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March 6th, 2012
09:43 AM ET

My Take: Who would Jesus vote for?

Editor's note: Larry Alex Taunton is the founder and executive director of the Fixed Point Foundation and author of “The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief.” You can follow him on Twitter @larrytaunton.

By Larry Alex Taunton, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Jesus isn’t up for re-election this year. He’s an uncontested incumbent of sorts.

But that hasn’t stopped presidential candidates from claiming his endorsement and hoping to ride his royal robe into the White House. They invoke his name to summon votes the way his Apostles once used it to make the lame walk and the blind see. They try to, anyway.

Presidential candidates strive to convince the public of their unique qualifications for the highest office in the land. They draw sharp comparisons between themselves and their rivals on issues ranging from the Middle East to health care. They do, that is, on every issue but one: the Christian faith.

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There each asserts that he, not his rivals, is the genuine article: Rick Santorum, scrambling to save his flagging campaign, is busy preaching his Christian credentials to evangelicals hoping to secure their money and their votes; Mitt Romney, less successful with that constituency, has nevertheless endeavored to convince them that Mormons are Christians, too; and Barack Obama, not to be left out, boldly stated at last month’s National Prayer Breakfast that his policies are guided by his Christian convictions and are consistent with the teachings of Jesus.

Given these claims, we might reasonably wonder whose candidacy the king of kings would endorse. Who would Jesus vote for?

That is a question Jesus’ contemporaries wanted to know, too. Not that there were any Democrats or Republicans at that time (whether that is good or a bad I leave you to decide). But there were plenty of political parties vying for power. Romans, Zealots, Sadducees, Pharisees and Scribes all wanted to know Jesus’ politics. Would he support their agendas, or was he an enemy to be destroyed? Let’s consider the evidence.

Contrary to their Hollywood image, Roman authorities are depicted throughout most of the New Testament as ambivalent to Christianity. Indeed, the first Gentile convert of the new church was a centurion (Acts 10). Shortly thereafter a Roman proconsul also embraced the faith (Acts 13:6-12). It was not until the burning of Rome in A.D. 64 that state-sponsored persecution of Christians began. Before then, Roman authorities were mainly concerned with preserving order in a religiously diverse empire. But when the crowd accused Jesus of treason against Rome - bad politics, so to speak - Pontius Pilate crucified him (John 19:4-16).

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What about the Zealots? Although Scripture says little about them, it is a safe assumption that they were also interested in Jesus’ politics. Violent and embittered by Roman tyranny, the Zealots wanted to overthrow Roman governance of Israel using any and all available means. Was Jesus the conquering Messiah they had long anticipated? When he demonstrated a capacity to woo crowds and perform miracles, some attempted to seize him and make him a king. But Jesus withdrew (John 6:15). Many scholars think that it was, in part, a disappointed Zealotry that incited members of the Jerusalem mob to call for Jesus’ death when they might have asked for his release. Who was released in his place? Pilate gave them Barabbas, a murderer and possibly a Zealot.

As for Jesus’ encounters with the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes, they are well-documented. Having amputated Judaism from authentic worship of God, they were quick to recognize that Jesus’ message was a threat to their monopoly on power - political as well as religious. When it became clear to them that he would not yield to their authority, they plotted to kill him (John 11:47-53).

So what may we deduce from this about Jesus’ political views? First of all, Jesus was not, as some suggest, indifferent to politics. As the great theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper once observed, “In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’ ”

Nevertheless, he did not endorse any political platform because he knew that politics are merely a superficial manifestation of the inner man. Hence, it was his practice to address matters of the heart - justice, mercy, love, man’s need for his atoning work - and the eternal consequences that accompany our attitudes toward each. The result was that he condemned elements of every group for their sinfulness and refusal to obey God, while affirming others for their obedience.

Secondly, we learn that Jesus was not seeking political transformation of society, but spiritual transformation. There is a difference. Many evangelicals believe that societal reform is a top-down process: Remove President Barack Obama and frustrate initiatives of the Democratic Party and you’re well on your way.

By contrast, Jesus did not consider Pilate or Tiberius the root of the problem. They were representative of a systemic cultural rot. Wicked people make wicked laws. Change the people, and you change the laws they make.

Finally, Jesus understood that while party affiliation may be an expression of one’s deeply held convictions it does nothing to put you in right standing with God. To lose sight of this, as many on the “religious right” have, is to confuse conversion to a political platform with conversion to Christianity.

