January 28th, 2013
05:19 AM ET

Belief Blog's Morning Speed Read for Monday, January 28, 2013

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:

CNN: Recounting the nightmares of the Holocaust…
Photographer Maciek Nabrdalik was visiting a Holocaust memorial and museum in Poland when he noticed an obituary posted for one of the survivors. The next day there was another one. “At that moment I realized that we are the last generation who can approach them to talk and ask questions,” he said. Since then, he has sat down with more than 40 former camp prisoners to help tell their stories for his ongoing project, “The Irreversible.”

CNN: Lawyers for Catholic hospital argue that a fetus is not a person…
Life begins at conception, according to the Catholic Church, but in a wrongful death suit in Colorado, a Catholic health care company has argued just the opposite. A fetus is not legally a person until it is born, the hospital's lawyers have claimed in its defense. And now it may be up to the state's Supreme Court to decide.

CNN: Iran sentences U.S. pastor to 8 years in prison, group says…
An Iranian judge has sentenced an American Christian pastor to eight years in prison after he was tried for his religious beliefs, a U.S.-based religious group said Sunday. Saeed Abedini was swiftly sentenced by a member of the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Court, according to the American Center for Law and Justice, an organization founded by television evangelist Pat Robertson. CNN was not immediately able to confirm what went on in the court proceedings.

CNN: 'None' leaders to chart path for more political, cultural power for religiously unaffiliated…
The religiously unaffiliated – the "nones" – have noticed their ranks are growing. And at a meeting Saturday, a group of leaders looked to turn those swelling numbers into workable political and cultural power. It's one of the top priorities of the eighth annual Heads Meeting, which will be held in Atlanta. Some of the nation’s most influential leaders, representing various organizations, convened to chart a path forward and discuss the most important issues facing "nones" today.

Photos of the Day:

A street dancer performs during the annual Grand Santo Nino Procession in Manila on January 27, 2013. The annual Grand Santo Nino Procession features almost 300 floats with different images of the child Jesus flown in from various parts of the country. The Philippines is Asia's bastion of Catholicism and the Sto Nino feast is one among dozens of religious festivals honoring various saints and religious icons, a legacy of three centuries of Spanish rule across the archipelago.

Filipino Christian devotees display their religious icons of the baby Jesus during the annual Grand Santo Nino Procession in Manila on January 27, 2013

Hindu devotees make their way up the 272 steps to the entrance of the Batu Caves during the Thaipusam procession on January 27, 2013 in Batu Caves, Malaysia. Thaipusam is a Hindu festival celebrated on the full moon in the Tamil month of Thai. The festival marks the birthday of Lord Muruga and also commemorates the day Hindu Goddess Parvati gave her son a lance to defeat the evil demon Soorapadamwhen.

Hindu devotees carry a statue while making their way towards the Batu Caves to perform their religious during the Thaipusam Festival on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur on January 28, 2013.

Enlightening Reads:

New York Times: In Fight Over Life, a New Call by Catholics…
The March for Life in Washington on Friday renewed the annual impassioned call to end legalized abortion, 40 years after the Roe v. Wade decision. But this year, some Roman Catholic leaders and theologians are asking why so many of those who call themselves “pro-life” have been silent, or even opposed, when it comes to controlling the guns that have been used to kill and injure millions of Americans.

Huffington Post: NYPD Muslim Spying Lawsuit Moves Forward
"I'm laughing. I'm laughing on the phone right now," said Syed Farhaj Hassan. "That's hysterical." That's how Hassan reacted when he heard that the New York City Police Department blames the press for exposing its Muslim surveillance program - and not its own cops for running it. Hassan is the lead plaintiff in an ongoing lawsuit by the non-profit group Muslim Advocates over the NYPD's extension of its spying program into New Jersey. The group dropped its latest filing in the case on Friday.

The Guardian: Russian gay rights activists detained as MPs vote for 'propaganda' bill…
Russian police have detained 20 gay rights campaigners and militant Orthodox Christian activists near parliament as politicians overwhelmingly backed a bill that would ban "homosexual propaganda". Russia's State Duma, the lower house of parliament, voted 388-1-1 for the law that makes public events and the dissemination of information on the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, community to minors punishable by fines of up to $16,000 (£10,000). After two more readings, the bill will have to be signed by President Vladimir Putin.

Religion News Service: Catholic college engages atheism head-on…
Talk about an unlikely course in an unlikely place. The main chapel at Jesuit-run Regis College at the University of Toronto is adorned with stained glass windows, icons of Mary and Joseph, and the Stations of the Cross. The eight-week course, which meets every Wednesday afternoon, is on atheism. Or more precisely, “Responding to 21st-Century Atheism.” It’s an attempt, says the Rev. Scott Lewis, for people of faith to understand and come to terms with the increasingly muscular secularism and atheism that has arisen in Western societies over the past generation.

