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Atheist group targets Muslims, Jews with ‘myth’ billboards in Arabic and Hebrew
The American Atheists' president acknowledges that the pair of new billboards will likely cause a stir.
March 1st, 2012
05:00 AM ET

Atheist group targets Muslims, Jews with ‘myth’ billboards in Arabic and Hebrew

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) – The billboard wars between atheists and believers have raged for years now, especially around New York City, and a national atheist group is poised to take the battle a step further with billboards in Muslim and Jewish enclaves bearing messages in Arabic and Hebrew.

American Atheists, a national organization, will unveil the billboards Monday on Broadway in heavily Muslim Paterson, New Jersey and in a heavily Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood, immediately after the Williamsburg Bridge.

“You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice,” the billboards say. The Patterson version is in English and Arabic, and the Brooklyn one in English and Hebrew. To the right of the text on the Arabic sign is the word for God, Allah. To the right of the text on the Hebrew sign is the word for God, Yahweh.

Dave Silverman, the president of American Atheists, said the signs are intended to reach atheists in the Muslim and Jewish enclaves who may feel isolated because they are surrounded by believers.

“Those communities are designed to keep atheists in the ranks,” he says. “If there are atheists in those communities, we are reaching out to them. We are letting them know that we see them, we acknowledge them and they don't have to live that way if they don’t want to.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Silverman says the signs advertise the American Atheists’ upcoming convention and an atheist rally, called the Reason Rally, in Washington next month.

Atheists have long pointed to surveys that suggest atheists and agnostics make up between 3% and 4% of the U.S. population. That number increases when Americans unaffiliated with any religion are included. The Pew Center’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey found that 16% are unaffiliated, though only a fraction of those are avowed atheists and agnostics.

Silverman acknowledges that the pair of new billboards will likely cause a stir.

“People are going to be upset,” he says. “That is not our concern.”

“We are not trying to inflame anything,” he continued. “We are trying to advertise our existence to atheist in those communities. The objective is not to inflame but rather to advertise the atheist movement in the Muslim and Jewish community.”

The billboards will be up for one month and cost American Atheists, based in New Jersey, less than $15,000 each, according to Silverman.

Mohamed Elfilali, executive director of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, laughed when he learned the Arabic billboard would go up in the same town as his office. He says he’s surprised that someone is spending money on such a sign.

“It is not the first and won’t be the last time people have said things about God or religion,” Elfilali says. “I respect people’s opinion about God; obviously they are entitled to it. I don’t think God is a myth, but that doesn’t exclude people to have a different opinion.”

But Elfilali bemoaned the billboards as another example of a hyper-polarized world.

“Sadly, there is a need to polarize society as opposed to build bridges,” he says. “That is the century that we live in. It is very polarized, very politicized.”

The Brooklyn billboard is likely to raise eyebrows among Jews, in part because Orthodox Jews don't write out the name of God, as the billboard does.

“It is an emotional word, there will be an emotional response," said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future. "People will look at it in a bizarre way. People won’t understand why someone needed to write that out.”

To get around the prohibition, Jews usually use only one Hebrew letter in place of the word. In the Torah scroll, though, the word is found and it is pronounced Adonai, which means “my master.”

Rabbi Serge Lippe of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue was more dismissive than outraged about the billboards.

“The great thing about America is we are marketplace for ideas,” he says. “People put up awful, inappropriate billboards expressing their ideas and that is embraced.”

But Lippe acknowledged that there are a lot of agnostic and atheist Jews. A recent Gallup survey found 53% of Jews identified as nonreligious. Among American Jews, 17% identified as very religious and 30% identified as moderately religious.

“When you have two Jews in the room, you have three opinions,” joked Lippe.

American Atheists have used the word “myth” to describe religion and God on billboards before. Last November, the organization went up with a billboard immediately before the New Jersey entrance to the Lincoln tunnel that showed the three wise men heading to Bethlehem and stated “You KNOW it’s a Myth. This Season, Celebrate Reason.”

At the time, the American Atheists said the billboard was to encourage Atheists to come out of the closet with their beliefs and to dispel the myth that Christianity owns the solstice season.

