Would Jesus support health care reform?
Jesus depicted healing a sick child.
June 28th, 2012
08:45 AM ET

Would Jesus support health care reform?

Editor’s note: This piece ran earlier this year, but we’re spotlighting it now because of Thursday’s health care decision from the Supreme Court. The story generated more than 3,000 comments, including these two:

David Nelson
It is sad that Jesus has been demoted to being a politician. Jesus plainly said "My Kingdom is not of this world." Movements to use Him to promote their agendas, whether they be on the Left or Right, are extremely suspect in the eyes of this Christian.

Jesus would SO have been a democrat. He taught us to care for the sick...not to profit off illness. I don't know how Republicans can live with themselves and call themselves Christian.

What’s your take?

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - He was a healer, a provider of universal health care, a man of compassion who treated those with preexisting medical conditions.

We don’t know what Jesus thought about the individual mandate or buying broccoli. But we do know how the New Testament describes him. The Gospels are filled with stories of Jesus physically healing the most vulnerable and despised people in his society.

References to Jesus, of course, didn’t make into the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s hearings on the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. Yet there is a moral dimension to this epic legal debate:

How should the nation help its “least of these,” an estimated 50 million Americans who can’t afford health insurance, as well as those who could go broke or die because they can’t afford medical care?

Christians are as divided about this question as others. Many cite Jesus, but come up with completely different conclusions.

Trust God or government?

Tom Prichard, a Lutheran and president of the Minnesota Family Council, said it’s ultimately about faith.  Who do we trust – God or government?

He opposes “Obamacare” because he has more faith in the market and people, than government.

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“Here Jesus’ words come to mind about not worrying and trusting God to meet our basic needs,” Prichard wrote in an online post warning about the dangers of “government run health care.” “Or if we believe it all depends on us, we’ll look to government.”

When reached at his Minnesota office,Prichard elaborated: He said the nation should empower families and individuals to make health-care decisions. If families can’t afford health insurance, private and public entities like churches and nonprofits should step in, he said.

“We all have the same goal,”Prichard said. “We want all people to have health care, even people who can’t afford it. I would argue that having the government be the primary vehicle for providing it is not going to get us to that goal. It’s going to make the situation worse.”

Carl Raschke, a religious studies professor at the University of Denver, evoked Jesus’ words about Rome and taxation.

Raschke cited the New Testament passage when Jesus, after being asked if Jews should pay taxes to Rome, said that people should "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

Jesus was against strictly political or economic solutions because he thought they were too easy when it comes to the real challenges of human life, Raschke said.

“Writing checks won’t solve social problems,” Raschke said. “One has to get involved. If we see someone in need, we just don’t throw a dollar at him or her. You get to know them, you offer yourself, and ask what you can do for them.”

Helping the Good Samaritans of our day

There are some Christians, though, who say that charity isn’t enough to solve the nation’s health care problems.

An estimated 32 million Americans could lose health insurance if “Obamacare” is struck down, including children who can stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 and seniors who get help paying for their drug prescriptions. Most observers say health care costs would continue to rise.

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Some people believe the health care situation in America would be scandalous to Jesus because he was a prophet concerned about social justice.

Steven Kraftchick, a religious scholar, said Jesus comes out of the tradition of Jewish prophets who preached that the health of a society could be measured by how well they took care of “its widows and orphans,” those who had the least power.

Kraftchick said there’s a famous story in the Gospel of Mark in which Jesus heals such a person. He was the man who called himself Legion. He might have been called homeless and mentally ill. The man roamed a graveyard, so tormented that even chains could not hold him and everyone feared him, Mark wrote.

Jesus healed the man not only physically, but socially as well, according to Mark. The man returned to his community with a sense of dignity, said Kraftchick, a professor at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology in Atlanta.

“A move toward universal health care would be fitting with the prophetic traditions,” Kraftchick said. “When you read the New Testament and look at the signs of the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God, it’s always connected to being physically healed.”

Yet Marcia Pally, an authority on evangelicals, said many evangelicals are wary of government doing the healing.  Their reasons go back centuries.

Many are the descendants of people who fled Europe because of religious persecution from countries and state churches. They fought a revolution against a government in England.  And they settled a frontier, where the virtue of self-reliance was critical, said Pally, author of “The New Evangelicals: Expanding the Vision of the Common Good.”

