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Hobby Lobby: the Bible verses behind the battle
June 29th, 2014
08:19 PM ET

Hobby Lobby: the Bible verses behind the battle

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

Washington (CNN) - For the Greens, the Christian family behind the Hobby Lobby chain of stores, their battle with the Obama administration was never really about contraception. It was about abortion.

After all, the evangelical Greens don't object to 16 of the 20 contraceptive measures mandated for employer coverage by the Affordable Care Act. That puts the family squarely in line with other evangelicals, who largely support the use of birth control by married couples.

Like other evangelicals, however, the Greens believe that four forms of contraception mandated under the ACA - Plan B, Ella and two intrauterine devices - in fact cause abortions by preventing a fertilized embryo from implanting in the womb. (The Obama administration and several major medical groups disagree that such treatments are abortions .)

“We won’t pay for any abortive products," Steve Green, Hobby Lobby's president, told Religion News Service. "We believe life begins at conception.”

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Abortion • Belief • Bible • Bioethics • Christianity • Church and state • Culture wars • evangelicals • Health care • Obama • Politics

Hillary Clinton talks faith, family in speech to Methodist women
April 26th, 2014
05:20 PM ET

Hillary Clinton talks faith, family in speech to Methodist women

By Dan Merica, CNN

Louisville (CNN) - It would be difficult for Hillary Clinton to find a more welcoming crowd than the women at Saturday's United Methodist Women Assembly in Louisville.

Greeted with raucous applause from the 6,500 women (and a few men) in attendance, the former secretary of state touted her knowledge of the faith, spoke about her family's Methodist roots and addressed how the teachings of Jesus and John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, have guided her career.

And in synthesizing her view of Methodism's social gospel, Clinton's remarks seemed to come close to describing her presidential thought process, where the former first lady has acknowledged she is thinking about running for president in 2016.

"Even when we are tired and all we want to do is go away by ourselves to a secluded place and rest awhile," Clinton said, "even then, especially then, let’s make it happen."

Clinton focused largely on the social gospel teachings of Methodism. "Like the disciples of Jesus, we cannot look away, we cannot let those in need fend for themselves and live with ourselves," she said to applause. "We are all in this together."

Although faith has long been a part of Clinton's life, she rarely addresses it in public speeches. Saturday's remarks were a departure from that.

Clinton cited the Scripture Mark 6:30-44 - where Jesus instructs his disciples to organize their followers into groups and to feed them with five loaves of bread and two fish - as the central biblical passage of her speech. She jokingly called the story "the first great pot luck supper," and said she has always been fond of the passage.

FULL STORY
- Dan Merica

Filed under: Hillary Clinton

The pastor who shaped Hillary Clinton's politics
Hillary Rodham Clinton with the Rev. Don Jones, a pastor who had a lasting influence on her politics.
April 25th, 2014
01:43 PM ET

The pastor who shaped Hillary Clinton's politics

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) - In the spring of 1962, Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the most controversial men in America. One night in Chicago's Orchestra Hall after delivering a stirring speech on civil rights and the future of America, he shook hands with a standout 15-year-old with conservative parents, Hillary Rodham.

More than 50 years later, the moment still resonates profoundly with Clinton, who has had an illustrious political career and could again seek to make history as the first woman president.

"Probably my great privilege as a young woman was going to hear Dr. Martin Luther King speak," Clinton said earlier this year at an event at the University of Miami. "I sat on the edge of my seat as this preacher challenged us to participate in the cause of justice, not to slumber while the world changed around us. And that made such an impression on me."

Clinton has traced much of her life in politics and activism to King's words that night. But there was another minister, not famous like King, who also influenced her views on social justice and stoked an intensity for action.

Don Jones was the Methodist youth pastor who organized the trip of like-minded teens to see King, and mentored her for the rest of his life.

"Don opened up a new world to me," Clinton said in 2009, the year he died, "and helped guide me on a spiritual, social and political journey of over 40 years."

FULL STORY

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Hillary Clinton • Methodist • Politics

March 26th, 2014
04:17 PM ET

Vatican landmark Obama will miss

CNN's Ben Wedeman gloats over what President Barack Obama likely won't get a chance to see on his visit to the Vatican on Thursday. Take a look inside the Sistine Chapel - and gaze up at its famous ceiling.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Barack Obama • Catholic Church • Church and state • Italy • Pope John Paul II • Vatican

Popes and U.S. presidents
March 25th, 2014
11:53 PM ET

5 things you didn't know about popes and presidents

Programing Note: Don't miss Wolf Blitzer Reports: Popes and Presidents on Easter Sunday, April 20 at 2 p.m. ET. The 30-minute special explores the long and sometimes troubled history between the White House and the Vatican.

By Wolf Blitzer and Sean Kennedy, CNN

(CNN) - President Barack Obama will meet with Pope Francis on Thursday at the Vatican, opening a new chapter in the centuries-long relationships between the United States and the Holy See.

