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October 9th, 2011
07:42 PM ET

My Take: This evangelical says Mormonism isn’t a cult

Editor’s note: Richard J. Mouw is President of Fuller Theological Seminary, an evangelical school in Pasadena, California.

By Richard J. Mouw, Special to CNN

Some prominent evangelical pastors have been telling their constituents not to support Mitt Romney’s bid for the presidential nomination. Because Romney is Mormon, they say, to cast a vote for him is to promote the cause of a cult.

I beg to differ.

For the past dozen years, I’ve been co-chairing, with Professor Robert Millet of Brigham Young University – the respected Mormon school - a behind-closed-doors dialogue between about a dozen evangelicals and an equal number of our Mormon counterparts.

We have talked for many hours about key theological issues: the authority of the Bible, the person and work of Christ, the Trinity, “continuing revelations” and the career of Joseph Smith, the 19th century founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), better known as the Mormon Church.

We evangelicals and our Mormon counterparts disagree about some important theological questions. But we have also found that on some matters we are not as far apart as we thought we were.

I know cults. I have studied them and taught about them for a long time. It’s worth noting that people have wondered whether I belong to a cult, with a reporter once asking me: “Evangelicalism, is that like Scientology and Hare Krishna?”

Religious cults are very much us-versus-them. Their adherents are taught to think that they are the only ones who benefit from divine approval. They don’t like to engage in serious, respectful give-and-take dialogue with people with whom they disagree.

Nor do they promote the kind of scholarship that works alongside others in pursuing the truth. Jehovah’s Witnesses, for instance, haven’t established a university. They don’t sponsor a law school or offer graduate-level courses in world religions. The same goes for Christian Science. If you want to call those groups cults I will not argue with you.

But Brigham Young University is a world-class educational institution, with professors who’ve earned doctorates from some of the best universities in the world. Several of the top leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have PhDs from Ivy League schools.

These folks talk admiringly of the evangelical Billy Graham and the Catholic Mother Teresa, and they enjoy reading the evangelical C.S. Lewis and Father Henri Nouwen, a Catholic. That is not the kind of thing you run into in anti-Christian cults.

So are Mormons Christians? For me, that’s a complicated question.

My Mormon friends and I disagree on enough subjects that I am not prepared to say that their theology falls within the scope of historic Christian teaching. But the important thing is that we continue to talk about these things, and with increasing candor and mutual openness to correction.

No one has shown any impulse to walk away from the table of dialogue. We do all of this with the blessing of many leaders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, some of whom have become good friends.

While I am not prepared to reclassify Mormonism as possessing undeniably Christian theology, I do accept many of my Mormon friends as genuine followers of the Jesus whom I worship as the divine Savior.

I find Mormons to be more Christ-centered than they have been in the past. I recently showed a video to my evangelical Fuller Seminary students of Mormon Elder Jeffrey Holland, one of the Twelve Apostles who help lead the LDS church. The video captures Holland speaking to thousands of Mormons about Christ’s death on the cross.

Several of my students remarked that if they had not known that he was a Mormon leader they would have guessed that he was an evangelical preacher.

The current criticisms of Mitt Romney’s religious affiliation recall for many of us the challenges John Kennedy faced when he was campaigning for the presidency in 1960.

Some well-known Protestant preachers (including Norman Vincent Peale) warned against putting a Catholic in the White House. Kennedy’s famous speech to Houston pastors clarifying his religious beliefs as they related to his political leadership helped his cause quite a bit.

But the real changes in popular attitudes toward Catholicism happened more slowly, as Catholic Church leaders and scholars engaged in a new kind of dialogue with each other and representatives of other faith groups, most dramatically at the Second Vatican Council during the early years of the 1960s.

Cults do not engage in those kinds of self-examining conversations. If they do, they do not remain cults.

Those of us who have made the effort to engage Mormons in friendly and sustained give-and-take conversations have come to see them as good citizens whose life of faith often exhibits qualities that are worthy of the Christian label, even as we continue to engage in friendly arguments with them about crucial theological issues.

