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March 29th, 2011
03:15 PM ET

Judge's sentence involving Christian book causes controversy

A new judge in Texas is trying to find a new way to punish criminals, but one of his ideas, involving a book report, is drawing fire.

Judge John Clinton took the bench in January. The retired Houston Police Department sergeant presides over Harris County Criminal Court No. 4.

“I felt it as a calling,” said Clinton. “I’m just trying to think outside the box. Trying to mold the punishment to help these individuals, instead of set them up to fail.”

That’s what Clinton says he was doing last week when he offered nine defendants a unique opportunity in place of community service. He asked them to read the book “The Heart of the Problem” and then come back in a few months and talk with him about the book.

“The Heart of the Problem” is a Bible study that touts itself as a workbook that provides insights for victorious Christian living. The suggestion didn’t sit well with some attorneys who say the judge is violating the constitution.

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

Filed under: Church and state

'10 Commandments' judge explores presidential bid
March 29th, 2011
02:51 PM ET

'10 Commandments' judge explores presidential bid

Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who garnered attention and lost his job after building a Ten Commandments monument outside Alabama's judicial building, is considering seeking the Republican presidential nomination, his top aide confirmed to CNN.

Moore plans to announce in mid-April that he is setting up a presidential exploratory committee, the aide, Zachery Michael told CNN.

Moore will potentially seek the nomination because "we've seen the same type of politician running for president – the elitist type," Michael said. "What sets him a part is he can connect to all Americans and has an idea of what Americans are going through. We are seeing the same types of people run and we aren't getting anywhere."

Read the full story about Alabama judge Roy Moore's plans to seek the GOP nomination
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Politics

TIME: The remains of Jim Bakker's former ministry
Light fixtures that were part of the Heritage USA complex are piled near a stained glass window.
March 29th, 2011
02:28 PM ET

TIME: The remains of Jim Bakker's former ministry

In March of 1987, almost twenty-four years ago, pastor Jim Bakker resigned from PTL (Praise the Lord), a ministry he built from the ground up that later inspired a cable TV show, a 501-room luxury hotel, an amusement park and an amphitheater. Andy McMillan’s series of photographs capture demolished parts of what used to be Bakker’s theme park, Heritage USA, as well as more recent suburban developments in the Regent Park neighborhood of Fort Mill, South Carolina. McMillan began photographing the community in 2006 when he returned to his home town 10 minutes away after graduating from the Corcoran College of Art and Design.

See the gallery on TIME.com
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity

March 29th, 2011
12:43 PM ET

Pot shop opens near Michigan church, school

From CNN affiliate WEYI.

A medical marijuana dispensary moves in across the street from a Catholic Church and school in Owosso.

Now city council is considering a new ordinance that would make this illegal.

NBC25 talked to the business owner who wants to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, and some parishioners about what should be done to resolve the controversy.

On M-21 in Owosso you'll find a place where kids go to school and across the street a place to find medical marijuana.

Read the full story about the pot shop controversy at ConnectMidMichigan.com
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Michigan

March 29th, 2011
11:44 AM ET

Priests, nun sentenced to prison for nuclear weapons protest

From CNN Seattle affiliate KOMO

Two Jesuit priests, a nun, a retired teacher and a social worker who cut through fences at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor over a year ago to protest nuclear weapons were each sentenced to prison Monday.

Jesuit priest Stephen Kelly, 61, of Oakland, Calif. and retired teacher Susan Crane, 67, of Baltimore, were given 15-month sentences, while social worker Lynne Greenwald, 61, of Tacoma, was given a 6-month prison sentence.

The judge gave lighter sentences to the two protesters who were over 80 years old. Jesuit priest Bill Bichsel, 82, of Tacoma, was sentenced to three months in prison and three months of home monitoring, while sister Anne Montgomery, 84, of Redwood City, Calif, was sentenced to two months in prison and four months home electronic monitoring.

