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With 'Monumental' Kirk Cameron emerges as Christian activist
Kirk Cameron released a documentary in theatres on Friday titled "Monumental."
April 13th, 2012
05:02 PM ET

With 'Monumental' Kirk Cameron emerges as Christian activist

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)– Kirk Cameron could have joined the ranks of former TV heartthrobs who rode off into the sunset, reappearing only for the occasional reunion show or career-reviving role in a TV drama. Think Ricky Schroder or Scott Baio.

But Cameron, known to millions of Americans as Mike Seaver on the hit ‘80s-era show “Growing Pains,” is carving out a new niche for himself, as an unlikely voice of politically conservative American evangelicals.

Cameron has a new documentary on the faith of America’s founders that arrives in theaters on Friday. He is neither a historian nor theologian, but the film, “Monumental,” shows him consumed with Christianity - and with rage over what he says has been the systematic removal of religion’s role from American history.

The film opens with Cameron sitting on an Adirondack chair in his backyard. Looking straight and silently into the camera, a voice-over of his own voice alerts viewers that the world around him is going to hell.

“There is something seriously sick in the soul of our country,” the voice-over says.

“Don’t worry about the fact the world is going to hell in a hand basket - just get out of the hand basket,” his friends tell him. But Cameron explains that he refuses to listen and instead sets out to make “Monumental: In Search of America’s National Treasure,” which investigates the debate over America’s soul.

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Over the last decade, Cameron has become the wholesome, boyish face of Christian cinema. He starred in “Left Behind,” the low-budget film based on the wildly popular Christian book series.

More recently, he played the lead role in “Fireproof,” a breakout film that shocked the Hollywood establishment when it debuted in the top 10 in its first week and wound up taking in an estimated $33 million. The film was made by Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Georgia, for just over $500,000.

Cameron was one of the only professional actors in the film; the rest were congregants from the church.

Along with such popular movies as Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ,” ”Fireproof” showed the potential for a new market in explicitly Christian films. In the last two years, crossover movies like “Soul Surfer” and “Courageous” have had parallel advertising campaigns targeting churches.

The movement has propelled Cameron back into the spotlight.

“Monumental” is Cameron’s baby. He is its executive producer and its star.

“When I survey the landscape and turn on the news, all signs are saying panic,” Cameron recently said.

“Instead of listening to everyone play the blame game … maybe the best place to look for solutions was to talk to the men and women who built this country 400 years ago and laid the foundations that resulted in a nation that has experienced more blessing and prosperity and strength than any other nation in the world,” he said.

“That launched me on this journey to retrace the Pilgrims and find the sacred sauce.”

In the film, Cameron retraces the Pilgrims’ steps from England to Holland to the New World. He talked to scholars and historians, digging in on the faith of the Founding Fathers.

What he found, he said, is a forgotten historical narrative not taught in schools.

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Those first principles, as Cameron sees them, are spelled out in a scene depicting a large stone monument near Massachusetts’ Plymouth Rock, the spot memorialized as the place the Pilgrims landed.

“Faith in God … produces character, character will produce courage, courage to face the challenges of the day,” Cameron says in the movie, riffing off the Pilgrims’ story.

Cameron teamed with NCM Fathom, a company that streams live events to movie theaters nationwide, like live performances of the Metropolitan Opera and boxing matches, to offer a sneak peek at the film a couple of weekends ago. That debut was emceed by Cameron, featured live performances by Christian bands and was beamed out live on more than 600 screens, grossing $1.23 million, according to NCM and Cameron's publicist.

Kirk Cameron stares at an inscription at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington.

The new documentary has faced criticism for its inclusion of self-taught evangelical Christian historian David Barton.

A favorite among evangelicals for his Christian-centric views of the Founding Fathers and his vast collection of historical documents, Barton is heavily featured in the film.

“The reason I went to go see David Barton is because he owns the largest collection of original source documents from the founding era that I can get my hands on and that you can go and see,” Cameron said.

