June 28th, 2013
06:19 PM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) – With its ivy-covered entrance and Teddy Bear bouquets, Arlene’s Flowers seems an unlikely spot to trigger a culture-war skirmish.
Until recently, the Richland, Washington, shop was better known for its artistic arrangements than its stance on same-sex marriage.
But in March, Barronelle Stutzman, the shop’s 68-year-old proprietress, refused to provide wedding flowers for a longtime customer who was marrying his partner. Washington state legalized same-sex marriage in December.
An ardent evangelical, Stutzman said she agonized over the decision but couldn’t support a wedding that her faith forbids.
“I was not discriminating at all,” she said. “I never told him he couldn’t get married. I gave him recommendations for other flower shops.”
June 27th, 2013
01:32 PM ET
Editor's Note: Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com
By Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN
(CNN) – There’s a misconception among many faithful folks that religious convictions, by their very nature, are set in stone.
People who change their minds are called flip-floppers or backsliders, accused of capitulating to culture and “conforming to the world.”
But some of the most recognizable names in the Christian story experienced changes of heart: Paul, Augustine, Martin Luther, C.S. Lewis and Madeleine L'Engle.
June 26th, 2013
11:53 AM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN
(CNN) As news broke of the big Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage, religious leaders took to Twitter to express joyous praise or strong condemnation.
June 20th, 2013
10:22 AM ET
(CNN) – After 37 years, Exodus International, an organization whose mission was to "help" gay Christians become straight, is shutting down. But not before issuing an apology.
"We're not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change - and they want to be heard," Tony Moore, an Exodus board member, said Wednesday.
The announcement comes less than a day after Exodus issued a wide-ranging apology to the gay community for "years of undue judgment by the organization and the Christian Church as a whole," a statement from the group says.
"Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we've ceased to be a living, breathing organism," said Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus. "For quite some time, we've been imprisoned in a worldview that's neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical."
Chambers, who has a wife and children and previously identified as gay, has acknowledged that he has "ongoing same-sex attractions."FULL STORY
May 23rd, 2013
06:16 PM ET
Editor's Note: John Stemberger is an Eagle Scout and president of On My Honor, a coalition of concerned parents, Scout Leaders, Scouting donors, Eagle Scouts and others affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America who are united in their support of Scouting’s timeless values and their opposition to open homosexuality in the Scouts. Find more information at www.OnMyHonor.net.
By John Stemberger, Special to CNN
(CNN)– On Thursday, delegates to the Boy Scouts of America’s national conference met in Grapevine, Texas, to determine the fate of one of the most beloved organizations in this country’s history. This organization that has stood the test of time will probably be destroyed now that they have decided to admit openly gay boys as Scouts.
Sex and politics have no place in the Boy Scouts, and allowing open homosexuality will lead to myriad bad consequences.
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 28th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
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.
April 13th, 2013
02:38 PM 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) - School officials in Albany, New York, are racing to control the damage after a teacher at Albany High School gave students a persuasive writing assignment that challenged them to defend the proposition that “Jews are evil.”
After studying Nazi propaganda and rhetoric, sophomores in three English classes were instructed to imagine that their teacher was “a member of the government in Nazi Germany” and to prove that that they were “loyal to the Nazis.”
But this unidentified teacher is now caught up in a propaganda swirl of his or her own.
February 21st, 2013
09:31 AM ET
By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) – According to Jewish tradition, a boy becomes a man at 13, when he's called before his community to read from the Torah and become a bar mitzvah, meaning “son of the commandments.”
In the case of Daniel Blumen, who will make this rite of passage in May, this homestretch of childhood has suddenly become a viral event.
Rather than send out simple save-the-date cards or e-mail announcements, Daniel busted out and did something different. A fan of rap music, this only child and “clever little guy,” as described by his father, made a music video – for which he wrote most of his own lyrics – playing off Jermaine Dupri's “Welcome to Atlanta," featuring Ludacris. FULL POST
November 17th, 2012
07:11 AM ET
By John Blake,
(CNN) – Since President Obama’s re-election, pundits have asked if the Republican Party needs to change its message to adapt to a changing America.
Here’s another question: Will conservative Christians have to adapt their message as well?
I thought about that question as I interviewed one of the nation’s most popular pastors, Andy Stanley. He is a Christian conservative who is also the pastor of North Point Community Church, a sprawling 33,000-member church in suburban Atlanta, Georgia.
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.