November 29th, 2011
07:27 AM ET

Belief Blog's Morning Speed Read for Tuesday, November 29

Here's the Belief Blog’s morning rundown of the top faith-angle stories from around the United States and around the world. Click the headlines for the full stories.

By Dan Merica, CNN

From the Blog:

CNN: Pastor fights HIV stigma in Southern town
Only three people had shown up for this month's HIV/AIDS awareness meeting. Usually, there are 10 to 12 - a surprisingly good turnout for a congregation of 25, which just goes to show how many people the disease affects in this small Southern town.

CNN: Want cheaper tuition? Find religion
With church membership dwindling and more families struggling to afford the cost of college, many private religiously-affiliated colleges and universities are slashing tuition and offering incentives to attract new students – and to stay afloat.

CNN: A preaching ‘genius’ faces his toughest convert
Fred Craddock was a young preacher trying to find his voice when he received a call from his mother one day. "You need to go see your father," she said. "He may not live longer."

Tweet of the Day:

From @CNNBelief: More evidence of James Dobson’s marginalization? “@TheBrodyFile: Dobson To Praise @micheleBachmann before @IowaCaucus bit.ly/u7FTRr

@CNNBelief’s follow of the day:

Denny Burk, @DennyBurk, keeps up a regularly updated blog and twitter account, while also working as an associate professor of biblical studies at Boyce College. Between tweets about his family, Burk is a great source of information on religion and politics.

In other Twitter news:

Belief Net: “Tweet the Bible” starts 86-year project
A group of friends say they have launched a 86-year project in which they will post on Twitter one verse of the Bible daily.

Enlightening Reads:

Huffington Post: Pope: Others should be held to same abuse ‘standards’
Pope Benidict XVI told bishops from New York State that "all other institutions" in society should be held to the same "exacting standards" as the Roman Catholic Church in preventing and reporting sex abuse.

Burlington Free Press: Inmates, Vermont prisons in conflict over Muslim prayer services
Gregory Sierras, a Muslim inmate says he and other inmates this year have had to fight for their right to hold Friday prayer services and receive pre-dawn and after-dusk meals during Ramadan in the Northern State Correctional Facility in Newport.

Christian Post: Profile of Megachurches: Young, White, Still Growing
If megachurches were a denomination, they'd be the second largest Protestant group in the country, researchers say.

Catholic News Agency: Crystal Cathedral win was miraculous, legal firm says
The Diocese of Orange beat all odds in their winning bid for the Crystal Cathedral because their final offer was less than their competitor, says the Busch Firm, which represented the diocese in court. “A true miracle!” said founder Tim Busch in reaction to the news.

Houston Chronicle: Tebow popularity fueled by football fanatics, evangelical faithful
The religious overtones in Tebow fandom are impossible to ignore, and a new ebook chronicles the rise of America’s most famous evangelical Christian QB.

Quote of the Day:

This used to be the wealthiest and most cosmopolitan city in the country, but it has been slowly fading for more than 20 years. It has become poorer and more conservative. The conservatives are not only Muslims. There are conservative Copts, too. But their differences need a trigger — an event.

– Mohammad Hanou, Egyptian businessman and blogger is quoted in the Vancouver Sun speaking about Alexandria, Egypt and the fears that Coptic Christians have in light of what looks like significant gains by Islamist parties in the nations parliamentary elections.

Stewart/Colbert on God and Thanksgiving:

John Stewart and Steven Colbert might have been off last week, but that doesn’t mean they missed President Obama’s annual Thanksgiving address that was posted to YouTube. On Monday, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report took a comedic approach to the fact that Obama left God out of his address.

Today’s Opinion:

CNN: My Take: Defending TLC’s ‘All-American Muslim’ against Muslim complaints
For the last decade, Islam has been under a lot of scrutiny, and understandably so. When you’ve got terrorists all over the world declaring war on America and the West in the name of Islam, it’s only natural that people will have questions.

(The piece by Khurram Dara, author of “The Crescent Directive” has already garnered a lot of attention on Twitter, Facebook and in the comments section of CNN’s Belief Blog.)

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. salvia effects

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    April 14, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  2. Bo

    @hippy, I don't know where you found that qoute. There are many, maybe even more 'home churches' than there are megachurches. But there is good and bad about having churches. Churches bring together many people of common thought and fellowship, but it also requires a building that demands a lot of expenseive upkeep etc.. With home churches there may be a lack community outreach, i.e. welfare work etc., but there is a closer knit of friendships. Whichever way it is, fellowship is needed just to meet the human scocial needs, and a church helps. As far as I'm concerend, I have been a member of two megachurches and I think there is a lack of that 'persona' inter-reaction. In neither church did I ever get to know the pastor.

