September 14th, 2010
01:21 PM ET

My Take: Michael Moore and moving the Islamic center to ground zero

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

I usually ignore Michael Moore, who has long seemed to me a liberal doppelganger of the worst conservative ideologues. But when he said on September 11 that the Islamic community center should not be built near ground zero but on ground zero my ears perked up.  Hadn’t I heard that before?

Yes, because I had written it, nearly three months ago, in a Belief Blog post called “Ground Zero mosque good for America and New York.”

Here’s what I wrote:

Opponents say the Cordoba Initiative mosque and community center, which would rise two blocks from Ground Zero, is too close to that site. I say it is too far away. I believe a small mosque ought to be integrated into the redesign of the World Trade Center site itself — a reminder in steel and stone that the United States is not at war either with Islam or with our core values.

Here’s what Moore wrote, a position he reiterated yesterday to Wolf Blitzer on CNN:

I am opposed to the building of the "mosque" two blocks from Ground Zero.

I want it built on Ground Zero.

Why? Because I believe in an America that protects those who are the victims of hate and prejudice. I believe in an America that says you have the right to worship whatever God you have, wherever you want to worship. And I believe in an America that says to the world that we are a loving and generous people and if a bunch of murderers steal your religion from you and use it as their excuse to kill 3,000 souls, then I want to help you get your religion back. And I want to put it at the spot where it was stolen from you.

He then put his money where his (big) mouth is, pledging to match the first $10,000 raised for this Islamic community center by the Cordoba Initiative.

I am with Michael Moore on this one, but I’d like to add another reason.

Over the last few days the New York Times and other media outlets have reported on a makeshift mosque that existed on the seventeenth floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center—a place where Muslim cooks and secretaries and bond traders and janitors could go for their five-times-a-day prayers. Such spaces for prayer and prostration exist all across New York City, and across the United States, wherever Muslim taxi drivers, for example, stop to pray together in an empty supply room or on a sidewalk in the open air.

If anywhere in Lower Manhattan is declared off limits to a mosque, if it is decided that 2 blocks or 4 blocks or 10 blocks is too close, what does that mean for the Muslims who will be working in the office buildings now under construction at ground zero? When Muslims start to gather for worship on the 17th floor will protesters sweep in to condemn them? Will they be told they cannot pray?

Not in my America. And not in Michael Moore's.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Celebrity • Culture wars • Islam • Mosque • Muslim • New York • Opinion

soundoff (135 Responses)
  1. joecarrsr

    I read recently that approx 90% of Muslims are not Sharia Law believers therefore do not want to kill the infidel or non-believers. That leaves 10 % as Radical Muslim Terrorists. 10% of a Billion Muslim population is an extremely large number of Radicals to worry about. The only problem we have is how do we know which could be Radical or could be harmless.It is almost impossible to tell. So no matter what we do,the chances of being attacked by Radical Terrorists is extremely high. The only thing we can do is hope and pray our Homeland Security is up to this job of protecting America.

    September 29, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
  2. Muneef

    Lighthouses are more helpful than Churches”, Benjamin Franklin
    Let the Islamic center be built and become a lighthouse for planting respect and.peace among faiths and followers?
    And since you are accusing Islam for the 911 then it should be in ground zero to call for peace between nations and faiths.

    September 26, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
    • Muneef

      Lighthouses are more helpful than Churches”, Benjamin Franklin
      Let the Islamic center be built and become a lighthouse for planting respect and.peace among faiths and followers? 
      And since you are accusing Islam for the 9/11 then this islamic lighthouse should be built within ground zero area directing it's calls for peace between faiths and between nations it is to raise it's prayers on daily bases for those innocents who lost their lives and those who suffered in the 9/11 tragedy that Muslims out of all faiths and nations had suffered most from it's resulted chain reactions until today that had far exceeded the number of deaths and suffering of the 9/11 tragedy in NY,USA.  