Suspicion of government is part of their historical and religious experience, said Pally, a professor at Fordham University and New York University.

Those attitudes, though, may be changing. Pally said she spent six years traveling across America to interview evangelicals. She discovered that a new generation of evangelists now believes that certain issues are too big and complex to be addressed by charity alone.

“Some note that charity is very good at the moment of emergency relief but it doesn’t change the underlying problem  unless structures that keep people poor, sick or deny their access to health insurance are changed,” she said.

No matter what the Supreme Court decides, the legal debate will continue. If more Americans go broke or die because they do not have health insurance, more Americans may ask, what would Jesus do?

But don’t expect any easy answers from the Bible, said Raschke, the religious studies professor at the University of Denver.

“People are always looking for support from the Bible for American political positions,” Rashke said. “Would Jesus be against abortion, or would he support a woman’s right to choose? It’s almost become a standard joke in the theological world that you quote Jesus in American politics to support your political views.

“The teachings of Jesus do not fit into the views of any political party."

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Health care • Jesus • Politics

soundoff (5,234 Responses)
  1. Chad

    "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1

    Religion = acts by humans that are pleasing to God, to take care of those that can't take care of themselves. That is precisely the message.

    April 1, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  2. thegadfly

    Hmm. Let me think. Would Jesus have supported compassion for all beings? Wow, this is a tough question. Can I buy a vowel?

    April 1, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Yes your obervation about is is very correct.Sharia law is a sacred part of our text, If you want to know read the Const.itution and learn about this yourself. my grandson also posts regularly here and he will post some more about our Koran. Read the Koran.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  3. Matt

    So, what's it going to be like in Heaven? Universal Health Care or not? Yes, my in Heaven everyone is free from disease. The point is, if we really loved one another, we would take care of one another – and we would be working toward eliminating disease. But – we do not love each other and we like to have disease – because it makes people feel superior and creates jobs for insurance companies, hospitals, doctors, nurses, lawyers, administrators – and the list goes on. Disease is a job creator – it is not health care – we are focused on disease care. We need to flip our thinking and get our people healthy! Love and take care of each other – that is what JC would have done.

    April 1, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  4. Matt

    Problem is,
    Religion = Politics
    Medicine = Business
    Medicine = Science
    Science = Politics
    Politics = Religion

    I guess we just need to pray that we do not get sick!

    April 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • tallulah13

      No you idiot, read the Koran.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  5. YeahItsMe72

    I'd think most out of work carpenters would support healthcare reform.

    April 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Support the Sharia.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  6. Reality

    How much money would the following save the US taxpayers with some of these savings being used to pay for universal health care ?:

    There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror

    – One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    – Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

    – The Mormon empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and evangelical non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    – All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a YouTube,Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!

    April 1, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Faithful

      You don't KNOW that 90% of what your OWN country "GIVES" to Israel has been paid BACK with Interest; that it was a LOAN????? Streuth! I'm a Brit and I know THAT!
      Seriously you are SO wrong about Israel – it shows the true worth of your other points>>.>>>>>> BASELESS, ILL-INFORMED and lacking in INTELLIGENCE.

      Soon, the world will tilt off its axis. There will be a minute or two of darkness and EVERYONE will see their soul as Jesus sees it. It won't last long but it will be a chance to put things right. Scientists will try to explain it away – but remember this – Mary the Mother of Jesus told this to a very holy Priest recently. Mock if you will but REMEMBER – Scientists won't be able to explain how we knew beforehand.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • Reality

      The insanity of the Book of Revelation only mirrors the other insanities of Christianity.

      To wit:


      JC's family and friends had it right 2000 years ago ( Mark 3: 21 "And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.")

      Said passage is one of the few judged to be authentic by most contemporary NT scholars. e.g. See Professor Ludemann's conclusion in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 24 and p. 694.

      Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

      Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Many contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

      Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European/Utah white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

      So why do we really care what a first century CE, illiterate, long-dead, preacher/magic man would do or say?

      April 1, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • Reality

      US Foreign aid to various Middle-East countries is reviewed at http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/mideast/RL32260.pdf. There does appear to be any repayment of this aid by any of these countries.

      April 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Read the Koran Abraham and Moses are our holy prophets. My grandchildren post regularly here and they will educate you about the Koran.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Rockgod

      Islam, Chistianity, Judism and even Mormonism all use Twitter, Facebook and Youtube to spread their messages to the world. So how would a campaign for REASON be effective?

