February 16th, 2012
01:36 PM ET

Explainer: How and why do Mormons baptize the dead?

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

The recent disclosure that Mormons baptized the dead parents of Jewish Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal by proxy has sparked outrage in the Jewish world. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has apologized for the baptism, which it says resulted from the actions of a church member acting in violation of church policy. The LDS church vowed to stop baptizing Jewish Holocaust victims in 1995.

But proxy baptism for the dead is a proud Mormon tradition. Here are the basics about how it works and why Mormons do it.

Why do Mormons practice proxy baptism for the dead?

For Mormons, baptizing the dead solves a big theological problem: How do billions of people who never had the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ – including those who lived before Jesus walked the earth – receive salvation? By baptizing the dead, a practice known as posthumous proxy baptism, Mormons believe they are giving every person who ever lived the chance at everlasting life. That includes Muslims, Hindus, atheists, pagans, whoever.

“Mormons believe that there is a place the dead go where they are in ‘spirit prison’ and where they have the chance to accept the Christian baptism,” says Richard Bushman, a Mormon scholar at Columbia University. “But it’s a duty to actually perform Christian ordinance of baptism, so Mormons seek out every last person who ever lived and baptize them.”

Many Mormons are proud of the fact that they attempt to make their faith universal through baptizing the dead. “Historically, Christians have been exclusive,” says Terryl Givens, an expert on Mormonism at the University of Richmond. “Catholics have taught that only Catholics are saved, and evangelicals say only if you confess according to their tradition. Mormons say, ‘No, salvation is open to all people.’”

“In that sense Mormonism is the most nonexclusive religion in the Christian world,” Givens says.

So are all those who are baptized after death considered Mormon?

No. Mormons believe that baptism provides the deceased with the opportunity to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but not the obligation. They don't know if the dead actually accept Jesus. “This is about putting names on the guest list,” says Givens. “They might not go the party, but they are given the chance.’

How does the church decide who is baptized?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints encourages its members to baptize the dead in their families going back at least four generations.

The church also has teams at headquarters in Salt Lake City and that travel around the world to identify as many people as possible to baptize, whether or not they’re in the lineage of present-day Mormons. “The church is constantly going through parish records, wills, deeds and every other genealogical source so they can extract names and put these people through the temple process,” says Bushman.

The LDS says it does not know how many deceased have been baptized. Experts say the number is in the millions.

There is no way for a person to prevent himself or herself from being baptized by the LDS church after death.

After Jews complained about baptisms of Jewish Holocaust victims, saying such baptisms deny the Jewish identity of those who died because of their faith, the LDS church worked with Jewish groups to stop the practice. But the system of preventing the baptism of Holocaust victims, initiated in 1995, has not been foolproof, as was shown this week with the disclosure about Wiesenthal’s parents.

What are Mormon baptism ceremonies like?

Baptisms for the dead happen inside Mormon temples. Members of the LDS church volunteer to undergo full immersion baptism while the names of the dead are read. An LDS member might participate in 10 or so posthumous proxy baptisms at a time. Young Mormons especially are encouraged to participate, as a way to participate in temple life.

How old is the practice of baptizing the dead?

Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, introduced baptism for the dead in the 1840s. Mormons cite Paul’s letter to the Corinthians as precedent to the practice. “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead not rise at all?” reads Corinthians 15:29. “Why are they then baptized for the dead?”

For Mormons, baptizing the dead is not seen as a new Mormon tradition but as a practice that ancient Christians practiced and that the LDS Church has reintroduced.

What other questions do you have about the practice? Let us know in the comments below.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Judaism • Mormonism

soundoff (2,301 Responses)
  1. Brett

    I find a scan of the quality of posts here most enlightening and indicative of who might be correct. If you can not spell, punctuate or use words like "moron" in a debate, you likely have absolutely no education on religion, biblical history or can even define the word cult. Kindly stifle any urge to mouth off until you've gained some tiny semblance of a clue. Thank you.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • God

      Seriously guys, I have anointed Brett as the moral authority on the issue of posting on CNN boards. It's commandment 37a.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • comeonnow

      Not disagreeing with everything you say, but if you're setting a word apart in a sentence with regards to definition (such as you did with the word "cult"); then it would be proper to place the word within quotation marks.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      It is interesting that you believe that in order for your opinion to be valid you need to be able to spell, or that misspellings and poor punctuation means you have no knowledge of religion.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • God

      And I said: let there be grammar!

