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June 21st, 2012
09:40 AM ET

Harsh anti-gay preaching alarms gay rights supporters and Christian conservatives alike

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

(CNN) - The little boy with a buzz cut shows no sign of nervousness as he sings in front of the church congregation.

Dressed in a pressed white shirt and blue sweater vest, he holds the microphone and sings that the Bible is right, then lets loose the line that brings whoops from the congregation: "Ain't no homo gonna make it to heaven."

Next to him, an adult beams as worshippers rise to their feet and cheer.

The scene was captured on video and anonymously posted online, receiving hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube since the end of May. It appears to show a service at the Apostolic Truth Tabernacle in Greensburg, Indiana.

The church quickly posted on its website that its pastor and members "do not condone, teach, or practice hate of any person for any reason."

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

But the chubby boy with the buzz cut isn't the only one going viral with harshly worded anti-gay pronouncements in church.

In recent weeks, Pastor Charles Worley in North Carolina preached that lesbians and gay men should be fenced in and left to die out, while Pastor Curtis Knapp in Kansas said the government should kill homosexuals.

"They won't, but they should," Knapp said, according to a recording of his sermon posted online. Worley’s sermon was captured on video and also went viral.

The incidents drew outrage and condemnation from gay rights supporters.

But they also left many Christians uncomfortable - even those who call themselves conservative.

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One leading expert on American Protestantism has a simple explanation for why some pastors preach against homosexuality while others go further, encouraging violence against gay people.

"There is a significant percentage who think it's a sin," Ed Stetzer said of homosexuality. "And there are a small minority who are stupid."

Stetzer is president of LifeWay Research, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Worley and Knapp both belong to Independent Baptist churches and are not part of the Southern Baptist Convention, which is the second largest Christian denomination in the United States.

Many conservative Christians would agree with pastors such as Worley and Knapp that homosexual behavior is fundamentally wrong, Stetzer said.

But that doesn't mean they support them or their sermons, he added.

"If you asked, they would say that's really unhelpful and stupid," he said.

But the Rev. Robin Lunn said these preachers are much worse than that. She calls such pastors "genocidal."

Opinion: Why some Christians focus on gays

"If someone is talking about rounding up me and all my kind in a pen, what is the difference between that and what is happening in Syria and Sudan and what happened in Germany and Poland during World War II?" asked Lunn, executive director of the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists.

"We are talking about people who believe somehow that the Second Coming is connected to a Final Solution," said Lunn, a lesbian, using the Nazi term for the mass murder of Jews in the Holocaust.

"I think these men expressed something that many Baptist preachers think," Lunn said. "We need to stand up and denounce this powerfully."

Her group campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inclusion across all Baptist churches. It has its origins in the American Baptist Churches movement but is not connected to any one Baptist group or denomination, she said.

"It seems to me that this is an opportunity to show some solidarity around the belief that all people are children of God regardless of what you think about someone's 'lifestyle,' " she said.

Opinion: The Christian case for gay marriage

One of the most respected voices in conservative Christianity agrees with Lunn, up to a point.

"The Gospel does not condemn homosexuals, it condemns homosexuality," said R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. "The Bible makes clear that homosexuality is a sin, in the context of making clear that every person is a sinner."

What preachers such as Worley and Knapp are doing wrong, he said, is that they are "not merely rendering a moral judgment on homosexuality but extending it to the condemnation of people. They are speaking with a certain venom and hatred."

He called their sermons "reprehensible."

And, he said, "they are doing grave harm to the cause of conservative Christianity by speaking messages of hate that obscure the message of the church."

"What you're seeing here is a very dangerous fringe that does not represent conservative Christianity in America," he said.

About one-third of Protestant pastors talk to their congregations about homosexuality several times a year, while another third do so "rarely," data from LifeWay Research suggests.

The rest do so anywhere from never to several times a month, according to a 2008 telephone survey of 1,002 Protestant pastors across the country and a wide range of denominations.

