October 18th, 2012
11:45 PM ET

Billy Graham buys election ads after Romney meeting

By Eric Marrapodi CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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Washington (CNN) - The most famous and revered pastor in America, Billy Graham, is calling on voters to cast a ballot for their faith in full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and other newspapers.

Graham's picture appears prominently in the ads, next to copy that reads, "As I approach my 94th birthday, I realize this election could be my last."

It continues, "I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman. Vote for biblical values this November 6, and pray with me that America will remain one nation under God."

The ad hit the prominent papers Wednesday and Thursday, and could hit a dozen more newspapers, a week after the famed evangelist met with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney at Graham's Montreat, North Carolina, home and less than a month after his son Franklin Graham issued a full-throated endorsement of Romney in a USA Today opinion piece.

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Shortly after the meeting with the Grahams and Romney, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association scrubbed prior references to Mormonism as a cult from its website because, the association said, "we do not wish to participate in a theological debate about something that has become politicized during this campaign."

Romney is a longtime member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Last week's meeting between Romney and Graham was their first.

After the 30-minute sit-down in Montreat, just outside Asheville, Romney campaign spokesman Rick Gorka told reporters that Billy Graham led a prayer for the Romneys, saying "I'll do all I can to help you. And you can quote me on that."

The evangelist, who has been called America's pastor and has prayed with every American president since Harry Truman, said in a statement following the meeting that "it was a privilege to pray with Gov. Romney, for his family and our country."

Graham met with President Barack Obama in 2010 and with Sen. John McCain when he was the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in 2008.

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The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association said the new ads were paid for by "friends who support the ministry" and that no general ministry funds were used.

"The ads intentionally do not mention any candidate, political party, or contest, urging instead for readers to cast votes for candidates, at all levels, based on their support for biblical values," the group said in a statement.

Billy Graham's long-time personal spokesman, A. Larry Ross, said of the ads, “[Graham] is challenging citizens, particularly the faith community, on how to vote, rather than for whom to vote.”

Ross said the 93-year-old is still active with the ministry, though not necessarily with the day-to-day operations. In this case, he said Graham was consulted about the ad and signed off on it.

"This ad is consistent with both the mission of the BGEA and Billy Graham's personal methodology to diligently and consistently remain politically neutral and nonpartisan throughout his public ministry," Ross said.

"Against the backdrop of moral decline and a cultural shift in our nation that reflects timely issues, Mr. Graham's quotation in the ad is an extension of his faithful preaching of a timeless message and strong stand on biblical values for more than six decades."

The campaign also includes bulletin inserts and posters of the ad for churches to download and distribute.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 2012 Election • Leaders • Politics

soundoff (2,816 Responses)
  1. DaveC

    This situation isn't about God, religion or anything related to that. This is the misguided rantings of a guy who assumes he has some semblance of relevance in the world anymore to any political process (when he should not have had any to begin with). This is what is wrong with the republican party today and the reason I abandoned it after the first George Bush. The party just cannot separate themselves from religion and right wing nuts. Billy Graham's son preaches hate all the time about the muslim faith and no one calls him on it. The Graham family should all be ashamed of themselves.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  2. ItiahPundit - NY10920

    I am so disappointed that Billy Graham would rather promote a Mormon over a man who is a Christian – I wonder how much they are getting to help promote this cult...This decision has truly saddened me – Our President is tolerant of all people – which is precisely what Jesus wants us to do – love our neighbors. As a Born-Again Christian, I am deeply hurt by Mr. Graham's action – Suffice to say, it does not change my vote in any way. I WILL NOT VOTE FOR A MORMON – PERIOD – END OF STORY. I worship Christ, not Billy Graham or the evangelical right wingers.

    For all my fellow Christians who are just as disappointed with MR. Graham's decision as I am, let us look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.

    October 22, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  3. "J.R."

    ... Everything is for sale in America its our Achilles' heel...

    October 22, 2012 at 3:17 am |
  4. Rick

    I don't think God gives a Rat's Ass about American Politics. If he did, we would have never had to suffer the 2 terms of George W. Bush.

