My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage
The author backs same-sex marriage because of his faith, not in spite of it.
May 19th, 2012
02:00 AM ET

My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage

Editor's Note: Mark Osler is a Professor of Law at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

By Mark Osler, Special to CNN

I am a Christian, and I am in favor of gay marriage. The reason I am for gay marriage is because of my faith.

What I see in the Bible’s accounts of Jesus and his followers is an insistence that we don’t have the moral authority to deny others the blessing of holy institutions like baptism, communion, and marriage. God, through the Holy Spirit, infuses those moments with life, and it is not ours to either give or deny to others.

A clear instruction on this comes from Simon Peter, the “rock” on whom the church is built. Peter is a captivating figure in the Christian story. Jesus plucks him out of a fishing boat to become a disciple, and time and again he represents us all in learning at the feet of Christ.

During their time together, Peter is often naïve and clueless – he is a follower, constantly learning.

After Jesus is crucified, though, a different Peter emerges, one who is forceful and bold. This is the Peter we see in the Acts of the Apostles, during a fevered debate over whether or not Gentiles should be baptized. Peter was harshly criticized for even eating a meal with those who were uncircumcised; that is, those who did not follow the commands of the Old Testament.

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Peter, though, is strong in confronting those who would deny the sacrament of baptism to the Gentiles, and argues for an acceptance of believers who do not follow the circumcision rules of Leviticus (which is also where we find a condemnation of homosexuality).

His challenge is stark and stunning: Before ordering that the Gentiles be baptized Peter asks “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”

None of us, Peter says, has the moral authority to deny baptism to those who seek it, even if they do not follow the ancient laws. It is the flooding love of the Holy Spirit, which fell over that entire crowd, sinners and saints alike, that directs otherwise.

My Take: Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality

It is not our place, it seems, to sort out who should be denied a bond with God and the Holy Spirit of the kind that we find through baptism, communion, and marriage. The water will flow where it will.

Intriguingly, this rule will apply whether we see homosexuality as a sin or not. The water is for all of us. We see the same thing at the Last Supper, as Jesus gives the bread and wine to all who are there—even to Peter, who Jesus said would deny him, and to Judas, who would betray him.

The question before us now is not whether homosexuality is a sin, but whether being gay should be a bar to baptism or communion or marriage.

Your Take: Rethinking the Bible on homosexuality

The answer is in the Bible. Peter and Jesus offer a strikingly inclusive form of love and engagement. They hold out the symbols of Gods’ love to all. How arrogant that we think it is ours to parse out stingily!

I worship at St. Stephens, an Episcopal church in Edina, Minnesota. There is a river that flows around the back and side of that church with a delightful name: Minnehaha Creek. That is where we do baptisms.

The Rector stands in the creek in his robes, the cool water coursing by his feet, and takes an infant into his arms and baptizes her with that same cool water. The congregation sits on the grassy bank and watches, a gentle army.

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At the bottom of the creek, in exactly that spot, is a floor of smooth pebbles. The water rushing by has rubbed off the rough edges, bit by bit, day by day. The pebbles have been transformed by that water into something new.

I suppose that, as Peter put it, someone could try to withhold the waters of baptism there. They could try to stop the river, to keep the water from some of the stones, like a child in the gutter building a barrier against the stream.

It won’t last, though. I would say this to those who would withhold the water of baptism, the joy of worship, or the bonds of marriage: You are less strong than the water, which will flow around you, find its path, and gently erode each wall you try to erect.

The redeeming power of that creek, and of the Holy Spirit, is relentless, making us all into something better and new.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Osler.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Episcopal • Gay marriage • Opinion

soundoff (15,115 Responses)
  1. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer ch .

    May 19, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Huebert

      You chocked on your lie before you could finish.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Possum

      ...and thousands of years of continued hating and killing one another over religion is? Hey, I'm not an atheist but let's call out the dubious history of religion like it is – dark, very dark. Sure, it's got personal meaning but when any of them gang up against another group, it never seems to end well for one side or anyone caught in between. Faith: keep it personal , for everyone's health.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  2. drgene

    Gay marriage is an oxymoron. Enough said.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Huebert

      Not all marriages are as miserable as yours. My marriage is quite gay.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Tony

      "enough said" only in that you said enough to show yourself to be a fool.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Possum

      Oh, ok. Well, if that's all you've got to say then, I guess they'll just go right ahead with the plans...

