My Take: Will there be gays in heaven? Will there be fat people?
Anderson Cooper's coming out provoked the author to send a tweet that triggered some strong reaction.
July 5th, 2012
01:11 PM ET

My Take: Will there be gays in heaven? Will there be fat people?

Editor's Note: Craig Gross is the pastor and founder of XXXchurch.com and is the author of seven books. He just turned 36 and is no longer a hip 20-something pastor from California.

By Craig Gross, Special to CNN

After Anderson Cooper came out this week, I posted a link on Twitter to a story that included this quote from Cooper: “I love and am loved.” As I said in my tweet, Cooper is one of my favorite journalists. I was honored to once be on his show.

After I tweeted I got e-mails and a direct message asking the same question: "You still like him now?"

I was saddened by that reaction and started thinking: What would happen if we read the Bible and, instead of highlighting certain passages, we took it all for what it is - truth.

In 1 Corinthians, the Bible says don't indulge your body with food or sex: “‘Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,’ and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.”

My Take: The Christian case for gay marriage

I deal with people who indulge their bodies with sex. I’ve  done it for 10 years with XXXchurch.com, helping people caught up in porn addiction.

If you indulge your body with sex via pornography, affairs, strippers or hookers, and your secrets are exposed, you will not be preaching on Sunday. Sexual sin is not tolerated in our churches. If clergy are caught in these things, they’re disqualified.

What if you indulge your body with food? Well, then you can pastor some of the largest churches on the planet and have the most successful broadcasts on the religious channels and sell a lot of books.

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Same biblical passage, same sin. Why is one accepted and one rejected? Why is it that religious folks want to camp out on a few things rather then all things?

Why do they believe that the gay guy goes to hell but the fat preacher who builds some of the largest churches in the world makes it to heaven?

I have no problem bringing my fat friends to church; they fit right in. Our Los Angeles church has doughnuts to eat during worship service, which makes the hymns we sing sound so much better.

My Take: Why many Christians focus on homosexuality

I coached my son's soccer team last year. My assistant coach is a lesbian. My son became great friends with her son, and my wife and I have become good friends with his mom and her partner. We played on three teams this year with them and have spent time in each others’ homes.

Could I bring them to church? Absolutely not.

Most evangelical Christians don't have gay friends. We just have gay stereotypes and we base our beliefs on a few biblical passages, ignoring passages about things that people in the church really struggle with, like food and other addictions.

The problem is that the church has only one answer for homosexuality: Don't be gay. Come as you are, but you'd better not be gay. But you can be fat.

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Most Christians believe you should just help your friends to not be gay when, in all honesty, only Christ can do that.

I love my lesbian friends. Let’s say I share Christ with them and they accept Jesus - or maybe they already have. Where do they go to church?

There is no way I would send them to an evangelical church, because not everyone would treat them the way they should be treated. But if they attend a gay church many Christians look at them as crazy.

People will push you to take a stand one way or the other on homosexuality, but no one has ever asked me to take a stand when it comes to fat people.

The goal shouldn’t be to change anyone's sexuality. Ultimately, I believe homosexuality gets blown way out of proportion in our churches. If we would all see gays as fellow sinners instead of “others,” there wouldn't be a need for gay outreach, because they would already be incorporated into our community based on a shared need for Christ.

God loves gays and Jesus is for them. God loves the fat preacher. Homosexual activity and overeating are both sins - just like speeding, gossip, lying and cheating. I think I did all of those just today.

All are forgivable in Christ and, with the leading of the Holy Spirit, can be changed. Just remember that change does not happen overnight.

Have you ever seen someone lose 100 pounds overnight? The process takes time. When it comes to the Lord, it’s nothing less than a journey of sanctification.

And wherever you are at on that journey, I think there should be a place for you at church. Because there’s probably one in heaven.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Craig Gross.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (2,508 Responses)
  1. E

    There is no afterlife lol! That's a fact so all this talk means nothing, you die and then nothing, best feeling is knowing that for all crazy stuff religious people do the moment they die the realization comes....oh no god!

