9 religious companies (besides Chick-fil-A)
July 24th, 2012
12:00 PM ET

9 religious companies (besides Chick-fil-A)

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

As the controversy over Chick-fil-A’s founder publicly opposing same-sex marriage continues - Mike Huckabee is pushing for a Chick-fil-A day, while the Jim Henson Co. is cutting ties to the chain - we’re republishing our list of 10 other religious companies.

Our initial list was provoked by an earlier Chick-fil-A/same-sex marriage controversy. Is our list missing any names? Tweet us at @CNNBelief to let us know.

Here are 10 well-known companies that don't make religious products - we're not talking kosher foods manufacturer Manischewitz here - but that nonetheless take their religious sides seriously (listed in no particular order).

1. Forever 21. The young women’s clothing company may be best known for its skimpier and saucier offerings, but it also exudes subtle piety. The words John 3:16 – a citation of a biblical verse popular among evangelical Christians - appears at the bottom of its stores' shopping bags. A spokeswoman for the company told The New York Sun that the message is a "demonstration of the owners' faith."

2. Tom’s of Maine. After launching the natural home products company in 1970 with his wife Kate, CEO Tom Chappell nearly left it to pursue full-time Christian ministry. While receiving a master's at Harvard Divinity School, however, a professor advised him to just treat his business as ministry. “He began bringing in different spiritual leaders to talk to the board about how they could use spiritual principles to run the company,” says the Tyson Center's Neal. Beyond environmentalism, the company seeks to "create a better world by exchanging our faith, experience, and hope."

3. Tyson Foods, Inc. The world's largest chicken company employs a team of chaplains who minister to employees at production facilities and corporate offices. Other corporations contract out such services, but it’s rare for a company to keep chaplains on the payroll.

"The chaplains provide compassionate pastoral care and ministry to team members and their families," according to Tyson's website, "regardless of their religious or spiritual affiliation or beliefs."

Tyson recently gave money to launch the Tyson Center for Faith and Spirituality in the Workplace at the University of Arkansas, one of the first academic centers of its kind.

4. Hobby Lobby. The privately held chain of more than 450 arts and crafts stories isn't shy about its Christian orientation. "Honoring the Lord in all we do by operating the company in a manner consistent with Biblical principles," reads the company's mission statement. "We believe that it is by God's grace and provision that Hobby Lobby has endured."

The company supports a slate of Christian interests, from Oral Roberts University to the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, and is known for taking out overtly religious newspaper ads around the holidays.

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5. ServiceMaster. Never heard of this corporation? Perhaps some of the residential services companies it owns, like Terminix and American Home Shield, will ring a bell.

The company was founded in 1929 by Marion E. Wade, who "had a strong personal faith and a desire to honor God in all he did," according to ServiceMaster's website. "Translating this into the marketplace, he viewed each individual employee and customer as being made in God's image - worthy of dignity and respect."

The company, formerly public but recently taken over by a private equity firm, still consciously tries to "do the right thing in the way that employees treat customers," says Theodore Malloch, who leads Yale University's Spiritual Capital Initiative. "It's a theological statement about servant leadership - think of the picture of Christ washing the feet of his disciples."

6. Herman Miller. The Michigan-based furniture manufacturer's founders were steeped in the Reformed Protestant tradition. "It retains a lot of that in practices that revolve around a notion of respecting the dignity of the human person and a strong environmental ethic that grew out of the religious responsibility," says Yale's Malloch. Indeed, Herman Miller - perhaps most famous for its Aeron chair - prides itself on environmental philanthropy and on regularly appearing on Fortune's annual list of best companies to work for.

7. Interstate Batteries. The car battery giant has a "self-avowed religious identity and is very open in their God talk" in internal training and communication, says Lake Lambert III, author of Spirituality, Inc. Former company president Norm Miller moved to the role of chairman to allow more time to address Christian audiences. Miller talks to those "interested in how he found the truth of Christianity," the company's website says, "and how he learned to effectively apply biblical principles to create a more successful business." Interstate employs its own chaplain.