Half of the pastors who preached about homosexuality several times a year identified themselves as "very conservative," while a quarter of those who did said they were liberal or very liberal.

LifeWay’s Stetzer argued that it was important to remember that many Americans - not just Christian pastors - think homosexuality is wrong.

A Gallup Poll last month found that 54% of Americans saw homosexuality as "morally acceptable," while 42% said it was "morally wrong."

"This is not a small minority," Stetzer said. "Are all of those people going to be tarred by the comments of a few pastors?"

The sermons of Worley, Knapp and those like them do not have a great influence, Stetzer said, calling them "isolated."

"I've never heard of or seen a violent confrontation" that resulted from Christian preaching, he said.

But Ross Murray, director of religion, faith and values at the gay rights group Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, said it's not that simple.

"When pastors preach they want people to listen to their words and pay attention to them," he said. "It's an exhortation to believe and think and act in accordance with the Gospel."

And he said he's not worried only about people who might act on violent preaching they hear in church. He said he's also concerned about young churchgoers grappling with being gay or lesbian themselves.

"You get brought to church; you have told nobody about this and you hear your pastor preaching or this child singing. What this tells you is that the church is not a safe place, not a place where you are going to experience love and grace," he said.

Pastors such as Worley and Knapp "give Christianity a bad name," he said.

And more than that, they are dangerous, he said. There were a record number of murders of members of sexual minorities in the United States last year, he said, citing a study out this month by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.

He conceded that no link has been proven between preaching and attacks on homosexuals, but he argued that preaching matters.

"To say that people shouldn't take you seriously when you say something violent is disingenuous. Our words have consequences," Murray said. "Our words have real meaning."

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Christianity • Homosexuality

soundoff (1,795 Responses)
  1. 40400

    The world would be a much better place without religion, which has caused so much pain and suffering, death and destruction, and mayhem for thousands of years.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      yeah and they can take their hospitals and universities and homeless shelters and churches and synagogues and monasteries and libraries and other contributions to science, literature, music and art with them

      June 22, 2012 at 8:47 am |
  2. EinZuschauer

    Yes, gay preacher's are different. Everyone is different. It would be a boring world if we were all the same.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • sn0wb0arder

      true enough

      June 21, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  3. nru

    I too remember about judging – and don't judge me

    June 21, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
  4. Ryan

    I love it when Christians of a particular sect try to say their brand of religion is the tolerant and loving brand. You all base your beliefs on the bible, which clearly preaches and encourages this type of hate speech and behavior. Leave your religion behind. It does more harm than good in so many ways.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • csx

      Re.pro.bate

      June 21, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  5. Holy Cow Batman

    Most anti-gay preachers are gay themselves. It's all a front so not to give themselves away.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Jesus Crisco

      True!

      June 21, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Do you have a peer reviewed scientific study from a credible source or is this just the faith you've been brainwashed into?

      June 22, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  6. John

    The Righteous Judge returns soon to judge ALL...everyone who was, is, and will be to include you who read this. Repent!!!Don't believe me? ALL will see Him when He returns on clouds with great power and glory. Those of you who speak vile words about the Lord and refuse to repent will have those words return to you on that Day. Woe to you!

    June 21, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • sn0wb0arder

      if i had a nickel for every time someone erroneously predicted the end of days "soon", i would be an incredibly wealthy man.

      john, you are just another of many who were incredibly wrong.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Fortune telling is a sin.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • txjew

      Your God is too small.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Madtown

      Oh my goodness, that all doesn't sound so hot. How do you know all this?

      June 21, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • sam stone

      Do you enjoy your slavery, Johnnie boy?

      June 22, 2012 at 5:44 am |
    • sam stone

      You god is a vituperative little punk. That is likely the appeal to folk like you, Angry little punks find comfort in an angry little god.

      June 22, 2012 at 5:48 am |
  7. Says who

    There is so much bigotry on both the right and the left. Why can't people be tolerant of everyone. My brother and I can't marry. We can't have children. We love each other, so where is the problem????