    July 5, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • Son of the South

      The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God. Corrupt are they...... from the Book of Proverbs.

      July 5, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Holy shit, someone quoted from the bible!


      July 5, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin™

      LET's Religiosity Law #3 – If you habitually spout off verses from your "holy" book to make whatever inane point you're trying to make, and not once does it occur to you to question whether your book is accurate in the first place, then you are definitely mentally retarded.

      July 5, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Polergiest

      How does a realization come when you die? You can't realize anything when you're dead. Needless to say, studies have shown a longer life expectancy in regular church goers than non-church goers. So actually at the end of their life, they'll have on average spent more time putzing around on earth than you will.

      July 6, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • Jon

      Christians are crazy cult members. Almost every story from the Bible was taken from an earlier cult that existed before the Bible. That's a n actual fact that you can investigate for yourselves. The Bible is an obvious lie which is why you have to make a conscious effort to believe it. Nobody ever made an effort to believe in gravity or air. Christians are the only ones going to hell. 🙂

      July 6, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • hannah2300

      What IF there is??

      July 7, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
  2. Brian

    Some of these "pastors" need to get a real job.

    July 5, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  3. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    July 5, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • David

      "Two hands working can do more than a thousand clasped in prayer."

      July 5, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      July 5, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
    • Christina

      ACTION changes things. This guy keeps saying that prayer changes things. I wonder if he actually goes into the community to help others. Prayer is depending on an invisible friend to do the hard work for you.

      July 5, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • SDCinNS

      Very true... I have answered prayer every single day.

      July 5, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Ray

      Really? Pray for a leaky roof to repair itself. Pray for a flat tire to fix itself. Stop going to doctors. Prayer heals all. Oh, I forgot. You religious folks give god credit for all that science has accomplished.

      July 6, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • bh

      C. S. Lewis: It (A prayer) doesn't change God, it changes me.

      July 6, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  4. Chris

    Many of you are a perfect example of 'Merica

    July 5, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Greg s

      Its simple, If you believe in Christ as your savior, You Believe it, Do the best you can at keeping sin down to a minimum and asking forgiveness of those sins that slip by then The fat guys wil be dancing with the Gay Guys in heaven, Both are sins, But we are Human and we sin. Its why He allowed himself to be crucified. For the fat guys and the Gay Guys too.

      July 5, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      This is a board frequented by many internationally. You're an idiot.


      July 5, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  5. sqeptiq

    The better question would be: are stupid people welcome in heaven. They seem to be pretty thick on the ground.

    July 5, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  6. Jack

    Hello folks. Everyone is invited to visit ... thestarofkaduri.com

    July 5, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  7. gronk

    Interesting point. Unrepentant gays won't be entering the pearly gates, but what about fatsos? I would say 99% of em are guilty of sloth (one of the seven deadly sins) and might have trouble gaining entrance, but what about that minute number with a true glandular problem? Who are we to say.

    July 5, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Craig Pflaum

      Some fat people will go to Heaven, but they must enter through the narrow gate.

      July 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Son of the South

      Craig, I like that. That is a priceless answer.

      July 5, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Greg s

      The Narrow gate now thats funny!

      July 5, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  8. tannim

    "Will there be fat people in heaven?"

    Can they fit through the gates? 🙂

    Seriously, why not? Heaven, like Hell, is an unproven perception of what lies in the afterlife, lacking proof of any of it despite the claims of tunnels and lights, so people can make of it what they wish, or nothing at all as well.

    July 5, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • JulianAB

      The article is about the typical Christian view of heaven. I agree with the article that fat people are sinning in a big way, and have little chance of getting to Heaven - if you believe in the Bible literally. Your body is one of the primary gifts God has (presumably) given you, and if you're not taking care of it you're basically telling God to go screw himself. If you can't control yourself, you have no business trying to moralize about others. A fat person has absolutely no right preaching or moralizing until they have themselves under control.

