My Take: Learn about the Bible, even if you don't believe it
April 20th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

My Take: Learn about the Bible, even if you don't believe it

Editor's Note: Kristin Swenson, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of Bible Babel: Making Sense of the Most Talked About Book of All Time.

By Kristin Swenson, Special to CNN

"True Grit's" stern little girl Mattie - shoot, the Coen Brothers’ entire movie - dramatizes a single line of biblical text. And the way the film interprets that particular text makes that biblical verse directly related to the governor of Illinois' recent decision to ban the death penalty, a decision which was reportedly informed by the Bible.

The movie’s and the Illinois governor’s conclusions - about capital punishment in this case - are exactly opposite. While Mattie's justice requires death for the man who killed her dad, the governor's has no place for such execution. Yet both have biblical precedent.

So knowing about the Bible not only makes the movies more fun and enables critique of public policy, but it also paradoxically encourages you to think for yourself.

The Bible's long history of development, reflecting many voices, and the fact that it’s usually read in translation invite our engagement with it not merely as passive recipients of a fixed meaning but as unique individuals bringing different points of view to bear.

The trick, of course, is knowing something about the Bible, even if you don’t believe in it. And the more you know, the more intriguing it gets.

If you're not biblically literate, you can get along all right, but you're missing out. It's like a cocktail party with raucous conversation. You're invited, but until you know something about the Bible, you'll be stuck talking about the weather at the punch bowl.

Yes, "True Grit" is entertaining no matter what, and you can take Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn at his word that his death penalty decision has biblical basis, but each invites a deeper understanding. And together, they reflect the Bible's ambivalence - in this case about crime and punishment.

"The wicked flee when none pursueth," a line from Proverbs 28:1, hangs auspiciously on the screen at the beginning of "True Grit."

Knowing that Hebrew (the original language of Proverbs) creates its poetry out a system of parallel lines, might lead you to check out the line after the one quoted in True Grit: "but the righteous are as bold as a lion."

Linking the criminals' running to the boldness of a lion, the biblical verse suggests a world in which courageous good guys chase down the yellow-bellied bad with the same determination, cunning and strength as the king of beasts.

That's our Mattie, at 14 years old a cub, but single-minded in her quest to bring to justice the man who killed her father. Mattie is "the righteous," of course, and the justice she seeks is death.

Because the Bible is sacred scripture, authoritative and instructive for millions of people, many people believe, like Mattie, that certain criminals should be put to death because of what it says.

After all, the Torah, or "law," prescribes execution in several specific cases, including murder.

Yet Illinois Gov. Quinn is said to have consulted the Bible while wrestling with his decision to abolish the death penalty. What gives?

People looking to the Bible for a single, clear, yes-or-no answer about the death penalty will be disappointed, just as they are when seeking a simple, one-size-fits-all answer to abortion or environmental ethics.

For one thing, another translation of torah is "instruction." So maybe those "laws" shouldn't be taken so literally.

Indeed, while the Bible allows for all sorts of killing and would seem to demand criminal execution in certain cases, it also commands "thou shalt not kill/murder," identifies God as the only ultimate judge, and praises forgiveness and mercy.

I don't know Quinn, but I suspect he knows enough about the Bible to know that he also had to think for himself. He wisely considered that our human systems, justice included, are imperfect - and that the wrong person might be pegged for a capital crime.

Knowing about the Bible, no matter what you believe, enables you see not only why Quinn would settle on the ban but also why it was such a difficult decision: sometimes the Bible says different things.

"God said it, I believe it, that settles it," is available for bumper stickers, t-shirts, mugs, and posters. Yet the Bible's multiplicity of voices and complex history invite you to learn more and in the process to add your own voice, thoughts, and deliberations to the conversation.

First, though, you’ve got to learn about it.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Kristin Swenson.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Movies • Opinion

soundoff (1,814 Responses)
  1. Sam C

    What a boring subject

    April 20, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  2. Stephen

    I think it is very much worth reading – people should be literate as to what it says from all the violence and nonsense of the Old Testament to the discordant New Testament and its history as well, like the Bible was compiled as it is today until almost the year 400. It's an important artifact. We read Beowulf for literary value, why not the Bible?