Mitt Romney deserves what every politician running for office deserves: a careful examination of his views on policy and his philosophy of government. But he does not deserve to be labeled a cultist.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Richard J. Mouw.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Cults • Mitt Romney • Politics • Rick Perry

soundoff (2,721 Responses)
  1. William O Leary

    Jesus said: those who go to heaven will be like the angels, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. Mormons believe they will have their own planet and seven virgin wives. The BOM claims great civilizations decended from Jews lived in the Americas but were wiped out. Included in these great civilizations are the Aztecs from South America, but the Aztec culture, language and religious beliefs had nothing in common with Israeli culture, languge of beliefs. In fact, DNA testing has proven that South American natives have decended from Eastern Siberia.

    October 9, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • greg

      There is no physical evidence of the flood or the Ark, but you probably believe in that.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:20 pm |
    • Mormon4ever

      Aztecs ARE (ancient & descendents) on North America (Central Mexico area). Perhaps you meant Incas (South Amerca -Peru area). The aztec calendar shows 4 ERAS. The destruction of the world by water, fire, wind, etc. The 5th era (Today) Shows the end of the world by hunger, war & yes, earthquakes. Talks about a first men & a first woman. BTW SCIENCE says you are a descendent of an Ape. I prefer to belive that I am descendent of Adam. About that of 7 virgin wives? Please give facts not some google 3 second "research". Show me some scripture/statement from the church.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:24 pm |
  2. Mormon4ever

    Mr./Ms. former Mormon.
    Temple ceremonies are SACRED not secret remember the sunday school? You are welcome to come back any time you know it. Everybody is welcome to know, after only one year & good standing you will have that privilege.
    BTW I will vote for OBAMA. Religion is important, but for President of the USA I don't want another Bush ERA that will take this wonderful country into the 3rd world.

    October 9, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • Mike in SA

      See...that's one of the main issues I have with Mormoniism; you comment above "Everyone is welcome to know as long as they have one year in good standing..." Sorry...but if you can't tell me up front, then I have some deep reservations about that religion. Oh...I'm a Conservative, Christian (not a member of any organized religion that has been taken over by man and lost the true meaning of Jesus' teachings) and I will be voting for Romney. God bless him and protect him and ALL running.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:21 pm |
  3. Adam

    I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Frankly it's really no concern to me personally if others don't consider me a Christian. All that matters is that Jesus Christ, whom I love and worship and revere as my Savior, does. However, for the sake of those who are more interested in truth, I invite you to check the official source for you to make your own decision as to what the LDS Church really teaches and stands for: http://www.mormon.org.

    As for being a cult, we open our Sunday worship services to the entire world. Please drop in any time and see for yourself what is taught and what takes place. Only our temples, where we make sacred covenants with God, are reserved only for active members who live their lives according to gospel standards. (Again, see http://www.mormon.org.)

    As for Mormons who don't show Christian behavior, I'm sorry that they don't live their lives according to the teachings of the Church. Thankfully there are far more of us who are doing our very best to do so than those who don't. It's unfortunate when any person, whether Mormon, Catholic, Protestant, Jew, Muslim, atheist, politician, employee, co-worker, or otherwise, doesn't live their life consistent with their professed beliefs or the commitments/promises they make.

    Go to an authentic and accurate source for accurate information: http://www.mormon.org.

    Be well, all.

    October 9, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • steve

      Well said

      October 9, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
  4. steve

    Have any of you even been to a Mormon church service? The things they teach are good, moral principals.

    October 9, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  5. fistface

    How about we separate Church and State and call it a day? Meanwhile... The Republicans are not front-running yet another fiscally irresponsible candidate are they? Seriously?!?!?!

    October 9, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
  6. Kris in AL

    Wasn't Romney governor of MA? If being a Mormon is such a disqualifier, how did MA survive his governorship?

    October 9, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • Jake

      I though Mitt did good is Mass. Yeah i think they survived.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
  7. Doug

    Any time that a religious organization demands unquestioning obedience to the leadership it is a cult by definition. Mormons are taught from the youngest age that their leaders (from the local bishop through the president of the Mormon church) are infallible and their word is sacrosanct. I wish someone could explain to me how that is not a cult?