      February 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Brett done gots more gooder english then I has.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • God

      Commandment 472: People that understand the rules of grammar, syntax and semantics are way more religouser than dumb people who are dumb! They should feel superior to them because they are so super smart and religious! They'e so awesome.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  2. Take it easy

    If it is so obvious that the church is wrong, why take such time to disparage it and warn so many people? Are you not wasting your time? You have the opportunity to show what a good person you are, but you take the time to put someone else down. You can still change and say nice things about others.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  3. comeonnow

    The only way anyone could really be bothered by a religious rite is if they believe there is some kind of divine power associated with it. Otherwise, it would be nothing more meaningful than a tap dance with a chant. The moral of the story: If you don't believe in it, then don't let it bug you.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  4. Mormons are crazy

    But not much more crazy than some of the other religions out there.

    In 2000 years the biggest religion in the world will be the Church of Harry Potter.

    I wonder if people will be stupid enough to still believe in magic...

    February 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  5. Ape Lincoln

    My sister used to be a Mormon and told me all about this practice. It only made Mormons look even more like idiots. Anyone who takes a Mormon seriously is just as big as an idiot as the rest of them.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • John Wilkes Booth

      does this apply to all religions, because when you think about it all other religions are neither more or less ridiculous than the mormon religion

      February 17, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  6. uisignorant

    Ever since Santorum took the lead, the lib media has been quiet unless it is something to ding Romney.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
  7. Suzie

    Mormon baptisms, in life, are not valid baptisms, according to the Catholic church. The practise of baptism of the dead was certainly NOT practiced in ancient Christianity. Please see the historical writings of the 'church fathers' to see what the ancient Christians actually did practise. That said, who cares what they do in the privacy of their temples and in their own beliefs? I am grateful to them, being an amateur genealogist, for all their genealogical records, which they open to all without charge. I'm also grateful for Polynesian Cultural Center on Oahu which is a service to all!

    February 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
    • uisignorant

      How do you know they did not practice it? Ancient writings cannot even prove Christ existed.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
    • Know What


      I suppose you know, then, that some of the LDS genealogy records are incorrect? Always double reference... or greater.

      February 17, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  8. CGin San Diego

    The discussion of the topic would be helped by using the phrase "baptized for the dead" instead of "baptized the dead". It makes the whole idea of using proxies much clearer. It is something that ancient Christians did, as referenced in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 15), and is a worship offering by the faithful for the benefit of others.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Smacks head

      Seriously, who cares what ancient Christians did?

      If ancient Christians shoved celery up their bums would that make it okay to people to still do, if it made it into your 2000 year old book about magic?

      February 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  9. tony

    Unregulated religion soon incites all sorts of violence against non-members and it's own dissenters. People who are always right cannot tolerate argument, or they fall from the position of self-belief power. And if they have the power, then they will use it to stifle rebellion, by any means necessary. We have to get rid of religion or history will keep on repeating itself.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  10. jeremywill

    This is hilarious. Religion aside, the whole argument of someone being offended that another human being was submerged in water after mentioning the name of their relative is ridiculous. This is akin to a baptist telling a catholic, "Don't pray for my soul after i die".