While Obama has praised Francis’ focus on the poor, popes and American presidents haven’t always seen eye to eye.

With that in mind, here are five surprising encounters between the Commander in Chief and the Successor to St. Peter.

1. George Washington banned the burning of papal effigies

On the anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ Day, when a Catholic plot to assassinate the Protestant King of England was disrupted, American soldiers would often mark the day by torching a straw pope.

But just five months after George Washington took command of the Continental Congress’ army in 1775, he issued an order prohibiting the violent expression of anti-Catholic bigotry.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Barack Obama • Catholic Church • Church and state • Foreign policy • Leaders • Politics • Pope Francis • Pope John Paul II • Vatican

Will American Jews back Hillary?
Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at Georgetown University February 25, 2014 in Washington.
March 18th, 2014
10:03 AM ET

Will American Jews back Hillary?

Washington (CNN) - Flanked by Jewish politicians in front of the United Nations on a July day, then-Sen. Hillary Clinton made a forceful appeal for the United States to back Israel as the Jewish nation's forces squared off against Hezbollah during the 2006 Lebanon War.

"We will stand with Israel because Israel is standing for American values as well as Israeli ones," said Clinton, who was an outspoken defender of Israel and representative for American Jews for eight years in the Senate.

But it wasn't always that way. She had to work hard for Jewish support in 2000 as the New York Jewish community was skeptical of her support for Israel and publicly wondered whether the former first lady was too sympathetic with the Palestinians.

But by the time she ran for president in 2008, a number of Jewish Democrats said her record with the community was unprecedented. Touting her foreign policy credentials and defense of Israel, Jewish leaders flocked to Clinton as she ran against Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Foreign policy • Hillary Clinton • Iran • Israel • Israel • Leaders • Middle East • Politics

CPAC reverses decision, will not allow atheist group at conservative conference
David Silverman, the president of American Atheists, will not have a booth at CPAC.
February 25th, 2014
02:53 PM ET

CPAC reverses decision, will not allow atheist group at conservative conference

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington - Organizers for the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference will not allow American Atheists to have an exhibition booth at the conservative conference, the group's spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The decision comes just hours after American Atheists, the outspoken organization that advocates for atheists nationwide, announced that it would have a booth at the event. David Silverman, president of American Atheists, tells CNN that a groundswell of opposition from high-ranking members of CPAC compelled the group to pull the invite.

Meghan Snyder, a spokeswoman for CPAC, said in a statement to CNN that “American Atheists misrepresented itself about their willingness to engage in positive dialogue and work together to promote limited government.”

FULL POST

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Politics

Atheists plan conservative outreach with booth at CPAC
The Reason Rally, sponsored by American Atheists and other secular organizations, draws a crowd to the National Mall in March 2012.
February 25th, 2014
06:00 AM ET

Atheists plan conservative outreach with booth at CPAC

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) - American Atheists, an outspoken organization that advocates for atheists nationwide, will have a booth at the 2014 Conservative Political Action Conference.

The atheist institution, which is well known for its controversial billboards and media campaigns, informed CNN of its inclusion on Monday night, and a representative from CPAC confirmed that the group will have a booth at the annual national gathering of conservative leaders and activists in March. American Atheists hopes to use the forum to tap into the conservative movement and bring conservative atheists “out of the closet.”

“Just as there are many closeted atheists in the church pews, I am extremely confident that there are many closeted atheists in the ranks of conservatives," said David Silverman, president of American Atheists.

Silverman said coming to CPAC will be “the first step of many” in reaching out to Republicans.

FULL POST

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Politics

January 22nd, 2014
02:13 PM ET

Three things President Obama and the Pope will (probably) talk about

(CNN) President Obama will meet with Pope Francis on March 27, the White House announced on Tuesday.

The POTUS/Pope summit is already generating lots of buzz, and Belief Blog co-editor Daniel Burke spoke to CNN's Brooke Baldwin on Tuesday the meeting's likely agenda.

MORE ON CNN: Obama to visit Pope Francis in March

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Barack Obama • Catholic Church • Pope Francis

March for Life
January 21st, 2014
02:24 PM ET

Six surprising changes to the anti-abortion March for Life

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

(CNN) - For decades, the March for Life has followed a familiar formula: Bus in thousands of abortion opponents. Protest in front of the Supreme Court. Go home.

But this year, in addition to braving snow and bone-chilling wind, the March will move in a different direction, says Jeanne Monahan, president of the anti-abortion group.

Long-winded political speeches? See ya.

An exclusive focus on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that lifted restrictions on abortion? Gone.

A hipster Catholic musician, evangelical leaders and March for Life app? Welcome to the protest.

And those changes just skim the surface.

The March for Life, billed as the world’s largest anti-abortion event, is remaking itself in deeper ways as well, says Monahan.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Abortion • Bioethics • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Culture wars • Ethics • evangelicals • Politics • Women

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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.

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