September 10th, 2010
06:10 PM ET

When is a Quran burning not a Quran burning?

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

Unless you have just woken up from a twenty-year nap, you have probably heard that Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, may or may not be burning 200 Qurans on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the horrors of 9/11. That’s roughly 4 Qurans for every member of the 50-person microchurch.

What you may not have heard is that, even if he goes forward with his plans, he will not actually be burning Qurans.

Christians consider translations of the Bible (which was written in Hebrew and Greek) to be actual Bibles. As any Muslim can tell you, however, the Quran is only the Quran in its original Arabic. Translations do not count.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Culture wars • Florida • Fundamentalism • Interfaith issues • Islam • Leaders • Quran

September 10th, 2010
05:58 PM ET

That other worship space at ground zero

Editor's Note: CNN's Mary Snow and Alexia Mena bring us this report on the only place of worship destroyed on 9/11 and their hopes to rise at ground zero.

(CNN) -  The unassuming three-story St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church
stood dwarfed in the shadow of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. Built
in 1916 in the style of the old village parishes in Greece, its location in
what became the glass and steel jungle of New York's financial district was
curious, to say the least.

The church had a congregation of about 70 families. They vowed to rebuild
it after the South Tower, engulfed in smoke, collapsed and crushed it on
September 11, 2001. But no real progress has been made.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • 9/11 • Christianity • Church and state • Greek Orthodox Church • Houses of worship • New York • United States

September 10th, 2010
05:30 PM ET

Ralph Reed's comeback

Washington (CNN) – Ralph Reed beamed in the back corner of the colonial ballroom at Washington, DC's Mayflower Hotel as Republican Congressman Lynn Westmoreland spoke. Reed clapped the loudest as Westmoreland laid out the plan for social conservatives to get involved in November's mid term elections.

"We need you in November worse than you can imagine," Westmoreland told the crowed at the Faith and Freedom Conference and Strategy Briefing.

Of course, this is also Reed's handiwork. He's the former head of the Christian Coalition and now the head of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. He organized the conference to bring high-powered conservatives to address the conference to help mobilize faith voters.

Read the full story on the CNN Political Ticker.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Church and state • Politics

Fighting fire with photography
September 10th, 2010
04:49 PM ET

Response to Quran burning: a peace 'photobomb'

Writer and photographer Karen Walrond was beyond upset to hear the news that a pastor at a church in Gainesville, Florida, was organizing a "Burn the Quran Day" on September 11.

"I pretty much lost my mind" when I first heard of the event, Walrond told CNN's Camille Felton.

At first, Walrond ranted and raved and got really angry.

"I kept thinking, should I organize a protest? What am I going to do?"

Eventually, she calmed down. The Houston, Texas, woman realized the best way to fight hatred was with love.

So she put out a call on her blog chookooloonks.com for peaceful images and messages. And she created what she calls a "photobomb" to send to the Rev. Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center.

The response - from a tolerant America - was overwhelming.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Muslim • Quran

September 10th, 2010
03:42 PM ET

Feasting at Eid al-Fitr

Editor's Note: Over at our sister blog Eatocracy they have a great post from CNN Producer Amir Ahmed and his wife Mona Megahed as they share the story about the foods of Eid al-Fitr:

Ramadan and Eid are special times of the year when people from various parts of the globe enjoy cooking and sharing their traditional foods. Muslim families typically break their fast together and savor the scrumptious meals that have been prepared that day. We have tried a variety of traditional food during this Ramadan but we must admit; our favorite is the Egyptian cuisine. Perhaps we are biased because we trace our roots to the Middle East.

Breaking the fast is a truly social event. At dawn, typically Egyptian families invite friends and relatives to break their fast with either dates or a drink of "Qamar-eddeen" – an apricot juice with small bits of different dried fruit and nuts.

The delicious drink – almost exclusively served during Ramadan – is supposed to supply the body with a much needed dose of sugar after many hours of fasting. It contains raisins and bits of figs, dates, apricots, pine nuts, almonds, and hazelnuts.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Food • Holidays • Islam • Ramadan

September 10th, 2010
03:20 PM ET

America, the Tolerant

Two young Muslim men journeyed 13,000 miles across America for the holy month of Ramadan. They found a nation – not of intolerance – but one of kindness. In the end, they have a renewed faith in Islam, and the country they love.

Amid the hype of the so-called “ground zero mosque” and the possible Quran burning in Florida, Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq traveled into the nation’s heartland to visit 30 mosques in 30 states. When they left on this pilgrimage, they wondered: Is America still the accepting nation that embraced our forebears or has it reached a new level of intolerance?

Despite the recent tit-for-tat nasty headlines, the two were embraced nearly everywhere they went – an America that welcomes its diverse people.

"After 13,000 miles, I think that America still exists, and I'm happy to know that it does," said Tariq, a 23-year-old American of Pakistani descent. "It's really made America feel like home to me in a way that I've never felt before.”

Read the full story.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Holidays • Islam • Muslim • Ramadan

September 10th, 2010
01:39 PM ET

Hawking's 'The Grand Design' worth the effort

Editor's Note: Larry King Live Supervising Producer Michael Watts was Larry's man on the ground for his Stephen Hawking interview in Cambridge, England. You can see the entire interview tonight on Larry King Live on CNN at 9pm EST. Watts filed this report from England:

I’ve been a producer on “Larry King Live” for almost 12 years, and I'm frequently asked, "what’s your coolest experience?" The stock answer: producing Stephen Hawking.

I journeyed to Cambridge when he was our guest in December 1999, and have been lucky enough to come back for his latest appearance on "Larry King Live." This experience, while just as rewarding, has been a little different.

Hawking's ALS has clearly progressed in the last decade. Even so, I continue to be amazed at how well he manages to communicate. The hand clicker he used in 1999 to command his communication system has been replaced by a sensor that monitors subtle cheek movements. But the software he uses looks very similar. It also says a great deal about Prof. Hawking that among the easiest words for him to pull up and speak is "thanks."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Science

September 10th, 2010
12:12 PM ET

Would a Muslim burn the Bible?

If you’re trying to understand what burning a Quran would look like to a Muslim, consider this:

“For Christians, Jesus is the word of God. For Muslims, the Quran is the word of God. Imagine someone burning Jesus,” says Emad El-Din Shahin, a religion professor at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

Talk about the Quran has dominated the news ever since a Florida pastor announced that he would burn copies of Islam’s holiest book on Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The pastor has since announced that he has called off the event, then later said it is still being contemplated. But his plan has already evoked some of the vilest acts of religious persecution in Western history, religious scholars say.


- CNN Writer

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • 9/11 • Bible • Books • Interfaith issues • Islam • Persecution • Quran

September 10th, 2010
12:10 PM ET

Social conservatives mix faith and politics at conference

Washington (CNN) – At the Faith and Freedom conference and strategy briefing, social conservatives filed into Washington, DC’s Mayflower Hotel to hear from a who's who of conservative voices imploring them to stand by their values.

The group says on its website the goal of the conference was to "mobilize and train people of faith to be effective citizens" and "to speak out in the public arena and in the media on behalf of common-sense values." The event was put together by former head of the Christian Coalition, Ralph Reed.

Read the full story on CNN's Political Ticker.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Church and state • Politics

September 10th, 2010
12:08 PM ET

   older posts »
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.