Opinion by Lisa Sharon Harper, Special to CNN
Ferguson, Missouri (CNN) – It seems every few months for the past few decades we witness fresh protests to push a prosecutor to indict the killer of a black man – especially if that killer is white.
In fact, these protests have become commonplace, even expected, as if protesters are stock characters in a national theatrical classic, revived in cities across the country every year.
When Michael Brown was shot by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, it looked like Ferguson, Missouri, was going to serve as just one more stop on the national tour of this classic drama. But it didn’t.
We have seen the officer, security guard or vigilante assailant – protected from arrest and whisked out of the reach of the angry black people. We have seen indictments await grand jury approval. We have seen prosecutors bungle trials.
But when was the last time we saw the local police department turn on the crowd with the militarized force and vitriol demonstrated by Ferguson’s finest?
When was the last time that we saw a prosecutor and governor play political games to avoid a recusal?
By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
(CNN) - The Supreme Court waded cautiously back into the larger debate over abortion on Wednesday.
A number of justices raised concerns about a Massachusetts state law preventing activists from crossing a 35-foot buffer zone around reproductive health clinics.
During an intense hour of oral arguments, Massachusetts officials said the issue was more about public safety and pedestrian access on local sidewalks. Anti-abortion supporters countered their free speech rights were being violated.
What the high court decides in coming months could affect a broader range of free speech arenas - over issues such as war, taxes, corporate bailouts and elections - where the location of the message is often key.
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) - When Peter Sprigg speaks publicly about his opposition to homosexuality, something odd often happens.
During his speeches, people raise their hands to challenge his assertions that the Bible condemns homosexuality, but no Christians speak out to defend him.
“But after it is over, they will come over to talk to me and whisper in my ear, ‘I agree with everything you said,’" says Sprigg, a spokesman for The Family Research Council, a powerful, conservative Christian lobbying group.
We’ve heard of the “down-low” gay person who keeps his or her sexual identity secret for fear of public scorn. But Sprigg and other evangelicals say changing attitudes toward homosexuality have created a new victim: closeted Christians who believe the Bible condemns homosexuality but will not say so publicly for fear of being labeled a hateful bigot. FULL POST
By Mohammed Tawfeeq, CNN
(CNN) - Thousands of government supporters demonstrated in at least five Shiite provinces in southern Iraq on Tuesday, opposing protests by thousands of people in mainly Sunni provinces that have gone on for more than two weeks.
The demonstrations highlight the country's sectarian tensions.
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
(CNN) –China Daily, an English-language newspaper and a mouthpiece of the Chinese government, last week published an article called “Western Voices Question Tibetan Self-Immolation Acts.”
The first of the voices quoted was mine—for a Belief Blog piece I wrote last summer criticizing the Dalai Lama for averting his gaze from the spate of self-immolations protesting Chinese rule in Tibet. "If the Dalai Lama were to speak out unequivocally against these deaths, they would surely stop. So in a very real sense, their blood is on his hands," I wrote in a passage quoted in the Chinese Daily piece.
In my post, I wrote of an “epidemic of self-immolations,” noting that from mid-March to mid-July 2011 more than 40 Tibetans had set themselves on fire to protest the Chinese occupation of Tibet. Since then, the pace of these protests has accelerated. According to the International Campaign for Tibet, 94 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March 2011, and the pace in November was nearly one a day.
By Nasir Habib
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) - For the second time in less than two weeks, a prominent Pakistani is offering a six-figure bounty to anyone who kills the man who produced "Innocence of Muslims," a film that has offended many Muslims throughout the world.
Former Pakistani lawmaker Ikramullah Shahid told demonstrators protesting the movie in Peshawar on Monday that he'd pay $200,000 to anyone who kills the filmmaker, according to Siraj Ul Haq, a senior leader of the religious group that organized the rally.
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.
When the Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Duc immolated himself in Saigon in 1963 to protest the persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government of Ngo Dinh Diem, the world took notice. Malcolm Browne’s photograph of the monk becoming a martyr won the Pulitzer Prize, and Diem's Roman Catholic regime fell before the year’s end.
Today, Tibet is witnessing an epidemic of self-immolations. In fact, since March 16, 2011, more than 40 Tibetans have followed Thich Quang Duc’s lead, setting themselves on fire to protest the Chinese occupation of Tibet.
Westerners react with revulsion to sati, the Hindu practice of widow-burning outlawed by the British in 1829, and of course to Islamist suicide bombers. The New Atheists are right to protest all this killing in the name of God (or the Buddha) – the way believers both prompt violence and justify it in the name of some higher good.
So where are the protests against these Tibetan protesters?
By Bryony Jones, CNN
London (CNN) - The Dean of London's St Paul's Cathedral has resigned amid criticism of his handling of a large "Occupy" protest taking place on the church's doorstep.
The Right Reverend Graeme Knowles announced his decision on Monday, saying his position was "becoming untenable" following weeks of debate over the demonstrations.
St Paul's has come under fire after it said it would take legal action to try to remove around 200 tents from the square outside its main entrance.
Read the full story on dean's resignation over protests
Editor's note: Marisa Egerstrom is a Ph.D. candidate studying American religious history at Harvard University. As a member of the Boston-based group Protest Chaplains, she has been involved in the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York and Boston. She is an Episcopalian.
By Marisa Egerstrom, Special to CNN
In the movement that's making campgrounds out of city squares across America, it might seem there's little religion happening. But Occupy Wall Street, and its local offshoots springing up everywhere from Boston to L.A., has described itself more clearly in the language of “soul” than in the language of federal financial regulation policy.
That’s because, at its heart, the Occupy movement is about creating a democratic society in which everyone matters, there is dignity in working together across differences, and there is enough for everyone. Is this vision tantamount to socialism? No. Once upon a time, we called this “American.”
It also sounds pretty Christian to me. What the early Apostles called “The Way” was a vision for peaceful living that built on Christ’s teaching, life, death and resurrection. The Way repudiates the pursuit of individual wealth in favor of building communities that care for the marginalized, the desperate and the powerless. Jesus demonstrated this by healing lepers and dining with prostitutes and tax collectors.
(CNN) – Bishop Harry Jackson is a former college middle linebacker who can still hit hard.
He once described same-sex marriage as a satanic plot to destroy the family, called on Republicans to get “political Viagra” and said African-Americans needed to abandon what he called the Gospel of Victimization.
Jackson is not shy about stirring up controversy, but he stops short when it comes to preaching about greed. The Maryland bishop said he encourages his congregation to get through the Great Recession by saving and sharing. But he doesn’t want to alienate well-off members by talking about what’s behind the nation’s economic woes.
"I've got to watch it," said Jackson, pastor at Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland. "I could get into some big teaching on greed, but the reality is that a lot of that teaching may wind up creating anti-economic-growth and anti-capitalism concepts (in people’s minds). ... I always talk about personal responsibility so we don't get into the blame game."
The Great Recession is more than an economic crisis. It has become a spiritual dilemma for some of the nation’s pastors and their parishioners, religious leaders say.
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.