February 12th, 2013
05:40 AM ET
Editor's note: Paul Donovan is a lifelong Catholic and a commentator, writer and broadcaster who has contributed to The Guardian, Tablet, Universe, Irish Post and Independent Catholic News.
By Paul Donovan, Special to CNN
(CNN) – The announcement of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI came as a bolt from the blue to the world but not a moment too soon for many Catholics.
The Catholic Church has continued to march backwards under Pope Benedict, seeming at times to be in a state of perpetual denial, whether the issue be that of child abuse, birth control, homosexuality or the role of women.
At the heart of the church there lies a deep chauvinism that seems to have infected the whole edifice.
Women may feel discriminated against in many institutions but few have made it so blatantly clear that the woman's place remains at the kitchen sink as the Catholic Church.
The refusal to enter into a constructive dialogue about the possibility of having female clergy underlines just how male dominated the institution remains.FULL STORY
January 15th, 2013
08:28 AM ET
Editor's Note: Deborah Mitchell, a mother of two teenagers in Texas, blogs about raising her children without religion. An avid reader of the Belief Blog, she said she shared this essay on CNN iReport because 'I just felt there is not a voice out there for women/moms like me. I think people misunderstand or are fearful of people who don’t believe in God.'
By Deborah Mitchell, Special to CNN
(CNN)–When my son was around 3 years old, he used to ask me a lot of questions about heaven. Where is it? How do people walk without a body? How will I find you? You know the questions that kids ask.
For over a year, I lied to him and made up stories that I didn’t believe about heaven. Like most parents, I love my child so much that I didn’t want him to be scared. I wanted him to feel safe and loved and full of hope. But the trade-off was that I would have to make stuff up, and I would have to brainwash him into believing stories that didn’t make sense, stories that I didn’t believe either.
One day he would know this, and he would not trust my judgment. He would know that I built an elaborate tale—not unlike the one we tell children about Santa—to explain the inconsistent and illogical legend of God.
And so I thought it was only right to be honest with my children. I am a non-believer, and for years I’ve been on the fringe in my community. As a blogger, though, I’ve found that there are many other parents out there like me. We are creating the next generation of kids, and there is a wave of young agnostics, atheists, free thinkers and humanists rising up through the ranks who will, hopefully, lower our nation’s religious fever.
December 31st, 2012
07:10 AM ET
Editor’s Note: Robert P. Jones, Ph.D., is the CEO at Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI). Daniel Cox is the Director of Research at PRRI and specializes in research on millennials and the religiously unaffiliated.
(CNN) – Considering that 2012 saw the first presidential contest in which there was no white mainline Protestant anywhere on the presidential ticket, religion played a surprisingly subtle role in the election cycle. But even if religion played more of a supporting than a leading role in the election, the religion factor was nonetheless alive and well this year.
Here are the 10 most important ways religion influenced politics and culture in 2012, trimmed out with findings from 16 surveys and over 22,000 interviews conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute research team in 2012.
December 26th, 2012
05:01 AM ET
By Jay Parini, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Jay Parini, poet and novelist, is author of the forthcoming book, "Jesus: The Human Face of God." He is the Axinn Professor of English at Middlebury College.
(CNN) - At Christmas, the name of Jesus resounds everywhere in homes, churches, in hauntingly gorgeous carols, even casual conversations. Yet Christians didn't settle on December 25 as Christmas day until the fourth century, and this choice probably had something to do with its proximity to the winter solstice or its position as the final day of the Roman Saturnalia.
It was in the late third century, in fact, that the Roman emperor Aurelian established this date as a feast day celebrating the birth of the Unconquered Sun (Sol Invictus), so it already had festive and quasi-religious prominence. Now it serves to welcome the infant who became Christ, the Greek word for Messiah.
There are probably as many visions of Jesus, and versions, as there are Christians. Many regard him as their savior, the Son of God sent to Earth to save human beings from themselves. Others see him as a great teacher, a healer or rabbi of extraordinary power, a holy man or prophet who proposed a new covenant between heaven and earth. To some, he represents a new world order, an egalitarian society, a preacher of nonviolence who asked us to turn the other cheek.FULL STORY
December 22nd, 2012
10:00 PM ET
Editor’s note: Adam C. English is author of "The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus: The True Life and Trials of St. Nicholas of Myra" (Baylor University Press, 2012) and associate professor of religion at Campbell University.
