October 23rd, 2010
06:00 AM ET

My Take: Love is the answer to bullying

Editor's Note: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Karen Kingsbury is America’s No. 1 inspirational novelist. Dubbed the Queen of Christian Fiction by Time Magazine, Karen has written more than 50 of her Life-Changing Fiction ™ titles and has nearly 20 million copies in print.

By Karen Kingsbury, Special to CNN

Can you see him?

The figure of a lonely kid straggling down the hallway, hunched over, hiding behind the bulk of his backpack. Hair in his eyes. He passes the jocks, the cool kids, and someone spots his flute case, the one tucked under his arm.

“Look at him,” one of the guys sneers. “Here comes the flute player!”

A round of cruel laughter ricochets down the hallway. “Flute player?” another guy makes a face. He jabs his friend in the shoulder. “You know what I hear? Flute players are queer.”

The lonely boy moves a little faster, willing himself to disappear. You can do this . . . just get past them . . . get to class.

“Hey wimp!” The shout comes from the biggest one. “Where you going? Lookin for another flute player?”

From the opposite direction, four pretty girls walk together. They start to giggle, stopping to bat their eyes at the big-shouldered boys. In unison they turn and scowl at the shadowy figure, the outcast. The flute player.

I see him.

I named him Michael Schwartz in my novel Unlocked that releases October 12 – in the midst of National Bullying Prevention Month. Unlocked is about autism, and the miraculous power of friendship. Michael is not a major character in my book and he would not be a major character in life.

Kids that are bullied never are. Not until they become a statistic, a headline in a newspaper, a reason to shake our heads and wonder what in the world we are doing wrong if our kids are jumping off bridges and hanging themselves and putting guns to their heads instead of facing their reality.

Michael was a nice kid. Split his time between his divorced parents’ houses, played flute for the school orchestra, did his homework, kept to himself. Kids at school knew Michael was being bullied, but they did nothing. They said nothing. Better to laugh along with the bullies than have them turn on you.

Bullying is epidemic today.

Insecure loud-mouth kids willing to get attention at the expense of someone else – someone different, an easy target. In today’s social media-centric world, bullying has advanced far beyond mocking in the hallways or being left out in the lunchroom. Today it lives in a cyber world. It’s a live-video feed on Twitter or a text message spread like a bad virus among a teen generation whose prurient interest knows no bounds.

As Michael came to life, I read case studies and watched Youtube clips on kids who didn’t make it out of their bullying nightmare. I checked out the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources page on bullying and found thoughtful messages.

Carefully crafted cartoon webisodes and tipsheets and PSA’s for kids who are victims and their often helpless parents. Lend a hand . . . take a stand. Tenets our kids would do well to adopt.

But still, very clearly, something is missing.

In a culture saturated with graphic imagery and sensory overload, and set against a political and entertainment arena that has consistently devalued life and faith, it seems our youth have reached a chilling conclusion – a mantra no public service announcement can quickly fix.

Very simply, our kids don’t care.

The answer is one you won’t find on any of the anti-bullying websites. For me the answer is love … it’s been the answer all along and it comes from the teachings of Jesus Christ. Jesus taught us to love one another . . . to consider others better than ourselves. The greatest commandment, He said, is to love.

It’s trite and clichéd at this point in the discussion to cast aspersions at the church, accusing believers of being intolerant and the general cause of all meanness. Exceptions exist, but I live and work and move among people who claim faith in Christ, and I can tell you this:

For the most part, they know how to love.

They accept weaknesses and imperfections in themselves and others, and allow an overriding dose of God’s love to define them and their purpose. The command of Jesus to love one another is needed more today than ever. Love one another as I have loved you, Jesus said. And so we should.

Michael Schwartz lived only in the pages of Unlocked. He lived there and he died there because no one at his high school cared enough to love him. It’s time to live out our faith, the faith this nation was founded on.

Maybe in an era where kids are dying for lack of love, we might together revere a God who taught us this simple truth.

Love one another. For now these three remain . . . faith, hope, and love.

