When Christians become a 'hated minority'
Evangelical Christians say they are the new victims of intolerance - they're persecuted for condemning homosexuality.
May 5th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

When Christians become a 'hated minority'

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - When Peter Sprigg speaks publicly about his opposition to homosexuality, something odd often happens.

During his speeches, people raise their hands to challenge his assertions that the Bible condemns homosexuality, but no Christians speak out to defend him.

“But after it is over, they will come over to talk to me and whisper in my ear, ‘I agree with everything you said,’" says Sprigg, a spokesman for The Family Research Council, a powerful, conservative Christian lobbying group.

We’ve heard of the “down-low” gay person who keeps his or her sexual identity secret for fear of public scorn. But Sprigg and other evangelicals say changing attitudes toward homosexuality have created a new victim: closeted Christians who believe the Bible condemns homosexuality but will not say so publicly for fear of being labeled a hateful bigot.

As proof, Sprigg points to the backlash that ESPN commentator Chris Broussard sparked recently. Broussard was called a bigot and a purveyor of hate speech when he said an NBA player who had come out as gay was living in “open rebellion to God.” Broussard said the player, Jason Collins, was “living in unrepentant sin” because the Bible condemns homosexuality.

“In the current culture, it takes more courage for someone like Chris Broussard to speak out than for someone like Jason Collins to come out,” says Sprigg, a former pastor. “The media will hail someone who comes out of the closet as gay, but someone who simply expresses their personal religious views about homosexual conduct is attacked.”

When is disagreement hate?

Bryan Litfin, a theology professor at Moody Bible Institute in Illinois, says Christians should be able to publicly say that God designed sex to take place within a marriage between a man and a woman.

“That isn’t so outrageous,” Litfin says. “Nobody is expressing hate toward homosexuals by saying that. Since when is disagreement the same as hate?”

But quoting the Bible doesn't inoculate anyone from becoming a bigot or hater, some scholars say. There's a point at which a Christian's opposition to homosexuality can become bigotry, and even hate speech, they say.

Crossing such a line has happened many times in history.

A literal reading of the Bible was used to justify all sorts of hatred: slavery, the subjugation of women and anti-Semitism, scholars and pastors say.

“Truly damaging speech cannot be excused just because it expresses genuine religious belief,” says Mark D. Jordan, author of “Recruiting Young Love: How Christians Talk about Homosexuality.”

“Some religious beliefs, sincerely held, are detestable. They cannot be spoken without disrupting social peace,” says Jordan, a professor at the John Danforth Center on Religion & Politics at Washington University in St. Louis.

The point where religious speech becomes hate speech is difficult to define, though, scholars and activists say.

The Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama is a nonprofit civil rights group that combats and monitors hate groups. Three years ago, it designated the Family Research Council, the group that Sprigg represents, as a hate group - a characterization the group stridently rejects.

Mark Potok,  a center spokesman, says there’s no shared definition of what constitutes hate speech.

“There is no legal meaning. It’s just a phrase,” Potok says. “Hate speech is in the ear of the beholder.”

'One of the most hated minorities?'

Intolerance may be difficult to define, but some evangelicals say they have become victims of intolerance because of their reverence for the Bible.

The conservative media culture is filled with stories about evangelicals being labeled as “extremists” for their belief that homosexuality is a sin.

Their sense of persecution goes beyond their stance on homosexuality. There are stories circulating of evangelical students being suspended for opposing homosexuality, a teacher fired for giving a Bible to a curious student, and the rise of anti-Christian bigotry.

A blogger at The American Dream asked in one essay:

“Are evangelical Christians rapidly becoming one of the most hated minorities in America?”

The reluctance of evangelicals to speak out against homosexuality is often cited as proof they are being forced into the closet.

Joe Carter, editor for The Gospel Coalition, an online evangelical magazine, wrote a blog post entitled “Debatable: Is the Christian Church a ‘Hate Group’?" He warned that young people will abandon “orthodox” Christian churches that teach that homosexuality is a sin for fear of being called haters.

