My Take: It’s time for Islamophobic evangelicals to choose
September 15th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: It’s time for Islamophobic evangelicals to choose

Editor's Note: Brian D. McLaren  is author of "Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road? Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World" (Jericho Books/Hachette Book Group). 

By Brian McLaren, Special to CNN

I was raised as an evangelical Christian in America, and any discussion of Christian-Jewish-Muslim relations around the world must include the phenomenon of American Islamophobia, for which large sectors of evangelical Christianity in America serve as a greenhouse.

At a time when U.S. embassies are being attacked and when people are getting killed over an offensive, adolescent and puerile film targeting Islam - beyond pathetic in its tawdriness – we must begin to own up to the reality of evangelical Islamaphobia.

Many of my own relatives receive and forward pious-sounding and alarm-bell-ringing e-mails that trumpet (IN LOTS OF CAPITAL LETTERS WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS!) the evils of Islam, that call their fellow evangelicals and charismatics to prayer and “spiritual warfare” against those alleged evils, and that often - truth be told - contain lots of downright lies.

For example, one recent e-mail claimed “Egyptian Christians in Grave Danger as Muslim Brotherhood Crucifies Opponents."  Of course, that claim has been thoroughly debunked, but the sender’s website still (as of Friday) claims that the Muslim Brotherhood has “crucified those opposing" Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy "naked on trees in front of the presidential palace while abusing others.”

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Many sincere and good-hearted evangelicals have never yet had a real Muslim friend, and now they probably never will because their minds have been so prejudiced by Islamophobic broadcasts on so-called Christian television and radio.

Janet Parshall, for example, a popular talk show host on the Moody Radio Network, frequently hosts Walid Shoebat, a Muslim-evangelical convert whose anti-Muslim claims, along with claims about his own biography, are frequently questioned.  John Hagee, a popular televangelist, also hosts Shoebat as an expert on Islam, as does the 700 Club.

Many Christian bookstores that (used to) sell my books, still sell books such as Paul Sperry’s "Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives Have Penetrated Washington" (Thomas Nelson, 2008). In so doing, they fuel conspiracy theories such as the ones U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, promoted earlier this year.

In recent days, we’ve seen how irresponsible Muslim media outlets used the tawdry 13-minute video created by a tiny handful of fringe Christian extremists to create a disgusting caricature of all Christians - and all Americans - in Muslim minds. But too few Americans realize how frequently American Christian media personalities in the U.S. similarly prejudice their hearers’ minds with mirror-image stereotypes of Muslims.

Ambassador's killing shines light on Muslim sensitivities around Prophet Mohammed

Meanwhile, many who are pastors and leaders in evangelicalism hide their heads in the current issue of Christianity Today or World Magazine, acting as if the kinds of people who host Islamophobic sentiments swim in a tiny sidestream, not in the mainstream, of our common heritage. I wish that were true.

The events of this past week, if we let them, could mark a turning point - a hitting bottom, if you will - in the complicity of evangelicalism in Islamophobia. If enough evangelicals watch or try to watch the film trailer that has sparked such outrage in the Middle East, they may move beyond the tipping point.

I tried to watch it, but I couldn’t make it halfway to the 13-minute mark. Everything about it was tawdry, pathetic, even pornographic. All but the most fundamentalist believers from my evangelical Christian tribe who watch that video will be appalled and ashamed to be associated with it.

It is hate speech. It is no different from the anti-Semitic garbage that has been all too common in Western Christian history. It is sub-Christian - beneath the dignity of anyone with a functioning moral compass.

Islamophobic evangelical Christians - and the neo-conservative Catholics and even some Jewish folks who are their unlikely political bedfellows of late - must choose.

Will they press on in their current path, letting Islamophobia spread even further amongst them? Or will they stop, rethink and seek to a more charitable approach to our Muslim neighbors? Will they realize that evangelical religious identity is under assault, not by Shariah law, not by the liberal media, not by secular humanism from the outside, but by forces within the evangelical community that infect that religious identity with hostility?