      July 6, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
  9. treegestalt

    You may well find
    of interest.

    As far as the 'fat' thing, I find that going to two meals/day, less than 8 hrs between first bite & last, works slowly, but works...

    July 5, 2012 at 5:10 pm |


      July 5, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
  10. Jon

    How many cubits can one's waist be before being evil in God's eyes? And does it count if one has a medical condition that causes one to gain weight? Does God look past that if one has a written doctors note?

    July 5, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  11. Scott

    Having been an overweight Christian teen, I can assure you that the majority of Christian teens may not be as antagonistic to fat kids as they are to gay kids; but, they openly rejected me and often treated me like dirt because of my weight and I wasn’t the only one

    July 5, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • Huebert

      Sounds like typical christian behavior.

      July 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Sounds more like typical child behavior.

      July 5, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Ray

      Sounds like adult behavior.

      July 6, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • davy

      Sounds like adult behavior.

      July 6, 2012 at 5:45 am |
  12. Dave Burnie

    Reblogged this on thehardheadedpreacher and commented:
    A very well thought out perspective by another pastor!

    July 5, 2012 at 4:43 pm |


      July 5, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
  13. ZPACK

    This is just a nice-to-be-nice rehash of the hackneyed "Hate the sin, love the sinner." When I hear that it reminds of the wife beater who slams his spouse into the wall and then say," I didn't mean to do that but you made me do it." But let's carry you pathetic point further. Should we hate the terrorism but love the terrorist? Hate the child molestations but love the child molestor? Guess what , bigotted fundamentaist Christians, hell, for me, would be spending eternity with you. If that's where you are all planing on going, count me out!

    July 5, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  14. Dave D in CA

    Will there be gays in heaven? You bet. Just like their will be straights...
    ...provided they adhere to the ethical code set before us by God:

    July 5, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Quag

      Neither fat people or gays will be in heaven after their death. There won't be straight thin people either. Because heaven doesn't exist.

      July 5, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • aaron

      There's a code? where?

      July 5, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  15. Reality

    Of course, those gays who belong to Abrahamic religions supposedly abide by the rules of no ad-ultery or for-nication allowed.

    And because of basic biology differences said monogamous ventures should always be called same-s-ex unions not same-se-x marriages.

    To wit:

    From below, on top, backwards, forwards, from this side of the Moon and from the other side too, gay se-xual activity is still mutual masturbation caused by one or more complex se-xual differences. Some differences are visually obvious in for example the complex maleness of DeGeneres, Billy Jean King and Rosie O'Donnell.

    As noted, there are basic biological differences in gay unions vs. heterose-xual marriage. Government benefits are the same in both but making the distinction is important for census data and for social responses with respect to potential issues with disease, divorce and family interactions.

    July 5, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Huebert

      You are confusing intercourse with s.ex. S.ex is a cultural concept you are using biological definition.

      July 5, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Reality

      – from a guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-

      Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

      The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

      : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill ( 8.7% failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

      Added information before making your next move:

      from the CDC-2006

      "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

      And from:

      Consumer Reports, January, 2012

      "Yes, or-al se-x is se-x, and it can boost cancer risk-

      Here's a crucial message for teens (and all se-xually active "post-teeners": Or-al se-x carries many of the same risks as va-ginal se-x, including human papilloma virus, or HPV. And HPV may now be overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of or-al cancers in America in people under age 50.

      "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (It should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

      Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

      The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":

      1a. (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
      1b. (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)

      Followed by:
      One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
      Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
      The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
      Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
      IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
      Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)

      Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

      July 6, 2012 at 7:31 am |
  16. Erik

    "People who call themselves gay, do so willingly"

    Being gay is not a choice, science in fact, is actually not in dispute on this matter.

