Is the black church guilty of spiritual hypocrisy in same-sex marriage debate?
Delman Coates at Mt. Ennon Baptist Church is among a minority of black ministers in Maryland who have endorsed gay rights.
May 12th, 2012
08:00 AM ET

Is the black church guilty of spiritual hypocrisy in same-sex marriage debate?

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - Some people wonder if the black church will punish President Barack Obama for announcing support for same-sex marriage.

Here’s another question:

Why would the black church cite scripture to exclude gays when a similar approach to the Bible was used to enslave their ancestors?

“It’s so unfortunate,” says James Cone, one the nation’s most influential black theologians and author of “The Cross and the Lynching Tree.”

“The literal approach to scripture was used to enslave black people,” he says. “I’ve said many times in black churches that the black church is on the wrong side of history on this. It’s so sad because they were on the right side of history in their own struggle.”

Call it historical irony: Black church leaders arguing against same-sex marriage are making some of the same arguments that supporters of slavery made in the 18th and 19th centuries, some historians say. Both groups adopted a literal reading of the Bible to justify withholding basic rights from a particular group.

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

Opposition to gay rights is not the standard position of all black churches. Still, while several predominately white mainline denominations have officially accepted gays and lesbians in various forms, the vast majority of black churches still consider homosexuality a sin.

Black church leaders recently helped lead a successful drive to amend North Carolina’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The Rev. Fred Robinson, a black pastor in Charlotte, says most black churchgoers aren’t hypocrites. They take scripture, and sin, seriously.

“Black people are not confused,” Robinson says. “If you look at the scriptures that oppose homosexuality, Old and New Testament, they are clearer cut than the ones people used to justify slavery.”

Yet there are other factors beyond the Bible that shape the black church’s resistance to same-sex marriage.

“It’s more than scripture – it’s history, culture, how we were raised,” says the Rev. Tim McDonald, founder of the African American Ministers Leadership Council.

Some black church leaders are still fighting hard just to persuade straight black couples to marry. Accepting same-sex marriage when so many black households lack a husband and wife makes McDonald uneasy.

“I am not comfortable performing a wedding ceremony of the same sex,” says McDonald, an Obama supporter. “That’s just where I am.”

Some black pastors, however, embrace a literal approach to the Bible not just to exclude gays but to get rid of competition, says Edward Blum, a San Diego State University historian.

Some black pastors cite New Testament passages such as Paul’s demand that women keep silent in churches to argue against black women in the pulpit.

That argument is harder to make when black women’s energy and donations form the backbone of the black church, Blum says, but some still get away with it.

“The biblical literalist reading has kept male leadership in power in a church that is hugely female,” Blum says. “It keeps power in men’s hands.”

The one book that mattered

Black churches also embrace a literal reading of the scripture because of its unique history, says Blum, author of “W.E.B. DuBois, American Prophet.”

During slavery and segregation, many blacks saw the Bible as the one document they could trust. The Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, state and local laws – all found some way to ignore their humanity, Blum says.

The Bible, though, was one book that told them that they weren’t slaves or three-fifths of a person, Blum says.

It said they were children of God.

“Throughout the 18th and 19th century, what document could they trust?” Blum says. “When the Bible says it’s so, it’s something that black people believed they could trust.”

Their enemies, though, used that same veneration of the Bible against them. Slaveholders had a simple but powerful argument when critics challenged them: Trust the Bible.

They cited scriptures such as Ephesians 6:5. (“Slaves, be obedient to those who are your earthly masters, with fear and trembling. ...”) And they said Jesus preached against many sins, but never against slavery.

Since the Bible is infallible, and scripture sanctions slavery, it must be part of God’s order, slaveholders concluded.

“Slavery is everywhere in the Bible,” Blum says. “When Americans who were in favor of slavery defended it with the Bible, they had a treasure trove of clear biblical passages that accepted enslavement.”

Blum says abolitionists found it difficult to mount an effective counterargument. They couldn’t just say trust the Bible. They preached another approach to scriptures.

They said you couldn’t enslave people based on the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do to you. (Obama cited the Golden Rule and his Christian faith in supporting same-sex marriage).

“The abolitionist turned to the ethics and spirit of the Bible,” Blum says. “They were theological modernists before modernism.”

And what are black clergy and churchgoers today when they cite the Bible to oppose same-sex marriage?

Robinson, the North Carolina pastor, says they’re not homophobes.

