November 7th, 2013
06:08 PM ET
By Phil Gast, CNN
(CNN) - The Rev. Billy Graham took people to church, perhaps for the last time, as hundreds joined the iconic evangelist Thursday evening for his 95th birthday.
A guest list that included former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the Rev. Rick Warren and businessmen Rupert Murdoch and Donald Trump came to pay tribute to a man beloved for his humility and faithfulness.
Because the frail Graham no longer has the strength to speak behind a lectern, his enduring message of salvation through Jesus Christ came in the form of "The Cross," a 30-minute DVD that made its debut at the celebration.
"He is my spiritual hero," said entertainer Ricky Skaggs shortly before the celebration began at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. "He exemplifies brokenness and humility."
January 12th, 2013
10:00 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – When the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez talks about immigration, it is as someone who has witnessed the way a religious community is affected when a family is torn apart by deportation.
“It is personal for me,” Rodriguez said, describing deported friends and congregants as "lovely people. These are wonderful, God-fearing, family-loving people.”
Rodriguez, the head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, has a naturally boisterous voice that booms with authority. When he speaks about immigration, passion oozes out of every syllable. But his voice softens as he speaks of those close to him who have been deported: an associate pastor's wife, a friend from Sacramento, California, a well-known congregant - the list seems committed to memory.
Even as he relives the heartache, the pastor seems hopeful, if not optimistic.
October 21st, 2012
06:59 AM ET
By John Blake, CNN
President Barack Obama was sharing a pulpit one day with a conservative Christian leader when a revealing exchange took place.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a conservative Christian who has taken public stands against abortion and same-sex marriage, had joined Obama for an AIDS summit. They were speaking before a conservative megachurch filled with white evangelicals.
When Brownback rose to speak, he joked that he had joined Obama earlier at an NAACP meeting where Obama was treated like Elvis and he was virtually ignored. Turning to Obama, a smiling Brownback said, “Welcome to my house!”
The audience exploded with laughter and applause. Obama rose, walked before the congregation and then declared:
“There is one thing I have to say, Sam. This is my house, too. This is God’s house.”
Historians may remember Obama as the nation’s first black president, but he’s also a religious pioneer. He’s not only changed people’s perception of who can be president, some scholars and pastors say, but he’s also expanding the definition of who can be a Christian by challenging the religious right’s domination of the national stage.
October 9th, 2012
01:00 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Following a string of recent developments that suggest waning Protestant power – like the first Supreme Court with no Protestant justices, and a Protestant-free Republican presidential ticket – a new Pew survey finds that Protestants are no longer the majority in the United States.
The Protestant population has declined from 53% of the U.S. population in 2007 to 48% this year, according to the survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, released Tuesday.
The results mark the first time since Pew has been tracking the country's religious demographics that the share of Protestant Christians in the United States has dipped significantly below 50%.
The largest decline among Protestant subgroups tracked by Pew was among white mainline Protestants, whose proportion of the population dropped 3 percentage points, from 18% to 15%.
September 25th, 2012
12:39 PM ET
By Laura Koran, CNN
(CNN) – Faith plays a major role in many Americans' lives, affecting their outlook on morality, politics and even – according to a new study – investing.
The study, conducted at the University of Georgia and Southern Methodist University, found that the predominant religion in a community affects the decision-making process of mutual fund managers in that community, specifically when it comes to risk.
Mutual funds in counties with larger Catholic communities tend to embrace risk more than those in majority-Protestant counties, the study found. Earlier studies have found that Catholics are generally more prone to take speculative risks than the average population, while Protestants are more risk-averse than the average population.
June 30th, 2012
10:00 PM ET
This is the first in a series exploring the concept of American exceptionalism. On Monday, we examine areas in which other countries lead the way.
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) – It’s safe to say the first European arrivals to New England wouldn’t recognize today’s debate over whether America is exceptional.
Though the United States wouldn’t be born for another century and a half, the Puritans arriving in the early 1600s on the shores of what would become Massachusetts firmly believed they were on a mission from God.
In other words, they had the exceptional part down pat.