      May 19, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  3. puckles

    Peters in poop chutes are a definite NO NO!

    May 19, 2012 at 10:21 am |
  4. Watson

    Dude?? Jesus said " GO AND SIN NO MORE". Case closed.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      "Thou shalt not eat shellfish. . .for it is an abomination to the Lord". Damn you Red Lobster! You'll be the downfall of America! You're obviously making the Christian God really really mad!

      May 19, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Huebert

      Dude Jesus said "................." cause myths don't talk.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Possum

      You go first.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  5. Faithful

    That is not what the Bible says at all. I am ashamed that this author would call himself a Christian and deny clear Biblical truths.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • DeeCee1000

      You're right. The Judeo-Christian book of myths and fairy tales is a little to backwards and ignorant to say that gays should be allowed to have equal rights in marriage. Let us not forget the writers of the OT actually believed the planet and universe were created by their "god" in 6 days 6 thousand yrs ago.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Faithful

      The Bible is 100% true. If you want proof, go to allabouttruth.org

      May 19, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • JWT

      Not all christians agree on all interpretations of the bible.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Possum

      It's more shameful that certain Christians don't adhere to 100% of the rules and regulations of the bible but demand a small portion of society be marginalized and governed by a couple of scriptures. One person's choice of Faith and choice to adhere to specific demands of that Faith should never override the freedoms and rights of another citizen. Not in America, at least.

      May 19, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
  6. achepotle

    Interesting...now let's get the stamp collecting community's opinion, for and against....we need to keep this balanced.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • briawinde

      laughs, yes from all,not just the literalists out there. :))

      May 19, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  7. sodom and gomorrah

    Definately the author needs to read his bible well. His expresses his own opinion but not from a scriptural point....

    "You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination." Lev 18:22
    "For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. 28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper." Rom1:26-28
    "If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; Lev 20:13

    May 19, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Possum

      Hate-seeking eyes and hearts are blind to the will of The Creator that led the writer of the article to biblical passages and events that revealed the true word and power of the Creator. The writer sought Understanding, Wisdom and Love and found these things, where the blind and foolish, seeking only to find ways to bend words into hateful purpose, will always only find the darkness they seek. Truth is revealed through Love. Where the writer's heart was filled to overflowing with The Blessed Waters and was inspired to an outpouring to others so, they may too, be nourished, the hearts of Hate-seekers are ravenous voids that shall never truly be filled; For, Hate devours and poisons the Blessed Waters, as the darkness that is Hate infects all things it touches, so much so, as to transform all who give it a home in their hearts into instruments of Hate which spew forth an outpouring that taints and defiles all things in Creation. Seek Love – not Hate and The Creator will awaken you into Creation.

      May 19, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  8. Faithful

    The Bible clearly states that ho-mo-se-xu-ality is a abomination unto the Lord. He is holy and cannot stand sin in his presence. A same s-e-x marriage before God is a perversion. Know the Truth, which is found in God's Word the Bible, and the truth will set you free.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Door

      Marriage equity is about civil contracts.

      You are free to hold your beliefs.

      We are simply not free to impose them on others in the civil realm.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • Possum

      AGAIN, certain Christians don't adhere to 100% of the rules and regulations of the bible but demand a small portion of society be marginalized and governed by a couple of scriptures. One person's choice of Faith and choice to adhere to specific demands of that Faith should never override the freedoms and rights of another citizen. Not in America, at least.

      As for what is the truth, you need to backtrack all the stories in the bible, like, waaay back to the origins. The bible you read today is many times removed from its original form – and intent. It doesn't mean you have to give up your Faith – that's all beautiful and nobody should try to stop another from choosing to believe in any other way than what they want to believe. However, most modern Christians – or members of any Faith, for that matter, have no clue how far back the stories – and the iconic figures – actually go. So many people just let the inspiration from their Faith wash over them and all the archaic details don't matter because it's the Faith that is the bond and the relationship is as deep as the believer needs or wants – it's purely blind faith formed from a moment of necessary surrender to that Faith – and they're good to go. However, connecting all the dots and finding common threads reveals so much more of the Truth about any Faith BUT you have to be willing to "go there" and allow for personal growth and a further understanding of many, many things to occur. Most people who are comfortable in their Faith are just not able or willing to make the journey, as they trust all things will be revealed to them after death – and it will.