“It says in the Bible that homosexuals will not inherit the Kingdom of God,” he says. “How do you explain that one away? A lot of honest Christians are not trying to hate homosexuals. They’re saying that if I take the Bible seriously, I’m not sure I can say it’s right.”

Robinson says that some opposition to homosexuality is actually based in compassion:

“If I’m concerned about your soul, I have to tell you the truth in love.”

Cone, who teaches at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, says black churchgoers opposed to same-sex marriage are instead mimicking their ancestors’ oppressors.

“I tell some people, ‘These people were against you.’ They would have lynched you. How are you going to now join them and help them lynch somebody else?’”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Barack Obama • Christianity • Culture wars • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Politics

soundoff (4,348 Responses)
  1. Grey Ghost

    “It’s more than scripture – it’s history, culture, how we were raised”

    You could have said the same thing about slavery...

    May 14, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      I'm sure al qaeda also uses a similar line of logic.

      May 14, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
  2. n8263

    It is immoral to impose your religious superstition on others.

    You do not believe in religion because you honestly think it is true, you believe in it because you fear mortality or are seeking meaning in your life. It does not take a genius to figure out all religion is man made, so for humanity's sake, please stop lying to yourself.

    Deluding yourself in religion does not change reality. Lying to yourself is probably the worst possible way to try to find meaning.

    May 14, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  3. Sugarmama


    May 14, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Sugarmama

      ROMANS I chapter 1 in its entirety

      May 14, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  4. jedmerrill

    If the truth is what makes us free, why are you enslaving blacks all over again by lying to them about gay marriage (bad) being equivalent to civil rights? It's just not true.

    Marriage is between a woman, a man, and God, not two men and government.

    For government to say gay marriage is equivalent to God's marriage is another overreaching government takeover that will not be well received in Heaven or on Earth.

    We're not stupid. Your education is getting the best of you. Intellectual philosophic arguments will never trump divine truth, however much Obama loves Marx and other out of touch philosophers with no moral compass.

    May 14, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • LinCA


      You said, "If the truth is what makes us free, why are you enslaving blacks all over again by lying to them about gay marriage (bad) being equivalent to civil rights? It's just not true."
      The argument is that the same justification is used to deny civil rights to gays as were used to deny African Americans their civil right.

      You said, "Marriage is between a woman, a man, and God, not two men and government."
      Your imaginary friend is not part of civil marriage.

      You said, "For government to say gay marriage is equivalent to God's marriage is another overreaching government takeover that will not be well received in Heaven or on Earth."
      Just because the government recognizes your religious marriage means that every civil marriage is a religious one. The government isn't trying to interfere with what fairy tale you believe in.

      You said, "We're not stupid."
      You could have fooled me.

      You said, "Your education is getting the best of you."
      Oh, right. Education – bad. Ignorance and gullibility – good.

      You said, "Intellectual philosophic arguments will never trump divine truth, however much Obama loves Marx and other out of touch philosophers with no moral compass."
      There is no "divine truth". Denying your fellow citizens equal right based on your book of ancient fables is immoral.

      May 14, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Your "divine truth" seems an awful lot like personal opinion. Truth has the weight of evidence behind it. That's why we call it truth. For example, If I tried to convince me that gravity was a made up thing, I'd run into wall of evidence to the contrary. Just because it makes me feel good to believe that I can fly if I jump off of a cliff, has no bearing on the reality. What you refer to as truth, divine or otherwise, is nothing more than you believing something that makes you feel good to believe it. That's why you have to rely on faith. Faith is the engine by which delusion can continue to perpetuate. If you had evidence, and could prove the results, there would be no need of faith.

      May 14, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  5. Cynthia


    May 14, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  6. seebs

    The argument that either all abnormalities are okay or none are is what we call the slippery slope fallacy. It only makes sense if we conclude that unusual things are necessarily bad, or that the only thing bad about them is that they're unusual. Actually, you can perfectly reasonably draw lines in terms of which things hurt people and which don't...

    May 14, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Berk

      There's a difference between "abnormalities" and "minorities", however.

      May 14, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Define the differences, dear. Go ahead. Try.

      May 14, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  7. prismacolorlover

    Can someone please explain why the argument of religion being 'man-made'considered a well thought out argument against religion? If religion is just a man-made tool used to control the masses, doesn'the root of the problem stem from man's desire to control and manipulate others in the first place? And if religion is just a byproduct of man's need to control their surroundings, isn't it safe to assume that even if religion is completely wiped from the face of the earth, that human beings will simply create something else to "control the masses"?

