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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.

kateslate
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.

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

“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. Chuckles

    IMO Jesus of course would be totally against health care reform for two reasons. One, Jesus was the most well respected capitalist to ever grace this earth. He was all about making money, especially at the expense of others and he never believed in a free meal. Second, who needs affordable healthcare when you can just heal the crap out of people with your hands? I mean seriously, paging Dr. Jesus.

    June 28, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • Beat the kids

      IMO Jesus would give hand jobs behind a dumpster in a back alley while letting stray dogs lick peanut butter off his infected nut bag. Then he would lick the dogs tongues and then spit in his followers faces to baptize them. Sounds legit, huh?

      June 28, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      And you wonder why people think atheist are vile

      June 28, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Bill,

      He is a jackhole like HeavenSent is a Jackhole. Every groupd has them.

      June 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • ME II

      Who says he's an Atheist?

      June 28, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  2. Atheism is not healthy fot children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    June 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy fot children and other living things

      See prayer change things at prolapsed.net, my website about prayer.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  3. Tony

    To me, there will always be the debate, but witnessing a bona-fide miracle will make your head swim.

    June 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Witness true miracles of prayer at bagslap.com. View Gods truths!

      Amen.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      If you've seen any miracles that have had docu-mented proof lately, let me know.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      blagslap.con has the proof of miracles you seek.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • Tony

      my experience has been that you don't have to look very far...

      June 28, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Beat the kids

      Why just the other day I had explosive diarrhea and I prayed to Jesus to make it stop burning my butt hole. Hour later it was gone. A true miracle all thanks to poopy Christ.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      My experience is that everything attributed to being a miracle isn't

      June 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  4. Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

    He would tell those lazy good for nothing blind people to go get a job!

    June 28, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • Good Sh•t

      If Jesus were alive today he would be a leader of a homeless cult doing lame magic tricks on a street corner, begging for change, spouting off about repentance and hoe the end is near. Meanwhile people who claim to be Christians would want him arrested or in a condemned to a nut house, telling him how crazy he is and to "get a job fvcking bum!".

      June 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  5. DearbornGuy

    Although He probably would agree with the parts helping the poor get coverage, not sure our Good Lord would be that cool with coverage for abortion... you know, killing the innocents and all ...

    June 28, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • Yeahwhatever

      According to your Bibel, there are no innocents and all those clumps of cells and fetuses are guilty of sin and deserve death and their souls are doomed to hell already.
      And what if they are born gay? Suddenly abortion seems like a great idea for you, amirite?

      June 28, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      I am not aware that god has ever had a problem with the killing of innocents.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      The slaughter of innocents would appear to be the daily grist for all "Gods".

      A flood here or an earthquake there, maybe a tornado or famine or disease.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • ME II

      I would suspect that He, were He real, would be appalled that people don't have more faith in God to provide for them.

      June 28, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  6. catholic engineer

    Christians have awaited the return of Jesus for 2000 years. Atheists and secularists have been trying for 2000 years to get Him to leave. But when anti-Christians want to appeal to Jesus' compassion for the poor, they're certainly glad to have Him around.

    June 28, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • ME II

      "Atheists and secularists have been trying for 2000 years to get Him to leave. "
      Wha..?
      Atheists have been trying to get Christians to realize that He isn't coming back, if He, in fact, ever existed.

      June 28, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • What would Zeus Do

      Christians ignore that Jesus predicted that he would return with the Kingdom of God and lots of other stuff that didn't happen in the lifetime of some of his audience. They are waiting for the already-failed prophecy to somehow come true.

      June 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Catholic Engineer,

      Is your purpose here to pick arguments for the sake of picking arguments?

      Atheists value the teachings of Jesus no less than the Buddha or Lao Tzu. Why would anyone object to a message of love and forgiveness?

      It is the notion of divinity and unreproducible miracles they reject.

      June 28, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      That's a plausible stance GOPer. But I have heard other non-believers state much stronger language.

      June 28, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • ME II

      "...Jesus' compassion for the poor,"
      Jesus didn't invent nor does He own compassion. I don't see "Atheists and Secularists" appealing to Jesus' compassion, unless they are highlighting a believer's lack of compassion.

      June 28, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Bill Deacon,

      sadly yes, particularly around here. There is a lot of 'bait and bite' that goes on. Atheists are a small minority in the US, and that can create an unfortunate 'bunker' mentality.