    November 29, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • hippypoet

      why then do it in a building, how about outside – if god is everywhere, then outside in the weather is in my opinion closer to "god" then inside anything, well execpt maybe a cave! This was, there is no need for hand-outs by the church goers, for there is nothing to fix...in the religious persons eyes, if the outside is god made then it is perfect yet they all go inside to worship...rather silly.

      November 29, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • OldTimer

      hippypoet, if you are expecting any religion based on the Bible to make sense, then you are being hopelessly unrealistic and just ridiculous as hell. And I mean that in a bad way.

      November 29, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
  3. Bo

    I would agree with you William. I think it is almost an insult to the posters, as if to say: The posters can't read, or understand, so we have to do it for them. It's the same thing, after the POTUS makes a speech, a radio or TV commintator needs to come on to tell us what he said, like we don't know. Although, what I think that is all about is a political agenda, the comentator whats the audience to think his/her way about what was said.

    November 29, 2011 at 9:52 am |
    • AnnaMaria44

      Also, regarding the flood- "who's to know?" That will upset every geologist that I've ever known. That's their job- to uncover events that left behind evidence in the earth's strata.

      November 29, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  4. Bo

    Because megachurches are not denominational, I think, begs the question: Since there are a large number of denominations, what is church denominationalism all about, that it is not necessary in megachurches?

    November 29, 2011 at 9:40 am |
    • hippypoet

      first Bo, what is the need for churches in the first place? If jesus said – "left a stone and i am there. Split a plank of wood and you will find me." why then do all the followers of jesus NEED a place to worship. In the end period of the middle ages people started to worship in there own homes. It started because of the chaples in castles and how they were just glorifed homes with a sweet place of worship...many homes have been found with a simple cushion to kneel on while praying.

      November 29, 2011 at 9:45 am |
    • Not A Muslim

      Hippypoet: perhaps u would clarify what verse of the bible that's in? I think your reading from the pantheism bible because Jesus isn't in everything.

      November 29, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • hippypoet

      your right, its not found in the bible – its found in the gospel of judas and another one but i can't place it at the moment. Its part of what has become known as the sercet teachings of jesus...each so called messiah had a group and inside that group there was a select few who really got to know the man they called messiah – for jesus it was (according to myth) judas, mary, and one other – this is where it gets confusing because it jumps from one dude to the next.

      November 29, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Chuckles


      The one other persons name was Biff. Don't believe me? Read the book Lamb, it's very......enlightening.

      November 29, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • hippypoet

      lol, all i can think of when i hear biff is back to the future! you just made my day! thank you.

      November 29, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Chuckles


      Nobody calls me chicken!

      and seriously, read Lamb, I promise you won't be disappointed. It's about Jesus and his best friend biff set during the middle years between his birth and the crucifixtion. It's basically just about jesus being a big di.ck and absuing his godly powers as a teenager.

      November 29, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • hippypoet

      i will give it a read.. have you ever heard the story of when jesus was a kid playing with his friend and his friend fell off the roof and died...everyone in the village blamed jesus for his death, jesus not wanting to take blame that wasn't his brings the boy back from the dead and askes him "did i push you off roof?" the once dead boy answers "no, i fell"

      just think its an interesting story and kinda on the same par as abuse of powers.

      November 29, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Chuckles


      Hmmm.... This book is a little....different. This one has jesus bringing people back to lifejust for sh.its, but I think it would be pretty funny if the kid died, jesus brings him back to life and asked if it was jesus who killd him, and once the kid said no, he fell off the roof, Jesus smote him. Which brings up another question, what's the difference between smiting someone and killing them? Can an average Joe smite someone?

      November 29, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • hippypoet

      we are after all made in gods image so i can't see why we shouldn't be able to smite people...how if we are created in gods image then god is one ugly dude!

      November 29, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I love Christopher Moore!
      His chapter ti.tle "Torah Torah Torah – Cry of the Kamikaze Rabbi" had be in sti.tches.
      That and the bit where Jesus stays at a Buddhist temple and studies martial arts – but being The Son of God, he cannot wield and weapons or practice offensive moves. Hence, the monks devised a new, purely defensive martial art that became know as "The Way of the Jew" .... or "Judo"

      November 29, 2011 at 11:42 am |
    • Chuckles


      Or the fact that Jesus starts the tradition of having chinese food on his birthday every year?! Brilliant.

