April 12th, 2013
04:03 PM ET
By Sara Sidner, CNN
Jerusalem (CNN) - A group of women in Israel is again expressing outrage after police detained some of its members for doing two things they say should be perfectly normal and legal: praying out loud and wearing a prayer shawl at the holiest site for prayer in Judaism.
The women who were detained on Thursday are part of a group that calls itself Women of the Wall. For more than two decades, its members have been defying traditionalists and the Israeli government.
The women say they should be able to pray as they wish at the Western Wall and be given the same rights as the men who pray there. The idea - and trying to make it true by just doing it - has outraged some of the ultra-Orthodox who pray at the wall, where a partition separates men and women. FULL POST
November 20th, 2012
04:38 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN)– After decades of debate, the Church of England formally voted down draft legislation that would have allowed women to become bishops.
Debate on the draft legislation Tuesday spanned seven hours and saw more than 100 people voice support or opposition for the draft legislation.
At its General Synod meeting, despite the ardent support of the incoming Archbishop of Canterbury, the Rt. Rev. Justin Welby, the measure failed to secure a two-thirds majority in all of the three voting bodies of the church, the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and the House of Laity.
October 25th, 2012
06:00 AM ET
By Wayne Drash, CNN
(CNN) - The pregnant 12-year-old girl was strung out on heroin and looked like a walking skeleton when she arrived at the hospital. The conversation that followed, said Phoenix police chaplain John South, has stuck with him ever since.
“Do you know who the father is?” South recalled asking her.
“She said, ‘Yes, it’s my biological father. He’s the one who hooked me on heroin so he could continue to rape me whenever he wanted to.’ ”
The Protestant chaplain has consoled about 50 pregnant rape victims - typically girls raped by their fathers - in his years working with the Phoenix Police Department.
South describes himself as “pro-life,” but when it comes to dealing with a girl or woman impregnated by a rapist, he keeps his personal views to himself.
“I don’t give them a lecture or preach at them,” South said. “I’ve seen crimes beyond comprehension.”
October 9th, 2012
03:09 PM ET
By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
Big news broke in the Mormon world this weekend, when the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced a lowered minimum age requirement for missionary service, most notably for women.
Women can now go out in the field to serve their church at 19, instead of 21. Though this may not seem monumental to outsiders, some Mormons say it's a game-changing moment that may rewrite women's futures and even influence broader dynamics within the LDS Church community.
“The narrative of young women has been that marriage trumps everything else as your most important spiritual pursuit,” explained Joanna Brooks, scholar, blogger and author of “The Book of Mormon Girl: Stories from an American Faith.” This shift “signals a reorganizing of expectations for women’s lives. … It changes the storyline.”
February 5th, 2012
05:33 PM ET
By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
San Diego (CNN) – At a 1950s-style house nestled in a peaceful neighborhood nicknamed “Hanukkah Hill,” a smiling Buddha on the porch greets visitors – his arms raised as if to say all are welcome.
Affixed to the doorpost is a mezuzah, a decorative case holding blessings for a Jewish home. Inside, on the family’s refrigerator, hangs a magnet from the Feminist Mormon Housewives blog that says, “Jesus loves us. Who cares what you think?”
In the kitchen stands Joanna Brooks, an accidental, unofficial and admittedly unauthorized source for all things Mormon. She’s making “funeral potatoes,” a classic Mormon casserole, and heaped on the counter are the ingredients: a not-so-healthy dose of cheese, butter, sour cream, hash browns and chicken soup. Her Jewish husband strolls by, takes a look at what’s cooking, and grimaces. Bespectacled and freckled 6-year-old Rosa, standing atop a chair, proudly announces, “I’m Jewish and Mormon!”
The home and life Brooks has created is the product of a complicated journey.
She cannot separate The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from her identity any more than she can leave cheese out of funeral potatoes. But like her persecuted ancestors who braved the unforgiving plains to reach the promised land of what is now Utah, Brooks, 40, fights for her faith. FULL POST
May 9th, 2011
12:17 PM ET
By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
(CNN) – Faith has outweighed fact at Di Tzeitung, a Hasidic newspaper based in Brooklyn, New York.
The ultra-Orthodox Jewish publication ran a doctored copy of the iconic “Situation Room Photo” last Friday – you know, the one taken of President Barack Obama and his national security team during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound.
Scrubbed from the picture: the two women in the room.
November 9th, 2010
08:38 AM ET
Editor's Note: This story comes to us from CNN White House Producer Xuan Thai and CNN White House Correspondent Susan Malveaux from Jakarta, Indonesia.
Meet Alia Wahid, a modern woman who also happens to be a devout Muslim. Suzanne Malveaux talks to this woman and discovers how Alia is able to balance life and religion in the world's most populous Muslim country.
President Obama is in Indonesia Tuesday. You can read more about his trip at the new CNN White House Blog The 1600 Report.
November 8th, 2010
10:59 AM ET
Editor's Note: CNN Producer Gena Somra brings us this report from Yemen on CNN's Inside the Middle East Blog.
I've always been curious what life must be like for women who live behind the veil.
But I never thought I'd be in a position to experience it first hand.
As our team ventured out of Seiyun, Yemen, on our way to Tarim, I found myself pulling out my newly purchased niqab, and looking for help from my bewildered male teammates as to the proper way to adorn this thin and delicate piece of cloth.
After several unsuccessful tries to assemble it myself, our local fixer stepped in to assist. Soon I was looking at the world from a new (and somewhat uncomfortable) perspective.
September in this dry and dusty desert valley is scorching hot.... and being covered from head to toe in all black with only a tiny space for my eyes to glean the sun, seemed to draw the rays directly into me and intensify the already sapping heat that was bearing down on all of us.
The fabric was stretched and tied so tight that it cut across my lower eyelids and when I would blink I would feel its chiffon gently scratching my lashes. And even though I could breathe just fine, somehow this fabric over my nose and mouth made it feel like I could not. It was an unusual sensation to say the least.
November 2nd, 2010
08:00 AM 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
Yesterday my students and I discussed Mary Daly, the Boston College professor, feminist theologian, and professional provocateur who died earlier this year. Judging by our discussion, feminist theology has died too, and feminism with it.
Our reading for the day was a selection from Daly’s second book, Beyond God the Father (1973), which decries a sexist cycle that has patriarchal cultures creating patriarchal divinities who then sanctify in turn the patriarchal cultures that gave them birth. “If God is male,” Daly writes, “then the male is God.”
October 22nd, 2010
07:00 AM ET
Editor's Note: CNN's Philip Rosenbaum, Jonathan O'Beirne and Carl Graf bring us this story and video from Staten Island, New York.
It's a busy Sunday morning in August for Gabriella Velardi Ward in her modest home in the New York City borough of Staten Island.
Velardi Ward lights candles, gingerly lays out prayer sheets and looks at herself in the mirror, mindfully putting on her white robe and vestments.
A short woman with a behemoth sense of spiritual self, Velardi Ward also attends to earthly matters.
While she makes sure the table is full of healthy vegetarian dips and finger foods, umbrella-carrying worshipers trickle through the door before the heavens unload. She hugs new arrivals who take seats in a rough circle in the humble but welcoming suburban living room.
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.