      Anyway, back to the gay people. if you're only source is the bible, you've been misguided. It's not truly your fault, though. One day, you'll see. To each their own.

      May 19, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  9. supposedtobefree

    Lets see, we've got angry gays, and polite gays, angry Christians, and polite Christians, angry atheists and polite atheists, angry agnostics, and polite agnostics, a few naive onlookers and a whole bunch of a**holes.

    What should that tell you?
    Tells me that you can't all possibly be right.

    How in the h*ll does it infringe on your world if a couple of that love eachother want tone married? It doesn't. And to take a 'stand' against it doesn't make you a better Christian or a patriot, it makes you a bigot who refuses to accept someone who's different. If God didn't want people to be gay he wouldn't have made gay people. And make no mistake, some folks are just born gay. Deal with it.

    I've known plenty of gays and lesbians who are wonderful people, and can't fathom that they'd be turned away at the gates of heaven. What I can imagine, is someone who lived their life with the audacity to tell others what God wants or doesn't want, based loosely on the words of a bunch of guys who were last in the line of a few hundred year-long game of 'telephone', being given a second look at those same gates.

    If two people are in love and want to get married they should be free to do just that. No government, no ballot, no society, and certainly no book should have anything to do with dictating otherwise. Period.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • martog

      Damn.....That's well said!!!

      May 19, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • botwt

      Well said!

      May 19, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Sane Person


      May 19, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • briawinde

      You are absolutely right but Wow!!..take a look at the other posts. Amazing what "so called" Christians claim. I am christian and my christian god would be absolutely ashamed at some of these people here. My Christian god says to love others, to accept others and to not cast stones. My christian God would say that marriage is the right of all. Interesting there is only one Christian God but so many take a very few passages literally because it suites their mindset.Interesting that a book written 100's of years after Christ's death is taken so literally by some ..at least a few passages..while other passages...are being totally ignored.

      And others such as drgene...state that the "history" of marriage makes it wrong. Laughs..history is ever evolving and we must learn from our past narrow minded mistakes. Ignorance from people like this is what makes our country so pathetic today. In drgene's words people such as he "demean whatever they don't understand, and reject whatever any facts or truths or ideals with which they disagree".

      My christian God would look down upon them, shaking his head wearily, mumble a few words about "casting stones while living in glass houses" and say to himself, my words are misspoken and misinterpreted by them, sad and unfortunate ......

      May 19, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • supposedtobefree

      Briawinde – couldn't agree more, the one message the Bible offers that should unequivocally be embraced by all is to LOVE one another. Unfortunately that's the one message that too many Christians choose to ignore.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:56 am |
  10. CatSh

    Someone is out here deleting posts

    May 19, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • AnnieDee

      Yes, I think so. Shame on them.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • momoya

      Did it ever post to begin with?? If it has a word like "const.itution," or "v.a.gue," the automatic filter will keep it from ever posting because of the letter combinations for "t.it" or "v.a.gina".

      May 19, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  11. Door

    Look, you can turn yourself into a pretzel trying to use the Bible to justify the belief of the day. But you just wind up being a pretzel.

    One can see a civil justification for this argument: marriage is a contract between two people to protect property, children, personal health, etc. I can buy that. I will support that.

    But don't abuse Scripture to support the biblically unsupportable. You just seem dishonest.