“When you look at those documents it becomes incredibly clear there has been a lot of cherry picking of the evidence done to support a very particular worldview, and that’s the worldview our children are learning in school and it’s not the full and complete historical record because it doesn’t reflect the faith of our Founding Fathers,” the actor said.

In a version of the film made available for screening and in clips posted online, Barton shows Cameron the “Thompson Hot Press Bible,” which Barton said was printed in 1798 and was funded by 12 signers of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, including John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

“They wanted the word of God out to every family,” Barton says in the clip. “If these guys happen to be Christians it makes a lot of sense.”

Barton then picks up a small rare Bible known as the “Aitken Bible.” “The Bible of the Revolution was printed by the Congress of the United States. So Congress printed the first English Language version of the Bible,” Barton said. He goes on to say the Congress said, “This was a neat edition of the Bible for use in our schools.”

Warren Throckmorton, an associate professor of psychology at Grove City College, a private Christian school in Pennsylvania, has criticized Barton’s version of history and Cameron’s films.

About much of the history featured in the film, Throckmorton said, “That’s just not what happened.”

After seeing clips of the documentary, Throckmorton fact-checked some parts.

He said he found that the “Thompson Hot Press Bible” was not funded in total by 12 Founders. Instead, he said, the Bible was funded by a subscription base of 1,200 customers that included 12 Founding Fathers. “The printers funded that Bible, the Founders didn’t fund it. It was a business venture for them.”

As for the quote Barton attributed to Congress about putting the Bible in schools, it actually came from Robert Aitken’s petition to Congress. Aitken was a colonial printer. The Journals of Congress from 1782 shows Aitken completed the Bible on his own and sought the blessing of Congress.

The record shows a report from two congressional chaplains who examined the work, which they praised.

Congress passed a resolution to recommend “this edition of the Bible to the inhabitants of the United States and hereby authorize him to publish this recommendation in the manner he shall think proper.” That resolution did not mention it being put in schools.

“David Barton gets the facts wrong when it comes to these two Bibles,” Throckmorton said. “The facts of the case are stretched and embellished to create a narrative that is misleading.”

Cameron defended Barton’s work. “No one is more guilty of cherry picking evidence than those who bow to the god of political correctness, especially historians,” Cameron said. “Everyone is going to select the information that is important to their thesis. If you’re bent on being politically correct, it’s very easy to fall into that trap.”

Throckmorton noted that he and other critics of Barton’s work hail from Christian colleges and universities.

Early controversy surrounding Cameron's comments on social issues have given the film more media coverage than Cameron could have imagined for a small-budget documentary.

Appearing on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight last month, Cameron fielded questions about abortion, gay marriage and what he would do if one of his six children came out to him as gay.

None of the topics appear in the film, but Cameron expressed views on same-sex marriage, abortion and homosexuality that are common among conservative evangelical Christians.

Cameron called homosexuality “unnatural,” adding, “I think that it's detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization."

His comments sparked outrage from gay rights groups like GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The group led a campaign to counter Cameron’s comments with other 1980s TV stars and evangelicals on the other side of the theological spectrum.

GLAAD spotlighted a bevy of celebrities who chided Cameron for his positions on homosexuality, including a tweet from Rosanne Barr, who suggested Cameron was “an accomplice to murder with his hate speech.”

Cameron said his support for traditional marriage is rooted in faith and thinks it should inform policy decisions: “You either believe marriage and human sexuality are sacred or you do not.”

Cameron jokingly described his faith as “high octane” but said he considers himself part of the evangelical Christian tradition. He said he goes to a small nondenominational community church near his home in California, though his publicist later clarified that he is not a member of the church, whose name he would not disclose because of privacy and security concerns.

Cameron said he was caught off guard by the controversy around his comments.

“It is my goal to love everyone. I hate no one,” he said. “Regardless of their race, religion, their proclivities, the desire of their heart and how they want to live their life and the decisions that they make. I can even respect people’s decisions and lifestyle choices just as I hope they have the courtesy to respect my decisions and my choices.”

