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January 29th, 2013
04:57 AM ET

Belief Blog's Morning Speed Read for Tuesday, January 29, 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.

Belief on TV:

Tweet of the Day:

[tweet https://twitter.com/HuffPostRelig/status/296082739994689536%5D

Photo of the Day:


Photo credit: TANG CHHIN SOTHY/AFP/Getty Images

Cambodian Buddhist monks sit during a prayer ceremony in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh on January 26, 2013. Tens of thousands of Cambodian Buddhist monks and people gathered to pray for the late former King Norodom Sihanouk, who will be cremated on February 4, 2013.

Enlightening Reads:

Reuters: Russia to rework bill on offending religion
The Russian government asked parliament on Sunday to amend a bill that would set jail terms for "offending religious feeling" – a measure lawmakers proposed after last year's Pussy Riot protest at a Moscow cathedral. In a statement issued on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the government suggested existing legislation, if altered, might suffice to protect faith communities and seemed to question the need for the bill; critics have said it may harm Jews, Muslims and others outside the Russian Orthodox Church that President Vladimir Putin has been anxious not to alienate.

U.S. Catholic: Catholic samba group turns parade into procession after nightclub fire
A Catholic samba group in Rio de Janeiro changed its parade plans after the nightclub fire that killed more than 230 people, most of them students from the local university in Santa Maria. The Catholic samba block group known as Revelry for Christ was scheduled to parade through downtown Rio Jan. 27. Instead, the group turned its parade into a religious procession, with approximately 30,000 would-be party-goers singing Catholic hymns and making their way to Rio's metropolitan cathedral, where Archbishop Orani Tempesta celebrated Mass.

The Jewish Daily Forward: Landmark Synagogue Seeks Right to Demolish Itself
With its imposing blocklike twin towers and sober neo-Gothic design, the synagogue at 60 Norfolk Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side has stood like a sentry at its present site since 1850 — long enough to earn landmark status from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. But now, this synagogue’s own congregation is seeking its destruction. Congregation Beth Hamedrash Hagadol, considered to be the oldest Russian Jewish congregation in the United States, is looking to reverse the landmark status of the venerable structure in which it once prayed in order to demolish it and make way for a multi-use development.

Huffington Post: 7 Things About Prophet Muhammad: A Clarification
In her recent piece, "7 Things That May Surprise You About Muhammad," author Lesley Hazleton offers unique insights into Prophet Muhammad's life. Giving credit where it is due, I've enjoyed Hazleton's TED talk on Prophet Muhammad, and many of her writings on Islam. In fairness, however, several of her "7 Things" are incorrect. This article mentions and clarifies these matters.

The Guardian: The church's sold-out CD proves silence is golden
The news that a CD containing half an hour of silence recorded in a Sussex church has sold out of its first pressing, and that the church is now taking orders from as far away as Ghana, seems a little baffling. "In this day and age, everybody seems to live busier, noisier lives – people sometimes like to sit down and just have a bit of peace and quiet for a little while," suggested Ronald Byng, the member of the congregation at St Peter's, East Blatchington who came up with the idea of recording in the church, although precisely how a CD of silence is supposed to blot out the relentless noise of everyday life remains unexplained.

BBC: Richard Dawkins and Rowan Williams booked for Cambridge debate
Richard Dawkins and Rowan Williams are to discuss the role of religion at a Cambridge Union debate. Prominent atheist Prof Dawkins and the former Archbishop of Canterbury will discuss whether "religion has no place in the 21st Century" on Thursday. They were involved in a public discussion at Oxford University last year. Ben Kentish, president of the union, said it should be a highlight of the debating society's 200-year history.

The Jerusalem Post: Student turns Holocaust survivors’ words into song
As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, 22- year-old Bar-Ilan University student Naama Winetraub has always found the Shoah to be an important and moving subject in her life. This is why she has decided to take on a special project in the hope of “bridging between the generations of the Holocaust and Israel’s future generations.” The initiative, a series of songs composed entirely of messages from the Holocaust generation, began after Winetraub came to a significant realization during her summer break last year: “My generation is the last generation that can still talk to people who lived through the Holocaust,” she told The Jerusalem Post.

