March 22nd, 2011
02:25 PM ET

Time: Did Poles profit off Jews during the Holocaust?

At first glance, it seems like an ordinary, innocent photograph: a group of Polish peasants holding shovels in a field on a sunny day. But look closer and you see the skulls and bones scattered at their feet.

According to some historians, the photo was taken at the site of the Treblinka death camp in eastern Poland shortly after World War II and shows the peasants digging up Jewish remains in search of gold or other valuables. When it ran alongside a 2008 newspaper feature about Poland's postwar era, most readers didn't take much notice.

But when historian Jan Tomasz Gross saw the photo, he was moved to write Golden Harvest, a controversial new book in which he argues that many Poles enriched themselves during the war by exploiting Jews, from plundering mass graves to ferreting out Jews in hiding for reward. In the book's introduction, Gross recalls how the photo made a big impression on him. "I could not understand why it passed without echo among the [newspaper's] readers," he writes.

Read the full story on TIME.com
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Holocaust • Judaism • Poland

150,000 people pressure Apple to shut down 'Gay Cure' app
March 22nd, 2011
02:13 PM ET

150,000 people pressure Apple to shut down 'Gay Cure' app

More than 150,000 people have signed an online petition calling for Apple to remove an app from the iTunes store that was created by a Christian organization they say is anti-gay.

Exodus International, which according to its website has ministries that "provide support for individuals who want to recover from homosexuality," released the app on February 15.

[UPDATE 11 a.m. ET Wednesday: Apple has pulled the app from its online store.]

The app has a 4+ approval rating from the Apple app store, and the organization is quick to point out that this rating is reserved for those apps that "contain no objectionable material."

Gay rights activists obviously disagree.

"No objectionable content? We beg to differ," reads the Change.org petition that was started by non-profit LBGT advocacy organization Truth Wins Out. "Exodus' message is hateful and bigoted. They claim to offer 'freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ' and use scare tactics, misinformation, stereotypes and distortions of LGBT life to recruit clients."

Read the full story
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture wars • Homosexuality • Technology

March 22nd, 2011
02:03 PM ET

Victoria Jackson blasts ‘Glee,’ gays while waving Bible

Former "SNL" star Victoria Jackson explains her column criticizing the gay kiss depicted on "Glee."

Watch the video above and read more about it on CNN's Marquee Blog.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Homosexuality • Prejudice

March 22nd, 2011
12:53 PM ET

Pole dancing for Jesus in Texas?

From CNN Houston affiliate KTRK

In the quaint turn-of-the-century community called Old Town Spring, Texas, where Victorian style shops line the streets, one business stands out - pole fitness for Jesus. There's no preaching, just teaching.

Set to Christian music, church-going women spin and slither around poles. But the instructor and the students say it's not about sex.

"This is my second class," student Tiffany Booth said.

For them, this is about getting closer to God.

"God gives us these bodies and they are suppose to be our temples and we are suppose to take care of them and that's what we are doing," instructor Crystal Dean said

Booth was raised in church. Now, the pole is her temple.

Read the full story about the Christian pole dancing class at KTRK.com
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christian Science • Culture wars • Texas

My Take: Japanese new religions' big role in disaster response
Volunteers carry boxes of food supplies to a distribution center in Iwate prefecture.
March 22nd, 2011
09:18 AM ET

My Take: Japanese new religions' big role in disaster response

Editor's Note: Barbara Ambros is associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, president of the Society for the Study of Japanese Religions and author of "Emplacing a Pilgrimage: The Oyama Cult and Regional Religion in Early Modern Japan."

By Barbara Ambros, Special to CNN

Devastating images of human suffering have been pouring in from Japan for over a week now and many of us have wanted to help. When news reports showed store shelves in Tokyo were emptying, I felt the irrational urge to mail necessities like rice, toilet paper and batteries to relatives and friends there.

Ultimately, I knew that by the time my care packages would reach Tokyo, store shelves would have been restocked. An organized relief effort requires pre-existing networks. After the Kobe earthquake in 1995, yakuza - Japan’s organized crime cartels - efficiently distributed food and water.

Since this month’s earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, other types of organized aid networks have also largely been neglected by the news media, including the Japanese news: those managed by religious organizations.

These charitable efforts include more than traditional Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines that many rightly associate with Japan. The thriving Japanese religious landscape is much more diverse than most outsiders realize, with many so-called new religious movements, in addition to Christian churches and Islamic centers.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Asia • Buddhism • Japan • 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.