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July 31st, 2012
04:15 PM ET

Black pastors group launches anti-Obama campaign around gay marriage

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – A group of conservative black pastors are responding to President Barack Obama’s support of same-sex marriage with what they say will be a national campaign aimed at rallying black Americans to rethink their overwhelming support of the President, though the group’s leader is offering few specifics about the effort.

The Rev. Williams Owens, who is president and founder of the Coalition of African-Americans Pastors and the leader of the campaign, has highlighted opposition to same-sex marriage among African-Americans. He calls this campaign “an effort to save the family.”

“The time has come for a broad-based assault against the powers that be that want to change our culture to one of men marrying men and women marrying women,” said Owens, in an interview Tuesday after the launch event at the National Press Club. “I am ashamed that the first black president chose this road, a disgraceful road.”

At the press conference, Owens was joined by five other black regional pastors and said there were 3,742 African-American pastors on board for the anti-Obama campaign.

When asked at the press conference for specifics about the campaign – funding, planned events and goals – Owens said only that the group’s first fundraiser will be on August 16 in Memphis, Tennessee. But Owens insisted that “we are going to go nationwide with our agenda just like the president has gone to Hollywood.”

In May, Obama announced on ABC News that he thought “same sex couples should be able to get married." The president had previously said that he opposed gay marriage, but said in May that his views were personal and did not represent a policy change.

In a fiery Tuesday press conference at the press club, Owens said Obama was taking the black vote for granted and decried the idea of similarities between the gay rights movement and the civil rights movement, an assertion made by the NAACP following Obama’s same-sex marriage support.

Owens has long been an opponent of gay marriage and consults with the National Organization for Marriage as a liaison to the black churches.

At the press conference, Owens said that Obama’s support of same-sex marriage tantamount to supporting child molestation.

“If you watch the men who have been caught having sex with little boys, you will note that all of them will say that they were molested as a child…” Owens said. “For the president to condone this type of thing is irresponsible.”

Owens later walked about those comments back, saying he didn’t think the president was condoning molestation.

Earlier this year, memos obtained by The Human Rights Campaign in a Maine civil actions suit revealed that NOM aims at making gay marriage a wedge issued “between gays and blacks,” according to the released confidential plans.

“The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks - two key Democratic constituencies," one NOM memo states. In light of the release, Brian Brown, president of NOM, said that he is proud of the group’s “strong record” on minority partnerships.

A Pew Research Center poll conducted in April found that 49% of African-Americans oppose legalized same-sex marriage, compared with 39% who support it. But that shows a softening on the position in recent years; In 2008, only 26% of blacks were in favor of same sex marriage, according to the same Pew poll.

At the same time, black voters overwhelmingly supported Obama in 2008, while more recent polling shows a nearly equal level of support for the president’s 2012 reelection.

In a Public Religion Research Institute poll released last week, 18% of black Americans surveyed said they see same-sex marriage a “critical issue,” putting it behind the economy, education, deficit, a growing wealth gap and immigration.

According to Robert P. Jones, the CEO of the polling company, there is no evidence that same-sex marriage is something African-Americans will bring to the ballot box in November.

“Among African-Americans, I think same-sex marriage will be a nonissue in the election,” Jones told CNN. “We just have no evidence what so ever in slippage of support for Obama, even after his announcement in support of same sex marriage.”

The reaction of black pastors to the president’s support for gay marriage has been as varied as their congregations, ranging from condemnation to congratulations.

"We may disagree with our president on this one issue," Rev. Wallace Charles Smith said from the pulpit of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington on the Sunday after Obama announced his support for legalized gay unions. "But we will keep him lifted up in prayer. ... pray for President Barack Obama."

At the Tuesday press conference, Owens questioned Obama’s commitment to black Americans, stating that the president is just “half-black, half-white” and has long “ignored the black press.”

He is “ignoring the people that put him in the White House,” Owens said.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Black issues • Obama • Pastors • Politics • Race • Same-sex marriage

soundoff (1,434 Responses)
  1. bill

    Considering that almost 70% of black children born in this country are born out of wedlock, maybe these black pastors should worry about straight couples first. I'm more concerned about kids growing up without any father than kids growing up with two loving fathers.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • Only one true God

      Mr. Bill you are right.

      August 2, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  2. Oolagram

    Rickinmo,

    Check your history again. It was the Dixie-crats that voted against civil rights legislation!!!