      I think I need to reread this book.

      November 29, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • AnnaMaria44

      In my spare time I'm putting together a time-line of events in the Bible and other religions, because I've seen so much un-researched garbage tossed around on here. Not to say my dates will be perfect, but by taking archaeological and historical facts from a number of credible sources, at least it will be more factually accurate. Example: archaeologists place the great flood, yes, the Great Flood of Noah- at around 3000 BC (5000 years ago), or possibly 2807 BC based on evidence of a huge comet hitting the Indian Ocean around that date. Most other cultures around the world also have flood stories dating back to that time. My point is that there were references made to a Messiah as far back as Genesis 3:15 (taken from the NIV version, which was re-written for accuracy following the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, dated to approx. the 2nd century BC). Why do you guys always harp on the New Testament? Archaeologists and historians have clearly found evidence of several events from the Old Testament. And really by the time Jesus came along, Jews WEREN'T looking for their Messiah, they were very sceptical and few actually believed. The Jewish people were extremely jaded by that time period so it the argument that "they made Jesus fit the requirements" makes no sense when taken into the context of the times. Also what about the conception of John the Baptist (his mother Elizabeth was a cousin of Mary's), and the appearance of the angel Gabriel before her husband Zechariah (Luke 1:5-1:80), which took place before the conception of Jesus? Most people neglect that part of Scripture.

      November 29, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Chuckles


      Ok, I'll bite. first of all, flood stories abound in all cultures because terrible floods happen when people build cities close to water. If you noticed, we also need water to live and you'll find that most places are built near or on water sources for that reason, yet when it rains really hard or for other natural occuring events, floods happen. But apart from you trying to prove that events in the OT happened the way they are described (while ignoring the ludicrous idea that Noah would be able to get 2 of every animal onto a giant ark, animals not found in the Middle east by the way, and boat around for 40 days without water and food....)

      Lets get into the meat of what you're saying. First and foremost the jews have had many messiahs throughout the course of history, jesus is just the most famous one who actually spawned a legit religion from him. The others stuck more closely to Judaism and didn't try to radically change it OR include gentiles. From about the destruction of the first temple up till now, jews have and will always be looking for a messiah, they haven't stopped as a culture and its why jesus was popular among some when he came onto the scene, because they WANT a messiah. Secondly, I don't think you understand what people mean when they say that jesus was shoehorned into prophecies in order to prove his messianic abilities. The people who did this were the people who believed jesus was the messiah, unlike the other israelites who have and continually point our the inconsistancies, the falsehoods and so on.

      I could go on, but the fact of the matter is, if you use just the bible to map out a timeline it's a little wonky but doable because for over 2000 years its had revisions and edits so that it would make more sense, if you want to really look the history of the world through geology, ice core samples and what not, it'll paint a very different picture.

      November 29, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • AnnaMaria44

      Umm Chuckles,
      did you even read what I wrote? I'm using credible, unbiased sources, such as archaeological and geological data. Here's an example of interesting material that I've found:

      November 29, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • AnnaMaria44

      Just thought I'd send these too: And regarding Noah's ark, read up on Displaced Crust theory, the tectonic plates, and continental drift. Also no specific animals were named in Genesis 9-10. Here is a Chinese reconstruction of the ark based on the measurements described in Genesis (this one is a religious site, but these were the only pics I could find quickly).
      http://www.bib-arch.org/news/dss-in-stone-news.asp (archaeology news)

      November 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Chuckles


      I'm not saying there wasn't a huge flood. Who's to know? If there was a huge meteor impact in the indian ocean by a comet, it would create a humongous tsunami that would sweep miles inland...... now keep in mind however that a comet large enough to create a wave big enough to reach from the Indian Ocean all the way to the middle east.....well lets just say we wouldn't be around to talk about it. I don't think the comet that killed the dinosaurs was big enough to do that. In any event, like i said, I have no doubt there was probably large floods that killed lots of people and were remembered, exagerrated and passed down from generation to generation as a warning. Considering most natural events were attributed to god, its not hard to connect the dots that if a giant flood comes that kills large amounts of people, the people who survived said god/gods sent it and the people who lived were the most pious and the people who died were evil. Like I stated before, because we build so close to water sources, flood stories are a regular canon in most ancient books, same with fire and rain. You might notice cultures that live near mountains/volcanoes have their own set of myths that include why a natural disaster like a volcanic eruption would befall them, vs. christianity/judaism that makes no mention of volcanic activity because that culture didn't have to deal with it. saavy?