    April 20, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  3. Peteandrepeat

    It is amazing how we go around and around about the supposed conflict between faith / religion and science! They are one in the same. Sound crazy? They are both the result of man's need for certainty. It is doubt, unanswered questions, unexplained phenomena, unraveled mysteries that motivate the seeker of truth whether he studies scripture or the journals of science. It is impossible to divorce the human experience from the need for faith. Faith is required for what we call sanity. You exercise faith every time you flip the light switch. You have faith that the lights will go on or off. You have faith that the sun will rise, the next game in the playoffs will be played, that your family will be there for you when you need them, that if you follow the scientific protocol for this or that experiment the results will be predictable, that what is true today will be true tomorrow or maybe not etc. and yet we find with every answer we discover more questions. Man cannot operate without faith. The belief that seeking will result in finding, is the essence of religion and science. Whether it is the believer, the unbeliever, the scientist, or the blissfully ignorant we cannot live a "rational" life without faith. For the religious faith will always be operative and imperative while in mortality. For the scientist the belief (faith) that the yet unknown and undiscovered is knowable and understandable requires the same leap. As long as man considers any explanation of the past, present, or future, or ventures to make certain any unknown, faith will be operating at the root of it.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • marty

      "Faith is believing something you KNOW isn't true""Faith is the great cop out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, or even perhaps because of the lack of evidence.
      I am against Religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding our world"

      April 20, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Stephen

      I disagree that the scientific method is a leap of faith. Scientists methodically investigate the natural world. The Bible and religion do not do anything of the sort. They comprise a belief system, one for which there is no evidence.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • BasedInReality

      Sorry, but yes you do sound crazy.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  4. Myto Senseworth

    I read the bible...don't believe much of that...
    I read CNN.....don't believe much there either....

    April 20, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Sparks

      lol YES! Nice one!

      April 20, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  5. Pyrrho

    How do you avoid "naughty words". If at the lunch counter I say "dish" does that mean I must not follow that with "it out". Is there a "naughty word" editor like say the "Bible Code". I wonder how many "naughty" words you can find in the Bible using the Bible Code?

    April 20, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  6. Shawn

    I have not read the bible since I was a young teen and still believed. I tried to read it again a few months ago but I got to angry. I feel sorry for all the people that have been brainwashed since childhood that this book is fact.Religious brainwashing obliviously works. 99% of Afghans are Muslims. Your religious beliefs come from your environment, not god.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • paul

      Do you know what reprobate mind means?

      April 20, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Shawn

      There are a few meanings, what’s your point?

      April 20, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  7. paul

    Ignorance is bliss I guess,but ignorance is not a get outta hell free card!

    April 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  8. Anon

    We are all made of stardust. The iron in our blood was forged in a supernova explosion. Supernova are the only means of producing elements that have atomic weights as large as uranium, gold, silver, platnium, etc...So our whole solar system was once part of a very large star that exploded and then reformed to another star and planet system.

    To think that a god started the universe, waited 9.2 Billion years to start our solar system, then waited approx another 4.495 Billion years to create ho-mo sapiens just for us is extremely conceited and self-serving.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • Colin

      Anon. go to www dot thinkingatheist dot blogspot dot com (have to write it like that to avoid the censors) there is an article there you will enjoy, called "Creation without a Creator" It picks up on this theme.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Dexter Skagway

      The ultimate conceit is to believe that in this immense universe, undoubtedly inhabited by many many forms of life, that amongst those trillions or more individuals, that God is your own personal friend and caretaker, that he helps you and people who think like you, but he punishes people you don't like.

      Amongst that immensity of various individuals, you are divinely superior and others are not. Yep, religious people are filled with arrogance and conceit, all the while claiming to be humble.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • BasedInReality

      Dear Anon – Yes it is truly awesome and I love the fact that stars had to explode so that you and I can be here today. What a wonderful think to know is true because the evidence is there to prove it.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  9. paul

    Dan,learn to read,look at what I said and ingest it before commenting!

    April 20, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  10. Colin

    KD. There is no difference between the two. So called "macro evolution" (or speciation) is nothing more that the cu-mulative effect of a lot of micro evolution (if by that you mean generation to generation mutations). Nothing will magically stop micro evolution as it builds up to the new species.

    To believe in one and not the other is like believing in inches and denying the existence of miles.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  11. Dexter Skagway

    Did you know that the highest estimate of Christians who have read the entire Bible is 31%, and the lowest is 10%? These surveys were done by Christian groups.

    Rather interesting that over 69% of Christians have never read the entire Bible.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Robert

      Exactly my points from above! Thanks for the hard statistics. There is nothing worse than someone who is both opinionated and ignorant.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
    • Steve Luke

      Dexter- I doubt your statistic, but that's not important. I know lots of Christians who probably haven't read every page. That really doesn't mean much to me. Some people can't read, others can't read well. If I stumbled through reading, I would find it hard to read a book that large. That wouldn't make the Bible wrong.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Dexter Skagway

      You may doubt the Christians who did the surveys. Religious people should be doubted.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Steve Luke

      Now that you replied to the part that is not important perhaps you can address the rest of my comment. How does this matter?

