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Letter from close friend offers rare glimpse into President Lincoln's 'theist' beliefs
The Raab Collection is offering the letter by William Herndon on President Lincoln's religious views for $35,000.
April 12th, 2011
09:06 PM ET

Letter from close friend offers rare glimpse into President Lincoln's 'theist' beliefs

By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) - President Abraham Lincoln was a "theist and a rationalist" who doubted "the immortality of the soul," a close friend said in a letter that provides a rare, intimate glimpse into the Civil War president's religious views.

"Mr. Lincoln’s religion is too well known to me to allow of even a shadow of a doubt; he is or was a Theist - a Rationalist, denying all extraordinary -– supernatural inspiration or revelation," William H. Herndon wrote in a letter dated February 11, 1866, to Edward McPherson, clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Herndon was one of Lincoln's closest friends. The two met in Springfield, Illinois, and practiced law together for 17 years before Lincoln became president in 1861. After Lincoln's assassination on April 14, 1865, he authored "Herndon's Lincoln," a biography based on contributions from Lincoln's friends and contemporaries  considered among the most authoritative for its proximity to the elusive president.

The three-page letter, which is being offered for sale by the Raab Collection for $35,000, offers a rare account from someone close to Lincoln on the subject of his religious beliefs - a topic that has eluded historians. Lincoln did not discuss his religious beliefs and he did not belong to a church.

"Lincoln was reticent to discuss religion, particularly after his election, which has fueled the ongoing debate about whether he believed in God or if he was Christian in the way we would explain it today," said Nathan Raab of the Raab Collection. "These are subjects still being debated."

His early religious outlook was colored by the evangelical Baptist faith of his parents and a Calvinist theology of predestination - the belief that the fate of all men and women had been predetermined by God, PBS.org said of Lincoln in its "God in America" series. Lincoln rejected this Calvinist view later in life and shunned emotional excess, but the Calvinism of his youth left him with a sense of fatalism that endured throughout his life.

How the Bible was used to justify slavery, abolition

Lincoln's views on providence and God's will in the context of the Civil War have been the source of great scrutiny over the years.

In his letter, written less than a year after Lincoln's death, Herndon wrote that the president was "the purest politician."

"At one time in his life, to say the least, he was an elevated Pantheist, doubting the immortality of the soul as the Christian world understands that term. He believed that the soul lost its identity and was immortal as a force. Subsequent to this he rose to the belief of a God, and this is all the change he ever underwent. I speak knowing what I say. He was a noble man - a good great man for all this," he wrote.

"I love Mr. Lincoln dearly, almost worship him, but that can’t blind me. He’s the purest politician I ever saw, and the justest man. I am scribbling - that’s the word - away on a life of Mr. Lincoln - gathering known-authentic - true facts of him."

- egrinberg

Filed under: History • Politics

soundoff (336 Responses)
  1. Believeitor

    Abe was a moral man. The atheist population is between 15 to 20 percent but the population of atheists in prison is only about 3%. does that not mean atheists have higher morals then Christians? Maybe they don't blame everything on the make believe person called the "The Devil."

    April 13, 2011 at 2:22 am |
    • Jesus

      Many folks in prison use the Christian ruse as a way to get paroled. Finding Jeebus in jail helps in getting you out early.

      April 13, 2011 at 4:59 am |
  2. Steve

    Dear M22,
    In miss applying the scriptural thought....
    Your own quotation destroys your argument. The soul "that sins" is the one that "dies" in the passage you've quoted.

    Like it or not M22 where ALL Sinners Therefore we ALL die! When we die-our soul dies.

    Ecc 9:5,10

    There is no argument here...at all!

    April 13, 2011 at 1:57 am |
    • A Well Groomed Tanning Salon

      “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

      “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (Acts 3:19)

      “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins. Put Me in remembrance; let us contend together; state your case, that you may be acquitted.” (Isaiah 43:25-26)

      “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus …” (Romans 8:1)

      “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:7)

      Literally, that little hook was the *entire* point of the new testament; christianity is meaningless without it. If it is not possible to absolve your sins and redeem your soul, Jesus died for nothing. But you're right, there is no argument about this: the redeemed soul, according to christianity, lives on, and the redeemed soul as defined in the bible is the soul that has accepted Jesus as "lord and saviour".

      I'm not even christian and I know that.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  3. RabbitPunch

    Lincoln kicked the souths ass, thats all i have to say.

