December 24th, 2012
06:00 AM ET

Belief Blog's Morning Speed Read for Monday, December 24

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:

[tweet https://twitter.com/USATODAY/status/282957525131870208%5D

Belief on TV:

Photo of the Day:


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.

Enlightening Reads:

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.

~Charles Dickens

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.

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Uncategorized

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soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. 行動電源

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    June 22, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
  2. Rational Humanist

    1. Just one? Damn. Universal Healthcare, because such a thing, done intelligently, would include so many of the other things I might try to write, it will suffice as my answer for number 1 this time.
    2. It would depend on all of the circumstances.
    3. Since they are clearly unable to handle that money safely, it should be confiscated or otherwise seized to pay for all the damage they have done so far.
    4. AtheistSteve got this one right farther up the page. The answer? 1 African Swallow.
    Let's hear it for AtheistSteve! (and his better half, TruthPrevails 😉 ! Yay, Canada! 😀

    December 25, 2012 at 3:30 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      I don't often forget to hit the reply button, but when I do...this is the sort of thing that happens.
      Ah, well....

      December 25, 2012 at 3:32 am |
  3. lionlylamb

    There is an afterlife after all! To deny one living life after one dies is filled with lordly distrainment. Are we nothing but made up of molecular machinery? Who are those running and operating these molecular machines? Are they not more than self-perpetuating organisms of mechanical nurturing? When will molecular scientists finally understand the molecular make ups of mechanized brilliancies needs many operators and mechanics of such molecular machines? I know, I know. I'm a speculating umbilical cord reaching its stretched ends!

    December 24, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
  4. William Demuth

    Let's put the X back in Xmas!

    Nail some fundie bimbo behing her impotent husbands back!

    December 24, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • lionlylamb

      It's folks like you who gives socialisms bad names! 🙁

      December 24, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  5. William Demuth

    What gift might we offer to create a better world?

    Perhaps we ban the indoctrination of children?

    Make it illegal to teach religious clap trap to anyone under the age of 18?

    December 24, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Jim

      yes i agree. along with the dogmatic views of atheism.

      December 24, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Really Jim??? Such as?

      December 24, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • George

      William, are you and ALL the atheist working tomorrow? I guess you have to get a job first in order to do so.

      December 24, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      If the theist position is making the claim "God is" and the atheist position is a reply of "I don't believe you" then I fail to see any incidence of dogma. Care to elaborate on just what exactly you mean by dogmatic views of atheism?

      December 24, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      I'm looking forward to Jim's reply. Perhpas someone else can enlighten me on the dogmatic views of non-Zeus believers and nonbelievers in Loch Ness Creature.

      December 24, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      No George...we'll probably be enjoying a secular Christmas with pretty much all the trimmings you do except for the baby Jesus part. We took the Christ out of Christmas just like we all took the Thor out of Thursday. But thanks for asking.

      December 24, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Tom

      Your using the excuse it's a secular Christmas now? Well, I'm sure you'll be lawless, as usual.

      December 24, 2012 at 11:21 am |
    • Roger that

      William, are you and ALL the atheist working tomorrow? I guess you have to get a job first in order to do so.

      Sounds like somebody's got a case of the Mondays.

      December 24, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • WASP

      @george: don't hate just because your life suxs george, maybe if you spent more time working and less time on your knees in front of a preacher you could get somewhere in life as well.

      i'm with steve on this one, my secular chrismas will be enjoyed by my children tomorrow mourning and seeing the look of thanks in my wife's eyes makes all my hard work worth it.

      December 24, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • OTOH

      "Your using the excuse it's a secular Christmas now? Well, I'm sure you'll be lawless, as usual."

      Secular, civil law has it all over divine, fantasy law. For example:

      - The rav'ages of the Inquisition and "witch trials" finally were stopped by secular, civil law.
      - The horrors of RCC child molestation were brought to light by secular, civil law.
      - Bible-endorsed slavery was done away with by secular, civil law.
      - Fraudulent religious preachers are dealt with by secular, civil law.

      December 24, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Robert Brown

      William Demuth,
      “What gift might we offer to create a better world?”
      The gift has already been offered. How much better would the world be if more accepted it?

      “Perhaps we ban the indoctrination of children?”
      Since children learn much faster than adults I think to delay teaching them would be a mistake. We should teach them what we believe and why. We should teach them the word of God. Ultimately, when they reach the age of accountability, they will have to make their own decision. No one can make it for them.

      December 24, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • William Demuth


      I am in fact working!

      I am selling a new data center to a division of State Government, and significantly over charging them.

      It seems the celebration of their season permits them the right to squander the states money.

      A few stale doughnuts, and some choclate it is all it takes to buy your kind.