8. In-N-Out Burger. Chick-fil-A is hardly the only fast-food outfit to make its founders' religious leanings part of its recipe. Western U.S. burger chain In-N-Out has printed citations of Bible passages on cups, wrappers and other pieces of packaging since at least the late 1980s. For instance, "John 3:16" appears on the bottom of soft drink cups, a reference to the Bible passage, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." Read more on In-N-Out's religious side at Eatocracy, CNN's food blog.

9. Walmart. Treat this one as an honorable mention. Lambert says the Walton family, which founded the company and still own a major stake in it, has used Christian servant leadership models in building the world's largest retailer. And the company's Arkansas roots helped sensitize it to the shopping habits of churchgoers. It helps explain why Walmart long carries the kind of Christian books that were once the exclusive province of Christian bookstores. "You don’t find those kinds of things in J.C. Penney," Lambert says. But Walmart has been so successful with such material that it's now become a business threat to Christian booksellers.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Whole Foods co-founder and CEO John Mackey is a Buddhist. Whole Foods Global Public Relations Director Kate Lowery says that Mackey has never been a Buddhist. “John does not fit into any traditional religious category,” she said in an e-mail message.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Missionaries

soundoff (2,481 Responses)
  1. Barbara

    Well...I know all us is aware that debate for or against the existence of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit doesn't change Him...He just is, was, and is to come... whether we feel we win a debate or not...Hence...?

    August 11, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
  2. I'm right

    You know what ELSE these companies ALL have in common. NONE of them have EVER refused their service or their product to anyone based on the religious belief or non-belief of their customers.

    August 11, 2012 at 7:58 pm |

    So......now CNN is publishing a BLACK LIST of faith based businesses. Is this newsworthy or is CNN just trying to stir up more bigotry?

    but that's just me, hollering from the choir loft...

    August 11, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  4. Stick

    If you really want to make some money open a restaurant called "Holy Burger". Advertise that you champion Christian beliefs and that you're being persecuted. Your pockets will be lined with gold in no time!!!!

    August 11, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  5. Bob

    7. A rejection of the supernatural elements of Catholicism does not require a rejection of its morality. Most atheists and secular humanists share a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent we reject Catholic morality, it is where it is outdated or mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, our basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – we just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over our head in order to act in a manner that we consider moral.

    Falsely linking morality to a belief in the supernatural is a time-tested “three card trick” religion uses to stop its adherents from asking the hard questions. So is telling them it is “wrong to doubt.” This is probably why there is not one pa.ssage in the Bible in support of intelligence and healthy skepticism, but literally hundreds in support of blind acceptance and blatant gullibility.

    8. We have no idea of who wrote the four Gospels, how credible or trustworthy they were, what ulterior motives they had (other than to promote their religion) or what they based their views on. We know that the traditional story of it being Matthew, Mark, Luke and John is almost certainly wrong. For example, the Gospel of Matthew includes a scene in which Jesus meets Matthew, recounted entirely in the third person!! Nevertheless, we are called upon to accept the most extraordinary claims by these unknown people, who wrote between 35 to 65 years after Christ died and do not even claim to have been witnesses. It is like taking the word of an unknown Branch Davidian about what happened to David Koresh at Waco – who wrote 35 years after the fact and wasn’t there.

    9. The Catholic belief of saints and sainthood borders on lunacy. Dead people reading minds (or “hearing prayers” as they call it) from people on Earth and convincing God to perform miracles. The “miracles” are almost always medical recoveries in circu.mstances where the recovery is perfectly explicable by natural events and where there is social pressure on the church to declare the particular corpse a “saint.” Why is it that God will never cure amputees, or people who have lost eyes, or who have bad scars from burns, or diseases we cannot cure? If we were to draw two lists, those of the ailments God will cure and those he will not, it would coincide perfectly with those diseases medical science or the human body itself can cure and those it cannot. Don’t believe me? Try it.

