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My Take: Jesus would support Palestinian statehood bid
The author argues that Jesus was primarily a peacemaker.
September 21st, 2011
12:27 PM ET

My Take: Jesus would support Palestinian statehood bid

Editor's Note: Carl Medearis is an international expert in Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations and is author of the book Speaking of Jesus: The Art of Not-Evangelism.

By Carl Medearis, Special to CNN

This week at the United Nations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has promised to ask for recognition of a Palestinian state. If he does, the United States will veto. Why?

Largely because of something we'll call Christian Zionism, an American theological movement that preaches a Christian obligation to help Jews reclaim the biblical Promised Land.

I travel constantly, speaking about the Middle East to evangelical Christians across America and Europe. I lived in Lebanon for 12 years and churches invite me to talk about how to love their Muslim neighbors.

Often before I get invited to speak at churches and Christian conferences, I go through an awkward period of questioning, an interview that feels more like an interrogation.

Pastors and conference leaders want to size me up to make sure I’m “safe” for Christian audiences. The interrogation usually goes something like this:

“Carl, we love your books and your message. You have a lot of insight on how Christians can be more Jesus-like to our Middle Eastern neighbors. We hope you’ll talk a lot about that!”

Translation: Please, for the love of God, don’t say anything controversial about Israel or the Palestinians.

Though they are too polite to ask, what those pastors and conference leaders want to know is what is my position on Israel. For them, the modern Jewish state is a direct fulfillment of Bible prophecy, the catalyst for a series of events that will culminate in the return of Jesus.

As the Palestinians press ahead in their bid for statehood, prepare to hear from this crowd. These Christians number in the tens of millions and they go into a state of frenzy every time a politician so much as winks at the idea of Israel giving up a few settlements or withdrawing to pre-1967 borders.

They’ll tell you their concern has nothing to do with their particular interpretation of the Bible and everything to do with America and Israel’s national security interests.

Don’t believe a word of it.

When it comes to U.S. policy on Israel and the Middle East, Christian Zionism is the elephant in the room.

Christian Zionists believe that when God told Abraham 4,000 years ago, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you” he was making a promise that extends to the modern state of Israel. Any nation that “curses” Israel will face God’s judgment.

Not all evangelical Christians believe this, but the ones that do are the loudest voices in the media, and they lead huge organizations.

Television evangelists like Pat Robertson and John Hagee mobilize millions of Christians every year to write to their congressmen demanding that Israel be allowed to expand settlements indefinitely. They seem to oppose every peace deal that comes to the table.

There’s a reason for this. In their minds, the modern Israeli state is not only a fulfillment of biblical prophesy. In a bizarre twist that leaves most outsiders dumbfounded, Christian Zionists say the Bible predicts that Jews and Palestinians will forever be at war until Jesus returns.

They say the only person that will bring peace before the end of the age is—wait for it—the devil, in the form of the anti-Christ.

When you hear some Christian politicians say, “The land belongs to Israel”, what they’re really saying is if America blesses Israel – that is, if it gives uncritical support to the Jewish state - God will bless America. If America curses Israel, God will curse America.

When it comes to Israel and her neighbors, many Christian Zionists believe that peacemaking is the devil’s work.

They may forget that it was Jesus who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers."

One of the reasons Jesus was crucified was because of his refusal to embrace a nationalist agenda. But Christian Zionism blesses military action by the modern state of Israel, under the banner of "national security," including the demolition of Palestinian homes to pave the way for new settlements.

So how would Jesus vote this week if he had a seat at the U.N.?

Surely love, compassion, justice and peace-making would top his lists of concerns for all involved. Maybe he would give a new parable - the Parable of the Good Palestinian - offending all who would hear.

Rather than allowing obscure Old Testament promises to dictate our foreign policy, what if we stuck to the clear commands of God - love your neighbor, your enemy and the foreigner in your midst - which appear in Exodus, Leviticus and three of the four gospels.

Many Christians in America think of Jews and Christians as “us” and anything that sounds Muslim or Arab as “the other.” But the call of Jesus is to be more loving towards the “other” than towards the people we think of as “us.”

This command works both ways. When I’ve had audiences with leaders in the Hezbollah or Hamas, I tell them the same thing: That Jesus said to love your enemies. Who are your enemies? Israel.