      December 24, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • WASP

      @ robert: i say protect our children from religion seeing they are twice as smart as an adult.
      teaching a child to close off their imagination and answer all questions in life with "GOD DID IT" is a supreme disservice to our future great minds.

      December 24, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • lionlylamb

      William Demuth,

      By 'religious clap trap' are you inferring something odd like the game mouse trap? It seems that the redundancies of bitter atheists does run the gauntlets of chaliced forsakenness. Rude and crude are many atheists rebuttals. Their granules of saltiness worded flavorings are ever ilk generalities against those who dare dream of an afterlife! Keep on keeping on you atheists who have no firm roots in an afterlife conscience being deeply seeded upon the realms of the inner cosmology of the atomized varieties!

      The sheering deniability of commoner low life atheists dare to make rude and crude nostalgias of blatant misgivings against those who have little education regarding the relative whereabouts of God's kingdom domains but nevertheless they have faith in God's physically born son who lived among us and was crucified due our passing generations wanting to free Barabbas from the cross thereby crucifying God's son, Christ our Lord Jesus!

      For the kingdom domains of God dare I say, lays deeply inside all life upon a realm of such smallness. Our only way to return back to the inner heavenly domains is for us to die, then be reborn back into the cosmologies of the atomized realms which are the Domains of God's kingdom! Mankind is so shallow minded in their thought progressives, many cannot bear witness to a truth worthy of being seen as a righteous thought! Even science's teachers care not to believe in multiple universes with a singular cosmos of multiple cosmos onto infinity's vastness of space in never ending lengths!

      Shame on you who care not to fathom my ever ongoing wordage of thought out aggregates in foreseen thoughts of variability's known but not addressed by the many masses who dare remain stupefied with grunts only versed entanglements of communal emotionalisms! On my left are atheists and on my right are the religious. I choose neither for they do not know anything about fundamental cosmologies of triune manifestation that I have written here in plain views for all to be filled with!

      1. The inner cosmology of the atomized realms. Are these realms not the first realms conceived in the grand schemes of cosmology?

      2. The outer cosmology of the celestial realms. Did not this realm become conceived only after the inner cosmological realm was made nearing a completion?

      3. The cellular cosmology of the living realms. Did this living realm of cosmological matter come about by sheer coincidence or was there a cosmological order for the living realms of cellular cosmology to become an ever evolving realm ending upon these celestial shores as being mankind?

      December 24, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      To be an actual working solution that respects everyone's human and civil rights would require strict protocols with effective oversight – things that are currently impossible in today's world.
      But keep chipping away at it, WD. Eugenics are coming one way or the other. lol

      December 25, 2012 at 3:04 am |
  6. William Demuth

    Another shooting, now we have dead firemen!

    I suppose now that the NRA suggeats we arm our firemen as well?

    December 24, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • George

      If we all agreed on Jesus' teachings be taught to everyone, none of this would happen. Oh, then the atheists will chant in ... it's common sense. The Christians response, common sense is Jesus' wisdom.

      December 24, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Common sense is an oxymoron....as so aptly demonstrated by your reply.

      December 24, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • tallulah13

      Christians can't even follow Jesus' teachings. When's the last time you turned the other cheek, George? When have you refrained from casting the first stone?

      Common sense is anything but common in a land where some churches teach you to hate people who are different than you, where the media blasts you with unfettered violence and when our schools have been gutted by the greed of those who don't wish to pay to educate the next generation.

      There are a lot of reasons for the problems we face in this nation, and there are no simple answers. Religious indoctrination may help some, but it's hardly a panacea. Certainly the faithful have their share of killers.

      December 24, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

      If jesus is the answer, why are so many (most?) of the shooters christian?

      December 24, 2012 at 11:03 am |
    • OTOH

      "common sense is Jesus' wisdom."

      Perhaps some* of it is - just not the fantasy parts and the supersti'tions.

      *none of it was new nor unique to him, however.

      December 24, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Tom

      tallulah13, turn the other cheek means to stop throwing Jesus' pearls to swines.

      December 24, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • WASP

      @george: i will qoute a very wise sergeant i once worked along side.
      " common sense ain't so common."
      religion dislikes common sense because that means the person truly thinks for themselves instead of following the flock.

      December 24, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Thank God, Jesus is our wisdom.

      December 24, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • William Demuth

      Jesus is often the motivation of the Christian madmen!