      June 28, 2012 at 12:15 pm |
    • TR6

      @catholic engineer:” But when anti-Christians want to appeal to Jesus' compassion for the poor, they're certainly glad to have Him around.”

      Typical Christian, making up convenient “facts” Please give specific examples of “anti-Christians” “appealing to jesus for compassion”

      June 28, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      @GOPer 'It is the notion of divinity and unreproducible miracles they reject." If that is the result of honest mental effort, than I respect it. However, they weren't the first to reject miracles. The crowds surrounding Jesus didn't believe in miracles either. That's why they were so astonished when Jesus did the things he did. In the Gospels, Jesus repeated the miraculous quite a lot. They were unrepeatable to everyone else.

      June 28, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Catholic Engineer,

      Then we're in full agreement.

      I don't insist that you abrogate your faith that miracles actually happened as reported in the Gospels, so long as you don't expect me to believe that they did.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      "In the Gospels, Jesus repeated the miraculous quite a lot. They were unrepeatable to everyone else."

      Catholic Engineer,

      The gospels are completely unreliable in establishing that any miracles actually took place.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      catholic engineer, there were a lot of supposed "Messiahs" around Jesus' time who supposedly performed similar miracles who were supposedly corroborated by a bunch of witnesses.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  7. Christian hypocrisy? The dark side of Christianity?

    Even though many Christians DEMAND that the government strictly enforce such Christian goals as ending abortion, ending stem cell research and discriminating against gays (even though Christ never mentioned any of them). For some reason the same Christians are ENRAGED at the idea of government even trying to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, cloth the ragged and care for the orphan are central to Christian beliefs (even though they were commanded by Christ himself).

    June 28, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Ye are of your father the devil , and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

      John 8:44

      Amen.

      June 28, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      If you are not balls deep in Jesus then you are not a true Christian.

      Amen.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • TR6

      @HeavenSent:”Ye are of your father the devil , and the lusts of your father ye will do…”.

      What does this have to do with my post?
      I’m starting to worry about you. Every week you seem less in touch with reality

      June 28, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  8. William Demuth

    Well maybe because the holes in his hands are pustuous?

    Not to mention the boatload of cash he owes for that resurrection he had!

    June 28, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  9. Just Claims, No Truth

    And while we are at it how about an article on whither King Arthur would support 'Cap and Trade'.

    June 28, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • sam

      LOL

      June 28, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  10. Richard Cranium, Christian

    When I am faced with political decisions, I always find it best to just wonder what Jesus would do, sit a while, and if I think long enough the answer always comes. God inspires me, and that decides who I vote for or what I support. I don't use reason and waste time learning about an issue – I use faith, as the Good Lord wanted. And I am truly awe-struck by how often Jesus' opinions are exactly the same as the one's on Rush Limbaugh that morning. God Bless Rush for being God's voice on Earth.

    June 28, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      troll. And not even very clever

      June 28, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Yeahwhatever

      I bet Richard Cranium's words were based on your slanted personality, Bill, since you feel "stung" by his satire....

      June 28, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  11. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    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?

    June 28, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • dyslexic dog

      amen!

      June 28, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Reality not, I notice you never bash your man made religion created by the Scribes and Pharisees that crucified Jesus Christ.

      June 28, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Heavensent: All religion is man-made...we have told you this before...your imaginary friend can't be verified to exist and only children and schizophrenics have imaginary friends...we know you're not a child, so it must mean you're schizophrenic...get back on your meds.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Dunno why do you feel compelled to comment on what he might do or say? I personally find it presumptuous that anyone would put words in his mouth. The reason being that, in His life, whenever He was challenged by pharisees or others, He typically astounded everyone with a new teaching that demolished their preconceptions. My guess is He would do the same today, though I do not profess to know in which direction He might take us

      June 28, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Jesus is balls deep in me. I am filled with the Lord.

      Amen

      June 28, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • Reality

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

      “New Torah For Modern Minds

      Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “

      prob•a•bly
      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell.

      June 28, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • just sayin

      HeavenSent

      Reality not, I notice you never bash your man made religion created by the Scribes and Pharisees that crucified Jesus Christ.

      --–
      Interesting you say man made. Your God of the OT was manufactured from the Sumerian religion that was established thousands and thousands of years before the creation of Judaism.. Which of course means your Christ was false, not the son of any God, rather a delusional person.

