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Is the Internet killing religion?
A new study suggests that the Internet may play a role in the demise of organized religion.
April 9th, 2014
12:17 PM ET

Is the Internet killing religion?

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) We can blame the Internet for plenty: the proliferation of porn, our obsession with cat videos, the alleged rise of teen trends like brace yourself eyeball licking.

But is it also a culprit in helping us lose our religion? A new study suggests it might be.

Allen Downey, a computer scientist at Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts, set out to understand the national uptick in those who claim no religious affiliation. These are the “nones,” which the Pew Research Center considers the fastest-growing “religious” group in America.
FULL POST

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Faith Now • Internet • Technology

Pope: The Internet is a 'gift from God.' But watch out for the trolls
Pope Francis addressed digital technology and social communications on Thursday.
January 23rd, 2014
10:40 AM ET

Pope: The Internet is a 'gift from God.' But watch out for the trolls

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) Careerist clergy. The super rich. And now we can add another pelt to Pope Francis' collection: Internet trolls.

In statement released on Thursday, the Pope said the Internet and social media are making people across the world "increasingly interdependent."

"The Internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity," Francis said. "This is something truly good, a gift from God."

At the same time, though, all those tweets and texts and comment streams can cause people to "lose our bearings," said the 77-year-old pontiff.

"The speed with which information is communicated exceeds our capacity for reflection and judgement, and this does not make for more balanced and proper forms of self-expression," Francis said.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Faith Now • Internet • Pope Francis

Pope Francis' first year
November 12th, 2013
03:49 PM ET

Pope Francis won the Internet. Literally.

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) - It's official: Pope Francis is the most talked-about person on the planet.

More folks have been chatting about the popular new pontiff online this year than Edward Snowden, Kate Middleton or even the Internet's favorite bad girl, Miley Cyrus.

That's according to the 14th annual survey from the Global Language Monitor, a Texas-based company that trackers top talkers on the web. The GLM says their rankings are based on an analysis of English-language blogs, social media and 275,000 electronic and online news media.

The GLM broke their research into three categories: top words, top phrases and top names.

Besides being the Internet's top name, the Pope's Twitter handle, @Pontifex, was the fourth most talked about word thus far in 2013.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Faith Now • Internet • Leaders • Media • Pope Francis

November 7th, 2013
12:30 PM ET

Even atheists love this Pope

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) – With his penchant for crowd-pleasing and spontaneous acts of compassion, Pope Francis has earned high praise from fellow Catholics.

Hell, even atheists love him - as amply demonstrated by the surprising displays of affection tweeted after the Pope publicly embraced a severely disfigured man on Wednesday.

MORE ON CNN: Why the pope's embrace of the disfigured man is so powerful

Here's what some atheists had to say on Twitter:

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Internet • Nones • Pope Francis

Holy Trollers: How to argue about religion online
They are the same cast of characters that surface during every online debate about religion. Do you know a "Holy Troller?"
October 5th, 2013
08:00 AM ET

Holy Trollers: How to argue about religion online

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) –"Yo mama..."

Whenever I heard those two words while growing up in inner-city Baltimore, I knew something bad was about to happen. Trading insults was a childhood ritual. But everyone understood that one subject was off-limits. You didn’t talk about anybody’s momma unless you were prepared to start swinging.

Now that I’m all grown-up, I’ve discovered a new arena for combat: The reader’s comments section for stories about religion.

When I first started writing about religion for an online news site, I eagerly turned to the comment section for my articles, fishing for compliments and wondering if I had provoked any thoughtful discussions about faith.

I don’t wonder anymore.

When I look at the comment section now, I see a whole lot of “yo mamas” being tossed about. Readers exchange juvenile insults, condescending lectures and veer off into tangents that have nothing to do with the article they just read.

For years, I’ve listened to these “holy trollers” in silence. Now I’m calling them out. I’ve learned that the same types of people take over online discussions about faith and transform them into the verbal equivalent of a food fight. You may recognize some of these characters.