    August 1, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • LJoe

      Every single piece of federal civil rights legislation had Democrats as the primary opponents. The 13th, 14th and 15th amendements (freedom, citizenship and voting rights) were all Republican amendments and almost universally opposed by Democrats. Even the 1960s civil rights bills received the most opposition from Democrats.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Dems and Repblicans have switched sides since then. LBJ was the turning point.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • LJoe

      No, Republicans believe in equality. They have never opposed civil rights legislation. Democrats believe in racial classifications and set asides. They don't think blacks are capable of competing with whites intellectually.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  3. Winston

    So why are all of you so afraid of Christianity? Why are you so vehement in your denial? Afraid you'll be held accountable?

    August 1, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      it's not about being afraid. it's about being intelligent enough to recognize trouble-makers when we see them.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:29 am |
  4. Jim40

    Gay marriage is an abomination. This has nothing to do with equal rights but this has everything to do with legitimizing perversion. We have to unite and fight these deviants who are hellbent on destroying this country's moral compass. If we allow gay marriage then incestual marriages and other weird deviant groups will be able to marry too.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      Jim40, if you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They are the ones who keep having gay babies.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • brickyardjimmy

      Even you?

      August 1, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • brickyardjimmy

      Did you know that Mitt Rommell only has one pair of sacred underwear that he never takes off? Maybe you're on to something. Because they let him get married.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • save the world and slap some sense into a christard today

      uh oh – we've awoken Carrie's grand uncle...

      August 1, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Yet another religious nut heard from.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  5. neil

    Please help save these jobs
    http://www.indiegogo.com/save-our-jobs
    If you can do anything, please do.
    Thank You

    August 1, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Spam.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      flag

      August 1, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Who would have thought that black pastors would have become the biggest oreos? Romney believes that black skin is a curse from God. No self-respecting black person is going to vote for that marshmallow.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • t3chn0ph0b3

      Sheesh! How offensive do I have to get to get this comment flagged?!?

      August 1, 2012 at 12:39 am |
    • LinCA

      @t3chn0ph0b3

      You said, "Sheesh! How offensive do I have to get to get this comment flagged?!?"
      You can get as fucking offensive as you like. Nobody gives a shit.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:42 am |
  6. czar33

    From a single straiht man. Equal right for all! If they want to live like that, they will pay in the end. At least they work, Do you know a stay-at home KEPT women that never paid a penny into Social Security gets to collect half the amount of what her husband collects and the husband did not pay a penny more than the single man that made the same amoount of money. So let the gays alone, give them equal rights.
    I can tell you about equal rights and how my heart was broken. I was raised not to see people in their skin, but to see them in their hearts, well anyway as a baby and child we would go shopping at a store 12 miles away, and I always loved the "eleavator lady" she was so kind to me, she was like another grandma.
    Then came the riots, I could not understand why we couldn't see our friend, finally one day, I said to my Mom that I was going to see my friend and would walk there, well over 4 years pased, we went to the store and pushed the button for the eleavator, the doors open and out came my friend and she was crying when she saw me and Mom, then we were all crying, thats how the riots broke my heart. As I got older, I found out what was going on. I am 52 years old and I still dream about the riots going on and the war in vitinam, I can still see them comming from the black & white TV.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:07 am |
  7. GOD PARTICLE UK Dave

    BAD NEWS ...
    Censorship of Love burns in Hell! 🙂

    August 1, 2012 at 12:06 am |
  8. John

    Why is Chick-fil-A being chastised over the exact same opinion held by Obama just a few short months ago? Hypocritical liberals.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • John

      Because Obama has never supported organizations with his own money that actively deny the same rights that straight people enjoy on a daily basis. Very simple.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:10 am |
  9. steven

    Christians can be as stupid and destructive as fanatic Muslims. I'm so sick of religion, it would almost be worth it to have God come down and destroy this planet just to shove the radical Christian's in the mud.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • Bill P

      steven,

      Be careful what you ask for, as it is often said. Your comment reminds me of the following:

      I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” Rev 6:12-17

      August 1, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • PrettyLin

      It's going to happen...