      September 26, 2010 at 12:53 pm |
    • Muneef

      The number of Muslims in every nation that were globally pointed out might be correct, but the question here is, whether these numbers of Muslims are aware well about the teachings of Islam in the right way with out extremism ? Well can tell you that those are hard working people in a difficult and hard enviroments only to achieve their daily needs for bread and water and not concerned with politics or imposing their views on others. And those who were lucky enough to immigrate looking for a decent life and job as well not concerned with politics. Muslims in general if left alone with out your intervention might end up fighting each other due differences of views in their faith, but if west keep on applying pressure causing starvation, harassment and confrontation against Muslims and against their faith, this will only lead them to leave behind their differences and jointly or individually confront their enemies,those who wants to deprive them from their rights of faith and belief and the more they are pressed the more they would complain by reacting and not by words and cries since words and cries seem does not reach,heard or work out now a days since being their judges and executors are all of non religious such as atheists, infidels,polytheists who consider their vast interests above all humanity and faith issues such as mercy,leniency, compassion,pity,sympathy,kindness all that of human mutual heavenly code of conduct.!?       

      September 26, 2010 at 2:01 pm |
  3. Muneef

    How can any thing be changed unnoticed ? This is just like a balance sheet any thing changed will show and that's why every prophet had miracles of his own and the only miracle the prophet muhammed had was the Quran and every day modern science discovers more and more Miracles of the Quran and every thing they discover they find out that it is already mentioned there in the Quran over 1431 years ago?

    September 19, 2010 at 11:22 pm |
  4. Muneef





    How many Sura are in Holy Quran ?



    How many Verses are in Holy Quran ?



    How many dots are in Holy Quran ?



    How many over bar (zaber) are in Holy Quran ? (FATHA)



    How many under bar ( Zaer ) are in Holy Quran ? (KASRA)



    How many Raque are in Holy Quran ?



    How many stop ( Waqf ) are in Holy Quran ?



    How many Thashdeed are in Holy Quran ?



    How many letters are in Holy Quran ?



    How many pash are in Holy Quran ?



    How many Madd are in Holy Quran ?



    How many words are in Holy Quran ?



    How many parts of Holy Quran ?



    How many time Besmillah Al-Rahmaan Al-Raheem is repeated ?



    How many Sura start with Besmillah Al-Rahmaan Al-Raheem ?



    How many time the word 'Quran' is repeated in Holy Quran ?



    Which is the longest Sura of Holy Quran ?



    Which is the best drink mentioned in Holy Quran ?



    The best eatable thing mentioned in Holy Quran is ?



    Which is the shortest Sura of Holy Quran ?



    The longest verse of Holy Quran is in which Sura?

    Al-Baqarah No.282


    The most disliked thing by the God though Halal is ?



    Which letter is used for the most time in Holy Quran.?



    Which letter is used for the lest time in Holy Quran ?



    Which is the best night mentioned in Holy Quran ?

    Night of Qadar.


    Which is the best month mentioned in Holy Quran ?



    Which is the biggest animal mentioned in Holy Quran ?



    Which is the smallest animal mentioned in Holy Quran ?



    How many words are in the longest Sura of Holy Quran ?



    How many words are in the smallest Sura of Holy Quran ?



    Which Sura of Holy Quran is called the mother of Quran ?

    Sura Hamd


    How many Sura start with Al-Hamdullelah ?

    Five_ Hamd, Inaam, Kahf, Saba & Fatr.


    Which Sura has the same number of verses as the number of Sura of Holy Quran ?

    Taqveer, 114 verses.


    How many Sura's name is only one letter ?

    Three, Qaf, Sad & Noon.


    How many Sura start with word " Inna " ?

    Four sura – Fatha, Nuh,Qadr, Qausar.


    Which Sura has the number of its verses equal to the number of Masumeen ?

    Saf, 14 verses.


    Which sura are called Musabbahat ?

    Esra, Hadeed, Hsar, Juma, Taghabun & Aala.


    How many sura are Makkahi and how many are Madni ?

    Macci 86, Madni 28.


    Which sura is on the name of tribe of Holy Prophet ?



    Which sura is called the heart of Holy Quran ?



    In which sura the name of Allah is repeated five time ?

    Sura al-Haj.


    Which sura are named Azaiam ?

