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Who hears #PrayersForOklahoma?
May 21st, 2013
04:45 PM ET

Who hears #PrayersForOklahoma?

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='BurkeCNN']

(CNN) - God may not notice the thousands of prayers tweeted for victims of Oklahoma’s devastating tornado - but Ricky Gervais sure has. And he is not pleased.

As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 75,000 people have used the hashtag #PrayForOklahoma, including pop starlets, pastors and politicians, according to Topsy.com, a trend-monitoring site.

For example, the White House tweeted,

But the hashtag and the sentiments it promotes prompted a fierce backlash on social media, led by Gervais, a British comedian, and other prominent nonbelievers.

And while one Oklahoma City pastor says he appreciates the Twitter prayers, some religious scholars say devout petitions require more than moving your hands across a keyboard.

"A prayer is supposed to have a consequence for you," said Elizabeth Drescher, a lecturer at Santa Clara University in California. "It's not an act of magic."

Gervais, an ardent foe of organized religion, was more caustic.

After MTV tweeted that pop stars Beyonce, Rihanna and Katy Perry are sending their prayers to Oklahoma, Gervais responded, “I feel like an idiot now … I only sent money.”

Gervais and other atheists also kick-started a counter-trend, using the hashtag #ActuallyDoSomethingForOklahoma.

“If all people are doing is praying, it is worthless,” Hemant Mehta, an Illinois math teacher who writes the blog “Friendly Atheist,” told CNN. “If they are praying and donating to the Red Cross, that’s more like it.”

Mehta is promoting a group called Foundation Beyond Belief that aims to provide a humanist response to crises like the Oklahoma tornado.

The prayer debate spilled into other social media sites as well, with commenters on CNN’s Facebook page sparring over God’s role in Monday’s destructive whirlwind.

According to Oklahoma officials, 24 people have died, many more are injured, and once-orderly streets look likes foretastes of the apocalypse.

In response to a woman who said she was praying for the victims, Facebook commenter Peter Tongue replied, “If prayer works, there wouldn’t be a disaster like this in the first place .... so please keep your religion to yourself.”

But believers had their say as well.

“God is still in control!” said Wilbur Dugger, a commenter on CNN’s Facebook page. “Everything (God) does is to get our attention. … My sympathy and prayers go out to those who get caught up in his demonstrations of (God) ruling the world.”

The social-media sparring over prayer and God’s will reflect a culture in which traditional notions of religion - and the places where people talk about faith - are changing faster than a Twitter feed, said Drescher, the Santa Clara lecturer.

“We’re watching people re-articulate what it means to be spiritual and religious,” she said.

Just a few years ago, for example, no one knew what a hashtag was. Now the “#PrayFor...” meme appears after almost every national and international tragedy.

But what exactly does it mean? Is the tweeting multitude really folding its hands in prayer, or is it a fleeting expression of existential angst? Or maybe just a trendy thing to say?

“It seems to express hope and anxiety, and maybe even helplessness,” Drescher said.

“At the same time, it evokes this strong response from people who see it as a cop-out, a way of claiming some kind of spiritual space that doesn’t actually have any meaning to the people who are posting the meme or the community they are addressing.”

Traditionally, prayer has required something of the pray-er: an orientation toward reverence, a readiness to act, Drescher continued. “You are meant to do something - and that something may not be an easy thing.”

Slapping a hashtag at the end of a tweet doesn’t meet that standard, the scholar said.

The Rev. David Johnson of St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City said the prayerful tweets mean something to him - even if he’s been too busy to read them.

Since Monday, St. Andrew’s has become a Red Cross command post and reunion site for families to find loved ones caught in the tornado’s path. The tragedy has also touched the congregation itself, with homes, and some lives, lost on Tuesday, Johnson said.

Told of the Twitter prayers, Johnson said, “that’s awesome.”

“People feel helpless - like God called them to do something but they don’t know what. That’s where prayer comes in.”

Johnson said his church appreciates the many material donations coming its way: the generator sent by a lady from Arkansas, the food and water sent from neighboring towns. But they also solicit, and are happy to receive, the many prayers recited - or tweeted - on their behalf, he said.

“We’ve seen quite a lot of trauma in the last day,” Johnson said. “Obviously, people are going to ask why God allows tornadoes to happen. That’s just part of this world. God doesn’t promise us that bad things won’t happen, he promises to help us get through it. That’s what prayer helps us do.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • United States

soundoff (3,515 Responses)
  1. sly

    "The Red Sox are the greatest team ever"
    "No the Yankees are"
    "No the Red Sox are"
    "No the Yankees are"
    "No the Red Sox are"
    "No the Yankees are"
    "No the Red Sox are"
    "No the Yankees are"
    "No the Red Sox are"
    "No the Yankees are"
    "No the Red Sox are"
    "No the Yankees are"
    "No the Red Sox are"
    "No the Yankees are"
    "No the Red Sox are"
    "No the Yankees are"
    "No the Red Sox are"

    May 22, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      No, the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team was the greatest team ever....case closed.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
  2. anon

    Whether you believe that praying works or not is irrelevant. For many it is a way to verbally show support for someone else. But then people like Gervais come along and want to crap on others' actions. It is an intolerance at the time of crisis. How sick must one be to knock people who are at a minimum expressing their support and concern for others. Gervais has no class, never has, and likely never will. It's great he sent money, but to mock other people's actions in this crisis is the sign of a low life.

