My Take: Six things I don't want to hear after the Sandy Hook massacre
Ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee appeared to blame the Newtown massacre at least partly on the secularization of schools.
December 18th, 2012
12:58 PM ET

My Take: Six things I don't want to hear after the Sandy Hook massacre

Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

(CNN) - There are a lot of things I am sick of hearing after massacres such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Here are six of them:

1. “It was God’s will.”

There may or may not be a God, but if there is, I sure hope he (or she or it) does not go around raising up killers, plying them with semiautomatic weapons, goading them to target practice, encouraging them to plot mass killings and cheering them on as they shoot multiple bullets into screaming 6- and 7-year-old children. Much better to say there is no God or, as Abraham Lincoln did, “The Almighty has his own purposes,” than to flatter ourselves with knowing what those purposes are.

2. “Jesus called the children home.”

I don’t want to hear that Jesus needed 20 more kids in heaven on Friday - that Madeleine Hsu (age 6) or Daniel Barden (age 7) were slain because Jesus couldn't wait to see them join his heavenly choir. Even the most fervent Christians I know want to live out their lives on Earth before going “home” to “glory.” The Hebrew Bible patriarchs rightly wanted long lives. Moses lived to be 120. Abraham was 175 when he died. Madeleine and Daniel deserved more than 6 or 7 years.

3. “After death, there is the resurrection.”

In the Jewish tradition, it is offensive to bring up the afterlife while in the presence of death. Death is tragic, and deaths such as these are unspeakably so. So now is the time for grief, not for pat answers to piercing questions. “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,” says the biblical book of Ecclesiastes, and now is not a time for laughing or dancing or talk of children raised from the dead.

4. “This was God’s judgment.”

After every hurricane or earthquake, someone steps up to a mic to say that “this was God’s judgment” on New Orleans for being too gay or the United States for being too secular. I’m not sure what judgment of God would provoke the killing of 27 innocent women and children, but I certainly don’t want to entertain any theorizing on the question right now. Let’s leave God’s judgment out of this one, OK? Especially if we want to continue to believe God's judgments are "true and righteous altogether" (Psalms 19:9).

5. “This happened because America is too secular.”

Unlike those of us who are shaking their heads trying to figure out what transpired in Newtown, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, an evangelical icon, apparently has it all figured out. We don’t need fewer guns in the hands of killers, he said Friday on Fox News, we need more God in our public schools.

“Should we be so surprised that schools have become such a place of carnage? Because we’ve made it a place where we don’t want to talk about eternity, life, what responsibility means, accountability,” Huckabee said in an astonishing flight of theological and sociological fancy.

Just keep plying people like the killer with Glocks and Sig Sauers. As long as we force Jewish and Buddhist Americans to say Christian prayers, then the violence will magically go away. The logic here is convoluted to the point of absent, leaving me wondering whether what passes for "leadership" in America can sink any lower.

6. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

If ever there has been a more idiotic political slogan, I have yet to hear it. The logical fallacy here is imagining that people are killed either by people or by guns. Come again? Obviously, guns do not kill people on their own. But people do not shoot bullets into people without guns. At Sandy Hook and Aurora and Columbine, people with guns killed people. This is a fact. To pretend it away with slogans is illogical and revolting.

The question now is: Are those of us who have not yet been killed by guns going to allow these massacres to continue unimpeded? Are Americans that callous? Is life here so cheap? I have read the Second Amendment, and I find no mention there of any right to possess any gun more advanced than an 18th-century musket? Do I really have the right to bear a nuclear weapon? Or a rocket-propelled grenade? Then why in God’s name would any U.S. civilian have the right (or the need) to bear a .223-caliber assault rifle made by Bushmaster?

If you believe in a God who is all powerful and all good, then covering up for the Almighty at a time like this is in my view deeply unfaithful. Today is a day to shake your fist at heaven and demand answers, and then to shake it harder when no answers are forthcoming. To do anything else is in my view to diminish the idea of God, and to cheapen faith in the process.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Crime • God • Mike Huckabee • United States • Violence

soundoff (5,447 Responses)
  1. MidWestern

    The first 5 points are OK. Point #6 is typical liberal BS and I am not referring to a Bachelor of Science degree. Nancy Lanza received almost 300K a year in Alimony, but could not bear spend $25.00 for a gun lock or a few thousand for a gun safe. Blame her or her son, not the NRA for that inconvenient truth. Nancy knew her son was disturbed but trained him to become familiar and comfortable with firearms. We all know the rest of the story. Maybe this so-called "Religion Scholar" from B.U. can pontificate on the millions of peple killed in the name of religion while he is sharing his views.