      Secondly, you don't have to name every single animal to know that trying to corral every single animal on earth onto an ark for 40 days (especially Noah's ark that has precise measurments) to realize that it's pretty imporbably to ever have occured. Not to mention a flood as massive as the one described in the bible would have wiped out all flora as well, did noah get all the different types of plants, trees, algea and the like on board to make sure those survived as well? Did he have huge barrles of seeds of all different types to then plant after the water receded?

      Archeaology, Geology and so on will only get you so far, and can prove some veracity to some historical claims made in the bible. For instance you can find an ancient city that is described in the bible, however that doesn't automatically mean the people, actions and events took place there as well, it just means that the city actually existed, nothing more.

      I also see you completely ignored my second half about jesus, jews, messianic traditions and so on as well.

      November 29, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Chuckles


      Something that also occured to me, doesn't the bible say that god made it rain and that's why the flood happened? I could go back and check but I'm pretty sure thats the case. If that is so, then why should a comet creating a tsunami have any bearing on this specific flood. As far as I know, comets don't create rain that steadily builds up, it just creates one large wave that destroyes everything in its path and then recedes. So you have two issues here. 1. You use archeological and geological evidence to support your claim that a huge wave did rip through the middle east where noah was, the flood story evolved from that but then you have to deal with the issues of a tsunami large enough to reach noah from the indian ocean without destroying the entire world. Your second option is to throw out all that evidence, say it rained for a really long time to create the big flood and have no earthly way of explaining how it could happen and then your only real issue is the explanation of how noah was able to fit every piece of flora and fauna onto his ark, his family and enough food to survive for 40 days at sea. This is an issue regardless but at least in option B you don't have to back it up with archeology and geology

      November 29, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • AnnaMaria44

      Chuckles, didn't have time to reply, trying to cook dinner!
      Read the links I sent. Yes, it rained. However that doesn't exclude a cosmic event from happening, an event that has been described in every culture globally. I pointed it out as an "interesting scientific theory" because you didn't know that the great flood actually did occur.
      The Je-wish people were waiting for the virtual resurrection of King David, a strong military leader, to become the Je-wish Messiah. Not Jesus, he wasn't credible to the Je-ws simply because he preached peace, and he didn't actually minister to the Gentiles. He only reluctantly healed them- the Je-ws were "God's Chosen people" during the time of Jesus. Paul was the "redeemed Je-w" who traveled around ministering to the Gentiles. Do some research (and also read the Bible! especially the OT), cite or link your sources, and I'll be happy to read them ! But like your Hs English teachers, I don't consider Wikipedia and biased blogs as acceptable sources 🙂

      November 29, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
    • AnnaMaria44

      Also re the flood- "who's to know?" That remark will upset every geologist I've ever known. That's their job- to uncover the events that left behind evidence in the earth's strata. Also sent you that article because the geologist does narrow down the time-frame of the great flood which coincides with the time of Noah.

      November 29, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • Nonimus

      "I don't consider Wikipedia and biased blogs as acceptable sources"
      I'm not certain what you consider biased, but I would not consider http://www.valuesvoternews.com, http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/, or http://www.acu.edu.au/ to be unbiased.

      The discovery article you cited is speculative, not evidence. The subject was describing his hypothesis about a meteor impact in the Indian Ocean, but the current evidence does not support his hypothesis. As one scientist interviewed said, he “should be finding layers of glassy droplets and fused rock in sea-core samples, the sorts of things we find at all other similar impact sites.”

      You mention global myths of a great flood as supporting evidence, but even the article only states, "[a]lmost every culture has a legend about a great flood, and—with a little reading between the lines—many of them mention something like a comet on a collision course with Earth just before the disaster."
      I'm not certain, but I don't think "a little reading between the lines" holds up too well to close scrutiny. Even if mythology was evidence, he still seemed to only find two, or more precisely, "[a]mong 175 flood myths, Masse found two of particular interest."
      This is hardly reliable evidence. However, he is doing what he should, “Mythology can help us hypothesize about events that might have occurred,” he says, “but to prove the reality of them, we have to go beyond myths and search for physical evidence.”
      Let him get more physical evidence, at least enough for him to be convinced, before you claim his research as evidence yourself.