The Christmas billboard led to a “counter punch” by the Catholic League, a New York-based Catholic advocacy group. The Catholic League put up a competing billboard that said, “You Know It's Real: This Season Celebrate Jesus."

Silverman says his group’s billboard campaigns will continue long into the future.

“There will be more billboards,” Silverman says. “We are not going to be limiting to Muslims and Jews, we are going to be putting up multiple billboards in multiple communities in order to get atheists to come out of the closet.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Islam • Judaism • New York • United States

soundoff (5,946 Responses)
  1. MyTake

    It is provocative to be sure. Reaching out to those in the closet is admirable, however, would err toward not offending the theist and promote reason and logic if I were with them. If people want to believe and that makes them feel good and provides them with a guideline to be better people then that is a good thing IMHO.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • William Demuth

      If we are to compete, we need potential suicide bombers or homicide bombers.

      So we have to recruit, just like religions do.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  2. coder

    i wonder how long it will be before some religious group sues

    March 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • sam stone

      for what?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • tnfreethinker

      I hope soon. That will keep this story in the news. And that is FREE advertisement for the awesome American Atheist organization.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  3. Nothing that ever was.

    I reject the lable of atheist. just as I reject the lable of white. Society creates labels and places them on us as a way of division. Our fate is not of something of faith, or the lack of faith, but the feudality of what is known. We know very little as humans. So continue your follies. As for me I embrace my fate while laughing at the rest of you humans. For we all are very small and very stupid.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  4. HeroicSlug

    The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." Proverbs 14:1

    I would contend that the fool is the one who is handed a plate of food he sees not. He smells it not and tastes it not.

    But still he says, "How delicious," and goes on saying it until he dies of starvation.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • William Hopper

      “Beware the man of one book.” St. Thomas Aquinas

      March 1, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • MyTake

      How about beware the person who post faulty analogies. 😉

      March 1, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Patrick

      That is a great analogy for a Theist. I am going to borrow that, thank you!

      "If you worry so much about the life that comes after this one, with what purpose do you live in this one?" Stop and smell the roses.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • MagFlare

      "He smells it not"?

      Why do some Christians feel their arguments carry more weight if they sound like The Mighty Thor?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • MagFlare

      Oops, sorry. Disregard that. I misread your intent, and see now that you're not a Christian.

      You still sound like The Mighty Thor, though.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
  5. V

    Merc – God stresses forgiveness pretty heavily. If you lead good life then forgiving abscence of faith, I would think, is pretty easy to forgive.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  6. mercenary76

    everyone should have the right to go to h*ll in their own way ... or not

    March 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  7. mightyfudge

    NO ONE knows what happens when we die, and ANYONE claiming such knowledge is a LIAR who probably wants your money.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Malavaina

      You are so right!

      March 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • MyTake

      Actually, I *do* want your money. But that is something entirely different

      March 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • sam stone

      they may not be liars....they could be delusional

      March 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  8. Karl Von Batten

    The problem with ideologues is that they don’t mind their own damn business. Normal human beings, who do not share the same belief, will normally leave each other to their own devices. Not the ideologue, who will without a second thought, metaphorically speaking, jump over his neighbor’s fence, walk towards the front pouch, Chuck Norris down his neighbor’s front door, grab his neighbor by the throat, and then proceed to lecture his neighbor, about the “assumed” flaws of the neighbor’s beliefs. The funny thing about the ideologue, is when he is subjected to the same treatment, he yells persecution.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  9. FOLLOWER OF CHRIST

    I find it very interesting that some atheist will go out of their way to try and disprove God. If you are an atheist, fine, don't believe, that's your right... but why all the effort to disprove something you claim to know is false? Reality is that Jesus Christ interferes with the way people want to live their lives. IT TAKES MUCH MORE FAITH TO BE AN ATHEIST THAN TO BELIEVE IN GOD.... think about it... GOD SO LOVED YOU THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY SON THAT IF YOU BELIEVE IN HIM (JESUS) YOU WILL HAVE ETERNAL LIFE.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Nathan

      You need to work on your debating skills.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Corey