    May 14, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      Obviously, atheists really just want the value system to become human secular so no one can claim they are doing something immoral. Great point you made!

      May 14, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • Berk

      What if you got rid of religion, ideology and other things that people can lazily just follow and left everyone with just their own, individual judgment? People would have to rationally make up their own minds about issues on an individual basis, just as most atheists already do.

      May 14, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      Wait, to the commenter below: Do you just think EVERYONE just follows what someone else says in regards to ideology, religion, and politics? Wow, you are conceited!

      May 14, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • Jojo

      Berk, that sounds an awful lot like anarchy.

      May 14, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, the rule of law would still apply. The Const-itution would still be the basis of government; the bill of rights would still be a guarantee that no one's civil rights under law would be infringed upon.

      Sounds good to me.

      May 14, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • Jojo

      Yeah and those things were made under a nation with a religious background. What makes you think it would remain the same with it?

      May 14, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Jojo

      *without it?

      May 14, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • Berk

      Everyone making up their own minds instead of just following someone else's opinion is anarchy? Really?

      May 14, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • Jojo

      Yeah actually, capitalism is just an opinion on how to run a government. Morality is just an opinion on how people should treat each other. You're suggesting that people don't follow any opinions and trust their own judgement above all else. That's the basic concept of anarchy, there's no real sense of authority.

      Though I'm not really sure what you're really trying to say since everybody makes up their mind about things. Agreeing with an opinion is forming an opinion.

      May 14, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • sam stone

      gau: you have no authority to claim greater morality than anyone else, so please insert your sancatimony deep in your digestive system

      May 14, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Berk

      Capitalism is just an opinion on how to run an economy, democracy relates to government, and we do decide the details individually through voting, right? Operating within a capitalist or democratic system involves quite a wide range of choice, whereas adhering to a religion limits, or even eliminates choice. When was the last time you got to vote on what religious beliefs your religion should uphold? Religion is a dictatorship.

      May 14, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  8. JOSE0311USMC


    May 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
  9. Rob

    Thank you CNN for all your non bias reporting. Even if this is on opinion article, it was picked just for that purpose. Nice how you have balanced articles for all sides of debates. Not to mention picking articles that fester hate speak. Your great!

    May 14, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • JOSE0311USMC


      May 14, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • SeilnoigileR

      Should be 'biased' reporting and 'you're' great. Some basic English would go a long way before you start spewing.

      May 14, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
  10. Robert Hagedorn

    Google First Scandal.

    May 14, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
  11. bullit69

    Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happyness.... nuff said.

    May 14, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Furbs

      Dont seel your hair to wig shop. Get rid of cable. Nice argument

      May 14, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Furbs

      Dont sell your hair to wig shop. Get rid of cable. Nice argument

      May 14, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
  12. David L.

    Ok, seriously, no more comments on incest or polygamy. They are COMPLETELY unrelated. That's like saying "what's to say that if we abolish Obama-care, everybody will get cancer?" The argument doesn't make any sense, and is a weak straw-man argument that just highlights your inability to function in an honest debate.

    But, since we are talking about it, WHO CARES?!?! If 8 consenting adults want to go and get married, let them enjoy themselves. Personally, I find the idea of incest off-putting, but if a brother and sister want to get married, and they're both consenting adults, then go have a blast. Their life decisions affect me in no way, shape, or form.

    May 14, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • J.W

      But dont you know that out of hom0s3xuality you get polygamy, then incest, then pedophilia, then r@pe, then bestiality, then murder, then war, then nuclear war. So if we dont want nuclear war we better stop the gays.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Actually

      They're not at all unrelated. They are deviations from the norm. If we're going to normalize and legalize one, why not the others? Either all deviations, where consenting adults are concerned, are okay or none are. That's all there is to it.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Eli

      "But dont you know that out of hom0s3xuality you get polygamy, then incest, then pedophilia, then r@pe, then bestiality, then murder, then war, then nuclear war. So if we dont want nuclear war we better stop the gays."

      In 2008 the California Supreme Court distinguished polygamy from the right to same-sex marriage by explaining that polygamy is "inimical to the mutually supportive and healthy family relationships promoted by the constitutional right to marry." Polygamist leaders like Warren Jeffs, who last year was convicted of multiple sexual assaults and incest-related felony counts, illustrate how polygamy is inherently conducive to power imbalances, sexual subjugation, and other abuses that do not inherently exist in the case of same-sex marriage.