If I could get one message through to my evangelical friends, it would be this: The greatest threat to evangelicalism is evangelicals who tolerate hate and who promote hate camouflaged as piety.

No one can serve two masters. You can’t serve God and greed, nor can you serve God and fear, nor God and hate.

The broad highway of us-them thinking and the offense-outrage-revenge reaction cycle leads to self-destruction. There is a better way, the way of Christ who, when reviled, did not revile in return, who when insulted, did not insult in return, and who taught his followers to love even those who define themselves as enemies.

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Yes, “they” – the tiny minority of Muslims who turn piety into violence – have big problems of their own. But the way of Christ requires all who claim to be Christians to examine our own eyes for planks before trying to perform first aid on the eyes of others. We must admit that we have our own tiny minority whose message and methods we have not firmly, unitedly and publicly repudiated and rejected.

To choose the way of Christ is not appeasement. It is not being a “sympathizer.”

The way of Christ is a gentle strength that transcends the vicious cycles of offense-outrage-revenge.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Brian D. McLaren.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Islam • Opinion

soundoff (8,500 Responses)
  1. JerPell

    Is Islam a religion or a street name for a gang?....I just don't get their mentality....
    They believe in a comic book prophet with their lives, is life that bad in the Mideast that made up nonsense is the driving factor?

    September 16, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • ReligiousGuy

      You just do not know history of the world do you? We all can see that in your stupid comment.

      September 16, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  2. PaHam

    Thank you Mr. McClaren, well said and overdue!

    Quiet strength does not rule out self defense, nor does it require or approve of indiscriminate violence or, vicious intolerance of others. Short version – people are individuals, not just members of a group, no matter what their religion, and two wrongs still don't make a right.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:30 am |
  3. muslim2012


    September 16, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Gil

      The first frame of that video says it all. Any god that requires you to humble yourself to it by kissing the ground or other similar bowing gestures is a narcissistic b-tard not worth following. Please, do the world a favor and stop following your supersti-tions, and stop pushing them at us. Only cowards bow to "gods". Show some guts and think your religion through. If you have the courage, you can leave it.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • timinfla

      islaaam is a cancer, it is a religion of violence and hate

      September 16, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  4. Atheist.

    Its not a PHOBIA if the threat is real. Islam has become a major movement and its militant faction is not that small.
    The screaming mobs have moral support from a silent majority. Many Muslims would not kill but they would support
    others to do so. If you people think its so bad to think Islam is a peaceful religion the you you would thought the same
    of the Germans Nazis in 1940.
    Look at mister PEACE PRIZE Obama. His Drones have killed 2000 suspected islamic militants in Pakistan alone since 2009.

    Almost 4 years of Robot War on 3 or 4 Islamic nations. These nations are not at war with us yet even Obama sees it neccessary to kill Islamic radicals on site. Is he an Islamaphobe??

    September 16, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Gil

      The drones have been quite effective lately at picking off "leaders", but we still see the mad violence that can be stirred up. The reserves of hate seem deep. Not sure what the solution is. Sometimes I think total disengagement and isolation is the answer, but we can't do without oil yet.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • ReligiousGuy

      You are a fool who cannot distinguish between terrorists and religious fanatics. The terrorists are not religious fanatics. Terrorists are using religion as a cover so idiots like you will not blame them. President Obama is doing the right thing by going into Pakistan.....its the same place form where we got OBL....thanks to Obama who before his election did say that he will go inside Pakistan where terrorists are hiding and find OBL.

