End of Jewish golden age on Capitol Hill?
July 4th, 2011
12:32 PM ET

End of Jewish golden age on Capitol Hill?

By Dave Schechter, CNN

The following may cheer those who complain that Jews exercise too much influence in the American political system.

“The massive overrepresentation of Jews on Capitol Hill, long a source of pride for the community, has been shrinking in recent years and could drop in the coming election cycle from 41 to the mid 30s, a level last seen 15 years ago,” Nathan Guttman recently wrote in The Forward, the Jewish newspaper.

Perhaps a golden age of sorts is coming to an end.

“It is the drawing down of a generation that believed in civil service,” Jacques Berlinerblau, director of Georgetown University’s Jewish civilization program, told Guttman, citing generations of post-World War II American Jews who, as Guttman phrased it, “saw special value in entering public service and also in reaching beyond the interests of their own community.”

Berlinerblau expanded on the subject in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

In my own writing I have referred to this half century as the era of 'secular Yiddishkeit.' It was the moment when the children of immigrant Jews of Eastern and Central European appeared to take over the world. They excelled in art, science, politics, journalism, academe, etc., and they did so in numbers completely out of proportion to their actual size. Of late, Jewish population growth has stagnated somewhat. The great generation of secular liberal Jews is graying. This may be one reason why we are witnessing a substantial, though not necessarily alarming, decrease in Jewish representation in many fields.

A January report by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life on the religious makeup of Congress notes that Jews were barely 2 percent of the 87th Congress in 1961-62, so the generations that came of age after World War II did indeed make their mark.

Today, Jews make up more than 7 percent of the 112th Congress while being just 1.7 percent of the U.S. population.

There are 13 Jews in the Senate and 28 in the House, all but one a Democrat; the lone Republican is House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. Since the 112th Congress convened in January, two Jews have resigned their seats: Jane Harman of California (to head the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars) and Anthony Weiner of New York (you know . . . those photographs).

Of course, the vagaries of electoral politics play a role.

When Republicans are ascendant, such as in the 2010 election, the Democrats lose seats, including those held by Jews. Indeed, seven Jewish lawmakers lost seats in the last cycle. Already there are concerns that redrawing the lines of congressional districts in California will eliminate a House seat currently held by a Jewish Democrat. Of course, Democratic fortunes in 2012 will hinge, in part, on the strength of President Barack Obama’s electoral coattails.

But there are also irrefutable demographic trends at play.

“While experts disagree on the short-term significance of shifts in Jewish political representation, all point to the likelihood of a long-term decline," writes Guttman. "Growth in Jewish population is stagnant and composes an increasingly smaller portion of the population in general.”

Kurt Stone, a political science professor at Florida Atlantic University and author of two books on Jews in Congress, told The Forward that the decline in Jews in Congress "won’t matter much in terms of the Jewish agenda.”

Peter Beinart set off a firestorm in some Jewish circles last year when he wrote about a declining affinity among younger Jews for the “Jewish homeland.”

“Among American Jews today, there are a great many Zionists, especially in the Orthodox world, people deeply devoted to the State of Israel," he wrote in the New York Review of Books. "And there are a great many liberals, especially in the secular Jewish world, people deeply devoted to human rights for all people, Palestinians included. But the two groups are increasingly distinct. Particularly in the younger generations, fewer and fewer American Jewish liberals are Zionists; fewer and fewer American Jewish Zionists are liberal.”

Beyond Israel, Guttman notes that, “On social issues that are dear to the community, much depends on the broader makeup of Congress, since Jewish priorities on domestic issues are largely aligned with those of the Democratic Party."

Indeed, coalitions are the way policy is made on the Hill. If your share of the population is not growing, it’s best to align with someone whose is.

Reports Guttman: “Changing demographic realities are pushing Jewish activists to seek a political partnership with Latinos, America’s fastest-growing minority group, for help in supporting the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Judaism • Politics

soundoff (267 Responses)
  1. John G

    BTW to all those who say that the Jews have a right to Israel because their forefathers supposedly lived there 2000 years ago – the modern Ashkenazi jews (the bulk of jews in America) are NOT descended from the Middle East. They are decendents of the Turkic people known as Khazars who converted to Judaism around 700 AD.


    Wonder why they never taught that in American history books.

    July 5, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @John G.- Why wasn't it taught? Because what you have said is not true that's why. Here, check this out: http://www.khazaria.com/genetics/abstracts.html

      "What we can say for sure is that Jewish Y-DNA tends to come from the Middle East, and that studies that take into account mtDNA show that many Jewish populations are related to neighboring non-Jewish groups maternally."