Join the conversation…

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.

- A. Hawkins

Filed under: Uncategorized

soundoff (253 Responses)
  1. John F Kennedy

    I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute.

    January 29, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • William Demuth

      Yup.

      Thats probably why the rednecks killed you.

      January 29, 2013 at 10:03 am |
    • truth be told

      President Kennedy was killed like so many others by an atheist.

      January 29, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Captain azzhole, you're dull.

      January 29, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
  2. Saraswati

    Laws against "offending religious feeling" are some of the scariest most abused laws around the world today. I have to assume the Russians working on these laws are ignorant of the problems the same laws have caused elsewhere or are majority believers so naive they think they will always be in power.

    January 29, 2013 at 9:00 am |
  3. John Adams & the U.S. Senate

    As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion;

    January 29, 2013 at 9:00 am |
  4. James Madison

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:59 am |
  5. lunchbreaker

    SPOILER ALERT: the following contains info from the movie Constantine.

    In the movie Constantine, the main character is having a conversation with an angel. At this point Constantine is damned to Hell when he dies because he previously attempted suicide. The angel is telling Constantine how lucky man is, all they have to do is believe and they get everlasting paradise. Constantine says "I believe", to which the angel replies, "you know, there's a difference."

    So how much of what you believe is faith, versus supporting evidence you have observed? Doubting Thomas did not believe Jesus had returned until he saw the nail marks in Jesus' palm. That's not faith, but was enough for Thomas to gain salvation?

    January 29, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Live4Him

      @lunchbreaker : So how much of what you believe is faith, versus supporting evidence you have observed? Doubting Thomas did not believe Jesus had returned until he saw the nail marks in Jesus' palm. That's not faith

      I've previously posted the evidence that I use to support my position, so I'm not going to do it here again. In regards to Doubting Thomas, while he DID initially doubt, with a little more evidence he DID believe that Christ rose from the dead. Christ was simply acknowledging that those with less evidence can make the further leap to the same belief.

      John 20:29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

      January 29, 2013 at 9:06 am |
    • Robert Brown

      Lunchbreaker,

      This is a difficult question for me simply because I can’t remember ever not believing, doubting, questioning, yes, complete lack of belief, no. From mine on experience, I think it is very important for faith to be affirmed and reaffirmed often. I don’t know if the affirmation and reaffirmation would qualify as the same evidence Thomas received. He literally saw and touched Jesus. What I have experienced are personal experiences that I believe were the Holy Spirit of God.

      I have had many experiences and some of the most powerful and convincing for me were at times of extreme doubt. For example, at one point I had begun to doubt my salvation and time went by and I was asked to get up in front of a group I belonged to and give my personal testimony. This sent me into panic mode, what would I tell these folks, I thought I was saved but now I’m not so sure? I had plenty of time to think and pray about it because the group met periodically. A couple of weeks went by and I was ready just to back out, I had prayed as hard as I knew how and I might as well have been praying to a stump for all the good it had done me. Then, one day I was driving down the road, thinking and praying, and the Lord took me back to the day I was saved, not physically of course, more in a thought or vision. The experience was so powerful that I had to pull off the road. I spent several minutes praising the Lord and was able to drive again after a while. I will never forget that experience and by the way I was very confident and assured when it came time for me to give my testimony.

      I think God gives us what we need to believe, maybe not the same way he gave it to Thomas, but with the same effect and result.

      Peace.

      January 29, 2013 at 9:38 am |
  6. 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 29, 2013 at 8:59 am |
  7. 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 29, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • Live4Him

      Okay, you've demonstrated that you know how to copy-n-paste. Can you DEFEND what you're posting?

      January 29, 2013 at 9:00 am |

    • Jefferson's words speak for themselves. Also note similar wording by Madison above.

      January 29, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • Live4Him

      @Thomas Jefferson :

      So you admit that you cannot defend this posit and that you can only repeat what tickles your ears. Thanks for being truthful.

      January 29, 2013 at 9:08 am |

    • There is nothing to defend. They are words from the key framers. Are you afraid of them?