    October 22, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • Carolina

      Agree. The Church Lady would say: "How speeeeeecial!"

      October 22, 2012 at 10:36 am |
  5. gunnard larson

    Christianitys new creed... Let the hungry starve, ignore the widow, neglect the orphan and spend your money to promote warfare and greed. Way to go Billy, you are the ultimate prophet of the new church!

    October 21, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
  6. Mark C in VA

    We all know that Billy didn't buy the ads, it was his son. Nothing like the religious right misleading the sheep...

    October 21, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
    • rayber5901

      Mr. Graham is an old gentleman. This snake, Mitt Romney has struck again. How Billy Graham even spoke with Romney is unbelievable. This is just another event where Romney will say what ever the voting public wants to hear. He doesn't even worship Christ . He worships a modern man. HE LIES.. Romney FLIPs flops constantly. SELECTED vp/

      October 22, 2012 at 1:33 am |
  7. Patrick

    When the Church accepts the false doctrine that all three Christian creeds refute, then it is the apostate church.

    October 21, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  8. Patrick


    October 21, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  9. andy everett

    God will be pleased Graham supports the candidate of more war, death, and destruction; the candidate who supported the Vietnam war but would not put his own life on the line; the candidate who would rather build more insturments of war then build up the poor in America; the candidate who surely prays to the God of hate when he thinks he prays to God of love; the candidate who lies and made his fortune via vulture capitalism; the candidate who has no soul.

    Romney surely prays to the God of destruction and this is a man Doctor Graham supports. God may forgive Doctor Graham.

    October 21, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Rob Noll

      What I always loved about Billy Graham was that he stuck on his message. Now even he has compromised and violated his own principles of "knowing nothing among men save Christ Crucified" . I forgive him .... it must be age degeneration but it is a sad day and a waste.

      October 21, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
  10. dezep

    So Billy Graham suddenly believes that the Mormon Church is no longer a cult, and this after 70 years of stating they were the church of satan. Well I think Mr Graham and son need a very harsh reality check about Mormonism and its fanatical Temple worship behind closed doors. Here it is, the abomination of the secret Mormon Temple ceremonies in all of its acutely disturbing and cultish glory:-

    October 21, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Edward Larson

      The temple endowment ceremony is about 2 hours long, but your video is only a little less than 8 minutes and not all of it is about the endowment. Why not show the whole ceremony? The answer is simple, if you show the whole ceremony then the context of what was shown would be known to the viewer and that would ruin the purpose of your video.

      The truth is a powerful weapon but so is a half-truth. Your video is a half-truth at best.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
  11. Mark H

    to KRISTY:

    You have missed the point. This is about doctrine, correct faith, not whether someone behaves well. And this is not a argument over who is saved, I'll leave that up to God. No one is saying that many Mormons do not live good moral lives, many do, so do many Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, and even Scientologists, but they are not Christians. Again, this isn't about the one true church or being judgmental, it's about what defines Christian orthodoxy.

    Christianity is label, but one that is defining, it states adherence to orthodoxy, orthodoxy that was defined by a Roman church in the first several centuries, but orthodoxy none-the-less.

    Example: A chair is a chair because we associate "chair" properties with it. While I can sit on a bed everyone would know a bed is not a chair. Christianity typically is defined by ascent to the Creed established 1600 years ago. And yes the Creed(s) as there were multiple gradually became more and more specific to counter heresies until we ended up with the Nicene/Constantinople Creed, which all Christians either say at church every Sunday or simply agree with it (whether they realize it or not). Trust me, all Catholics, Methodist, Lutherans, Reform, Episcopal, Orthodox, Evangelicals, and even the store front non-demoninational Christian church in a strip-mall can argue all day about petty details, but at the end of the day their concept of God and who Jesus is within the Trinity is the same. First line of the Creed, "We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of all things visible and invisible." Mormons couldn't even get past that first line; they would disagree with it. Why? Lots of gods and the god of this world according to Mormonism didn't make everything – these are true LDS doctrines, I'm a theology student, I've studied both Christianity and Mormonism. Mitt Romney wouldn't know the Christian Jesus if he tapped him on the shoulder. Mormonism is a form of "henotheism," which believes in the existence of countless gods, but worships only one of them. Mormonism hold to the doctrine of "Eternal Progression" that believes Mormon men in good standing with the LDS Church are literally progressing to godhood; they will become gods themselves. Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are "Monotheistic," and believe in the existence of one and only one god. Now does Mormonism sound like Christianity to you? I'm not Mormon, but imagine what would happen if I "called myself Mormon" and tried to enter the Mormon Temple. The Mormons would say "you can't come in, you're not LDS, we have no record of you on our rolls." The reason Mormonism wants to be under the Christian umbrella so badly is that if anyone knew what they really believed people would be a bit shocked.