    May 22, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • anthony

      he's mocking their lack of actions

      May 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  3. Sarah

    Everyone has a right to their own beliefs . You do not have the right to force your religious beliefs on others. Simple as that. Each person has a right to their own opinion and I don't see how anyone could disagree with that.

    May 22, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  4. Dazzy

    I see people who say "praying for blah blah" on social media every day, yet I've never met anyone who actually gets down on their knees at night and actually prays.

    Ricky Gervais is right. Pray all you want, but unless you physically do something to help, you're not a part of the solution.

    May 22, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • anon

      And mocking those that "send prayers" helps how?

      May 22, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Mary

      Hi, my name is Mary. I'm a 40 year old housewife and stay at home mom who tweeted prayers for Oklahoma, sent money to the Red Cross, and bowed my head in prayer that night, and every night, for people in Oklahoma and around the world who suffer and need respite. It's my pleasure to make your acquaintance.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Brian Hartman

      How many people do you know who you have personal contact with right before they go to sleep? Not too many, I'm guessing.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  5. EgoSumLamia

    Saying "prayers for _____" is just like saying, I'm a Christian, it something that associates you with a popular and well know group, making you acceptable and one of the crowd.

    I have interacted with a lot of people on social networking sites that list their religion as Christian but are anything but. They will tell you they believe in God but they aren't following his law. Same with face to face interactions. They are talking it, but they aren't walking it.

    It takes a brave person to breakaway from the popular crowd and declare they are a Pagan or an Atheist.

    As for the comment you would be praying if you were in the path of a tornado or there are no atheist in foxholes. Wrong I am familiar with both, and guess what they are alive and doing very well.

    And if all else fails, just do as the Christians and blame the gay's. Seems like being gay or having no problems with someone being gay, is a biblical cause for natural disasters. So much for science and weather.

    I blame the straight people, they keep having gay kids..................

    May 22, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • anon

      It takes NO bravery to mock and ridicule others from behind a keyboard. Which is exactly what Gervais was doing.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  6. mgwilson

    Seriously Gervais? I'm not a fan of organized religion either, but his lashing out about keeping religion to yourself is just as bad as the believers who attempt to persuade you to become one of them. If tweeting that one is keeping the victims of Oklahoma's disaster in one's prayers offers some comfort to those impacted – which as an earlier comment states, it's the bible belt and faith is all they have right now- than let it be. Support comes in many forms, not only money. Back off Ricky.

    May 22, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • anon

      Agreed

      May 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  7. My Own Private Idaho

    God answers all prayers. Sometimes the answer is "No."

    May 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • Athy

      You don't really believe that, do you?

      May 22, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • ME II

      Interestingly, however, God's supposed yeses and nos correlate pretty nicely with random chance.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • sam stone

      how do you tell the difference between a "no" answer and no answer?

      May 22, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Not sure how I feel

      'sometimes the answer is no" -particuarly when you caused the problem. what parent allows their spoiled children to screw everything up and then say 'oh that's ok, I'll make everything new again so you can just ruin it again and not appreciate what you had.." Even IF you believe in God, I still do not understand the childish notion that christians have that he'll fix everything. Says who? If we screw up this earth, maybe, just maybe, he sits back and says 'ok then. die. I gave you the earth AND the intelligence to understand HOW to run it, and HOW to recognize when you're hurting it. You CHOOSE to ignore the data, then you die. You choose to use your brains to find solutions, then you live. that simple. I"m not fixing the problems YOU created due to your own greed selfishness and ignorance".

