October 9th, 2013
12:12 PM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-editorFollow @BurkeCNN
(CNN) - The federal shutdown has found its angry prophet.
Senate Chaplain Barry Black is usually a calm, pastoral presence on Capitol Hill, doling out spiritual wisdom and moral counsel to his high-powered flock.
But the Seventh-Day Adventist and former Navy rear admiral is mad as hell about the shutdown - and he's letting the Senate, and the Lord, know about it.
"Lord, when the federal shutdown delays payments of death benefits to the families of (soldiers) dying on far-away battlefields, it's time for our lawmakers to say enough is enough," Black said in his prayer opening the Senate on Wednesday.
"Cover our shame with the robe of your righteousness," Black continued, citing the Hebrew prophet Isaiah, who was no mean critic of government incompetence himself. "Forgive us. Reform us. And make us whole."
September 21st, 2013
11:41 AM ET
By John L. Allen Jr., CNN
ROME (CNN) - Pope Francis has sketched a vision of a Catholic Church that’s more welcoming – to women, to homosexuals, to divorced and remarried believers, to pretty much everybody –- and less invested in the culture wars.
In a now famous interview published Thursday, the pope said he knows some militants want him to toss around more fire and brimstone. But he insists that Catholic positions on hot-button issues such as abortion and gay marriage are already well known, and anyway, “Ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all.”
None of that implies a change in church teaching, but it does suggest a fairly serious shift in tone. The question now becomes, is this just the pope talking? Or is he capable of bringing the rest of the church along with him?
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.
July 20th, 2013
08:27 AM ET
By Jeffrey Weiss, special to CNN
(CNN) Even before the jury read their verdict acquitting George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a number of black religious leaders had responses at the ready.
The voices of white pastors and predominantly white churches and religious groups? Much harder to find.
Nearly a week later, some denominations that often weigh in on matters of national policy have yet to go on the public record. It's particularly notable in the leadership of the Catholic Church, the country's largest religious body.
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 21st, 2013
01:53 PM ET
Editor's note: CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a best-selling author whose 25 books include "Late Edition: A Love Story"; "Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War"; and "Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen."
By Bob Greene, CNN Contributor
(CNN) – Devoted fans.
Seldom have those words sounded quite so apt.
They describe the people who enjoyed the singing of George Beverly Shea, who died last week at the age of 104. The name may not be instantly recognizable to some Americans, but that was no fault of his. He accomplished something very few vocalists can claim: During his career, he sang in front of an estimated 200 million people in live performance.
How could this be?FULL COMMENTARY
April 10th, 2013
06:43 AM ET
By Dorrine Mendoza, CNN
(CNN) - In the hours after learning the Rev. Rick Warren's son had killed himself, Beth Moore says she was swept with conflicting waves of emotion.
Moore didn't know Warren or his wife, Kay, personally. But as someone who had ministered to women on Warren's Saddleback Church campus several years ago, she felt a strong connection to the couple.
In a post on her Living Proof Ministries blog about Matthew Warren's suicide, Moore first explained her anger at the "satanic force" that would prey on weak children. Then she walks her readers through her struggle to understand suicide.
But most compelling is her frustration in trying to understand "trash talk" on social media from Christians attacking the Warrens, in addition to hateful posts from non-Christians. FULL POST
February 12th, 2013
06:00 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – With Pope Benedict XVI announcing his resignation on Monday, the leaders of the Catholic Church will soon meet to select the next person to lead the ever-changing church.
While it is likely that they will pick another voting member of the College of Cardinals - the 118 Catholic leaders younger than 80 will vote on who should lead the church - the standards for who can become pope are remarkably loose.
Any baptized man in good standing could be elected pope, according to canon law, a group of laws that guide the Catholic hierarchy. Women cannot be named pope because they are unable to become ordained priests in Catholicism.
So if the only standard is a baptized man in good standing with the church, there are millions of possible papal successors – including Speaker of the House John Boehner, rock star Bono and, yes, comedian Stephen Colbert.
February 5th, 2013
11:50 AM ET
By Jim Roope, CNN
(CNN) – When tragedies happen like the shooting at Newtown, Connecticut, the question of faith often comes up. How can horrible events like that be allowed to happen?
Rabbi Marvin Heir with the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said he’s not surprised that people question religion, and, God in tragedies.
Hear his and others' perspectives on the role of religion in our world from religious thought leaders in the player above or on CNN Radio SoundwavesFULL STORY
January 17th, 2013
02:32 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) - As I have read recent neoconservative diatribes against President Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense, former Sen. Chuck Hagel – including charges that he is an anti-Semite and a full-page advertisement attacking him in The New York Times on Thursday – I have asked myself, “What would George Washington do?"
In his Farewell Address, published on September 19, 1796, Washington offered his hard-won wisdom on such matters as church and state, partisan politics, and foreign policy.
On foreign policy, Washington declared our independence from friends and foes alike, warning against the “evils” produced by “permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others.” To love or hate another nation too deeply, he observed, “is in some degree to become a slave ... to its animosity or to its affection.”
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.