      September 16, 2012 at 11:21 am |
  5. tony

    Nothing more evil than organized religion. Where bad leaders get to con otherwise good followers. After all it's organized religion that came up with the false concept of abstract evil. Which of course doesn't exist either.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  6. Within Reason

    The issue here is not that a hand full of bigots produced a hateful movie, but the reaction to it. Just imagine if Cristians responded in this manner every time someone was disrespectful to Christians.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • tony

      But they have in history, over and over.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Ann

      The video and the reaction to it are two separate issues. This article addresses the first, not the second. Just because the response was unjustifiable does not make the video any less hateful and stupid.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • ReligiousGuy

      The reaction is only protests. Intelligence agencies have concluded that the Libiya incident was a pre-planned incident for which they used the cover of protests. No one has been killed yet due to the film.

      September 16, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  7. Mike in SA

    Seriously dude? One single 6 month old short film that is unflattering to Muhammad sends thousands upon thousands of Muslims into a violent rage globally while they execute Christians simply for handing out Bibles and we're the bad guys??? Several times a year we see there are Muslims in every Western nation who would love to kill a bunch of Christians and we're the intolerant and irrationally fearful ones???

    September 16, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • remso

      Thank you for saying that. My sentiments exactly.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • anon

      Yes, thank you. This guy writing this opinion piece is an idiot. Unfortunately, many STILL feel the same way. Why do you suppose that almost no caucasians join this religion? THAT alone is significant. He also says the militant aspect is tiny, however, according to statistics, about 10% of Islam is composed of these radicals. I don't see 10% of a religion of 1 billion being all that tiny, do you?

      When are people going to pull their heads out of their butts and realize that YES, it is, or is soon going to be a war against Islam itself?

      Also, why do morons like Tony like to bring up violence committed by Christianity in the name of Christianity that happened CENTURIES ago? When Christianity was still in it's infancy stage no doubt.?

      September 16, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Ann

      Can't you both be intolerant and irrationally fearful? I am not equating evangelical islamophobia with the horrific violence that occurred this week, but that doesn't mean that people behind this video and their supporters should be off the hook in the court of public opinion. I for one am perfectly comfortable condemning both groups for their hateful behavior.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  8. Shelle

    I think the evangelicals are responsible for plenty of wrongdoing and perpetration of greed, judgement, even hate, all while disguising it as love. "Hate the sin, love the sinner," they say but it's pretty tough to see where the hatred of one ends and the love begins. However, the extreme difference between someone who says many hurtful things based on differing beliefs and one who kills based on differing beliefs, is so great that they are not even worth comparing. The more extreme Muslims (and the number isn't "tiny," people are murdered in the name of the law in some of these countries) don't care if the evangelicals like them or not; they still want the evangelicals dead. The PC thing in America has been to get knocked down and figure out why it's your fault. This is no one's fault but those who committed these violent, murderous acts. I don't care how offensive or ridiculous the movie (I couldn't even get through two minutes of it); that never gives the right for this violence. Their own government called on the US to prosecute those who had made the video. In America, we have freedom of speech. We might not like the content, but many people have died to defend their right to say it.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  9. wang

    Just another apology monkey

    September 16, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  10. muslim2012


    September 16, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Gil

      That's really bad news, and just shows how gullible people are. Most of those same sheeple probably believed in some other supersti-tion before this. Fools.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • anon

      I don't see any caucasians in this group. I see quite a few lighter skinned folks of arab descent, no doubt because the weather in Germany tends to be less sunny then that of the middle east. But no blond hair blue eyes. There is definitely something amiss about a religion that polarizes the races so drastically.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Landon

      No wonder this network has such poor ratings. The bias is in the story selection. Right now Islamic anti-american protests are rocking american embassies in Africa, damage is being done, and Americans have died. And CNN is busy trying to make Islamists look like victims. It's the most basic of basic democratic politics. When they don't want you to see the truth, they invent a victim's narrative. In this case, it's the big bad Christians making life miserable for muslims. The goal is to make muslims look like victims which makes them seem less culpable for their actions. Wow...Front page and center all week has been Islam victim stories. Bias obvious?

      September 16, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  11. Carter

    Brian – Good article. Thoughtful, insightful and based in true Christian ideals.