    June 21, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Honeybun

      No problem here

      June 21, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Ray

      Yes it should be legal and yes it is gross

      June 21, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Fraser

      Gay is ok, incest no!

      June 21, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • txjew

      IAm I missing something? Is this meant to be germane? It's not even coherent.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
    • Bet

      Little troll tries so hard.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Havshotuni

      Hmmm... Gay incest... Gotta admit its different. Even Jerry Sandusky wasn't that far out.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • sam stone

      I hope you and your brother are happy as a married couple. Have you brought it up to him, or are you just doing each other now?

      June 22, 2012 at 5:45 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      Totally went right over most of your heads.

      June 22, 2012 at 8:52 am |
  8. spockmonster

    These Christians are no different than the muslims radicals in the middle east. Yes they would kill those they consider to be "infidels". Christianity and Islam worhship they same god, they have blood-lust, hatred, contempt and violence in their nature. It is time to abolish religion before it destroys everyone.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Joseph

      lol.. spoken like a true radical.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Mike Blackadder

      Yup, this is what actually happens when atheists are in charge. It's not even a funny suggestion.

      Whereas Judeo Chrsitian values are the basis of western civilization – the most prosperous and free societies in history. Its so annoying listening to you people preaching 'tolerance' with your intolerance.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Thank God for the first amendment

      June 22, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  9. csx

    Everyone was a right to belive what they want.
    Just because Christianity disagrees with gays, does not namke them wrong.
    Where is the fervor for fighting back Islam?

    Plain and simple, the Lord of the Bible, not the church said it is wrong, end of discussion.
    It is an unnatural, dirty, perverted lifestyle.
    And hell is a long time.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Islam is not nearly as much of a threat to our freedoms as are dolts like you, Cletus.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • sn0wb0arder

      hell is an imaginary place with which to frighten the children.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Jesus Crisco

      The exact same parts of the Bible that are used to justify so-called "Christian's" hate for gays:

      Say it's ok to sell your daughter as long as you get a good price.
      Say it's ok to own slaves.
      Say that working on the weekend is a sin punishable by death.
      Say that shaving your sideburns is a sin punishable by death.
      Say that eating shellfish is a sin punishable by death.

      Why would anyone live their life by a crusty old book written by a bunch of bronze age goat herders?

      June 21, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • csx

      I am saddened by the level of reprobates in America.
      The world is collapsing and you see nothing.
      In the Old testament as now, God is in charge and wht he says goes, like it or not.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • sn0wb0arder

      csx – you may believe in your religion, but please don't pretend that it is actually true.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Thanks ever so, Chicken Little.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • Madtown

      csx
      God is in charge and wht he says goes, like it or not.
      -------
      Oh, darn it. So we don't have free will after all. I thought you people always told us we did?

      June 21, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
  10. We know the truth...

    Preaching hatred or preaching acceptance, it still begs the same questions... Why are you basing your life on a book of fictional fairy tales?? Don't you have the common sense to make your own decisions?? Or have you been brainwashed so effectively that you can't even tell the difference between fantasy and reality??

    June 21, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Jesus Crisco

      Exactly! Well said!

      June 21, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Meade21

      So where is your proof that they are fairy tales?

      June 21, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Where's your proof they're facts?

      The burden is on you, dear. One cannot prove a negative.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • We know the truth...

      "So where is your proof that they are fairy tales?"

      Creationism? The Earth is 6000 years old? Men walking on water? Pregnant virgins? The list goes on and on and on and on...

      June 21, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  11. Mike Blackadder

    '"There is a significant percentage who think it's a sin," Ed Stetzer said of ho-mos-exuality. "And there are a small minority who are stupid."'

    And there is a significant percentage of Christians who don't think that ho-mose-xual se-x is even a sin. That's the truth of it. I think some of you folks are getting a little too excited with your Christian hating.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      " A little too excited" if you know what I mean and I think you do.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • brian

      agree. but if a select minority of my belief was incredibly vocal in their hate regarding something i didn't support and it reflected poorly on me/my family i'd be very adamant about my view in opposition.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  12. M P

    If being gay is SO bad, I just have a few simple questions...