You might even recognize yourself.

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Ethics • Faith Now • Internet • News media • Nones

July 30th, 2013
02:17 PM ET

Why are millennials leaving church? Try atheism

Opinion by Hemant Mehta, Special to CNN

(CNN) – Articles and books about why millennials are leaving Christianity often focus on what churches are doing "wrong."

They're anti-gay, anti-women, anti-science, anti-sex-education and anti-doubt, 
to name a few of the most common criticisms.

I don't disagree with those critiques, but there's another side to the story.

While Christians have played sloppy defense, secular Americans have been showing off some impressive offense, giving young Christians plenty of reasons to lose faith in organized religion.

For instance, atheists dominate the Internet, rallying to thriving websites and online communities in lieu of physical meeting spaces.

Even a writer for the evangelical magazine Relevant admitted that “While Christianity enjoys a robust online presence, the edge still seems to belong to its unbelievers.”

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Church • Culture & Science • Faith • Faith Now • Internet • Nones • Opinion • Science • United States

July 17th, 2013
07:45 PM ET

Sorry, retweeting the pope won't get you out of hell

Opinion by the Rev. James Martin, SJ, special to CNN

(CNN) –Here were the tantalizingly weird headlines: “Follow pope online, get to heaven sooner - Facebook likes don't count.” “Cut your time in purgatory by following pope on Twitter.” And, worst of all, from Slate: “Pope now offering indulgences in exchange for Twitter followers.”

Similar headlines popped up on more than 190 news sources on Wednesday.

Ha ha. Is the Catholic Church offering time off in hell– or purgatory, depending on the website - just for checking your Twitter feed every few hours? Is the church really that dumb? And here I thought Pope Francis was cool, or as Esquire recently termed him, “awesome.”

This is (another) case of how the media misunderstands and misreports a story from “The Vatican.”

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Faith Now • Internet • News media • Pope Francis • Prayer

Before he's a man, bar mitzvah boy goes viral
Daniel Blumen of Atlanta offers a fresh take on the bar mitzvah save-the-date announcement.
February 21st, 2013
09:31 AM ET

Before he's a man, bar mitzvah boy goes viral

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

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Culture wars • Faith Now • Georgia • Internet • Judaism • Media

Americans reveal their 3 favorite sins
Eve couldn't stay away from the apple, but a new survey reveals that most Americans struggle with three other temptations.
February 8th, 2013
10:25 AM ET

Americans reveal their 3 favorite sins

By John Blake, CNN

 “Lead me not into temptation. I can find it all by myself.”

That line, taken from the country music song “Lead Me Not,” evokes smiles because it underscores a truth: The struggle against temptation is universal.

A new survey, however, gets specific about the type of temptations most Americans battle against, and shows that men and women seem to wrestle with different vices.

“Temptations and America’s Favorite Sins,” a survey conducted by the Barna Group, a Christian research firm, concludes that the moral struggles that vex most Americans aren’t the salacious acts that drive the plotlines of reality television shows. Most Americans are too worn down or distracted to get snared by those vices, the survey concludes.

The top three sins seducing most Americans: procrastination, overeating and spending too much time on media.

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Christianity • Church • Faith • Internet • Media • News media • Sex • Trends

Internet intensifies Jewish squabbles over Israel, identity
Religious Jews at Jerusalem’s Western Wall earlier this month.
September 25th, 2012
02:30 PM ET

Internet intensifies Jewish squabbles over Israel, identity

By Dave Schechter, CNN

(CNN) - Forgive those who have sinned against you. Seek forgiveness for your sins against others. Forgive yourself.

In a nutshell, that is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, which begins at sunset Tuesday.

There are many forms of sin, to be sure.

In their sermons some rabbis will no doubt voice concern about the way American Jews talk to each other about Israel, about politics and even what it means to be Jewish, lamenting an often divisive and sometimes caustic tone.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Holidays • Internet • Judaism

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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.

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