    Sajdah, Fusselat, Najum & Alaq.


    Which sura is on the name of one Holy war ?

    Sura Ahzaab.


    Which sura is on the name of one metal ?

    Sura Hadeed


    Which sura does not starts with Bismellah ?

    Sura Tauba.


    Which sura is called ' Aroos-ul-Quran ?

    Sura Rehman.


    Which sura is considered as 1/3 of holy Quran ?

    Sura tauheed.


    The name of how many sura are with out dot ?

    Hamd, Raad, Toor, Room, Masad.


    In which sura Besmillah came twice ?

    Sura Naml.


    How many sura start with the Initials ( Mukette'at )

    29 Sura.


    Which Sura was revealed twice ?

    Sura Hamd.


    In which Sura the back biter are condemned ?

    Sura Humzah.


    In which Sura the name of Allah is repeated in every verse ?

    Sura Mujadala.


    In which Sura the letter 'Fa' did not come ?



    Which Sura are called Muzetain ?

    Falk & Nas.


    Which are those Sura if their name are reversed remain the same ?

    Lael & Tabbat.


    Which is that Sura if its first letter is remove becomes the name of one of the city of Saudi Arab?



    Which Sura start with word ' Tabara Kallazi' '

    Mulk & Furkan


    Macci Sura were revealed in how many years ?

    13 years


    Madani Sura were revealed in how many years ?

    10 years.


    Which sura start with word Kad ?

    Mujadala & Momenoon.


    Which Sura is related to Hazrat Ali ?

    Sura Adiat.


    How many Sura are in 30th. Chapter ?



    Which sura every verse ends with letter 'Dal ' ?



    Which Sura is revealed in respect of Ahllelbayet ?

    Sura Dahr.


    Which sura every verse ends with letter ' Ra '



    In which sura the creation of human being is mentioned ?

    Sura Hijr V-26.


    In which sura the regulations for prisoner of war is mentioned ?

    Sura Nesa


    Which sura is having the laws about marriage ?

    Sura Nesa.


    Which sura if its name is reversed becomes the name of one bird ?

    Sura Room.


    In which sura the story of the worship of cow of Bani Esra'iel is mentioned ?

    Sura Taha.


    In which sura the law of inheritance is mentioned?

    Sura Nesa.


    In which sura the Hegira of Holy Prophet is mentioned ?

    Sura Infall.


    In which Sura the 27 Attributes of God are mentioned ?

    Sura Hadeed.

    "If you haven't cried, your eyes can't be beautiful."

    Very interesting findings Might grasp your attention:

    Holy Qur'an

    That mention one thing is equal to another ,

    I.e. Men are equal to women. Although this makes sense grammatically ,

    The astonishing fact is that the number of times the word man appears in the Holy Qur'an

    Is 24 and number of times the word woman appears is also 24 ,

    Therefore not only is this phrase correct in

    The grammatical sense but also true mathematically ,

    I.e. 24 = 24.

    Holy Qur'an where it says one thing is like another.

    See below for astonishing result of

    The words mentioned number of times in Arabic

    Holy Qur'an
    Dunia (one name for life) 115.
    Aakhirat (one name for the life After this world) 115

    Malaika (Angels) 88 .Shayteen (Satan) 88
    Life 145 ...... Death 145
    Benefit 50 . Corrupt 50
    People 50 .. Messengers 50
    Eblees (king of devils) 11 . Seek refuge from Eblees 11

    Museebah (calamity) 75 . Thanks 75

    Spending (Sadaqah) 73 . Satisfaction 73

    People who are mislead 17 . Dead people 17

    Muslimeen 41 . Jihad 41

    Gold 8 . Easy life 8
    Magic 60 . Fitnah (dissuasion , misleading) 60

    Zakat (Taxes Muslims pay to the poor) 32 .......