    1) If you are saying that all gay people are sinners and need to be fenced into some pen, then aren't you casting judgement upon them? Where does it say in the Bible that this is OK?

    2) If being gay is so bad, why didn't it make the Top 10 List (Commandments)?

    June 21, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      But adultery is OK – perhaps not formally, but at least as far is it appears to be practised.

      It has its very own commandment, and Jesus is quite particular to mention that it is wrong on multiple occasions and Matthew, Mark and John all note the same story.

      Of course he does forgive the woman caught in the act (John 8:11) but curiously there is no mention of a man involved or another woman.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  13. Ben

    Anybody ever heard of Westboro Baptist Church?

    June 21, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • sn0wb0arder

      easily forgotten.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
  14. joseph

    Why are we still talking about this?

    June 21, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Bet

      Because CNN made a mashup of the most commented on blogs and posted it. LOL, nobody can resist, me included.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • jungleboo

      Because you are here.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • arthurrrr

      -"It seems to me that this is an opportunity to show some solidarity around the belief that all people are children of God regardless of what you think about someone's 'lifestyle,' " she said.-– Actually, NO they aren't! The Bible say that we really children of the devil and that we have to ADOPT God as our Father.We do that by accepting His SON, Yeshua, into our lives, hearts, minds, bodies and souls.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • jungleboo

      @art coocoo

      June 21, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  15. Peaceful Christian

    American christians are lowest of lowest lowlifes.
    We the real christians are good people.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Real Love

      Real love tells the Truth.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  16. The Dog

    Why are you all intolerant of dogs? We do have our civil rights you know.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Um, no.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Jez

      Dogs are fabulous animals. Only humans are so stupid as to treat others like this. Don't insult dogs you loser.

      June 21, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
  17. They Dont Practice What They Preach

    Before any sane-thinking, Bible-believing person takes these hypocrite pastors and their supporters seriously who prefer to preach about hate and violence instead of Goodness and Love, let's ALL ask them if they also practice Each and Every One of the following Scriptures and what they say FIRST before they point the finger at others by singling out just one Scripture or two that does not even speak to condemning Gays and Lesbians. How many do you think observe ALL of these Scriptures, First? If they don't they are hypocrites of the worst kind!

    EXODUS 21:7-8 (KJV
    EXODUS 35:2 (KJV)
    LEVITICUS 11:10-11 (KJV
    LEVITICUS 11:41-43 (KJV)
    LEVITICUS 19:19 (KJV)
    LEVITICUS 19:27 (KJV)
    LEVITICUS 19:28 (KJV)
    LEVITICUS 20: 9-10 (KJV)
    LEVITICUS 21:18-20 (KJV)
    1 CORINTHIANS 14:34 - KJV

    June 21, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • OT Scriptures

      These were rules to the Nation of Israel not you. Jesus obeyed the OT by the way.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      So then the 10 commandments are irrelevant?

      June 21, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Yes

      They were replaced with the law of Christ who fulfilled the Law by living a perfect life.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Well, yeah, but not 'cuz of anything he said.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Yes,

      then perhaps you can explain to me why so many Evangelical Protestants are fixated on parts of Leviticus and all of Genesis?

      It Jesus' teaching is sufficient (and I would think it would be for a Christian), what does Jesus say about gay people?

      June 21, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Achieve Gods perfection by learning the real rules of our lord at prolapsed.net. Be ready to have a life changing experience!
      Amen.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • Bishop Hairy Palms

      OT Scriptures

      Jesus defied the old testament. That's why the Pharisees were against him. It's remarkable how little Christians know about Christ.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Meade21

      It's funny to hear all the atheists or secularists quote the Bible.......let me school you for a moment....

      All those Leviticus passages are for the Jewish Nation...they are the law put forward to the ancient Jewish nation..the purity laws they were to live by and have no application for born again believers.......

      Schools out.....

      June 21, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Meade21,

      Agreed. So what does Jesus say about gays again?

