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.”
August 2nd, 2012
04:00 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – What do you get when you mix leopard print, pop group LMFAO's song "Sexy and I Know It" and a law student who calls herself the "diva of the district?"
Answer: Mindy Meyer's New York Senate campaign website.
After catapulting herself to internet stardom with her very pink campaign, the orthodox Jewish 22-year old from Brooklyn now tells CNN she is planning to "leave the pink at home" because of all the negative media attention she has received.
July 7th, 2012
08:34 PM ET
By Pauline Kim, CNN
New York (CNN)– A controversial Jewish circumcision ritual is under fire after allegedly causing the deaths of two infants and exposing potentially thousands more to the risk of herpes infections.
New York City health officials are pushing a proposed regulation that would require parents to sign a consent waiver before they take part in a circumcision ritual called "metzitzah b'peh," typically practiced by ultra-Orthodox Jews. The ritual potentially poses a fatal risk to newborns, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
The legislation was proposed at a Board of Health meeting last month by Dr. Jay K. Varma, deputy commissioner for disease control for New York City's health department, after 11 infants contracted neonatal herpes between November 2000 and December 2011, after the circumcision ritual. Two of the infants died.
Jews regularly practice circumcision as part of their religion, but mostly ultra-Orthodox Jews practice metzitzah b'peh, during which the mohel, or person performing the procedure, orally sucks the blood from the infant's newly circumcised penis.
May 17th, 2012
05:24 PM ET
By Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN
(CNN)–Sebastian Errazuriz has used art to take on an array of issues: New York's death rate, the Occupy movement, military suicide, children with disabilities, the brutal reign of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Now, the Brooklyn-based artist is taking aim at what he sees as religious extremism.
At a party this weekend celebrating New York Design Week, which begins today, the Chilean-born artist plans to hand out 100 "Christian Popsicles" made of "frozen holy wine transformed into the blood of Christ" and featuring a crucifix instead of the tongue depressor that typically hosts the frozen treats, he said.
An image of Jesus Christ positioned traditionally on the cross is visible once the ice pop is consumed. As for the frozen wine, Errazuriz said, he concealed it in a cooler and took it into a church, where it was "inadvertently blessed by the priest while turning wine into the blood of Christ during the Eucharist."
Errazuriz will hand out the wine creations on Saturday at Gallery R'Pure in Manhattan's Flatiron District before the "Love It or Leave it" exhibit.
April 3rd, 2012
12:52 PM ET
By Brian Vitagliano, CNN
New York (CNN) – One week after New York's Department of Education drew controversy with a request to ban 50 words and references from the city's standardized tests – including “dinosaur,” “birthday” and "religion" – the department announced Tuesday that it is abandoning the plan.
"After reconsidering our message to test publishers and the reaction from parents, we will revise our guidance and eliminate the list of words to avoid on tests,” New York Chief Academic Officer Shael Polakow-Suransky said in a statement.
“We will continue to advise companies to be sensitive to student backgrounds and avoid unnecessary distractions that could invalidate test scores and give an inaccurate assessment of how students are doing," the statement continued.
April 2nd, 2012
10:56 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Anger boiled over in many of the comments on our recent post about the New York City Department of Education aiming to ban “loaded words,” including “dinosaur” and “birthdays” from standardized school tests, many of them apparently over religious sensitivities:
March 23rd, 2012
04:02 PM ET
By Jason Kessler, CNN
(New York) - New York is known for its skyscrapers, not its steeples. But it's hardly the den of godlessness suggested by some media coverage of Tim Tebow's trade to the Jets.
"Welcome to Sodom," read a New York Magazine headline on Thursday.
In fact, the country's largest metropolis has plenty of faith-minded folk. About 6,780 properties in New York qualify for a property tax exemption offered to houses of worship, according to a city spokesperson. That doesn't factor in the many congregations that don't own property.
Tim Tebow, who was signed by the New York Jets this week, is hardly the first religiously devout athlete to don a New York jersey.
March 21st, 2012
02:28 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
(CNN) – When star quarterback Peyton Manning signed with the Denver Broncos this week, Denver pastor Jim Mackey signed at the thought that Tim Tebow probably wouldn’t be wearing Broncos blue and orange next season. The Broncos don’t need two star quarterbacks and the New York Jets announced Wednesday that Tebow is now theirs.
“It was a topic of conversation last night,” Mackey said in a phone interview Wednesday, describing Tuesday night services at his Next Level Church.
“It is an emotional thing and a bit more emotional for people who have connected with Tebow’s expression of faith,” Mackey said. “Rather than just a QB controversy, which is not unique in the NFL, this does seem to have hit more of a personal nerve for those in the Christian community.”
Mackey’s church meets Tuesday nights, not Sunday mornings, because Mackey believes Sunday is a day for people to do Colorado things – skiing, hiking and Broncos games.
March 1st, 2012
05:00 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
(CNN) – The billboard wars between atheists and believers have raged for years now, especially around New York City, and a national atheist group is poised to take the battle a step further with billboards in Muslim and Jewish enclaves bearing messages in Arabic and Hebrew.
American Atheists, a national organization, will unveil the billboards Monday on Broadway in heavily Muslim Paterson, New Jersey and in a heavily Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood, immediately after the Williamsburg Bridge.
“You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice,” the billboards say. The Patterson version is in English and Arabic, and the Brooklyn one in English and Hebrew. To the right of the text on the Arabic sign is the word for God, Allah. To the right of the text on the Hebrew sign is the word for God, Yahweh.
Dave Silverman, the president of American Atheists, said the signs are intended to reach atheists in the Muslim and Jewish enclaves who may feel isolated because they are surrounded by believers.
February 27th, 2012
02:51 PM ET
Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.
By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN
Sunday was the 19th anniversary of the first World Trade Center terrorist attack, which claimed 6 lives on February 26, 1993. I took this occasion as a chance to see the 9/11 Memorial, which remembers these six victims alongside the 2977 people killed on September 11, 2001, in the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
I have been writing recently about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the Lower Manhattan site is obviously influenced by that design. So it is hard to avoid comparisons. There are the granite walls, though in the New York memorial there is flowing over them. And there are the names of the dead, though in New York they are cut through bronze rather than inscribed on granite.
But the spirit of the 9/11 Memorial is very different.
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.