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'Soul Surfer' opens after fights over depicting faith
"Soul Surfer" is a feature film about Bethany Hamilton being attacked by a shark and getting back in the water
April 12th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

'Soul Surfer' opens after fights over depicting faith

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

"Soul Surfer," the feature film based on the true story of surfer Bethany Hamilton being attacked by a shark and her journey back to surfing, opened last weekend in the fourth spot on the box office charts - partly a testament to its appealing family-friendly message and a marketing campaign that heavily targeted religious groups.

But even though Hamilton and her family's faith plays a key role in the film, many audiences would be surprised to learn that the question of how to show their religion in the film caused huge debate on set.

"I think to get anything in the film was a battle," said Sarah Hill, Hamilton's youth group leader at North Shore Christian Church, who was played by Carrie Underwood in the movie.

"Basically, what you're doing is you have all these people who want to make a movie about Bethany and they don't know the Lord and they don't have a personal relationship with Jesus. For what we have in the movie it was such a battle."

In one scene, Hill's character is shown counseling Hamilton as she struggles with living as an amputee. She reads from Jeremiah 29:11 " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' "

The morning they went to shoot that scene, said Hill, who was on set often, "Twelve producers, me and the director were all sitting at the table and they all are just adamant about the Scripture not being in the movie. And they were saying at least let's not have the reference in it."

"For me it was a hill worth dying on to keep God in the movie," she said.

Tom Hamilton, Bethany’s father, said, “In my heart of hearts I wanted as many Christians as we could get to play parts in the movie. They just have a different spirit about them. ... Craig T. Nelson, who is a really strong Christian and goes to our church in Kauai, I called him and begged him to be in the movie.

“A lot of the producers didn’t want to go too overboard because they thought Christianity doesn’t always sell well,” Tom Hamilton said.

Kevin Sorbo, who plays Holt Blanchard, the father of Hamilton's best friend, said, "Sony (Pictures, the film's producer) was afraid to throw in the word Jesus. They said you can have God but not Jesus. They were worried about that.

"The studios, you can't really fight them," he said. "Hollywood screams for freedom of speech but only if you agree with them. It's a very two-faced industry."

Sorbo said Sony wanted to take out another scene in which Bethany Hamilton wakes up in the hospital. Her father, played by Dennis Quaid, is shown reading a Bible. He reads to her from Philippians 4:13: "I can do all things through him who gives me strength."

Tom Hamilton said the studio rented a house for the family during the filming so they could be on set every day.

“They changed the script a lot,” Hamilton said. “Dennis Quaid would come up to say, ‘Hey, this doesn’t sound right, we need a Scripture here.’ The script was in constant motion, it changed on the set even.”

“They listened to us. We had some pretty heated discussions. Everyone saw how passionate about it we were, getting the message we wanted out there,” he said.

Rich Peluso, the vice president of AFFIRM Films, a division of Sony Pictures, said the studio made no efforts to whitewash the Hamilton family's faith for the movie. He points out that Jesus is mentioned twice in the film and that the family's faith is central to the plot.

On set, he said, "There were certainly lots of discussions," specifically about the inclusion of Hill's character quoting Jeremiah.

"There were some that voiced the opinion that may have made it sound too faith-focused," Peluso said. "The counter-argument was, 'Well, if her character uses those words and doesn't attribute them to the Bible it seems like she's stealing them.' We came to the agreement the best thing to do was to use the Scripture there."

The biggest question the movie's producers were trying to determine was, "How do we have it come off (in a way) that is authentic to the family's faith and doesn't push it too far so that it appears to the viewer to be forced in?" he said. "We didn't want it to appear we were pushing in faith to appeal to the faith community."

The studio made a big push to attract faith leaders to the project, setting up screenings for pastors and ministry leaders. But it's hard to characterize "Soul Surfer" as a Christian movie.

Like the hit movie "The Blind Side," though, the characters in "Soul Surfer" are decidedly Christian.  The movie opens with Bethany Hamilton rushing into a beachside church service because the Sunday morning waves were just too good to pass up.

"It's not that it's a Christian movie, it's an American movie," Peluso said.

In 2003, when a tiger shark attacked the 14-year-old Hamilton near Kauai, Hawaii, the story gripped the nation. Just three weeks after the attack, Hamilton was back in the water learning how to surf with one arm. A year later, she won a national surfing title.

Battles over how to portray religious themes in movies are becoming more common, as Hollywood becomes more open to addressing faith and marketing movies to religious audiences but worries about alienating nonreligious audiences or viewers from other traditions.