    December 21, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I'm not even going to tackle the finer points of what you're saying here, because you have a massive missunderstanding regarding how reality ties together. Causation is a huge complex web in which each factor – the structure of society, weapons, humans, and millions of other things – all play a role. I suspect your overwhelming desire to attribute blame (a religious heritage) is blinding you to seeing how the world is put together, but the depth of your misunderstanding at to how reality works in huge.

      December 22, 2012 at 10:37 am |
  2. Salero21

    It's sort of an oxymoronic that these atheists flock to faith and religious blogs like this one. They gather here and there to sing their shrill hymns of contempt for those who do not share their fuzzy foolishness. They argue as if they are trying to convince themselves of their asinine grandiloquence. With mean-spiritedness that is a testimony to their defensive postures. They desperately worship their god of this-is-all-there-is. Great fervor is required for unrelenting doubt to be born again and again. These atheists' haters mock, scorn bait and shout down any who profess a dissenting point of view. And yet, they have the audacity to present themselves as the rational ones in the discussions.

    December 21, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • hawaiiguest


      Still haven't found anything relevant to say I see.

      December 21, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • Oso

      I think Salero just exhausted his vocabulary writing that whiny comment.

      December 21, 2012 at 8:59 pm |
  3. AK

    Where did CNN dig up this moron?

    December 21, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • Oso

      Which moron are you referring to? Chad? Robert Brown? Topher? We have so many morons here.............

      December 21, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
  4. beardediris

    Thank you for what you said about Mike Huckabee's comments. I totally agree with you. Forcing people to adhere to a religion they don't agree with or subscribe too is ridiculous and unfair. If our forefathers wanted to establish Christianity as the religion of the United States, they could have done so with massive support from their contemporary 1787 Americans, the large majority of whom went to church regularly. They chose not to, and chose instead to protect ALL religions and gave us the same rights given to us by God–free will and freedom of choice. To believe or not to believe. And what does Gov. Huckabee have to say about the shootings and violent behaviors in churches??? Sorry, Mr. Huckabee, but this is America, a republic, not a theocracy. You want a place where religion is law? Go to the Middle East.

    December 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  5. toxic

    A gun is a block of metal that will sit on a table for an eternity until someone picks the thing up to use it. The gun is not some magical force that corrupts; evil resides in people stephen not the gun.

    December 21, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Same thing can be said about an atomic bomb. Seems we should all be able to go purchase one, then.

      December 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • worktolive

      Absolutely correct. How can people be so blind to this fact. It's the evil in men that want to use a gun, knife, car or any other object to kill. I don't care if the editor of this article wants to hear it or not.

      December 21, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • worktolive

      Absolutely correct.

      December 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • small 'c' christian

      Toxic- quite right, but anyone who would leave a loaded gun on their kitchen table surely has more problems than he/she knows. And if the gun is NOT "to hand", then the very human temptation to settle an argument with it no longer is part of the equation.

      December 21, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • small 'c' christian

      People have free will, but we also have tempers. Some can be trusted to keep their temper in check during times of stress, some simply cannot. So why have the temptation available in the first place? If you must have a gun, lock it away properly in a gun safe, under a triggerguard lock and keep the bullets seperately stored in a second llocked box. Then, when the flash of temper arises, instead of simply grabbing and blasting, the steps you need to go through to get to both weapon and ammo should give almost anyone enough time for it to begin to fade....

      December 21, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • toxic

      Moby Schtick – the atom can bring life to 100,000 households or take it; the choice is at the hands of the person on the button.

      December 21, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Oso

      So then you should have no problem considering a gun as a piece of equipment that requires training to handle safely and license only those who have gun safety training. And each gun type should require a separate license endorsement.
      If you want to own a gun, you should demonstrate to the state that you know how to follow the rules of the "road".

      December 21, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
    • toxic

      Oso – yes I am in favor of regulation, including training, safety education and licensure requirements, but I am not in favor of prohibition.