      Why all the effort to convince people that what you believe is real? Religions are constantly pushing their values on others in an attempt to convert them. These athiests are doing the same thing only now you are on the receiving end and don't like it.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • William Hopper

      Atheism is a reaction to folks like you that ardently proclaim a god exists. Without that, there would be no atheists. We'd just be called 'people'.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • JamieIRL

      didn't make sense

      March 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • Definitely Real

      That... doesn't make any sense. You support your argument only by using evidence from your own faith.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Matt

      "I find it very interesting that some atheist will go out of their way to try and disprove God. If you are an atheist, fine, don't believe, that's your right... but why all the effort to disprove something you claim to know is false? "

      you can't disprove god, so this is a fallacy on your behalf. It is what you call an unfalsifiable hypothesis. It's like me asking you to disprove leprechauns, fairies, pixies or goblins. WE can take it one step further and ask you to disprove Allah, Thor, Odin, Krishna and every other god. You simply cannot do it. So the burden on proof is not the atheist to Disprove your claim, the burden of proof is on the person claiming there is a god to demonstrate its validity...unfortunately this has not ever been done, so atheists reject the claim and reserve judgement and belief till evidence surfaces. It is very simple – you apply the same logic to every other god like Allah etc but refuse to apply the same logic to yours...which in turn makes you an atheist towards Allah...but since you make a exception for Jesus (I should also tell you to read some of Prof Bart Erhman – leading biblical scholar) this already makes your stance contradictory.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • sam stone

      i don't try to disprove god. why do theists try to "prove" god? do they feel that their opinion is more valid when more people think the way they do?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • sam stone

      follower: jesus does not interfere with the way i want to live my life in the least bit.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • sam stone

      how does it take more faith to be an atheist than a christian? i have read that before, but it seems like just so much bloviating from the theist side

      March 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • nick

      ...reality is that Jesus died a long time ago, as he was just a man, and you are insane.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Satan

      It takes more faith not to believe in something that isn't real??? What???

      March 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  10. James

    I never understood/understand why it's anyone's problem what anyone else believes.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • HeroicSlug

      Because crazy should not be tolerated as the norm.

      Faith – nonthinking with a positive connotation – should not be praised. It should be ridiculed.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • James

      I'm kind of curious as to what it is that's so crazy? I won't get into the "after-life" aspect of religion because after all, who care? we'll be dead and you won't be around to prove me right or wrong. Either way...

      this is what i learned from church on sundays as a child, :to honour my mother and father, to treat others with kindness, to not steal, not covet, to forgive, and treat my enemies with kindness.

      Throughout my life as a christian, i was never taught or read to hate or harm another human. I'm not saying that atheism teaches you the opposite, but i really don't understand what's so crazy about treating other with respect.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Sybaris

      Religious beliefs influence legisltors in their crafting of laws that govern this country.

      If you don't think that is a problem then you might be a Muslim

      March 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Sybaris

      James, you illustrate perfectly the fallacy that to be a good person you have to subscribe to christianity.

      2/3 of the world proves you wrong.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Atheose

      There's nothing wrong with being religious, in and of itself.

      The problem is when the religious use their religion as a reason to discriminate against gays, to take away the reproductive rights of women, and to try to teach creationism in the science classroom.

      Religions that keep to themselves aren't a problem. Nobody goes around telling the Amish that they're wrong and that they should use electricity, but then again the Amish aren't trying to pass laws that ban it.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • James

      Sybaris,

      I agree. Religious beliefs should not interfere with politics.

      But let's take abortion for example. You would correctly say that religious folks are the ones that back anti-abortion laws. Hypothetically, let's say that there was no religion. Can you honestly tell me that no politician would say abortion is wrong. And we would probably still be having many of the same arguments (besides teaching religion in school) with or without religion. No?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • James

      Sybaris,

      in lieu of your second comment, i never said that these are characteristics of Christians only. In fact, i make clear to note that I know atheism doesn't say "cause calamity and destruction of the world". And I completely subscribe to the notion that as a people would should be respectful of each other regardless or religion. Me, as a christian, and you, as an atheist; we disagree on what happens after death, but i think (from the comments you've posted) we share that on our limited time on earth we should do as much as we can to be respectful to one another.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  11. dbrock010

    These ads are just the beginning. When the media attention wanes, they will get more and more blasphemous–stronger language, perverted pictures, you name it. The goal here is to hurt and cause pain, not to bring atheists out of the closet.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Yes.