“Faux civility, embarrassment, prudishness and a fear of expressing an unpopular opinion has caused many Christians to refrain from explaining how homosexual conduct destroys lives,” Carter wrote.

Some Christians fear that opposing homosexuality could cause them to lose their jobs and “haunt them forever,” Carter says.

“It’s easier to just go along,” says Carter, who is also author of “How to Argue Like Jesus.” “You don’t want to be lumped in with the bigots. That’s a powerful word."

Edward Johnson, a communication professor at Campbell University in North Carolina, says we are now living in a "postmodern" era where everything is relative and there is no universally accepted truth. It's an environment in which anyone who says "this is right" and "that is wrong" is labeled intolerant, he says.

There was a time when a person could publicly say homosexuality was wrong and people could consider the statement without anger, he says. Today, people have reverted to an intellectual tribalism where they are only willing to consider the perspective of their own tribe.

“They are incapable of comprehending that someone may have a view different than theirs,” Johnson says. “For them anyone who dares to question the dogma of the tribe can only be doing so out of hatred.”

Sprigg, from the Family Research Council, says his condemnation of homosexual conduct does not spring from intolerance but a desire to protect gays from harmful conduct, he says.

Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the council, wrote in a council pamphlet that homosexual men are more likely to engage in child sexual abuse than are straight men. He also wrote that gay men are also afflicted with a higher rate of sexually transmitted diseases and mental illness as well.

Sprigg says he does not believe homosexuality is a choice and that “personal testimonies" and "clinical experience” show that some people “can and do change from gay to straight.”

“Maybe we need to do a better job of showing that we are motivated by Christian love,” Sprigg says. “Love is wanting the best for someone, and acting to bring that about.”

'That's a lie'

Potok, from the Southern Poverty Law Center, has little use for the love Sprigg talks about.

He calls it hatred, and his voice rose in anger when he talked about the claims by Sprigg and other Christian groups that gay men are more predisposed to molest children and that homosexual behavior is inherently harmful.

He says the Southern Poverty Law Center didn’t designate the Family Research Group a hate group because they view homosexuality as a sin or oppose same-sex marriage, Potok says. There are plenty of Christian groups who hold those beliefs but are not hate groups, he says.

A group becomes a hate group when it attacks and maligns an entire class of people for their “immutable characteristics,” Potok says. The Family Research Council spreads known falsehoods about gays and lesbians, he says, such as the contention that gay men are predisposed to abuse children.

“That’s a lie,” Potok says. “These guys are engaging in straight-up defamation of a very large group of people. There are not many things much worse than you can say in America about somebody than they are a child molester.”

Potok scoffed at Spriggs’ claim that the council and other evangelical anti-gay groups are victims of intolerance.

“That’s whining on the part of people who spend their days and nights attacking gay people and then some people criticize them and they don’t like it,” he says. “That’s pathetic. It reminds me of slave owners complaining that people are saying ugly things about them.”

What the Bible says

What about the popular evangelical claim, “We don’t hate the sinner, just the sin” – is that seen as intolerance or hate speech when it comes to homosexuality?

There are those who say you can’t hate the sin and love the sinner because being gay or lesbian is defined by one’s sexual behavior; it’s who someone is.

“Most people who identify as gay and lesbian would say that this is not an action I’m choosing to do; this is who I am,” says Timothy Beal, author of “The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book.”

Beal, a religion professor at Case Western University in Ohio, says it should be difficult for any Christian to unequivocally declare that the Bible opposes homosexuality because the Bible doesn’t take a single position on the topic. It's an assertion that many scholars and mainline Protestant pastors would agree with.

Some people cite Old Testament scriptures as condemning homosexuality, such as  Leviticus 18:22 - “If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination.” But other Christians counter by saying they are not bound by the Old Testament.