      December 21, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • Oso

      Prohibition is a boogyman scare tactic to fool you into freaking out. Nobody but a few nuts will support such a ridiculous idea.
      There are so many guns and so many ways to craft a firearm, that trying to prohibit them would be like trying to prohibit weed or alcohol. It just wouldn't work anyway, you see?
      Nobody is going to go after all guns. Too many are already hidden away to root them all out. And it only takes one nut to cause violence, so the real focus here should be on the mental state of all people regardless of whether they own guns or not.

      December 21, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • toxic

      Small C Christian – well said; my firearms are under lock and key in a vault. My point of leaving a gun on a table was a metaphorical one. A block of metal has no purpose until the one who wields it gives it one. Evil resides in man, not an object.

      December 21, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
  6. Common Sense

    After reading Prothero's articles, it is no wonder why our education level is slipping every year against world standards.

    December 21, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • small 'c' christian

      You know, I think it might have at least as much to do with the constant forced cutbacks to the school system over the past 30 years as much as what I presume is on your mind..

      December 21, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
  7. Randy

    ... and Jesus said "Let the dead bury the dead." For someone who teaches "Religion" at an esteemed University... you seem to know much about the Bible... but very little about Jesus Christ. Read the red letter scriptures BEFORE you shake your fist at God in anger... or prompt others to do the same.

    December 21, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Huebert

      Considering the dead are absolute sh!t at digging holes, dealing with the dead is usually the responsibility of the living.

      December 21, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • small 'c' christian

      Randy- where on earth did you get the idea that the "bible" was the only source avablable to be studied? I have over a million words about religion(s) on this laptop which I will happily share with you. Christian, Judaism, Bhuddism, Falon Gong Sikhism, Hindu... take your pick.

      December 21, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  8. Dallis

    Why do you say that?

    December 21, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  9. T. Banks

    I don't know about you, but I would rather 100 more school shootings than to put one cop in a school. It's just not right.

    December 21, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      What bizarre thinking. SO you want cops in the malls, airports, courthouses, banks and stadiums so they are hard targets but then want the schools left open as soft. Is that what I am hearing?

      December 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @T. Banks

      I think I'm with Bill on this one (for once). I'd rather have 100 cops in every school than have this happen again (Logistically impossible I know, but that's not the point).

      December 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  10. urouttolunch

    Wow. The Newtown shooter as the agent of God to avenge the unforgiveable secularity of our schools. Huckabee has clearly jumped the shark, if he hadn't already done so. Where do these people get this stuff??

    December 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  11. Franco

    If I recall, we don't live in paradise, and G-d sent His only Son to save us from it. Hence, evil lives in this world and has it's fun with us. To blame G-d is not to understand anything about Him. This tragedy is testimony to the great evils that live with us.

    Why are we obsessed with guns? It is our collective urge to destroy for whatever reason. We need to, as a culture, re-examine the "right to bear arms". Which arms? I think a musket is sufficient for anyone's needs as the Founders intended. No? What did you plan to use it for anyway, now ask yourself.

    The killer in me is the killer in you...(to quote the Smashing Pumpkins)...with variable phenotypic expression

    December 21, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  12. Salero21

    Yes, it is a time for mourning, a time for sorrow, a time to cry, a time to question, a trying time.

    But these atheists being what and who they are, wasted no time at all and not having anything else better to do, are making it a time to mock and scorn Faith and religion. In their perverted mind set, they have become worst than the apes they claim as brothers. Wild animals in the jungle have been observed for decades, demonstrating levels of affections and even compa$$ion even to other species than their own.

    But not the atheists; for them who flock like ravenous baboons to blogs like this, is time to behave worst than the monkeys in a barrel. In doing so, they demonstrate once again who they are. They also demonstrate without a doubt that they are worst than the apes. At least the apes, descends from the trees only to the ground, but the atheists in forums, blogs like this and the rest of the internet, descends to levels way below the apes and the hyenas, then end-up in the other place that is not Heaven. Good Lord they even descend to the level of swine in their behavior and conduct.

    December 21, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Reality

      "The Two Universal Sects

      They all err—Moslems, Jews,
      Christians, and Zoroastrians:

      Humanity follows two world-wide sects:
      One, man intelligent without religion,
      The second, religious without intellect. "

      , born AD 973 /, died AD 1058 / .