      Blow up day care centers, shoot six year olds

      Jesus drives the mad men off the deep end

      Happy Christmas

      December 24, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • lionlylamb

      Being a faith-filled individual while having little material needs is why there are many people clinging to a faith of one kind or another. To make blasphemies against the trodden down folks of little material goods is not only shameful it is a humane abomination! If you are an atheist and do not believe in an afterlife, please do not make condemnations against faithful believers and likewise the faithful believers of there being an afterlife should not condemn those who dare not believe in an afterlife. I for one believe in an afterlife! I know beyond any doubt as to the generalities of my afterlife whereabouts and I have written about it and posted it here on many occasions. God, in God's many ways, takes in all life’s strays!

      December 24, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  7. Apple Bush

    1. Black and white puppies that seem happy go lucky but can’t keep their noses out of you’re as crack.
    2. Daddy! Daddy!
    3. Alice Cooperstown – Phoenix
    4. Transparency Film

    December 24, 2012 at 9:30 am |
    • George

      You still believe yourself to be creative?

      December 24, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  8. Doc Vestibule

    1) 1 litre of clean, potable water
    2) Set up scholarship fund for students of the natrual sciences. Give Doctors Without Borders anything they needed.
    3) Seriously pursue an alternative to fossil fuels and implement it on a global scale
    4) I don't know tha.... AAAAAAAahhhhhhh

    December 24, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Excellent answer to question #1 Doc. Taking into account the rule of 3's (3 weeks without food, 3 days without water and 3 minutes without air) water is the most precious commodity. Air is plentiful and food can possibly be hunted or gathered but only if you know you can reasonbly expect to survive for the next 3 days. For far too many in the world, clean potable water is a desperate need and for those that it isn't, no gift is necessary.

      Thus question 2 could also be to set up wells and water purification in as many locales as possible where they are needed most

      I like your answer to 3. Just for solar alone the implications are staggering. Electric power would be effectively free If photovoltaic panels where globally grid. The sun is always shining somewhere. We could blanket large parts of the Pacific rather than use up valuable land, but every building, heck even every road could be equiped to generate electricity. If we dedicated as much resources into manufacturing solar panels as we do say for flat panel TV's then they would be plentiful, efficient and CHEAP.

      4. Answer: 1 African swallow.

      December 24, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • Really-O?

      @Doc Vestibule & AtheistSteve –

      Well done, but I'd like to offer a couple of refinements to Doc's list – assuming we're addressing the major causes of suffering and death globally.

      1) Six liters of sodium hypochlorite annually for those without access to potable water. This, together with a few squares of cheesecloth, would provide a year's supply of potable water to each in need at a cost of less than $1 USD.
      2) I'd modify this a bit – access to education and birth control for all women. These two simple interventions are well demonstrated to dramatically reduce poverty which is, without question, the root of most preventable global suffering and death.
      3) Access to amoxicillin and erythromycin.

      These three interventions could potentially ameliorate at least 20% of annual global deaths from treatable disease (unfortunately we haven't yet figured out cardiovascular disease): Lower respiratory infection (list item #3); Diarrhoeal disease (list item #1); HIV/AIDS (list item #2). I'd also add mosquito nets and anti-malarials to the list because of the extraordinary toll malaria takes on young children in less-developed countries.


      December 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  9. Sim Sim Saladin

    Here's some questions for anyone who wants to comment:

    1. If you could give a gift to everyone in the world equally, what would it be?

    2. If you had a billion dollars, what would you do with it?

    3. Since the richest 1 percent own over 46 TRILLION DOLLARS of the world's economy, what would you like to see them do with all of that $$$$$$???

    4. What is the unladen flight carrying capacity of an African Swallow if the humidity is under 80 percent at sea level?

    December 24, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      1) Access to proper healthcare
      2) Ensure that every child has at least a fighting chance at post-secondary education...no child left behind.
      3) Invest more in the study and funding of production of one of the greatest natural resources available-hemp.
      4) ??

      December 24, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • George

      My wish is that everyone believe in Jesus' truth. With that wish, we all required all the riches in the world.

      December 24, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      4. What is the unladen flight carrying capacity of an African Swallow if the humidity is under 80 percent at sea level?

      It'a always a great day when one of the first things I see is a MP reference.

      December 24, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      And now for something completely different....

      December 24, 2012 at 11:04 am |
    • tallulah13

      1) a clean world what wasn't overpopulated by humans.
      2) I would buy what undeveloped land I could, to preserve what I could for the sake of the planet and for future generations.
      3) In this country, I would have them taxed fairly, then use the money to create jobs and repair the nations infrastructure.
      4) This is a trick question, isn't it?

      December 24, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Mrs. Pepperpot

      Tallulah, it is if you want to get over the bridge...

      December 24, 2012 at 11:20 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      I like how no one took notice of the 46 TRILLION DOLLARS bit. If the number is correct, it is extremely important.

      December 25, 2012 at 3:22 am |
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About this blog

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.