March 1st, 2014
06:00 AM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
Lampedusa, Italy (CNN) – Abdel clung to his pregnant wife, 4-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter as they sailed across an open stretch of the Mediterranean Sea.
They were in a dilapidated fishing boat with limited provisions and almost no sanitation, sharing a cramped space with some 400 other Syrians.
Abdel prayed quietly and recited verses from the Quran for two days and two nights as the boat swayed and motored precariously along the 180-mile route from Libya to the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa.
If they could make it, his young family would be one step closer to freedom.
He knew thousands had died making the same voyage.
December 13th, 2013
09:30 AM ET
Opinion by Edward J. Blum, special to CNN
(CNN) - Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly sparked outrage this week by insisting that Jesus and Santa Claus are both white, saying it's "ridiculous" to argue that depicting Christ and St. Nick as Caucasian is "racist."
"And by the way, for all you kids watching at home, Santa just is white," Kelly said, "but this person is arguing that we should also have a black Santa."
Kelly was responding to an article in Slate that said St. Nick needs a makeover from fat, old white guy to something less "melanin-deficient."
The Fox News host would have none of it.
"Just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn't mean it has to change," Kelly said. "Jesus was a white man, too. It's like we have, he's a historical figure; that's a verifiable fact. As is Santa, I just want kids to know that. How do you revise it in the middle of the legacy, in the story, and change Santa from white to black?"
October 30th, 2013
03:32 PM ET
By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editorFollow @BurkeCNN
(CNN) - Like lots of people, when October 31 rolls around, Trey Capnerhurst dons a pointy hat and doles out candy to children who darken the door of her cottage in Alberta.
But she’s not celebrating Halloween. In fact, she kind of hates it.
Capnerhurst says she’s a real, flesh-and-blood witch, and Halloween stereotypes of witches as broom-riding hags drive her a bit batty.
“Witches are not fictional creatures,” the 45-year-old wrote in a recent article on WitchVox.com.
“We are not werewolves or Frankenstein monsters. We do not have green skin, and only some of us have warts.”
Warts or not, many witches say they have mixed feelings about Halloween.
October 11th, 2013
02:33 PM ET
Washington (CNN) – Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky devoted his speech to the socially conservative Values Voter Summit to “a war on Christianity” that is being waged by “fanatics of Islam.”
Much of Paul’s speech was a list of violence against Christians across the Muslim world, highlighting what he said was “not a little problem” and something that is “not going away quickly.”
“Across the globe, Christians are under attack almost as if we lived in the Middle Ages or we lived under early pagan Roman rule,” Paul said. “This administration does nothing to stop it and it can be argued that it is giving aid and comfort to those who tolerate these crimes.”FULL STORY
December 30th, 2012
09:40 AM ET
By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
If asked to name the monumental chapters in Jewish history over the past century, people are likely to name the Holocaust or the founding of the state of Israel.
Overlooked and largely unknown, especially among younger generations, is a tale that spanned decades and transcended politics, people and places.
It is the story of a campaign that began in the 1960s and demanded freedom of religion, speech and movement for Soviet Jews – and, by extension, others – who lived behind the Iron Curtain. A new group that wants the Soviet Jewry movement remembered says it belongs in history books, not just Jewish books, and can be a model for confronting human rights abuses that exist now.
Even from the early days, this was a movement that spoke to a broader audience. FULL POST
April 21st, 2012
10:00 PM ET
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) - When he was boy growing up in rural Arkansas, James Cone would often stand at his window at night, looking for a sign that his father was still alive.
Cone had reason to worry. He lived in a small, segregated town in the age of Jim Crow. And his father, Charlie Cone, was a marked man.
Charlie Cone wouldn’t answer to any white man who called him “boy.” He only worked for himself, he told his sons, because a black man couldn’t work for a white man and keep his manhood at the same time.
December 21st, 2011
11:56 PM ET
By Roxana Saberi, Special to CNN
Editor's note: Roxana Saberi, an Iranian-American journalist, is the author of "Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran."
(CNN) - In March 2009, when I was detained in Evin Prison in Iran, two evangelical Christians were arrested. I never met them but spotted them a few times through the barred window of my cell as they walked back and forth to the bathroom down the hall.
I would later learn that Maryam Rostampour and Marzieh Amirizadeh had converted from Islam to Christianity and faced charges of spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic, insulting religious sanctities, and committing apostasy. They resisted severe pressure to renounce their faith, and in November 2009, after an international outcry, the two women went free.
News headlines are now highlighting the plight of another Iranian Christian accused of apostasy, or abandoning one's religion. When Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani was 19, he converted from Islam to Christianity. In 2010, a provincial court sentenced him to death. This year, Iran's Supreme Court ruled that the case should be reviewed and the sentence overturned if he recants his faith - a step Nadarkhani, 34, has so far refused to take.FULL STORY
May 31st, 2011
09:43 AM ET
By Mitra Mobasherat and Joe Sterling, CNN
(CNN) – The three Iranian security officers rang the doorbell, politely informed the man of his arrest, thoroughly searched the house, confiscated high-tech gear and books, and whisked him away to the nation's notorious Evin Prison.
The early Sunday morning raid took three hours. Now, every second seems like an eternity for the man's anguished family members, praying for his physical safety, hoping for his release, and getting their heads around the prospect of a long stint in prison, his relatives told CNN.
His family says the reason for his arrest is his religion.Read the full story on the plight of Iran's Baha'i educators
February 11th, 2011
07:29 AM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN
Washington (CNN) – It is a bad time to be a Baha'i in Iran, American adherents of the faith say.
The religion, founded in Iran in 1844, is now considered heretical by Iranian authorities. Its 300,000 adherents in the country "may face repression on the grounds of apostasy," according to the annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
On Wednesday, Iraj Kamalabadi and other Baha'is came to Washington to tell the commission just how bad things are for his sister, Fariba Kamalabadi, and six others who have been imprisoned because of their faith since 2008.
Iraj Kamalabadi was born in Iran and came to the United States for college. He stayed in the U.S. after the Iranian revolution for fear of religious persecution in his homeland. Now he is petitioning his adopted home government to step up the pressure on Iranian authorities.
December 23rd, 2010
02:10 PM ET
By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
A pastor sits on death row in Iran. His crime? Renouncing Islam for Christianity.
A Christian mother of two faces execution in Pakistan - and a preacher has put a price on her head in case the president pardons her. Her crime? Insulting the Prophet Mohammed.
In Iraq, dozens of Christians lie in fresh graves. Their fatal mistake? Going to church.
And these are not simply isolated incidents, but part of a broader pattern, experts say.
"There does appear to be an upsurge in violence directed against Christians," said Leonard Leo, the chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
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.