By Tim Townsend, special to CNN
(CNN) - When the killing began in earnest, Steven Gahigi fled his home in the Bugesera district of Rwanda to neighboring Burundi.
By the time he returned the next year, 52 members of his family were dead. Most of them, including his sister, were slaughtered in the first week of the 20th century’s final genocide.
This week, Rwanda began commemorating the 20 years that have passed since the mass murder of Tutsis and moderate Hutus, which continued for 100 days and left at least 800,000 dead.
Gathering in a packed soccer stadium in Kigali, Rwandans re-enacted the horrific events of 1994. President Paul Kagame said his country had “a reason to celebrate the normal moments of life, that are easy for others to take for granted."
When Gahigi returned to Rwanda after the genocide, he had nothing: no family, no home. Eventually, he moved past his anger and entered a Christian seminary.
In 1999, he began visiting Rilima Prison in Bugesera, the new home to thousands of the génocidaires, the men who wielded the machetes. In Rilima he met the band of 15 who killed his sister.
At first, the prisoners thought he had been sent by the government – a spy in a clerical collar – to investigate their crimes. Even when they were satisfied that Gahigi wasn’t a spy, they were skeptical of his motives. Why would this man come to their prison to preach when he knew what they had done?
Opinion by Patton Dodd, special to CNN
(CNN) - Three weeks ago, I sat down with my family to root for the Denver Broncos against the San Diego Chargers in the second round of the NFL playoffs. The Broncos were winning and it was all going swimmingly - until Henry, my 7-year-old son, started with the questions:
"Dad, have you decided that it's OK to watch football?"
"Dad, didn't you say were you worried about all the injured players?"
"Dad? What percentage of you thinks it's OK to watch football, and what percentage of you thinks it's wrong?"
Little kid wouldn't shut up.
It was our first football game since late October, when, after two years of wrestling with my conscience, I had decided to stop watching the sport I've loved all my life.
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
Lake Forest, California (CNN) — In his first interview since his son's suicide in April, famed pastor Rick Warren told CNN that he knew his son, Matthew, had bought a gun, dismissed rumors that Matthew was gay and said he doesn't blame God for the tragedy.
"I have cried every single day since Matthew died," Warren said Tuesday in an exclusive interview with CNN.
"But that - that's actually a good thing. Grief is a good thing. It's the way we get through the transitions of life."
Rick Warren and his wife, Kay, founded Saddleback Church in Southern California in 1980, growing it from a small congregation to a multisite megachurch with some 20,000 weekly worshippers.
Warren is also author of the spiritual self-help guide “The Purpose Driven Life,” one of the best-selling books of all time, with more 36 million copies sold.
But even as the Warrens grew in prominence - attending conferences with presidents and prime ministers - their son Matthew struggled with borderline personality disorder and deep depression, they said during an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan.
By Jeffrey Weiss, special to CNN
(CNN) Even before the jury read their verdict acquitting George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, a number of black religious leaders had responses at the ready.
The voices of white pastors and predominantly white churches and religious groups? Much harder to find.
Nearly a week later, some denominations that often weigh in on matters of national policy have yet to go on the public record. It's particularly notable in the leadership of the Catholic Church, the country's largest religious body.
Editor's note: Farhana Khera is the president and executive director of Muslim Advocates, a national legal advocacy organization dedicated to promoting freedom, justice and equality for all, regardless of faith.
By Farhana Khera, Special to CNN
(CNN) - Like so many Americans across the country, I was shocked when I heard of the attacks at the Boston Marathon. A part of me immediately traveled back to when I was cheering runners myself as a student at Wellesley College, the midpoint for the marathon, a time when such dangers as bombings never crossed our minds.
Boston is an indelible part in the personal history and identity of those who have lived or attended school in the city. That someone had detonated bombs at an event that symbolized unity in a place known for its rich diversity and as a birthplace of our nation's freedom was heartbreaking.
By David Ariosto and Moni Basu, CNN
Boston (CNN) - On this brisk April morning in Boston's South End, worshipers filled New England's largest Roman Catholic church. It was a time to pray - and reflect on the torrent of violence this city has seen.
Last Sunday, a special blessing was said here for the runners in the Boston Marathon. Now, there were people sitting on the wooden pews who might have witnessed the tragedy. They were all scarred inside.
Almost a week has passed since bombs made from pressure cookers blew up near the finish line of the race. Three people died, and more than 170 were wounded. Many remain in hospitals.
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor
Washington (CNN) - Muslim leaders in Boston and elsewhere have distanced themselves from the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing, condemning the deadly terror attack and saying they feared reprisals against their communities.
"I don't care who or what these criminals claim to be, but I can never recognize these criminals as part of my city or my faith community," said Yusufi Vali, executive director for the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the largest mosque in the Boston area.
"All of us Bostonians want these criminals to be brought to justice immediately. I am infuriated at the criminals of these bombings for trying to rip our city apart. We will remain united and not let them change who we are as Bostonians." FULL POST
Editor's note: Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio is an ordained Episcopal Church priest and author of "God and Harry Potter at Yale: Teaching Faith and Fantasy Fiction in an Ivy League Classroom."
By Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio, Special to CNN
Boston (CNN) — At 4 a.m. on Patriot’s Day, I huddled in the cold and dark on the Lexington town green that’s across from the church where I work as a priest, awaiting the reenactment of the first battle of the American Revolution.
As the sun rose, a small group of haggard colonists assembled. None were in military uniform; they seemed to have difficulty forming a straight line. And when the British marched towards them with their elegant uniforms and disciplined formation, they outnumbered the colonists more than 2-1.
It looked to be a slaughter.
As the “shot heard 'round the world” fired, the colonists scrambled, some dying in the skirmish and others retreating, running away to safety.
To the casual observer like myself, it looked like defeat — defeat of their hopes for freedom, liberty and democracy; defeat of goodness and light. But that defeat turned out to be the call that brought out reservists from all over the Boston area. Ordinary colonists left their homes to hide behind trees with their weapons, haunting the British as they marched back to Boston. The efforts of those ordinary men and women eventually led to victory for our country and the ideals it sought — and continues to seek—to embody.
Less than 12 hours after I attended the reenactment, I heard a different “shot heard 'round the world,” this time a few miles from my home where I was working. The Boston Marathon bombing shook me, as it shook many of my fellow Bostonians. It was a reminder that our world carries hazards and injustice. FULL POST
By Greg Botelho, CNN
(CNN)–High-profile Pastor Rick Warren tweeted Thursday that his son who shot himself late last week had bought an "unregistered gun" from "someone over the internet."
"I pray he seeks God's forgiveness," wrote Warren, a best-selling author and the head of Saddleback Church, referring to whoever sold his son the gun. "I forgive him."
By Jim Roope, CNN
(CNN) – When tragedies happen like the shooting at Newtown, Connecticut, the question of faith often comes up. How can horrible events like that be allowed to happen?
Rabbi Marvin Heir with the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, said he’s not surprised that people question religion, and, God in tragedies.
“Remember we live in a very scientific age and so the man of faith is getting smaller and smaller because he can’t bring any proof to the horizon; where is this so-called God. So that’s why religion; it’s very difficult to compete, you know, in a world where there are new discoveries and they ask you as a man of faith, ‘Where’s your new discovery?’
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.