      April 20, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Dexter Skagway

      Well, to address the rest, Steve, you seem to feel that an enormous number of Christians are functionally illiterate, and thus don't read the Bible. Strange assertion.

      Does that make the Bible wrong? Where in my post did you pull that from? I was commenting on the fact that most religious people have not bothered to read a book they insist is the absolute truth and that everyone else should read. As to the Bible being wrong, that is another topic altogether.

      How does this matter? Are you kidding? How can people understand their own belief system when they didn't bother to read one book? How can they run around telling others what to think when they did not bother to learn it themselves?

      Your position is a defense of ignorance. Very strange.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Steve Luke

      Dexter- The point I was trying to make is here's a little statistic that you've pulled out for scrutiny- 69% of Christians have not read the whole bible. I am very good with statistics, but polls concern me because the truth has never been established by public opinion. So, when I see a statistic, I ask myself-
      1) what is being conveyed by this statistic?
      2) what point is being made by the person quoting the statistic?
      3) what may be other contributing factors making this statistic what it is?

      OK- the statistic says there are 69% of Christians who haven't read through the Bible completely. First reaction- horrors! Christians don't know their own faith! Then I look around at my church and here are some reasons real live Christians haven't read every single page of the Bible-
      1) Some Christians get bored with long geneologies and numbers from various censuses and recitiations of ceremonial laws and ceremonies no longer practiced. If they skip those parts, they might tell the pollster they haven't read the whole thing. Do I think they should read all that stuff? Yes, I do
      2) Some people can't seem to get a focus on the Old Testament- it takes a great deal of work to understand. They'd rather skip to the New Testament and talk about grace and heaven. It's not a good practice, but it happens.
      3) Some people call themselves Christians but they don't really follow Christianity at all. They think they're Christians because their parents are Christians or because they attend church or because they are descended from a culture that is associated with Christianity. They don't read the bible because they just don't really care for it.
      4) Some people think they have absorbed all the teachings of Christ by sitting in sunday school classes where the answer to every question is obvious.
      5) Some people can't read or can't read well. It is alarming to see how many people never pick up a book after high school.

      Moving on to why this statistic is important to you- why?

      My faith is in God, not the average American Christian. I'm not a preacher, I'm a hard working engineer. I have earned a PhD in engineering but you'd never guess it from my paycheck. I honestly believe American Christians are a pretty lazy bunch. If we were persecuted for our faith, we'd either get serious or get out. Personally, after landing in the hospital 22 days after my conversion fighting for my life from a wound suffered fromn a former friend, I decided this Christianity stuff was serious. Anoher man would have rejected it- I stayed with it because I really do believe that God is real and living in me.

      April 20, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
    • Dexter Skagway

      I understand now, and thank you. It indeed does not matter if a Christian reads the entire Bible or none, since no matter what they have learned and where, the result is always 100% bullsh!it. A person who has intricately studied every last nuance of the Bible has a belief system that is 100% bullsh!t, as does the illiterate peasant farm worler in South America who got it all from priests and neighbors. Adelina's Christianity is 100% bullsh!t, equal to the 100% bullsh!t believed by a teeneager in Iowa who knows just a few passages and a President who launches wars in Iraq.

      It does not matter if they never read the Bible or if they know every last word by heart, as either way, they believe in bullsh!t.

      So the real question for you is, whatever made you believe in it?

      April 20, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
  12. Steve Luke

    If it is evidence that you need- consider the apostles. These 11 men knew Jesus, watched him die, then went around proclaiming his resurrection at the peril of their own lives. James the son Zebedee was executed first- read about in Acts 12:2. (Stephen was executed before James, but he was not an apostle- just a newly elected deacon). Tradition is that 10 of the apostles were martyred and one (John) was not.

    If Jesus had not been resurrected, they would have known. So, why would they lie about it?