    Sadly, I think the comments are showing that it may be too late. So many are consumed by anger and hate and ignorance. Judging millions of good people based on the actions of a few.

    The actions of violent protestors are deplorable in every way, and they should be punished. However, there must be some level of understanding that there is historical and geo-political context for the protests which make them more understandable. NOT acceptable, but understandable.

    As Christians we must deplore and repudiate acts of violence, but as Christians we must also do our best to understand and support our Muslim brothers and sisters who are promoting piece. To do anything less, to generalize all Muslims as evil, would make us no better than the protestors, and we truly do not have any excuse for such ignorance.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Disgusted person

      Brian McLaren is in denial. He is talking like an experienced person and he is not?. I am a Christian who lived in Egypt until 23 years of age, then I immigrated to the US. Christians are being persecuted in Egypt and also being discriminated against in colleges, jobs applications, or simple thing like obtaining a driver license,, harassed when walking or driving to church,
      kidnapping their children in Upper Egypt, forcing in converting into Islam, rapping girls and use the shame to get being slave wives to the Muslims –Imams, forcing to leaving their homes and burning down their livelihoods, bombing churches.
      Government issued ID’s, or any certificates indicate religion. The moderate Muslims are the ones who do practice fully Islam. However, practicing Islam fully mandates hating non-believers and killing them. This is the harsh realty of Islam. Brian :stop talking as you know something about this because you are an ignorant about the treatment of non-Muslims in Egypt and in all the Middle East countries. Stop rationalizing barbaric actions of Muslims against the Western.. especially the US. It is time to stop aids to the Muslim government in Egypt and supporting them as the current administration is doing. These are simply the expected behaviors of the true Muslims.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Disgusted person

      Tell me..what verse in the Quean promotes peace.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • FredKelly

      Let's say that there was a large radical militant Christian sect based in the US that advocated violence against non-Christians, and actually operated in the Middle East. How would the US government react? How would Christians around the world react? They'd be horrified. The FBI would be kicking in doors, and the group would be universally branded by all denominations as "non-Christian". In fact, there would probably be hundreds of Christian missions dispatched to fix whatever problems they had caused.

      And that's the difference. It's not a phobia. When someone commits violence, while saying that their faith calls them to do it, and the rest do not openly and loudly sanction them, we have to wonder whether the rest are silently complicit.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:48 am |
  12. Gary

    The whole situation is proof that organized (and even disorganized) religion is the bane of human existence. Regardless if the fringe elements are being blamed for sullying the good name and reputation of the masses, the fact that organized religion exists to control the minds of their respective sheep creates the division and friction needed to perpetuate wars and misunderstandings.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  13. Mike Matthew

    I am sick of CNN putting spins to the story about terrorism. Attacks in middle east were planned. While praising the president the talking heads (Fareed Zakaria0 this mornign are missing the fact that US failed to monitor and prevent major attacks. Some one has blood on their hands. I wonder who lobbies CNN.
    All the stories are about the "film" and not about terrorism. CNN thinks otherwise. Film is just an excuse. If it was not this film, it would be something else.
    Terrorists just celebrated 9/11 and CNN-NPR nexus is ignoring the elephant in the room.
    I am not implying that this could have been precented. I am not saying "it is Obama's fault". I do not condone what Gov. Romney said. The real story here is that American medica is avoiding dealing with the real hard core issues. Criticize Islamic world where criticizm is due. Same for evangelists, but don't tell me that Muslims hatred is the result some thing we are doing now. It is simply the nature of fundamentalists of all colors. Muslim fundamentalists may have taken this art to a new level. That is indeed a problem for rest of us.
    I recently heard a program on Christian TV station about evil of meditation! At best it was amusing. No one however talked about killing Hindus or non believers.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Freedom

      They are just cowards and they allow themselves to be bullied.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:59 am |
  14. Sam

    You got it wrong buddy. In islamic countries, Isn't it a a crime punishable by death if one converts from Islam to other religion? What about te honor killing your own daughter if she marries a non-muslim man? Your condemnation should start from this. Ethan are we going to stop pampering the Muslim world. Why would Christians take the blame of provoking violence while the islams are doing all these chaos because one person expressed his opening about Islam? Imagine what could happen if Christians imprisoned one for converting from Christianity to Islam?