      Suffer thee not a thiest!

      Burn them to purify their souls.

      We must have an inquisition to test their purity!

      March 1, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • MyTake

      Wow ... so you can see the future? Okay ... when will I get married. Will I win big in Atlantic City this weekend ... I will email you more later. ;-0

      March 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • sam stone

      by what authority do you claim to know the goal?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  12. JPX

    "Atheists have long pointed to surveys that suggest atheists and agnostics make up between 3% and 4% of the U.S. population." How sad, only 3 to 4% of the U.S. population have a brain. This is why people like Palin, Bachmann, Santorum, etc. are so popular. Our society is filled with too many stupid people. It baffles me that sp many still embrace Bronze Age thinking.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Nathan

      Bronze age? Just when do you think religion was invented? It is a rhetorical question of course since you have already indicated you think it originated in the Bronze Age.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Religious people rejoice in these stats, as it shows that only 3-5% of people may if they dont change not get the experience of paradise with God.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • george

      Sounds like just another cult(atheists) no different than christian,muslim and all the other cults atheism is just as bad.
      anytime a group be it aheists ,christians or whomever group together and say the other guys are stupid or harrass
      well its just a cult so don't drink the koolaid... Hmmm wonder if atheist koolaid is just plain distilled water....

      March 1, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Nathan

      Christianity started in the Bronze age.

      I know, I know, it does seem so Stone Age, but it really was Bronze!

      March 1, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Nathan

      William – Christ lived during the bronze age and that is when he was crucified, but he was prophesied of by Isiah and other prophets of the Old Testament thousands of years before his birth. Christians don't just utilize the New Testament and the specific teachings delivered in person by Jesus Christ, but rather all of the teachings of the prophets from the beginning of recorded history.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Nathan

      Before Christ was Judaisim NOT Christianity.

      Sheesh, get your dogma straight.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Nathan

      One point of fact for you. The Bronze Age ended 600 to 1000 years BEFORE the birth of Christ.

      Bronze nails are lousy for crucifying!

      March 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • MyTake

      Gotta say Christianity started in the IRON AGE. Religion seems to have started many millenia before ... please site your bronze age reference ... thanks.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • sam stone

      Jonathan: And, of the remaining 95% to 97%, how many of them will not get to experience this supposed "paradise"because they are not Christian? Or, because they are a different type of Christian...

      March 1, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
    • Name*AZ

      JPX, only atheists have a brain? What about Obama? He is a self-proclaimed Christian.

      March 1, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
  13. upupaway

    As an Atheist raised in a Christian home I think it is good to know that it is OK to not believe. It took me a long time to be able to say I dont believe in God, although I can say I have thought it was ridiculous ever since I can remember, like 5 years old in church. But I still dont say anything to my mother, just because I don't want her to feel bad. I wasn't raised in a strict Christian home, but I can understand those that are in a devout Muslim or Jewish home being afraid to come out as an Atheist. This may give them the support they need to live their life without all the hullabaloo of religion and free from the guilt that they may feel for realizing what doesnt make sense to them when they realize it also doesnt make sense to thousands of others.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Nathan

      Yes. I'm sure these signs will give them just the edge of courage that they needed.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • upupaway

      I am not saying it is these signs alone, no one is going to read these signs and say oh, they are right, there is no God. But for someone who is already in a state of doubt/reason, it leads them to the website, which leads them to further information. Hence the reason for putting up billboards, to get the word out. I didn't know other Atheist were in my community, but the more I talked about it and researched it the more I realized there are much more of us out here than I thought, more than the 3-4% I am sure of it.

