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.
March 29th, 2012
09:19 AM ET
By John Blake, CNN
Editor’s note: The CNN documentary 'Slavery's Last Stronghold' airs on CNN International TV March 29, 30, 31 and April 22. Check local listings for times.
(CNN) - Which revered religious figure - Moses, Jesus, or the Prophet Mohammad - spoke out boldly and unambiguously against slavery?
Answer: None of them.
One of these men owned slaves, another created laws to regulate - but not ban – slavery. The third’s chief spokesman even ordered slaves to obey their masters, religious scholars say.
Most modern people of faith see slavery as a great evil. Though the three great Western religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – disagree on many matters, most of their contemporary followers condemn slavery.
Yet there was a time when Jews, Christians and Muslims routinely cited the words and deeds of their founders to justify human bondage, scholars say.
April 18th, 2011
09:50 AM ET
CNN.com Religion Editor Dan Gilgoff explains the Jewish festival of Passover, which starts at sundown Monday and commemorates the Israelites' liberation from slavery in Egypt thousands of years ago.
Watch the video above to learn more about the Seder - the meal in which the story of Exodus is told - and the various symbols used during the holiday, including matzo (unleavened bread), bitter herbs, salt water and a lamb shank bone.
We'd like to hear from you: Tell us how you're celebrating Passover this year. Are you doing anything different at your Seder?
December 14th, 2010
02:12 PM ET
Editor's Note: David Hazony is the author of "The Ten Commandments: How Our Most Ancient Moral Text Can Renew Modern Life" (Scribner, 2010).
By, David Hazony, Special to CNN
Every time I walk into a house of worship I’ve never been to, the first thing I look for is the local version of the Two Tablets.
Synagogues and churches almost always have them: rocky towering things, sleek minimalist icons, retro-embroidery. Some have numerals representing the Ten Commandments, some a word or two, others nothing at all.
Public buildings often have them, too: The U.S. Supreme Court has a frieze that includes Moses and the tablets—like a piece from a majestic chess set depicting our civilization’s heroes, it suggests something powerful about where we’ve come from.
September 21st, 2010
02:52 PM ET
The parting of the waters described in the book of Exodus that enabled Moses and the Israelites to escape the pharaoh's army is possible, computer simulations run by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Colorado at Boulder show.
To test the theory that the biblical account may have depicted actual events, the researchers studied maps of the region, archaeological records and satellite measurements to find a topographical feature where such an event might have been possible. They settled on an area south of the Mediterranean Sea where some oceanographers say a branch of the Nile River drained into what was called the Lake of Tanis, a coastal lagoon 3,000 years ago.
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.