To be clear, Christians should exercise their political rights. I exercise mine with relish. But we should never place our hopes in the political process. Hope is found neither in politicians nor in the laws they enact but in Jesus Christ alone.

So who would Jesus vote for? As the executive director of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit group, I cannot legally tell you that.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Larry Alex Taunton.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Opinion • Politics

soundoff (1,019 Responses)
  1. kentuckyscience..)com

    Therefore the principles of human evolution from an insane species require a virgin birth of Adam and Eve for the establishment of a moral and just human government (Isaiah 9:6).
    Finite Universe – zero and one are equal (matter can be infinitely divided into nothing – God is Nothing that created everything out of emptiness) "At the Planck distance and the Planck time all physics, as we know it today collapses. This is the reason we call the beginning of the big bang a singularity. You cannot apply ordinary reasoning there. Zero and one have no sense there.OK?" J-P Burri There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the Big Bang views one and zero as being equal, since it states that zero appeared out of the absence of zero; then zero created something. Many scientists believe or have faith that light does not have mass, thus they believe the Universe is Finite. Religion promotes the most commonly accepted idea of the group. If light does not have mass, then it would be impossible to move an electron. Light described as a particle means nothing, if it has no mass since it would be impossible to distinguish from nothing because no mass means void of substance. If it has no substance, then nothing is present to distinguish the particle from other particles.
    The Big Bang theory prevents any condition where something has always been. Infinity is defined as the difference between one and zero. Once one and zero are the same according to the big bang, the definition of infinity as stated above is no longer valid. If the big bang occurred, all math's must deal with the proof of 0=1.
    Infinite Universe – zero is not equal to one (there is a point where matter can't be divided – God is Something that can neither be created nor destroyed that is dependent on nothing.) An infinite universe lacks a beginning, so there is no one set past or a given future.
    The infinite Universe supports the view that all particles considered to be energy have mass or substance; that there is one fundamental particle which accounts for all the diverse forms of matter in the Universe. It is the ultimate example of team work, since it fundamentally has no reason to destroy itself. So, why does evil exist? Free will and without freewill, God would lack choice. Balance is the nature of perfection in the Infinite Universe. In an infinite Universe the total amount of something remains constant. When an atom is divided it no longer has the characteristics of the original element. There is a point where matter can't be divided and at this point something and nothing are distinctly defined. In the infinite Universe, the term infinite is used to describe the difference between something (1) and nothing (0). There is an infinite difference between zero and one.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      aw, how cute. christian logic. it's like real logic, only without the logic.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  2. TruthPrevails

    Jesus wouldn't vote because jesus has never been proven to have existed. Keep religitard thinking out of government and maybe the country can run properly!

    March 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • No Use For A Name

      religitards use the term religitard

      March 6, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • readit

      Religion in gov't is why the country "does not run properly"? really? And I bet you consider yourself an inclusive liberal. Thanks for the use of the word Religtard. Very tolerant. And thanks for the comment. We are all now dumber for having read it.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      readit: Ever heard of separation of church and state? It specifically means that you can not invoke your religious beliefs in the running of a country. Religitard applies greatly to the vast majority of the republitards. The country is secular based on secular reasoning not religitard reasoning. Look at what the republitards have done in the past to the country or did you miss the fact that Bush, not Obama took the country to the financial crisis it is in today?

      March 6, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
    • readit

      Separation of church and state prohibits the gov't establishment of a religion. Meant to avoid a government that is influenced too heavilly by a national religion ie the Church of England which used to wieild heavy power in the state. It is NOT meant to abolish religious references from all facets of public life. It is freedom OF religion not freedom FROM religion. Study a little history.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • J.W

      readit do you mean that everyone should be forced to follow some kind of religion? You said that people should not have freedom from religion.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • readit

      And while you are reading up on the Church of England....take some time to understand which party actually created the housing mess by forcing banks into the sub-prime mortage business due to a political desire to create "affordable housing" You guessed it. Deomocrats. Lead by Barney frank. You can call us names....but you can't change the facts.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • readit

      No people should NEVER be forced to follow a religion. Ever. But separation of church and state does not protect you from exposure of peoples religious beliefs. It just prohibits the establishment of a religion by government.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • J.W

      Well I am personally open minded when it comes to religion, but I do not want people passing laws based on their own religious beliefs for that reason only. I mean I am sure it seems ok until someone passes a law that contradicts your beliefs.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  3. Nick

    Is anyone getting the message... "he did not endorse any political platform because he knew that politics are merely a superficial manifestation of the inner man". Politics like religion are corrupt at some level because they are both created by man who is by nature flawed (hence the thousands of religions and separate sects or Christianity which already fight amongst themselves). True religion is a "personal" relationship with God, which no one can judge or sway.. hence the need for separation of church and state. Imposing one sect of Christianity is wrong as is imposing any religion to the masses. Religion should be a personal choice not a political platform for worldly power. Focus on your personal relationship and lead as an example, but don't impose and judge because we are all flawed.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  4. Good Question

    Answer:Ron Paul. 🙂 It's on YouTube. Look it up. What?