      November 29, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
    • AnnaMaria44

      AGAIN, you didn't read my original post. I said that I'm gathering credible historical data, which means that I just started today, so I haven't had time to gather any! Will post my timeline in a week or so after I've been to the library a few times. I was short on time and sent you a few quick examples, period.
      Like I said, cite your sources! I didn't see any.

      November 29, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Nonimus

      If that was directed at me, my only source was yours, "The discovery article you cited..." (Nonimus, November 29, 2011 at 6:19 pm)
      I was not aware that you had not started at all. I usually interpret, "I'm putting together..." to mean that you are in the process of doing it, not 'I'm going to be putting together...'

      Apologies for the misunderstanding.

      November 29, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • AnnaMaria44

      To be more specific now that I've got a second to sit down, I sent you the other links specifically to address your questions regarding the Messiah. Yes, they're religious sites, but they did have some interesting information regarding the time of Jesus and new Messianic theories based on recently discovered tablets dating back to the 2nd C. BC. No, I'm not putting anything regarding the Messiah into my timeline. I'll be gathering unbiased archaeological and historical data mainly from universities and well-known books.
      Try not to argue in circles. Make your point, back it up with credible sources, and you'll excel at debate. Personally I'm very rusty at debate since I've been out of college for 20 years, lol.

      November 29, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • AnnaMaria44

      Sorry, Nominus! I just simply didn't have time to get started today. Will shoot for later this week, I was just too busy running my gardening business today.

      November 29, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • AnnaMaria44

      my sincere apologies! I thought you were still the other guy, lol. That's what I get for reading this when I'm rushed, and without my reading glasses, sorry!

      November 29, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • Chuckles


      Nonimus basically just started on refuting your original statement, but here is my take. You have to get your stroy straight before moving forward. Did it rain to cause this flood or was it a cosmic event? Like I've stated several times over, a comet hitting the earth in the indian ocean would be far more devastating than just a flood. Furthermore, if it's a wave you are referring to as "the flood" then you have to realize a couple of things. First, imagine if you will, a flood that reaches from the Indian ocean to, generously, Iraq (I'm not sure about Noah's location, but I'm as.suming its close to the Tigris and Euphretes), this wave would have to travel hundreds of miles inland, destroying nearly everything in its path and then once it reached Noah had to have stayed for 40 days (according to genesis). Just think about the size of the comet that would have to create something like that, not to mention all the other consequences that would arise from a massive impact of that nature (namely destruction of almost all life on earth except for deep, deep sea creatures). It's a hard pill to swallow Anna, (also again I see you don't address all the other issues that come with Noah actually living on his big ark with all those animals for 40 days apparently without food – unless of course there was a long list of animals that didn't make the cut).

      Sorry if I'm not citing sources, namely because I don't need to. Anyone with a general knowledge of ELE's and comet/meteor impacts on earth could look at your argument in 5 seconds and dismiss it in 6.

      Secondly, regarding messianic myth, the jews were expecting a second coming of a King David like figure because, shocker, one of the most well known prophecies of the messiah is that he will be the worlds greatest warrior. Another prophecy – he'll deliver the jews from persecution. The role a messiah plays in any society is the savior of that particular culture. They come, they oust the oppressors, they bring prosperity and happiness and justice. Jesus did none of these things. He came, claimed to be the messiah, he performed miracles – none of which particularly helped the jews out of Roman oppression – and then died and was "ressurected". All these things point to the obviousness that most jews saw during the time of jesus, that he wasn't the messiah or at least, the jewish one. This isn't jews being "jaded" as you put it, it's jews looking at the prophecies they laid out and then loooking at jesus and putting two and two together. Trust me, jews are really good at math.

      November 30, 2011 at 10:02 am |
  5. William Demuth

    These morning pieces bite!

    I guess CNN wont spring for a few bucks by having a reporter or two?

    Rehashing is such a blatant exploitation of readers I suspect ALL sides would agree!

    Hey CNN how about some SUBSTANCE?

    November 29, 2011 at 9:20 am |
    • hippypoet

      william, thats why none of these types of rehashed articles get any proper conversations going...the blogger – us- have already said there piece on the original articles.
      So these things of that ilk such as frankenstien's monster just generate random and often meaningless posts.
      We, the bloggers, should (i've said this before) get together and write our own article and submit it to cnn...the worst that can happen is they don't run it...oh no!

      Just imagine an article about how cnn has no real talent and nothing worth writting about – that would get some attention huh!

      Cnn – all news all the time even if its not news worthy!

      November 29, 2011 at 9:41 am |
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.