May 23rd, 2013
06:16 PM ET
Editor's Note: John Stemberger is an Eagle Scout and president of On My Honor, a coalition of concerned parents, Scout Leaders, Scouting donors, Eagle Scouts and others affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America who are united in their support of Scouting’s timeless values and their opposition to open homosexuality in the Scouts. Find more information at www.OnMyHonor.net.
By John Stemberger, Special to CNN
(CNN)– On Thursday, delegates to the Boy Scouts of America’s national conference met in Grapevine, Texas, to determine the fate of one of the most beloved organizations in this country’s history. This organization that has stood the test of time will probably be destroyed now that they have decided to admit openly gay boys as Scouts.
Sex and politics have no place in the Boy Scouts, and allowing open homosexuality will lead to myriad bad consequences.
May 15th, 2013
09:50 AM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor
(CNN) – Franklin Graham, one of the country's most prominent evangelicals, says the targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service included two of his ministries.
"I am bringing this to your attention because I believe that someone in the administration was targeting and attempting to intimidate us," Graham wrote in a letter Tuesday to President Barack Obama. The evangelical leader is the son of famed evangelist Billy Graham.
Graham said the IRS contacted the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, a North Carolina-based ministry, after it ran newspaper ads in that state in April encouraging support for an amendment against same-sex marriage. The group also bought newspaper ads in November encouraging Christians to vote for candidates who oppose same-sex marriage, support Israel and "base their decisions on biblical principles."
May 7th, 2013
08:27 AM ET
By Adam Aigner-Treworgy, CNN
(CNN) - During a more than two-hour meeting at the White House on Monday, Vice President Joe Biden asked leaders from across the faith community to keep up pressure on lawmakers to support compromise background check legislation even as Congress begins to shift its focus to immigration reform, according to several attendees who spoke to CNN.
Biden urged the roughly 20 faith leaders in attendance not to be discouraged by recent legislative failures, and instead assured them that the White House had not given up.
"Even though he suffered a defeat, he didn't sound defeated," said pastor Michael McBride of the PICO National Network. "And we need that kind of hope from the bully pulpit of the White House."
In the run-up to last month's Senate vote, religious organizations from across the denominational spectrum pressured members of Congress to vote for background check legislation.
Without mentioning the names of any lawmakers, Biden acknowledged the effectiveness of such lobbying efforts and asked those in attendance to continue to target those whose opinions can be swayed.FULL STORY
April 26th, 2013
08:20 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said it was "satisfied" with the Boy Scouts of America’s move to consider no longer denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation.
In a statement Thursday, the Mormon church called the issue “complex and challenging” and said it believed the Boy Scouts were making “a thoughtful, good-faith effort” to address the issue.
“We are grateful to BSA for their careful consideration of these issues," the statement said. “We appreciate the positive things contained in this current proposal that will help build and strengthen the moral character and leadership skills of youth as we work together in the future.”
The Boy Scouts of America said last week it would consider a proposal that would no longer deny membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation but would maintain its ban on openly gay adult leaders. The organization's executive committee made the proposal.
April 25th, 2013
12:21 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Half of young Christians have bucked the opinion of their older brethren and said they favor legalizing marijuana for recreational use, according to a recent poll.
Thirty-two percent of Christian’s aged 18-29 said they “strongly favor” legalization, while 18% said they “favor” the move, according to a Public Religion Research Institute survey released Thursday. Among Christian’s 65 and older, only 9% said they strongly favor legalization and 47% say they strongly oppose it.
Though the younger generations favor legalization, all Christians still lean toward keeping the drug illegal. While 39% of Christians say they favor or strongly favor legalization, 54% say they support keeping the drug illegal, according to the poll.
According to the poll, 45% of young Christians have “tried marijuana,” compared to 13% of Christian seniors who say they have.
April 18th, 2013
06:27 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
At the interfaith prayer service held in today for the victims of the Boston marathon bombing (including Lu Lingzi, a graduate student at Boston University, where I teach), President Barack Obama was once again called upon to play the pastor-in-chief at a moment of national tragedy.