      Al-Ma’arri was a blind Arab philosopher, poet and writer.[1][2] He was a controversial rationalist of his time, attacking the dogmas of religion and rejecting the claim that Islam possessed any monopoly on truth."

      Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/resalat-al-ghufran#ixzz1lI6DuZmZ and http://www.humanistictexts.org/al_ma'arri.htm

      Death's Debt is Paid in Full

      Death's debt is then and there
      Paid down by dying men;

      But it is a promise bare
      That they shall rise again.


      December 21, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • LIsaM

      And you are trying to make that all better... how? Oh, by condemning people. You are the kind of person who totally drives me away from any kind of organized religion. You are the problem, not the solution.

      December 21, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
    • One one

      What could be more hatefully than to preach that people who don't believe as you do will be sent to hell to be tortured forever by your god ? And believers are apparently OK with it.

      December 21, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
    • One one

      I shall now pray. Dear heavenly Father, I pray for you to bring harmony between Christians and atheists. Help me understand why godless trash, who deserve to burn in hell, are offended by those of us who are holy, pious, and obviously god’s favorite people.

      Help the unsaved filth understand that by judging and condemning them I am trying to save them from your vengeful & vicious wrath, of which they deserve, AND I APPROVE, as long as they refuse to believe what I believe. Amen.

      December 21, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
    • Snagright

      I think you need to learn to spell or use spell check. A grammer lesson wouldn't hurt either.

      December 21, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
    • Edwin

      Good troll.

      December 21, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
    • Salero21

      I see some undercover agents of the Grammar police are here! For lack of a better argument or for lack of an argument their ONLY recourse is to knit pick on misspellings though there are none. Go figure that one out!

      LOL 😀 An atheist praying or is he/she preying? Someone should ask; to whom is he praying, to the Great Ape, or to the Eternal Cosmic Chemical Soup, or to the Great Unproven Big Bang?

      Atheists are like a barrel full of monkeys! 😀 Or maybe more like rabid baboons. Good Lord in Heaven a gorilla has a better chance to make it to Heaven than an atheist.

      December 21, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Oso

      Who wants a crazy waste of eternity flopping around and fawning over a psychotic god? Not me.

      December 21, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Reality

      Again a prayer for Salero21:

      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.)

      December 22, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      It's WORSE, you stupid cluck. Not WORST.

      How's it feel to be corrected by someone you believe to be a lesser being?

      December 22, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  13. ClevelandGAL

    I agree with this article...I believe in God as well but if my child was killed I wouldn't want to hear it was His will...some things just need to be kept to yourself....

    December 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  14. frost

    The author of the article is trying too hard to stir up some controversy. He is probably fighting hard to keep his job. Though the article over simplifies every subject it speaks on (particularly on gun's killing people) the author is right to call out people who blaim God for misfortunes. The fact is people have a choice, and some use their agency to hurt other people.

    December 21, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  15. JeffinVAB


    And what purpose does the average person have for owning a semi-automatic or automatic weapon of any kind? What hobby or activity that is legal for the average person to partake in requires that equipment?"

    My son and I enjoy going to the local shooting range regularly and test our skills. For him, shooting the mild 223 caliber in his match grade AR style rifle is easy on his shoulder and relatively inexpensive to shoot. We also plan on going on a praire dog hunt in the spring where he will shoot his AR style rifle.

    December 21, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      or you could have answered "None of your business"

      December 21, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  16. Justin

    "If you believe in a God who is all powerful and all good, then covering up for the Almighty at a time like this is in my view deeply unfaithful. Today is a day to shake your fist at heaven and demand answers, and then to shake it harder when no answers are forthcoming. To do anything else is in my view to diminish the idea of God, and to cheapen faith in the process."

    Stephen – I suggest you read the book of Job and reflect on it. Job didn't get answers, and God didn't owe him answers, but Job got God himself. If there's anything we can learn from this tragedy, it is the reality of evil in the human heart, the depth of depravity we are capable of, and our need for a savior to cleanse us, all of us, from the sin that is rooted so deeply within.

    December 21, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • Edwin

      All the Book of Job teaches is that God is a sadist and is apparently so insecure that he felt the need to torture a faithful man just to prove a point, and to the Devil of all people.