It’s true that there are elements of Palestinian society that do not want peace, no matter the price. They need to be isolated and dealt with.

The same goes for elements of Israeli society that don’t want peace. The good news is that extremists are a minority on both sides of the conflict.

People ask me all the time what I think about Israel and end-times theology, and how the Palestinians factor into that.
Here’s my answer: If your end-times theology trumps the clear commands in Scripture to love neighbors and enemies, then its time to rethink your theology.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Israel • Opinion

soundoff (1,520 Responses)
  1. Jose M. Pulido

    Jesus would have had no opinion about the rest of Israeli land still in illegal possession of Muslims/Islamists.

    “Jesus said, My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

    Even though back then Israel was part of the Roman Empire, Jesus never incited rebellion against such empire. Therefore, since Jesus had no opinion about the Israeli land being taken by the Romans, today, He would also have nothing to say about the rest of the Israeli missing land taken by its enemies.
    The closest Jesus got to a political opinion took place when He said:

    "Show me a denarius. Whose portrait and inscription are on it?" "Caesar's," they replied.
    “He said to them," “Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's" (Luke 20:25).

    And Mr. Medearis calls himself “an expert” in this area? It could be more like delusions of grandeur.

    September 22, 2011 at 1:32 am |
    • TheenD

      “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger."

      September 22, 2011 at 1:35 am |
    • sword

      Mat 12:5 Or have ye not read in the law, that on the sabbath day the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are guiltless?

      September 22, 2011 at 2:41 am |
    • TheenD

      "But Abram said to Sarai, “Behold, your servant is in your power; do to her as you please.” Then Sarai dealt harshly with her, and she fled from her."

      September 22, 2011 at 3:30 am |
  2. plnsfrd

    The ignorance of some people is truly amazing. But what is even more amazing is their willingness to expose it. Those who jump into an intelligent conversation with pure gibberish are like flies buzzing around those who are trying to eat. Even atheist scholars know that Jesus was an historical figure. It’s recorded history. As for the Jews not believing that Jesus is actually their true Messiah, Paul said, “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved.” (Romans 11:25) As for what Jesus would have to say about the Israel/Palestine issue: "Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?" (Luke 12:14)

    September 22, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • TheenD

      "How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him."

      September 22, 2011 at 1:28 am |
    • sword

      Luk 6:22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake.
      Luk 6:37 And judge not, and ye shall not be judged: and condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: release, and ye shall be released:

      September 22, 2011 at 2:44 am |
    • TheenD

      Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test." Matthew 4:7

      September 22, 2011 at 3:27 am |
  3. TheenD

    Oh God! I really need a Valium...

    September 22, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • TheenD

      "Like a muddied spring or a polluted fountain is a righteous man who gives way before the wicked."

      September 22, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • TheenD

      Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. They said wash me TheenD under my arms and in my mouth as i have spurted quackery. The Devil is me and i am TheenD...

      September 22, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • TheenD

      "If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him. He shall surely pay. If he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft."

      September 22, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • theendisadeathwish

      I agree totally with the writer.You might call yourself a christian, but in no way does do you resemble the love and understanding of christ. Your dogma is an obstacle to your faith in god

      September 22, 2011 at 1:29 am |
    • TheenD

      "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

      September 22, 2011 at 1:32 am |
    • theendisadeathwish

      I dont understand the quote marks? Are you saying that comment is scripture

      September 22, 2011 at 1:37 am |
    • TheenD

      This is the portion of a wicked man with God, and the heritage that oppressors receive from the Almighty: If his children are multiplied, it is for the sword, and his descendants have not enough bread. Those who survive him the pestilence buries, and his widows do not weep. Though he heap up silver like dust, and pile up clothing like clay, he may pile it up, but the righteous will wear it, and the innocent will divide the silver. - Job 27:13-23