    February 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
  11. Jason

    Yeah, except that you can't even get into a mormon church unless you're a card carrying, brainwashed member. A girlfriend of mine and I had to sit outside while her friend was getting married. My girlfriend was a bridesmaid. Non-exclusive, indeed.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • jeremywill

      that's a temple, not a church. small difference

      February 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • dEE

      Yeah the idea that Mormons are not exclusive or people who believe that if your not Mormon thats ok – is insane as Christian that lives in Utah I can tell you that Mormons hate all of us and think were gonna die and be buried and done or that if by some off chance we get to heaven it will not be the same heaven as them but a third rate heaven...They have there kids tell my kids at school all the time they need to come to church, when my kids tell them that we do goto church they say no you dont.. My kids say yes we do every Sunday and often on Wednesday too...The Mormon kids tell them no we mean the REAL CHURCH!! so they are not at all nonexclusive – And just to clear that point up Christians believe just as it says in the bible that ALL WHO EXCEPT JESUS CHRIST as there lord and savior will receive gods gracious gift of ever lasting life....Pretty NONEXCLUSIVE if you ask me......

      February 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  12. jackenstien

    This Mormon practice provides for a great record of genealogies; probably the best in the U.S. Who need the "white pages" info when you have the Mormons tracking you.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  13. MennoKnight

    "Mormonism is the most nonexclusive religion in the Christian world,” Givens says"

    While I respect the strong moral family values of Mormonism, Mormonism is not under the "Christian World" any more than Islam is. The Christian world view is made up those who hold to orthodox Christian theology.
    What is the rule of orthodox Christian Theology?
    The Apostle's or Nicene Creed.
    I believe in God, the Father almighty,
    creator of heaven and earth.
    I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
    who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
    born of the Virgin Mary,
    suffered under Pontius Pilate,
    was crucified, died, and was buried;
    he descended to the dead.
    On the third day he rose again;
    he ascended into heaven,
    he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
    and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
    I believe in the Holy Spirit,
    the holy catholic Church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and the life everlasting.

    This the the "Test" of what makes you a Christian. Catholic, Baptists, Anglican, Lutheran, Mennonites (that's me) and many many others hold to this as the essential truth.

    Mormon (good moral people that they are) do not believe this teaching. Therefore they are not Christians.

    I am very open to dialogue, please state why you agree or disagree.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • jeremywill

      Great logic: mormons do not believe in a non-biblical, post-Jesus creed, therefore they are not Christians.... Think about it...

      February 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • ldsmom02

      Sorry, but you are wrong. Except for believing in one holy and apostolic catholic faith. That we do not believe in because we believe, that just as Jesus stated, that the church would become apostate. It has become apostate and just as Jesus stated, he has restored his original church – the Mormon church.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
    • uisignorant

      Do some research on how this creed was created and then I doubt you will believe it either.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • souptwins

      You might be surprised to know that LDS doctrine is exactly the same as you listed until the very end where it says "catholic church". Guess Mormons pass your test after all. BTW If God and Christ are one being, how does Christ sit on His own "right side"? Or be His own "only begotten"? Just curious and it's never been explained.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • MennoKnight

      The very reason why these Creeds were created were to deal with the age old question, what are the core theological concepts that hold all Christians together.
      Every major denomination holds to the core values that these Creeds teach.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • Tony

      As I stated in an earlier post, I am 46 and have been a Latter Day Saint for going on six years now. I don't disagree with a single thing you stated in your post. I'm assuming that this comes from the Catholic church since there is that one line in there about that but everything you stated is absolutely 100% correct and is endorsed by the Mormon church. Once again, if people would simply investigate the church for themselves and not believe all sorts of ridiculous rumors, it wouldn't be such an issue. The first Article of Faith states our emphatic belief in Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ his son and the Holy Ghost. So what part of that makes us NOT Christian? Jesus Christ is ABSOLUTELY the only way to heaven, period. His atonement and resurrection is what makes it possible for us to return to live with our Heavenly Father. But people seem content to label us non-christian for reasons that they can't define.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
    • Tina

      I think that religion will be the cause of man's eventual self destruction. But Mormons are in fact christians. They believe in all of the hocus pocus in the old and the new testaments. The differences are like comparing say the catholic church to the baptist church. There are differences, but they are both bases in christians beliefs.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • MennoKnight

      The Old Roman Creed, the basis of this creed, was created around 110 AD by the disciples of the disciples.