    April 13, 2011 at 1:57 am |
  4. Zombie Jesus

    This is what Lincoln would have read if he were alive today. http://www.amazon.com/Good-Book-Humanist-Bible/dp/0802717373

    April 13, 2011 at 1:50 am |
  5. Bill

    I agree but it seems that where readers really slip into insanity is when they make comments about articles on celebrities like Charlie Sheen and Lindsey Lohan. One hundred years from now we will still be discussing Lincoln, no one will have a clue who Lohan and Sheen were. People will still be arguing about Jesus and the bible.

    April 13, 2011 at 1:43 am |
  6. Mr. Realistic

    Anybody actually affiliating themselves with the Tea Party has put a smile on the Koch brothers faces. If you are a Tea Partier and don't know who they are, consider yourself a puppet. How does that feel? Ouch!

    April 13, 2011 at 1:37 am |
  7. TJ223

    Smart man.

    April 13, 2011 at 1:32 am |
  8. bu

    Religion is a disease of the Mind! Be part of the cure, not the problem!

    Help cure the religion disease!

    April 13, 2011 at 1:26 am |
    • Steve

      i see you must have been Catholic! Why not take up the invite???? Revelation 18:4

      April 13, 2011 at 1:29 am |
    • Erica

      how do you cure the idiot disease?????

      April 13, 2011 at 2:57 am |
  9. T.O.

    I have noticed CNN, particularly online, publishes lots of faith-related articles.

    These articles get lots of hits because people feel compelled to debate this stuff. People like to read them to feel validated, if the article matches their faith, or they just read about how crazy the "other side" is, and then they make their feeling clear in the comments.

    CNN, in an effort to maximize profit, has upped their number faith-related articles published.

    CNN is just pushing our passion buttons. These are barely newsworthy stories.

    April 13, 2011 at 1:15 am |
    • Jesus

      yawn. Keep cutting and pasting that same comment and you'll get reported and banned.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:22 am |
  10. Marcus

    He kicked many a slaver's ass and kept the country together despite all the murder, treason, racism, and robbery inherent in Confederate actions.

    His religion, if he had much of one, could just as easily have turned him against the Union, seeing how so many used their Bibles to justify slavery and treason.
    We had a war over it and the country as a whole won.

    No to slavery and no to letting any damn idiot "secede" and steal the USA's property we have died to defend against all enemies, foreign and DOMESTIC.
    Their religious views should mean nothing in terms of following the law, otherwise they get no protection from it. That is religious freedom here.

    April 13, 2011 at 1:01 am |
  11. PeterWaldo

    Proof for the immortality of the soul is not found in the Bible. The Bible rejects this man-invented idea. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4). Lincoln's rejection of the doctrine of the immortality of the soul is in line with what Bible teaches.
    This said, the Bible does teach that there is a spirit in man (I Corinthians 2:11 & Job 32:8); however, it is not immortal. The problem is that, most of what is considered Christianity is simply not based upon the Bible. Lincoln was closer to the Bible (in this doctrine) than, what the vast majority of Bible believers were. Lincoln, being a studious observer and reader, was perceptive of the contradictions between the Bible and mainstream Christian belief. Nevertheless, Lincoln was severely screwed up with many other false doctrines, and the country suffered from his and our fore-bearer's ignorance.

    April 13, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • Steve

      Appreciate the thoughts there Peter! By the way-What translation of the Bible do you use? I love my New World Translation of The Holy Scriptures! The fact that it was a trivia answer on Jeopardy ( Which translation of the Bible do bible scholars view as the most accurate translation today? ) makes it that much more exciting!

      April 13, 2011 at 1:28 am |
    • M22

      peter: "Proof for the immortality of the soul is not found in the Bible. The Bible rejects this man-invented idea. "The soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:4)."

      It's cute when people post the same things under different names.

      You do realize your quote shoots itself in the foot, right? Only the soul that "sins" dies. You may want to read the entire passage, and do so with your eyes open.

      Hate Christianity all you want, but lying about their beliefs or doctrines will get you no where. In fact, it makes you look unbelievably foolish and dogmatic, doesn't it?

      April 13, 2011 at 1:51 am |
    • Lee Cherry

      Amen, my brother. The head of the nail was hit (:

      April 13, 2011 at 2:24 am |
  12. Brian

    "Eisenhower sending troops into Little Rock just so African-American children go to school."......................................

    You have a good point but I think both parties have changed quite a bit over the past 150 years. I wonder why Blacks and Jews for that matter seem so out of place in the Republican party.

    April 13, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • M22

      brian: "You have a good point but I think both parties have changed quite a bit over the past 150 years. I wonder why Blacks and Jews for that matter seem so out of place in the Republican party."