    Barakah (Increasing or blessings of wealth) 32

    Mind 49 . Noor 49
    Tongue 25 . Sermon 25
    Desite 8 . Fear 8

    Speaking publicly 18 . Publicising 18

    Hardship 114 .... Patience 114

    Muhammed 4 . Sharee'ah (Muhammed's teachings) 4

    Man 24. Woman 24

    And amazingly enough have a look how many times
    The following words appear:

    Salat 5 , Month 12 , Day 365 ,

    Sea 32 , Land 13

    Sea + land =

    32+ 13= 45

    Sea = 32/45*100q.= 71.11111111%

    Land = 13/45*100 = 28.88888889%

    Sea + land 100.00%

    Modern science has only recently proven that the water covers

    71.111% of the

    Earth , while the land covers 28.889%.

    Is this a coincidence? Question is that

    Who taught Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) all this? Reply automatically comes in mind that ALMIGHTY ALLAH Taught him.

    September 19, 2010 at 10:48 pm |
  5. Muneef

    A Beautiful story about QURAN.
    Why do we read Quran, even if we can't understand a single Arabic word???
    *An old American Muslim lived on a farm in the mountains of eastern Kentucky with his young grandson. Each morning Grandpa was up early sitting at the kitchen table reading his Quran. His grandson wanted to be just like him and tried to imitate him in every way he could.
    One day the grandson asked, "Grandpa! I try to read the Quran just like you but I don't understand it, and what I do understand I forget as soon as I close the book. What good does reading the Qur'an do?"
    The Grandfather quietly turned from putting coal in the stove and replied, "Take this coal basket down to the river and bring me back a basket of water.
    The boy did as he was told, but all the water leaked out before he got back to the house. The grandfather laughed and said, "You'll have to move a little faster next time," and sent him back to the river with the basket to try again. This time the boy ran faster, but again the basket was empty before he returned home. Out of breath, he told his grandfather that it was impossible to carry water in a basket, and he went to get a bucket instead.
    The old man said, "I don't want a bucket of water; I want a basket of water. You're just aganot trying hard enough," and he went out the door to watch the boy try in.
    At this point, the boy knew it was impossible, but he wanted to show his grandfather that even if he ran as fast as he could, the water would leak out before he got back to the house. The boy again dipped the basket into river and ran hard, but when he reached his grandfather the basket was again empty. Out of breath, he said, "See Grandpa, it's useless!"
    "So you think it is useless?" The old man said, "Look at the basket."
    The boy looked at the basket and for the first time realized that the basket was different. It had been transformed from a dirty old coal basket and was now clean, inside and out.
    Son, that's what happens when you read the Qur'an . You might not understand or remember everything, but when you read it, you will be changed, inside and out when you read time by time . That is the work of Allah in our lives.."
    The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh & his family) says: *"The one who guides to good will be rewarded equally"

    September 19, 2010 at 6:40 pm |
  6. Richard Mavers

    All you need for people to call your religion a "religion of peace" and for the mainstream to demand tolerance for your religion is to get 19 believers of your faith to fly planes into buildings full of innocent people. If the Scientologists did that tomorrow, we'd soon all be talking about how "Scientology is a religion of peace..."

    September 19, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  7. Janice

    I don't know that I'd go so far as to recommend building the Islamic center on Ground Zero, but hurray for Stephen Prothero and Michael Moore!

    September 18, 2010 at 10:16 pm |
  8. Spencer J. and Pamela T. Atkinson, PFTLD

    I heard something from Michael Moore today, 9-18-2010, that I keep hearing from people concerning the Qur'an. They keep saying how the Qur'an mentions Jesus as a messenger from God. This is only true about certain interpretations of the Qur'an. I guess Jesus should be grateful to be mentioned in some of the Qur'ans at all. I'm not writing this blog out of Islamaphobia or any type of bigotry or dislike for Muslims. I live with Muslims, I have friends that are Muslims. I'm writing this blog to let Muslims and so-called Christians know that true Christianity is based off the following scriptures. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 14:6 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: John 11:25 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. Revelation 1:8
    One can talk about turning the other cheek and loving thy enemy, (Matthew 5:39 – Matthew 5:43), but such concepts practiced without wisdom is obviously foolish; therefore, such cannot be used as a model for Christianity. To speak of Christianity without speaking of the above – John 14:6 – John 11:25 – Revelation 1:8 is not speaking of Christianity at all. I know this because of my unchallenged proof that I am the incarnate soul of Jesus of Nazareth, which versus all the religions and their unproven beliefs. I see Michael Moore as just another fat-rich man with many fans, but I, like 2000 years ago, seemingly stands alone, with only God on my side.