    As for the author's comment about "us versus them" that is one of the most pervasive elements of Mormon thinking. Just try living in Utah as a non-Mormon (they refer to all non-Mormons as Gentiles - Utah is the only place where a Jew can be a Gentile). They deny all history that does not portray them as vicims - ask about the 1838 Mormon War in Missouri, the Mountain Meadows Massacre or any number of other historical evens that they were as much the perpetrators in violance against non-Mornoms. Their version is that everyone is out to get them.

    October 9, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • JustAMormon

      That's not entirely true. We are told, even encouraged to test everything our Leader's say, by praying to Heavenly Father to reveal the truth of their message to us. We follow, because we love the joy it brings. You could say that we can "know by [its] fruits" that the Church's message is true. =)

      October 9, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
    • mormon

      They do teach that the words they speak are as if the words of God. however, they never say to blindly obey their word but to pray and find out what they said is true. You'd be surprised the things you can learn from personal revelation.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • Darryl

      Everything you have said is either a lie or a complete misrepresentation. It is no wonder the LDS church remains not understood with people like you spreading lies about something you have no idea about.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • Dennis

      You have little to say that isn't a lie... so sad.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:15 pm |
  8. 54Him

    Ex-Mormon here... Mormon's are not biblical Christians and as such are not Christians at all. The Jesus they believe in is not the Jesus of the bible. So much extra-biblical garbage about who Jesus was from Mormonism, what he did and what he means to them that they don't even know what it means to a biblical follower of Christ. Ask a Mormon which heaven following Jesus gets them into. That's right, multiple heavens and to get to the best heaven, the one where you get to become a God yourself, you have to put your faith in the Mormon Church – not in Jesus. Sound the the Jesus you read about in the bible? Nope. Wolf in sheep's clothing. Not sure who I'm voting for but I cannot vote for a man who honestly believes he'll get to be a God of his own planet someday.

    October 9, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • Kris in AL

      So do you think God the Father (or is that Jesus to you?) actually casts His children into a literal lake of fire and brimstone for eternity? Wouldn't that make God the Universe's biggest child abuser?

      PS...... If Adolf Hitler, just before he died, had taken Jesus as his personal Savior, should he end up in the same place as say....Billy Graham? The Apostle Paul? John the Baptist?

      October 9, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • Darryl

      I, for one, am glad you consider yourself an ex-Mormon. With your complete lack of understand and propensity to lie about things you have no idea about shows you either left the church before you hit puberty or were simply a horrible student. Either way, you should learn something about your "former" church before you start spouting off lies to the world. One day you'll have to pay for your misrepresentations.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • Mike

      Kris in AL, like I've said before, I'm not religious, but I do believe that to enter Heaven, you have to truly repent for your sins. Do you honestly think that Hitler would have truly repented, or just said sorry? People need to think about what they say before replying on CNN, the comments here are normally full of misinformation, bigotry, and ignorance.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
    • Garrett

      obviously you did not understand the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, never in my life have i been asked to put my faith in the Church or anything other than Jesus Christ

      October 9, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
  9. Jesus is Lord

    I reserve the right to Read My Bible, Pray, Learn from the Holy spirit, like the Berean Church THAN be taught what Christianity is or is not, from men with collar but no calling, the educated idiots who equate winning arguments to winning souls for the Kingdom.
    Besides, your church is not the way to heaven. My church is NOT the way to heaven. Jesus is.
    Christianity as a way of life is a PERSONAL thing. Not a mormon or evangelical thing. Not a group thing.

    October 9, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
  10. s c h

    Colins-– LOL and do I ever agree. Religion is like Santa Claus. The sad part is so many people do not come to realize that.
    Religion is the cause of most of the grief in the world if not all. It divides people instead of uniting them and gives reasons for people to look down on others. Waste of time.

    October 9, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • JustAMormon

      In some spheres, Religion has been used to cause pain. But religion has also been responsible for many great things! Music, arts, cultures. It would be a pretty bleak world without Religion's influence. Just my opinion.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
    • Garrett

      without religion there are no morals. The world is becoming less and less religious and more and more immoral. The vast majority of people i know that practice any religion, be it hindu, muslim, buddhist, catholic, you name it, are good people trying to be better and help those around them

      October 9, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  11. Jake

    I'm here at BYU going to school right now. Love this school

    October 9, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
    • popeye1128

      Cute.

