Beyond Belief
January 5th, 2015
04:19 PM ET

Beyond Belief

Dear Readers,

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this blog as much as we’ve enjoyed reporting and writing it, but it’s time for the next stage in Belief’s evolution.

Like the rest of our colleagues at CNN, we’re “going there” … to a spiffy new home: http://www.cnn.com/specials/belief.

The new site will have the same insightful analysis and in-depth reporting that you’re used to, but it will also enable us — and, more importantly, you — to navigate through a wider array of videos, articles and columns from our team of reporters and editors around the globe.

What’s more, the design will allow you to comfortably read Belief’s content whether you’re strap-hanging on a subway, sitting at a desktop, or settling in for a long read on your tablet.

We hope ardent atheists, devout believers and every array of religion in between will join us on a pilgrimage to the new sanctuary … er, site. And please let us know what you think on Twitter: @CNNBelief.

Yours in gratitude,
Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi 

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Uncategorized

October 20th, 2014
02:50 PM ET

It's hard to change the Catholic Church. Even if you're the Pope.

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

(CNN) - As Catholic bishops in Rome began a major meeting on modern family life two weeks ago, Pope Francis encouraged them to speak candidly and "without timidness."

He certainly got what he asked for.

Bishops bickered. Conservatives contemplated conspiracy theories. Liberals lamented their colleagues' rigidity.

Through it all, the Pope stayed silent.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Pope Francis • Uncategorized • Vatican

October 14th, 2014
12:46 PM ET

Under conservative assault, Vatican backtracks on gay comments

Rome (CNN) - Under furious assault from conservative Catholics, the Vatican backtracked Tuesday on its surprisingly positive assessment of gays and same-sex relationships.

In a report Monday, the Vatican had said that gays and lesbians have "gifts to offer" the Christian community and acknowledged that same-sex couples can give "precious support" to one other.

The statement, an interim report from a closely watched meeting of Catholic clergy here, was widely praised by liberals. It is believed to be the first time the Vatican has said anything positive about gay relationships.

One longtime Vatican journalist called the statement a "pastoral earthquake."

But many conservatives complained that the statement watered down church teaching and did not accurately reflect their discussions here, where nearly 200 Catholic leaders are meeting to debate pastoral approaches to modern family life.

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Uncategorized

Why you should care about a Muslim inmate's beard
Abdul Muhammad (formerly named Gregory Holt) will have his case heard by the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
October 6th, 2014
05:25 PM ET

Why you should care about a Muslim inmate's beard

Opinion by Emily Hardman, special to CNN

(CNN) - I’m not a Muslim. I’ve never been imprisoned. And I don’t want to grow a beard. But I’m defending the rights of someone who is and does.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear Holt v. Hobbs, a landmark case cutting to the heart of the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom.

At issue is whether refusing to allow a prisoner to peacefully practice his religion violates a federal civil rights law, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, known as RLUIPA .

In this case, Abdul Muhammad (formerly named Gregory Holt) is an Arkansas inmate who wants to observe the Muslim command to grow a beard, in his case a half-inch in length.

Arkansas already allows inmates to grow beards for medical reasons and Muhammad’s beard would be permissible in 43 state and federal prison systems across the country.

The remaining outliers, including Arkansas, attempt to justify their bans in the name of security. However, Arkansas has not identified a single confirmed security problems resulting from beards.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized

August 12th, 2014
12:27 PM ET

Dramatic rescue as Yazidis flee ISIS

CNN's Ivan Watson describes a dramatic rescue by the Iraqi military as desperate Yazidi civilians flee ISIS fighters.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized

August 1st, 2014
08:48 AM ET

Sudanese Christian woman who once faced death penalty arrives in U.S.

(CNN) - A Sudanese Christian woman once sentenced to death in her native country because of her faith arrived in her new home, the United States, on Thursday.

Mariam Yehya Ibrahim, her husband and two young children were greeted by a large crowd of supporters at Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in New Hampshire. Ibrahim, whose sentence was overturned a few weeks ago, didn't speak with the media.

Her brother-in-law, Gabriel Wani, said there was "a lot of happiness right now."

New Hampshire's senators, Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen, sent staff members to the terminal and sent out a news release welcoming Ibrahim to the state.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized

Ramadan around the world
June 28th, 2014
08:12 AM ET

The Belief Blog guide to Ramadan

(CNN) - For 1.6 billion people, the holiest month of the year began this past Saturday.

The exact starting date sometimes depends on the locale, but most Muslims across the globe will be fasting, praying and abstaining from sex and smoking during daylight hours. Many call it a time of spiritual purity and rededication to God.

Here's everything you need to know about the observance.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the name of the ninth month in the Hijri, or Islamic calendar. The word derives from the Arabic ramida or ar-ramad meaning a fierce, burning heat.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Eid al-Fitr • Faith • Holidays • Islam • Ramadan • Uncategorized

June 20th, 2014
10:18 AM ET

Presbyterians vote to allow same-sex marriage

(CNN) - The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted Thursday to allow pastors to marry same-sex couples in states where it is legal.

The church also voted, by an overwhelming majority, to change the language about marriage in the church constitution to "two persons" from a "man and a woman," according to More Light Presbyterians, a group that supports gay rights.

To take effect, that change would need to be approved by a majority of 172 local presbyteries, which have a year to vote, the church said in a statement.

However, starting Saturday, pastors can go ahead and begin marrying same-sex couples in the states that allow it, according to Toya Richards Jackson, a church spokeswoman.

"The church affirmed all its faithful members today. This vote is an answer to many prayers for the Church to recognize love between committed same-sex couples," said Alex McNeill, executive director at More Light Presbyterians.

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Uncategorized

June 19th, 2014
11:17 AM ET

89-year-old Philadelphia man accused of being Nazi death-camp guard

(CNN) - An alleged former Nazi camp guard who has lived in the United States since the 1950s is facing possible extradition to Germany following his arrest in Philadelphia, authorities said Wednesday.

Federal authorities are moving to extradite Johann (John) Breyer, an 89-year-old U.S. citizen, who is wanted in Germany for war crimes committed during World War II.

Breyer was arrested in Philadelphia, where he has long lived, on Tuesday. Federal Magistrate Judge Timothy R. Rice on Wednesday ordered him held without bail, pending an extradition hearing in late August.

According to court documents filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, German authorities have charged Breyer with complicity in the murder of over 216,000 European Jews from Hungary, Germany, and Czechoslovakia, who were forcibly deported to the Auschwitz II-Birkenau concentration camp on 158 trains between May and October 1944.

- CNN Belief Blog Editor

Filed under: Uncategorized

June 17th, 2014
02:36 PM ET

'Cosmos': the creationist version

"Creationist Cosmos" has an answer for all the mysteries of the Universe: God did it.

Sharp satire or offensive stereotyping? Weigh in below.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized

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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.