March 12th, 2013
01:04 PM ET
By Kelly Marshall Smoot, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Hoping to enhance the conclave experience, some new apps and websites are using technology to bring a centuries-old, top-secret tradition of selecting the next pontiff – one that still relies on smoke signals – to Catholics and pope watchers around the world.
Logos Bible Software designed Conclave, a free app, and had a working prototype within 48 hours after Pope Benedict XVI announced he intended to resign.
"At first we thought we didn't have time for it, and then we decided to go for it," said Andrew Jones, director of Catholic products for Logos Bible Software, about the process of developing the app. "Never before has technology been so accessible for such a specific task. Generating a new piece of software this quickly, or customizing it for such a brief event, was previously unheard of."
February 12th, 2013
05:49 AM ET
By Brandon Griggs, CNN
Assuming Pope Benedict XVI steps down as planned at the end of February, his tenure on Twitter will have been fleeting.
The pope has been active on the social-media platform for only two months. During that time he has sent just 34 tweets - 33 if you don't count one that corrected a typo in a previous message.
The spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Catholics stunned the world Monday with the news that he will resign February 28 "because of advanced age."
Most of the pope's messages to his 1.5 million followers have promoted Catholic doctrine and teachings, although he has also occasionally commented on current events, condemning violence in Nigeria and Syria. One tweet asked followers for suggestions on how to be more prayerful when "we are so busy with the demands of work, families and the world?"
The first Catholic pope to use Twitter, he tweets under the handle @Pontifex - meaning "bridge builder" in Latin.FULL STORY
January 25th, 2013
04:29 AM ET
By Cyrus Farivar, ArsTechnica
(CNN) – For months now, the French-language twittersphere has lit up with a rash of racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic tweets using the hashtags #UnBonJuif (a good Jew), #SiMonFilsEstGay (if my son is gay), and #SiMaFilleRamèneUnNoir (if my daughter brings home a black guy).
Last fall, under pressure from French advocacy group Union of Jewish Students (UEJF), Twitter agreed to remove some offensive tweets. In October 2012, at Berlin's request, Twitter also suspended a German neo-Nazi account based in the city of Hanover, the first time the company had responded to such a government request.FULL STORY
January 15th, 2013
05:41 AM ET
By Katie Hunt, for CNN
Hong Kong (CNN) - A darkened room in a Hong Kong university building is an unlikely portal into an ancient world.
But with the touch of an iPad Mini, the space is digitally transformed into a 1,500-year-old Buddhist grotto. Its walls decorated with exquisite but faded paintings of enlightened beings, dancers and musicians.
Another swipe and a pair of 3-D glasses brings the cave to life.FULL STORY
September 28th, 2012
09:35 AM ET
By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
(CNN) - Onlookers might think you're checking stocks, watching clips of "Honey Boo Boo" or reading news out of Libya. But on the subway, in the doctor’s office, under a beach cabana – with the right gadget, God’s word can be with you.
Making the Bible accessible and shareable is what YouVersion’s Bible app is all about. About 300 versions of the Bible can be downloaded for free to smartphones and tablets, allowing people speaking 144 different languages to get their fix of Scripture.
“A lot of people in the U.S. have six or seven Bibles in the house and never use them,” says Bobby Gruenewald, 36, the man behind this mobile Christian mission. “Our goal was to help people engage with the Bible.”
If numbers are any indication, mission accomplished.
August 3rd, 2012
02:36 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Despite the attention that major religious leaders have received for their use of Facebook and Twitter – including pastors like Rick Warren and Joel Osteen - a new survey finds that only a small minority of Americans use social media for religious reasons.
Six percent of Americans say they are part of a spiritual group on Facebook, and 5% report that they follow a spiritual leader on Twitter, according to a survey released this week by the Public Religion Research Institute. The numbers come as nearly half of Americans report using Facebook at least a few times a week.
“We were a little bit surprised,” said Robert P. Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute. “We thought there would be a higher usage given all the press that has surrounded pastors on Twitter and people posting prayers online.”
February 22nd, 2012
02:39 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The General Theological Seminary was founded in 1817, making it the oldest Episcopalian seminary in the country. Twitter, on the other hand, was introduced to the public in 2006, making it, by comparison, a newborn.
Colin Chapman and Joseph Mathews, the relatively young founders of Digital Formation, hope to bring those two worlds together.
As a social media consulting endeavor, Digital Formation looks to help clergy and lay church leaders work their way through the ever-changing world of social media. When Chapman and Mathews proposed using webinars and classes as the means of teaching, the leadership of the seminary embraced the idea.
Though the organization is still in its early stages, the fact that Digital Formation was so quickly embraced shows how religious organizations not only desire more exposure to Twitter, but are willing to throw out what Chapman describes as a “behind the times” attitude to get that exposure.
February 2nd, 2012
05:44 PM ET
By Doug Gross, CNN
(CNN) - Twitter says it has more than 100 million active users - a pretty impressive chunk of the online population who are, if nothing else, checking in to see what other people are sharing.
With that many folks on the six-year-old microblogging site, Twitter is always good for a few surprises.
Sure, you already know about such famous tweeters as Ashton Kutcher, Lady Gaga and Shaq. But did you expect funnyman Danny DeVito to create a photo series of his foot in interesting places?
And, sure, Democratic political strategist David Axelrod uses the site to share talking points and links. But who would have expected him to post a candid picture of President Barack Obama with "First Dog" Bo, then turn it into a not-so-subtle jab at GOP front-runner Mitt Romney?
And then, there are the Twitterers who surprise you by being there in the first place.
(Don't forget to follow the Belief Blog on Twitter @CNNBelief )FULL STORY
December 23rd, 2011
05:49 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – People who are religiously active live more involved and connected lives, according to a Pew Research study released on Friday.
The study, titled “The civic and community engagement of religious active Americans,” painted a broad picture of religious Americans and found that involvement in religious organizations usually go hand-in-hand with participation in civic organizations and a positive outlook on their community.
“There is something unique about religious and spiritual involved people that contribute to their trust, positive outlook, involvement and engagement in the community,” said Jim Jansen, senior fellow at Pew and the leader of the study.
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.