    Check out the articles here:


    October 21, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Jonah

      Mark, the term Christian means: Christian:
      adj. Professing belief in Jesus as Christ or following the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
      adj. Relating to or derived from Jesus or Jesus's teachings.
      adj. Manifesting the qualities or spirit of Jesus; Christlike.
      adj. Relating to or characteristic of Christianity or its adherents.
      adj. Showing a loving concern for others; humane.
      n. One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
      n. One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.

      It does not specifically relate to just evangelicals or protestants. You seem to be hijacking the word.

      October 21, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • End Religion

      @mark: "This is about doctrine, correct faith, not whether someone behaves well. ... Again, this isn't about the one true church or being judgmental."

      So which is it? Is your point about your "one true correct" delusion, or isn't it? You are judging Mormons as un-Christian, which is supposedly god's job after death. Why the arrogance? Why challenge god's authority in such a way?

      "Christianity is label, but one that is defining, it states adherence to orthodoxy, orthodoxy that was defined by a Roman church in the first several centuries, but orthodoxy none-the-less."

      Do you work for Webster or maybe Dictionary.com? You've redefined Christianity the way you like it for purposes that suit your argument.

      "Example: A chair is a chair because we associate "chair" properties with it. While I can sit on a bed everyone would know a bed is not a chair."

      Amazon.com is full of them. Care to shop?

      "Christianity typically is defined"

      There is no typical definition unless it comes from a secular dictionary.

      "Trust me"

      The hallmark of any good car salesman...

      "I've studied both Christianity and Mormonism."

      I didn't go to a madrasa like you so I don't know as much theology. Is this site correct about the existence of other Christian denominations who do not believe the Trinity?

      – Arianism (4th century)
      – Some Radical Reformers (16th century), such as Michael Servetus
      – Jehovah's Witnesses
      – Mormonism
      – Unitarianism

      "Mormonism is a form of "henotheism," which believes in the existence of countless gods, but worships only one of them."

      Henotheism is one of the reasons for the Protestant Reformation. They felt that Christianity's veneration of saints was indistinguishable from the worship of multiple gods. So Protestants disrespected the Christian belief in, for example, the worship of Mary and other "non-god" angels, demons and saints, for the same reasons you as a Chrisitan want people to disrespect Romney.

      Some Christians worship multiple gods, they just get away with it by calling it "veneration." Your beliefs are just as crazy and incorrect as anyone else's. You simply can't see through the purple haze of your fervor.

      "Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are "Monotheistic," and believe in the existence of one and only one god."

      That's the Cliff Notes version. We understand that isn't a fact but religion has never let facts get in the way of beliefs so why start now? Ramble on...

      "Now does Mormonism sound like Christianity to you?"

      Yes, Mormonism and Christianity do sound like slightly different recipes for one huge delusional dish called religion. One calls for basil instead of oregano, that's all.

      October 21, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  12. Reality

    For the eyes of the two Graham con men:

    The Apostles' Creed 2012 (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    (References used are available upon request.)

    October 21, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Ben

      A pity you disrespect your ancestors.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:30 am |
  13. Vivian

    Graham has defiled himself. My gifts to his ministry, books, etc. are not for political purposes. I will look for other ways for my gifts to be used.