      September 22, 2011 at 1:41 am |
  4. Shazam

    The Palestinians need their own state FAR AWAY from Israel.
    To keep them where they are is irresponsible and insane.
    Why isn't relocation on the table?
    Why keep the Palestinians on a reservation if you don't want them there?
    Evict them all. Make a land deal and shove them off somewhere far away.
    Israel gets billions but won't help people out of poverty and oppression right at their feet?
    This is why I think Israel is being run by a bunch of idiots still living in the past who don't have a f-ing clue about how to deal with the Palestinians. Like every bully hates the victims for being victims. Jews hate the Palestinians for being their victims.
    The Palestinians are stupid, too. They are more interested in firing bombs at random into areas populated with innocent people than to get out of there where they have no hope of winning anything. Escape is the only way out.
    They need their own peaceful country far away in a peaceful place where they can shoot bombs at their neighbors who will also fight back. Muslim vs Muslim. Let them go live in Saudi Arabia or Iran. Give them some land you Muslim countries!
    Stop continuing this insane and ridiculous impasse and get solutions MOVING!
    Israeli policy is being set by blockheads. They need to step aside in favor of real solutions that are guaranteed to work for both sides. Palestinians need a place to live. The one they have really sucks.
    Answer: Give them some land far away, all expenses paid. Simple.

    September 22, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • peace

      Hey, HAMAS leader had funded by some peoples to give right reason to kill Palestine peoples. HAMAS leader is traitor of Islam itself. The funny is the HAMAS member did some brave jihad for these leader! stupid!!

      September 22, 2011 at 1:11 am |
    • TheenD

      "He spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.”

      September 22, 2011 at 1:15 am |
    • Kat

      why don't we give unite israelis with the rest of their relatives in NY and FL and give them a state of their own here in the US? There are already more Jews in America than in Israel itself and our traitor politians are more loyal to Israel than to America. They would withhold aid checks to American seniors and teachers but compete on how much more aid and submission they can manage to give to Israel....it would be easier and cheaper that way...Israelis would fit right in america, ask Bernard Maddoff and Leehman Brothers and Americans can save billions in foriegn aid to cut the defecit.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • gnodges

      "To keep them where they are is irresponsible and insane.
      Why isn't relocation on the table?
      Why keep the Palestinians on a reservation if you don't want them there?
      Evict them all. Make a land deal and shove them off somewhere far away.
      Israel gets billions but won't help people out of poverty and oppression right at their feet?"

      They are not "Keeping" the Palestinians there...that's where they are...they're not goats or horses. And "shove them off somewhere far away" is not helping people out of poverty and oppression.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:59 am |
  5. Bat Guano

    Vengence is mine sayath the lord! Islam should be ridiculed for the disgusting cult that it is...

    Know thy Enemy. I surely do and so should you...

    September 22, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • TheenD

      "And now, behold, the cry of the people of Israel has come to me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them."

      September 22, 2011 at 1:08 am |
  6. Jerad

    Carl that is a twisted twisted viewpoint. You either have a busted logic chip in your brain or you are flat out intentionally lying to support some agenda. Have you even read the New Testament? Parable of the Good Palestinian? Seriously? You mean the one that is shooting a dozen rockets into civilian neighborhoods then complaining they got shot back at? I'm sure the U.S. would tolerate that behavior from Canada without retaliation. Casting zionists as thinking peace is demonic is a ridiculous lie. The truth is they are realists and know full well you cannot make peace with someone who wants nothing more than your death and the total extermination of your race. I don't know how you can even look in the mirror at yourself spouting out such hateful flat out rhetoric that has no basis in truth.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • TheenD

      "Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands....?”

      September 22, 2011 at 12:59 am |
    • Kat

      The Old and New Testicles are nothing but stories of wars, conquests, genocide written by lost tribes in the desert wanting steal "the land of milk and honey". Palestinians are the ones defending their homes from israeli invadors in the name of Yehwah, twisted zionist.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:01 am |
  7. JfromVA

    The Palestinians would have a state if Israel's muslim neighbors hadn't invaded Israel in 1967. So let Syria and Egypt carve out some of their territory for the Palestinians rather than continue to point their finger at the Jew.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • Kat

      Israel bulldozes the homes of the native Palestinians, not Syria or Egypt.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:02 am |
    • TheenD

      "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

      September 22, 2011 at 1:06 am |
  8. peace

    Great!! I wonder why US and Israel didn't nuke on Mecca??

    The Islam think that US and Israel must banished from mideast (and the world) but they don't know how easy if USA and Israel want to destroy Islamic world!! just nuke Iran and Turks.

