November 26th, 2013
08:49 PM ET
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) - Leon Gersten could not bear to watch “Schindler’s List,” the movie about Czech industrialist Oskar Schindler who saved 1,200 Jews from Nazi extermination camps. It was too painful for the Holocaust survivor, too close to reality.
But now, almost 70 years after his village in Poland was liberated by the Soviet army, Gersten is meeting the man who is the Oskar Schindler of his own life: Czeslaw Polziec.
Like Schindler, Polziec is Catholic. His family secretly sheltered Gersten in rural Poland for two years during World War II.
As though such a reunion between survivor and rescuer were not emotional enough, this one is taking place Wednesday on the eve of Hanukkah, which coincides this year with Thanksgiving. Two celebrations of gratitude.
October 9th, 2013
02:27 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN)– A new video billboard in New York's Times Square has a message from creationists, "To all of our atheist friends: Thank God you're wrong."
The video advertisement at 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan is one of several billboards going up this week in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles, paid for by Answers in Genesis.
Answers in Genesis is best known as the multimillion-dollar Christian ministry behind the Creation Museum outside Cincinnati.
The museum presents the case for Young Earth creationism, following what it says is a literal interpretation of the book of Genesis, which says the Earth was created by God in six days less than 10,000 years ago.
Ken Ham, president of Answers in Genesis, said the idea for the advertisements came from an atheist billboard in Times Square at Christmas.
April 24th, 2013
07:17 PM ET
By Pallavi Reddy, CNN
(CNN) – Ads around Brooklyn bring a new meaning to Joan Osborne's lyrics, “What if God was one of us?”
In a new ad campaign launched by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn this month, people in the borough and neighboring Queens have a new way to view Jesus: “The Original Hipster.”
The ads feature the bottom half of a man - meant to be Jesus - wearing robes with a pair of dirty red Converse sneakers peeking out from the bottom. FULL POST
April 13th, 2013
02:38 PM ET
Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
(CNN) - School officials in Albany, New York, are racing to control the damage after a teacher at Albany High School gave students a persuasive writing assignment that challenged them to defend the proposition that “Jews are evil.”
After studying Nazi propaganda and rhetoric, sophomores in three English classes were instructed to imagine that their teacher was “a member of the government in Nazi Germany” and to prove that that they were “loyal to the Nazis.”
But this unidentified teacher is now caught up in a propaganda swirl of his or her own.
February 5th, 2013
02:04 AM ET
By David Ariosto and Olivia Smith
New York (CNN) – Civil rights lawyers filed papers in federal court Monday seeking to prohibit the New York Police Department's surveillance of Muslim communities when there is no evidence that they are linked to terrorism or other illegal activities.
The department's demographics unit - or zone assessment unit - was put together with the CIA's help after the September 11, 2001, attacks. The unit has acknowledged that it engaged in monitoring that included Muslim-owned business and mosques across the New York region.FULL STORY
November 21st, 2012
05:00 AM ET
By Sarah Hoye, CNN
Coney Island, New York (CNN) – Pastor Connie Hulla heads down the street toward the setting sun, her cowboy boots clicking against the sidewalk.
“Don’t worry, we have plenty of food inside,” she calls out over the rumble of a commercial generator to a line of residents snaking around her Coney Island Gospel Assembly church. “Sorry for the wait. We had to restock.”
It’s been three weeks since Superstorm Sandy ravaged the Northeast, killing more that 100 people and causing an estimated $50 billion in damage.
Despite power being restored in most areas, schools reopening and life beginning to go on as usual, there are many homes in need of repair from flood damage – and entire blocks reduced to rubble - leaving a strong demand for the good will of others.
October 13th, 2012
06:47 PM ET
By Erinn Cawthon, CNN
NEW YORK (CNN) - New York City's plan to limit an ultra-Orthodox Jewish form of circumcision is the target of a lawsuit filed in federal District Court in Manhattan.
The regulation, passed in September by the city's Department of Health, requires all rabbis, called "mohels" in the context of the ritual, to get parental consent on a form stating that the procedure can lead to health risks.
The suit, filed by several Jewish groups and three rabbis on October 4, argues that "the government cannot compel the transmission of messages that the speaker does not want to express - especially when the speaker is operating in an area of heightened First Amendment protection, such as a religious ritual."
In the ritual, known as metzitzah b'peh, after removing the foreskin of the penis the mohel places his mouth briefly over the wound, sucking a small amount of blood out and discarding it. Antibacterial ointment is applied and the wound is bandaged. FULL POST
September 25th, 2012
05:03 PM ET
By Kristina Sgueglia, CNN
(CNN) - Jewish, Christian and Muslim religious leaders gathered in New York to protest advertisements that claim "Support Israel. Defeat Jihad" smattered across 10 city subways stations Monday and to debut a counter-ad that is due up in the same stations at the end of the week, according to the interfaith group.
"I am Muslim," explained Adem Carroll of the Muslim progressive traditionalist alliance on the steps of New York City's City Hall. "On a personal note, when I ride the subway and see messages smeared that demean me, I am scared."
Carroll is speaking about an advertisement originally rejected by New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority that reads: "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat Jihad."
September 11th, 2012
12:33 PM ET
By Susan Candiotti, CNN
You won’t find Mohammed Hamdani among the names of the first responders that are etched in a wall at the 9/11 memorial in New York.
But on the day of the 9/11 attacks, the 23-year-old certified EMT and onetime NYPD police cadet skipped his job at a university research lab to rush to the World Trade Center. Not long after, his family posted Hamdani’s picture on a wall of the missing.
Six months later, his remains were found - in 34 parts.
September 10th, 2012
06:15 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Eleven years after the World Trade Center attack, the billion dollar memorial and museum dedicated to the victims of 9/11 is just half that - a memorial without an operating museum.
And though a dispute between New York City’s mayor and New York’s governor is responsible for delaying the opening, a separate legal battle is aimed at blocking one museum exhibit in particular: a large cross made of one of the twin tower’s T-beams that became a national symbol in the days after the 2001 attacks.
A national group called American Atheists is suing the museum to stop the display of the cross, arguing that a religious symbol has no place in a memorial that’s backed by public funds and that is supposed to serve as a monument to victims of many different religions - and to those who had no religion at all.
“It is important that it not be displayed to the exclusion of everyone else,” said David Silverman, president of the American Atheists, which first filed suit in July 2011. “This case is about inclusion, it is not about the elimination of religion, it is about the inclusion of everyone.”
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.