      July 5, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @John G.- "The genetic, cultural and religious traditions of contemporary Jewish people originated in the Middle East over three thousand years ago. Since that time, Jewish communities have migrated from the Middle East into Europe, North Africa and across the world. ... This study shows that although Jewish people experienced genetic mixing with surrounding populations, they retained a genetic coherence along with a religious one."
      from: "Common Genetic Threads Link Thousands of Years of Jewish Ancestry." ScienceDaily (June 4, 2010).

      July 5, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @John G.- "Different communities of Jews around the world share more than just religious or cultural practices - they also have strong genetic commonalities, according to the largest genetic analysis of Jewish people to date. But the study also found strong genetic ties to non-Jewish groups, with the closest genetic neighbours on the European side being Italians, and on the Middle Eastern side the Druze, Bedouin and Palestinians."
      from: Jews worldwide share genetic ties: But analysis also reveals close links to Palestinians and Italians." Nature.com (June 3, 2010)

      Gasp, linked to the Palestinians?? Sounds like the Jews had went home then.

      July 5, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Boojum

      Isn't it sad when Lycidas turns rabid?
      Just look at the foam on his lips as he wildly tries to defend his precious Jews who are supposed to give birth to the Messiah!

      Three posts! Slow down, there, Lycidas! Nobody's going to hurt Baby Jesus!
      Jerusalem is safe from harm thanks to your timely defense of Jewish DNA!
      No one will dare to say Jews are just people now!
      You have shown us all that Jews are The Chosen People of God and have the DNA to prove it!
      Calm down there, little wannabe!
      If you give them money, they will let you walk amongst them and see the wonderful sights of Jerusalem! Who could ask for anything more?
      They might even let you say how great they are!
      Wouldn't that be just awesome? God's Own People would thank YOU for obeying God!
      Your place at Abraham's teat would be assured forever by God Himself!
      And their DNA is safe now as well!
      Who knew it was in danger from the evil atheists who will burn forever? But now the Chosen People are safe.
      And they owe it all to you.

      July 6, 2011 at 4:44 am |
    • Odessa

      Jewish DNA....................... I get on all 4's for this.

      July 6, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Boojum- Sorry, I felt that I had to spoofeed the info in small little bites for the haters and ignorant out there. You understood the info right? If not, I could break it down further for you so you can catch up 😉

      "tries to defend his precious Jews"

      I have no Jews and the facts defend them quite nicely. As for religious reasons, I have none on defending the truth. But it's funny that you think I do.

      "No one will dare to say Jews are just people now!"

      Hmm, maybe I should have made the responces smaller for you. If you had noticed, no one I was responding to did just call Jews ppl. They were attempting to use faulty reasoning and facts to support their opinion.

      "You have shown us all that Jews are The Chosen People of God and have the DNA to prove it!"

      No, unless you think Italians and Palestinians are the Chosen ppl too. Do you?

      "Calm down there, little wannabe!"

      Wannabe what?

      "If you give them money, they will let you walk amongst them and see the wonderful sights of Jerusalem! Who could ask for anything more?"

      Been to Jerusalem and Egypt and Jordan. Gasp, you do realize that means I paid the local Palestinians, Druze, Jordanians and Egyptians. Soak those facts in and think.

      "Who knew it was in danger from the evil atheists who will burn forever? But now the Chosen People are safe.
      And they owe it all to you."

      Lol, the only fear is inaccurate information which I provided a counter to. If you felt my information is at all incorrect, perhaps you could put aside your trollish ways and point them out.

      July 6, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Odessa

      The above Odessa is false.

      July 6, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • Mycology

      60% of Israeli Jews are Arab Jews, from neighboring Arab countries.

      Of course, "John G" would have you believe that are all blond hair blue eyed Nordic people, or Turkic people, Or whatever he wants you to believe in order to de-legitimize Israel / the Jews and have you agree to destroy them.

      July 7, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  2. tom kelly

    What is a Jew...exactly?

    July 5, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
    • Odessa

      A Jew is Abraham's physical des-cen-dant via Isaac and Jacob and mainly Judah. Anyone who insists on the Jewish culture or Jewish religion can be con-si-dered as a Jew, as a lot of blood-mixing happened for the last 2,500 years. Jews inherit the Jewish-ness through the mother. Christians consider ourselves as spiritual descendants of Abraham as we continued his faith with the New Covenant.