In his speech, Obama did a lot of cheering for the home town, praising Boston as “the perfect state of grace.” He recalled his time as a law student at Harvard. He cheered on the Red Sox, the Celtics, the Patriots, and the Bruins. And he repeatedly referred to Bostonians as a gritty people who would not give in to terrorism in the 21st century any more than they bowed to the British in the 18th.
As I listened to the speech, however, I couldn't help hearing echoes of President Ronald Reagan.
April 18th, 2013
02:27 PM ET
By Thom Patterson, Michael Pearson and Faith Karimi, CNN
(CNN) – President Obama brought a mixture of reassurance and defiance to Boston on Thursday to help heal a city hit hard by terrorist bombs.
"Every one of us stands with you," the president said at an interfaith service inside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. "Boston may be your hometown - but we claim it, too. ... For millions of us what happened on Monday is personal."
Then Obama's tone took a more defiant turn toward those who planted the two bombs that exploded near the Boston Marathon's finish line Monday. "Yes, we will find you. And yes, you will face justice," Obama said. "We will hold you accountable."
Calling the event a chance to "mourn and measure our loss," the president also reaffirmed that Boston's spirit remains "undaunted and the spirit of this country shall remain undimmed." He looked ahead to next year's race, defiantly predicting that "the world will return to this great American city to run even harder and to cheer even louder for the 118th Boston Marathon. Bet on it."FULL STORY
April 17th, 2013
03:28 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) - A leader of an evangelical Christian organization pushing for immigration reform said that while the group needs to read the whole bill filed Wednesday in the U.S. Senate before fully endorsing it, the legislation doesn’t constitute amnesty “in any dictionary in the English language.”
A bipartisan group of senators formally filed the immigration legislation early Wednesday calling for border security as the cornerstone of reform. The bill also would prevent undocumented immigrants from reaching full legal resident status until after the government takes steps to keep unauthorized workers from getting jobs in the United States, according to a summary released before the bill was filed.
Afterward, at an event kicking off a lobbying day for more than 300 evangelical pastors on Capitol Hill, Richard Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and a leader of Evangelical Immigration Table, said that anyone who says the bill provides amnesty needs “a course in remedial English.”
“From what we understand, the bill that dropped this morning has accountability for those who are here in an undocumented status,” Land said. “It provides an earned pathway to full legal status and then to citizenship for those who want it. That is not amnesty in any dictionary in the English language.”
April 12th, 2013
03:47 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – In light of threatening statements from North Korea, famed evangelist Franklin Graham says prayer is a viable option for cooling tensions between the communist country and the rest of the world.
“First of all, I think we need to pray,” Graham, the CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian humanitarian organization, said in an interview on CNN’s “Starting Point.” “We need to pray for our president, we need to pray that God will give him wisdom as he makes decision at this point. This is a very critical time, right now, for our country and we need to come behind our president and support him with prayer.”
Through Samaritan’s Purse, an organization founded in 1970, Graham has visited North Korea four times over the last 13 years. The group’s slogan is “Helping in Jesus Name” and it describes itself as a “Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.”
Tensions with North Korea began to rise last month, as the rogue state began issuing increasingly threatening statement towards its Asian neighbors and the United States. Most recently it was uncovered that North Korea may be able to deliver a nuclear weapon via missile with low reliability, according to the Pentagon.
April 11th, 2013
04:02 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The bipartisan gun control agreement reached by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin and Republican Sen. Pat Toomey on Wednesday does not go far enough in the eyes of multiple clergy members from Newtown, Connecticut.
In interviews with CNN, religious leaders from Newtown, the site of last year’s school shooting where 20 children and six adults were killed, said that a recent gun control agreement does not do enough to fight gun violence, leading one rabbi to doubt whether Congress was actually working for the American people.
“Who are they compromising with?” said Rabbi Shaul Praver of the Congregation Adath Israel in Newtown. “Ninety percent of the country, 92% really, want the universal background checks. That is it, straight up, no exceptions. That is what the people want.”
Praver continued: “If there are so many people saying, ‘We want you to do this’ and it is not being done, then we are not being represented. I think we have a really big problem. It is called corruption and it is really a problem. You have elected officials who come here to do, you know, serve the NRA and not their constituents that elected them. I think they are out of touch.”
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.