May 19th, 2010
03:17 PM ET

Christian band: We were spared death by Myanmar general

Bluetree frontman Aaron Boyd sings to children in a Myanmar refugee camp.

They had illegally sneaked into Myanmar knowing full well the danger, but it wasn't completely apparent to the members of the Irish Christian band Bluetree that the screaming general down below the balcony wanted them dead.

They could tell it was a very tense situation. High-ranking members of two different military units were pointing at them and yelling in a language they didn't understand, according to lead singer Aaron Boyd. Their interpreter clammed up and the president of the NGO that had brought the band into the country said, "This is bad. This is really, really bad."

It was only when they left the country and returned to Thailand that the band members were told it was their fates being debated by those troops down below.

"We were told later their general said we're not even going to waste our bullets with them, we're just going to slice their throats," Boyd said Tuesday by telephone from his home in Belfast, Northern Ireland. "Bottom line was our guy, whatever he did, whatever he said, managed to calm the whole thing down."


- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Buddhism • Christianity • Culture & Science • Music • Politics

May 19th, 2010
09:55 AM ET

Malcolm and Martin, closer than we ever thought

The meeting lasted only a minute, but a photo taken of that chance encounter has tantalized admirers of both men for years to follow.

Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were portrayed as rivals when both were alive. But they had more in common than many people realize today and were moving closer toward one another when Malcolm was assassinated.

As Malcolm X’s 85th birthday is marked, we examine how Malcolm was becoming more like Martin — and Martin was becoming more like Malcolm.

Read the full story

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Culture & Science • Leaders • Muslim • Politics

May 19th, 2010
09:35 AM ET

Welcome to CNN's Belief Blog

Welcome to CNN’s Belief Blog, where we'll cover the role that faith and belief play in the news - and in our readers’ lives.

We believe that understanding the role of faith in today’s world isn’t optional or nice to know. It’s need to know.

Consider these recent stories: 

An American woman is held in a Haitian jail for more than 100 days after allegedly attempting to traffic children out of the country in the wake of a devastating earthquake.

A young man is charged in a plot to bomb Times Square.  

A Columbia University graduate quits his first finance job for a go at community organizing - the beginning of a political life that leads to the White House.

To understand any of this news, you need to know something about faith.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Uncategorized

May 19th, 2010
09:32 AM ET

Pakistan shuts down Facebook over 'Draw Mohammed Day'

Pakistan is blocking access to Facebook in response to an online group calling on people to draw the Prophet Mohammed, officials said Wednesday.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority issued the order a day before "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day," scheduled by a Facebook group with the same name.

Read the full story

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Islam • Uncategorized

May 19th, 2010
09:10 AM ET

My Take: On fear, faith and being gay

Editor's note: Christian music artist Jennifer Knapp returned to the music scene with a new album this month after walking away from a successful career seven years ago. She also revealed that she has been in a same-sex relationship for the past eight years. Read more about Knapp and watch her interview with Larry King.

By Jennifer Knapp, Special to CNN

As a young girl, I learned to read music. The scattered black dots on the page, successfully decrypted and performed, began to make more vivid the world around me. I began to discover the private, personal and strange journeys that playing music had to offer. I listened, I sang, I played, and I began to write songs of my own. For me, music has become the tool through which the meditations of my soul find deeper peace and understanding.

As a young adult, I began to pursue a purposed life of faith centered on the teachings of Jesus. Many would say that I "became" a Christian. Curious, passionate and confounded, I entered my local evangelical Protestant church with a new appreciation for my spiritual self and participated with full fervor. There too, I experienced music as a gift that could draw out the deeper cries of not just my heart, but the hearts of others as well.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture & Science • Opinion

May 19th, 2010
08:58 AM ET

Do 6 Catholics + 3 Jews = 9 Protestants?

Religion scholar Stephen Prothero will be a regular contributor to CNN's Belief Blog. With his bestselling book "Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know–And Doesn't," Prothero became the country's leading explainer of how religion undergirds much of American life and history - in ways that most us don't realize. With his new book, "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," the Boston University professor has taken his franchise global. A few times each week, Prothero will offer posts on the hidden faith angles behind the news.

By Stephen Prothero, CNN Belief Blog contributor

I think I might have done the math wrong.

Shortly after President Obama nominated Elena Kagan (who is Jewish) to replace Justice John Paul Stevens (who is Protestant) on the Supreme Court, I was quoted in Boston Globe, Beliefnet, and CNN stories, saying that her nomination represented one giant step away from the not-so-good-old-days of Protestant parochialism. "I don't think this means Protestant America is over,” I told the AP, “but I do think it means the old way of thinking about Protestant America is over."

On Monday morning in USA Today I argued, against bloggers like Beliefnet’s Rod Dreher, that the religious commitments of judges matter. I then called for a more religiously diverse Supreme Court. Why not an agnostic? An evangelical? A Muslim?

In all these articles, I was doing the math like this: 6 Catholics + 3 Jews = 0 Protestants. I’m no longer sure that’s right.


- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Courts • Judaism • Opinion • Protestant

May 19th, 2010
08:00 AM ET

Jerusalem Journal: Church of the Holy Sepulchre's photographer

[cnn-video url=http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2010/05/17/nat.jerusalem.church.photographer.cnn]

Israeli photographer Garo Nalbandian has spent 50 years navigating his country's complex religious landscape, taking pictures of holy sites of the 3 monolithic religions. His specialty: shooting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where many Christians believe Jesus was crucified and buried.

CNN photojournalist Michael Schwartz followed Nalbandian last month as Nalbandian shot the church's holy fire ritual, celebrated by Orthodox Christians on the day before Orthodox Easter, and captured the day in video and print:

Garo Nalbandian's luck held out. The Israeli policeman recognized him and waved him past the crowd barrier into the courtyard of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The ladder laden, camera burdened photographer moved his curly crop of silver hair into pole position next to the door huge oak door which protected one of Christianities holiest places.

Camera men jostled to shoot the Muslim key keeper open the door to the Shrine. Forty years of experience deemed the shot irrelevant and Nalbandian moved quickly in the direction of Jesus' tomb.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Culture & Science • Israel

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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.