    October 21, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • Kristy

      You're kidding, right? Have YOU ever had an idea, or preconceived notion which was erroneous, based on "I heard"? I have. Then I met someone who fell under that very category, and realized that my preconceived notions and beliefs were all skewed. Not just that, I found that I could actually love, believe in and support the person I met, all differences aside. I am not a Mormon, but have many clients, friends and an awesome doctor who are, and they are THE finest, cleanest-living, caring people I've met. I'm not sure what you believe he has 'sold out' on, but I assure you, a TRUE man of God who has stuck to his principle for nearly a century has merely changed his mind, not 'sold out'. If I didn't know better, I'd say you were being just a touch JUDGMENTAL.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Lynn

      How has he defiled himself or Biblical principles? He has not. The ad doesn't promote any man. It does promote The Word of God. If all you did was donate monies, you didn't and haven't done enough.... For God. He desires our faithfulness. God doesn't need any material thing.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Nicholas

      Yes, he certainly has. A long time ago.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:26 am |
    • Butter

      I am so disappointed in Billy Graham, and I feel bad because I supported him for years and years. Now it turns out he is just another money grubber hiding behind the name of Jesus.
      Billy's son, Franklin, is well known as a right wing nut, endorsing Donald Trump (!) for President, and hanging out with Sarah Palin.
      But Billy....looks like he would rather rather have a member of a cult with a bloody and violent history than a President who cares about the poor and underprivileged.
      What a shame! Like Joe Paterno, his legacy will be tarnished at the end of his career. the truth hurts, but it's the truth, nonetheless.

      October 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
    • bairkus

      I am a little surprised at your reaction. Certainly the article clearly states that Mr Grahams advertising was funded by contributions that came from outside his organizations. Certainly the article also states that his advertising names no party and no candidate.
      And I feel certain you have recognized that Mr Graham supports all of our Presidents.

      Alas, all ministers are defiled by being human, and defile themselves more by being responsible members of the body politic.

      For him to have defiled himself in your judgement he must believe something you do not, eh?

      October 21, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  14. David Johnson

    People in this country are sheep. The candidates get to choose the topics rather than the people. We have to accept whatever answers they want to give, and we must pretend that religion doesn't influence the system as much as it really does. This is the crap that makes this country persist with issues that could be easily solved if our system was similar to a democracy. Instead, we have the largest corporate funded propaganda in the world for elections. If our country ever looked like a democracy, it sure doesn't look that way anymore. Free markets have found their way into our elections, and the battle is not between different ideologies of the masses, but different business plans with each shareholder betting on their horse. Abortions, gay rights, and all of these other non-issues for the rest of the year are juxtaposed with much larger global issues and given the same relevance. So let Billy Graham, Exxon Mobil, Philip Morris, Wal-Mart and all the others decide the issues for you, while the bottom falls out of the middle class and the worker's rights our fathers fought so hard are relinquished to our corporate overlords. Blame the teachers and the unions while the billionaires go blame free.

    October 21, 2012 at 6:38 am |
    • Errol Neal

      You certainly get an amen from me on this one!

      October 21, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • Annie

      Great post! You have summed up our failed political system in one short paragraph.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:39 pm |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    October 21, 2012 at 6:18 am |
    • Imagine No Religion

      So, have you ever threatened YOUR children with eternal dam nation? I haven't, but I'll bet you have!

      Prayer does nothing.

      I challenge you to take the George Carlin Prayer Test. Pray to your imaginary god friend for a month, then pray to Joe Pesci for a month. You'll find the percentage of prayers answered by god, and those by Mr Pesci, will be about the same (50/50).


      "There ain't no jesus gonna come from the sky.
      Now that I found out, I know I can cry." – John Lennon

      October 21, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      October 21, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • mucopurulent

      Offer your prayers that I can flip a coin and get 10 consecutive heads and I'll be baptized next Sunday. If 10 consecutive heads fail to appear will you publicly denounce your god? Will you put your faith up against probability theory or is faith delegated to images of Jezzus on toast and corn chips now?