    September 18, 2010 at 7:24 pm |
    • peace2all

      @Spencer J. and Pamela T. Atkinson, PFTLD

      Your posting was a bit ...messy... (no offense). Was your whole post something that your are quoting Michael Moore directly...?

      Would you please get to the *point* of what you were/are trying to say...please....

      Just curious.....


      September 18, 2010 at 7:35 pm |
    • honestanon

      @ Spencer J. and Pamela T. Atkinson, PFTLD

      Please be aware that peace2all, Kasim, frogist, and a few others posting here are college kids just having fun. They've done nothing but agitate in these forums, and are best ignored. They are what is called on the internet – Trolls. Please do not 'feed' the trolls.

      September 18, 2010 at 8:57 pm |
  9. Knowing why

    Michael Moore is nothing but a capitolist American making money on shock jock topics. Burning the Quran topic is wrong ?... huh, he was the first to stand up and say burning the american flag is freedom of expression. So, whats the difference ? Watch him talk on Wolfe Blitzer's interview... nervous laughing, unrelated topics to support his agenda... hmmm who calls that spin ?

    September 18, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
  10. Laci


    i am asking the americans that believe in freedom and all man equal. where is ur free society when it comes to a mosque being built??? where is the equality? if u stand for those ideals then it shouldn't only surround you , it should surround everyone in the states and the world. stop fighting for ideals that u want for urself only. u will not win the war.

    We are not trying to win any war..we are using common sense! Who says we have to bow down under our freedoms here and allow every request that comes along, particularly when it is dangerous to do so? If this Imam wants a mosque so bad, why did he not come and ask to build one anywhere that was available? Why is he pushing so hard to do it there? I'll tell you why. They want to incite trouble and start a so called "holy war" with us on the grounds that we rejected thier "holy" religion, because we would not allow this. Hence, they come here and demand it be done there, or else, we will be angering the radicals back in thier homeland.
    Too bad for them, These people are NOT peaceful, and they need to give it up. I hope American people stick together on this one. I personally am sick and tired of this lot and thier constant pursuit of its thier way or the highway, so to speak.
    Get out of our country, if you can't respect the rights of the people here that don't want none of what your selling.
    If Imam really wants to show that they are so wanting to promote peace, let him make a healthy donation towards whatever the American people want there, and do it in the name of Islam. While he is at it, let him denounce pubically the part of the Quaran that is laced with nothing but violence. Ask him too, if h-o-m-o-s-e-x-u-a-l- people would be allowed in?
    iSquatters rights has to end. Stay in your own country and build a mosque, or better yet a church, and open it to all people, in the name of peace. Lets see how big that would fly.
    We are sharia compliant....yea, I don't' think so, bet he would love to get a foothold here so he could abuse our system of freedom to incorporate his wonderful Sharia law.

    September 18, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  11. RE:CatholicMom

    Kasim Al Jarid
    Actually, I never said I hated you, so don't put words in my mouth. Next, I didn't use any lies or scripture for any "argument", what the hell are you talking about? What "lies"? You say the person behind the avatar may not even exist...oh really? You are the one that needs to examine your brain cells and do research..there is usually a person behind an avatar...even if the avatar is fake, However, I don't think you have a brain, so that one you can forget about.
    Talk about being delusional.

    Under a thread that was about Catholic Church (probably in Belief) some short while back, I debated CatholicMom, and within that debate, I mention my leaving the Catholic Church. That was before this blog, so you would owe me an apology, if you want to "research it". But I don't need anything from you.

    Honestanton is right. You need to be ignored, you are obviously got some serious anger problems. Then again most kids do. Get some help. You jealousy is showing and giving away your cover.
    End of subject. End of discussion.