Quote of the Day:

On this day, we recall the courage, spirit, and determination of those who heroically resisted the Nazis, exemplifying the very best of humanity. And like these courageous individuals, we must commit ourselves to resisting hate and persecution in all its forms.

–Statement by President Barack Obama on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Opinion of the Day:

My Take: An American Jew finds MLK – and a new understanding – on the West Bank…
Arri Eisen, PhD. – professor of pedagogy at Emory University’s Center for Ethics, Department of Biology and Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts – says the symbolism of President Barack Obama’s inauguration falling on Martin Luther King Day was not lost on many of the Palestinians he met while at the West Bank. “Who would have thought in Martin Luther King’s day that you would now have a black president? If that can happen in the U.S., then maybe one day there can be peace here,” he heard.

Join the conversation…

CNN: Twitter must identify racist, anti-Semitic posters, French court says…
For months now, the French-language twittersphere has lit up with a rash of racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic tweets using the hashtags #UnBonJuif (a good Jew), #SiMonFilsEstGay (if my son is gay), and #SiMaFilleRamèneUnNoir (if my daughter brings home a black guy). Last fall, under pressure from French advocacy group Union of Jewish Students (UEJF), Twitter agreed to remove some offensive tweets. In October 2012, at Berlin's request, Twitter also suspended a German neo-Nazi account based in the city of Hanover, the first time the company had responded to such a government request.

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (280 Responses)
  1. James Madison

    Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

    The Civil Govt, tho' bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success, Whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, & the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:27 am |
  2. Thomas Jefferson

    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  3. Thomas Jefferson

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  4. Thomas Jefferson

    The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  5. Thomas Jefferson

    Whenever... preachers, instead of a lesson in religion, put [their congregation] off with a discourse on the Copernican system, on chemical affinities, on the construction of government, or the characters or conduct of those administering it, it is a breach of contract, depriving their audience of the kind of service for which they are salaried, and giving them, instead of it, what they did not want, or, if wanted, would rather seek from better sources in that particular art of science.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:25 am |
  6. Thomas Jefferson

    [If] the nature of... government [were] a subordination of the civil to the ecclesiastical power, I [would] consider it as desperate for long years to come. Their steady habits [will] exclude the advances of information, and they [will] seem exactly where they [have always been]. And there [the] clergy will always keep them if they can. [They] will follow the bark of liberty only by the help of a tow-rope.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:25 am |
  7. Thomas Jefferson

    But a short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  8. Thomas Jefferson

    I am really mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, a fact like this [i.e., the purchase of an apparent geological or astronomical work] can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too, as an offense against religion; that a question about the sale of a book can be carried before the civil magistrate. Is this then our freedom of religion? and are we to have a censor whose imprimatur shall say what books may be sold, and what we may buy? And who is thus to dogmatize religious opinions for our citizens? Whose foot is to be the measure to which ours are all to be cut or stretched? Is a priest to be our inquisitor, or shall a layman, simple as ourselves, set up his reason as the rule for what we are to read, and what we must believe? It is an insult to our citizens to question whether they are rational beings or not, and blasphemy against religion to suppose it cannot stand the test of truth and reason. If [this] book be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in its reasoning, refute it. But, for God's sake, let us freely hear both sides, if we choose.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  9. John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  10. John Adams

    The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

    Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  11. Thomas Paine

    I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church. All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    The intellectual part of religion is a private affair between every man and his Maker, and in which no third party has any right to interfere. The practical part consists in our doing good to each other. But since religion has been made into a trade, the practical part has been made to consist of ceremonies performed by men called priests ... By devices of this kind true religion has been banished, and such means have been found out to extract money, even from the pockets of the poor, instead of contributing to their relief.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:22 am |
  12. Thomas Paine

    As to the Christian system of faith, it appears to me as a species of Atheism – a sort of religious denial of God. It professes to believe in a man rather than in God. It is a compound made up Chiefly of Manism with but little Deism, and is an near Atheism as twilight is to darkness. It introduces between man and his Maker an opaque body, which it calls a Redeemer, as the moon introduces her opaque self between the earth and the sun, and it produces by this means a religious, or an irreligious eclipse of light. It has put the whole orbit of reason into shade.

    Each of these churches shows certain books, which they call revelation, or the word of God. The Jews say that their word of God was given by God to Moses, face to face; the Christians say that their word of God came by divine inspiration; and the Turks say that their word of God, the Koran, was brought by an angel from heaven. Each of these churches accuses the others of unbelief; and, for my own part, I disbelieve them all.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:22 am |
  13. Thomas Paine

    Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be a true system.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  14. Thomas Paine

    It is the fable of Jesus Christ, as told in the New Testament, and the wild and visionary doctrine raised thereon, against which I contend. The story, taking it as it is told, is blasphemously obscene.