    March 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  5. Jamest297

    When I clicked on this blog thread, I really expected to see that CNN had filed it under their "COMEDY" tab. The headline on this story and the comments of the religious bigots here is pure comedy gold. PURE GOLD.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  6. Duane

    How can we take this gentleman seriously? The headline screams, "Who would Jesus vote for?". Mr. Taunton twice criticizes conservatives/republicans and then cowardly says he can't tell you who Jesus would vote for because of the tax code?! Man up Taunton. You obviously have a position. You obviously are not unbiased. Don't hide. Don't imply. Stand behind your belief or shut your pie hole. If you think Jesus would vote for a poitician that supports abortion or gay rights, then say so. If you believe that he would vote for a politican that supports the death penalty then say so. If you really don't know (and I would assert that you don't), then say so. Hiding behind the tax code.......way to take a stand you putz.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  7. kentuckyscience..)com

    If God created something from nothing, then both something and nothing would be apart of him. The problem is that something and nothing are total opposites. Like good and evil. Nothing is associated with no movement, something is associated with movement and to be both would be like saying that truth and lies are the same. If God created something from nothing, he would not be a jealous God because he could easily turn something back into nothing. The point here is that no scripture in the Bible specifically states that God created something from nothing. Science is promoting it and the church is beginning to accept it.

    Our God is a God of the living and not of the dead, thus he has no plan to create nothing or become it. (Luke 20:38) In our God the creator of our Lord Jesus Christ, time has no beginning or end. Whose Son is the Christ? David thus calls him Lord, so how is he his son? (Luke 20:41-44) Jesus healed many people, so he had the power to speak to the body. If the spirit is weaker than the body, don’t expect the body to follow the commands of its own spirit. (John 18:6) Sin hurts other people, thus we should be held accountable or blamed for the pain we caused others. However, just like Judas we are not strong enough to carry that burden. Jesus sets us free from this burden or the pain and blame others point at us because we hurt them with our sin. The finger was pointed to Jesus at Calvary. Baptism is associated with accepting Jesus and being saved by grace. Being saved by grace means you should have received a punishment for your sin which hurt other people. The problem is that Grace tends to be put above The Greatest Commandment Matthew 22:37. If Grace were above the Greatest Commandment, then the devil could be forgiven and he would be in heaven. The devil does not love God and this is the reason he is not in heaven. The purpose of following the law is to show others that we love God. Unfortunately, those that view Grace above the Greatest commandment are using the law as a means to judge others as being not good enough to follow it. This is the common argument against the Jew. Love or judge, the choice is yours! Matthew 22:37 states you are called to Love and the law tells us how. Not knowing that God loves us is associated with our inherited sin from the fall of Adam and Eve. For God so loved the world that he sent his son not to condemn the world but to save it. Christ forgives our old sinful ways, since being born again is associated with a change in behavior because we now see that God loves us and therefore we now desire to love him. If grace is infinite, then it would not be a choice to love God. If grace is infinite, there would be no reason to change our ways and become a new creation or be born again. If grace is infinite, then God would accept evil and thus be evil. To forgive and not expect any change in behavior would produce more of the same behavior that the original forgiveness required.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Jamest297

      "Something" and "Nothing" are not opposites. It's kind of like "Hot" and "Cold" are not opposites. Cold is the absence of heat just as nothing is the absence of something. Got to get your vocabulary right before you can get your beliefs right –

      March 6, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
  8. sidojo

    What a bunch of hipocrites...It would be different if it were something you needed prayer about.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Joel

      Ha. Prayers. What a joke. That's like wishing for something.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • sidojo

      You can wish all you want. His WILL be done ..NOT YOURS.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm |
  9. Marc

    I've read the old testament, new testament (3 different versions) and the Quran. For 3 years of my life I studied judaism for I am jewish. I'm also an Athiest after all that studying. What religious people don't want is to not believe. It's not that you do believe in these things, it's that you cannot accept that you don't. Religion calls this belief faith, while science calls its beliefs evidence. There's a huge gap here; what you know in your heart versus the evidence that actually exists are two completely different things.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  10. Paul