      There are millions of voices on Youtube alone and billions of viewers. I don't think a campaign on the Internet would be very effective in showing contempt for religion or being able to shame faithful followers into not believing in G_d, the Son of God or Allah.

      So what else is there? Taxation.

      Really? Taxing faithful organizations and followers will magically or naturally stop believers of religion?

      No it would not even if all the money from the taxation of religion were given to those who are fighting religion to oppress, supress, enslave and indoctrinate believers.

      How can that be true or you might say that would never happen?

      I will use the modern recent example of the taxation of believers, their murder, indoctrination, and torture to shame, oppress, imprison worshipers of any religion.

      The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

      Relgion was taxed. Religion was suppressed. Relgion was literally destroyed as much as it could be by blowing up churches, taking over the buildings like the Kermlin and St. Petersburg (Stalingrad or Leningrad).

      This is the REALITY and TRUTH of the end result of a nation or world that seeks to educate religion is opium for the masses. This REALITY is what all monsterous nations do to those that do not believe as they do. Those nations do not last. They are gone and relgion remains.

      Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greeks all tried to destroy Judism for thousands of years. Judism is still here and Israel restored while all other empires, nations and kingdoms are shattered into the dust of history of crumbling buildings, tombs, and dead rulers.

      The Romans attempted to kill all Christians and yet the Roman Empire that was over 1000 years old is gone.

      The Soviet Republics are gone. The National Socialist Workers Party is gone too.

      Do you see a pattern here? Do you see a REALITY of what happens to thos nations that turn against religion?

      You or anyone does not need to be a believer. Let a believer believe and support their right to worship and the believer will support your right to NOT believe.

      However that support ends when either side FORCES, COMPELS, or MANDATES what the other is to believe or not believe.

      I reject the societies, civilizations, and nations that suppress, oppress and mandate compliance any person's desire to worship or not worship.

      Mormons experienced this oppression in the United States many times. They are the ONLY people to have an extermination order on their heads. Their leader murdered while working in the legal system of the United States. They are the ONLY religion to be declared war on and invaded by the United States in the Utah War.

      Is that the REALITY which those who do not worship in a religion want to do to the believer?

      Exterminate the believer? Imprison the believer? Compel, shame, or tax the believer to force them to stop?

      The REALITY is that anyone, a person who is a believer or non-believer, who does any of these things will end up like the kingdoms, governments, and nations that attempted the same thing many times before.

      April 1, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  7. Michael

    Are you serious? I am just curious. Everything you said about God was a lie. Man is the cause of this problem not God. Man committed high treason and gave his authority to Satan (Adam). Satan is at present the god of this world, although
    Believers now have authority over him because of the Lord Jesus. God could not solve this problem directly because he is deity and deity did not create the problem. He had to become a man and die under the penalty for sin for the whole human race. God has given the church the authority to heal the sick in Jesus name. It is sad, but beginning with the Dark Ages Satan has talked the church out of knowing they have authority.

    Talked the church out of knowing they had the authority to heal the sick using God's power.

    April 1, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • El Flaco

      I plead not guilty to Original Sin. I never took forbidden fruit from any woman. I never lost my innocence. I exclude myself from the community of people who believe they inherited sin from a distant ancestor.

      My sister, who is into geneology, tells me that she and I are descended from a ferocious Indian fighter who committed many atrocities that suggested to me that he was a pioneer serial killer who specialized in torturing and murdering Native Americans. I am not guilty of killing Native Americans either. I did not inherit that distant grandfather's sin.

      April 1, 2012 at 12:20 pm |
  8. Malatoi

    "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and give to God what is God's"

    April 1, 2012 at 11:16 am |
  9. hapydreamr

    Jesus was not a government official. He was an individual. If we were to follow in Jesus' example, we would not be advocating for the government to provide universal healthcare. If anything, we might advocate for the individual to donate to some sort of a charity organization that provides free treatment and healthcare. Even if a few of the wealthier people in the US were to donate some of their funds, we might be more successful at providing universal healthcare than the government. We're relying too much on it. The deficit is rising more and more every year. To add onto this financial burden by forcing universal healthcare seems ridiculous. We're Americans. We ARE the government. We should be willing to help our fellow citizens and our government. Because the government has done so much for us, we start to believe that this government is for the people. But we should never forget that the American government is OF, for, AND BY the people.