      October 22, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • .

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      Taskmaster" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "The Truth" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
      "Anybody know how to read? " degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "ImLook'nUp" degenerates to:
      "Kindness" degenerates to:
      "Lorraine" degenerates to:
      "Chad" degenerates to
      "Bob" degenerates to
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "2357" degenerates to:
      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert"

      This troll is not a christian!..

      October 22, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • 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!_

      October 22, 2012 at 11:01 am |
  16. Kev

    " I have said, Ye are gods; children of the most High". Psalms 82:6 KJV

    October 21, 2012 at 1:11 am |
    • Kev

      "Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father, which is in heaven is perfect". Matthew 5:48 KJV

      October 21, 2012 at 1:18 am |
    • (more stories from Gullible's Travels)
      October 21, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • End Religion

      whoever is most high here, please don't bogart the apple core.

      October 21, 2012 at 1:45 am |
  17. Kev

    Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock": Matthew 7:24 KJV

    October 21, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • End Religion

      The power of christ compels you!


      October 21, 2012 at 1:51 am |
    • Kristy

      AMEN, Kev!!!

      October 21, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  18. Disappointed

    Two words SELL OUT! Disappointing to see such a fine evangelical career disintegrate into a loss of faith and belief. All that hard work Billy you have now sold for 30 pieces of silver....but it is a clear and definitive truth that man always disappoints. Christianity is a true relationship with Jesus, saved by grace and spiritually amd morally led by the one true book the BIBLE.

    October 21, 2012 at 12:46 am |
    • proverbialdesigns

      I would have to agree with you. However, I believe the position that Rev. Graham has taken, has more to do with his hateful son’s manipulation than Rev. Graham changing his beliefs. Franklin Graham will ultimately have to answer for USING his 94 year-old father to promote his hateful rhetoric, question the President's faith, and "endorse" a man who has consistently lied and bullied his way to success on the backs of the middle class.

      October 21, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Ben

      Clearly you didn't pay attention to what Billy said. A voter following his plea cannot vote for Romney.

      October 21, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  19. Kev

    " Even so Faith, if it hath not works is dead, being alone". James 2:17 KJV

    October 21, 2012 at 12:39 am |
  20. Mark H

    Christianity is fundamentally about what you BELIEVE, to paraphrase Paul, you are saved by your faith alone.. and a correct faith in that. I am so disappointed Graham has abandoned traditional Christianity. Maybe he's going senile and simply doesn't recall what Mormons believe and how it is at extreme odds with the faith of Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Reform churches, etc. I think the Christian God would not be so accepting knowing he had to be one of countless gods in the Mormon pantheon. Remember their Jesus isn't God, and God the Father is just god of this world... lots of other gods and Mitt Romney and all male mormons believe they are in the process (Eternal Progression) of becoming gods themselves. Sound like orthodox Christianity? It's nothing like it! Yet it they stick "Jesus" in the name of their church they can call themselves Christians. It's correct FAITH, not a just a name.


    October 20, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Kristy

      Mark H. you are the one putting God in a box – limiting His unlimited love for us all! These are ppl who carry out His work diligently, tirelessly, and without remorse. Have they been led into a different system adjacent to the Bible? Yes, and while not a Mormon, I have read this book, which takes NOTHING away from the Original Text. And how do YOU know your Bible is the Original? You don't, you take it on Faith, just as do they. God didn't make the different belief systems, Man did that. I promise you, God believes in and love EVERYONE He has created equally, and yes, that includes *gasp* the Mormons.
      It's sort of like those children of the illegals who were born and raised, have kids of their own here in the U.S.; they were born into this, and it is what they know. I cannot IMAGINE a God, who professes LOVE everlasting to us, condemning clean, loving and giving folks who believe in Him. We are ALL one children UNDER God. And MY Bible says, "Judge not, lest ye be judged". I believe Doctor Graham is loving and accepting, learning The Man, not the Religion, is worthy for his endorsement. It is YOU from whom I see judgement.

      October 21, 2012 at 9:28 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.