    September 16, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  15. John

    The problem is that Muslims in general are told not to read their own book, but just to believe it. The minute someone mentions what's in a Quran, they being ignorant of what's in it, they riot and kill several people. How embarrassed will they be, should they ever bother to read a Quran, that so many died, over their own ignorance of what they are told to believe.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • JOeOnTheGo

      actually theres Hundreds of thousands that have it committed to memory in entirety eith millions of others having memorized substantial portions of it. Your opinion is baseless

      September 16, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • John

      Prove it. Make a film showing the bad stuff in the Quran, detail it, and lets see how long you last before all your felllow followers hunt you down, and personally 'thank you very much for the great film'.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • Paul46

      John–excellent comment. I was raised Catholic & was never advised to read the Bible (all through my school years). I was simply told to obey the Church. I abandoned the Church at 16. Years later (20) I picked up the Bible & found it to be utterly beautiful. I also picked up the Koran & decided that if God sent Jesus into the world He also sent Muhammad. I say this because I lived with Muslims for half a year (Indonesia) when I was still an atheist. They seemed like perfect Christians to me.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  16. DavidW0909

    While Mr. McLaren is correct that there is much dislike and mistrust and some outright hatred for Muslims in the Christian community I cannot even begin to stomach my disdain for this guy and this is the first time I have ever read any of his work. Ok, yes, it is true that Muslims and Christians have fought against each other for thousands of years but the author seems to suggest that the Evangelical Christians in this country just got back from the Crusades. What a complete piece of tripe this guy is. Do I see Christians breeching the walls of the Egyptian and Yemenese Consultates and burning their flag and murdering their Ambassador? Do I see Christians strapping bombs to themselves and getting on a bus? When was the last time a Christian hijacked an jumbo-jet and crashed into the side of a building with babies on board? I always try to be kind and gracious to every person who is a recent immigrant or visitor to this country. Some are friendly and curious, some are cynical and you can see the hatred in their face. Does anyone in this country really think that the hatred on display by these Muslims is limited to only Christians? Do you REALLY think that Christians are as dangerous as Muslim radicals? Would you bet your life on it? I'd like to suggest you try the following to prove out your theory. 1. Travel to the deep south and go to a southern Baptist church and see if you come out alive. 2. Travel to the tribal regions of Pakistan and try to enter a Muslim Mosque and see what happens. I just hope they send the rest of your body home from Pakistand with your head so your family can have some closure. I honestly don't think the left is going to stop their hatred until they have all Christians lined up against a wall and shot and then you will be left to deal with the Muslims on your own. Good luck people.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • timinfla

      thank you

      September 16, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • joeskim

      Jesuits Catholics have assasinated world leaders for centuries. From the King of France to Abraham Lincoln, they were even caught red handed attempting to blow up Parliament for which the British have Guy (Guido) Fawkes Day, a day set aside to never forget the Jesuit "Christian" terrorism that was all too familiar in europe. Protestants (Protesting the Catholic/Papal church), however, do fit your description of not corporately engaging in terrorism.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Carter

      Ha! Context, context, context! Dogs and other animals react to what is right in front of them. As humans we should try to look deeper.

      If military from Arab/Muslim nations had spent the last 8 years in the deep south I think things would be different. Do I really need to go on about why it may be SLIGHTLY more dangerous for a Christian in Afghanistan than a Mulsim in Alabama? You do know that Afghanistan was a lovely place to visit (had a solid tourist industry) until the dictators we supported completely destroyed the nation, right?