      May 22, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Not sure how I feel

      how do you tell the difference between a "no" answer and no answer?- I dont think it makes any difference, does it? The fact is, use the intelligence we have to figure out what we do, if it does harm and if it does, fix it. If you live in tornado alley, you make your schools able to withstand them. Period. anything less is stupid. If you see we have climate change, you ACCEPT the plethora of data and analysis and you start working the problem!!! You dont go off in your toddler two year old "but but, the man in the sky will fix it it it's happening! I just leave everything up to God to fix" two year spoiled brat stupid child act.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  8. TheHeartoftheMatter

    I have read through these posts. I believe in God, was raised a Christian but I DO NOT believe that the God I believe in is a wizard, nor do I think God lives in the sky. I don't pray to the sky, to a unicorn or to a fairy.
    I believe God dwells in the heart of every man. I do think our goodness comes from this same place, from the God that dwells within us. When we separate from that place we can justify any behavior; revenge, hatefulness, envy, etc. I am suspect of a person that says they only have themselves to answer to. What do they base their morality on? THe latest edition of Oprah Magazine.
    If as a people we weren't so afraid to see our own shortcomings we wouldn't be so afraid to know God. I've made plenty of mistakes in my life – I am only human – I don't blame someone else or justify my bad behavior. I forgive and I move on.
    When I pray I am aligning myself with something bigger and better than my own selfish desires so that I can be a better human to those around me and to myself. I often pray to be a blessing to those I touch. I think that's what being a Christian is.

    May 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  9. TXFreethought

    People who claim that those who take an atheistic view of life are cold and insensitive do not realize that for us, the tweets are cold and insensitive. We understand that not everyone can contribute physically or monetarily. We don't even really mind the prayed-tweets most of the time. What we despise is the notion that prayer or tweeted prayers are viable forms of help. Mr. Gervais' comments are not an indictment on people's sympathy but on the idea that prayer gets you off the hook for actually helping when you are able.

    May 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • anon

      They can be of comfort to those who are affected by the crisis. If one believes in prayer, others praying for them lets them know they and their plight are not forgotten. It may mean nothing to you, that's fine. But because it means nothing to you does NOT mean it means nothing to others. It's very simple.....

      May 22, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
  10. vicsdreams

    donating 25 cents does more than 100 consecutive hours of prayer

    May 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • thomas

      Sounds like you did a lot of research to come up with these figures.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • ScienceNeedsNoMagic

      Thomas: He might not have, but real scientific research has proven the lack of power of prayer. In fact, it showed a negative impact of prayer. Due to these findings, any amount donated far exceeds a prayer of no or even negative impact.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  11. Vicki

    #prayforrickygervais

    May 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • LMB

      Just did...and very well said. My heart, prayers & yes, money too, go out to those impacted by this tragedy. God Bless.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
  12. Angela

    Atheists need to shut the (bleep) up! If they really didn't believe in anything, they would ignore the believers. Their continued attempted degradation and harassment of believers of any types (except they never seem to knock Muslims – wonder why???) is an affront to our own liberties!

    May 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Athy

      Oh, poor Angela. If you can't take the heat, don't play the game!

      May 22, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Angela's left foot

      Everyone's tired of your pedantic bullshit. Feel free to shut the fuck up.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • EgoSumLamia

      Let me take a wild guess, Christian, right?
      I simply adore Christians who use or imply cuss words, to make an impact with their statement.
      It's so WWJD.......

      May 22, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • ME II

      @Angela,
      If believers would keep their belief to themselves then atheists could ignore them. As it is, believers impact the lives of atheists.

      Also, http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/03/01/atheist-group-targets-muslims-jews-with-myth-billboards-in-arabic-and-hebrew/

      May 22, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Julie

      I'll shut up when you stop your buddies from knocking on my door and trying to safe me. Keep you fear and insecurities to yourself and you won't hear from atheist.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • some girl

      Read any book by the popular atheist authors. Almost all of them criticize Islam, even more harshly than Christianity.

      Check out Sam Harris.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • sam stone

      first of all, angela, atheists do believe in stuff

      secondly, we do knock islam

      thirdly, we have freedom of speech, so we will speak when we damn well wish.

      b1tch

      May 22, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • sam stone

      angela: your blathering as affront to free speech

      May 22, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  13. KC

    I would like to first put not everyone has the money to donate to them. most people are trying to keep a roof over there head. So why don't the Atheist's give more money or at least help a homeless person out. Hmmmmmmm how come you don't see that Hmmmmmm I think people need to back off on religion for once. The weather is done be mother nature. Humans in General have upset her and now she is mad. This is her way at getting back. I am soo tired of hearing of religion I don't know if i want my child when i have one to have a religion.

    May 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • tom

      What makes you think that atheists don't give? Maybe they don't see a need to promote themselves or religious affiliation so they give anonymously.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • Zeke2112

      I and many other atheists have sent money and goods to help. These help a whole lot more than hands folded for 15 seconds and a Twitter hashtag. The difference is that we do good deeds because it's right right thing to do – not because they increase our score on god's spreadsheet.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • LostinSLC

      Atheists are too busy pointing out everyone else's flaws to actually get out and help others. They fall into their own little hate bubble and think they live away from everyone else. Christianity teaches you to help others regardless of your personal reasons and do it because as human beings we are all brothers and sisters on this Earth. Sadly an Atheist will never understand what it means to help others.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Angela's left foot

      Lost...you are lost. You have no idea who does what. Sit down.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • EgoSumLamia

      Actually, wiener head there is already an Atheist group offering support, Atheists Giving Aid. You don't have to set through a prayer meeting or a revival service to receive help.