There are those who also cite New Testament scriptures like Romans 1:26-27 - “… Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men. …”

Beal, however, says Jesus said little about sex. And the Apostle Paul, who wrote Romans, was probably referring to male prostitution and men having sexual relations with boys, a practice in the Greco-Roman world.

“Paul does not understand genetics and sexual orientation the way we understand it now as something much more than a choice,” says Beal.

Some evangelicals say Christians can’t change their view of biblical truth just because times change. But some scholars reply:

Sure you can. Christians do it all the time.

Denying a woman’s ability to preach in church was justified by scriptures like 1 Timothy 2:11-12 - “… I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.” But many churches have abandoned that teaching - and some scholars say a woman preached the first Christian sermon, when Mary Magdalene proclaimed that Jesus had risen.

Slaveholders in 19th century America justified slavery through a literal reading of the Bible, quoting Titus 2:9-10 – “Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything. …” And anti-Semitism was justified by the claims that Jews killed Jesus, such as Matthew 27: 25-26 - “Let his blood be on us and on our children.”

Litfin, from Moody Bible Institute, acknowledged that the Bible once sanctioned slavery, but he said that practice was a “cultural expression” that changed over time. Evangelicals who oppose same-sex marriage by citing the Bible are on more solid ground, he says.

“Marriage is a universal and timeless institution that God set up for maximum human flourishing. He set it up in the first book of the Bible with the story of Adam and Eve. It is consistent throughout the whole Bible. … Marriage is in a different category than those cultural things.”

Public jousts over the Bible's stance on homosexuality rarely change people’s minds. What changes is when people get to know gay and lesbian people as friends and hear their story, says Beal, author of “The Rise and Fall of the Bible.”

“If you open up to that other person genuinely, you basically come to a point where you have to sacrifice them to your ideology or crack open your ideology to make a hospitable place for them,” Beal says.

One Christian pastor who is gay says the uproar over the ESPN commentator’s comments can actually be good,  because debates help settle moral disputes.

“What appears to us as antiquated and prejudicial now was once a disputed issue that required debate,” says the Rev. Richard McCarty, a minister in the United Church of Christ and a religious studies professor at Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania.

Until the debate over homosexuality is settled - if it ever is - there may be plenty of evangelical Christians who feel as if they are now being forced to stay in the closet.

Carter, the evangelical blogger, says he foresees a day when any church that preaches against homosexuality will be marginalized. Just as many churches now accept divorce, they will accept sexual practices once considered sinful.

“It’s getting to the point,” he says, “where churches are not going to say that any sexual activity is wrong.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Church and state • Culture wars • Protest • Sex • Sexuality • Sports

soundoff (10,982 Responses)
  1. Michele

    They are hated because they are hateful. Evangelicals especially, but many "mainstream" Xtians as well, are nasty, judgemental separatists who think they know more than anyone else. They castigate and condemn those who refuse to buy into their fairy tale. The majority do NOT live by the standards preached AND practiced by the man they claim is their divine lord and savior. Newsflash! If it turns out they are right and I am wrong, I still have a better chance of being let into paradise than do they with their hateful ways. Most of them will be spending eternity with the Westboro demons.

    May 5, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • al

      Well said, but you made one mistake...these Christians all believe they are going to heaven regardless of how evil the lives they lead. For them it is belief in the fantasy of Jesus and not actions that make the difference.

      May 5, 2013 at 9:36 am |
  2. firewalker25b

    When Christians become a 'hated minority'

    This all gotten worst when Obama claimed that WE ARE NOT A CHRISTIAN NATION.......and he said that He was a Christian....Bull-Manure

    May 5, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • Michele

      We are NOT a Christian nation..........our founding fathers specifically forbade that and warned us to be wary of religion. It many not be the opiate for the masses, but it is the opiate for the weak.

      May 5, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • Dick Izinya

      Actually, Obama wasn't the first President to say that. George Washington was. In the Treaty of Tripoli, Washington wrote,
      "the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion"
      Crack a book once in awhile.