But the greatest of these is love.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Karen Kingsbury.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Culture & Science • Opinion

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soundoff (163 Responses)
  1. Toni

    This is such a problem, not only as teenagers, but some grow up to still bully as adults. Karens book really hit home and made us all realize that we all long for acceptance and understanding for who we are, reagardless of what we stand for. We are all humans and long for liove and the ability to love as we want to.

    October 23, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  2. The Kids Mom

    I for one agree with Ms Kingsbury. If everyone was taught love from the beginning of their lives we would not have all the bullying. The issue is and always has been that the parents of these bullies were probably never show the love either. It's hard to break the cycle. If you are so against what Karen is saying then you are most likely one of those people who have never had enough love in your life.
    Karen's books are awesome... have you read any of them? I haven't read all of them, "Unlocked" being one I've not read. But everytime I pick up one of her books I feel an over powering of God's presence in my life and know I need to get out there and be there for someone who is looking for "love". Karen is spreading a wonderful message with her fiction books. They may be based on pure ficticious charaters, but they offer a powerful message to anyone who reads them. I can see ANY of the scenario's actually happening right outside the walls of any of our homes.... in our schools, to our neigbors or maybe even in our own backyard.
    Wake up America... and share some love as Christ has done!

    October 23, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  3. Kath

    I agree with Karen, Love is the answer – Surely as love was the answer for our salvation so love will be the answer for bullying or any other problem we face in this life – as one comment said God is Love!!

    October 23, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
  4. GodReigns

    I was bullied as a kid. I was a gifted, intelligent, musical, socially awkward, and often misunderstood child. I was a late bloomer. I wanted to enjoy my childhood long after it was socially acceptable to do so. I had no interest in growing up before my time, and because the majority of the kids "who mattered" thought I was a babyish nerd, I spent a lot of time alone, shuffled despondently to my classes, wrote powerful poetry, cried myself to sleep, and doubted my worth. When opportunities arose for companionship, I fought hard for my friendships and cherished them. However, these opportunities were few and far between, because kids were so focused on the importance of fitting into a mold. Those who didn't fit were pushed out. It wasn't until I truly discovered the unconditional love of Jesus Christ that I began to think that I was OK. Not just OK–that I was beautiful, that I was a priceless treasure and the apple of my Savior's eye. Jesus didn't measure my worth on what I wore, what I said, or who my friends were. My Creator made me this way for a reason, and He doesn't make mistakes. Today, I still struggle with my self-esteem sometimes, but I know that the One who gave me life–both earthly and eternal–is the only one who matters. I am a beautiful, vibrant, 30-something teacher now, and I strive every day to show God's love to my students and anyone I come in contact with. I don't believe in revenge or suicide; I believe in love. Karen, thank you for sharing the power God's love has on bullying victims. I shudder at the thought of what I might have done and how I would have handled my victimization if it were not for God's unconditional love and mercy. Jesus Christ saved me from my tormentors. He truly is mighty to save–and He empowers me to love others as He has loved me.

    October 23, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
    • Jennifer

      Powerful example... Thank you!

      October 23, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
  5. JZimmerman

    "The command of Jesus to love one another is needed more today than ever. Love one another as I have loved you, Jesus said. And so we should." How sad that this and Karen's blog are controversial. Its a simple and powerful message, and the world would only be better for following it.

    October 23, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  6. Pamela

    I love Karen Kingsbury books. I read her blogs on FB and I know that she has a true love for God and wants to point other people to God. She does not cast judgement on others or make herself holier than thou. I am thankful for people like her who are real and honest. Don't be critical of her if you have never read her books or especially if you have never met the Lord she serves – and the One I serve too.
    Thank you, Karen, for such a poignant and honest view of bullying.

    October 23, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  7. Fan

    As an avid reader of Karen Kingsbury's books, I can tell those of you that doubt her intentions, that her books are inspirational and encourage treating everyone with dignity and respect. Her characters tend to have a faith in God and they use their lives to better the lives of others. I don't think this can be seen in a bad way at all. Wouldn't it be a wonderful world to live in if everyone treated others with respect?
    My faith in God inspires me to try to be a better person and do everything I can for others who may not be as fortunate as I am. I, as well as most Christians would not treat others the way David has noted above, as this is not a christian thing to do.

