November 8th, 2013
10:01 AM ET
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) – The Rev. Timothy McDonald gripped the pulpit with both hands, locked eyes with the shouting worshippers, and decided to speak the unspeakable.
The bespectacled Baptist minister was not confessing to a scandalous love affair or the theft of church funds. He brought up another taboo: the millions of poor Americans who won’t get health insurance beginning in January because their states refused to accept Obamacare.
McDonald cited a New Testament passage in which Jesus gathered the 5,000 and fed them with five loaves and two fishes. Members of his congregation bolted to their feet and yelled, “C’mon preacher” and “Yessir” as his voice rose in righteous anger.
“What I like about our God is that he doesn’t throw people away,” McDonald told First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta during a recent Sunday service. “There will be health care for every American. Don’t you worry when they try to cast you aside. Just say I’m a leftover for God and leftovers just taste better the next day!”
October 9th, 2013
07:07 PM ET
Opinion by Kate Bowler, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Money. Women. Fame. Church.
That's a day in the life of “The Preachers of L.A.,” a new reality show centered on the lives of megachurch pastors of the so-called “prosperity gospel.”
The show, which premiers Wednesday night on the Oxygen Network, is a chaotic mix of prayer, "house porn," and neatly orchestrated dust-ups between senior pastors and their “first ladies.”
In some ways, the combination of the prosperity gospel with the “Real Housewives” format is a match made in Oprah-produced heaven.
September 29th, 2013
08:40 AM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog co-editorFollow @BurkeCNN
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (CNN) - Among the flowers and plants in Marie Monville’s sunny yard sits a rosebush, a gift from her first husband, Charlie.
A few years ago, Monville painstakingly unearthed the roots and transplanted the bush from her old house 10 miles away - a house that Charlie had thrown into tumult and grief.
The bush’s prickles recall the pain she and her family have endured, Monville said, and its peach-colored blossoms offer a yearly reminder that God creates new life from old.
After years of silence, Monville is now telling a story of her own.
It’s the story of how a milkman’s daughter became a murderer’s wife, and how she found a divine calling after a devastating tragedy.
“If this wasn’t my life,” Monville said during a recent interview in her kitchen, family pictures smiling from the fridge, “I never would have expected it to look this beautiful.” FULL POST
September 17th, 2013
09:59 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-EditorFollow @EricCNNBelief
Lake Forest, California (CNN) — In his first interview since his son's suicide in April, famed pastor Rick Warren told CNN that he knew his son, Matthew, had bought a gun, dismissed rumors that Matthew was gay and said he doesn't blame God for the tragedy.
"I have cried every single day since Matthew died," Warren said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with CNN.
"But that - that's actually a good thing. Grief is a good thing. It's the way we get through the transitions of life."
Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, founded Saddleback Church in Southern California in 1980, growing it from a small congregation to a multisite megachurch with some 20,000 weekly worshippers.
Warren is also author of the spiritual self-help guide “The Purpose Driven Life,” one of the best-selling books of all time, with more 36 million copies sold.
But even as the Warrens grew in prominence - attending conferences with presidents and prime ministers - their son Matthew struggled with borderline personality disorder and deep depression, they said during an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan.
September 17th, 2013
10:24 AM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editorFollow @BurkeCNN
(CNN) - Best-selling author and megachurch pastor Rick Warren is one of the country's most influential Christian leaders.
But Warren and his wife, Kay, have nearly disappeared from public view since their son's suicide in April.
That changed Tuesday night, when Rick and Kay Warren spoke with CNN's Piers Morgan about the death of their son, how their faith has changed and their new mission in life.
Here are five things to know about the Warrens.
September 17th, 2013
08:40 AM ET
Lake Forest, California (CNN) - Rick and Kay Warren stood outside their son's home, sobbing in each other's arms.
They had talked Matthew, 27, off the ledge many times. But not this time.
A nod from a police officer who inspected Matthew's house confirmed their worst fears.
“I just hit the ground,” Kay Warren said.
September 15th, 2013
02:17 PM ET
Programming note: Rick and Kay Warren sit down exclusively with CNN’s Piers Morgan to talk about the death of their son and their new mission to raise awareness about mental illness.
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) – Megachurch pastor and author Rick Warren is slowly returning to the spotlight, five months after his youngest son committed suicide.
He has shared spiritual insights on social media, returned to the pulpit to preach about overcoming obstacles and taken his purpose-driven message to Rwanda, a nation still reeling from a bloody genocide.
But Warren, the bestselling author of "The Purpose Driven Life" and one of the most famous pastors in the United States, hasn't yet spoken to the media about his son's death.
That changed when Warren and his wife Kay sat for an extended interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan.
In a brief clip released on Monday, Morgan and Warren discussed gun violence, including Monday's shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington.
Rick and Kay Warren have been outspoken about the plague of gun violence in the United States, especially since their son, Matthew, took his own life in April after what the family call a lifelong struggle with mental illness.
“In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided,” Warren wrote to staffers at Saddleback Church, his megachurch in Orange County, California.
Then Warren, one of the country's most visible spiritual leaders, disappeared from public view. But not quite.
July 9th, 2013
11:40 AM ET
Opinion by John S. Dickerson, special to CNN
Prescott, Arizona (CNN) – If you stood next to one in a grocery store line, you could smell the smoke on his fire pants.
They were known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots, but to us they were sturdy, sweaty, smoke-stained neighbors, fathers, friends, husbands, sons and uncles.
They were the strong shoulders and backs who ran into danger to protect us. Just two weeks ago they ran toward the 200-footl flames of the Doce Fire northwest of Prescott, diverting it away from my neighborhood.
On June 30, while battling a fierce wildfire in Yarnell, 19 of these elite Prescott firefighters died. It was the deadliest day for firefighters since September 11, 2001, and it had a devastating effect on our small community.
July 5th, 2013
05:40 PM ET
By David R. Wheeler, special to CNN
(CNN) - Like many congregations, The Mennonite Worker Community of Minneapolis held a worship service and picnic this Fourth of July - but instead of extolling the virtues of America, they called attention to its faults.
The annual service is “a sort of anti-patriotic holiday,” says Mark Van Steenwyk, whose community focuses on simplicity, prayer and peacemaking. Singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” is out. Reflecting on the contradictions between the gospel and the American Dream are in.
“We thank you, O God, for the good things we enjoy in our lives," reads a prayer the Mennonite community recites each year, "but lament that our abundance has brought destitution to sisters and brothers throughout the Earth.”
Anti-patriots like Van Steenwyk say their movement, which has grown more vocal in recent years, is simply an honest way to read – and live out – Jesus' teachings on nonviolence. But it's hard to look at groups like The Mennonite Community and not see an implicit criticism of God-and-country cheerleading by mainstream Christians and ripples of centuries-old church-state tensions.
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.