      Pandering, social pressures, inculcated family values.

      "changed a bit"

      The Democrats have, the Republicans not so much.

      Even in recent history the Republicans have pushed for further rights against discriminatory practices. Just look at the 1991 Civil Rights Amendments.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  13. Spalin

    He clearly loved the FSM.

    Ramen!

    April 13, 2011 at 12:47 am |
  14. A Mom

    We have all heard of the Gettysburg address but Lincoln's second inaugural address has been called his greatest speech. Delivered just prior to the end of the Civil War and shortly before his assassination. You will see that Lincoln was a man of profound faith. I expect to meet him someday. Looking forward to meeting George Washington too. Not so sure about Ben Franklin, though.

    April 13, 2011 at 12:47 am |
    • SANJOSEMIKE

      Lincoln's so-called faith is a figment of your imagination. There is nothing in his writings to indicate that he was anything but an atheist. Lincoln was deeply distressed at the Biblical interpretation of slavery, where it is justified.

      Lincoln was chronically depressed because he saw no "living human spirit" beyond the brief life we live, and he felt personally responsible in ordering that some lives be cut short to defend the Union. He did believe in "forgiveness" however, and felt that it was an entirely human characteristic that would hold the Union together after the War.

      But belief in a god? Don't be ridiculous. Lincoln was as much an atheist as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:32 am |
    • Romney2012

      Indeed, Ben Franklin was a disgusting, immoral libertine whose irreverence and blasphemy nearly tore GOD's love away from our young nation. But at least he wasn't as bad as Thomas Jefferson. No question in my mind where Jefferson's spending the rest of eternity.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:36 am |
  15. Steve

    It sounds like President Lincoln was a Bible reader! His thinking reflects this fact with regards to him believing that the soul dies at death! This is scripturally supported at Ezekiel 18:4 which reads... 4 Look! All the souls—to me they belong. As the soul of the father so likewise the soul of the son—to me they belong. The soul that is sinning—it itself will die.
    Sadly most so called "christians" believe that the soul is immortal. A thought that isn't supported in the Bible! In fact the idea of the soul living on after death can not be supported w one scripture!!
    And yet many so called "people of faith" embrace this lie! Genesis 2:7 makes iit clear as to what the soul is! It is he man himself that is the soul! Genesis 2:7 reads...7 And Jehovah God proceeded to form the man out of dust from the ground and to blow into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man came to be a living soul.
    Lincoln was right on w that thought! Sadly so many believe otherwise but, then again most people are on that broad and spacious road that leads to destruction.

    April 13, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • M22

      steve: "Ezekiel 18:4 which reads... 4 Look! All the souls—to me they belong. As the soul of the father so likewise the soul of the son—to me they belong. The soul that is sinning—it itself will die."

      Your own quotation destroys your argument. The soul "that sins" is the one that "dies" in the passage you've quoted.

      But, then again, who expects a militant atheist or a partisan to be anything but blindly dogmatic?

      April 13, 2011 at 1:33 am |
  16. Kent

    Abe was his own man. Nuff said.

    April 13, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  17. RealityChecker

    If the well-read, rational Lincoln were alive today, this would be his favorite prayer:

    What has happened to this nation? We fought a civil war to end injustice towards men and women, and yet you now legalize the killing of innocent children through abortion. This is progress? Progress to what? Infanticide? This is a nation that has not progressed one iota. The same sick society that claims that black men and women are not humans, now claims infants of all races to not be humans. This is progress? Only progress into depravity and mental illness, and nothing else.

    April 13, 2011 at 12:24 am |
    • A Mom

      Amen and amen.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • Bob

      It is disturbing that there are people out there as misinformed as you are. If you don't like abortions then don't have one.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:41 am |
    • A Mom

      @ Bob I guess one could also say, "if you don't like slavery then don't have a slave."

      April 13, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • Observer

      There is more in the Bible to support the anti-Choice side than the pro-Choice side.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • Observer

      typo error: I left out the critical word "not'.

      There is NOT more in the Bible to support the anti-Choice side than the pro-Choice side. The Bible offers more proof that abortion is supported than it is opposed.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • M22

      bob: "It is disturbing that there are people out there as misinformed as you are. If you don't like abortions then don't have one."

      You don't like stealing, don't do it.

      It's fun making arguments with a total lack of substance, isn't it?

      "It is disturbing"

      It's disturbing that there's such a lack of deep or critical thinking on your part.