    April 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Robert

      Perhaps they didn't exist.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Steve Luke

      Robert- You won't find a serious historian who would make that case. There are too many non-religious records of the birth of Christianity.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • BasedInReality

      You do realize that not one of the so-call apostles ever wrote down anything nor did the character Jesus. Probably none of them were literate enough to write. The so-called gospels were written down approximately 70 yrs AD by unknown authors who were writing stories passed down verbally (and we know how accurate those can be). On top of all of that, not all of the "books" that were written down got into what is called the bible. If a book didn't meet the council's approval, they just didn't put it in. Further, during the centuries of hand copying, there were those who added to and subtracted a great deal of the books. Remember, no one followed Jesus around writing down what he said. It is all "remembered" sort of. If you dare to readi other ancient mythology you will find it all sounds real familar.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
    • Robert


      I will stipulate part of your point, that there are plenty of non-religious records detailing the early years of Christianity. That being said, there are not volumes of non-religious records containing detail anything like what is outlined in the Gospels. Big difference. There is little doubt that someone named Jesus existed some 2000 years ago. The specifics of his birth, death, divinity, friends and associates, etc. are detailed in the Bible, not elsewhere...hence my point.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Steve Luke

      Matthew was written by Matthew, who was a tax collector named Levi before becoming one of the 12 apostles
      John- was written by John, the son of Zebedee, who was also one of the 12 apostles
      Luke was written by a Greek Convert friend of Paul. Luke gathered information and wrote it down. He also wrote the Book commonaly called "The Acts of the Apostles"
      Mark was written by a man named "John Marcus" who was a disciple of Peter, one of the 12 apostles.
      The apstles also wrote the epistles of Peter and John and the Revelation of Jesus Christ
      Paul (born Saul of Tarsus) wrote much of the New Testament in the form of letters to churches and individuals. Although not onbe of the original 12 apostles, he was made an apostle by Jesus on the road to Damascus
      James was written by Jesus' half brother Jacob
      Jude was written by Jesus' half-brother Judas

      April 20, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  13. jj

    These CNN religious headlines really pizz me off! They say 'religious', but always seem to be about Jesus! Why would I read the bible for history, philosophy or its quotes? There are TONS of books that cover these events better. These stories are like the phony $20 a'holes used to leave on the ground, folded up to look like a real bill... until you picked it up, unfolded it, and found it's a message about jesus! Brilliant way to pass your message along!
    I clicked on the 'bible' link, expecting to find a relevant story. Instead, I had a phone bill in my hand and was reading the flimsiest excuse to read a religious book. I find that offensive, CNN!

    April 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  14. Observer

    "Atheist are people who are so afraid of what they don't understand they have to dismiss it as as not possibly being true."

    Atheists and agnostics, on the average, know more about the Bible than Christians according to a recent poll/test. Wonder who is not "understanding"?

    April 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Steve Luke

      I didn't see that pool, but I don't base my beliefs on polls.

      I've met some very smart people who do not believe the Bible. I've met some very smart people who do believe the Bible. I'm trying to understand why it is so important to portray your opponent as stupid.

      Your logic seems to imply that something is wrong because stupid people believe it. That's not compelling logic.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • brad

      Atheists pride themselves on how much they know about the bible. Shouldn't they pride themselves on how much they know about science? I guess they are just blindly following Darwin, Newton, Galilieo, etc. without really understanding these luminaries. How many atheists out there can balance a basic chemical equation? Why would the bible interest an atheist when he still hasn't explained that vast intelligence gap between the dumbest human and smartest ape?

      April 20, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Robert

      Actually Brad, I pride myself on being educated on a wide variety of topics including religion, politics, the arts, sports, science and so on. Learning is what makes ones life rich, and when you stop doing it, or close your mind to other subjects or viewpoints, you cease to grow as a person. I am currently reading The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene. Put down your Bible and give that a read. You might learn something.

      April 20, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • Steve Luke

      Robert, I am reading "Taking Offence" by M. Coetzee. Not a religious text or commentary. I recently read "A Long Walk to Freedom" by Nelson Mandela, definately not a man with whom I agree. I just finished writing some chord books for guitar- one for standard tuning (EADGBE) and a second for Alternate D Tunings (DADGAD, DADDAD, DADFAD, and DADF#AD). The implication that someone can be a committed Christian and not read anything on other topics doesn't hold with me. I will confess, I like reading the Bible more.

      April 21, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  15. Andy 666

    I've read parts of the Bible, enough to know gibberish when I see it. I see no reason to understand why a Governor finds a decision 'hard' based on a 2000 year old myth. Sure, he might base his decisions on that, but that just makes me think the less of him. Understanding why people believe irrational things doesn't come from studying what they actually believe, but why they believe it, and that's another book altogether.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Steve Luke

      You do realize the governor really is a fictional character?