      And if you are saying that Constantine made this creed then you are mistaken as did not agree with this creed. He did not believe that Jesus was God, but a God. Constantine was not a Christian, nor did he make Christianity the religion of Rome. He legalized Christianity.
      The Emperor who made Christianity the only legal religion in the Roman Empire was Theodosius 70 year later (390's), with the best of intentions and what I as a Mennonite see as one with terrible results.
      I believe in separation of Church and State, not a merging. When ever that happens we only see trouble for both the church and the state.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • epdodd

      I was not aware that Baptist or Methodist or many other Christian religions believed in the Catholic church or the communion of the saints. Please enlighten me on why they would be considered Christians if they didn't believe this. Under your definition, only Catholics are Christians. I could modify or change the definition of "Christian" to where you wouldn't be a considered a Christian under my definition as well.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "and just as Jesus stated, he has restored his original church – the Mormon church."

      lol, ok then. too funny what you guys will believe. guess jesus needed magic stones, hats and gold tablets huh?

      February 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • MennoKnight

      I respect your ethics.
      But what do you do with the teachings that are non-biblical like the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price? It seems to me that you treat those books the same way I treat the New Testament to the Old Testament. The New Trumps the Old. Your two books, if they contradict what is said in the New Testament trumps it.
      Is what I am saying not true?
      PS, I am not trying to be jerk, just asking the question the way I see it.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Jay

      I think the only true test for being a Christian is to believe in and accept Jesus Christ as your savior and redeemer. Those who believe that salvation comes only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Seeing as the church`s real name is the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints, I see no reason to believe we are not Christians. If the members of the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints are not Christian, then who do we worship? I don`t know what Jesus you believe in, but we latter-day saints believe in the one who lived in the era of the New Testament and was prophesied of by many prophets from the Old Testament such as Isaiah. It is after this Jesus that our church is named.

      Just using basic grammatical skill could lead one to conclude that Christian means one who follows Christ. When the suffix 'an' is added to the end of a word, it denotes that such is a person associated with the word. Like, an AmericAN is one from America or a EuropeAN is one from Europe. ChrisitiAN is one who worships Christ. As a latter-day saint, I worship God the Father and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ. I would consider myself a Christian. Whether you accept me as a Christian or not has absolutely no effect on my faith and belief in Christ.

      I could say a similar exclusive comment about yours and many other Christian faiths. I could claim that only the true church of Christ would carry His name in the name of the Church. That would leave yours as well as many others not deemed as Christian. I, however, do not question one`s belief in Christ. If they say they believe in Him who am I to say otherwise?

      February 17, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • MarylandMormon

      I'm a Mormon, and I believe in every single thing you said (if thatis indeed the Nicene Creed). Don't really care if you call me a Christian: I believe in Christ as my savior and believe in following His teachings and example, and that is my definition of Christian. Disappointing that others feel they can label when they don't know the doctrine of a faith for themselves: I would never pretend to tell someone of another faith what their belief system really is without having heard them outline it fully...and probably not even then.

      I will say that it is interesting that Christians today use a litmus test for Christianity that was decided upon by religious politicians a few hundred years after Christ walked the earth. How much time do we all waste throwing barbs and labels at one another?

      February 17, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  14. Kabila

    Baptism of death people!!! What a belief!! Even killers. Did they baptise Hittler and his criminal solders? Will Romney go baptise Bin Laden?? What a religion???

    February 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • ldsmom02

      In order to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven Jesus taught that you must enter in by the strait gate which is baptism. He himself said you must be baptized. So, crazy or not, to be baptized is Jesus' command.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • FM

      Actually they did baptize Hitler.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  15. Michael

    It's all a ploy. As soon as the law allows mormons to continue to marry multiple wives, including girls as young as 10, they will stop baptising the dead. In the meantime, its how they cope with just having 1 wife.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  16. clinky

    The practice is so short-sighted about traceable history and the small percentage of people who can be individuated any longer, because records have disappeared or (much more lilely) were never kept. You don't and will never know a solitary thing about the vast majority of people who ever lived. Thus, you will never baptize more than a tiny fraction. That mirrors the Romney plan to help the tiny fraction who are now very rich.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  17. w w

    I found out my cousin, who had never had an interest in our family history before, became mormon. They made him go in a dunk tank over and over for our GGGrandparents and all the ancestors and descendants, who were Quakers. I don't answer the door for a religion who makes their young men ride bicycles in 100 weather in black suits, and dunks for the dead. And I don't like having this brainwash shoved in my face during dinnertime commercials. Wouldn't vote for Romney.

