December 16th, 2012
06:50 PM ET
By Stacey Samuel
Washington (CNN) – On the first Sunday after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the Rev. Gary Hall of the Washington National Cathedral called on religious communities to take a stance against gun violence.
"The Christian community, indeed, the entire American faith community, can no longer tolerate this persisting and escalating gun violence against our people. Enough is enough," said Hall, who is the dean of the cathedral.
After 20 schoolchildren and six adults were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday, the national debate over gun control has resumed with a fervor.
December 4th, 2012
02:59 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – It came as no surprise that a story about an evangelical Christian pretending to be gay for a year provoked vocal responses from many different quarters.
Much of the feedback centered on the propriety of Timothy Kurek’s yearlong experiment. Some questioned why he would actively choose what they called a life of sin. Others questioned whether the author’s experiment was worthwhile or fair:
December 2nd, 2012
06:45 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Timothy Kurek’s motivation to spend a year pretending to be gay can be boiled down to a simple conviction: it takes drastic change to alter deeply held religious beliefs.
The experiment began after a lesbian friend opened up to Kurek about being excommunicated by her family. All Kurek, an avowed evangelical Christian, could think about, he says, “was trying to convert her.”
He was quickly disgusted by his own feelings, more pious than humane.
In fact, Kurek was so disgusted by his response to his friend that he decided to do something drastic. Living in Nashville, Tennessee, he would pretend to be gay for a year. The experiment began on the first day of 2009; Kurek came out to his family, got a job as a barista at a gay café and enlisted the help of a friend to act as his boyfriend in public.
The experience – which stopped short of Kurek getting physically intimate with other men - is documented in Kurek’s recent book “The Cross in the Closet,” which has received international attention, landed him on ABC’s "The View" and elicited some biting criticism.
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.
November 15th, 2012
02:24 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama’s victory relied largely on two dramatically different religious coalitions – minority Christians and those with no religion – according to a survey released Thursday.
“This presidential election is the last in which a white Christian strategy will be considered a plausible path to victory,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, which conducted the survey. “The American religious and ethnic landscape is becoming increasingly diverse, and any campaigns relying on outdated maps are destined to lose their way.”
One-in-four Obama voters were religiously unaffiliated, the second-largest “religious” demographic in the president’s coalition, according to the study (PDF). Minority Christians – consisting of black, Asian, Hispanic and mixed-race Americans – made up 31% of Obama’s coalition, the largest religious group.
Among major religious demographics, Obama struggled most with white Christians, including Catholics, mainline Protestants and evangelical Protestants. When these three groups were added up, they accounted for just 35% of Obama’s religious coalition. In comparison, Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s coalition was overwhelmingly white and Christian, with 79% of Romney voters identifying as such.
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.
August 18th, 2012
02:20 PM ET
By Yasmin Amer and Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – To mark the end of Islam's holiest month, Iftikhar Ali will head not to a mosque but to a convention center guarded by law enforcement officers.
That's because this month, during Ramadan, the mosque in Joplin, Missouri, burned to the ground. Its rubble smoldered for two days as a shocked Muslim community came to terms with what had happened.
"I think there are a few people who don't like anybody," Ali said. "They don't like a different color than their color or different religions."
Ali, who is the president of the Joplin mosque said the congregation rented a convention center so people would have a place to pray and celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the feast that marks the end of fasting for Ramadan.
June 20th, 2012
09:35 AM ET
By Chris Welch, CNN
Minneapolis (CNN) – Jim Smith is a former Roman Catholic priest who left his post with the church 10 years ago. He's an ex-priest for several reasons, he says, but one of his main concerns was the church's stance against same-sex marriage and other LGBT issues.
But Smith remains a Catholic - though he says being a Catholic who actively campaigns for legalized same-sex marriages can be difficult these days.
"I'd much rather this wasn't happening," Smith says of the division that the issue has created among Minnesota Catholics. "But it does provide some real opportunities because it challenges us to talk to each other, Catholics talking to other Catholics."
Minnesota has become the newest epicenter in the same-sex marriage fight. This November, voters will decide whether they want an amendment added to the state's constitution that would ban marriage between members of the same sex.
Smith will be voting "no." And he has helped spearhead efforts in the state to persuade other Catholics to do the same.
June 19th, 2012
09:36 AM ET
By Jim Spellman, CNN
Denver (CNN) - Kristen Kelly was raised Roman Catholic, attended Catholic elementary school and considered herself a good Catholic, but when she was 21-years-old that changed.
“A coworker asked me if I believe in Jesus Christ,” she says.
Despite spending her entire life in the Roman Catholic Church she couldn’t answer the question.
“I never really got exposed to Christ," she says. "It was more about Mary and the Church and a condemnation of everything I was doing wrong.”
June 14th, 2012
12:40 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
When it comes to doubt, sometimes a little skepticism is in order.
As CNN's Dan Merica reported earlier this week, a recent Pew Research Center survey sees doubt rising sharply inside the millennial generation. Between 2007 and 2012, this survey says, the portion of young Americans (those 30 and uner) who say they never doubt the existence of God dropped sharply between 2007 and 2012, from 83% to 68%.
This report has stirred up a chatstorm in the blogosphere, with 2600 comments and counting on Merica's Belief Blog post alone. But does this data really say what many atheists want it to say? Is American religion really heading for a fall?
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.