    Easy isn't it?

    lucky Jesus told USA and Israel to love others. If Jesus was like mohammed that said kill 'em all then what the world would be right now???

    I think i am on the right path to believe Jesus. Love on the way.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:55 am |
    • Kat

      yea because muslims are the ones who invaded jewish towns in Poland, Russia, Germany and Ethopia to build muslims-only colonies, right? It was Muslims who colonized muslim countries and implanted some fake muslim state in the middle of Christian nations and called Fakestan and sent billions of $$ in weapons and nukes to threaten its neighbors. It was muslims who fake evidence of WMD's in Christian nations following their little conversations with their "heavenly father", thenw aged wars that made millions of christians orphans and homeless, to steal their oil and wealth, right? twisted fundi christian logic.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  9. VonDoom

    It's horribly arrogant for anyone who believes in Jesus to somehow claim what he would do, believe or think. If you honestly believe in him and anything that stands for what he is supposed to mean then to assume he would somehow take your opinion literally proves you are a megalomaniac. It never fails to surprise me how people sell Jesus and that he always would believe in whatever that person is trying to sell. Your Jesus would probably be totally neutral and ask you what you would do.

    The only reason why modern Christian fundamentalists support the Jewish or Palestinian state and people's is because they believe it somehow hurries up their belief in a second coming and their personal rapture into heaven. This has to be one of the most selfish, two-faced and backstabbing generation of Christians walking the planet right now only because they think this is a means to serve their ends not here, but in a belief in salvation. To quote a song: You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never choose to be.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:55 am |
    • TheenD

      "Therefore I have poured out my indignation upon them. I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath. I have returned their way upon their heads, declares the Lord God.”

      September 22, 2011 at 12:58 am |
  10. peace

    After Palestine go into US membership, maybe all the mideast Islam will use UN as reasons to force Israel on 1967 border and then to banish Israel out of Jerusalem land.

    Now Israel surrounded by all enemy.
    They have Turks, Egypt, and Libya to defend the north sea.
    They have immigrant in South France, South Germany, South Italy, and South Spain to make a rebellion when Europe want to help Israel.
    They had destroy economic on Greece to make it completely military down.
    They have Iran, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan from East to hinder hep from Russia and China for Israel.
    They have Pakistan to hinder India.
    They have Malaysia, South Filipino, and Indonesia Atjeh to hold help from western side of USA.

    They have immigrant in Australian and USA to make a rebellion when they want to help Israel.

    They have Somalia, North Sudan, and Nigeria to hold South Sea channel.

    Islam Mideast only lack on Australia and Ethiopia and South Sudan.

    And they success to make USA fight those Taliban and Al Qaedah to decrease USA military power and to create USA internal issue – economic and jobs.

    Israel only hope to GOD, right wing Christians, and Russian, and China.

    Hope China didn't use this opportunity to Taiwan and North Korea to South Korea.

    So prepare the next World War!!

    Did I told you that this all only a scheme mod on playstation globalwar games??

    September 22, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • TheenD

      "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day..."

      September 22, 2011 at 1:54 am |
  11. Tom from NC

    Had Israel done what God told them to do in the first place thay would not have this issue today, God told Israel to destroy every last one of them. Instead Israel had compassion and spared some of their lives, So today the Palestinians bomb and rocket Israel. Go figure.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • TheenD

      "Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?”

      September 22, 2011 at 12:51 am |
    • Mathilda

      Tom, you are wrong. Palestinians this century are not child-killing perverts so they deserve no execution as a race. It's all nations' greed and cruelty to mistreat the Jews for the longest time. Nations are just fattening themselves for the Judgment Day. Israel will survive, trust her Savior Jesus and prosper.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  12. gmh

    As a Christian I am always amazed at THOSE Christains who defend Isreal but when asked if a Jew will go to heaven, THEY say "N O". They have not accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. This is SO confusing to me.........

    The last I check God was the creator of ALL men...........and I believe he wants peace for ALL men.

    If you have lost your way, are troubled within reach for your Bible to find Gods answer for your problems. STOP using it to preach, point your finger at, or show how grand you are because you can refer to passages in it. You all think you have THE answer because you can quote a few lines from the Bible.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • TheBossSaid

      Most Christians also overlook what Jesus said about his own people, "Salvation comes from the Jews".