    October 23, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
  8. Lori

    Jesus is true love and light. No follower of Christ is perfect. Jesus came for the sick not those who didn't need a doctor. True Christians, those who truly love Jesus and want to follow his command to love, are all in various stages of imperfection so look at Jesus. You will not be able to find any fault in him. So Karen Kingsbury is pointing us to Jesus and His example. Not the sorry failures of His church or the "christians" who really are in name only. Hope is only found in Jesus. Jesus noticed and notices the unnoticable! He sees all of us. His followers are commanded to love and to be His hands and feet. Those who truly love Jesus need to wake up and do as He truly would have done while walking the earth. Love EVERYONE> Even those who hate us. Especially those who hate us. Jesus said to love one another. Non judge one another. I wish I could apologize for every Christian who professes hate. They are wolves in sheeps clothing and make us all look even worse than we already are. I'm a sinner but Jesus loves me and has saved me anyway. He does this for anyone willing to trust in Him. Not the church. People will fail you but He NEVER will.

    October 23, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
    • Saved 1980

      Don't believe I could've said it better myself Lori, and is something good for all of us to hear every now and then. It's hard sometimes to remember to love the individual even though we have to stand against their ways. But if we don't pray and let our light shine, where is their hope for forgiveness and salvation? We need to love them, but not forget to reach out and offer them an opportunity to a better way, without alienating them or forcing our ways down their throats, even though that's what we've been receiving.

      October 25, 2010 at 10:21 pm |
  9. A Friend

    Why are you pointing fingers and making accusations when there is a bigger problem needing to be addressed, which Karen Kingsbury is earnestly addressing in her commentary and book...we need to show love and respect to everyone regardless of their interests, backgrounds, looks, etc. Look at the horrifying surge of recent suicides caused by bullying...it's a serious issue that requires every possible method of outreach...which is precisely what the teachings of Jesus Christ portray and what I hope all people would grasp and make a part of their lives.

    October 23, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  10. Megan

    Just because some people you have met that claim to be Christians have acted in ways that are not ways God and Jesus would necessarily smile upon does not mean that all Christians are like that. I myself am a Christian and I try incredibly hard not to judge people because of their decisions. It isn't my place, but in the same breath it isn't the place of anybody else to tell the world that Christianity is fiction (because it's not). Christianity is a far more loving route than many of the others I could mention but we are all human. Every single person on this earth is human, and if they claim not to be human with the same faults as the rest of us then they are simply liars and delusional. Yes, it is wrong to bible bash people, to frighten a five year old because they feel like they can is incredibly wrong, but to tar an entire religion based on what a few people have said and done is even worse. People are people and they make mistakes, whether they are Christian, Jewish or Muslim or any other religion they are human and to me, reading that Christianity is "fiction" makes me sad, simply because I don't go around proclaiming that others aren't allowed to believe what they want to believe. Would I prefer to know that my friends believe in the same God as I do? Sure. But I'm not going to try forcing anybody into anything. Jesus and God are the way to heaven. But I don't happen to believe just because somebody doesn't acknowledge that they're going to be shut out even if they are a good person. God is a loving heavenly father after all.

    October 23, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
    • Robin

      Agreed with you right up to the end. Being a good person won't save anyone, only Christ can. You're right that God is a loving Father, that's why he won't force anyone who has rejected Him to be with Him for eternity.
      John 14:6 - I am THE way, THE truth, and THE life. NO ONE comes to the Father except through Me.
      Ephesians 2:8-9 - For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

      October 23, 2010 at 4:13 pm |
  11. *Marilla

    Love conquers all!
    Amazing article, thank you 🙂

    October 23, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  12. Jennifer

    True words Karen. Thank you for sharing!

    October 23, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  13. nita

    The time has come to accept people as they are, no matter who they are and love them as Jesus loved us. Our society has chosen to become a me first culture that has brought many more problems along with that mentality. How easy is it to follow Jesus in loving others as ourselves, and doing for "the least" as he did.