    February 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Jbanko

      Anyone who would vote for a. Mormon has some serious issues. If Romney is a practicing Mormon this alone tells you something about his mind set. If you believe the Joseph smith story you also believe in fairy tales. Does anyone want a president who thinks like this. Mormonism does not hold up to any argument ........it is nothing but a cult.
      Reply I like a good discussion

      February 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
    • epdodd

      President Obama considers himself a Christian. Presumably that means he believes in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, born to a virgin named Mary who conceived a child by the Holly Ghost. That he believe after this man was crucified, three days later he rose from the dead. That he believes Noah built an arc and put two of every living animal on it, that Jonah was swallowed by a great fish and lived inside the fish for 3 days, that Moses made fire and frogs fall from the sky and that Moses took millions of his people through the Red Sea as it parted for them so they could walk across it. In fact, I believe that every President that the United States has been a Christian and would hold these same beliefs. How would any of these beliefs be more ludicrous than a belief that a young man saw God and his Son Jesus Christ and translated Golden Plates into the Book of Mormon? Please let me know how one is more ludicrous than the other. Thanks

      February 17, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      Actually epdodd I think your logic is flawed.
      My wife and daughter are both christians but view stories like Noah as being simply that...stories, designed to give a lesson rather than be factually accurate. It is possible to be a believer and not see the bible as being a completely factually accurate book of information.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  18. lazurite

    This is so unbelievably disrespectul and at the same time absurd. "Baptizing" someone without their permission is the height of arrogance. It is disrespectful of the life that person lived and the beliefs they held of their own free will.

    Absurd to think that actually baptizing a dead person would even work...

    February 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • MarylandMormon

      In all openness, what is disrespectful of extending your particular faith to others in the hope that it could be of benefit to them, particularly when doctrinally you do not believe you are forcing anything on anyone who does not want it? I really see it as an extension of asking my friends if they are interested in learning more of the Mormon faith: if they aren't our friendship doesn't change in any way. I don't view them any differently than I did before. If I believe I have something that gives me joy and could give others joy, isn't it more arrogant to keep it to myself and consider myself one of the lucky few? I ask this only because I truly would not want to be arrogant in my offering: I am interested in hearing your point of view more clearly so I can understand...

      February 17, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  19. Reality

    Since there never were an Adam and Eve, Garden of Paradise or talking serpent, there never was any original sin i.e. baptism is a silly supersti-tion that even the Catholic church is slowly coming to grips with.

    With respect to Judaism, it has added problems:

    origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

    New Torah For Modern Minds

    “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.

    The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

    February 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  20. LauraJT

    If I'm dead and they baptize me, why would/should I care? It's seems simply like a kind gesture to me. Why all the angst about it? If they baptize Jewish people after they die why do they care? Is their God going to decide to send them to hell if he sees they've been baptized by the Morman Church after death, through no fault of their own? How silly. I decided long ago, religious people are just plain weird . . . and that goes for ALL of them. It's just something the human race will eventually outgrow. Why not worship life instead of death? Why not simply be grateful we're here and trust that life/death, though often too awesome and overwhelming for us to understand or comprehend (like the existence of the universe) that we should just be grateful to be a part of it? No one knows all the answers or ever will for that matter. Yet I highly doubt there's some dictator in the sky with all these stupid rules people make up in their heads!

    February 17, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • Ciaoman

      well said...

      February 17, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Cedar Rapids

      "It's seems simply like a kind gesture to me. Why all the angst about it? If they baptize Jewish people after they die why do they care?"

      Because its insulting, its telling the family members that these people made a mistake by being jewish and that the mormons are giving them a chance to correct that mistake. I dont know about you but I wouldnt want strangers telling me that my father was wrong in how he lived his life and that they know better than he.

      February 17, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.