    10. When backed into a corner, Catholicism admits it requires a “leap of faith” to believe it. However, once one accepts that pure faith is a legitimate reason to believe in something (which it most certainly is not, any more than “faith” that Bigfoot exists is) one has to accept all other gods based on exactly the same reasoning. One cannot be a Catholic based on the “leap of faith” – and then turn around and say those who believe in, for example, the Hindu gods, based on the same leap, got it wrong. In a dark room without features, any gro.ping guess by a blind man at the direction of the door is as valid as the other 359 degrees.

    August 11, 2012 at 10:09 am |
  6. Bob

    6. The Bible is also literally infested with contradictions, outdated morality, and open support for the most barbarous acts of cruelty – including genocide, murder, slavery, r.ape and the complete subjugation of women. All of this is due to when and where it was written, the morality of the times and the motives of its authors and compilers. While this may be exculpatory from a literary point of view, it also screams out the fact that it is a pure product of man, bereft of any divine inspiration.

    August 11, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  7. bob

    There are some pretty fundamental objections to Catholicism that are hard to get around. Now before some believer rants back at me that I am evil, an “angry atheist”, or going to burn for all eternity in hell, please take the time to actually read and cogitate the objections. If you have a disagreement with a point I make, post it. However, if you only object to the fact that I said it, please understand that I do not buy into the whole “it is immoral to be skeptical of the Catholic religion” argument.

    1. At its most fundamental level, Catholicism requires a belief that an all-knowing, all-powerful, immortal being created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies 13,700,000,000 years ago (the age of the Universe) sat back and waited 10,000,000,000 years for the Earth to form, then waited another 3,700,000,000 years for h.o.mo sapiens to gradually evolve, then, at some point gave them eternal life and sent its son to Earth to talk about sheep and goats in the Middle East.

    While here, this divine visitor exhibits no knowledge of ANYTHING outside of the Iron Age Middle East, including the other continents, 99% of the human race, and the aforementioned galaxies.

    Either that, or it all started 6,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake. Either way “oh come on” just doesn’t quite capture it.

    2. This ‘all loving’ god spends his time running the Universe and spying on the approximately 7 billion human beings on planet Earth 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He even reads their minds (or “hears their prayers”, if you see any difference) using some kind of magic telepathic powers. He also keeps his telepathic eye on them when they are not praying, so as to know if they think bad thoughts (such as desiring their beautiful neighbor) so he knows whether to reward or punish them after they die.

    3. Having withheld any evidence of his existence, this god will then punish those who doubt him with an eternity burning in hell. I don’t have to kill, I don’t have to steal, I don’t even have to litter. All I have to do is have an honest, reasonable and rational disbelief in the Christian god and he will inflict a grotesque penalty on me a billion times worse than the death penalty – and he loves me.

    4. The above beliefs are based on nothing more than a collection of Bronze and Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology, much of it discredited, that was cobbled together into a book called the “Bible” by people we know virtually nothing about, before the Dark Ages. For example, we know that at least three of the letters of St. Paul are forgeries and at least three more are highly questionable. Further we know that the myth of Jesus saying “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone” is a complete fabrication, added to the Gospel of “John” about a century later and Matthew and Luke are totally inconsistent of the story of Jesus’ birth. Those stories that comprise Catholic creed and that are not in the Bible, were completely fabricated by early Catholic theologians. For example, the doctrine of the Trinity was completely made up by Augustine in the Fifth Century. It does not even appear in the Bible.

    5. The stories of Christianity are not even original. They are borrowed directly from earlier mythology from the Middle East. Genesis and Exodus, for example, are clearly based on earlier Babylonian myths such as The Epic of Gilgamesh, and the Jesus story itself is straight from the stories about Apollonius of Tyana, Horus and Dionysus (including the virgin birth, the three wise men, the star in the East, birth at the Winter solstice, a baptism by another prophet, turning water into wine, crucifixion and rising from the dead).