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Religious liberty

soundoff (2,339 Responses)
  1. neverquit

    Normal straight guys do not obsess about what other men may do in their private bedrooms. Those who hate - and Cameron is as full of hate as the intensity in which he denies it - are often found to be hating and fighting something within themselves. I wouldn't be surprised if we eventually have a Ted Haggard / Eddie Long type scandal (and they're just the tip of an iceberg ... see "List of scandals involving evangelical Christians" on Wikipedia) There are starving children in America, children without health care, and other fundamental problems affecting the most innocent among us, and it's unfortunate that these so-called "Christian" cannot apply their claimed beliefs towards helping others and actually doing some good in this world rather than spend their lives away blabbering prejudices and hate speech.

    April 14, 2012 at 4:31 am |
    • GianCarlo

      Well Said..........Well Said.........I applaud you.........Well said.......................

      April 14, 2012 at 4:42 am |
    • Sabina

      I think he does help others..........as long as they believe what he does.

      April 14, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • edwardo

      wow! So very well said. Brilliant response.

      April 20, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • just sayin

      The problem you all have to overcome is that Truth is not hate. God bless

      April 20, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  2. Carl

    "Traditional" marriage in the context of the Bible includes polygamy. Cameron is an idiot that twists the Bible to his opinions, the same as everyone else.

    April 14, 2012 at 4:27 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Don't quote the bible to a christian; that's called picking and choosing; only christians are allowed to do that.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  3. sean50

    Don't blame him...he's still naive as to how corrupt christian religion is.

    April 14, 2012 at 4:17 am |
    • sqeptiq

      He's not naive...he just can't think of an honest way to make a living so he chose bunco.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  4. Ge

    He is a nut job! Ignore him

    April 14, 2012 at 4:15 am |
    • BRUCE

      KIRK STILL MAKES ME HORNEY

      April 14, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  5. R

    Making a fool of oneself on national television, with bonafide crazy talk, counts as a "comeback?"

    Eek. The religious right and arch conservatives must be desperate.

    April 14, 2012 at 4:14 am |
    • Realist

      yep.. the insecure do love religion and their belief systems

      April 14, 2012 at 4:15 am |
  6. faith7060

    Nothing wrong with standing up for what you believe in and putting your efforts behind it. Takes guts. Power to him.

    April 14, 2012 at 3:49 am |
    • Realist

      Nazis did the same

      April 14, 2012 at 4:18 am |
    • Alice

      Marxists did too.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      NAMBLA does that.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • In Reason I Trust

      So if you believe 1+1 = 3 you should get behind it?

      Sometimes wrong is wrong. And magic babies that walk on water and rise from the dead are probably just fictional characters like Superman so don't get crazy dedicating your life to such nonsense.

      April 14, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  7. Mark In ATL

    I personally am not a strong believer, however, I want to see how strongly you liberal hacks/atheists feel about this ACROSS THE BOARD. I will now check out "My hijab is my hoodie" to see how many hypocrites I see nodding your bobble heads along with the muslims.

    April 14, 2012 at 3:43 am |
    • Jack

      What the hell are you talking about?

      April 14, 2012 at 3:59 am |
    • JC

      You're not a strong believer? You're doing it wrong,lol.

      April 14, 2012 at 4:03 am |
    • steven harnack

      No, you're not a strong believer, you just use enough of it to justify your hate.

      April 14, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  8. alpeaston

    Jesus, please save me from your followers!

    April 14, 2012 at 3:36 am |
    • cadecker

      careful what you wish for

      April 14, 2012 at 3:40 am |
    • Matt Slick

      If you are praying to Jesus, then you are admitting he is God. Then you best learn what he says in the Bible, His word, to see if his followers are doing right.

      April 14, 2012 at 3:41 am |
    • Ituri

      Matt Slick, you apparently aren't that "slick" at all, if you can't identify simple irony. Its called humor. Try it sometime.

