June 30th, 2010
03:04 PM ET

iReport: Church group witnesses 'another disaster in the making'

About three times a year, a church group from Washington, D.C., heads down to New Orleans to help rebuild the city devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  This month, they took a break from their mission and headed down to Grande Isle State Park.  There, CNN iReporter Jonathan Nateghi-Asli said they witnessed "another disaster in the making." 

View Nateghi-Asli's iReport

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Environment

June 30th, 2010
01:21 PM ET

Is Italy right to fight for crucifixes in classrooms?

Tons of comments coming in on Italy's decision to fight to keep crucifixes in classrooms in the face of a European court ruling that such symbols violate students' religious freedom rights. Here's one that applaud's Italy's effort:

Would you ban a crucifix that others believe in (a symbol of love for all) and replace it with the "blank wall" of your own intolerance towards others' beliefs? Where is the love in this brave new world of religious discrimination and intolerance?

Another reader sides with the European Court of Human Rights:

Italian social system as well as the rest of Western civilization is NOT based on Christianity but on SECULARISM, i.e. the clear distinction between PERSONAL beliefs and social norms. Everyone should have the right to wear a cross or a scarf (NOT burka for security reasons) but nobody can impose any particular religious symbols in public spaces such as school or courts.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity

June 30th, 2010
12:54 PM ET

iReport: Women's fashion at Quran reading competition

CNN iReporter Sherbien Dacalanio attended yesterday's Quran reading competition in Quezon City, Philippines, and snapped photos of women attendees in colorful garb. Their attire, Dacalanio learned, reveals the particular ethnic group to which each woman belongs.

"Almost all the Muslim women wanted me to take photos of them, so I ask them to post in a group or solo," he says. "[They] ask me if I can photograph them and how much I charge for the photo. I reply them that it’s just my hobby to take photos and it’s free."

View Dacalanio's iReport.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam

June 30th, 2010
08:58 AM ET

More Americans say they attend church, mosque, synagogue

Church attendance crept up slightly in the United States this year, according to new Gallup research - but not everyone is buying the findings.

Slightly more than 43 percent of Americans told Gallup they attend church, synagogue or mosque weekly or almost every week, up from just under 43 percent in 2009, and about 42 percent in 2008.

The results are within the poll's margin of error, but still "statistically significant," Gallup said in announcing the results Monday.

A top expert on religion in America dismissed the numbers out of hand, but said there may be something to the trend.


- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Faith • Houses of worship

June 29th, 2010
04:34 PM ET

Denounce the secular billboard–or its defacing?

Two comments about the defacing of a billboard that excludes the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance, coming from seemingly opposite ideological ends. Denouncing the defacer:

Perhaps the believers of the ten commandments and America's first amendment should start following them by not committing a crime.

Denouncing the billboard itself:

Posting a billboard like that is more offensive then posting the original pledge of allegiance.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Culture wars • Politics

June 29th, 2010
03:57 PM ET

Italy fights for crucifixes in classrooms

Editor's Note: Click here for an update on this story

Italy will fight Wednesday against a European court ruling that crucifixes in classrooms violate students' right to freedom of religion.

The European Court of Human Rights found unanimously last November that the display of a particular religious symbol - such as the Christian cross - in a classroom "restricted the right of parents to educate their children in conformity with their convictions, and the right of children to believe or not to believe."

But the court agreed in January to hear Italy's appeal. Ten other European governments, dozens of European lawmakers and half a dozen non-governmental organizations have also gotten involved in the appeal.


- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Catholic Church • Education

June 29th, 2010
03:11 PM ET

My Take: Jewish LGBT leaders need to build a movement

Drinkwater (left) and Michaelson both work to build an inclusive
LGBT community within the Jewish faith.
Gregg Drinkwater is Deputy Director of Keshet, dedicated to creating an inclusive American Jewish community for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Jews. Jay Michaelson is Executive Director of Nehirim, a national organization building community for LGBT Jews, partners and allies. More information at www.jewishinclusion.com

By Gregg Drinkwater and Jay Michaelson, Special to CNN

The American Jewish community is generally more progressive than other religious groups when it comes to gay issues.

All movements except Orthodoxy (which represents about 10% of American Jews) now ordain gay and lesbian rabbis, and perform same-sex weddings. There are gay synagogues, national LGBT Jewish organizations and a bevy of local groups ranging from TransTorah (learning opportunities for transgender Jews) to He’Bro (dance parties for gay Jewish men).

The trouble is that we do not speak with a unified voice.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Homosexuality • Judaism • Opinion

June 29th, 2010
12:33 PM ET

Scientists: Michelangelo hid brain image in chapel

Some of Michelangelo's best known works may bear hidden messages suggesting that the human brain is among God's greatest creations, scientists say.

The great Italian Renaissance artist dissected cadavers to familiarize himself with the human body, so he could better paint it. And, according to a new analysis, he included a representation of the brainstem in his representation of God on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which he painted from 1508 to 1512.

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Art • Catholic Church

June 29th, 2010
08:20 AM ET

My Take: Why Christians are jerks online

Editor's Note: Jonathan Acuff writes the blog www.stuffchristianslike.net and recently released the book "Stuff Christians Like." In addition to commenting on Christian culture, he’s also written branding for clients such as The Home Depot, Bose, Chick-fil-A and AutoTrader.com. He lives outside of Atlanta with his wife and two young daughters. Follow him on Twitter @prodigaljohn.

By Jonathan Acuff, Special to CNN

Bono is a born again Christian.

Or he’s not.

It’s one of those two. I’m just not sure which, but I am certain that the faith of U2 is something we Christians like to argue about. That and beer. You never know if your small group is populated with prohibitionists. You have to say things like, "Is there anything you need me to bring to the dinner party, anything at all?" Then if they say, "Sure, how about a bottle of wine?" you’re good.

U2, beer, our favorite pastor’s kid-gone-wild Katy Perry: these are usually the topics I write about on www.stuffchristianslike.net. (Which is indeed a direct rip off of the site www.stuffwhitepeoplelike.com.) But today I thought I might deal with something with a little sharper teeth. Something you don’t see addressed often, but you might have experienced.

Put simply, I want to talk about why sometimes we Christians are jerks online.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Jesus • Opinion

June 28th, 2010
04:30 PM ET

Pope reprimands cardinal over sex abuse criticism

Pope Benedict XVI slapped down Cardinal Christoph Schonborn on Monday over comments earlier this year in which he was seen as criticizing a fellow cardinal.

Schonborn - the archbishop of Vienna, Austria, and a former student of the pope - had said that  Cardinal Angelo Sodano had blocked an investigation of sexual abuse charges against a former archbishop of Vienna, according to the Catholic News Service.  Sodano was the Vatican's secretary of state at the time.


- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI • Traditions

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