    October 23, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  14. Monty

    Karen Kingsbury is exactly correct. Kudos to her for allowing her faith to dictate and determine her opinion on such a terrible issue in our society today. Love is the answer and God is love...

    October 23, 2010 at 3:46 pm |
    • nita

      I am sorry that you experienced that. As a Christian, I find that appalling and selfish. While I want to tell everyone about Jesus, I think there is a time and place, and frankly my actions often speak louder than words. As with any group Christians have different ideas and ways to get their point across, many I don't agree with. I like to think that planting seeds with actions and words when appropriate are much better ways to get my point across. I pray that your next experience with a Christian will be a much more loving one.

      October 23, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
  15. C Lippincott

    If we would learn to let Christ's love flow through us, it we be authentic and contagious!

    October 23, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
    • TheVancouverMan

      And what if we don't want Christ's love?
      Will I go to hell?

      December 3, 2010 at 8:21 am |
  16. Sum Dude

    The author is assuming everyone is going to "cast aspersions" at "the church", whatever that means...!
    She sounds like many of the blind ones who like to misrepresent what others are doing in order to make herself look like a helpless victim when she is no such thing.
    Arrogance and other causes of bullying are not automatically "church-generated", and she is little better than a religi-troll to suggest otherwise.
    She is so obviously clueless it is amazing that CNN ever wanted her article, but then we've seen this sort of thing before – talentless and clueless authors seeking self-promotion – and probably paying $$ for the opportunity.
    CNN is part "vanity press" I guess....

    October 23, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
    • nita


      I am sorry that you experienced that. As a Christian, I find that appalling and selfish. While I want to tell everyone about Jesus, I think there is a time and place, and frankly my actions often speak louder than words. As with any group Christians have different ideas and ways to get their point across, many I don't agree with. I like to think that planting seeds with actions and words when appropriate are much better ways to get my point across. I pray that your next experience with a Christian will be a much more loving one

      October 23, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      To pray for an almost-sure-thing is an exercise in wasting your time.
      Try praying for something more useful or do something besides trolling if you want to impress me.
      But thank you for trying. Actions often speak louder than words.
      I am so sorry to hear that you are subject to delusional thinking and wish you the very best in clear thinking and perception.

      October 24, 2010 at 5:51 am |
  17. Reality

    One more time:

    Bullies are not born!!! They are "educated" at home. It is parents who need sensitivity training and current parents of bullies need to be fined or jailed depending on the nature of their offsprings' transgressions. And it would help if all TV shows, websites, newspapers, blogs, journals and the author of 20 million books of Christian fiction (isn't most of Christianity, fiction??) would have "DO NO HARM" emblazoned on all their front/opening pages.

    October 23, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
  18. David Johnson

    So, this article was an advertisement for her new book?

    Ms. Kingsbury said, "It’s trite and clichéd at this point in the discussion to cast aspersions at the church, accusing believers of being intolerant and the general cause of all meanness. Exceptions exist, but I live and work and move among people who claim faith in Christ, and I can tell you this:
    For the most part, they know how to love.
    They accept weaknesses and imperfections in themselves and others, and allow an overriding dose of God’s love to define them and their purpose. The command of Jesus to love one another is needed more today than ever. Love one another as I have loved you, Jesus said. And so we should."

    Hmm...The Christians she knows, must not be the same ones that post their comments on these blogs. LOL

    Once when my daughter was about 5, my wife and I took her to the park. There was a group of born again Christians, sitting at a distant table. Almost immediately, the group's children came running to us, demanding to know if we were "saved". The children would alternately chant how we were going to meet a fiery fate and run back to their parents for further instructions.

    They were like children of the corn.

    When we ignored them, they began blocking the swings and other playground equipment, so my daughter could not use them. My daughter was frightened.

    I went and asked the parents, to please control their kids and allow my daughter to use the public park.

    My request was met with: "Does the word of God offend you?" ; "Our kids are only trying to save you and your daughter from hell.; "Jesus saves!"; "Jesus loves you!".