      Btw, the whole insisting someone believes because they made an ironic statement is kind of ridiculous. Its like saying an atheist isn't an atheist if they say "bless you" when someone sneezes, as if atheists can't just be polite.

      April 14, 2012 at 3:44 am |
    • sqeptiq

      "I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians; they are so unlike your Christ." -Gandhi

      April 14, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • search

      ok

      April 22, 2012 at 2:58 am |
  9. Ituri

    Emerges? Sorry, but we've been laughing at this guy and his "crocaduck" nonsense for YEARS already. A little late to the game on this one.

    April 14, 2012 at 3:36 am |
    • Matt Slick

      Its easy to laugh at someone from the safety of an anonymous nic. Takes guts to hide and point fingers, right? uh huh.... Kirk is a godly man who has the guts to stand firm, take the heat, and keep standing. He isn't hiding like so many of the posters here. Notice, I use my real name. I'm not hiding. But, if you want someone to tackle, tackle me. Call my radio show, carm.org/radio. Don't worry, you don't have to give your real name.

      April 14, 2012 at 3:43 am |
    • Ituri

      Ituri IS my name. Some fantastic attempt on my part to stay anonymous, using my actual name, lol! I especially love how you think I'm interested in your "radio show." Maybe I'll put you on my tv show too. Its where no-name singers come on stage for a chance at fame, and I'm the snarky judge that says it like it is. (Btw, the last part of that was more of that strange thing people call "humor.")

      Kirk is a zealot, the same as any other zealot, and the level of absurdity in his comments against science alone give him a gold medal in zealotry at the religious olympics.

      April 14, 2012 at 3:48 am |
  10. Kathleen

    Is there any good reason why CNN would cover the inane pop-spirituaity of a mediocre 80's chid actor?

    April 14, 2012 at 3:29 am |
    • Danny Bonaduce

      I haven't gotten a single bloody article here, and Kirk is on his third?

      April 14, 2012 at 3:36 am |
  11. Peter Cook On How To Bang Heaven Sent

    In the words of Marcel Proust — and this applies to any woman in the world — if you can stay up and listen with a fair degree of attention to whatever garbage, no matter how stupid it is that they're coming out with, til ten minutes past four in the morning... you're in.

    April 14, 2012 at 3:13 am |
  12. Drimble Wedge & The Vegetations

    Kirk Cameron fills me with inertia.

    April 14, 2012 at 2:51 am |
  13. TheRationale

    This guy is a nut job. Also sticking with creationism last time I checked.

    April 14, 2012 at 1:43 am |
  14. tallulah13

    The majority of Americans 400 years ago had never heard of christianity or Christ. The majority of Americans at that time had not even see a human being with white skin.

    Perhaps Mr. Cameron has forgotten the slaughter of indigenous people by the European newcomers. Perhaps he should take a moment and read about the Pequot people, and how their village full of noncombatant women and children was surrounded and put to the torch by Puritan settlers. Any who managed to survive the fire and the christians surrounding them were sold into slavery. The carnage was so bad that the traditional native enemies of the Pequot were begging the christians for mercy for their foe, but there was none to be had. Yet these are the people Mr. Cameron would have us look to?

    I say no thank you. I prefer a society based on knowledge, compassion and const.itutional equality, not murderous supersti.tion.

    April 14, 2012 at 1:26 am |
    • Saint Jester

      Well said. Kirk Cameron needs to hop off of his pedestal and go back to what he's good at: acting....oh, wait...

      Well, there's gotta be something out there for him!

      April 14, 2012 at 4:09 am |
    • GianCarlo

      He wants to portray the founding fathers as God fearing, holy people. Give me a break, how can you fear God and be holy and at the same time have humans as slaves. The way they treated blacks is not a gesture of a God fearing man. Cameron stop trying to see things that are not part of history. Just because you now are so Holier than thou does not make you an expert on the founding of this country.