    August 11, 2012 at 10:04 am |
    • Scholar

      Bob, you have way too much time on your hands trying to refute a God you do not believe in....you come off very defensive... I feel you must be a little hot under the collar because somewhere in your mind...Hell must exist...and you must face the rebellion you are commiting. I know it is difficult to admit you are unsure about things..may you have a little peace.. by your post you obviously do not have it right now...as far as contradictions I know the orginal greek koine...and their really are none that would be of theological importance...the bible has been proven to be through manuscript comparison on theology to be 99% compariably accurate even after 2000 years of translation.Die in your sin if you would like...I will sleep peacefully knowing I need a Savior. Blessings

      August 11, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
  8. kate36

    Seems to me that companies advertising their Christian principles deserve to be called on it when those principles are short on the tolerance and brotherly love that Jesus identified as most important, and instead focus on the 'below the belt' issues so favored by the politically ambitious. If the Bible reflects God's priorities, then true Christians certainly note there are very few verses about these so-call 'hot button' issues, but literally hundreds about the poor. I didn't see all these dedicated folks protesting budget cuts in programs that feed poor children. The chick-fil-a stunt strikes me as less about free speech and more about fleecing the flock.

    August 11, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  9. Your Religion Might Be Bullshіt If...


    August 10, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • pvt4jc@nc.rr.com

      hell is waiting for you

      August 11, 2012 at 3:11 am |
    • nik

      love it...all religions are bullsheet!

      August 11, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes otherwise rational adults into believing in imaginery friends like children do.

    August 10, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • jason

      Atheism is pretty illogical – you have to actually ask what a person believes
      Naturalism and materialism – says that nature and matter are all that exists – laws of logic, are they nature? are they matter? no!
      Can you honestly say that you evolved correctly? what are you basing that on? Your senses – whats the basis to believe that they are correct, your memory? how can you believe it's reliable?

      Uniformity in nature – why should it be uniform? Why as Karl Popper said – we naturally look for patterns in life

      The bible explains all these as a worldview, and has satisfied the greatest minds in human history, the problem is that we are too lazy and unintelligent to even form a good question that the bible doesn't answer. The bible will outlive you, and me.

      August 11, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  11. Mike

    Nobody cares if a company is religious. Really, we don't.

    What we DO care about is when a company actively spends its profits trying to limit the rights of other people, like Chick-Fil-Hate.

    August 10, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Johann Popper

      Then you understand perfectly why Christians oppose being forced to pay for "health" insurance that uses that money to limit the rights of preborn human beings.

      August 11, 2012 at 4:14 am |
    • Dianne

      You are wrong Mike. The source you got your information from is inaccurate.

      August 11, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Kevin C

      Might want to check where the oil comes from that is converted to gasoline for your car; I hear the Saudis are opposed to gay marriage as well.

      August 11, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
    • I'm right

      REALLY? You want to tell someone how they can or cannot spend their profits? And then to make the issue worse, people thought it was a good idea to go to the LOCAL store, which is owned by a franchise owner, who may or may not have the same opinion as the franchisor and do what....? Protest? Who really has the hate here Mike?

      August 11, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  12. Natalyn

    Mary Kay Cosmetics philosophy is God First, Family Second, & Career Third. We are taught to live by the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you". We support each other based on these principals.

    August 10, 2012 at 1:09 am |
  13. Derrek

    Let’s boycott all of them for believing in a religion. Let’s boycott them because they only believe that marriage should be between a man and a women. Let’s prevent them from opening and hiring people in our town because they share the same view as 80 percent of all American. Let’s accuse them of being intolerant and impede on their first amendment rights. As a nation we need to be tolerant of all. Even if they don’t share the same believes or view.