    Which is exactly what you are.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Bob

      Yeah, well, the bible does support a lot of violent stuff very explicitly, so you better follow that or god will torture you forever. There's fine guidance from Christian god in the bible like this stuff:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • momoya

      Whenever I see the cut-and-paste posts from "whywon'tgod..." it always raises those red fla.gs I learned to so easily spot while leaving my faith.. Actual per.usal of the site seems to verify my susp.icions.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:29 am |
  12. garysund

    When I was growing up my parents told me I could decide what church or religion I could be They were very loving open minded christians. As a teenager I made up my mind that I wanted no part of religion or any church. The reason being I had never experienced so much hate and self serving people who belonged to the churches. I wanted no part of that. As the years passed my feeling became stronger and stronger about not wanting to belong. Here I am at 58 years old and what do I see. The same hate I did when I was a kid. If you are different then you are bad. I have no problem with gay marriage. In fact some the nicest people I have met over the years were gay and I would much rather be around them than any so called christians.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Door

      As a Christian I am in support of marriage equity. But I support it on civil, not Biblical grounds.

      There is a separation of church and state for a reason. Attempts to weaken it from the left or right are not wise.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Hannah

      I agree. When I was growing up, I attended a christian church and I saw a lot of people there who were only in attendance to promote their business. People would listen to the sermon and then go home and carry on with the same bad behavior towards others that they always practiced. After I married I took a long look at organized religion, and decided it was not for me. And I have been happy ever since. I have no guilt feelings I am compassionate and caring towards other people. My motto is to always come from a position of love, no matter what. it's not easy sometimes, but it works.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  13. Nick

    I really enjoyed this article. I think it's also more important to realize, that the bible is an application. The marriage debate shouldn't matter in the United States. Slavery was absolved at one point in our country because the persusian of the bible. Never understood how a clear, simple message of someone who spoke of love, forgiveness and acceptance, afforded people a territorial, victimizing and hateful agenda. We will learn what's important and what's not. We always come around.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  14. Nate

    Let's be honest... I don't mix my religion with this country any longer. The two have long split from eachother. Do I really care if the government marries people??? YES... I think they should only call it a union in any case. The government should not be in the business of marrying anyone. Our Church should be. The only purpose the government serves in a marriage is tax benefits. So let's just call it that and be done with it. Then everyone out there can make a union with a sheep for all I care. This government is just dumb enough to do it. Also, to all you aetheists out there... Don't fool yourselves.. it is obvious that aetheism itself is a religion. You sit there an ridicule and claim to be the enlightened ones etc.. You are also just as hateful as some Christians are... I am tired of it on both sides. Everyone has different beliefs and for people that claim to be loving and tolerant (both Christian and aetheists!!!) we all need to exhibit it a bit more.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  15. Radical


    May 19, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  16. r_cubed69

    Just as many of you have pointed out, the Bible's teachings can be in support of or condemnation of anything that you may or may not personally believe. Why ? Well as I have always said, religion, any religion was brought about as a set of rules and guidelines for a world that was in complete chaos. The teachings can be interpreted in many different ways to accommodate different situations. There is almost always a point and counter point somewhere in the teachings.
    In today's society where we have laws that govern us, even if some are still stuck in the stone ages, we should be less literal in the teachings of the Bible and live by the overall meaning of, treat others as you would have them treat you. Live life loving one another and treat each other fairly. If you have love in your heart then God will love you in return.
    It's a shame that religion, the thing that was brought about to save the human race may be the one thing that ultimately destroys us because we are all to often literalists.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  17. iqueue120

    When I read articles like this I wonder if I've been reading a different bible... In mine Jesus is not a "hippie" that teaches "all you need is love" and "anything goes". He is pretty strict, showing love and care, but also blodly calling the sinners to repentance. There is sin, and we are all, although in different ways, sinners. We all have to repent every day of our lifes. "Gays" also sin when they get ingaged in hom o s e xuality, and they must repent of that sin. Jesus showed us the pattern: As firmly as lovely, they must be called to repentance. Jesus followers don't hate "gays", they try to help them (as well as other sinners, including themselves), to achieve the main challenge that Jesus posed to us: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."

    May 19, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • Truth7

      The author is another false prophet trying to lead people to the pit and many will follow blindly.

      Jesus was very strict and referred back to the OT in almost every passage. It's clear what He wanted:

      "Go and SIN NO MORE".