      July 5, 2011 at 11:30 pm |
    • Reality

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

      Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument. "

      July 6, 2011 at 9:01 am |
    • Odessa

      A Jew is what killed Jesus

      July 6, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Odessa- Don't forget the Romans and actually anyone that has ever sinned.

      July 6, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Odessa

      The second Odessa is false, a fake. We know an atheist by his malice and stupidity.

      July 6, 2011 at 11:43 pm |
  3. inachu

    It is racist to see so many jews in our govt. WHat ever happened to regular representation?
    Last poll we had took the hebrew population of USA to still be around 2 to 4% of USA population but in our govt they are almost at every head of top level govt positions. Not only is that racist but a national crime of injustice for the true voice of America. If they are only 2%-4% in USA then only 2-4% should be in jobs of the USA govt. I smell another spy story cooking and NSA and CIA and FBI do not want to say anything or else they would get fired for telling the truth.
    Yeah the war machine is being directed by them....... How many more years of racist ideologies do we have to put up with?
    And to boot the people to blame who put those jews in office are the heart cry christians at AIPAC who also hold jobs in the USA govt. I say fire them for being foreign agents of country that is not america. Shame on you for this war machine. This is Americas HOLY WAR beign driven by the end time cult evangelicals.

    July 5, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "but in our govt they are almost at every head of top level govt positions."


      July 5, 2011 at 4:15 pm |
  4. Jose M. Pulido

    Israel RULES! whether you clowns like it or not.

    July 5, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • inachu

      I could agree with you from an israeli standpoint but this goes to prove how sick the perversion of the american voice in USA govt has gotten to now where there is no american voice in USA govt but a jewish one instead.

      Would you be happy with Israels govt if they were co opted by koreans? ooooooooo yeah see how americans feel now?

      July 5, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  5. Slater

    It has always puzzled me why Jews are so hell-bent on being Democrats.Dems are the ones whom hate them,say they should bow down before the Palestinian cowards and claim the holocaust never happened.It could be the old saying about keeping "your enemies closer"

    July 5, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Laughing

      Your are incredibly stupid. Jew and israeli's are two very different things. jews can be just as critical of israel as you or anyone else. On the flip side, dems do not, repeat DO NOT think that israeli's should throw down their arms and embrace the palestinians while being stabbed in the back, they do encourage peace talks and seek to end hostilities peacefully, then again I guess the whole "shoot first ask questions later " republican mantra could work too I guess?

      July 5, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  6. William Demuth

    Zionisim is racisim.

    It is a good sign that less Americans, be they Jew or Gentile, support it.

    Religion is a disease from the past, like the Black Death, and I am so pleased to see it waining amonst the future generations.

    July 5, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • thatsok

      it is "waning" oh bright one

      July 5, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • Lycidas

      Wanting your own nation is not rascisim Demuth. Besides, Israel is not an only Jewish nation. Many arabs, Druze and other groups live there as equal citizens of Israel.

      July 5, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Bannister

      Lycidas – "wanting your own nation is not racism"

      Except when WHITES want their own nation – right Lycidas?

      July 6, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Lycidas

      @Bannister- No, wanting your own nation is not racism. The manner that you secure it could be. But for a nation like Israel that has citizens made up of Druze, Jews, Arabs/Palestinians....I do not see any racism within.
      Unless someone can show me how Israel treats any of their citizens as if they are second class.

      July 6, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Mycology

      Zionism is not racism – every color and religion lives and works and plays in Israel ALL with the same protections under the law.

      Why is it Bibles / crucifixes / churches are ILLEGAL in Saudi Arabia? Why can Iran be an "Islamic republic of Iran" but Israel can't be a Jewish state?

      The double standards are obvious.

      July 7, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  7. justathought

    Unfortunately, no one has explained why Christians give support to Israel; well, it may be subconscience with them, but so many Chistians believe that Christ wii not return until the Jews have retuned to their homeland and rebuilt the temple. Therefore, we have the term: Judeo-Christian. (that may be spelled wrong) I believe Christians support the Jews much more than the Jews support the Christians; I may be wrong. I personaly don't subscribe to that therory.

    July 5, 2011 at 10:01 am |
    • America above parties

      You are so right. there may be only one jew in congress but republicans (especially southern christians) are so hell bent on supporting Israel–based on twisted believe that only a strong israel will allow jesus to come back and he shall then kill jews who dont convert to christianity. Israel has a free hand in doing whatever suits them in the name of so-called security and treat Palestinians like strayed dogs. No wonder rest of the muslim countries hate us and you wondre why...

