July 7th, 2011
03:26 PM ET
Editor's note: CNN's Defining America project is exploring the stories behind the numbers to show how places are changing. This week, get to know more about your neighbors all across the country - how they live and love, what they believe in and how they came to call themselves Americans. The week will culminate with a Secret Supper in New York City, and Eatocracy invites you to participate online starting Monday July 11th at 6:30 p.m.
(CNN) – When Kavi and David Moltz tied the knot in summer 2010, the multicultural couple - she's Hindu and he's culturally Jewish - tried to honor both their traditions.
"I had to ride in on a horse ... a giant Clydesdale adorned in Indian raiments," recalls David of the Hindu wedding tradition. "But we gave a nod to my culture, too," he says.
In Hindu culture, friends and musicians playing traditional Indian music accompany the groom's ride to the ceremony. Instead, David had his friends play drums, and he wore a traditional yarmulke and tallith (prayer shawl) that had been his father's and grandfather's.
The evening before, during the Mehndi party in which the bride and members of her party are adorned with henna designs (an impermanent skin ink) on their hands and feet, David wore a traditional Indian suit.Read more on interfaith weddings
June 24th, 2011
01:03 PM ET
By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
(CNN) – They didn’t serve on the jury, weren’t plaintiffs in the case, nor did they watch in the courtroom.
But for Native Americans who cleave to rituals passed on by their ancestors, the trial of self-help guru James Arthur Ray mattered.
Ray was convicted Wednesday of negligent homicide in the October 2009 deaths of Kirby Brown, James Shore and Lizbeth Marie Neuman. They died after participating in a sweat lodge ceremony Ray led during his “Spiritual Warrior” retreat outside Sedona, Arizona.
At least 15 other participants fell ill, while 40 emerged from the experience uninjured. Each had paid about $10,000 for the five-day retreat experience.
The case fueled long-held frustrations of Native Americans who say their ancient traditions are being appropriated and exploited by “impersonators.” They resent that what is sacred to them is now seen by some as a death trap.
March 2nd, 2011
09:19 AM ET
By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
Growing up on a reservation in lower Saskatchewan, Alvin Manitopyes learned early to respect the sweat lodge. He was 10 when he attended his first sweat ceremony, and for more than 15 years tribe elders instructed him in his people's ways.
He understands the spiritual mandate he was given as a healer to serve as an intermediary between people and the spirit world. He carries with him the ancient ceremonial songs, passed on through generations.
He knows how the natural elements - earth, fire, water and air - work together to cleanse people, inside and out, and create balance. At 55, he has spent more than 20 years conducting ceremonies in sweat lodges, where water is poured over hot lava rocks as part of a purifying ritual.
"If you have the right to do it, then the environment you're creating is a safe place," says Manitopyes, a public health consultant in Calgary, Alberta, who is Plains Cree and Anishnawbe. "But today we have all kinds of people who observe what's going on and think they can do it themselves. … And that's not a safe place to be."
No example of what worries him is clearer than the case of James Arthur Ray, a self-help guru who led a crowded sweat lodge ceremony that left three people dead. Ray faces manslaughter charges for the deaths allegedly tied to his October 2009 "Spiritual Warrior" retreat outside Sedona, Arizona. His trial began this month.
August 30th, 2010
01:20 PM ET
Two young Muslim Americans are taking a cross-country spiritual journey at a fascinating time in the nation’s history.
Just this weekend, conservative commentator Glenn Beck stood before a crowd of hundreds of thousands in the nation's capital and proclaimed that "America today begins to turn back to God."
Hours earlier, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, four construction vehicles used for the groundbreaking of an Islamic mosque were vandalized and damaged in a fire suspected to be arson. The mosque has faced stiff local resistance.
Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq are on Day 19 of their cross-country trip to 30 mosques in 30 states during the holy month of Ramadan. Beginning in New York, they traveled down the East Coast to the South and then onward West, covering thousands of miles and meeting Muslims of all walks of life.
July 16th, 2010
03:47 PM ET
Editor's note: CNN's Talya Minsberg files this report about what life is like for some religious minorities in the United States:
Imagine having an exam or mandatory meeting on a holiday with the religious importance of Christmas.
It’s a regular occurrence for religious minorities in the United States.
Many college students will head back to school after Labor Day, September 7. And for Jewish and Muslim American students, a dilemma awaits. This year, the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, begins at sundown the very next day, September 8. And September 9 is Eid al Fitr, an Islamic holiday marking the end of the month of Ramadan. Both holidays are celebrated with festive meals and special services.
June 28th, 2010
04:30 PM ET
Pope Benedict XVI slapped down Cardinal Christoph Schonborn on Monday over comments earlier this year in which he was seen as criticizing a fellow cardinal.
Schonborn – the archbishop of Vienna, Austria, and a former student of the pope – had said that Cardinal Angelo Sodano had blocked an investigation of sexual abuse charges against a former archbishop of Vienna, according to the Catholic News Service. Sodano was the Vatican's secretary of state at the time.
June 25th, 2010
07:24 PM ET
Roger Nygard was seven years old when he first realized he was going to die.
He had found the entry on tuberculosis inside his family’s medical encyclopedia one day and it appeared that he was exhibiting all the symptoms noted in the book: coughing, fatigue, and sleepiness.
The young Nygard aptly put on his winter suit on that cold Minnesota night and went outside by the lake across from his home to wait for death to come. After twenty minutes though, his feet got cold and he decided to go back inside to have dinner.
June 25th, 2010
09:08 AM ET
Catholic devotees in Aliaga, Philippines listen to Mass while covered in mud and leaves during the Taong Putik Festival or "Mud People Festival," on Friday, June 24. They cover themselves in mud, banana leaves, twigs and vines to emulate John the Baptist's disguised appearance when he baptized Jesus Christ, according to the Bible.
June 25th, 2010
08:37 AM ET
In Judaism, the Yahrzeit is the commemoration of the day of someone's death, according to the Hebrew calendar. Mourners recite the Kaddish prayer three times that day, go to synagogue and light a candle that burns for 24 hours. Outside the Jewish faith, the concept of an annual ritual to remember a loved one's death can be as simple as reading a book or having a family meal. Full Story
June 22nd, 2010
12:03 PM ET
Hindus and Muslims gather in Ahmedabad, India, on Tuesday, June 22, to pray for rain. The western state of Gujarat and other parts of India are waiting for the annual monsoon rains to cool down the triple-digit temperatures.
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.