      January 29, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • tallulah13

      He/she fears because this contradicts everything he/she was taught about this country. It's awfully hard to parrot that the United States was founded as a christian nation when the founders themselves debunk that particular myth.

      January 29, 2013 at 11:01 am |
  8. 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 29, 2013 at 8:58 am |
  9. 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 29, 2013 at 8:57 am |
  10. 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 29, 2013 at 8:57 am |
  11. 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 29, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  12. 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 29, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  13. 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 29, 2013 at 8:55 am |
  14. 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.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:54 am |
  15. Thomas Paine

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

    January 29, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • Live4Him

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

      "The system of how children are brought into this world shocks a child, so it must not be true." Is THIS what you're claiming?

      January 29, 2013 at 8:57 am |

    • (they are Paine's words)

      January 29, 2013 at 9:04 am |
  16. 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 29, 2013 at 8:53 am |
  17. 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 29, 2013 at 8:52 am |
  18. truth be told

    All so called atheists are liars and as such useless to any dialogue anywhere. In fact an atheist has no use in this world or the next. The only thing an atheist could do to improve society would be to leave it with a self inflicted wound before it opened its lying mouth.

    January 29, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "truth be told", but your repeated assertions regarding atheism 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: "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 29, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • Live4Him

      @truth be told : All so called atheists are liars

      Matt 7:1 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

      Luke 6:37 Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you.

      January 29, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Pete

      "All so called atheists are liars"

      More lies from the xtians – 165!

      January 29, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • Live4Him

      @Pete : More lies from the xtians – 165!

      So, you can count from 1 to 165. Can you do anything else? Can you argue your position on issues?

      January 29, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • ¿¿lol

      Speaking of the lies of Christianity, why is it that the gospels seemed oddly very much like earlier pagan stories. Why is it that the early Christian apologists said it was a pre-emptive strike by Satan – that he wrote the fake pagan stories to exist before the gospels to try to throw people off? HA HA HA LOL! Give me a break.

      January 29, 2013 at 8:50 am |
    • Live4Him

      @¿¿lol : why is it that the gospels seemed oddly very much like earlier pagan stories.

      Which extant manuscripts of pagan stories dating prior to Jesus are simlar to the Gospel story?

      January 29, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • Science

      New tools for Robert Brown Chad Topher Live4Him and TBT

      updated 1 hour 55 minutes ago

      Scientists have unearthed and dated some of the oldest stone hand axes on Earth. The ancient tools, unearthed in Ethiopia in the last two decades, date to 1.75 million years ago.

      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/50620121/ns/technology_and_science-science/

      January 29, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • ¿¿lol

      @Gullible4Him: Consult with your early apologists – they are the ones that made the claim.

      January 29, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  19. Robert Brown

    For those of you who continue to ask for evidence or proof of God from believers,

    Jesus said, “Suppose one of you goes to a friend in the middle of the night and says, “Let me borrow three loaves of bread. A friend of mine has dropped in, and I don’t have a thing for him to eat.” And suppose your friend answers, “Don’t bother me! The door is bolted, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up to give you something.”

    He may not get up and give you the bread, just because you are his friend. But he will get up and give you as much as you need, simply because you are not ashamed to keep on asking.

    So I tell you to ask and you will receive, search and you will find, knock and the door will be opened for you. Everyone who asks will receive, everyone who searches will find, and the door will be opened for everyone who knocks. Which one of you fathers would give your hungry child a snake if the child asked for a fish? Which one of you would give your child a scorpion if the child asked for an egg? As bad as you are, you still know how to give good gifts to your children.

    But your heavenly Father is even more ready to give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks.”
    (Luke 11:5-13)

    Now this is not the evidence or proof that you think you need, but a way to obtain the Holy Spirit. If you will ask for and receive the Holy Spirit, it will satisfy what you now think you need, because you will know God and will see evidence of him in all things.

    Have you requested what you think you need from the only one capable of giving it to you?

    Isn’t faith itself a gift from God?