    I had a long talk with Da Man last night and he said he was behind Donald Trump.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Jamest297

      Don't know which "Da Man" you talked to, but in my conversation last night, my "Da Man" told me he was endorsing Little Richard.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  11. Syd

    May as well ask who would Mr. Spock vote for. I am getting really sick and tired of people forcing their invisible-giant-in-the-sky absurdest ideas onto those of us who are somewhat rational. I couldn't care less who Jesus would vote for. I just hope enough people come to their senses and keep Obama in office. Since he's been there, the economy has gotten better, Bin Laden is gone, the world is starting to respect us again, and my insurance premiums have gone down while my coverage has gone up (and yes, I am luckily gainfully employed). Anyone who can't see this is either unintelligent or just stubborn 'cause the guy who's fixing everything doesn't happen to be on their "team". Well, my team the United States and we can't afford to take chances with any of these GOP ninnies.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • No Use For A Name

      Keep Obama in office? That's a horrible idea

      March 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Duane

      Syd, President Obama has been a disaster. This has been the slowest, most anemic recovery ever. The reality is, any Presidents's actual abiility to effect change is limited to a greater or lesser degree. Having said that, for 2 years he had fiilibuster proof majorities and did not focus on the economy or jobs. Instead he screwed the bond holders at GM and Chrysler (which everyone seems to forget about), essentially handed the companies to the unions and now we have the Chevy Volt to show for it. His NLRB filed suit against Boeing for building a plant and creating jobs in SC. Oh, but now they signed a union contract, so the suit is dropped? EIther Boeing broke the law or didn't. If they did, pursue it. If they didn't, the gov't just blackmailed them....based on the suit's status....you do that math.....is that the kind of govt' you want? Not me. Keystone pipeline...no. Gas prices too high? His own folks say lowering gas prices isn't a priority. Time and again, Obama failed to lead in a direction that would end this recession in a timely manner. If a person in business took this long to figure out what to do or worse yet chose to go in a direction that was counter productive, they would be fired. My disagreement with you makes me neither unintelligent or stubborn. You frankly are the stubborn one who cannot see the reality of the situation. Have we lowered the bar that much that sucking less is now acceptable?

      March 6, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
    • J.W

      At least under Obama there has been a recovery. Before Obama we had negative economic growth. And Bush had 8 years to build a strong economy, not just 4.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Duane

      Negative economic growth? And you base this observation on what, because it certainly isn't based on reality. Again, I'll make my point: have we lowered the bar of success to sucking less?....wonderful...I'm not willing to accept that. Obama wasn't up to the job, isn't up to the job and should lose the job.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • J.W

      That is based on GDP. And the economy is growing. Maybe it would be easier if Republicans in Congress would stop obstructing.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  12. Grumpster

    First of all, Jesus is dead and gone. He's not coming back. Get over it. He was not divine either...just a dude with some interesting stories and analysis of the world around him given the little scientific knowledge anyone had in those days. If he were alive today, he'd be looked at as some Hare Kreeshna dude annoying us in the airports with flowers and incessent babble. We'd have long ago dismissed him as a nut job. As for voting, he'd not be familiar with that concept since anyone who opposed the Rebuplicans....er...ruling party, they were crucified.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Kevin

      Amen Brother.....Amen. Thank you for being a realist, I had to click this article just to see what some not job was saying, i was soooo hoping he would have said Santorum and i would have laughed and laughed, and then been slightly disturbed

      March 6, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
  13. William

    This is a Stupid Question! Jesus lives in a Kingdom: THERE IS NO VOTING!

    March 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Salero 21

      You are RIGHT William!! Question is soo Stupid, Jesus is King of Kings, He rules!