      October 9, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • ion2k

      I think I'll invite some UFO abductees over to discuss bigfoot. We all believe in santa claus so please don't say they're deluded.

      The problem is that "all" religions are cults. Look up the dictionary definition; they all meet the primary definition to a tee.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  12. liz48

    I take the views of so called evangelicals with a grain of salt...The Bible is hardly their standard. The Presbyterian church ordained a gay priest, even though the scriptures clearly show that sodomy is an extreme evil in the sight of God, who through the covenant of marriage expresses the nature of His relationship with us. The body of believers in the Messiah Jesus is referred to as the Bride and is an allusion to the first man and woman who were created and joined as one. We are one with God.

    Mormonism is a complete deception if you refer to the scriptures that foretold the Messiah Jesus Who is the Master of all believers who follow Him. Mormonism has many extremely unusual practices; one is having specific mormon underwear that followers wear 24/7. There is nothing of this sort specified by the Lord Jesus Christ. Just because someone refers to Jesus does not mean they are His followers. This is clear in the book of Acts in the Bible where a girl who was into divination kept affirming that Jesus was Lord and Paul, an apostle cast a demon out of her.

    October 9, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • iamdeadlyserious

      You do realize that Presbyterians aren't Evangelicals, right?

      Actually, let's back up. You do realize that you're completely insane, right?

      October 9, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  13. Carl

    How many mormons are there?

    October 9, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • Steve

      14 Million

      October 9, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • Carl

      Wow, that's a lot of people for them to be considered a cult. I'd figure once a religious organization reaches over a million members it would be considered a religion, not a cult. Regardless of it's origin or beliefs. What a silly debate.

      October 9, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • Melissa

      About 4-6 million active Mormons worldwide. There are only about 2-3 million active Mormons in the United States, regardless of what their adherents state. (adherents.com source)

      The church never removes people from the rolls and counts anyone – active, inactive, officially resigned, or excommunicated – on their rolls until the person would have reached the age of 110 to boost the appearance of its numbers.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • andrew

      maybe on that basis Carl, Jehovah's Witnesses shouldn't be branded a cult. According to adhearents.com they reckon there is more active JW's than Anglicans!!

      October 10, 2011 at 3:41 am |
  14. Troubled Christian

    What troubles me the most about this discussion between so-called Christian leaders is that according to them, a person of Jewish faith could never be president because obviously the Jewish faith does not recognize Jesus Christ. Persons of the Jewish faith have had a long history here in the US. They have as much right to public office as Christians.

    October 9, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • Colin

      Oh dear god, man, you are just scraping the surface!! Here are a few more.

      1. At its most fundamental level, Christianity requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,700,000,000 years ago, sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years, waited for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,700,000,000 years for h.omo sapiens to gradually evolve, then, at some point gave them eternal life and sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle east. While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of Iron Age Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies.

      Either that, or it all started 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake. Either way “oh come on” just doesn’t quite capture it.

      2. This “all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and spying on the approximately 6 billion human beings on planet Earth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic telepathic powers, so as to know if they think bad thoughts, so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.

      3. The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze and Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages. This is probably why there is not one passage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant, sheep-like gullibility.

      4. A rejection of the supernatural elements of Christianity does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent we reject Christian morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – we just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.

      Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions about the transparently silly aspects of the faith(s).

      5. We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Korsesh at Waco – 35 years after the fact.

      6. When backed into a corner, Christianity admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. However, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something, which it most certainly is not, one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Christian based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. Geography and birthplace dictates what god(s) one believes in. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own gods and they all seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams, and prejudices? Do you think they all exist? If not, why only yours?
      Faith is not belief in a god. It is a mere hope for a god, a wish for a god, no more universal that the language you speak or the baseball team you support.

      7. The Bible is literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including, genocide, murder, slavery, ra.pe and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.

      8. Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is be honestly not believe in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.

