September 22nd, 2010
11:05 PM ET

"Rock of Ages," other hymns get modern twist

Heather Payne left the group Point of Grace in 2008 to devote her time to being a mom of four

The next time you hear "Rock of Ages" on Christian radio you might not recognize it.

The 2010 version is definitely a lot different than the 1775 version.

Heather Payne's adaptation has a decidedly pop feel to it, with a driving drumbeat and electric guitar lead. She said she also tweaked the arrangement, making one of the verses into a chorus.

"I love how it turned out," she said by phone recently from her home in Louisville, Kentucky.

"Rock of Ages" is the initial single off Payne's first solo album "Sweet Exchange," which released Tuesday. The former Point of Grace singer said that she wanted to bring some of her favorite hymns into a new era and give them a "more modern feel."


- Producer/Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Music

September 22nd, 2010
03:00 PM ET

Third lawsuit filed against Atlanta pastor Eddie Long

A third suit alleging sexual relationships with young men was filed against Pastor Eddie Long on Wednesday.

A third lawsuit has been filed against Atlanta-based megachurch pastor Eddie Long, alleging coercion, deception and manipulation that involved a sexual relationship with a young male, CNN has learned.

Through a spokesman earlier on Tuesday, Long denied similar allegations in two other lawsuits filed over the past two days.

"We categorically deny the allegations," he said. "It is very unfortunate that someone has taken this course of action. Our law firm will be able to respond once attorneys have had an opportunity to review the lawsuit."

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Georgia • Homosexuality • Leaders • Pastors • Scandal • Sex abuse

Wiccan: GOP candidate's witchcraft dabbling a teachable moment
September 22nd, 2010
11:05 AM ET

Wiccan: GOP candidate's witchcraft dabbling a teachable moment

The high priestess followed the media coverage this weekend and grew concerned.

Not only had a woman running for the U.S. Senate once lumped witchcraft with Satanism, a horrible insult in and of itself, but she also went on to distance herself from that earlier statement by calling those who practice witchcraft “questionable folks.”

Once again, the Rev. Selena Fox realized, it would be up to her and other Pagans to educate.

“It’s an opportunity to get some correct information out there. That’s how I see it,” says Fox, who is the high priestess and senior minister of Circle Sanctuary, a Wiccan church near Barneveld, Wisconsin, that serves Pagans worldwide. “There’s comedy about it, hot debate about it, lots of pundits weighing in. But one of the things that really hasn’t gotten through is how ridicule and defamation can harm people.”


- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Paganism • Politics • Religious liberty

September 22nd, 2010
10:18 AM ET

Spokesman: Atlanta pastor is target of retaliation, shakedown

Allegations that a prominent Atlanta pastor coerced two young male church members and employees into sex are "a case of retaliation and a shakedown for money by men with some serious credibility issues," the pastor's spokesman told CNN Wednesday.

Pastor Eddie Long "categorically and adamantly denies these allegations," said spokesman Art Franklin. "There's been a lot of chatter since yesterday, but these complaints that have been filed are definitely without merit."

Lawsuits filed Tuesday in DeKalb County, Georgia, allege that Long used his position as a spiritual authority and bishop to coerce young male members and employees of his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church into sex. CNN was the first to report on the lawsuits.

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Georgia • Leaders • Pastors • Scandal • Sex abuse • United States

September 22nd, 2010
09:37 AM ET

Accused pastor crusaded against homosexuals

Editor's note: CNN's John Blake first covered Bishop Eddie Long as a religion reporter for the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

As Bishop Eddie Long poked through a salad in his church office one summer day in 1999, he shot a weary look at a person ticking off his ministry's successes.

His Atlanta megachurch had already reached 25,000 members. He had been invited to the White House, built a global television ministry and drove around town in a $350,000 Bentley.

But Long told the visitor who had come to write about him that the pressures of being a high-profile pastor could be brutal.

"You don't want any of this," he said in a raspy baritone as he shook his head. "You don't want any of this ..."

Long didn't get more specific about those pressures.

Read the full story

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Church • Georgia • Homosexuality • Leaders • Pastors • Scandal • United States

September 22nd, 2010
09:25 AM ET

Exclusive: Bishop Long's rep: Abuse claims 'without merit'

Two men have filed suit claiming that prominent Atlanta pastor Eddie Long used his position as a spiritual authority and bishop to coerce young males at his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church into sex. The church is denying the allegations.

Art Franklin, the spokesperson for Bishop Long, talked to American Morning's Kiran Chetry and John Roberts exclusively about the allegations.

Art Franklin: Good morning, Kiran and John. How are you guys?

Kiran Chetry: Great, thank you. Disturbing allegations for sure from two men who tell our Ed Lavandera they have texts and e-mail that is will corroborate their story. What is Bishop Long's side?

Franklin: I want to be clear from our perspective. There's been a lot of chatter since yesterday. But these complaints that have been filed against Bishop Long are definitely without merit and as we swiftly stated yesterday upon learning of the accusations, and as you said, Bishop Long categorically and adamantly denies the allegations and there's really unfortunate that the men gone down the road, taken this course of action against someone who helped them like numerous individuals and families in tough situations.

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Georgia • Pastors • Scandal • Sex abuse • United States

September 22nd, 2010
07:00 AM ET

My Take: Reviewing Deepak Chopra’s book ‘Muhammad’

Editor's note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and legal fellow for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington.

By Arsalan Iftikhar, Special to CNN

It was nearly one year ago - in November 2009 - that Deepak Chopra first told me about his upcoming historical fiction novel about the Prophet Muhammad. It was during a coffee meeting of ours at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington right before Deepak's attendance at President Obama’s first official state dinner at the White House.

Deepak mentioned that his latest fictional novel was part of his desire to complete a "religious trilogy" of such books. He'd previously written about Jesus and Buddha.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Books • Buddhism • Christianity • Culture & Science • Islam • Opinion

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.