      June 28, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • just sayin

      Reality, the Jewish fables and stories were simply copied. The Jewish God is simply not real and simply false.

      June 28, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • just sayin

      Hear o Israel the Lord our God is one God. God bless

      June 28, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • Judaism comes from the Sumerian Religion

      God of the Sumerians that the Jewish people stole the story from, hear our prayers. God Bless.

      June 29, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  12. just sayin

    Interesting an article about what a zombie would support or not support. I wonder if Dracula would support this as well? Or maybe The Mummy? People worship a blood drinking andflesh eating zombie. AMAZING

    June 28, 2012 at 11:40 am |
  13. IslandAtheist

    Would Joesph Smith?

    June 28, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • just sayin

      Joseph Smith would designa Con around it

      June 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  14. dyslexic dog

    and while I'm on this soap box, can someone tell me why Christians are not up in arms about a believer in a cult that makes a mockery of the Bible running for President of the USA? Christians should be affronted!

    June 28, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • Jacques Strappe, World Famous French Ball Juggler

      Because they are only worried about defeating the Black Kenyan Socialist Muslim Nazi Christian Obama.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  15. dyslexic dog

    why do people keep quoting phrases from a story book about what Jesus thought or said? There is no evidence that any of the events in the Bible actually happened or that any of the characters actually existed. It's a story book made up by men with alterior motives - same as the scam books of mormonism or scientology.

    June 28, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • HeavenSent

      John 8:44 applies to all liars against Jesus' truth as you follow the teachings of liars and murderers (scribes and pharisees) who crucified Jesus ... then try to convince Christians you have no blood on your hands with that made up religion you follow because of your big egos.

      June 28, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
    • tallulah13

      HS is an expert on egos, because she knows EVERYTHING! Just ask her. She will tell you exactly how you should be living, thinking, worshiping... Everything. She is such a perfect person, I bet god will just carry her off to heaven even before she dies.

      June 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Admit it. You are fascinated with Jesus aren't you?

      June 28, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • just sayin

      HeavenSent The Sumerian follows a false God that was copied from a much older religion. Kind of funny when you think about how much people waste their life on plagiarism. The Jews chose themselves to be chosen. lol

      Judaism = Plagiarism

      June 28, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  16. TruthPrevails :-)

    I would think Jesus would want his 'people' happy and healthy. Thankfully ObamaCare has been upheld...DEMS 2 (including immigration law) Republitards ZERO. There may be hope for the USA after all. 🙂

    June 28, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      When asked what He would have of His disciples, Jesus didn't say "Just be happy and healthy." He said "Take up your cross and follow me"

      June 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
  17. Getreal

    This has to be one of the silliest questions I have heard....and this is on an alleged news website.

    NOTE FOR THE EDITOR. FIND THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR ASKING SUCH AN INANE QUESTION AND FIRE THEM

    June 28, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Getreal

      This is also proof that THER ARE STUPID QUESTIONS!!!

      June 28, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  18. Doc Vestibule

    Would Jesus support ___________.
    What's a rhetorical question?

    June 28, 2012 at 11:07 am |
    • sam

      Tomorrow's article will ask whether Jesus supports rhetorical questions.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  19. Jack

    OBAMACARE GETS ITS DAY IN COURT: SUPREMES TO HAND DOWN HISTORIC RULING THURSDAY.

    Enlightening!

    On this day, all are invited to visit ... thestarofkaduri.com

    June 28, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • ....

      troll...stop spreading lies

      June 28, 2012 at 11:14 am |
    • Die die live

      Visit prolapsed.net, Jack's website with nude picks of his children. Gross

      June 28, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Larry

      Laughing my ass off at you, Jack. Decision is in.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  20. AtheistSteve

    Obama health care reform law upheld by supreme court. Mandate is consti.tutional under the tax provision.

    June 28, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      If I understand Robert's opinion correctly, he basically struck down the governments argument that the commerce clause allows the government to create markets but that the tax code allows them to levy against us in order to promote (coerce?) participation. Is this about right?

      June 28, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Larry

      What's the bottom line, Bill? The act stands unchanged.

      June 28, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • ME II

      @Bill Deacon,
      Yeah, that's my understanding also.
      I found it interesting however that the decision said that the Anti-Injunction act didn't apply specifically because, the ACA didn't claim to be a "tax".

      June 28, 2012 at 2:43 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.