    April 1, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • AGuest9

      Bill Gates donates money to provide free health care – to Africa.

      April 1, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • jean boutchyard

      after reading your message I thought you were on tract until the very end.... We THE PEOPLE, are nothing in this day's US government. You do indeed have the correct name "hapydreamr" So dream on good one. May all your tomorrows be happy ones.

      April 1, 2012 at 2:10 pm |
    • carol

      Yes, Americans ARE our gorernment-our govt. isn't a foreign power like in Jesus time. Govt. is here to serve & we can fix it if it doesn't. It's LACK of govmt oversite through repeal of controls that allowed individual greed to cause the havoc in our economy today. Govmt. answers to the people. Individuals in control of big corporations don't answer to anyone if our govt. doesn't make them. Jesus would support a govt. of, by, & for the people it governs – it's a Christian concept.

      April 1, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • johnfrichardson

      Rome was ruled by a parasitic political class and America is getting more and more that way with each passing decade.

      April 1, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
  10. Mike

    I think the author is correct in claiming the Christian moral in medically treatin gthe poor, downtrodden, etc, but if we gird our support of national healthcare, whether Obamacare or some other form of national healthcare, why not alos fram our penal code on Christian theology? No more capitol punishment, right? How about abortion? Would Jesus accept that abortion is legal becuase it's covered under a woman's privacy rights? How about welfare? Paul says that while preaching he followed the rule that he who does not work shall not eat. Does this mean we have Christian cover to do away with welfare, foodstamps, free school lunches or shall we use Jesus' feeding of the 4000 to expand our social welfare net? Food for thought.

    April 1, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  11. JimfromBham

    I noticed the minister in the article who said that he opposed a national healthcare plan and that he trusted the free market to solve the problem. He is sadly misguided, because the market does not solve problems – in a Darwinian way, it eliminates the weak. As a result, the market will not provide anything for anyone who is not strong enough or smart enough to create a solution.

    Additionally the minister said that churches, NGOs and other charity "should" provide the care for those who cannot afford it. Well, where have they been for the past 200 years? Some irregular and spotty care is provided by charity, churches, etc., to be sure, but the needy have no place to turn for the kind of annual preventive care we all depend on.

    Probably, the biggest development in care for the needy was the legal doctrine that ERs cannot turn someone away if they are not able to pay. However, that means that the rest of us are already paying for care to the poor through higher costs, insurance premiums, etc. No one is mapping out an efficient way to distribute these costs, except maybe the health insurance companies who (of course) will always work to make their profit margins. Why not put this function into a central decision-making body that must answer to the public, instead of leaving it to the insurance companies and other groups who must answer only to their shareholders?

    April 1, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  12. seyedibar

    As long as we're proposing different fictional characters and their political stance, would Spider-Man support health care reform? I wonder what Mickey Mouse thinks.

    April 1, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • El Flaco

      Uncle Scrooge would oppose Obamacare. But what if Dewey is diagnosed with bladder cancer? What would Donald do?

      April 1, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  13. Deborah Torres

    He was a healer? He is the healer! If Jesus were walking this earth today for people to see his miracles.. Why would we need it? He would have hospitals, and Insurance companies out of business, prisons would be empty, no crazy people on earth. And they would look for a reason to crucify him again.

    April 1, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • El Flaco

      If Jesus were alive today, he would be agitating for the explusion of foreigners from Judea and for the overthrow of the democratic government of Israel. He would have absolutely no interest in anything that was happening outside of Israel.

      April 1, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  14. El Flaco

    Which Jesus are we talking about? The historical Jesus knew nothing about the causes of disease or how to cure them. He attributed disease to demons and to God's will. Jesus thought disease was cured with prayer and other magical means.

    Christ, who was invented by the Council of Nicea in the fourth century, would say that the sick should be cared for by any Christian who encounters them. Christ would have believed, if such a being had ever existed, that each of our homes would be open to the sick and that good Christians – each of us – would care for them until they got well or died.

    Neither Jesus nor Christ would have been able to understand medical technology, the national economy, the causes of disease, or medical science.

    April 1, 2012 at 10:04 am |
  15. Rainer Braendlein

    In the name of the "Anointed One"

    Before Jesus Christ started to preach in Israel, John the Baptist had yet preached there.