“After all the back and forth - and there’s always back and forth - it’s always best to err on the side of authenticity,” said Michael Flaherty, the president of Walden Media, which has helped produced the Chronicles of Narnia franchise and other Christian-themes movies.

“It actually is not in your commercial interest to secularize something like that, people will reject it,” he said of “Soul Surfer.” “People think they are making these decisions to broaden their audience but what they end up doing is narrowing it.”

But Flaherty said he thought “Soul Surfer” struck the right balance. “To see a movie where she wasn’t talking about her faith … it would have flopped,” he said. “It’s silly to narrow (the family’s faith). It’s like someone saying, ‘Let’s make a movie about Bethany but not talk about surfing.’”

Today, Bethany Hamilton is a professional surfer. In 2010 she was ranked 23rd in the world. "The shy kid has gone on to have a legit pro surf career despite her massive physical impairment," Joel Patterson recently wrote in Surfer Magazine, "and, in the process, she's inspired uncountable people struggling against cruel twists of fate."

Hamilton has long been outspoken about her Christian faith and the positive role it played in her recovery.

"We work with a lot of films, but the Hamiltons have to live with this for the rest of their lives, so that balance was important to us," AFFIRM's Peluso said. "I think we threaded the needle after a lot of work."

Tom Hamilton said Peluso constantly went to bat for the family with the movie, adding, "There was some give and take, but everything that was very important for us to portray ended up in the movie. We were very happy over all with the movie. We just wanted the real story told.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Movies • United States

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soundoff (2,051 Responses)
  1. CAL

    Sounds to me like god wanted her to get bitten by a shark.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  2. Thom

    Somebody give her a harp-oon arm!

    April 12, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  3. jammin4eva

    The comments on this article dove into the validity of a faith, rather than the claimed almost exclusion of said faith during the process of making the movie. Why does the "mature" mind meet a disagreeable concept and immediately attack it? Lack of intelligence and a desire to appear "above" others. Talk about needing a serious ego "check".

    And if there are other inspiring stories that have not had there time to shine in Hollywood's sun, then start getting the wheels in motion yourself, Shay. Drum up some support for the idea, maybe write a screenplay. If this movie takes off, a new "genre" may emerge that makes it easier to showcase the other stories. Whether or not color played in issue in the decision to make this movie, the silver lining could still be there.

    As far as the article itself is concerned, I agree that Hollywood tries to stay away from letting scriptures be a part of the script. It is refreshing that the STORY as intended to be told was allowed to be told as truthfully as a movie can tell it, no matter the faith or words referenced. If a movie (insert any other movie name here) can have a 2 hour long cuss, k_i_l_l, and r_a_p_e festival and make it without editing tons of content out, why is it so hard to put two references to Scripture in it? Just sayin.
    – Edited – due to "awaiting moderation" in case of double post, not spam.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  4. Phillip

    Religion: scourge of our world. Created in fear to control. Just read "Lord of the Flies".
    The basics, and I mean basics, of religions are some what ok but the individual tweaked Interpretations. Just nut cases.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Spence Hoffman

      Lord of the Flies reveals why we need a prevailing moral code to protect the weak and sacrifice self for the good of others in spite of a fallen human nature. It's a pro-God book.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • dennis

      Any belief system has a place as a control. that sets limits and standards for the tribe to follow in order to live together. That is the beginnings of all of them. Whether that mysterious force orginated as a bolt of lightening stone age Ugh did not understand or visions of the mentally damaged or the greed of a desert bandit.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  5. Jesus

    Using my name and my words to sell her movie. Shame on her.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • W247

      Actually shame on Sony, not her.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • walker

      you are not Jesus. A cousin of Judas may be. But you too could become adopted to His family, if you are willing to listen to the gospel.

      April 12, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  6. Kyle

    Not seeing this movie anymore.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • George

      I never was. These types of movies are usually very bad and overly dramatic.....
      15 minutes of fame then please go back to your life.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  7. john316

    What happened to this girl is horrific....and she is very brave to deal with this....but I'm confused.......if God is omnipotent...why would he allow her arm to be taken away... I need someone to explain what kind of God would allow that..... ....and please don't say he has a "bigger plan"....or he works in "mysterious ways"....I think we all know what the "Mystery" is.....