      July 5, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Mycology

      wow – you think Israel treats the "palestinians" badly?

      You should take 5 seconds and investigate how the other arabs treat the "palestinians"

      you'll be shocked to find that Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Eygpt, have committed far greater crimes against these "palestinians" than Israel ever has.

      July 7, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  8. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    So what the author is saying is that the Jewish Community in the United States is as polarized as the rest of the country, right? It is called "Coming of Age". I am a 2nd Generation Italian-American, and have different political and social values from my Grandfather and Father. Why should the Jewish Community be any different? Just as there are secular and religious Christians, there are secular and religious Jews. Secular types tend to be more Liberal in their outlook, while religious types tend to be more Conservative.

    July 5, 2011 at 9:20 am |
  9. Terry Warren

    I lestion to the outragest staement made by these people you call host. A lot of don't know thre head from there bottom side I live in Florida and the uployed are in the high numbers, so if shine top needs to go hit the head. Because Amerca is going down it's jusy a matter of time I know this will not make it by some body is the true! If employment so greate then how you explane why so many college people are working at a fast food or wallmat if you can share the real story Thank's for your time Terry

    July 5, 2011 at 9:14 am |
  10. L. Jackson

    Please send this whole article to my e-mail . Thank you iwould like to read it later when i return home and get comfortable. Thanks.

    July 5, 2011 at 7:00 am |
  11. Jonni

    Wow, I didnt know Pat Buchanan took over CNN.

    July 5, 2011 at 6:20 am |
    • thatsok

      you just can't stand freedom of speech when it disagrees with your point of view

      July 5, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  12. dave k.

    its such an apartheid that there is a palestinian supreme court justice who is a palestinian, and there are many representatives. there is no comparison between south africa apartheid and Israel's right to a secure place for all its' citizens; muslim, christian or Jewish, or druze, etc. spew your hate somewhere else.

    July 5, 2011 at 4:16 am |
  13. Jose M. Pulido

    "/Salvation comes from the Jews," (John4:22)
    Jesus, the Son of God said. Salvation comes from the Jews in the sense that the only way to reach God is by believing in Him and in His Son Jesus Christ who was born in Israel. No matter how anyone looks at it Israel, apart from their great contributions to science, art and technology, the Jews have brought salvation to humankind. No other country can offer the world what the Jews can; and these are facts, not fiction.
    But now the Islamic potential terrorists are taking over the U.S. Congress and the USA; there are already two Islamist Congressmen; as of now, they portray themselves to be so pious and useful to American society but their ultimate goal is to gain majority in Congress to destroy the USA and Israel. The late terrorist O.B. Laden said he would not rest until he would see the green flag of Islamic terrorism flying over the White House. He will never see his nightmare come true but his terrorist successors are still working on such nightmare.
    Islamists are building potential terrorist sleeper cell mosques everywhere in the USA. Time after time we catch American Islamists, mostly immigrants or foreign Islamist students exploring potential targets of domestic terrorism. It is time to ban Islam from the USA because it is not a believer-friendly religion but a declaration war and an ideology to oppress all citizens of the world.
    Let us elect more Jewish Congressmen and remove Islamists if we want this country to survive as a free Democracy. I am a Democrat and as the article reads, most Jewish Congressmen are Democrats.

    July 5, 2011 at 1:40 am |
    • William Demuth

      I am sorry. Normally I can get the gist of each post, but this one left me scratching my head.

      July 5, 2011 at 10:15 am |
  14. Reality

    It is all about the number of voters. See below to see where the followers of Judaism rank:

    Third place and gaining as we type:-––

    o http://www.adherents.com/Religions_By_Adherents.html

    oReligion >>Adherents

    "Christianity 2.1 billion

    Islam 1.5 billion

    Irreligious/agnostic/atheism 1.1 billion

    Hinduism 900 million

    Chinese traditional religion 394 million

    Buddhism 376 million
    Animist religions 300 million
    African traditional/diasporic religions 100 million
    Sikhism 23 million
    Juche 19 million
    Spiritism 15 million
    Judaism 14 million
    Baha'i 7 million
    Jainism 4.2 million
    Shinto 4 million
    Cao Dai 4 million
    Zoroastrianism 2.6 million
    Tenrikyo 2 million
    Neo-Paganism 1 million
    Unitarian Universalism 800,000
    Rastafari Movement 600,000"

    1.5 million Conservative Jews and there rabbis have concluded that Abraham, based on lack of text and architectural evidence, probably did not exist. Therefore Christianity, Islam and Judaism have no foundation and fail as religions moving irreligious, atheists and agnostics to the top of the list.

