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.
November 17th, 2010
04:26 PM ET
By Richard Allen Greene, CNN
Religious freedom remains under threat in China, especially for followers of the Dalai Lama and Muslims in the west of the country, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday in a major report.
China harassed members of religions Beijing does not recognize, and disbarred, harassed and imprisoned lawyers who tried to defend them, the State Department said.
And there were "credible reports" that Beijing tried to force Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims to return to China from abroad because of their activism for religious freedom, the U.S. said.
November 11th, 2010
10:58 AM ET
CNN's Reza Sayah and journalist Nasir Habib filed this report:
A Christian woman has been sentenced to death for blasphemy in Pakistan, two police officials told CNN Thursday.
Asia Bibi was convicted of insulting Islam's prophet, Mohammed, while working in a field with several Muslim women in a village southwest of Lahore.
She told them the Quran was "fake" and made comments about one of Mohammed's wives and about his health in his final days, the police complaint against her said.
She said that "the Quran is fake and your prophet remained in bed for one month before his death because he had worms in his ears and mouth. He married Khadija just for money and after looting her kicked her out of the house," local police official Muhammad Ilyas told CNN.
September 23rd, 2010
07:13 AM ET
WASHINGTON (CNN) - An American imam took an eye-opening tour last month of the Dachau and Auschwitz death camps and said that what he saw was unfathomable - and undeniable.
"You see the ashes of people. You see the pictures. You walk the trail; you see the gas chambers," said Imam Muhamad Maged of the All-Dulles-Area Muslim Society in Virginia, vice president of the Islamic Society of North America.
"It is beyond imagination that somebody would do something like that."
September 13th, 2010
12:32 PM ET
Editor's note: CNN's Tricia Escobedo spoke to the leaders of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Atlanta, Georgia, at their Friday prayer service and celebration marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
Ahmadi Muslims across the United States began taking to the streets earlier this year to spread their message that Islam is a religion of peace.
They've been showcasing their message in pamphlets, advertisements on city buses, and in face-to-face conversations with fellow Americans.
Hazeem Pudhiapura is asking his Atlanta, Georgia, congregation to personally hand out pamphlets with that message in a nationwide effort to reach two percent of all Americans this year.
He admits that the campaign probably won't receive as much attention as, say, the planned Quran burning on 9/11. But he said that anti-Islam sentiment is why their message needs to be heard now, more than ever.
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.