Read the full story about the sentencing of the Washington State protesters at KOMOnews.com
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Protest

March 29th, 2011
11:03 AM ET

Rabbi pleads guilty to illegally transmitting money

By Katie Silver, CNN

New York (CNN) - A New York religious leader pleaded guilty Monday to operating an illegal money business, officials said.

Rabbi Saul Kassin, 89, the chief rabbi of the Shaare Zion congregation in New York City, was arrested in an FBI-led corruption investigation in 2009.

Kassin admitted in federal court that he accepted bank checks in exchange for checks of a lesser value from a charity he operated and controlled, the U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey said.

On Monday, he pleaded guilty Monday to illegal cash transmission - a lesser charge than the original complaint of money laundering, his lawyer Gerald Shargel said.

Prosecutors said Kassin operated an unlicensed money transmitting business in his home from mid-2007 through 2008. Using the bank account he controlled for the Magen Israel Society charitable organization, Kassin accepted checks, deducted a 10% commission and then issued the difference to other organizations, authorities said.

Read the full story here about the rabbi pleading guilty to illegally transmitting money.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Courts • Judaism • New York • United States

High court to hear church-state appeal over 'ministerial' employees
March 28th, 2011
05:07 PM ET

High court to hear church-state appeal over 'ministerial' employees

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

In a twist on the hotly contested national debate on church-state matters, the Supreme Court will decide whether a teacher at a religious school can sue under a federal law against workplace discrimination. The justices accepted review Monday of an appeal from a Lutheran church in Michigan, and will hear oral arguments this fall.

At issue is whether the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to hiring and firing decisions involving "ministerial employees" like teachers who may have primarily secular job duties.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church • Church and state • Courts • Lutheran • Michigan • United States

Your take: Is American Muslim alienation valid?
Mohammad Ali Elahi, the imam at the Islamic House of Wisdom in Dearborn Heights, Michigan.
March 28th, 2011
05:07 PM ET

Your take: Is American Muslim alienation valid?

Lots of provocative comments on our story about Muslims in one of the country's biggest and oldest Muslim enclaves feeling alienated in their own country. Many commenters are critical of American Muslims; many others sympathetic and supportive.

But the responses are all over the map and largely defy such easy categorization.

Here's a sampling:

Joe from Kalispell
The fact there is even a "Muslim Enclave" is scary. They already wanted to be separate to not be "polluted by American values." They are really pushing their First Amendment right because I am sure the Founding Fathers didn't mean to afford protection to a religion so opposed to our existence as is Islam.

JustAHuman
It is sad to see so much hate in this country and little education about other cultures and religions. In many instances we "Americans" bring destructions upon ourselves and we are blind to see why.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Islam • Michigan

March 28th, 2011
03:16 PM ET

Tiny church finds original King James Bible

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

Hilmarton, England (CNN) - A little English village church has just made a remarkable discovery.

The ornate old Bible that had been sitting in plain view on a table near the last row of pews for longer than anyone could remember is an original King James Bible - one of perhaps 200 surviving 400-year-old original editions of arguably the most important book ever printed in English.

In fact, the Bible at St. Laurence Church in Hilmarton, England, was sitting right under a hand-lettered sign saying it was an original.

FULL POST

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Bible • Books • Christianity • Easter • Houses of worship • United Kingdom

March 28th, 2011
02:11 PM ET

Gingrich fears 'atheist country ... dominated by radical Islamists'

Newt Gingrich at Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas.

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Hours after declaring Sunday that he expects to be running for president within a month, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he's worried the United States could be “a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists,” in the foreseeable future, according to Politico.

Gingrich was addressing Cornerstone Church, a megachurch in San Antonio, Texas, led by the Rev. John Hagee, an influential leader among American evangelicals. Hagee's endorsement of then-presidential candidate John McCain in 2008 was plagued by controversy.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Newt Gingrich • Politics • Texas

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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.

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