      April 20, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • brad

      Religion is not nonrational. It is not irrational. It is arational. Reason does not apply. Human intelligence can deal with things lower than itself. Anything higher – like spirituality – has to be dealt with using intuition, the mind.
      BTW, you may be confusing "myth" with "fairey tale". Myth is the earliest form of science. When humanity realized that he was "who" instead of "what", he attempted to expain himself in terms of stories. Darwin and Co. turned us back into a "what", the product of dumb nature.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  16. Chanselor Jenkins


    You remind me of someone...are you from Colorado?

    April 20, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
    • Colin

      Unfortunately not....I have heard a complaint by wonen about Colorado men that "the odds are good, but the goods are odd". So I would fit in....

      April 20, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  17. truth2power

    As long as I don't have to take most of it seriously!

    April 20, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  18. paul

    Jesus Christ said many are called and few are chosen. I'm thankful that God has chosen me to know his glorious truth! Atheist
    are people who are so afraid of what they don't understand they have to dismiss it as as not possibly being true.You cant see oxygen but its there,you cant see atoms but they do exist. The spirit of God is only given to those of us who truly believe. and once you have, then and only then are you even capable of believing.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • truth2power

      God is bigger that religion.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • Andy 666

      You can see oxygen and atoms actually with electron microscopes and other equipment. We can see ever smaller and smaller things. So as usual, as science progresses, you need to adjust your argument one level down to the NEXT thing we can't see... yet...

      April 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Dan

      You are truly delusional and only believe what you want to. Learn a little about science. We can PROVE atoms exist and air is real. You cannot apply that to YOUR argument.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Robert

      Fine, but have you actually READ the bible cover to cover, Genesis through Revelation? If you can truly say you have, I commend you. My experience has been most of the deeply religious and born again among us rely on "selective" readings to cement their faith. Where do YOU fit in?

      April 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • Steve Luke

      Robert- I've been through it cover to cover many times. I don't know how many, but I estimate between 50 and 75 times.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Robert

      Wow, you must be a fast reader! It took me over three months to get through the whole thing (granted I only devoted a few hours per day to it). So either: i) you have spent over 12 years of your life reading nothing but the bible (in which case there are a few other things I could recommend for your reading time); or ii) you are full of baloney. I tend to think number 2 is more likely.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Sparks

      Again I repeat (I am starting to feel like a broken record) I am not afraid of anything, I am a well read (including the bible, more than once) heathen apostate, a once believer, a turn coat. I read more and found my own path. I am So glad that you found your path but please stop stop stop telling me I have not found the truth or that I am scared or that I am full of hate...

      Until you have walked where I have walked, read what I have read, seen what I have seen and heard what I have heard you have no room to assume you know my heart. I dont assume to know your either, just for the record.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Steve Luke

      It takes less time the more you read it. I can get through it in about 6 weeks now. The first time through took a year. I've been reading it since my salvation in 1979, about 31 years and 4 months. I read fairly quickly, too.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  19. stonedwhitetrash

    Have read the entire bible, the quran, the book of morman several times over and as a compassionate human being find all to be utterly disgusting Revolting is a better word.

    April 20, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
    • Justin

      Interesting... What exactly about unconditional love is disgusting to you? You have obviously not read the Bible.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
    • Andy 666

      You might want to read the first part again.. There's a bit of vengeance in there too, and murders, and if you have unconditional love, then why can't others have it? Let's say Gays? That's not unconditional, is it?

      April 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • conchchowder

      @ Justin What is unconditional about (paraphrased) "If you don't accept me as your savior, then you are going to eternal damnation with gnashing of teeth, fire and brimstone"

      April 20, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  20. vanessa

    Seriously, people. She was not asking for converts, here. She was asking you to do the work necessary to UNDERSTAND where someone else is coming from. Is that so bad??? The religion-bashing is all well and good, but you have completely missed the point. I read the Q'uran, so that I could understand why some Muslim people think and beahve the way that they do. I've also read works of Taoism, Confuscianism, Hinduism, and Judaism– so that I could broaden my understanding of how to relate to diverse groups of people. That is ALL she is asking. Read it, so that you will UNDERSTAND where people are coming from. But– it seems as though you would rather scream incoherently about how awful Christianity is. In doing so– you are just as much a part of this country's problem as the Tea-party folks are. So, if you have read it, and hated it– fine! But if you haven't read it– and are this offended that someone asks you to read it– I have to say– that is cowardly. What are you afraid of? It is just a book, afterall, right? No supernatural powers, or anything like that, right?

    April 20, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Dexter Skagway

      Actually, her ploy WAS to get people to read the Bible so that some of them converted.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • what the heck...

      Not cowardly, more likely than not lazy or they think it's not worth their time.

      How people can hate one another without fully understanding each other first is beyond me.

      April 20, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
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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.