      The people who are anti-abortion are against abortion not because it simply offends their sensibilities but because they believe there is a quantifiable harm being committed. And because quantifiable harms are within the province of state power, they can be stopped.

      It's nice to know you really thought this through, though.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • truth2power

      Anti choice is UN-American.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:36 am |
    • stannard

      If you read the article it says Lincoln saw how foolish your kind are, if you are worrid about unwanted children it always starts with a man , he make his choice after that , then it is the females. keep your fellows pants on an mind your own brain.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:41 am |
  18. Brian

    Lincoln had other law partners. John T. Stuart, his first law partner said that "Lincoln was an avowed infidel and borderline atheist." Lincoln pointed out that Timothy II in the Bible openly supports slavery. Wonder why "Christians" don't quote Timothy II while they are spouting Bible verses.

    April 13, 2011 at 12:22 am |
    • Doug

      Brian:
      There are plenty of Christians who teach what the Bible reveals about slavery. Perhaps you should search the Web for what ammounts to some very insightful biblical teacing on biblical slavery. But when you do so you would be wise to note that the evil chattel slavery that has been practiced throughout history has nothing in common with the biblical teacing on slavery which was a form of dignity bestowing, character forming indentured servanthood.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:01 am |
    • Romney2012

      @Doug: very thoughtful response. I would recommend reading David Barton and Stephen McDowell, theologians who some of our conservative leaders are learning to listen to. Some men are leaders. Some men, and all women, are followers. There is grace in accepting one's station in this life, to receive your reward in the next. I do hope that at some point in the future our Great Nation will again recognize the righteousness of Biblical slavery. It would certainly be a boon to our economy.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:45 am |
    • Erica

      wow, it's incredible how people who know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the bible are so opinionated about what's in the bible.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:50 am |
    • Jesus

      ...or Exodus 21. Many southern senators in the 1850s stood up in our Congress and cited Exodus 21 as God's mandate that we have slaves.

      April 13, 2011 at 4:56 am |
    • Paul

      WOW! @Romney2012 your honesty is refreshing. If only all bigots were as honest you, there'd be a lot fewer gullible people voting for them 😐 btw, since you found your way to the internet, can I assume that you are aware we have left the bronze age?

      April 13, 2011 at 5:43 am |
  19. Reality

    If the well-read, rational Lincoln were alive today, this would be his favorite prayer:

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated based on the studies of historians and theologians during the past 200 years)

    I might believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven.

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen

    April 13, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • stlouiecb

      awesome...

      April 13, 2011 at 1:21 am |
    • RJ

      This Creed belongs to who? You? Sad to see some have no spiritual eyes. Wishing you the best with your thoughts.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:27 am |
    • Hardpill

      How about something from ur creative mind, f u have one. its like a toaster in every home kinda deal on every page the same thing. grow some brains.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:29 am |
  20. MarkPA

    Tea Partiers are apoplectic right now.

    April 13, 2011 at 12:01 am |
    • Tom

      I am not in any way affiliated with the tea party movement but as a man who has read much history I am sure that Abe Lincold would be more closely identified as a Tea Party Activist then a left wing democrat. And btw he was a Republican. And... before you can tell me I already know it wasn't like the GOP of today but it was still the GRAND OL' PARTY.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:08 am |
    • M22

      tom: "And btw he was a Republican. And... before you can tell me I already know it wasn't like the GOP of today but it was still the GRAND OL' PARTY."

      The argument that the Republican party of the anti-slavery days is "really" the Democrat party now holds no logical or historical water. Neither side got up one day and said "You know what? I'm going to be you!"

      Much less, the Republicans have a consistent history of Civil Rights pursuits that shows their character hardly changed over time. From writing the 13th and 14th amendments, to the 1870's Civil Rights act, to the 19th Amendment, to Eisenhower sending troops into Little Rock just so African-American children go to school.

      Not to mention the 1964 Civil Rights Act that was passed with the enormous help of Dirksen, and no thanks to the help of the Southern Democrats.

      Much less, remember the 1991 Civil Rights Act? Passed Republicans, signed by Bush. It enlarged the remedies due under discrimination statutes, specifically overruling Supreme Court decisions.

      But no no. The Republicans are really the Democrats of old.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • MarkPA

      How would he relate to Tea Baggers? He was UNIONIST and most Tea Baggers are more Confederists (Small government just for defense and stay out of everything else).
      Lincolns values and ideologies align more with todays liberals than conservatives.
      Read a history book NOT vetted through the Texas Board of Ed.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • M22

      mark: "How would he relate to Tea Baggers? He was UNIONIST and most Tea Baggers are more Confederists (Small government just for defense and stay out of everything else)."