    No man ought to make a living by religion. It is dishonest so to do.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  15. Ben Franklin

    Some books against Deism fell into my hands; they were said to be the substance of the sermons which had been preached at Boyle’s Lectures. It happened that they wrought an effect on me quite contrary to what was intended by them. For the arguments of the Deists, which were quoted to be refuted, appeared to be much stronger than the refutations; in short, I soon became a thorough Deist.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:20 am |
  16. William Demuth

    Did anyone else feel uncomfortable reading the holocaust article?

    In truth the passage of time is a GOOD thing. All things pass and new worlds are born.

    Be it slavery, or genocide, or any other form of injustice from previous generations, at some point history must turn the page.

    As long as the perpetrators are no longer in power and the victims have passed, it is a good thing we collectively move on.

    Otherwise we have special interest victims groups who use yesterday’s tragedies to justify todays atrocities.

    Be they racial, religious or ethnic, MANY communities use ancient history as a rational to justify crimes their members are committing today.

    We need to get past the past before we can move forward.

    January 28, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Seventy years is past, but not by much. Don't imagine we can easily get away from whatever it is in people and societies that makes genocide possible. I don't think we've even gotten a good start on figuring out what it is.

      January 28, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • William Demuth

      Agreed Tom, but while we fret over 70 year old genocide, we have it occuring right now.

      As an example, I went to school with a young girl who was part American Indian.

      She would lament ad naueseum about what My people did to HER people.

      She dated a young black man who did the same.

      Both of them are now drug addicts on welfare

      Every minority decries persecution from the past. It is in fact a cornerstone of religion as well.

      History needs to heal the wounds and hide the scars or we shall just continue the patterns of the past.

      My son has Irish (grandparents surname Henry), Italian (grandparents surname Salerno), Spanish and French (grand parents surname Garcia), Scottish and German blood (Grandparents surname Demuth)

      In his lineage he has Communists, Capitalists, Socialists, Marxists and Anarchists. People on all sides of every war for the past 200 years

      He has Protestant, Roman Catholic, Athiest, Agnostic and a Buddhist thrown in.

      We need to let it go! Even three generations back and whatever it is you "think" you are proves to be more than many will accept.

      Let the past die, and lets focus on the future!!

      January 28, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  17. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    “Responding to 21st-Century Atheism...come to terms with the increasingly muscular secularism and atheism that has arisen in Western societies over the past generation."

    I've a long association with Jesuits. They aren't what they once were. I've suspected that on some level at least the older generation maintained hopes that they could rein in all of society if it veered too far away from what is right in the eyes of the Church. Now they struggle just to grasp what's happening.

    January 28, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • Science

      Hard for the church to swallow the creation story maybe. The talking snake ???

      January 28, 2013 at 9:01 am |
  18. mercedes

    Hello there, You have done an excellent job. I'll certainly digg it and in my view recommend to my friends. I'm confident they'll be benefited from this website.

    January 28, 2013 at 7:18 am |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Pray without ceasing in 2013
    Prayer changes things

    January 28, 2013 at 7:10 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!

      January 28, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, " Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your repeated assertions regarding atheism and prayer are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your repeated unfounded assertions may represent truths is: "IDIOTIC – EPIC FAIL". Perhaps the following book can help you cope with the problem of repeating unfounded assertions:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      January 28, 2013 at 8:36 am |
  20. Robert Brown

    Good morning Belief Bloggers!

    It is another beautiful day the Lord has made.

    Some get hung up on the wrath of God.

    Consider his mercy and forgiveness. He will forgive you as many times as you mess up.

    There is no limit to his mercy and forgiveness.

    January 28, 2013 at 7:01 am |
    • Science

      @RB yep another day Peace
      Facts work in court of law
      Evolution won in the Dover court trial. ID/creation can not be taught in public schools in US.. Moving forward, take a blood test map your genes.

      Creationists' tactics also have a more profound impact on science education which goes beyond biology because they communicate the idea that there is something lacking or something wrong with evolutionary theory, an idea which is not actually true from a scientific standpoint. This causes students to develop very mistaken beliefs about the nature of science, the scientific method, and how scientific research is used. This cheats students out of the proper science education which they deserve.

      Attempts to use the law to restrict or dilute the teaching of evolution in public schools matters because science matters. As society relies more and more heavily on science and technology on ever more fundamental levels, it becomes increasingly more important that all citizens receive a proper grounding in science and the scientific method. Science education is becoming a key part of what it means to be a well-informed and well-educated citizen of today; therefore, any effort to temper science education in order to placate a vocal religious group cheats the students, cheats society, and cheats our future.