      August 1, 2012 at 12:26 am |
  10. ChristardMingle.com

    If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They are the ones who keep having gay babies.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • steven

      /claps

      August 1, 2012 at 12:04 am |
    • SciGuy

      They also have adulterous babies and serial killer babies.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:10 am |
  11. t3chn0ph0b3

    Romney represents the uber-rich s@um of the Earth. Exactly how many bl@ck people could he possibly represent, except Creflo?

    August 1, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Tom. Tom, the Piper's Son

      Scum I guess?

      August 1, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • John

      Yet blacks will keep voting for Obama despite the fact that they're actually in worse shape now. If you ask me, the blacks are either racist or stupid.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      John, this country elected B-movie actor Ronald Reagan for two terms who then ran up the largest budget deficit in history and sold arms to Iran. Don't even get me started on his policy regarding HIV/AIDS.

      This country elected a mentally challenged George Bush not once, but twice who increased debt spending over 5 Trillion and oversaw the collapse of the banks. Don't even get me started on Iraq and Katrina.

      If this country will vote for these two dip-sh.its, they will vote for ANYBODY.

      John, it is time to push the GOP, Big Business, Big religion and special interests OUT and take back what is ours. Keep Obama in the white house, fill the seats with Dems. VOTE and don't be afraid to debate with friends and family. The time to be PC is over, it is time to speak out!

      August 1, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • PrettyLin

      I agree. You will have to look really hard to find lack of support of the President in the African-American community- after all look at the Mitt the Twit alternative...the answer is very clear. It also appears in Pew polls nationally that almost minority groups in the country want president Obama to remain in office. The tide in turning clearly tward the President.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • Aaron

      John,

      I surely hope you are suffering from amnesia, because short of you living under a rock you have no excuse for the utter idiocy of your comment.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:13 am |
  12. Aaron

    Yet another example of a group voting against the majority of their interests solely based on a social issue. Congratulations morons, you are the problem with society today. Seriously, and you wonder why most of us atheists consider Christians, as a whole, to be less intelligent. There couldn't be an issue with less impact on their daily lives than this...idiotic.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • Susie

      It s no wonder our country is going down the tubes when people vote solely on thier own selfish short term interests as liberals do. They give no thought to the long term effects of overspending and immoral behavior.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • Nah

      aaron: "Seriously, and you wonder why most of us atheists consider Christians, as a whole, to be less intelligent."

      Lol. The irony in this sentence is pathetic. You chide him - and all Christians - for being "less intelligent", and you based that conclusion on a fallacy.

      "vote against your self interest"

      Ah, right. Because you can never vote based on principle, right and wrong, or normative political ideals.

      Does this mean whites were stupid for fighting against segregation?

      Does it mean white, religious abolitionists were stupid for fighting against slavery?

      Your lack of intelligence is pitiful

      August 1, 2012 at 12:16 am |
  13. Rudedog

    Now I seen everything, KKK and Black pastors agreeing.

    August 1, 2012 at 12:00 am |
  14. MS

    Humans can be rather vile sometimes. It's one thing to disagree on fiscal or some social issues; it's another thing to look at gay people and say "that grosses me out; therefore, they shouldn't have the same rights as me".

    July 31, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • Tom. Tom, the Piper's Son

      MS I count three disconnected truisms in that and nothing to hold them together as a coherent thought. Let's try again. You'll get it.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:05 am |
  15. jeff tartt

    For all the b l a c k people out there that vote for Obama just because he's b l a c k.REMEMBER THIS! How would you like it if W h i t e voters only voted for a person's color?I saw a talk show interview the other night.One of the top B l a c k leaders said that he voted for Obama based on his color and asked others to do the same.How crazy is that? The black community has less than they did have before Obama took office.Just REMEMBER this! OTHER THAN B L A C K voters put Obama in office.So next time you confuse "RACE" with "RACIAL" Think about who you vote for.

    July 31, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • Rudedog

      How about NOT voting for Obama cuz he's a ni I mean Muslim! That ain't racist, HUH!!!!

      August 1, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • John

      Democrats traditionally get the vote. You're an id10t

      August 1, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • Langley Whickersham

      Same goes for whites that only vote for Mitt because he is white. It was not Obama who got us into this mess, it was BUSH! It is Romney who supports the same crap that got the US into this mess. Deregulation of big business and tax cuts for the rich,

      August 1, 2012 at 12:15 am |
    • Fedup

      You should do your research. Majority white men voted and will vote for romney because he is white but you all fail to see and admit that truth. Why is it ok for the whites to vote for romney who blows whichever way the wind blows because he's white but not ok for minorities to vote for PRESIDENT OBAMA. There is no difference.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:19 am |
    • PrettyLin

      Once again...look at Mitt the Twitt. Get real...a social moron and international embarassment to the US as a whole. Where have been lafely? Under a rock? Everyone I know is Republican and we are all having a fit!