    July 4, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
    • Odessa

      Christians saved 7 billion humans. Atheists massacred more than 1 billion.

      July 5, 2011 at 2:12 am |
    • Reality

      The Twenty Worse Atrocities

      Rank Death Toll Cause >>Centuries>> Religions/Groups involved

      1 63 million Second World War 20C (Christians et al and Communists/atheists vs. Christians et al, Nazi-Pagan and "Shintoists")
      2 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C (Communism/atheists)
      3 40 million Genghis Khan 13C (Shamanism or Tengriism)
      4 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C (Anglican)
      5 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion)
      6 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C ( Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion vs. a form of Christianity)
      7 20 million Joseph Stalin 20C
      8 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C (Islam)
      9 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C
      10 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C (Christianity)
      11 15 million First World War 20C (Christians vs. Christians)
      15 million Conquest of the Americas 15C-19C (Christians)
      13 13 million Muslim Conquest of India 11C-18C
      14 10 million An Lushan Revolt 8C
      15 10 million Xin Dynasty 1C
      16 9 million Russian Civil War 20C (Christians vs Communists)
      17 8 million Fall of Rome 5C (Pagans)
      18 8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C (Christians)
      19 7½ million Thirty Years War 17C (Christians vs Christians)
      20 7½ million Fall of the Yuan Dynasty 14C


      July 5, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  15. yeah whatever

    Here's my analysis for whatever it is worth: You can grossly group immigrants into two categories: 1) those who literally climbed a fence to get to the US and those who figuratively had to climb a mountain. The children of the latter type of immigrant, tend to be over-achievers driven by their parents who sacrificed for their futures. The Jews have had several waves of immigration of this nature. So, have the Koreans, the vietnamese, the Chinese, the Russians. Jews in America attained prominence because they also are more or less white and can blend in. Then they stand out because they make a lot of noise and/or because they have Jewish names.

    July 4, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
  16. jimmy carter

    Nelson mandala was a convicted terrorist bill ayres has no criminal record!

    July 4, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • thatsok

      spelling still matters if you want to be taken seriously, "Mandela"

      July 5, 2011 at 11:28 am |
  17. GG Liddie

    joe @ 127 ... I'm presuming you are referencing the U.S.S. Liberty incident of 6/67?
    If so, this is a piece of history that all concerned and open minded Israelis & Americans should understand ...

    July 4, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  18. jimmy carter

    What has israel ever done for the US? judeo-christian?? jews never were christians! they are total opposites!

    July 4, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • Rich

      You are incredibly ignorant.

      July 5, 2011 at 4:03 am |
    • MarineVet

      The Apartheid Israeli Welfare State is the only nation in the Middle East with WMD's, spies in U.S. prisons, has broken every agreement with every U.S. President since Nixon to stop illegal settlements and still has managed to milk the U.S. taxpayer for hundreds of BILLIONS in subsidies since they have no legitimate economy. Any chance they will suffer budget cuts along with Medicare and Social Security recipients?????????

      July 5, 2011 at 6:31 am |
    • Lee

      You are incredibly RIGHT, and well informed

      July 5, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • Lycidas

      @MarineVet- You are horribly ignorant. Israel has arab citizens, druze citizens and many other groups within their borders that are equal. Welfare?? They don't need our money, but who is at fault for giving it eh?
      So what if they have WMD? They don't use them.
      They are not required to do anything the US tells them. Remember, this also includes the terrorist group Hamas in all this you know. But hey, don't let your rant get sidetracked with facts.

      July 5, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
  19. frank

    I'm half convinced Dave Schechter is a better than average troll.

    July 4, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  20. C. Jenkins

    On the other hand, one might suspect that our "incessant, insanely expensive, middle-eastern wars" are really for oil. And the Muslim anger and mention of the "crusades " is hard to attribute to the Jews. Unless one attributes all evil to them, of course.

    July 4, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • Odessa

      You should be happy America is not facing Soviets and militant Muslims and aggressive Chinese all at once. Muslims need Bibles, freedom and human rights. It's their turn.

      July 4, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Muneef

      It is all about "Oil and Star Gate (Suez /RedSea)" as was in the past for British India trade companies...

      July 5, 2011 at 6:43 am |
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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.