      May 5, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  3. Denstre

    For future reference, Belief Blog, please get the terminology correct. Virtually every time you used the word "evangelical" inappropriately. Evangelism is the practice of proselytizing one's religion. Thus the most liberal believer can be an evangelist if that person "spreads the word" as that person perceives it. The appropriate descriptor here is "fundamentalist." Another advantage to using the correct terminology is that it also describes one end of a continuum found in most religions, not just Christianity. I mention this because other commenters found it important to bring up other religions.

    May 5, 2013 at 9:32 am |
  4. Steve

    Christians have been despised for thousands of years. How is this any different?

    May 5, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Jeebusss

      You're right, they are professional victims.

      May 5, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • Michele

      Gee, you'd think they'd have gotten a clue and changed their ways over thousands of years. Guess they are dumber than I thought.

      May 5, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • mark

      Enjoy your time you two..it is short! Depart for I never knew you.

      May 5, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • Dick Izinya

      Gotta LOL at your empty threats from the Bronze Age, mark. Now tell me how jesus is gonna make me scream and burn forever, because he loves me. 😀

      May 5, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • mark

      He will simply say Depart from for I never knew you. Where you go only you will know. Good luck.

      May 5, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • sam stone

      wow, the empty warnings/threats continue. you do realize your sacred book is only relevant to those who accept its supposed authority, don't you?

      May 5, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • mark

      No I realize you are accountable and will be.

      May 5, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
  5. Alex

    It's long past time we moved past the religions of the past and embraced humanity itself.

    May 5, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  6. Jeebusss

    Christianity: 2000 years of professional victim-hood.

    May 5, 2013 at 9:31 am |
  7. J.D. Barron

    The problem is not hating a Christian minority. The problem is the "Christians" who hate nearly every other point of view. Since they are a minority (the haters) then I would guess they are the "hating Christian Minority" instead.
    Since when does the Christian faith invest so much effort in hating rather than loving others?

    May 5, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  8. Mara Tam

    These are not normal Christians. These are rabid fanatic with blinders on dictators who want everyone else to believe and behave like them. THey don't know what genuine Christianity is.

    May 5, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  9. Rainer Braendlein

    I guess to some extent some churches really condemn gays, and therefore they are reasonably considered as hateful bigots. Love the sinner but don't love the sin, that needs some very high skill and knowledge.

    How should a Christian deal with gays in a way which would not deserve the designation hateful bigotry?

    We have to distinguish two cases: Is the certain person a church member, or is he or she any person from outside the church (for example a workmate, a next-door neighbour, anybody):

    First case, the person is a church member: If a church member becomes gay, he or she has do be admonished strictly several times. If he or she is stubborn, and doesn't want to abandon gayness, he or she has to be expeled from the church. When ever the certain person repents he or she should be allowed to return into the Christian community.

    Second case, the person is no church member but any person we meet in daily life, for example a workmate. We have to love our workmate despite his gayness. Of course, we are allowed, even obliged to tell him kindly the gospel of Jesus Christ which could release him from his gayness but even if our workmate would not repent we should still love him. The judgement is not ours but God's. Christians don't want to judge but help people to improve so that they may come through at Judgement Day. Regretably but really at Judgement Day all gay people who have not repented, and accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ, will get condemned.

    Addition: Of course, a state as a whole can make laws against gayness independent from the church. The state consists of believers, and people which not yet believe therefore the state may make laws concerning gays which do not consider the divine will inside the church, or consider it only a little. Of course, it is clear that families are the basic units of a living nation like cells are the basic units of a body. The more the number of families decreases the more a nation will suffer from loss, and will become weak. Therefore it is probable that even a more or less secular state will make laws against gayness in order to preserve the basic foundation of state-life which is the family. A Christian state may even consider the prescribtions of Christ for his Church but must always consider that the "sinners" deserve some patience, and need a place where they can live upt to the day of repentance (best case) or worst case up to Judgement Day.