      August 1, 2012 at 12:20 am |
  16. HeavenSent.

    You athiests think believing the lies of satan will make you collectively mini-gods. Go ahead and do as the atheists do in this country to ensure the USA goes belly up. I lost a cat in my belly button. You are too blind to see His truth whether I write it in street language or scripture form.

    Amen.

    July 31, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • jeff tartt

      I have to agree with you.In the 50 years I've been on earth,America has kept getting Less GOD on everything.Our country will pay for that.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:01 am |
    • Pat Wright

      You're an idiot.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:03 am |
    • pockets

      Religion is a form of mental illness.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • Tom Paine

      First, there is no Satan. Second, just because I don't believe in the Abrahamic god doesn't mean I think of myself as a god. Do you ever stop to marvel at hoops you jump through to justify your fantasy beliefs?

      August 1, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • HeavenSnot

      We are all in fact gods. We just have not yet unlocked our true potential (and I see that you in particular have a really long way to go before the third enlightenment). It is written. Atheism is good for children and all living things. It is written.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • ciroc2323

      Christianity has played a larger role in the recognition and acceptance of women and minorities than ALL you progressive liberals wrapped together. They have championed freeing the slaves in the South as well as women suffrage whereas atheism has given us champions of oppresion like Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung....among others

      August 1, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • brickyardjimmy

      Why are you mad about all of this? As a true believe, don't you have faith that none of this–atheists, gay people, sinners, non-believers, Mexicans and so forth doesn't matter one bit? If you really believe in Him then you should welcome this coming apocalypse and the end of days because it means you get to go to heaven. Why are you so mad and angry and afraid? Great days are coming, right?

      August 1, 2012 at 12:21 am |
  17. Satan

    silly blacks

    July 31, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • 7Pillars

      silly bigot

      July 31, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Skwisgaar Skwigelf

      Em is afraids of the black mans. I don't wish to talks about it.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • ciroc2323

      Silly hate-mongering bigot.

      Kudos to black pastors and the principled stand.
      President Downgrade could learn a thing or two from these proud men.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:10 am |
    • HeavenSnot

      Skwisgaar – we must meet. I am still waiting to have one of your tasty sandwiches.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:11 am |
    • PrettyLin

      Moron....

      August 1, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Skwisgaar Skwigelf

      @'s HeavenSnot – "Swisgaar – we must meet. I am still waiting to have one of your tasty sandwiches."

      My friend em sorrys to tells you that I did not buys the sandwhiches stuff at the food libraries, I just boughts the alcohols.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:24 am |
  18. ChristardMingle.com

    Sorry Christards, at the end of the day, when the change comes to allow same-s.e.x marriage – and it's coming, don't kid yourself – it will be because people across the country are talking to gay and lesbian co-workers and neighbors, meeting same-s.e.x couples and their kids at Little League games, and working at companies with domestic-partner health plans.

    July 31, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • ciroc2323

      Oh...your crystal ball must be broken. So far, like past predictions of America's accepting the metric system and adoption of soccer as a national pastime because, after all, all the other countries are doing it, we're still waiting for that to happen.

      You can win polls, natural marriage will just keep winning elections.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • JW

      That's messed up,

      August 1, 2012 at 12:16 am |
    • brickyardjimmy

      Natural marriage? You mean how the cave men used to do it? I think you drank a wee bit too much of the red stuff at the last communion.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  19. rickinmo

    Black pastors start an anti-Obama campaign over one issue that has no bearing on their well being or their way of life. Seems a bit short sighted. What about the other hundreds of issues he would agree with them on? Do they actually believe Romney is going to serve their interest on the other issues? Don't think so. There is a lot of ignorance among one issue voters. They don't see the big picture. They buy into a single issue that, in most cases, does not really affect them and lose sight of all the things that would make their lives better. Republicans voted against Civil Rights Legislation and have capitalized on their NO vote since the 1960's. The GOP monopoly of the southern vote resulted from those NO votes. The GOP is against anything that may give minorities an edge. The GOP favors big business at the expense of the poor and middle class. The GOP is against programs designed to act as a safety net for those who find themselves in difficult situations. The GOP voted against Medicare. The GOP just doesn't care about average folks and have proven it consistently. Black pastors should reconsider their position and work to make this country better for everyone. Fighting against rights for gays doesn't help anyone–not even small minded bigots.