      There isn't a shred of modern sociological evidence to support the claim that gay marriage is harmful to society, whereas there is a plethora of historical and contemporary evidence to illustrate the dangers associated with polygamy. With opposite-sex couples, there is arguably a greater power imbalance because men are generally physically stronger than women.

      When looking at incest, it is quite clear that permitting consanguineous relationships will lead to power imbalances, psychological damage, sexual abuse, and a high rate of genetic diseases. Again, the basis for society's objection is not a religious one based on "family values" but one based on provable harm to society. The same cannot be said of two same-sex consenting adults getting married. Where is the evidence that children raised by gay parents are harmed? Where is the evidence that gay marriage will lead to the end of civilization? Show me one peer-reviewed, modern, mainstream study demonstrating the inherent dangers of gay marriage. You will not find it.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Actually

      Eli. "It's quite clear" can't be used without the same research you're demanding for gays. Almost all of the above has been said about them as well. It is the opinion of some that gay marriage is wrong for any number of unsupported reasons and due to isolated cases. It is your opinion that polygamy and incest are wrong for any number of unsupported reasons and due to isolated cases. Again, it all comes down to consenting adults. If all parties are consenting and all are adults, where are the abuses, damages and power imbalances you're claiming supposed to come from?

      May 14, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Berk

      "But dont you know that out of hom0s3xuality you get polygamy"
      Doesn't that imply that all those fine Bible heroes who were polygamous, as well as the Mormons, must have started off gay before moving on to having multiple wives. Why would you jump from having a relationship with a man to having a relationship with several women at once?

      May 14, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
    • David L.

      Berk, you do realize that J.W. was being facetious....

      May 14, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Berk

      David L.
      According to Poe's Law he shoulda ended with a smily then.

      May 15, 2012 at 12:21 am |
  13. Secure

    So many ppl on these forums get sooo heated when someone does not agree with them they immediately give in to name calling like little children. What is wrong with everyone's brains that they can not tolerate that someone views things differently. Be different, thats fine. Don't act like babies about it.

    May 14, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  14. happyfrenchman

    So anyway, how many of you christians were aware that none of the 4 writers of the gospels ever met Christ? And the same goes for Paul, unless you believe the story about the conversion on the road to Damascus... How many of you even knew that basic and elemental fact about the book you claim to love so much?

    May 14, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • J.W

      Depends on who you think wrote them.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • DDXS


      May 14, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • happyfrenchman

      Faith is one word for it. But stop pushing what you believe on others... I still don't think most christians really believe. If they did, they would have faith that God would handle it... their actions to deny and punish are an outright confession that their faith is weak. And the more they try to enforce Gods law, the less faith they have in God to do the job Himself. Say what you will about Faith, it goes hand in hand with doubt. And with doubt, you would think at least to keep your nose out of others business, and leave it up to God. But Christ himself said, if you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you would be saved... and even that little bit is apparently hard to maintain.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Actually

      So if people believe in free will, but also believe in God, they should sit back because God will force the issue? That's kind of the opposite of how it would work.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      That's not accurate. One of the gospels was written while Peter was telling his story to the masses.

      May 14, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Heather

      The vast majority of the Bible wasn't even written down until the First Counsel of Nicaea, which decided amongst other things, if Christ was merely a man or the son of God, and when his birthday was, and the date of his resurrection.

      In other words, most of the Bible we see today existed as word-of-mouth stories for sometimes thousands of years, passed from generation to generation until Constantine needed Christianity to hold Rome together and forced the various leaders into a temple and didn't let them leave until they got their stories straight.

      But yea, the Bible is the unaltered work of God...

      May 14, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Cq

      The gospels were written by rival groups. Sometimes they tapped into the same sources, but this rivalry accounts for the many contradictions between them. Any way you slice it there wasn't a Bible for centuries after Jesus and, when they all got together to decide which books to rule in they did so according to which books matched the theology they had at that time. Who knows if this even comes close to matching the theology of Jesus, or the original apostles. Maybe the Church persecuted the Christians closest to Jesus' original movement amongst all the groups it deemed heretical back then?

      May 15, 2012 at 12:33 am |
  15. MissyC

    Kay, first of all, people have no right to be calling black people hypocrites unless they ARE black. Otherwise, they don't know crap. Second, all that bible reference and stuff is bull. The bible might say something, but really...People have been deviating from it in this century. It's time to move on past what many people referred to in slavery times, as well as further into the past, and come to terms with one thing: It's 2012. Third, comparing the african american race to it's slavery times is just as bad as comparing white people to the heartless, greedy and self-absorbed slave masters they used to be. You wanna really make a statement in this topic? Make an article that doesn't offend anyone, and states the truth.