    Dear gays, God delivered his Son Jesus Chirst for your sin (also gayness), and raised him from the dead for your justification. Believe that, and get baptized (or remember your infant baptism). Overcome your sinful body through this releasing gospel, and you will come through at Judgement Day.

    Through baptism we die and resurrect with Jesus. We die for the sin, and get a new life in Jesus. This truth or promise helps us to overcome the lust of our body even gayness, fornication, and the like.

    Before the Fall God made Eve as a friend and partner for Adam because Adam felt lonely. Actually Adam had no reason to feel lonely becaue he was in God's presence who is community in Himself. Hence, Eve was like a visble Gospel of God's love for Adam. The invisible God tried to show his love through giving Adam a living, visible person, Eve. Gays don't trust in the Lord that he may give them a wife at due course, and that is a very great sin, nearly the opposite of faith.

    Dear gays, God delivered his beloved Son for you who died for you on the cross. This is the maximum revelation of God's love. What should he do more? Dear gay, believe that God will give you a wife, because he also gave his beloved Son for you.

    May 5, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • midwest rail

      Still uninformed tripe.

      May 5, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • lobo

      It's funny how the least amount of people believed he was the son of god when he was actually walking around and performing so called miracles. Also God delivered his son on the cross because he needed to appease himself.

      May 5, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • JWT

      So many words what a pile of crap.

      May 5, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • Zooterist

      How should a Christian deal with gays? The hubris of such a question! You presume fictions you believe are facts, and you expand on utter BS as if you have an underpinning of substantial knowledge. Religions, including Christianity, and their myths are knowledge only in the sense that knowing Greed mythology is knowledge. Know it, but don't confuse it with anything other than literature.

      May 5, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  10. Mojolobo

    I just wish that those who write the headlines for these articles would be more accurate. "Christians" are not becoming a "hated minority", it is strictly "Evangelicals" banging the drum of religious intolerance who claim to be the aforementioned "hated minority". Metaphorical martyrdom in their "culture war" brings them great joy– Jesus said his followers would always be persecuted so every time they spew some of their intolerant rhetoric and public sentiment turns against them, they win! Even the most vile among them feel both empowered and completely vindicated when the secular (read: real) world calls them out on some outrageous belief that they hold and often wish to codify into law.

    May 5, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  11. KaPe

    The problem is the evangelical Christian demand for government assistance to control and conform society to their standards. I am a straight Christian if you need my labels, with no need or desire to for government assistance to validate who and what I am. Evangelicals should minister to their congregations and invite others to join them.

    May 5, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  12. spk

    Horrible headline. Christians aren't becoming a hated minority. Just judgmental rigid pharisee like Christians who think they have a "corner on the Kingdom". That they are the only one's who are right and are all to happy to relegate everyone else into the fires of hell for all eternity. It's not the faith of Jesus.

    I consider myself a Christian, and I don't feel like a hated minority

    May 5, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  13. Jack

    So, the tables have turned, now you can understand that other side. When you are the odd person out, it isn't bullying it is exclusion.

    There is a very big issues here! Are you Christians from the Religious Right now will to discuss it. I am a Christian and for years I pressed for open discuss of a half a dozen major issues. Just now maybe you will be forced question some of your dogma!

    May 5, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  14. Rolph

    Now that the shoe is on the other foot how does it feel fellow Christians?
    Is he who casts the first stone without sin?
    He who lives in glass houses etc
    Most wars have been started over religious interpretation.
    You have been telling people how they should live for centuries. Crusades, persecution, torture, forced conversion etc.
    Learn a lesson
    If you want to be Christian than be like Christ.