      April 14, 2012 at 4:49 am |
    • granny13 'tis time to take off that dunce cap
      April 14, 2012 at 8:40 am |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for cats and other stuff

    pray.

    April 14, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • Hoos

      Atheism is perfectly healthy for cats. I have yet to see my cats pray once and they are perfectly fine.

      "you good little atheist kitties. let's all laugh at those that believe in antiquated mythologies now. good kitties, here's a treat"

      April 14, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Sabina

      I do pray..........that one day atheists will rule.

      April 14, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  16. I'm Kirk Cameron, and I Talk to Dead People

    "The best place to look for solutions was to talk to the men and women who built this country 400 years ago."

    April 13, 2012 at 11:36 pm |
  17. Pipe-Dreamer

    Kirk is a good name afterall James T. Kirk had it as alast name!

    April 13, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      i agree. this d-bag doesn't deserve to share the same name.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:38 pm |
  18. Pipe-Dreamer

    Catholocism is not worthy of even being considered a Christianizable religion for they hold back so much dough in their treasuries that one could with ease, feed many 3rd world countries for perhaps years if they were to "give up" their dough!
    April 13, 2012 at 5:57 pm
    Some, not many are child molesters. If one sees the clrgy as a family would one not try to hide their family's dirty laundry from the neighbors? Because the clergy are devotionalists and dedicated to their Faith's inabilities to have sound reasoning skills does not make them all out to be evil sinners, but in harboring one's dirty laundry, the clergy needs to send it out to be cleansed.
    April 13, 2012 at 6:04 pm
    The religiously devoted are not "dumb", they are scared and they are not "ignorant", they need guidance to reconcile their lousy and immoral Life they have once led. They are scared and want to find reasons for changing their Life! God to them and myself is the answer to the many Acts and actions we all have done wrong in one's past. It isn't rocket science that one can learn to overcome their own rememberences if ills' wongdoings. They need a little push from people who are as a light and can be found a comforting flame of hope and inspiration to ever so slowly llead them to God and yes the King of all God's Sons and Daughters, our Redeemer Christ Jesus.
    April 13, 2012 at 6:15 pm
    Being of "pride" for getting or being laid is not for the faint of heart. In getting laid at such an early age in my or anyone's Life will eventually play in their Life's deck of cards and in dealing this deck one does ever come across the once were cards to ever be reminded of times' past. That's why I say and do regard myself as being but a lowly closeted Christian unworthy of being called a righteous man of 57 years and counting the days looking ever onward to my Life's End! If God and His Sons and yes, Daughters truly are a realism, then I will be given my justice accordingly for my deeds done here in this real of Celestial Cunning! If there is no God, then I will be none the wiser!
    April 13, 2012 at 6:31 pm
    It may one day be truth where the Mother of all Christendoms will bite the proverbial bullet! She will not, though go down without fighting and screaming and gouging the eyes out of many of her followers. Let's all get back to the basics. A horse to plough the fields with and a cow from which to husband with another's bull, some chickens and rabbits some pigs and goats. Ah for the good ol' days they will soon be a coming back! "Push the buttons you ingrates and let's get this show on the road again"!
    April 13, 2012 at 6:49 pm
    There is a time to hold onto and a time to let go of. There are times to remember and times to try and forget. Their are people who do scratch at and claw upon the words of others' faithed wordages. There are also people who stand by and listen and just plainly observe There are those who listen and observe justifiable people of pleasentries and others of ill will who might prey upon those who are unsheltered and in unleavened safe harborages. The young-in-heart's souls are spirited and weak in love knowledge and try unendingly searching the lands ever to seek loving from others away from their nest. Loving your children always is a test!
    April 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm
    One one wrote, "Religion offers the seductive simplicity of certainty, a temptation too strong for many to resist."
    April 13, 2012 at 7:18 pm
    The "trickery" of atheisms are their deluding others of weakened minds and fair gaminess in moments of despair. It is quite easy to see death as being one's end but such a death is of physical accords while the spiritual works of the Holy Ghost are an endless affair of God's whole-heartedness to give to beleivers another spirit-filled Life upon the inner-workings of the Micro-Chasms' unending places inwardly and not up in or even in the abovenss like many worshipper are led to beleive in their mind's eye. We are much more than a piece of flesh upon bones. We are of God and His whole families do live inside us! I Love in the joys of knowing God's few Truths He has let my mind's eyes see and I lay awake at nights ever dreamful of my next Life inside the kingdom Domain of God, the Heavens' Father and Creator of and of all Celestial manifestations! God's Will is ever to be done knowingly or unknwoingly for these are the choices one has. To believe or not to believe in God, the Father and His eons of Sons and Daughters and theirs and always on down the lines of each and every generation of His Godliness Kinds!
    April 13, 2012 at 8:22 pm
    Freedom? Is not Freedoms nothing more than laws meant to oblige one's tattering livelihoods? Who here can honestly say they are free? Do we not have obligations? Are we not obligated to work in order to gain sustanances for living? The curses of freedoms' laments weigh heavily upon those who gregariously plunder the needs of the many with undue justices! The poor of each and every nation or country find peace in their pittiful existence and their needs are few when compared to the needs of the most rich! "Give to the poor" is what the rich ever do deny and will never truly do! They are the true hypocrits of the Gospels!
    April 13, 2012 at 8:48 pm
    God was and is and ever will be just a God! Call God whatever one wills and God will never be changed! Throw all verbal excrements at God and God will never be moved! Love God even just a smidgen and God will open His Kingodms' Gates wide when your time comes to leave this world! Showing mercies to the weak in mind and poor in spirit and God will adorn you with much when your time here reaches its' end! To those who keep their treasuries in abundant measure know not God and God will not receive them when their time comes for to give all you have to the poor and the needy is where the rich in life's treasures will not so do and they will be crushed assunder and used as fodder for God's beasts!
    April 13, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    April 13, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      "Some, not many are child molesters. If one sees the clrgy as a family would one not try to hide their family's dirty laundry from the neighbors? Because the clergy are devotionalists and dedicated to their Faith's inabilities to have sound reasoning skills does not make them all out to be evil sinners, but in harboring one's dirty laundry, the clergy needs to send it out to be cleansed."