    August 9, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
    • mmaxum2002

      Believe it or not Derrek there are people like me who will not buy from a company that wears its stupidity on its sleeve. I am opposed to the furtherance of childish beliefs.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  14. jim

    There is nothing wrong with being religious. There is everything wrong in requiring employees adhere to your religious principles. Forcing your religion on others, whether through threats of force or economic threats, is wrong. Using corporate profits to advance bigotry, whether Anti-Semetic, 'pro-white,' or anti-gay, is not morally defensible. Chick-fil-a crossed the line into advocating bigotry.

    August 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm |
    • nat

      while there is nothing wrong with a Christian owning/running/operating our own business but at none of these places do you find that they are pushing their beliefs on other employees, requiring them to believe the same thing, etc. it's apparent with walmart – a horrible place to shop, employees don't care whether you need help or not & will even run over you while walking & texting on the job or standing around cussing & carrying on in their personal conversations instead of assisting customers. the owner of the business can use HIS money as HE sees fit, believes in using it especially when he's chosen to follow the word of God to run his business according to the guidelines God have given him. for mr cathy to donate HIS money to focus on the family (which has helped sooo many families over the years & is non-judgmental as they help) or any other group/organization that lines up with the way God desires His believers to live.. if you don't like Christian run companies, you do NOT have to shop or eat there. by no means. there are plenty of places that do not believe in God nor run their business according to His guidelines. take Target for instance. they are pro-gay. i didn't know that until i worked there & was surrounded by gay everything & we were NOT allowed to speak the word God or Church or even invite someone to come to a yard sale if it was held on any church property & you're not allowed to say Merry Christmas. the environment is threatening to those that aren't gay. so please, don't shop or eat at Christian based stores (you'd be surprised how many places are Christian based!). find you a gay pride store/restaurant to go to. quit worrying so much about how we live our lives & stay out of our business. go live you own lives. if you don't like us, ignor us. we don't care!

      August 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • Dianne

      You are wrong Jim. There is no discrimination with hiring or serving policies to ALL people within CF. The owner was asked his personal opinion and he stated it. That is called freedom of speech.

      August 11, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Kevin C

      Jim – you ever hear the saying "It is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt"? Think about it. All Cathy ever said, when asked, was that he believed in a traditinonal, biblical view of marriage. Your extrapolated that to CF discriminates in their hiring and pay practices. Ignorant.

      August 11, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • mmaxum2002

      Jim, I beg to differ on the line that there's nothing wrong with being religious. I feel that to perpetuate the hoax of religion is wrong. It's a shame that people are sucked into religion and its odd, ancient beliefs.

      August 11, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
  15. sherry

    I've seen and read about how Walmart treats its employees. If this is Chritian than their god is not my God.

    August 9, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Sally

      My father worked for WalMart in Arkansas at the head office. When he was unable to continue in his position in security/maintainence due to atereosclorsis, the company found a position that was easier for him without all the walking and standing. They could have said "too bad" you no longer qualify, but they didn't.
      When fires raged through San Diego County, it was Walmart that provided water, food, diapers to those taking shelter in Qual Com stadium. Where was Norstrom, Macy's, the mom and pop stores everyone is so concerned with? WalMart has been accused of "pushing" products made in China...have you checked the labes in other store? It's all from China and that id OUR fault for allowing the trades agreements that have crippled American manufacturing.
      Grow up people...

      August 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • jim

      Well, Sally, you completely ignore all the other corporate concerns that contributed to relief operations. You also completely ignore Walmart's continuing discrimination against women and minorities. As for the Chinese goods, claiming everyone else does it is not a moral argument. Your reply is ignorant, and typical of bigots who pick and choose facts to support their argument. WalMart is the major contributor to land fills, and responsible for the destruction of small-town enterprises across America. How many small businesses have been bankrupted by Walmart? How many entrepreneurs lost their life's work because of WalMart's corporate greed? Walmart isn't alone in these practices, but they do excel at it!