      January 28, 2013 at 7:20 am |
    • Manny

      "There is no limit to his mercy and forgiveness."

      Try telling that to the Canaanites. Oops, I forgot, the LORD ordered them exterminated.

      January 28, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • just wondering

      are you next manny?

      January 28, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Good morning, Robert. I hope God will forgive me for the things I'm not aware I need forgiveness for. I hope in its infinite mercy it will count me out of eternal torment and eternal bliss.

      January 28, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • know who you're talking to

      Robert Brown to I'm not a GOPer (January 25, 2013 at 8:59 pm – 'None leaders . . .')

      "The establishment and authority of government and judges and a whole host of law came directly from the bible."

      January 28, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • Robert Brown


      Good morning, I watched our invisible world on the history channel last night. It is absolutely amazing that this planet is literally teaming with life. They are even considering that bacteria are responsible for rain. What a trip.

      Peace, hope, and joy to you.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • Robert Brown


      Let me qualify that just a little, there is no limit to his mercy for his children.

      All the same, he gave the Canaanites hundreds of years to repent and turn to him. God judges sin, he is patient and forgiving, but if you choose to reject his offer of forgiveness, you will face judgment.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Tom, Tom, the Other One,

      Forgiveness is available and free. Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • Ben

      "Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand."

      No, it's not. Christians have been saying that for centuries, it only proves you're god doesn't exist, just like all the other gods in human history.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • Robert Brown

      know who you're talking to,

      Not only that, but God allows us to be led by the leaders we deserve.

      God will hold those who judge people accountable for how they judge, because they are acting on his behalf.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • Ben

      "Not only that, but God allows us to be led by the leaders we deserve."

      Oh, you mean like the Christian Hitler. 😉

      January 28, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • Robert Brown


      We are on God’s time table Ben, not yours. The prophets announced the first coming of Jesus centuries before the fact.

      God may be waiting for one more person to be added before he says times up, could it be you he is waiting for?

      January 28, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Ben

      Robert, people are seeing what they want to see in Jesus to make the their "messiah." But there are other "messiahs" that could also fit the bill. Not everything about Jesus fits the prophecies and the scribes very well could have written it in after the fact to make their religion more believable.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • know who you're talking to

      Robert Brown: "Are you saying the bible didn’t have anything to do with the laws we have?"

      then, next reply (January 25, 2013 at 8:59 pm – 'None leaders . . .'):

      Robert Brown: "The establishment and authority of government and judges and a whole host of law came directly from the bible."

      January 28, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Science

      @RBThe rain aye is not made by your god you say . That is a start.

      Glad your wrath is yours alone.

      Emotions Robert are not a fact.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • LinCA

      @Robert Brown

      You said, "Forgiveness is available and free."
      If it requires abandoning your sanity, it is hardly free.

      January 28, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • Robert Brown


      God created the little buggers, so he can control them if he wants.

      Thank God for his mercy, forgiveness, and grace. No need for wrath.

      January 28, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • Robert Brown


      You can even maintain your sanity. For that matter, belief is very good for your overall well being.

      January 28, 2013 at 11:21 am |
    • Damocles


      In response to your post to manny about a deity giving people hundreds of years to repent. Why, exactly, is an eternal being worried about a few hundred years? Is it in a hurry? Being impatient would be a flaw.

      Also, did you ever get around to answering my post about the angry father from a few days ago?

      January 28, 2013 at 11:23 am |
    • LinCA

      @Robert Brown

      You said, "You can even maintain your sanity."
      Sorry, but that won't fly. Irrational beliefs in imaginary beings among adults is a sure sign of insanity.

      You said, "For that matter, belief is very good for your overall well being."
      Ignorance is bliss. Beliefs are not the cause of the well being, they are a symptom of the ignorance that aids well being.

      Correlation doesn't imply causation.

      January 28, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • Dark Helmet

      Robert, why did god create the ebola virus, denge, HIV, hep-C, HPV, and a host of other pathogenic pseudo-organisms like prions and virons?

      January 28, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Robert Brown


      No hurry.

      I remember seeing your post, but I didn’t have an opportunity to reply. I will go look for it when I get a chance.

      January 28, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Robert Brown


      Do you think nonbelievers are the only sane people on the planet?

      January 28, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Dark Helmet,

      I think he created those things to judge sin.

      January 28, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • Robert Brown


      Jesus fits the prophecies, the dating of the oldest manuscripts we have nullifies your idea that they were written in after the fact.

      January 28, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Robert Brown

      You said, "Do you think nonbelievers are the only sane people on the planet?"
      Would you consider adults who still believe in the Tooth Fairy sane? Or those that still believe in the Easter Bunny? If not, why would believers be?

      January 28, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
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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.