      disgusting. would we try to hide it from our neighbors? that's your justification? disgusting. if i found my uncle was molesting children, no, i wouldn't try to hide it. i would call the police myself. but the church never calls the police. they protect the molester at the expense of the victim. how can you justify not turning in a child molester? shows how disgusting christianity is. ANYone at the church that knew about it and didn't report it to the police should be charged. there is no justification for protecting child molesters. period.

      April 13, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      there are so many logical fallacies in this post, it's hard to figure out where to begin. LOL.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:40 pm |
    • Jim R

      thanks for your rant, nothing "white noise" – All religions are equally false by preferring faith to reason

      April 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  19. Bootyfunk

    seriously, i think Kirk has had a series of frontal lobotomies.

    "Circ.umvent your intelligence."
    - Kirk Cameron

    April 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  20. The Central Scrutinizer

    I can't read all of this stuff. Who is Kirk Cameron and why are we talking about him? Seriously?

    April 13, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • momoya

      A boyish tv star of a mediocre 80's family show.. Nobody knows why anybody takes him seriously, even Kirk himself..

      April 13, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • dozedoff

      he is a kid who at 16 had a tv show, they put some really hot older blonde chick on the show and he flipped out, she was ultra crazed christian and demanded him be so too or she wouldnt marry him lol good going man, threw away everything for a piece of tail

      April 13, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • Cq

      He stared in the Left Behind movies which makes him the Brad Pitt of Christian media. That, and a very memorable part playing "second banana" to Roy Comfort. 🙂

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KqJuITAVWc&w=640&h=360]

      April 14, 2012 at 12:03 am |
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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.