      August 9, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • Skip

      Jim, you've got nerve to slap down Sally's comment as ignorant and bigoted. In my view you're the ignorant bigot. Walmart does take care of it's own, and has a demonstrated history of philantropy. You need to pull your narrow-minded viewpoint our of your you-know-what and recognize that Walmart is providing people with low-cost products. To be sure, Walmart isn't the first place I go to to shop, but your obnoxious slam doesn't address the reality of the times.

      August 9, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • Judson

      Sherry, you are correct. There are some people who will obviously believe a PR stunt rather than the reality of their corporate practices.

      August 9, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Chris

      I back Sherry. 'Hard to say who started the China shift or if it was entirely avoidable, but Walmart was no doubt a big player. When you say to Fisher Price, lay off your Americans and make it in China or we won't carry it, you're pretty much leaving your Christianity out of your business etiquette, unless your Caeser is Chinese. Walmart takes care of its own? Check web sites where employees and ex-employees rate companies: Walmart is lies flat as a flounder beneath the sand at the bottom. I've bought three things from Walmart in my entire life; an emergency car battery, and two toilet plungers made in China, replaced by an American plunger that cost' twice as much and works a little too well (made in Moorpark, CA).

      August 9, 2012 at 11:47 pm |
    • nat

      i was shocked, to say the least, to see them even get a honorable mention on this list. i see nothing 'Christian' about that company. so what if they carry a few books that are Christian based, that doesn't make them a moral company. just like standing in the garage won't make you a car. lol

      August 10, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Jason

      In response to Ben's statement, since when is a businesses buying practices from a particular country have anything to do with how religious someone is. Buying from China may indeed be unpatriotic as an American, but there is most certainly nothing immoral about it. You may argue that someone is being robbed of a job here, but that in turn is providing a job elsewhere. Again, this is a bit unpatriotic if you're an American, but it has nothing to do with faith. It has more to do with a business plan.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  16. Ben

    The good thing about Chemosh, God of Moab, is that He is Lord of Heaven and Earth, the One and Only, whether or not you choose to believe in Him.

    August 9, 2012 at 9:14 am |
    • Jason

      So then you promote child sacrifice? (Worship of Chemosh) What an odd post.

      August 11, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  17. dionysusBeer

    @goldhoarder- The only reason anyone is "up in arms" about Chick-fil-A is because they donate to anti-gay hate groups. If they were simply religious I wouldn't care but they are actively denying gays their rights and I, as a consumer, have a right not to buy from them.

    August 9, 2012 at 9:06 am |
  18. Peggy

    Here in Florida, a customer went to Hobby Lobby looking for Hannukah decorations. Not knowing that the company is a very Christian company, she received a shock when told by an employee that that store only cover items for Christian customers. At that time, I hadn't realized that either. Since then, I have not stepped into a Hobby Lobby. As a private company, it certainly has a right to carry the items it chooses. And I have the right to not give them my money.

    August 9, 2012 at 5:11 am |
    • Kevin C

      Ignorant. Did they say they hate Jews? Did they deny the holocaust. I can't believe how thin-skinned, intolerant and simple minded we have become as Americans. If you don't want to shop there, don't go. But to act as this they are some sort of hate-filled, vile company is completely......ignorant.

      PS – I'm not a Christian, not religious. Just tired of everybody getting "offended" at every little perceived slight. Grow up.

      August 11, 2012 at 1:09 pm |
  19. Brian

    "Faithy"? Really, CNN?

    August 9, 2012 at 1:33 am |
  20. goldhoarder

    It isn't a religious company. It is a fast food company. They sell fast food. Chicken sandwiches. Of all the problems in America we get up in arms over a fast food chain. Remarkable.

    August 8, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
    • nat

      @goldhoarder – it's really sad that so many haters come out against fast food company simply because of the owner/ceo being a Christian. if they don't believe the same way & don't want 'their' money going to the company (or to a group that the owner donates to) then they shouldn't eat or shop there. if was shock many people if the truth about ALL the companies that are owned/operated by a Christian were revealed. lol.

      August 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
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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.