    September 17, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
    • honestanon

      One of the hardest things in life is not to feed into the taunts of an internet tr0II. As hard as it is to ignore them, you can only ID them as what they are... and let it fizzle out. They'll usually end up embarr-as-sing themselves in a flurry of entertaining nonsense, like Kasim did earlier with me. Or talking with each other, like "peace2all" and "Frogist" on some of these other web logs.

      To All... They're just not worth it.

      September 17, 2010 at 9:03 pm |
    • anonymous

      End of discussion. See? That wasn't so hard. Too bad it is beyond the abilities of "honestanon".

      September 18, 2010 at 6:10 am |
  12. neverforget

    @honestanon I agree with EVERYTHING you posted on this topic. You're one of the VERY FEW that makes any sense. I am not a hateful person by nature, but we have to use some common sense to protect ourselves. Not to mention show some respect to those who were murdered on 9/11. According to the Imam, if the Islamic Ctr is relocated we all will be in greater danger of an attack. Um, hellooo.....doesn't that statement just prove our point? Also, I have news for some of you: Ground Zero in NYC is not just where those two towers stood. The debris from the buildings spread for MANY, MANY blocks. The rubble that was hauled away from surrounding areas was then sifted through for body parts, etc. So yes, they should move that Islamic Center farther away.

    September 17, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
    • honestanon


      Thanks. Back at you. Here's some more food for thought..


      Tell me something... If 'radical' muslims are a fringe of all of islam, WHY DOES THIS MAN HAVE THREE MICROPHONES IN FRONT OF HIM? If I'm not mistaken the large blue one is Al Jazeera. And, notice the audience during the cutaway at 5:10... They don't look like a bunch of rag-tag, dusty, bedraggled jihadists... They look pretty spiffy... like a bunch of middle eastern businessmen....

      Can't say this strikes me as 'fringe' anything.... Looks more like mainstream... something.

      The more I research this, the more concerned I become.


      September 17, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
  13. macpowell3d

    @ freedomwatch: freedom 2 hurt urself????? y must d mosque b at a strategic site. y nt some oda spot. we shud be talkin of a church near kaaba in mecca 1st. i'd rather loose my life than continue wit this religion called Islam. y nt muslim
    @ honestanon 10x 4 ur encouragement. 'll be alryt

    September 16, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
    • honestanon


      September 16, 2010 at 8:42 pm |
  14. freedomwatch

    i am asking the americans that believe in freedom and all man equal. where is ur free society when it comes to a mosque being built??? where is the equality? if u stand for those ideals then it shouldn't only surround you , it should surround everyone in the states and the world. stop fighting for ideals that u want for urself only. u will not win the war.

    September 16, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
    • honestanon

      Here's the problem with (our) logical Western thinking. We see people as equals (at least the 'enlightened' among us).
      islam does not. They didn't 2,000 years ago, and apparently still do not. It would be so easy to take advantage of our modernist philosophies, our value for civil rights, and our 'free' society (argue about 'free' as you like.)

      Then they will come, multiply, and agitate and destroy. Consider Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway. Do the research. Look at the Swedish news feed posted earlier in this string. Base your judgment upon their behavior, not their words.

      Then make your informed decision.

      September 16, 2010 at 7:15 pm |
    • honestanon

      Add France, Ireland, Spain – Rail Bombings, and England – Subway Bombings.

      September 16, 2010 at 7:17 pm |
  15. Remark

    I think to many people in this posting are a bit paranoid and seem to be somewhat of conspirary theorists.

    Maybe some of your comments get removed because you spew hate.

    September 16, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
    • honestanon

      Or questions that CNN really doesn't want asked or answered..

      Mr. Rauf,

      How is it that you have advanced degrees from (Columbia and Stevens) in particle physics, however you have never worked in any aspect of the field of particle physics?

      And, by the way, answer this one while you're at it..

      Do you denounce terrorism,. including the acts of 9/11, as being against the law of the koran?

      September 16, 2010 at 6:56 pm |
    • honestanon


      PLASMA Physics.

      Even more concerning..

      September 16, 2010 at 7:01 pm |
  16. Paul


    September 16, 2010 at 4:29 pm |
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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.