By Arielle Hawkins, CNN
Here's the Belief Blog’s morning rundown of the top faith-angle stories from around the United States and around the world. Click the headlines for the full stories.
From the Blog:
Photo credit: Getty Images
CNN: Religious leaders launch campaign for gun control
With the bells of the Washington National Cathedral ringing 28 times – honoring all those killed in last week’s Connecticut shooting – a broad group of religious leaders on Friday called on their congregations, the White House and Congress to do more to combat gun violence.
Photo credit: ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images
CNN: The Belief Blog's guide to kitschy Christmas gifts
As shoppers scour malls and web portals looking for the perfect last-minute Christmas gift, we humbly present a few ideas of faithy kitsch.
Tweet of the Day:
Belief on TV:
Photo of the Day:
Photo credit: PORNCHAI KITTIWONGSAKUL/AFP/Getty Images
An elephant dressed in a Santa Claus costume gives gifts to students ahead of the Christmas festival at a school in Ayutthaya province on December 24, 2012. The event was held as part of a campaign to promote Christmas in Thailand.
Reuters: Egyptians support new Islamist-backed constitution in referendum
An Islamist-backed Egyptian constitution won approval in a referendum, rival camps said on Sunday, after a vote the opposition said would sow deep social divisions in the Arab world’s most populous nation. The Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, which propelled President Mohamed Mursi to power in a June election, said an unofficial tally showed 64 percent of voters backed the charter after two rounds of voting that ended with a final ballot on Saturday.
The Guardian: Sistine Chapel tourists to be vacuumed and cooled to protect frescoes
The 5 million tourists who visit the Sistine Chapel every year are to be vacuum cleaned and cooled down before entry in an effort to reduce the pollution damaging Michelangelo's frescoes, the director of the Vatican museums said.
Religion News Service: From nuns to ‘nones,’ 10 ways religion shaped the news in 2012
From the nuns to the “nones,” religion dominated the headlines throughout 2012. Faith was a persistent theme in the presidential race, and moral and ethical questions surrounded budget debates, mass killings and an unexpected focus on “religious freedom.” Here are 10 ways religion made news in 2012.
Reuters: Pakistani mob burns alive a man accused of desecrating the Koran
A mob broke into a Pakistani police station and burnt a man accused of desecrating the Koran alive, police said Saturday, in the latest violence focusing attention on the country’s blasphemy laws. The man was a traveler and had spent Thursday night at the mosque, said Maulvi Memon, the imam in the southern village of Seeta in Sindh province. The charred remains of the Koran were found the next morning.
The Guardian: No room at the inn – but Bethlehem's popularity is a boon for Palestinians
Tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists are expected to visit Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, over Christmas. All of the West Bank city's 3,700 hotel rooms are likely to be filled, with thousands more visitors making day trips from nearby Jerusalem. This year has seen a 20% growth in the numbers of visitors to Bethlehem compared with the previous year, and officials hope for a further rise in tourism to Palestine next year. The biggest number of tourists – more than a quarter – come from Russia.
Religion News Service: Truck driver pleads guilty to setting Ohio mosque on fire
An Indiana man who said he gets all his information about Islam from talk radio and Fox News has pleaded guilty to setting fire to a mosque in September, but local Muslims voiced concern there may be more people like him out there.
Quote of the Day:
I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.
Opinion of the Day:
The figure of Santa Clause is based on a fourth-century saint, the original St. Nicholas.
CNN: My Take: The Christmas message of the real St. Nicholas
Adam C. English, associate professor of religion at Campbell University and author of "The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus: The True Life and Trials of St. Nicholas of Myra," discusses his quest to learn the truth about St. Nicholas and how it led him to Italy’s Adriatic coast.
Join the conversation…
CNN: Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion
The Christmas season is revealing a growing rift among American atheists when it comes to the question of how to deal with religion. Some atheist activists are trying to seize the holidays as a time to build bridges with faith groups, while other active unbelievers increasingly see Christmas as a central front in the war on religious faith. With the dramatic growth of the nonreligious in the last few decades, more atheist leaders are emerging as spokespeople for atheism, but the Christmas rift speaks to growing disagreement over how atheists should treat religion.