    What did John the Baptist preach?

    In a way he preached the gospel of Jesus Christ.

    We make a mistake, when we assume that he merely preached repentance. No, he preached both, repentance and the coming "Anointed One", who was Jesus from Nazareth, the Word and eternal Son of God, who had incarnated.

    John the Baptist prepared the way for the Lord: He told the people the Old Testament law (for example the ten commandments) and the people should realize that they had broken the law an were sinful. However, he didn't tell them that they should keep the law by their natural power, but he told them that they would need a deliverer or redeemer, who would come and dwell in them (the Holy Spirit), in oder to be their spiritual power, which would help them to overcome sin and live a life of Christian love.

    In a word: By means of the law John the Baptist made the Jews realizing their deep sinfulness and at the same time he told them, that their was the Anointed One, Jesus Christ, who could give them the Holy Spirit, so that they might become able to live a life, which is not in conflict with the law, but fullfills it automatically. Love is the fulfillment of the law. Nobody can keep the law by natural power, but the blessed man, who is born from above and has got the Spirit, fulfills it by love.

    After a while Jesus Christ replaced John the Baptist as divine preacher of Israel. There was no more need that Jesus spoke a lot about the law, because John had already done that. Now, as the people felt their sinfulness and a high need for forgiveness and deliverance, Jesus Christ gave it to them.

    John the Baptist could only preach of THE LIFE and THE LIGHT and THE WORD.

    Jesus was the THE LIFE, THE LIGHT and the WORD. He said to the people: "YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN, MOVE ON AND DON'T SIN ANY LONGER!" or he said "COME ON, AND FOLLOW ME!"

    These words of Christ were supernatural and powerful and much more than the word of an ordinary human being. Christ was man and God at the same time and this God-man spoke these words. Thus, people really received forgiveness of their sins and deliverance.

    What the visible Jesus did, happens today by the sacramental baptism (also infant baptism). The sacramental baptism is insti-tuted by Christ himself and has the same power as if the visible Christ would speak a divine word of health to somebody.

    Ecclesiastical history proves that at baptism people often became healthy and were cured from physical diseases. The health of the Lord is holistic, indeed. The Lord cures the soul and the body.

    Everybody, who feels his sinfulness, shall ask a faithful Church for sacramental baptism or if he has yet received infant baptism, he just shall remember that by faith. The Lord will forgive, deliver and cure. Don't get baptized again, if you have yet received infant baptism. Infant baptism is valid!!! Just remember and receive the Spirit.

    Gospel of Jesus Christ, Amen!

    April 1, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • Matt

      What's your point?

      April 1, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  16. Michael

    But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    It is rather ridiculous for atheists or non Christians to be debating this.

    April 1, 2012 at 9:40 am |
  17. Candace Jones

    Try asking Him...and he will reveal. Some questions are right in our faces. You can use worldly wisdom to see that mans intentions are selfish and evil. No matter what the healthcare package say, it seems that this evil and selfishness within our politics has the living killing the living. The "proof is in the pudding."

    April 1, 2012 at 9:34 am |

    Jesus will make it clear what He and Our Heavenly Father believes. Follow the man whose enemies are at peace with him and you will know the man God favors. For it is written: When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7 It is also written: --------------------------–
    1 John 3:10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

    April 1, 2012 at 8:57 am |
    • Candace Jones

      Thank you Sheila, very well put.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:36 am |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 1, 2012 at 8:51 am |
    • shawmutt

      Sure–In some cases it makes thing worse! However, for the most part, wishful thinking at some sky-daddy changes nothing.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  20. NonoTheist

    Jesus support health care reform? Are you serious??

    Jesus could use his family's super-powers to heal everyone on the planet and eradicate all disease and death.

    But Jesus and his father (who are ultimately responsible for creating this situation in the first place) choose every second of every day not to intervene, let disease exist, let people die.

    I know that Gandalf supports healthcare reform. ET was a healer, so we know he supports doctors and nurses.

    So Jesus clearly supports disease and death, and therefore would not support healthcare reform.

    April 1, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • Candace Jones

      The question is not support. The old testament are of many stories such as this. Seek truth in His word, blogging only opens the door for more confusion for those ignorant of His his word. Scared say you scared to try him on his terms.

      April 1, 2012 at 9:42 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.