July 11th, 2013
11:47 AM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN) – On Monday morning, a Catholic parish in Virginia posted an urgent message from its priest on Facebook.
A couple was pregnant with a child diagnosed with Down syndrome, said the Rev. Thomas Vander Woude of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Gainesville, Virginia.
If they didn't find a couple willing to adopt the unborn child by the end of day, they would abort it, according to the priest.
Within hours, hundreds of couples had contacted the church with adoption offers, according to Holy Trinity staffers.
February 5th, 2013
02:00 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
(CNN) - The Arkansas House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a measure that would allow concealed guns to be carried in churches and houses of worship, and the governor’s office says it plans to sign the bill.
The measure, which passed 85-8 on Monday, gives houses of worship the option of allowing concealed weapons.
August 5th, 2012
04:00 PM ET
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story ran in 2011, around the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
By Jose G. Santos, CNN
Fairfax Station, Virginia (CNN)– Ten years ago, Balbir Singh Sodhi was gunned down, apparently because he looked Muslim or Arab.
He was neither.
Sodhi was a Sikh. Members of the religious tradition say he was the first person to be murdered in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks.
That claim has been backed up by the Justice Department.
"The first person killed in post-9/11 violence, Balbir Singh Sodhi, was a Sikh, shot while pumping gas at his gas station in Arizona four days after 9/11," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez in congressional testimony earlier this year.
For American Sikhs, Sunday's deadly attack on worshippers at a Sikh temple outside Milwaukee dredged up memories of other recent attacks against their community.
At least seven people, including a gunman shot by a police officer, were killed in Sunday's attack.
In the case of the post 9/11 attack on in Arizona, a 45-year-old aircraft mechanic named Frank Roque gunned down a bearded, turban-wearing Indian immigrant outside a Mesa gas station. Roque drove up to the station, fired a handgun at Balbir Singh Sodhi - who owned the station - five times, then fled.
May 11th, 2012
04:47 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Mitt Romney’s commencement speech at Liberty University on Saturday may be a significant moment for the presumptive Republican nominee’s relationship with the evangelical community, but Democrats are not ready to give up the powerful voting bloc and are even trying to use this weekend’s speech to draw a distinction with Romney.
In what was billed as a prebuttal to the commencement address, the Democratic National Committee’s faith outreach director, the Rev. Derrick Harkins, said in a Friday conference call with reporters that President Barack Obama could make inroads with the evangelical community.
“The realties of 2008 point to the fact that we made significant gains among younger evangelicals,” Harkins said. “We seek to do that very thing [again] because we are speaking to the issues that resonate with individuals and certainly younger evangelicals.”
According to Harkins, issues like poverty, immigration and health care are important to evangelical voters, and he believes the president’s stance on these issues will win him votes.
April 23rd, 2012
04:43 PM ET
By Dan Merica and Laura Bernardini, CNN
Washington (CNN) – Liberty University reacted over the weekend to a brewing controversy over the fact that the evangelical school has selected Mitt Romney, a Mormon, to speak at the school’s graduation.
In a statement from Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr., the school says that the complaints have significantly died down and that many of those complaining “had no affiliation with the university.”
“We have also noticed over the last few days that students with reservations about Romney's appearance at Liberty basically fit into one of two categories,” Falwell, Jr. wrote. “They were either strong supporters of other candidates who were seeking the Republican nomination or they were online students who were not as familiar with Liberty University's traditions.”
After last week’s announcement, hundreds of comments were registered under the announcement on Liberty’s Facebook page. While some were supportive of the decision to invite Romney, a number of respondents were angered and posted their frustration to Facebook.
As of Monday morning, the announcement was deleted from the page, along with all the comments.
August 15th, 2011
12:53 PM ET
By Holly Gilbert, CNN
Sterling, Virginia (CNN)–Mohammad Azraf Ullah, 17 years old of Herndon, Virginia, has been observing the Muslim holy month of Ramadan since he was a young boy. Believed to purify the body and soul, the food and water fast from dusk until dawn for 30 days is part of the five tenants of Islam.
"Patience is one of the biggest things I've learned" said Ullah. "It reminds me how great God is, and you really have to be grateful to him for everything he gave you."
Such patience and reverence should help Ullah meet the requirements for his Eagle Scout badge, which he's set to earn in the coming months. The high school senior and Boy Scout participated in the annual Iftar dinner - or "breaking of the fast" meal - hosted by the All Dulles Area Muslim Society Scout program on Saturday night.
July 1st, 2011
05:29 PM ET
On Friday, Mennonite pastor Mark Schloneger explained to CNN's Kyra Phillips his objection to singing the 'Star Spangled Banner.'
Early Schloneger wrote about it here on the belief blog. It was a topic that generated a lot of interest and over 4,000 comments.
June 29th, 2011
04:07 PM ET
By Jeanne Meserve, CNN Homeland Security Correspondent
Washington (CNN) – A law enforcement official confirms members of the Westboro Baptist Church, known for its controversial practice of picketing military funerals, participated in training for law enforcement officials at Quantico Marine Base in Virginia.
The sessions were discontinued this spring after Tom Browne, assistant director for the FBI, voiced strong opposition to bringing the group to a military facility.
Members of Westboro were "respectful" when they were on the base and did not cause any disruption, according to the official. He adds, "It wasn't the purpose to give them another outlet to vent their views. It was more academic."
The story about staff training sessions between the FBI and Westboro Baptist Church members was first reported by NPR News on Wednesday.Read the full here about the FBI and Westboro Baptist Church training together
May 10th, 2011
07:36 AM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
Arlington, Virginia (CNN) – Jonathan Slye wanted to be a rock star. The wide-eyed 17-year-old spent part of last summer at a Christian rock camp learning how to be a lead singer. But by November he had another thought: he should throw an epic rock show in his hometown.
How hard could it be?
In just a few months, Slye – the son of a pastor – managed to land some of the biggest names in Christian hip-hop, rock and heavy metal to play at his Spring Jam Fest this Saturday in nearby Centreville, Virginia.
He did it through sheer will and a little faith – and at a fraction of the cost of a professional concert.
It helped that no one told him teenagers don’t throw major rock shows.
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