      March 1, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  14. timramich

    Yes, moron atheists, people do have a choice, and they CHOOSE to believe in what they do. Even though you see religious billboards, you don't see them saying anything negative or insulting towards other people's beliefs. Notice the orbiting electron logo? I keep trying to make a point that science is forcing itself to become a religion, and of course I get nothing but ridicule.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • momoya

      That's because science is not a religion. Science changes with new incoming data; religion doesn't, but claims that if you interpret this verse in a certain way and look at with that verses over there it still is sorta right.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  15. Nathan

    By their fruits ye shall know them. When I see atheists helping the poor, feeding the hungry, and clothing the naked, then maybe I will consider whether God is necessary in the picture. I agree all mankind should have freedom to believe or disbelieve in a God or Gods, and I agree that politics should be secular. Personally, I have hope in an afterlife and that this life has some meaning in a longer term existence. I respect those who don't believe or wish to believe in these things, and it is easy for me to understand why a person would adopt this position.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Nathan

      I prefer to get them naked.

      Its amazing what a hungry naked person will do for a Cheeto!

      March 1, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Barbie

      Already doing it- have been for years.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Chase

      You're apparently indicating that Atheists aren't altruistic, that charity only exists within religions. Of course this concept is ridiculous. Perhaps Atheists choose not to self promote when they perform charities, unlike many religious organizations. I actually work with a man who heads up a charity that helps young inner city children get free screenings for heart disorders and he is an atheist. The only reason I agreed to work with him and his charity in the first place was that there was no religious affiliation. The deeper truth to all this is that altruism is not necessarily good in that doing things like sending food to third world countries fuels overpopulation and allows the problem to continue. It may sound cruel, but nature has maintained life on this planet for millions of years and it is not particularly kind.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • MyTake

      @William Demuth: You slay me.
      However, in reply let me ask: How do you know wow atheist behave to the needed?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  16. Jonathan

    This is why i pray for everyone, I hope that all have a revelation of God before the end days and there will be no more chances.

    Romans 1 vs. 18 – 21 says:

    The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • kris

      You are completely insane. Hopefully one day you will realize that.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • sam stone

      Jonathan: You do know that the bible is relevant only to those who accept it, don't you?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Im very much not insane, but I believe you are lost and I pray that you find your way. God loves you

      March 1, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Its relevant, but many close their eyes to its truths and I understand that, its not easy to be a believer, it is and would be much easier to not believe and not have to live up to the standards my God has laid out for my life.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • sam stone

      Jonathan: Believe what you want.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • QS

      I've always thought that a so-called "god" that could be so petty and vain as to demand that people worship him or burn for all eternity was quite a silly thing to WANT to believe in.

      It's almost as if the people who genuinely believe this are closeted masochists....they can only feel good about themselves or their lives if there's a threat of physical harm and/or punishment in some way, shape or form.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • sam stone

      jonathan: it is only relevant to those who accept it. how do you know that these are the words of god rather than translated, edited bronze age hearsay?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  17. Bryan

    There is a very good point here. American Muslims and Jews laugh it off. American christians turn to a grade school mentality and put up their own board. Speaks a lot about the christian "religion".

    March 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  18. Ken

    Yes, another hotly debated topic that we could do without. Another stark reminder of a Godless world trying to alienate themselves from a theocracy. Some of the smartest people trying to reason within themselves.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
  19. DarkAxel

    I'm a Christian, and I can't see why other Christians feel so threatened by Atheists. In fact, I agree with some of the things Atheists say about religious folks. Too many of us think that our faith allows us to play God, be judgmental, and do horrible things in His name. A lot of evil has been done in the name of God.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Jonathan

      I will pray for you brother, It appears you may be having a personal struggle with your faith

      March 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • peaceful

      there is only one Christian group that refuses to participate in war or other atrocities against other humans.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • QS

      Thanks. It's always nice to actually hear a sincere statement from a believer that at least acknowledges that they recognize what's wrong within even their own religion.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Jonathan

      Why do you think he has a personal struggle with his faith?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • @peaceful

      which group is that?

      March 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  20. peaceful

    Decent humans don't judge or threaten others.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • momoya

      As decent gods don't.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • peaceful

      that's right. A decent God is love.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • hopingforpeace

      I so agree. Why does every group have to preach and bully others?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • peaceful

      life is better without bullying but it's human nature. it's hard work to be different but so worth the effort!

      March 1, 2012 at 2:30 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.