Keeping the faith, daring to be different
February 5th, 2012
05:33 PM ET

Crossing the plains and kicking up dirt, a new Mormon pioneer

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

Religious paper apologizes for erasing Clinton from iconic photo

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.


- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Faith Now • History • Judaism • Women's issues

November 9th, 2010
08:38 AM ET

A portrait of a modern Muslim woman in Indonesia

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.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Barack Obama • Faith Now • Islam • Muslim • Politics • Women's issues

Behind the veil
November 8th, 2010
10:59 AM ET

Behind the veil

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.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Faith Now • Islam • Middle East • Women's issues

November 2nd, 2010
08:00 AM ET

My Take: Feminist theology and feminism, R.I.P.

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.”


- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Culture wars • Education • Women's issues

October 22nd, 2010
07:00 AM ET

The life of a so-called woman priest

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.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Faith Now • New York • United States • Vatican • Women's issues

September 19th, 2010
08:30 PM ET

September 16th, 2010
09:31 AM ET

Roman Catholic Women Priests

Editor's Note: CNN Correspondent Carol Costello and Producer Bob Ruff filed this report.

If the title makes you want to scratch you head, well, go ahead and scratch.

Catholicism, that's the Roman kind, has reserved its seats of power to men and men alone ever since Christ told Peter: "You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church."

Every Catholic leader from the Pope to the village priest is male. Women are permitted to be sisters, teach Catholicism in schools, and even assist in the Sunday Mass. But they can't actually preside over the Mass. Nor can they administer over most of the sacraments, which are reserved for priests and bishops.

Today, many Catholics are asking why? At a time when the church desperately needs more priests, why not allow women to preside over mass?

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Faith Now • Women's issues

September 6th, 2010
10:18 AM ET

Woman set to be stoned speaks out

Editor's note: CNN's Ivan Watson brings us this report from Oslo.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Iran • Islam • Muslim • Politics • Violence • Women's issues

September 4th, 2010
01:38 PM ET

Christian singer's mission: Helping former sex slaves

Natalie Grant apologizes for crying, but she can't help it.

She is describing meeting a woman from India who is a counselor in a village where some women have been saved from human traffickers.

The counselor knew all too well what these women went through. When she was 12 her parents took her to Mumbai for her birthday. Her brother traveled with them. When they got off the train, the woman told Grant, she was separated from her family.

Read the full story

- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Faith Now • Music • Sex abuse • Women's issues

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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.