      March 6, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  14. Mei

    Since God is FOR life (not abortion) and cares for the traditional family unit (remember Adam and Eve.... not Adam and Adam), I suspect Jesus would vote for Rick Santorum since he comes the closest to moral values despite whatever financial Republican beliefs he might have. Obama is way over on the devil's side on the abortion issue (Remember he has been big pals with Planned Parenthood during his entire presidency) and Romney, well... anyone who has studied Christianity knows that Mormonism is NOT Christian. The teachings are not the same at all and it's wrong to gloss them over as such.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • No Use For A Name

      he wouldn't vote for Rick Santorum, who wants to force people to live a certain way. He would most likely vote for someone who supports freedom and liberty, someone like Ron Paul or Gary Johnson.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • J.W

      When Republicans were in control they didnt do too much on abortion, so they must not really be concerned about it either. They just use it as a rallying point when they are in trouble. I am not big on abortion, but it is the lesser of two evils sometimes. I think in reality even republicans know that.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Wow, that's quite the load of bigotry and delusions! Lets set a few things straight...a) abortion is legal in accordance with the laws that everyone must follow, not the laws written in a 2000 year year old book b) Adam and Eve were not the first people to roam the earth and if you believe this then you must also believe in in.cest (how else would the world have been populated?).
      c) Ho.mo.se.xuality as much as it is preached to be wrong in accordance with a book written 2000 years ago has since been determined to be perfectly natural.
      Whether you wish to live in the 21st century or not is your choice but if you can't understand the basics, please keep your outdated opinion to yourself.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • I Hate Ignorance

      Did you even read the article? Oh and by the way not all democrats support abortion. You're talking about making a law that makes abortion illegal. Do you really think that's going to stop people from getting abortions? I'm all about being pro-life (and i'm a democrat – shocker!) but decisions that people make will be judged far beyond what the government deems to be legal or illegal. And do you really think everything that Rick Santorum (or any other politician for that matter) says are his real beliefs? You need to step out beyond the basic issues such as abortion (which even with a law making it illegal will still be accessible and will still be the individual persons choice), get away from the fox news BS, and do some real granular research on these candidates. And you know what? At the end of the day, whoever the person in office may be, they are not going to take away your inner spiritual beliefs, and your ability to stand up for those. Take responsibility for the actions YOU MAKE rather than opposing widespread laws to situations that are far from black and white.

      March 6, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  15. Joe Biden

    Jesus would send them both to hell.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Jamest297

      Can jesus do that?

      March 6, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  16. J.W

    People still arguing about the religious freedom thing. It is obvious it is about contraception, not freedom. Republicans would have to reverse their stance on many policies if there was complete religious freedom.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  17. What?

    "he did not endorse any political platform because he knew that politics are merely a superficial manifestation of the inner man."

    Uh, no. He did not endorse any political plan because he knew that human governments are temporary and cannot solve mankind's problems. Only God can do that, and God's kingdom was Jesus' only concern.

    He did not refuse to become enmeshed in the human political system because he knew that politics were a superficial manifestation of the inner man. That doesn't even make sense. No literally, did you read that sentence? It's a bunch of buzzwords thrown together to sound intelligent.

    Jesus came to Earth for a purpose, and that purpose wasn't to take sides in an ultimately useless battle.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Liz

      You are exactly correct.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  18. No Use For A Name

    If Jesus voted, he would vote out of principle. He would vote for liberty and a foreign policy of peace and prosperity. If Jesus voted, he would see the nonsense of the war on drugs and terror, and bring American troops home. If Jesus voted, he would vote Libertarian. Maybe he would vote Ron Paul?

    March 6, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
  19. jasie

    it wouldn't be Obama. He signed an increase in abortion his very first week in office and voted for infanticide when he was a state senator. Actions speak louder than words.

    March 6, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • jayh

      Did you even read the article – or can you actually read?

      March 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • Frank

      But then again Jesus signed off on the death of millions of innocent children over the last several hundred years due to starvation, disease and victims of war.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      You're an idiot!!! Keep your mind out of a woman's personal business...that is the problem with your country...religitards who think they have the god damn right to tell a person what they can and can't do with the body; religitards who think they have a right to tell a person who they can and can't love. Tell your god to stop killing babies before they are born and you might have a case but until then, your religitard opinion matters not. In case you are too uneducated to realize it, abortion is not legal past 12 weeks and if they can't get it legally they sure as hell will get it somewhere else!!!

      March 6, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • No Use For A Name

      people who mesh up two words together, like religitards, are kinda retarded

      March 6, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  20. alex

    Jesus would vote for another make-believe character like himself, I'd guess Green Lantern

    March 6, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
    • jayh

      No – I think it would be the easter bunny...

      March 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • JM

      There is archaelogical evidence of his existence, btw.

      Psalm 2

      Why the big noise, nations? Why the mean plots, peoples?
      Earth-leaders push for position,
      Demagogues and delegates meet for summit talks,
      The God-deniers, the Messiah-defiers:
      "Let's get free of God!
      Cast loose from Messiah!"
      Heaven-throned God breaks out laughing.

      March 6, 2012 at 12:34 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.