active Americans,” painted a broad picture of religious Americans and found that involvement in religious organizations usually go hand-in-hand with participation in civic organizations and a positive outlook on their community.
“There is something unique about religious and spiritual involved people that contribute to their trust, positive outlook, involvement and engagement in the community,” said Jim Jansen, senior fellow at Pew and the leader of the study.
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.