      December 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Job's suffering was only temporary but his lesson has lasted across the millenia

      December 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      Job's suffering might have been temporary, but what about his family who were all, like, KILLED? Yeah, God gave him a new family in the end, but the first one was still, sort of like, you know, all DEAD and stuff. This is God's loving kindness?

      December 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  17. mikemax0420

    The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero. AND ARE A BUNCH OF CRAP!!!

    December 21, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • urouttolunch

      Unlike yours, which do not rise to that level.

      December 21, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • UncleBenny

      Guess my opinions are a bunch of crap, too. Oh, well ...

      December 21, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  18. Socrates' Dog Lover

    State Sales Tax the value of weapons at 100% for handguns, and 200% for rifles. Use the tax revenue to buy back all assault type guns at 2x their original value. Ban assault type guns from transportation in any vehicles.

    December 21, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • MyManDarwin

      You ignorant fool. These are not assault weapons. The laws you would recommend would carry to all semi-auto long gun. Google "class 3 firearm" and see for your self. Now THOSE are assault rifles. If you are going to argue against something, at least research to see what you are arguing against.

      December 21, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  19. Socrates' Dog Lover

    Foolish Fools.

    What we "know" is: it is either a "0" or a "1" at a given time.
    One either believes in something, god or science, or not.
    Atheists do not attempt to disprove Santa Claus because one can't disprove what one knows does not exist.

    The heart of the matter is the separation of church and state which is why the pilgrims fled Europe. Now we have the christian taliban oh, i mean tea party, working their wonders....

    December 21, 2012 at 9:20 am |
  20. Comrade Liberal

    I agree. We should ban guns, no one needs a gun of a type that I dictate. Even though a few million have never been used in a crime and less than .00013% of crime involves an assault rifle, we should take them. It makes me feel better as a filthy liberal.

    December 21, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • sjl

      And what purpose does the average person have for owning a semi-automatic or automatic weapon of any kind? What hobby or activity that is legal for the average person to partake in requires that equipment?

      December 21, 2012 at 9:19 am |
    • Bill Deacon

      What business is it of yours what a free person has purpose for? Are you suggesting that we have a right to dictate other peoples behavior?

      December 21, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • JeffinVAB

      To sji:

      My son and I enjoy going to the local shooting range regularly and test our skills. For him, shooting the mild 223 caliber in his match grade AR style rifle is easy on his shoulder and relatively inexpensive to shoot. We also plan on going on a praire dog hunt in the spring where he will shoot his AR style rifle.

      December 21, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
    • CDR

      @comrade liberal – Actually, it makes me feel better as a parent if there are fewer assault rifles in the hands of untrained or self trained civilians. But since the only thing you understand is that liberals are "filthy Comrades" I'm not going to bother with you. Go back to letting Rush, Beck, and Hannity tell you what you think.

      @bill deacon – people's behavior is dictated all the time. They're called laws. They restrict or dictate expected behavior for the overall benefit of society. If you speed, and get caught, you are punished. If you drink and drive, and get caught, you get punished. If you but cocaine, and get caught, you get punished. From now on, if you own or possess an assault weapon, and get caught, you should be punished. It's a simple concept as old as civilization itself.

      December 21, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Moby Schtick


      There are no "rights" except those we imagine and hold to by our social agreement. So yes, we can tell others what behavior is or is not acceptable by agreeing to do so and by forming inst.itutions to carry out our collective will according to our social agreement.

      December 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • urouttolunch

      @JeffinVAB. I sincerely hope the child doesn't grow up to take his prized match grade weapon to an inaappropriate venue and demonstrate it on other human beings or other, albeit less precious, unsuitable targets.

      December 21, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      OK, I guess that settles the gaye marriage debate in what 37 states now? I mean, if the government has the right to dictate what inanimate objects I may or may not own then surely it has the right to control my bodily movements. Dang those civil rights are so tricky aren't they?

      December 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • Oso

      If you aren't insane and know the proper ways of handling a gun safely, then you should be able to own and handle one.
      Why is this so hard for you? You'd prefer a constantly running tally of gun accident victims in the news just so you can feel like a big, tough, weenie? Time to grow up and act responsibly where guns are concerned.
      And why aren't you giving a rats ass about all the other civil rights? Why focus on one and violate all the others?
      Oh, I get it. You want to overthrow our government if and when the Koch bros pay you to do so. Ok.

      December 21, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.