    May 5, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • Dennis

      Yes, I agree, the goal is to be like Christ. Christ lived without sinning. He died without ever committing a sin. Jesus came to fulfill the Old Covenant not to destroy it. In Christ we have a New Covenant but Jesus never said, "Don't worry about this, it's not a problem anymore." How we treat people is the issue that Christ addressed. He encouraged people to live good and righteous lives. That is the choice. The Bible did not encourage, nor do I, slavery but it talked about how you treat the slaves, which was culturally acceptable at the time and how the slaves that became Christians should behave. How does it feel? I obey God, I don't have the right to force others to obey God. That is the real issue. Everybody has a right to choose. Sometimes you are right and sometimes you are wrong. In other words, you have a right to be wrong. I have friends that are gay and I care for them greatly or should I say, I love them. It should not be up to those around me to force me to say that I condone the behavior. That is just as bad as the other way around..

      May 5, 2013 at 9:51 am |
  15. Mark

    This article embodies the disconnect that frustrates everyone that is for gay marriage. It's not that we're angry that Christians are voicing their opinions on their beliefs. It's the hypocrisy.

    Those same Christians that speak out against gay marriage probably violate every other obscure passage from the bible that isn't at the forefront of conversation. They just harp on the thing that grosses them out.
    Do people know it says in the bible to not eat shellfish? I bet that ESPN anchor had a nice shrimp dinner recently.

    The point is, most of these outspoken people are not following the bible's passages to the letter, yet the one thing they want to follow is something that persecutes a minority of the population.

    Of course people are going to speak out against people who pick and choose what to follow from the bible because we see the hypocrisy in their statements. When one picks to discriminate, that makes them a bigot. I think if you aren't following the bible to the letter, then you have no room to criticize someone else who isn't.

    May 5, 2013 at 9:29 am |
  16. Patrick

    Christian extremists like to interject their sick discriminatory views at every opportunity and then wonder why most Americans are turned off by them. Then when somebody offers something to the contrary of their beliefs they play the victim and claim people are trying to violate their religious rights or their rights to free speech. It's getting so old.

    May 5, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  17. MysticYat

    It is not Christians who are hated – it is the vile, bigoted, hate-filled radicals among them who call themselves "Christian" who are hated. Last time I checked Christ preached living a life of love, compassion, faith and caring for those in need – these people who call themselves Christian are practicing none of those qualities.

    May 5, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  18. Chris

    Christians have been persecuted since the beginning of christianity ...... and always will be ....... this, however, does not make them wrong.

    May 5, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Jeebusss

      You're right. However, basing their beliefs on fairy tales in a 2000 year old book of folklore DOES make them wrong.

      May 5, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • Patrick

      This makes them wrong:

      Leviticus 25:44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      Exodus 21:20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

      May 5, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • Rolph

      Nor does it make them inevitably right.
      Each and every religion- culture etc has been persecuted in the history of the world. We just don't seem to be able to learn from past discretions
      Father, forgive us all for we no not what we do. We are imperfect

      May 5, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Char

      Yeah, I know. I had to sneak into a hidden church the other day and make it back in time to my Christian ghetto before curfew. If only our state and US senators, representatives, the local mayor, judges, and police chief and sheriff as well as a vast majority of their employees were Christian, we wouldn't have to suffer through this oppression and finally be able to openly practice our faith.

      May 5, 2013 at 9:44 am |
  19. Peter

    I have a hard to believing that someone is going straight to hell because they are gay.

    May 5, 2013 at 9:28 am |
  20. davejjj

    This article is ridiculous and promotes the idea of "Christian persecution" which is utterly bogus in the USA. Christians want to pretend they are being "persecuted" every time their bigotry is held up for examination or they are denied special privileges. The Bible says that selling your daughter into slavery and the beating of slaves to near-death is perfectly OK, yet Evangelicals still want to pretend that the Bible is the ultimate moral authority which should trump all secular law. Sorry, the Bible is just as irrelevant as the Qur'an and the Bhagavad Gita. Strange that GOD could create a universe of stars and planets and nebula in a few days, but [He/She/It] had to have lots of help to create a few books.

    May 5, 2013 at 9:28 am |
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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.