      June 21, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Jeremiahhurt

      Jesus did not defy the old testament. He defied mans added laws and mans traditions. He defied the false interpretations by most of the religious leaders of that day. False interpretations that these leaders used for power over the people and for financial gain. Jesus fulfilled the law–"Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17 NKJV)

      June 21, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • Great Clarification

      Well by golly, Meade21, thank you much for that clarification because LEVITICUS 20:13 (KJV) is the main Scripture used to condemn Gays and Lesbians and is a big part of that group! So, No Condemnation Was Meant for them Afterall!!

      June 21, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • Dont Forget

      And let's not forget, Great Clarification, that many Gays and Lesbians are also Born Again Christians, thus, Believers! Jesus obviously knew that therefore did not condemn them. People must therefore not continue to listen to bigots and haters who want to condemn these people for their own political gain. It is by the Blood of Jesus that we are Saved, not by that of CONServatives or Republicans.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  18. Peaceful Christian

    Let's beat up those freaks, so we all go to heaven.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • spockmonster

      Religion is politics, it is the human imagination in a pre-civilized world reacting to the vista of the night sky under a full moon. It became a mechanism to control the masses.

      In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.
      -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814

      Priests...dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions of the duperies on which they live.
      -Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Correa de Serra, April 11, 1820

      June 21, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  19. Jeremy

    I can't understand how grown adults could ever believe in these fairy tales. No one is born with religion – it is indoctrinated upon you. When you die – you also don't have religion (or a concious brain) This is why America is falling behind the other civilized nations in terms of mathematics and science – because in America we give the same creedance to this nonesense.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Linda

      I agree, Jeremy. Thanks for putting the truth so eloquently. We take one step forward and religion drags us two steps backward.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Bill Nye the science guy

      So how then did religion come into existence? If we're not born with it then it never should've came into existence. Btw animals don't have religion. Don't know about you, but i personally think humans are smarter than animals lol. Also, its an almost 100% guarantee that if you were born on a deserted island and never had human contact to tell you what/what not to believe, you would believe in some sort of Gid or higher power.

      Just because you don't believe it helps you feel more confident in yourself to belittle other's beliefs. You, my friend, are the most insecure of them all.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • spockmonster

      Religion is politics, it is the human imagination in a pre-civilized world reacting to the vista of the night sky under a full moon. It became a mechanism to control the masses.

      In every country and in every age, the priest has been hostile to liberty. He is always in alliance with the despot, abetting his abuses in return for protection to his own.
      -Thomas Jefferson, letter to Horatio G. Spafford, March 17, 1814

      Priests...dread the advance of science as witches do the approach of daylight and scowl on the fatal harbinger announcing the subversions of the duperies on which they live.
      -Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Correa de Serra, April 11, 1820

      June 21, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • sn0wb0arder

      bill nye – religion is just another of the evolutionary traits which developed to form communal groups for the mutual benefit of the group member. it is unfortunate that people with dogmatic agendas have perverted it.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
    • Bet

      @ Bill

      Can you provide some peer-review.ed, doc.umented evidence of this "almost 100% guaranteed" idea that someone born on a desert island would make up, as you so eloq.uently put it, "some sort of Gid"?

      June 21, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Bill posits, how does religion start?

      The great question of where did we come from is a vacuum that people want to fill. Every society has a foundation myth. Native Americans talk about eagle and coyote. The Greeks had Olympus, the Norse had Valhalla and the Jews, Genesis.

      They all try to explain where did we come from and your desert island survivor might have a recollection of the the great white winged beast that carried him before it was smote down on his little island.

      With time, repeatable, measurable, predictable approaches attempt to answer the great question of where did we come from. Because they can be measured, people can realize that they don't need to rely on myths as cosmology. It still needs to be taught. We are all a tabula rasa when born.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
  20. 1Comment

    “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye." Matthew 7:1-5

    June 21, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • John 7:24

      Read this before you quote the atheist's favorite Bible passage.

      June 21, 2012 at 9:18 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.