    April 12, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Matt

      I found the answer in Romans 7 – Romans 13. I dare you to read it.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:28 am |
    • Jeepers

      Well obviously so she could overcome adversity and become a famous professional surfer so then there could be a movie made about her life so his name could get mentioned twice...because he helped her overcome what happened...which he caused...since he's in charge of everything...but he helped her overcome it...because he loves her...and he loves us...and he wants our money...and if we don't do everything just exactly as he tells us to...in contradictory, confusing terms, he'll send us to hell to burn forever.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • BusyPerson

      God allows us to have free will, therefore, some things are evil.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • willy

      You have a sound question that probably cannot be answered fully in a few sentences. This world has gone away from what God created it to be because of our sin. This world is not heaven.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  8. Ruderalis

    I bet she's in great shape. Want to see the hiney....

    April 12, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  9. willy

    Faith to those who have none appears to be insanity. It is not their fault.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  10. Barryc

    Do I take it that Jesus was unavailable when Satan entered the shark to take that fateful bite out of the poor girl? I'll be passing on this movie, I'm afraid. Don't these evangelicals not have Muslims to condemn and humiliate? They're great at that.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • BJM

      Who's condemning and humiliating Muslims here? It sounds a lot like you are stereotyping evangelicals. I do not know any who condemn or humiliate Muslims. If you know any, I would like to have a talk with them myself.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • dennis

      The only thing it takes to condemn or humiliate a muslim is to point out the life of the founder of that belief system as recorded by his contemporary "generals'" and child wife. I find it ironic it is the only belief system I am aware of that not only condones but requires lying and killing if it is an unbeliever and promotes the cause. Kind of like the founder "converting" a city by robbing, raping, torturing and pillaging.

      April 12, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
    • walker

      Barryc, understand one thing, Satan did not enter the shark, he entered your heart.

      April 12, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  11. David Garcia

    It's incredible how other religions could be out spoken. But when people want to stand up for what is true about being a Christian, beliver on having a personal relationship with Jesus, beliving on the Lord Jesus Christ, & what he did on the cross for everyones sin. That's the one belive they attack 1st. "So, thank you Lord Jesus Christ for your protection & guidance on this film & for those that stud up for what is right". By the way, being a Christian is not a religion. Is beliving in him & following Him. May God Bless you all...

    April 12, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • VoipOfReason

      I agree with you, Christian is not a religon.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • Ruderalis

      The story of Jesus dying on a cross is really symbolism for human sacrifice. How is sacrificing yourself on a cross any different than the sacrifices our military takes on a daily basis? How many people before and after Jesus died on a cross? I guess the deal breaker here is that he supposedly rose from the dead. I would bet having all your limbs blown off, while getting treatment at a war hospital, with no meds or electricity would be more painful than dying on a cross.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  12. Galactus

    She was once my sllver herald to planets that I would consume, but now she has found a new master in that God fellow. I hope she surfs as much as possible before I decide to consume Earth.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • walker

      no, on the contrary, the earth will consume you. Then your soul will suffer in Hell if you do not repent!

      April 12, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • GrammarNotSeen

      ICWATUDIDTHAR

      April 13, 2011 at 8:11 am |
  13. Ruderalis

    I don't understand all the fuss. I'm atheist and I couldn't care less if someone said Jesus in a film. The ones who get offended the most are people of other faiths. FUK religion!

    April 12, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • dennis

      Good post. Whether a religion is mentioned or not is a matter of complete indifference. Well unless it requires a human sacrifice or promotes hate (islam) of course. I find it ironic that any given god never gets the blame for the horrific things this supernatural being supposedly allows to happen (it being a test and all) but always claims the credit when human skill and the will to overcome obstacles has a happy ending.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  14. Ezra

    Yup. It's her story so she should have say if religion is in it. Good to know though since I won't go see it now.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Daniel

      HAHAHA HOO-AH!

      April 12, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  15. D-man5005

    I'm really happy to hear that she fought this battle. It makes me incredibly sad to see how much crap is in movies now and how people refuse to make any Christian references when there should be (as in this case), but we need to be totally opened up to any other religion.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  16. mike

    "The studios, you can't really fight them," he said. "Hollywood screams for freedom of speech but only if you agree with them. It's a very two-faced industry."

    It sounds like the debate over how to portray the family's Christian faith was not an effort to stifle anyone's free speech. I am guessing that the family got paid a good bit of money by the studio for the rights to the story. The studio is also the one making the financial investment and who runs the risk of losing money if the film does not do well. If the film does not make money in theaters, the family still has the money that the studio paid them.