Fleeing what they saw as the earthly and corrupt Church of England, the Puritans fancied themselves the world’s last, best hope for purifying Christianity - and for saving the world.
The Puritans never used the word “exceptionalism.” But they came to see Boston as the new Jerusalem, a divinely ordained “city upon a hill,” a phrase Massachusetts Bay Colony founder John Winthrop used in a sermon at sea en route from England in 1630.
February 20th, 2012
01:03 PM ET
Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
There has been much chatter in recent days about the reinjection of religious matters into the presidential campaign, with a focus on the increasingly bitter debate over Catholics and contraception. But Rick Santorum has just opened up a new and dangerous front in the culture wars.
We are now being asked to debate which of the Christians running for president is really a Christian. I am referring here not to questions about Mitt Romney, whose Mormonism according to many evangelicals is not the right theological stuff, but to questions about President Barack Obama.
In the past, the strategy on the right was to intimate that Obama was a closet Muslim (he is not.) It was too crass even for our crassest politicians to come out and utter this falsehood, so, when asked about Obama’s faith, the strategy was to say, “If the president says he’s a Christian, he’s a Christian.”
February 17th, 2012
05:59 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Very religious people rate higher – compared to the moderately religious and nonreligious – on a Gallup “well being” survey released Thursday.
According to the survey, very religious people from all religious groups surveyed higher than their nonreligious brethren. Very religious Jews scored highest on the survey with a score of 72.4. Very religious Mormons finished a close second with 71.5.
By comparison, moderately and non religious Jews scored in the 68 percentile, while moderately and non religious Mormons scored in the 63 percentile.
November 28th, 2011
10:49 AM ET
By John Blake, CNN
Blue Ridge, Georgia (CNN) – Fred Craddock was a young preacher trying to find his voice when he received a call from his mother one day.
"You need to go see your father," she said. "He may not live longer."
Craddock found his father in a VA hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Fred Craddock Sr. had whittled down to 73 pounds. Radiation treatments had burned him to pieces. He couldn't eat or speak.Read the full story on the experiences that helped shape the revolutionary preacher
September 16th, 2011
04:38 PM ET
By Ben Wyatt, CNN
Glasgow, Scotland (CNN) - Robert Marshall is the burly, landlord of The Louden Tavern, a pub located in the west end of the Scottish city of Glasgow, on the south bank of the same Clyde River that was once used to ferry coal and steel to the great shipbuilding companies that in the past made this area an industrial powerhouse.
There is no doubt as to which soccer team Marshall and his clientele give their loyalties. Decorated in the team colors of red, white and blue throughout its interior and situated only a stone's throw from the famous Ibrox Stadium, the bar is overt in its homage to Rangers Football Club.
Its position around the corner from the Glasgow Orange Order - a Protestant fraternity who still march once a year to celebrate the victory of King William III over the Catholic King James II in 1690 at the Battle of the Boyne - may be a mere coincidence, the allegiance of its regulars to Rangers is not.
Across town, on the Gallowgate road, Tommy Carberry pulls pints in Bairds Bar, a building daubed in the green hue synonymous with Celtic Football Club. The pub sits a mile-or-so from Celtic Park - the 60,000-seater home ground of the 42-time Scottish title winners - and is a much-loved stopping point for fans attending the match.
Celtic wears its Irish and Catholic heritage very much on its sleeve - or chest to be more exact, as the club's four-leafed clover badge sits on the left breast of its players - which is maybe not surprising for a team founded by a member of a Catholic religious order in 1888.
The two landlords - who remarkably, are childhood friends - represent two of Glasgow's communities in a microcosm, one passionately British and Protestant, the other proud of their Catholic and Irish heritage, a division which mirrors the sectarian lines of Northern Ireland, loyalties forged over centuries of war and strife.
Like their fathers before them, Robert and Tommy's cultural background almost dictated which of the city's two giant clubs they would support. Allegiance to Rangers or Celtic carries a cultural significance above a mere love of the beautiful game for many nestled around the banks of the Clyde.
It is one of the ingredients that makes the meeting of these two teams, over 90 minutes of football, so special. Celtic versus Rangers is one of the fiercest rivalries in world football.Read the full story
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.