      All Christians have a really obligation to educate themselves before turning to hate and bigotry.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:38 am |
    • Bill

      Very well put, David. I suggest Brian D. McLaren spend time in the Middle East - perhaps wearing a shirt that says Got Jesus? - to see how much fun it is.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • imuststandup

      What hate is Dr. McLaren speaking of? The only person I hear talking about justifying "an eye for an eye" is you and other commenters. And don't pull that "it's all the lefts' fault for everything" crap– you insult everyone's intelligence that way. No rational person in this world has an "agenda", rational people don't lump offenders into one category, and rational people certainly know the immaturity of pointing the finger at someone saying "well THEY started it!" to justify why it's right to hate and ridicule others.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  17. Disgusted person

    Brian McLaren is in denial. He is talking like an experienced person and he is not?. I am a Christian who lived in Egypt until 23 years of age, then I immigrated to the US. Christians are being persecuted in Egypt and also being discriminated against in colleges, jobs applications, or simple thing like obtaining a driver license,, harassed when walking or driving to church,
    kidnapping their children in Upper Egypt, forcing in converting into Islam, rapping girls and use the shame to get being slave wives to the Muslims –Imams, forcing to leaving their homes and burning down their livelihoods, bombing churches.
    Government issued ID’s, or any certificates indicate religion. The moderate Muslims are the ones who do practice fully Islam. However, practicing Islam fully mandates hating non-believers and killing them. This is the harsh realty of Islam. Brian :stop talking as you know something about this because you are an ignorant about the treatment of non-Muslims in Egypt and in all the Middle East countries. Stop rationalizing barbaric actions of Muslims against the Western.. especially the US. It is time to stop aids to the Muslim government in Egypt and supporting them as the current administration is doing. These are simply the expected behaviors of the true Muslims.

    September 16, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Quebec101

      Can say the same thing about Christians in Lebanon, or in Syria I guess not as they consider them selves as part of the community, during the Nasser regime a lot of christance left to Lebanon and gut the citizenship, yet during the civelwar , most of them participated in that ugly war, unlike Arminians

      September 16, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  18. Dennis

    We watch Muslims all around the world kill innocent people,maim women and force them to marry their rapist,give death sentences to people that leave Islam or are pastors of other faiths,and attack and bomb Christian churches,but we are suppose to keep an open mind? Why aren't Muslim leaders around the world taking out full page adds condemning these actions instead of staying quiet? And do you think Saudi Arabia will ever permit a church to be built in their country?

    September 16, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Carter

      Dennis – you are an idiot and quite evil.

      Do the math over the past 10 years (or 1000 for that matter). Muslims have killed FAR fewer Christians than Christians have killed Muslims. I am a Christian and I can acknowledge this because it is a fact.

      I'm not condoning the actions of islamic radicals, but they win every time a fool like yourself uses their actions to promote hatred against an entire religion. Why can't you see that?

      September 16, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  19. us_1776

    Religion is the worst thing that ever happened to the human race.


    September 16, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • real american

      hope you're ready for your meeting with your Creator !

      September 16, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • anon

      No let's be specific here; ISLAM is the worst thing that has happened to the human race. Unlike Islam, Christianity has evolved over time, matured, and no longer takes part in the activities of centuries past that folks like you like to constantly bring up. (Since you have so little modern material to bring up)

      I can name so many ways that church, and Christianity are different and less violent, but tell me, in what ways is Islam any different or less violent then it was during the crusades? Or during the witch burnings?

      Christianity, Hindus, Buddhists, Seiks..........All of these put together don't cause the amount of violence and barbarity in one decade that Islam causes over just ONE weekend.

      September 16, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  20. Happytobehere

    How come since I last posted a comment, refresh has taken the number of responses from 1210 to 1259 and yet I see no new comments displayed for anyone.....

    September 16, 2012 at 10:24 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.