      People don't want to hear those words. There are many who are trying to "shut heaven to others" by leading them astray from the Truth.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  18. scott

    God is real first of all to all of you unbelievers. Anyway God never said it was our right to judge. He said preach the gospal and turn no one away. I am a Christian also and thinks it a right for them to have the same rights.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Real huh? Have you seen this God? Strange how it keeps itself hidden doncha think? But you go on believing in your little fairy tale.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • honest joe

      @Steve, I have seen all this garble written down as "proof" of where humans come from, yet alot of people do not believe that either. I have never seen a million dollars but I believe that exist. See something in order to believe in it is not faith. You place your faith in man while others place theirs in a higher being. Stop being close minded and calling other people's beliefs a fairy tale.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Nate

      Easy there Aetheist Steve.... Perhaps he keeps himself hidden from you because you don't believe? Ever think of that oh enlightened one.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      No joe
      I don't have faith, I have reasonable expectations based on evidence. I can't see air but I can run experiments to show that it exists. Like blow out a candle. There is no way to demonstrate, in any fashion, the existence of God. If it doesn't manifest in some fashion within reality then it is unreasonable to assume it is real. Just making a claim with no way to back it up is fantasy. And before you tell me I haven't looked....don't bother. I was raised in the catholic faith and in my search to find even the smallest credible argument to show God's existence the only thing that came out of it was "crickets chirping"

      May 19, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Robbie

      Well I'm now thoroughly convinced! 😉

      May 19, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • JWT

      god is not real to me. That much is 100% certain. Never was and never will be.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  19. Grown Up

    I love how the "tolerant" are so intolerant of differing opinions. The bible is fairly clear on this subject, but of course that doesn't fit with the current PC "tolerant" belief, so they'll simply reinterpret it to fit their agenda.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • momoya

      Who is being intoleratnt?

      Why should one section of the population get to marry whomever they choose to marry be able to demand that the rest of the population not have that same choice.. That's intolerance..

      May 19, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Chris

      Tolerance includes respecting beliefs, i.e. Christianity and ways of life, i.e. being gay. Being gay is not being intolerant to your religion, just as being religious is not intolerant to secular people.

      What is intolerant is telling people that they are essentially second class citizens. I challenge you to go out and meet some gay people, and families of gay people, and then you'll maybe see that gays are not going to be the downfall of this country. The country that you should care about, no matter what your beliefs. I mean, let's face it, if people still killed gay people like they did in the time of Christ, Alan Turing would never have been able to create the computer.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • honest joe

      @Chris, I think alot of you are missing something. The article says the "Christian" case for gay marriage. I disagree the writer there is a "Christian" case FOR such. Legalities should be left up to the elected officials. If we are given a vote then vote. But there is not a shred of evidence, scripture wise< to support the author.

      May 19, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  20. Kerrybiantulip

    To all you that tout marriage as a 'sacred right' blessed by god, please research the actual, factual history of marriage (not one supported by a religious organization) THEN if you're STILL blind to the truth, please blather on pointlessly about how your god doesn't support it and it's blasphemy and all gays are going to Hell (newsflash – folks, so are you for being judgmental if you believe in all that garbage) because some book written by men says it's evil.

    2000 years from now someone's going to gather all the forum posts they find that they agree with and start a religion based on it and all the fools are going to adhere to it and tout is at their right to put other people down for a lifestyle they don't agree with. Don't be sheep, people. If you're saying being gay is wrong, you've sinned. You're as bad as the people you claim to be above. You would know that if you took a step back and said "Wow, I'm a horrible person right now. Maybe god wouldn't approve." Because you are. And "he" wouldn't.

    May 19, 2012 at 10:15 am |
    • drgene

      It's obvious you have not studied the History of Marriage: in Christianity, in Western cultures(Roman,Frank,Teutonic etc), in Asian cultures(Confucianism, Taoism,Shintoism), in world religions(Islam,Hinduism, Buddhism), or even in Jewish culture/religion. Maybe you took an Anthropology or Sociology class and thought you had learned it all.

      You Ignorance about Religion is no better. You demean whatever you do not understand, and reject whatever any facts or truths or ideals with which you disagree. How childish that is. Like Obama's Irrational "evolution" on gays as a "marriage".

      May 19, 2012 at 10:20 am |
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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.