    January 29, 2013 at 8:33 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Robert Brown", but "God" and "Holy Spirit" are elements of mythology, therefore your assertions 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: "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 29, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • Live4Him

      @hal 9001 : I'm sorry, "Robert Brown", but "God" and "Holy Spirit" are elements of mythology

      You've provided no underlying premises, just a conclusion. Therefore, logically, your Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE) should fail to compute such an assertation. But, its just your pretend world anyway, so have at it.

      January 29, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Answer

      " But, its just your pretend world anyway, so have at it."

      You realize you just did the same thing idiot, so practice what you're preaching. LOL!

      January 29, 2013 at 8:50 am |
    • Live4Him

      @Answer : You realize you just did the same thing idiot, so practice what you're preaching. LOL!

      Ummm.... WHERE did I pretend to be a computer?

      January 29, 2013 at 8:54 am |
    • ¿¿lol

      Underlying premises are required to see that the God of Abraham is from mythology? I think it best that Gullible4Him should resign to 2nd string defense before she embarrasses herself any further.

      January 29, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • tallulah13

      Robert, this is not proof of god. It's merely proof that you are willing to believe in whatever you want to believe. Those of us who are interested in the truth are still waiting for evidence.

      January 29, 2013 at 11:06 am |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Pray without ceasing in 2013
    Prayer changes things

    January 29, 2013 at 7:23 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 29, 2013 at 7:37 am |
    • just wondering

      Of what value is this maggot that calls itself jesus?

      January 29, 2013 at 8:03 am |
    • Jesus

      More value than you "just wondering" since all you can post is lies, enjoy burning in the fire for eternity.

      January 29, 2013 at 8:11 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, " Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things", but your repeated assertions regarding atheism 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: "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 29, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • Jesus

      Burn baby burn! Burn baby burn! Burn baby burn! Burn baby burn!
      Burnin'!

      To mass fires, yes! One hundred stories high
      People gettin' loose y’all gettin' down on the roof – Do you hear?
      (the folks are flaming) Folks were screamin' – out of control
      It was so entertainin' – when the boogie started to explode
      I heard somebody say

      Burn baby burn! – Disco inferno!
      Burn baby burn! – Burn that mama down
      Burn baby burn! – Disco inferno!
      Burn baby burn! – Burn that mama down
      Burnin'!

      Satisfaction (uhu hu hu) came in the chain reaction
      (burnin') I couldn't get enough, (till I had to self-destroy) so I had to
      self destruct, (uhu hu hu)
      The heat was on (burnin’), rising to the top, huh!
      Everybody's goin' strong (uhu hu hu)
      And that is when my spark got hot
      I heard somebody say

      Burn baby burn! – Disco inferno!
      Burn baby burn! – Burn that mama down, yoh!
      Burn baby burn! – Disco inferno!
      Burn baby burn! – Burn that mama down
      Burnin'!

      Up above my head I hear music in the air – I hear music!
      That makes me know there's (somebody) a party somewhere

      Satisfaction came in a chain reaction – Do you hear?
      I couldn't get enough, so I had to self destruct,
      The heat was on, rising to the top
      Everybody's goin' strong
      That is when my spark got hot
      I heard somebody say

      Burn baby burn! – Disco inferno! (Aah yeah!)
      Burn baby burn! – Burn that mama down
      Burn baby burn! – Disco inferno, yeah!
      Burn baby burn! – Burn that mama down
      Burn baby burn! – Disco inferno! (Aah yeah!)
      Burn baby burn! – Burn that mama down
      Burn baby burn! – Disco inferno, yeah!
      Burn baby burn! – Burn that mama down
      Burnin’!

      I just can't stop
      When(till) my spark gets hot
      Just can't stop
      When my spark gets hot

      Burning, burning, burning, burning...

      January 29, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • == o ==

      The only kind of "trickle-down" that actually works:

      "pervert alert" degenerates to:
      "Taskmaster" degenerates to:
      "Ronald Regonzo" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "tina" degenerates to:
      "captain america" degenerates to:
      "just sayin" degenerates to:
      "just wondering" degenerates to:
      "nope" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      and many other names, but of course it's
      the disgruntled ex Evangelical Fortune Cookie Co. "writer".

      January 29, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • tallulah13

      Obvious troll is obvious.

      January 29, 2013 at 11:06 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.