By Adam C. English, Special to CNN
Four years ago, I embarked on a quest to discover the truth about Santa Claus and the original St. Nicholas. My search took me many places, sending me finally across the Atlantic to Bari, on Italy’s Adriatic coast.
The old town of Bari is a brambly, medieval maze of streets and alleyways that cross and crisscross. It is said that the city was intentionally constructed in a topsy-turvy way so that anyone trying to raid it would get swallowed and lost in its labyrinth. If you keep wandering, though, eventually you pop out onto a plaza and see the Basilica di San Nicola.
And there, in a gray tomb, lies the “real” Santa Claus. The basilica housing that tomb dates to the 11th century. You can go into the basilica and pray, rest or just gawk, but the real show lies below.
December 17th, 2012
03:02 PM ET
Editor’s note: Margaret Feinberg is a popular speaker and author of numerous books, including “Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God,” which releases on Christmas Day. Follow her on Twitter @mafeinberg.
By Margaret Feinberg, Special to CNN
Why, God, why? Why do you allow the horror of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School?
Why do you allow the loss, pain, terror, heartache and death? Why do you allow evil to triumph and innocence to be stripped away? Is this kind of evil stoppable? And do we have some role to play?
In the wake of so many unanswered questions, what kinds of questions do we really need to be asking? Are you cajoling us to ask how we can prevent this from happening again? Is the answer found in gun regulations, better security or deeper changes in our own hearts and lives?
December 17th, 2012
01:16 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
Presidents wear a lot of hats. They serve as commanders in chief. They nominate Supreme Court justices. They veto congressional legislation. Increasingly, they are also coming to serve as our pastors in chief.
In his remarks Sunday night at an interfaith service at in Newtown, Connecticut, President Barack Obama vowed to use “whatever power” he has to prevent more mass shootings, and he all but promised to push for stricter gun control laws in the next U.S. Congress. But policy was not top of mind yesterday for either the president or a grieving nation.
December 13th, 2012
05:14 PM ET
Editor’s note: Sister Simone Campbell is Executive Director of the Catholic social justice lobby NETWORK and leader of the “Nuns on the Bus.”
By Simone Campbell, Special to CNN
(CNN) - The debate raging in Congress over the fate of our federal budget reminds me of the great judgment of Solomon. Here we are, sharp sword overhead, poised to cut the baby in half, just waiting for the voice of reason and a willingness to sacrifice.
Instead, we’re confronted with arguments framed as a hard, false choice between sound economic policies and social programs, between fiscal realities and compassionate acts. It’s time to stay the sword.
The truth is, at some point in life and regardless of income, virtually every American will benefit in some way from a social safety-net program, whether through a social security check, an unemployment benefit or a school lunch. Programs like these are called safety nets for a reason – yank them away and people get hurt, today more than ever.
December 5th, 2012
08:04 AM ET
Editor's Note: Mark Osler is a professor of law at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.
By Mark Osler, Special to CNN
The divide between Democrats and Republicans that has frozen the mechanisms of American politics has many causes, but one of them is tangled up in the faith differences of our legislators. Faith, for many lawmakers on both sides, is the source of their outlook and principles, and faith has in part created the conditions for the current impasse about the fiscal cliff.
For many (though certainly not all) Republicans, the root of knowledge is a bedrock certainty about the inerrancy of a literal reading of the Bible. This provides them with clear, absolute answers – that gay marriage is wrong, that modern science is suspect, and that much of what we see on earth is a struggle between good and evil.
November 29th, 2012
12:40 PM ET
This month marks the 10th anniversary of the best-selling hardback book in American history: Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life."
We reached out to scholars, religion experts and Warren's wife, Kay, to ask about the book's impact after a decade.
Here's what they told us:
Kay Warren is an author, speaker and co-founder of Saddleback Church.
I knew when I was reading the unfinished manuscript of “The Purpose Driven Life” that I was holding a treasure in my hands, but I was clueless as to how deeply the book would strike a nerve in the souls of millions of people around the globe.
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.