    All major medical professional organizations concur that sexual orientation is not a choice and cannot be changed, from gay to straight or otherwise. The American, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, and European Psychological, Psychiatric, and Medical Associations all agree with this, as does the World Health Organization and the medical organizations of Japan, China, and most recently, Thailand. Furthermore, attempts to change one's sexual orientation can be psychologically damaging, and cause great inner turmoil and depression, especially for Christian gays and lesbians.

    Reparative therapy, also called conversion therapy or reorientation therapy, "counsels" LGBT persons to pray fervently and study Bible verses, often utilizing 12-step techniques that are used to treat sexual addictions or trauma. Such Christian councilors are pathologizing homosexuality, which is not a pathology but is a sexual orientation. Psychologically, that's very dangerous territory to tread on. All of the above-mentioned medical professional organizations, in addition to the American and European Counseling Associations, stand strongly opposed to any form of reparative therapy.

    In my home country, Norway, reparative therapy is officially considered to be ethical malpractice. But there are many countries that do not regulate the practice, and many others that remain largely silent and even passively supportive of it (such as the Philippines). Groups that operate such "therapy" in the Philippines are the Evangelical Bagong Pag-asa, and the Catholic Courage Philippines.

    The scientific evidence of the innateness of homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgenderism is overwhelming, and more peer-reviewed studies which bolster this fact are being added all the time. Science has long regarded sexual orientation – and that's all sexual orientations, including heterosexuality – as a phenotype. Simply put, a phenotype is an observable set of properties that varies among individuals and is deeply rooted in biology. For the scientific community, the role of genetics in sexuality is about as "disputable" as the role of evolution in biology.

    On the second point, that there is no conclusion that there is a "gay gene," they are right. No so-called gay gene has been found, and it's highly unlikely that one ever will. This is where conservative Christians and Muslims quickly say "See, I told you so! There's no gay gene, so being gay is a choice!"

    Take this interesting paragraph I found on an Evangelical website: "The attempt to prove that homosexuality is determined biologically has been dealt a knockout punch. An American Psychological Association publication includes an admission that there's no homosexual "gene" – meaning it's not likely that homosexuals are 'born that way.'"

    But that's not at all what it means, and it seems Evangelicals are plucking out stand-alone phrases from scientific reports and removing them from their context. This is known in academia as the fallacy of suppressed evidence. Interestingly, this is also what they have a habit of doing with verses from the Bible.

    This idea of sexuality being a choice is such a bizarre notion to me as a man of science. Many of these reparative "therapists" are basing this concept on a random Bible verse or two. When you hold those up against the mountain of scientific research that has been conducted, peer-reviewed, and then peer-reviewed again, it absolutely holds no water. A person's sexuality – whether heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual – is a very deep biological piece of who that person is as an individual.

    The fact that a so-called "gay gene" has not been discovered does not mean that homosexuality is not genetic in its causation. This is understandably something that can seem a bit strange to those who have not been educated in fields of science and advanced biology, and it is also why people who are not scientists ought not try to explain the processes in simple black-and-white terms. There is no gay gene, but there is also no "height gene" or "skin tone gene" or "left-handed gene." These, like sexuality, have a heritable aspect, but no one dominant gene is responsible for them.

    Many genes, working in sync, contribute to the phenotype and therefore do have a role in sexual orientation. In many animal model systems, for example, the precise genes involved in sexual partner selection have been identified, and their neuro-biochemical pathways have been worked out in great detail. A great number of these mechanisms have been preserved evolutionarily in humans, just as they are for every other behavioral trait we know (including heterosexuality).

    Furthermore, there are many biologic traits which are not specifically genetic but are biologic nonetheless. These traits are rooted in hormonal influences, contributed especially during the early stages of fetal development. This too is indisputable and based on extensive peer-reviewed research the world over. Such prenatal hormonal influences are not genetic per se, but are inborn, natural, and biologic nevertheless.

