June 1st, 2014
07:02 PM ET
(CNN) - When she was 12, Jennifer Traig's hands were red and raw from washing them so much. She'd start scrubbing a half an hour before dinner; when she was done, she'd hold her hands up like a surgeon until her family sat down to eat.
Her handwashing compulsions began at the time she was studying for her Bat Mitzvah. She was so worried about being exposed to pork fumes that she cleaned her shoes and barrettes in a washing machine.
"Like a lot of people with OCD, I tended to obsess about cleanliness," said Traig, now 42. "But because I was reading various Torah portions, I was obsessed with a biblical definition of cleanliness."
Family dinners were awkward for Tina Fariss Barbour, too, as an adolescent. She would concentrate so hard on praying for forgiveness that if anyone tried to interrupt her thoughts, she wouldn't respond.
"First I had to get rid of all my sins, ask forgiveness, do it in the right way, and then I had to pray for protection," said Barbour, now 50. "Or, if something bad happened to my family, it would be my fault because I had not prayed good enough."
The women come from different faith backgrounds: Barbour is Methodist and Traig is Jewish. But as children they believed fervently that they needed to conduct their own rituals and prayers, or else disaster would befall their families.
Both women say they suffered from a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder known as scrupulosity. A fear of sin or punishment from deities characterizes this condition, saidJonathan Abramowitz, professor and associate chairman of the department of psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, involves unwanted thoughts ("obsessions") and accompanying behaviors called compulsions that patients use to reduce anxiety. In scrupulosity, the obsessions have a religious or moral underpinning.FULL STORY
May 14th, 2014
08:25 AM ET
Washington (CNN) - She wrote of being in love, falling out of love, fearing a marriage to a skirt-chaser and then loving that marriage, and believing in God to hold on to the hope of reuniting with her assassinated husband.
Letters that a young Jacqueline Bouvier, and later a married Jackie Kennedy, wrote to a Catholic priest in Ireland offer a rare and revealing glimpse of the private thoughts of one of America's most admired first ladies.
An icon of style and elegance, she came to symbolize an administration nicknamed Camelot that ended with the violent death of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963.
Over a period from when she first met the Rev. Joseph Leonard on a trip to Ireland in 1950 until he died in 1964, she wrote him more than two dozen letters.
She only met him in person once more, in 1955, but the letters being sold at auction in Ireland provide insight into the personal dreams, wishes and fears of a young woman who became one of the world's most popular figures.FULL STORY
April 28th, 2014
09:57 AM ET
(CNN) - The old man exited a car and immediately ran through the forest to what he remembered was a mass gravesite. “The Germans were here,” he said. "The people were in a row, and they just shot them in the back, one by one.”
Mikhail K, a man well into his 80s, said he was just a boy when he witnessed Nazi German soldiers massacre villagers in southern Russia in the 1940s. In 2012,photographer Markel Redondo accompanied him to a site near the village of Ladozhskaya in the region of Krasnodar to document his memories surrounding the atrocity.
Mikhail stood silently for a moment, “remembering and looking at the place,” Redondo recalled. "You could see there was something going on in his head.”
Redondo met Mikhail and other witnesses as part of an initiative by the Paris-based group Yahad – In Unum. The project aims to locate and document World War II sites where Jews and other victims were executed by Nazis and their allies throughout Eastern Europe. Yahad – In Unum has chosen not to reveal the witnesses’ full names.
Redondo spoke with CNN ahead of Days of Remembrance, when Holocaust victims are honored during the week of April 27-May 4.FULL STORY
April 23rd, 2014
08:13 PM ET
(CNN) – Interfaith leaders object to a film slated to be part of an exhibit in the National September 11 Memorial Museum.
"The Rise of Al Qaeda," narrated by NBC's Brian Williams, is supposed to provide a brief history of the terrorist group.
The opening lines:
But faith leaders say the film does not draw a sharp enough distinction between al Qaeda and Muslims in general.
April 14th, 2014
08:30 AM ET
(CNN) - A Missouri man, with a long virulent history of anti-Semitism, is suspected of killing a boy and his grandfather outside a Jewish community center in Kansas City and a woman at a Jewish assisted living facility nearby.
While police in Overland Park, Kansas, stopped short of labeling the Sunday attacks a hate crime until they were further along in their investigation, the suspect - Frazier Glenn Miller - is the founder and former leader of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and the White Patriot Party.
Both operated as paramilitary organizations in the 1980s, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups.
The 73-year-old Miller, who also goes by Frazier Glenn Cross, faces charges of premeditated first-degree murder. He is expected to appear in court Monday.
March 20th, 2014
05:06 PM ET
(CNN) - Fred Phelps - the founding pastor of a Kansas church known for its virulently anti-gay protests at public events, including military funerals - has died, the church said Thursday.
The 84-year-old died of natural causes at 11:15 p.m. Wednesday, according to church spokesman Steve Drain.
Phelps founded Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, in 1955 and molded it in his fire-and-brimstone image. Many members of the small congregation are related to Phelps through blood or marriage.
In a statement Thursday, the church chided the "world-wide media" for "gleefully anticipating the death."FULL STORY
February 4th, 2014
10:05 PM ET
By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor
(CNN) - Did you miss the debate between creationist Ken Ham and Bill "The Science Guy" Nye?
Don't worry, we've got you covered.
The debate was moderated by CNN's Tom Foreman, and, if there's one thing both sides can agree on, it's that he did a swell job.
Here's almost everything else you need to know, from Genesis to um, Revelation.
November 20th, 2013
12:11 PM ET
Editor's note: This story is part of CNN's American Journey series to show how old buildings around the United States have found new purposes and helped to build communities. Are there repurposed buildings in your community? Share the stories with CNN iReport and they could be featured in a CNN story.
Sandy Springs, Georgia (CNN) - The old Chevrolet paint and body shop was vacant - 24,000 square feet of metal and concrete surrounded by a sea of asphalt.
But when some members of Congregation Or Hadash saw it, they saw a home.
Since it was founded in 2003, the conservative Jewish congregation had bounced from location to location outside Atlanta - a Methodist church, a windowless space in a school, any place they could rent or borrow as they grew.
"Sometimes, from week to week, we didn't know exactly where we were going to be," said Fred Wachter, president of the congregation and a member since its early years.
"All the while ... we probably walked every piece of available property and real estate in Sandy Springs, trying to find something, anything, that would look like it."FULL STORY
October 15th, 2013
09:42 AM ET
(CNN) - A Malaysian court ruled Monday that a Christian newspaper could not use "Allah" to refer to God. Ram Ramgopal reports
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