      Barely passed High School, eh?

      Whether he supported the Federal government or not says nothing about the substance of his views. He could, quite consistently with modern Republicanism, have fought for the Union and believed (like modern Republicans) that the Federal government is necessary, though should be small.

      Your fallacious equivocation is astounding, really.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:28 am |
    • cbj2e

      Lincoln wouldn't have identified with the tea party at all. One of the main issues of the tea party is States Rights, which was also one of the main issues of the democrats in Lincoln's time (and for the same reason: they don't like ideology of the ruling party).

      You other responders point to the dixiecrats as evidence that the modern republican party isn't like the democratic party of old, and yet these same dixiecrats switched to the republican party over the issue of civil rights. It's called a party realignment and its happened many times between the civil war and today.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:30 am |
    • CSchoot

      Sorry but Reagan would be considered a Democrat today. No modern day republican would do the things Lincoln did. No modern republican would nationalize the telegraph service and railroads. That would kind of be the equivalent of nationalizing the internet and Airlines today, so if Lincoln was the equivalent to a Tea Bagger or Modern Republican, those services would never have been nationalized and the Union would have lost the war because of it. Secondly, no republican would risk the nation's economy (cotton trade, and please note the that the North ran the mills so they made money off of cotton as well). Something like 60% of the GDP was cotton trade back then. Lastly, no modern republican would choose the union over state's rights. Lincoln, would be considered a Democrat, hell, with today's right wingers, Ronald Reagan would even be considered a liberal on many issues.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:37 am |
    • Daniel

      Did anybody wonder if the letter at the top that has been scanned appear to be authentic? Because it appears to be modern day college lined mass produced commercial paper invented in the 1900's is this a replica? Anybody?

      April 13, 2011 at 1:38 am |
    • CSchoot

      It was the mid 1800s not the stone age where the were writing on Papyrus. Ruled paper had been around since the late 1700. Of course it was ruled by hand, but it was ruled (lined)

      April 13, 2011 at 1:43 am |
    • CSchoot

      No Modern Republican would say this:
      "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration." A. Lincoln

      April 13, 2011 at 1:46 am |
    • M22

      b2e: "Lincoln wouldn't have identified with the tea party at all. One of the main issues of the tea party is States Rights, which was also one of the main issues of the democrats in Lincoln's time (and for the same reason: they don't like ideology of the ruling party)."

      Fallacious equivocation at its finest.

      "States rights" has no single meaning. It's entirely coherent to believe the Federal government is necessary, while also believing the States retain certain inalienable powers. The "Tea Party" purports to believe that minimal Federal government is necessary, which is what the Republican party has believed since Lincoln.

      "yet these same dixiecrats switched to the republican party over the issue of civil rights. It's called a party realignment and its happened many times between the civil war and today."

      They switched to a party that was entirely against their racist beliefs?

      You may want to look at the voting patterns on Civil Rights legislation for the last 150 years, especially as it pertains to the Republican party. The 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed thanks to the efforts of Republicans and moderate Democrats. Everett Dirksen was even recognized by the NAACP for his efforts in getting it passed.

      In fact, wasn't it Johnson himself who excluded blacks from the 1964 Democratic National Convention because he didn't want to lose the Southern vote?

      April 13, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • Paul

      @Tom. That is the most willfully blind statement of revisionist history I've ever seen. Let alone everything else we know about Lincoln, the information in this article ALONE would completely disqualify him from any Tea Party association. He was most definitely NOT a Christian as defined by today's fundamentalist crowd. Specifically, "...a rationalist, denying all extraordinary–supernatural inspiration or revelation" and I hate to break it to you, but the entirety of fundamentalist Christianity hinges on the supernatural, from immaculate conception, to miracles during life, to resurrection, to "transubstantiation" in the eucharist.

      I'd LOVE to see anyone who identifies with Tea Party beliefs on economic, or foreign policy issues etc, try to gain endorsement of the Tea Party while simultaneously saying, "btw, I don't believe Christ was divine, or resurrected, or performed miracles, or that the bible should be taken literally..." absolutely laughable. And even if you were able to convince me that there ARE a few atheist or non-christian Tea Partiers...there is NO WAY you can deny that the main thrust of their messaging is pandering to the extreme right fundamentalist christians in this country.

      Even your St. Ronald of Regan wouldn't pass muster on many Tea Party criteria, but Lincoln? Not in your wildest dreams.

      April 13, 2011 at 5:07 am |
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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.