    Having said that, in the realm of legal rights, partnership rights, and anti-discrimination protections, the gay gene vs. choice debate is actually quite irrelevant. Whether or not something is a choice is not a suitable criterion for whether someone should have equal rights and protections. Religion is indisputably a choice, but that fact is a not a valid argument for discriminating against a particular religion.

    July 5, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin™

      I'm not disputing your words... But it's doubtful any of the christards who come on here are going to read anything past your use of the word "science."

      July 5, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Just scrolled down skipping over to "reply" so I could say this.

      July 5, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
    • Joepub

      Well then twin, it appears that your assumptions is stereotypical baloney. Funny how backward thinking seems to proliferate all groups.

      July 5, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin™

      Your so smart... Hahaha...

      July 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • Quag

      I'm not offended by the word science but that's when I noticed how long the post was so I scrolled down to see the responses without reading it. Damn, I didn't find out what he/she was rambling about. BTW, if you can read this you are an ape.

      July 5, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Tracy

      @ Erik...Thank you for a informative, reasoned response!!

      July 5, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • aconcernedparent

      What is amazing how so many people didn't/wont bother to read your educational and insightful words that are based on DATA, not just the ramblings of look kook with a thick book who can hardly read it....If they can't read your article how can they read the BIBLE? Reading that thing is NOT easy....thats why it stays in the closet and collects dust...i'd rather meditate and be present in the moment....its all we have anyway....The problem is we are taking SOO much time to discus what is going to happen when we die, that we don't take time to focus on how to live in THIS VERY MOMENT....

      July 6, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  17. Think for yourself

    Hmmmm...is there a published weight chart or BMI index I can refer to? Which book of the bible lists it? I'm a little concerned as I'm not obese, but I am a "little chubby."

    July 5, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Did you want the King James version, or the NAS version ?

      July 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
    • ME II

      "overweight" is accepted, but
      "Thou shalt not be obese."
      "Thou shalt not covert thy neighbors pastries." since "to lust after pastry in your heart is the same as committing the calories to your soul."

      July 5, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • JulianAB

      People are fooling themselves if they think that being obese is not a sin. Everyone knows when they are sinning - every sin is giving in to urges for short-term pleasure/urges that you know are bad for you. It doesn't matter if it is an urge to do drugs, steal, ve violent/mean, overeat, cheat, etc. You know it is a sin when you're doing it.

      July 6, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  18. TomGI

    God told me the other day that gays and fattys will not be allowed into heaven so I'm on a strict diet. On the other, I'm OK because I'm not gay.

    July 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin™

      What if your body gets skinny, but your soul stays fat?

      July 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Primewonk

      With my damn luck, my soul is channeling fat buddha. Guess I'm screwed.

      July 5, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  19. Al

    With CNN's ratings the lowest since they began......wonder why????? You guys are condoning the worst of man and man won't watch it!!!!!

    July 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
    • Huebert

      What is CNN condoning exactly?

      July 5, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      What? The worst of man? Because they employ a gay man?

      July 5, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • J.W

      Fox has higher rating because they are the only one of the networks that is so conservative. The more liberal networks spit the viewers between them.

      July 5, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Son of the South

      Right on, Al. I'm withya, Buddy!

      July 5, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Vicky Fisher

      Hey Al FOX News has high ratings and they have Shepard Smith I'm sure he is gay also. Tammy Bruce is a guest on FOX
      also on occasion she is gay. FOX News is actually more Libertarian in there views. CNN is going downhill cause they omit so much and have never offered variety in stories and opinions like FOX.

      July 8, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
  20. ME II

    re-posted from below:

    {@jefe makes] a very humorous point, since the author is the pastor of the church to which he refers, "Craig Gross is the pastor and founder of XX[.]Xchurch.com "
    So, in other words, his gay friends aren't welcome at the church he himself founded and pastors.
    The sheer hypocrisy is amazing!

    July 5, 2012 at 3:18 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.