    July 31, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • DC1973

      They're not looking at it that way, though. They're Christian. They don't think gays and lesbians deserve human rights because they don't think gays and lesbians are human.

      The irony inherent in that stance is either oblivious to them, or they're willfully ignoring it.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • Rudedog

      Amen!!

      July 31, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • ChristardMingle.com

      Gay marriages should be legal everywhere because I would watch the sh.it out of gay divorce court

      July 31, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • rick

      u r correct. i would also add that i think they already didnt like the prez anyway. there's no way anyone in their right mind would change their mind about voting over one issue like u mentioned. they were already planning to vote against him from the get go. u stated the facts clearly, the repugs don't have any plans for minorities and or poor people black white latino or any other group. so if he came out and said he was gay it wouldn't matter to me. he's for everyone, not just the so called religious zealots. thanks for your accurate assesment of these religious fools.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:05 am |
    • maquignon

      You are absolutely wrong. The GOP is against giving any advantage to anyone. No one's success diminishes anyone else. Obama, the democrats/socialists believe that success comes only at the expense of others – not true. Anyone's success benefits everyone else. Steve Job's success at Apple did not diminish you or me in any way, it benefited us both. That is the difference in the democrats and the republicans. This election has come down to a fight between Socialism and Capitalism. Obama believes that there is a limited amount of wealth and if my wealth increases somebody else has to decrease. IT IS NOT SO. Wake up people. It doesn't matter what color your skin is. It is a question of freedom or enslavement to the government.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:09 am |
    • ciroc2323

      For years Democrats have been having it both ways. They've had a long history of racism (Robert Byrd, Al Gore Sr and Jr, Bull Connor), yet they claim to be the party of civil rights. They've privately treated women abysmally (The Kennedys, Bill Clinton, John Edwards), but claim to be the party of women's rights. And they've gone on the campaign trail saying they do not support gay marriage while they've claimed to be the gay-friendly party. Joe Biden voted for DOMA, you blithering idiot.

      If it wasn't for their double standard, Liberals would have no standards at all.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:13 am |
    • netwallwarrior

      To DC1973,

      That simply isn't true that Christians hate Gays, lesbians or anybody... It's a simple minded way of looking at it. While I agree that many that claim to be Christians have poorly articulated their opposition, it still remains that it's really a play against the God of the Bible. While I oppose discrimination, I'm completely in disagreement with the desire to transform society into this confused state of living. This movement is anti-God pure and simple, and like children that want to have their way they will reap what they sow. I won't go into great detail about why I oppose this re-definition that most civilized societies have accepted as the normal... based on religious and spiritual basis that marriage was between a man and a woman. Even when they erred and chose a polygamous lifestyle it still was a man with multiple wives. While nothing I can say will change a demented, diseased mind state it's a spiritual issue, and will be resolved one day by God himself. To each of us comes a day when we will have to face the creator. It's your thing do what you want to do....as the song goes. But whether you agree or disagree, society clearly is degrading and this measure of social engineering will have it's intended and unintended consequence.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:22 am |
  20. taz111111111

    Blacks will overwhelmingly vote for Obama. For them it's more important to have a black man in the WH then think about issues or their high unemployment. But then again, there's always the monthly welfare check.

    July 31, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • 1crusader

      Mitt Romney has gotten more corporate welfare from the federal gov't for his bailouts and who knows what else, than the average person would get in a lifetime.

      July 31, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • 7Pillars

      another silly little impotent bigot (who can't even get the facts right)

      July 31, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • PAM

      AMEN...TO THE BLACK MAN IN THE WHITEHOUSE. PASTORS KEEP DOING WHAT YOU DO AND LET GOD TAKE CARE OF THE REST. IT IS MORE IMPORTANT TO HAVE BLACK REPRESENTATION IN THE WHIE HOUSW.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:08 am |
    • John

      Mommy needs to take your emotions away again, I see.

      August 1, 2012 at 12:21 am |
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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.