    Wasn't this group of born again evangelical Christians bullying us? Weren't they teaching their kids to be bullies?

    What if a gay couple had been in the park? Would they have set upon them, while Jesus smiled approvingly from Heaven?

    I bet they would have.

    Happy Trails!

    October 23, 2010 at 10:53 am |
    • God is Love

      I've read several of the comments left, the positive and the negative and I believe that just like Karen says we should just love one another and maybe that won't solve all the problems but it would be a start.

      October 23, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
    • Barbara Denny

      Mr. Johnson, I'm overwhelmed by sorrow at your experience with "Christians". But I would ask you to give us another chance to demonstrate God's love to you and your family. There are many miss-guided people in this world and they do way more harm than good in their attempts to"help" people. We, as Christians, need to do a much better job of showing love to others. We are not to be judgmental or are we to be obnoxious. As Mrs. Kingsbury wrote in her comments, we are to show Christ's love to others and we all know what kind of love that is: sacrificial love, the kind of love that reaches out to people and shows them that God loves them and that He has a purpose for their lives. Our purpose is to encourage and be a friend to the sad and lonely in this world and to share the love of God to all who will listen, but not try to force our beliefs on anyone.

      October 23, 2010 at 4:14 pm |
    • Sandra

      Mr. Johnson,

      I, too, am a "born again Christian." But I, too, am offended by the behavior you and your family experienced at the park. Sadly, Christians are not perfect. Some profess to be Christians, but use religion to promote their own agenda. Christians bear the honor and the responsibility of wearing the name of Christ–"Christians." The people you met in the park did much more harm than good for the cause of Christ. I can't imagine that anyone who met this family would have responded positively to their behavior. We, as Christians, are charged with doing our best to act like Jesus. Had you met someone that acted like Jesus in the park, you would have left with a vastly different opinion of Christianity. The bible says in Proverbs, "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city; and their contentions are like the bars of a castle."

      Please accept my apology for the way you and your family were treated. And, please, don't base your opinion of Christians on this family alone–for they failed miserably. I pray you have an opportunity to meet a real Christian, or that you will read in the Bible about Christ, and how He lived His life. May your family be blessed.

      October 23, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
    • mary

      I am sorry that happened to you in the park. There are extremist Christians just like there are extremists in other religions, it's not right and it's not what Jesus taught. I hope you will meet better examples of Christians in the future, those that are kind and those that love, because it doesn't matter what religion we are or if we have one, our world won't survive without love.

      October 23, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
    • Shelly

      That is a truly horrible story & one I know happens all too often. I agree completely with you that you & your children were bullied that day. The God I serve & the people I love would NOT approve of the behavior of those "Christians." So sorry that happened to you and your family!

      October 23, 2010 at 4:41 pm |
    • Charmaine

      I find what happened to you and your family absolutely disgusting. Unfortunately, I would not classify those 'born again Christians' as Christians at all. If we who are Christians could do as Karen Kingsbury shared, simply share the Love of Christ, we truly would live in a better world. However, Christians are human and humans make mistakes. If these people you encountered were truly Christians, I can only pray that they will learn that what they were doing would never bring others to want to be a Christian. I know I would be turned off.

      Loving others as we want to be loved would surely change our world and rid the world of bullying. I pray that you and your family will be brought into contact with a Christian who can show what it truly means to follow Jesus. What you experienced was not the love of Jesus.

      October 23, 2010 at 7:04 pm |
    • Deanna Chupp

      Your post made me feel so sad....that is NOT true Christianity. A true christian will not "shove" their faith down your "throat". I pray my life and how I speak and act will portray Christ. Sure, IF the opportunity wud arrise, I wud share my faith, but I wud NOT force it on u. Praying u will someday meet a believer that loves u as Christ wud.

      October 23, 2010 at 7:58 pm |
    • tagnga

      @ David Johnson;
      You wrote; “Wasn't this group of born again evangelical Christians bullying us? Weren't they teaching their kids to be bullies?” Those were not the actions of true Christians and they did sound like “Children of the Corn”. Christians should not be judgmental, but how is your apparent disgust for Christianity any different – You’re doing the same thing in allot of your posts, as what you accuse Christians of doing- being judgmental, critical and intolerant.