    May 14, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Steven

      I don't need to be any particular color to see blatant hypocrisy and call someone out on it.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • deelite

      well said. I don't like the fact that they're called "black" churches, "black congregations"....not once did they mention if these are Christian churches. poorly written article clearly written to stir the pot.....by the way, it called and said "you're black".

      May 14, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • DDXS

      I thought some blacks were gay too?

      May 14, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Sammy

      @deelite It is common knowledge that the majority of black churches in America are Protestant. When 99.9% of the people who visit the church on a regular basis are black, then common knowledge would also register this church as black.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Heather

      Is there a color requirement in the Dictionary for the word "hypocrite"????

      I don't have to be Asian to recognize if some Asian person is saying one thing and doing another.

      May 14, 2012 at 6:41 pm |
  16. Mark

    You can quote all the scripture you want, but it won't change the fact that most christians are hypocrites. That is what you are if you Cherry-pick from the bible to prove a point. I belive in God and the Golden Rule, but I don't believe in random writings that were written thousands of years ago, which have been interpreted hundreds of times from people who lived in a very different world than we live in now. For a people who were oppressed for so long to are ok with discriminating against others is just turning a blind eye. They act as though though there are no black gay people, which is a joke. There are many, you just don't realize it because they are on the down low, as a result of these hypocrates. Live and let live and stay the heck out of people's bedrooms. If your religion doesn't want to marry someone so be it, but don't legislate from religion, it doesn't work so well, just look at the middle east.

    May 14, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Steven

      I should think that the black community would have their hands full with the decay of the black community. Where do they find the time to point fingers and how do they do it with a straight face.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • DDXS

      No,that's not what is happening. Your asking devout people to change their veiw, the hypocrisy would be to condone something in the church viewed as sin.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • DDXS

      Steve, my tolerance will allow me to step right over your blatantly racist comment.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Steven

      @DDXS It is time to stop tiptoeing around the black community. They are grown. I can discuss the decay of their families surely if they get to vote my family away. Grow up! Stop calling everyone a racist and reserve the word for when it is truly needed.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • DDXS

      Nobody can "vote" our family away and I do not want to.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • Steven

      That is what this story is about. Black pastors who have convinced their flock to go to the polls and vote down gay relationships. Surely if they get to suggest that my gay body will be condemned to hell, then I should have every right in the world to point out the elephant in the middle of the room that should be keeping them busy 24 hours a day – the decay of the black family.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • DDXS

      Your family Steve. It's not that we think you shuoldn't have a family or that you cannot even be married, we cannot "vote" with you and maintain that our God is holy. Some people will disagree...

      May 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Steven

      I suggest you get your head out of the clouds and pay attention to the here and now. There may not be brownie points in heaven for gay bashing the gays that God created.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      LOL!! If we do vote for gay marriage, we vote against what God wants and thus become hypocrites. And hypocrites is what one is when they say you all have a vote, but still tell you that you are a bigot for voting your conscience.

      May 14, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Nodack

      Man made up God. Man decided what God was going to say. I am not concerned with what conservatives 2000 years ago thought about gays.

      May 14, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  17. tlew4512

    I am pleased that our President left scripture, sin and God out of his comments. Maybe I am more pleased that obama is not a pastor. God help us move into the light.

    May 14, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  18. Attomind

    Thank God there are many black men and women of the cloth that believe butt-banging is crap.

    May 14, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • Clara

      But a sea of other African Americans have embraced the banging with glee.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  19. Sugarmama


    May 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • CNN

      No I will not post them.

      May 14, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • LinCA


      What the evil CNN isn't telling you that there is a conspiracy against believers. They've devised a system that limits the ability of believers to post. That way they can protect their evil, liberal message.

      But we've figured this system out. CNN uses automated censoring that looks for words, or fragments of words, that are considered offensive. Your post must have had a forbidden word in it.

      Repeat posts, even those that were previously censored and not displayed, will show a message stating that you posted it before.

      The following words or word fragments will get your post censored (list is incomplete):

      To circumvent the filters you can break up the words by putting an extra character in, like: consti.tution (breaking the oh so naughty "tit").

      May 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Nodack

      If you were banned I wouldn't be commenting on your post would I?

      May 14, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
  20. Sugarmama


    May 14, 2012 at 4:50 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.