      October 9, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • JustAMormon

      Well said! I believe any Buddhist, Hindu, Catholic, Protestant, or even Atheist/Agnostic could make a great president. As long as they will represent the values and positions I support I will vote for them.

      October 9, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • popeye1128

      Oh you don't understand the underground political religious thought. True Jews believe Christ existed just not convinced he was the final messiah. Jews are given a pass by most Christians oddly enough.

      October 9, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  15. jack

    Whose to decide which religion is more Christian? Whichs is more Christian: Catholic, Baptist, Mormon? Who are YOU to decide?

    October 9, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  16. BigBill

    Nobody has answered the big question. What does Mormonism say about the deity of Christ? If you understand Mormonisms position on this point, you will understand why they are considered a cult.

    October 9, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • JustAMormon

      We believe in the divinity of Christ. He is our Savior and Redeemer. We pray unto the Father, just as Christ asked us to do. "Pray unto the father always in my name."

      October 9, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
    • Jake

      I agree with JustAMormon. He is very correct on mormon belief

      October 9, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
    • BigBill

      I know that you do not believe the Jesus Christ is eternal. I have forgotten your particular spin, but what is typical of cults is that they believe Christ somehow is the first offshoot of the Father, but not co-eternal with Him. This denies his essential Deity.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • BigBill

      Which is why Mormonism is deceiving. You use much of the same nomenclature as evangelicals...."oh, yes, we believe in the divinity of Jesus," but when it really comes down to the full truth of what you mean, it is really quite different from Trinitarian Belief. By the way, o theos in John 1:4 cannot mean "a god." When the article is used in this type of construction in the New Testament it is never used in this way. It is best understood as "the one and only."

      October 10, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  17. Kris in AL

    BTW.....Which Jesus do the Evangelicals worship? The Mormons believe in an individual member of the Godhead named Jesus, the Son of God...... The Evangelicals seem to think that the Jesus they talk about was praying to Himself in the Garden and spoke to Himself while on the Cross......."Father (who is Me, but not here but up there) forgive them for they know not what they do "(to Me who is You but not really, since I'm here nailed to this Cross while You who am I but not here look down on Me who is not there, but nailed to this Cross down here.)........I'm confused.........Which Christ are they talking about?

    October 9, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
    • BigBill

      There are three separate Persons within the Godhead, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all of whom are One in Essence....i.e. Deity.

      October 10, 2011 at 2:49 am |
  18. John

    Joseph Smith started the Mormon church because he was kicked out of the free masons after he was caught sleeping w all of the leaders wives. He started his own religion so that he could keep getting lucky with other mens wives.

    October 9, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • Carl

      Link?

      October 9, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
    • Jon Jones

      Bwaaaahahahahahahaha! Where did you hear that?

      October 9, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • Garrett

      blatant lies

      October 9, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • MinJae

      Complete and utter nonsense. The depths of your ignorance are, obviously, yet to be plumbed. How embarrassing for you.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
  19. Colin

    Which of the following groups believes that an invisible being in the sky is watching all 6 billion human beings 24 hours a day, and will punish them if they are bad:

    (a) Small children, too young to know that is silly
    (b) Delusional schizophrenics
    (c) Mormons and other Christians; or
    (d) All of the above

    October 9, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • BigBill

      You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I'm telling you why, Santa Claus is coming to town!!!!

      October 9, 2011 at 10:55 pm |
    • Kris in AL

      Which of the following groups believes that a lighting bolt struck a puddle of slime on primitive Earth and out of that random occurance and TRILLIONS of others, life was formed with the ability to sustain and replicate itself thus embarking on the evolutionary journey that has yielded us and all the other millions of lifeforms on this planet:

      (a) Small children, too young to know that is silly
      (b) Delusional schizophrenics
      (c) Evolutionists and Atheists; or
      (d) All of the above

      October 9, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  20. popeye1128

    I've seriously thought about getting one of those preacher licenses online. I could make a living where I'm at in the south and tax free to boot!
    What a deal and a legal scam at the same time.

    October 9, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • s c h

      LOL popeye you would probably make as much sense as all the other lunatic ministers, preachers, priest and Rabbis. Just be sure to speak the true chosen word.

      October 9, 2011 at 11:06 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.