      Just like an animal preparing to attack its prey, bullies look for those, they view as weak. They live in environments where they see no compassion, consideration or respect for others. Children, who grow up in families where love, faith and hope are the top priorities, are not usually bullies or bothered with bulling. True Christians are not obsessed with peer approval. It doesn’t really matter what the world “thinks” of them because they realize they have the eternal love of God within them.

      October 23, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      Once again the "no true Scotsman" argument.
      When are you religious nuts going to get it through your thick heads that you are following WORDS instead of being realistic about things?
      Follow orders subject to a million different interpretations and selective observance, or do the best you can? The choice seems pretty clear to me, but who has the time to sort these things out?
      So many are deliberately distracted from dealing with the hard questions, as they tend to be detrimental to the status quo.

      October 24, 2010 at 5:46 am |
  19. TheRationale

    If you open a history book, you'll find that Christianity is one of the last solutions to any problem, or any source of love.

    October 23, 2010 at 10:52 am |
    • Jean Armatti

      That's why our country and children are such a mess. We could turn this country and the fate of our children around if we would start with Gods love. Why is it the easiest answer to our problems are right in the Bible but ignored? What a shame.

      October 23, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
    • TheRationale

      @ Jean
      No, you didn't get my point. Christianity has been the source of so much destruction, hate, and horrible ideas that we'd be foolish to think it is somehow useful now. Just look at the Bible. You know how many people God says you're supposed to be killing right now? The world has improved in spite of religions like Christianity, not because of it. Far from it. Very, very far from it.

      October 24, 2010 at 12:15 am |
    • Ben

      does teen suicide, increased death rate, increased violence, and wars improvement? if thats wat u call improvement, u need help

      October 24, 2010 at 9:02 pm |
    • jerry

      realy if you accualy read the BIBLE you will see other wise

      October 25, 2010 at 9:21 am |
  20. IDA LANG

    Religiös är sinnessjuk att tvinga hunden att tro finns Gud,det är allvarlig galenskap,varför?????Tillåter aldrig uppviglar folk att förtroende fruktansvärt bluff jag vet finns inte gud,du glömde vatikanen är pedofilia,jag önskar hela tiden alla kyrkan och vatikanen ta borta folk behöver bostad än kyrkan.Det är i onödan gjorde,jag glömmer aldrig barnsdomen att min mormor galen min mamma också galen för att 2 sifor har.STACKARS HUND TVINGA TRO,DET ÄR DJUR VAD VILLE AV HUNDEN???!!ALLVARLIG GALENSKAP,SINNESSJUKA,HJÄRNSPÖKE,FÖRBRYTELSE OCH KRIMINELLT!!!

    October 23, 2010 at 6:42 am |
    • Sum Dude

      @IDA LANG
      I pretty much agree....but your words would be easier to read in English. 🙂

      October 23, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @IDA LANG

      Would love to read an english translation...


      October 23, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
    • honestanon

      Swedish to English translation (or at least the best that google translator could do...)

      Religious is insane to force the dog to believe there is God, there is serious madness, why ????? Does not incite people to trust terrible scam I know there is no god, you forgot the vatican is pedophilia, I wish all the time all the church and the vatican take away people in need of housing than kyrkan.Det is unnecessarily made, I will never forget the childhood that my grandmother crazy my mom too crazy for two sifor har.STACKARS DOG FORCE FAITH, IT'S ANIMAL WHAT WOULD THE DOG SERIOUS ???!! MADNESS, MENTAL ILLNESS, CHIMERA, criminals and criminal!

      October 23, 2010 at 6:27 pm |
    • Peace2All



      October 23, 2010 at 6:35 pm |
    • Supremo Lagarto

      A six foot teenager physically assaulted a 60+ year old teacher. It was certainly not because she was forcing her religious beliefs on anyone. It was because he was a big, dumb, bully and should be thrown in jail. The other students were cowards for not standing up to him.

      October 27, 2010 at 5:42 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.