    I am not implying that the studio should not be faithful to the story of what actually happened but I think anytime a movie is made, you will have different opinions as to what will make the best story. I think this article makes it sound like there are groups of people in hollywood who just sit around and think of ways to keep Christianity out of movies. Instead maybe the studio was trying to portray the story in a way that was faithful to the faith that got Bethany through her tragedy while also making it accessible to the widest audience. Perhaps this will give her story and her Christian faith a chance to reach more people than it might otherwise.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  17. mattmchugh

    This is a perennial problem with movies based on real-life events: Hollywood always wants to change those events to make a more profitable movie. If producers think mentioning Christianity too much would hurt the box office, they cut it out no matter how relevant it is to the real-live subject. I can understand why they do it from a business perspective, but it's innately dishonest storytelling. If you want the weight of saying your story is "true" then you ought to stick to the truth, even if it hurts the story.

    Two non-religious examples leap to mind for me immediately: "Bridge over the River Kwai" and "Quiz Show." Both are excellent films supposedly depicting true events - BUT do a tiny bit of research and you find they both distort facts pretty freely. That makes them works of fiction, not history. They may be great as the former... but it's cheating to pretend they're accurate as the latter.

    - mm

    April 12, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • J Hudge

      I have to agree. Despite where you land on the endless debate of "God or no God," it’s hard to deny that this young woman's religion is a very big part of her story. To take something out that she holds so dear would be dishonest and disrespectful.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • "True story"

      And this is why it's foolish to take anything from hollywood at face value, even if it claims to be "reality" or "real-life" or "true story". Hollywood movies exist to make money, and (to a lesser degree) promote the ideological agendas of powerful producers. Same thing with all forms of media, including CNN. We forget that about the news media sometimes, but it's true. Economically-motivated censorship. You have to go back to the source if you want to know if it's true or not.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Blaqb0x

      I don't hear you or anyone else here complaining about the fact that the Bible has so little historical accuracy.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  18. Petras

    The behavior of Sony and the Hollywood producers was predictable. They are liberal, atheist, politically correct and for the most part hostile to Christianity.

    Christianity is portrayed negatively in most movies because that is what they believe. Islam ? The Lefts favorite religion... not so much. The last bad Muslim terrorists were seen in PRE-9/11 Arnie flicks.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • Fuyuko

      Not really. They want the film to be accessible to mainstream audiences. Most mainstream audiences don't want to see too much religion in films.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • David, CA

      "Islam ? The Lefts favorite religion"

      Stereotype much?

      April 12, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Richk

      That's just your narrow minded perception. All 3 Abrahamic religions get way too much coverage as it is. They are all outdated and dogmatic in their own way.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Dont be a retard

      While i believe they should stay true to the actual events of the story, you are a retard, Petras. You must get your news from Email FWDs. Of course you would have to make this a political issue. Your statments are completly biased and not true. You are what is wrong with this country and the exact type of person that causes people to fear Christianity. So, do your self and your religion a favor and keep your big mouth shut unless you have something constructive to say

      April 12, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Alan

      Hey, Rain Man practically bankrupt a casino and he was a retard.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • religion

      The left likes religion genrally, but not one specifically. That is, there is room for multiple faiths. Your "one true faith" is more aligned with Islam than you admit, which is not as bad as you think.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • Dont be a retard

      no, rain man was autistic not a retard. and that was a movie. Thats right up there with getting news from Email FWDs.

      April 12, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  19. latftp

    More arguing over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • mogu

      I thought that argument was settled. 16 was the answer.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • George

      I thought the answer is 42....

      April 12, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • dennis

      First you need to prove the existence of angels. Otherwise you are just asking whether leprechauns wear blue.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • Rob

      The book of Gulog, chapter III, verse 2. The number of angels that can dance on a head of a pin is as the number of sand on the king's beach in Yippitydoo. There you got it. Couldn't be clearer.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  20. justSayin

    @Miles To say that God is "some sort of mysterious power that has never been proven or explained" is narrow minded. For example, some people can prove or explain a mathematical equation because they have an understanding of mathematics. They have learned the principles of addition, subtraction, the calculus, probability, etc. To someone who doesn't understand mathematics, the 'proof' doesn't 'make sense'. In like fashion, if you don't understand the principles of faith, humility, hope, etc then God will not make 'sense' to you. It would be like trying to understand Russian with a basic knowledge of Spanish.
    I propose that to understand who God is, you need to 'speak the right language', and just like learning the Calculus or Russian, it comes easier to some than others. So when I say "I know God lives" and you say "I have proven that Bayes theorem works", maybe we should trust each other at first, and then spend some time learning each other's language.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Darth Cheney

      How about taking some time to learn the English language? You don't "know" anything regarding God, but you do "believe" much. I respect your beliefs, but when you make knowledge claims about unknowable things you lose all credibility for any serious discussion.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • Fuyuko

      With respect, what you know is based on your feelings and what you've read in the bible and your personal experience. This isn't quantifiable and may be deeply meaningful to you, however it doesn't mean it is so or even true for others.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Daniel

      I'm sorry, but you don't know what the word proof means...