      September 22, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • Mathilda

      @Gmh, humans can get saved only through Jesus because faith in Him alone brings forgiveness of sin. God is holy, He is love and He is just. Entrust Him for what happened, what is happening and what is going to happen. Life is not over yet. The Jews are not over yet. We must tell everyone about the Savior Jesus so both Jews and Gentiles would look to Him and get saved.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:49 am |
  13. Mathilda

    There is only one true God. Jesus would say to the American liberals to shut up. Read Psalms.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • TheenD

      "From oppression and violence he redeems their life, and precious is their blood in his sight."

      September 22, 2011 at 12:53 am |
  14. sdk10

    Pure speculation. Jesus is dead, if he ever lived. Who cares what he might or might not have thought?

    September 22, 2011 at 12:41 am |
    • TheenD

      "Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

      September 22, 2011 at 1:02 am |
  15. TheBossSaid

    Jesus never got involved in politics and even went so far as to command his disciples not to either. Aside from the message of love that Jesus preached, don't forget that he also preached first and foremost about repentance from evil. If there is anything the Palestinians need is to repent from their evil hatred towards Israel. As long as they curse Israel, they will remain under a curse.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:41 am |
    • TheenD

      "When new gods were chosen, then war was in the gates. Was shield or spear to be seen among forty thousand in Israel?"

      September 22, 2011 at 1:22 am |
  16. Fact

    Jesus would say to the American liberals to shut up. Read Psalms.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:40 am |
  17. Erving

    When these so called Palestinians jumped for joy on 9-11, i wanted to jump through the T.V. and mow them down with a machine gun. Unfortunately, i still do!!! Their disgusting culture does not deserve a state or anything else. I am not a Jew or a Cristian. I am an American, and i can't understand why any American would want to support an enemy of the first degree. The world would be better if they all disappeared tomorrow. That is the truth......

    September 22, 2011 at 12:40 am |
    • TheenD

      "So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies."

      September 22, 2011 at 12:55 am |
    • TheenD

      I am Koo Koo! The lord commands me to understand Islams criminal ways!!!

      September 22, 2011 at 1:08 am |
  18. c

    If you follow what Jesus is attributed to saying in the bible, and don't follow what your biased organized religious leaders tell you as they interpret the bible, then what the author of this article purports is true.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:37 am |
    • TheenD

      "But I will judge the nation that they serve,’ said God, ‘and after that they shall come out and worship me in this place."

      September 22, 2011 at 1:04 am |
  19. D.

    How would you feel giving an eviction notice to a Palestinian child? Why should the beach be open only to Israeli children but closed to Palestinian children? The land does not belong to either the Israelis or the Palestinians but both people belong to the Land. If each side truly wants peace, listen to the Land. Open dialogue, talk directly to each other. No middleman, no politicians, no diplomats, no kings, no representatives involved. Direct, open talk between two people may be the only way this difficult peace can be achieved. Before you open your Bible and quote pithely from your armchair, consider the reality of Palestinian children living out on the cold sand, coping with daily stress of warfare, toxic hatred and bombardment. How would Jesus handle this?

    September 22, 2011 at 12:34 am |
  20. Roland

    They (Palistinians) have a different God. So I think otherwise.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:32 am |
    • sadiq

      That is not true. There r Xtians among Palestinians too

      September 22, 2011 at 12:35 am |
    • sandra

      Majority of Palestinians are Muslims and believe in the same God as Christians and Jews. If you don't know your facts, please don't respond.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • sdk10

      Dude! WHere ya been? Head buried in a hole somewhere? Palestinians are muslim. They have the same god as Christians and Jews.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:40 am |
    • Jose M. Pulido

      sadiq:

      Xtians and Muzzies? Or Christians and Muslims? Are you that lazy you can’t spell the word “Christians”? Do you prefer to be called a Muzzie?

      September 22, 2011 at 12:42 am |
    • Mathilda

      There is just one true God. Jesus would say to the American liberals to shut up. Read Psalms.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • tallulah13

      No, Matilda, you are saying shut up. I'm not sure if you know this, but you are not Jesus and you don't get to speak for him.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:27 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.