      April 12, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • George

      No, mathematics is the language of the universe....... Religion is not.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • DangYankee69

      Very wel put.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Richk

      While I don't agree with the original poster's comment, to say that mathematics is the language of the universe is also half-baked, it is the language of the Newtonian universe and in and of itself is starting to look like swiss cheese thanks to advancements in quantum mechanics.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Jacob

      I second that motion...

      April 12, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Wraithian

      Wrong. "Knowing God," is nothing like mathematics, language, or any other task with reproducable, and verfiable, outcomes.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • accurate

      To deny that religion is unproven is both narrowminded and false.
      So yes... I see your narrowminded and I raise you a false.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • beebop

      What a lot of the comments here seem to be missing is that religious experience is exactly as testable as anything else. If there is a God (assuming He is as He represents Himself – completely honest, omniscient, and omnipotent) then we should be able to test what He says and have the results He promises. If he promises answers to prayers, then we should receive answers to prayers. If he promises healing, we should see healing. If He claims to be unchanging, we should see the same opportunities and manifestations of His power now that we read about in the Bible, with the same consideration towards His children's welfare. Conditions, of course, apply – just as one would not expect to replicate molecular/atomic-level experiments in leaky vacuum chambers, the conditions of religious experimentation (open mind/heart and a willingness to act on any result) need to be observed for a successful experiment. It's the scientific method, although peer review can end up being a little difficult.

      For the record, I've done the experiments, and gotten surprisingly consistent results even when I haven't been expecting it. I've had prayers answered, I've seen fairly dramatic instances of healing (one corroborated independently after 20 years of wondering if I had actually seen what I had seen), and I have no doubt that the results I've seen fall well outside of what one would expect from a random outcome.

      Also, good luck proving He doesn't exist 🙂

      April 12, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • justSayin

      Sounds like you're speaking Russian and I'm speaking Spanish. As smart as you are, you won't comprehend. Take a few lessons in Spanish... que tengan muy buenos dias

      April 12, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • Dan of The Prophecy Society

      Unknown to most people, God has provided "proof" of his existence in the Bible. That proof is in the form of predictive prophecy and their fulfillments, which are provided so that those who are weak in faith will be able to believe and begin their understanding of God and his redemptive love for Mankind. The prophecies of the Bible, unlike other prophecies, are specific and they come true 100% of the time. There are seven chrono-specific prophecies in the Book of Daniel that have been fulfilled exactly in history, and that reveal God's providence across the ages. The most recent prophecy from Daniel that has been fulfilled concerns the liberation of the Temple Mount by Israel in 1967. This event was prophesied in Daniel more than 2000 years before it was fulfilled. As justSayin correctly points out, all you have to do is understand the language of the Bible and it all makes sense. The prophecies and their later fulfillments in history are certain "proofs" of the transcendant God of the Bible.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:43 am |
    • Tom Lancaster

      The cross stands as an evaluation of us. The evaluation of the cross is that all are worthy of death. If we truly accept this evaluation then we know for certian we are totally useless and without any good. In spite of our admission that it was useless to repair or improve ourselves before we were saved, we nonetheless attempt to do the very same kinds of things after we were saved so that we might plese God. There is no method of salvation; only acceptance (Eph 2:8-9). The life which we now live in flesh we live in faith; for the flesh was crucified with Christ. If this is not so then the cross evaluated us all wrong and Christ died in vain.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:57 am |
    • Rob

      I can't even fathom how you can draw correlations between math and faith.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Rob

      @Dan of The Prophecy Society, I have tested God at his word over and over throughout my life and found the results to completely disprove anything I have yet to hear preached. I still have faith though that there is a God, and I kind of hope Jesus really is his Son, and I do get to live forever. However I am now certain that none of the religions in the world, nor the Bible are at all accurate. All of them have serious issues with them that makes it painfully obvious that man made them up. Now that's real faith, believing in a God even though everything you know has been proved false. I'd dare say it takes more faith and courage to do that then it ever does to fall in line with what everyone is telling you, and trying to live under their hypocritical world-views.

      April 12, 2011 at 1:39 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.