      "The Red Cross is on hand. They serve a great purpose. However, a lot of their funds go to pay overhead. With us, your money goes right to those that need help. So, if you want to give money where you know it will go directly to someone in need, and NOT go through a religious source "

      May 22, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Phattee

      I don't think you should be having children at all.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  14. waterman

    Guy praying: Dear God, please bless Moore.
    God: If I wanted to "bless" it, I wouldn't have sent a tornado there in the first place, you idiot.

    May 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Fr. William Lugger

      God does not SEND tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis. When God sent the world IN MOTION ...things happen...weather earthquakes all kinds of natural disasters.. To say God does this is completely wrong. God is PERFECT LOVE. That's all. God's love is shown in 1st responders, rebuilders, medical people, donations of food, clothing and $$$ and yes even prayers. Quit blaming God.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Zeke2112

      So, Father...do you then deny that god is all-knowing and all-powerful? if he is all-knowing, then he knew a billion years ago that this would happen and failed to stop it. If he is all-powerful, he could have easily stepped in to prevent it. If you have the capability to stop a murder and fail to do it, you are just as guilty of murder as the person who did it. God gets no free pass here.

      Of course, if god is neither all-knowing nor all-powerful, why do you bother praying?

      May 22, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • waterman

      All weather is completely under God's control, right? God could have easily stopped (or prevented from forming) something that was going to kill his children. Why didn't he do it?

      And God, being good, does save people from tornados, right? So why didn't he save the kids that die? If some kids were saved by him, what did the other kids do wrong?

      May 22, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  15. oneSTARman

    Who Hears the PRAYERS of those suffering from Climate Catastrophes like Hurricane Sandy or Mile-wide Tornadoes or Million acre Wildfires or Endless Drought turning Farms that feed the WORLD into DUST?
    Certainly NOT Those Climate Deniers in Congress like Oklahoma's Jim Inhofe who ENABLE the Fossil fuel Interests who OWN them to DESTROY our Grandchildren's future and do the work of SATAN to bring about the End of the world

    May 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Dippy

      Why don't you pray that god will help you learn the rules of capitalization?

      May 22, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • BetterinMentor

      LOL....global temp has not risen in 10 years. Arctic and Antarctic ice returning, yet you still ride the Al Gore bus. Time for you to move on to a new "problem"!

      May 22, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Josh

      Somethings are beyond God's ability Dippy.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Dippy

      Sadly, you're probably right, Josh. At least in this case.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
    • Not sure how I feel

      Not only are global temperatures rising, every species is beginnning to respond to it except for the 'most intelligent'. Fish are beginning to migrate, to leave their native waterse and migrating toward the poles to 'cooler' waters which are actually the temperatures that their waters were five years ago. Plant species are migrating to the poles as well, you now see , for instance, tree and bush and flowers in more northern states now than ever existed 10, 20 years ago. The ocean temps HAVE risen. There are no less than two dozen papers from scientists all over the world studying everything from bees, birds, aquatic species, herbs, aborists, ... it's happening. And the middle of the earth, the southern part of this country, will pay the worse. That sort of makes me believe in God. Sort of a karma, isn't it? That those who resisted being logiical will reap the most pain in their expecting God to fix all the problems they caused and they were given the intelligence to figure it out, but they just chose not to.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
  16. Sam

    I have lived in Oklahoma my entire life. What happened here is a catastrophe...And, it's not the first time. Though I am not super religious myself, this is the bible belt. People here cling to their faith during tragedies such as this, because all they have left is their faith. Believe it or not, it really comforts people here knowing that others are praying for them in a time of crisis. I do not know about the rest of the United States, but here in Oklahoma, we pull together. It doesn't matter what religion you claim, what your status is, what political affiliation you are. We put this stupid banter aside and help our fellow Okies. That's just what we do here. There are donation drop offs everywhere, and those that haven't been affected (including myself) have donated items. Restaurants are whipping up food for those displaced and search and rescue crews. So, while you all are arguing about what is right or wrong when it comes to donating, Oklahoma is banding together and getting it done. We APPRECIATE all the prayers we're receiving. Keeping us in your thoughts and prayers keeps the hope (and faith) alive.

    May 22, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Athy

      I think money would help a lot more than prayers.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Not sure how I feel

      "all they have left is there faith" ---– well, there in lies the problem, isn't it? So you dont have building codes, in tornado alley, for shelters for children in school???? really?? Because God will take care of you? That's just stupid. The problem with 'having faith' is the arrested toddler mindset it puts you in, where, if you acted like an adult, actually READ the facts and science behind climate change, you realize, hmmm, these big storms WILL BE the norm in ten years, not the exception, then you plan. YOu MAKE your buildings safe and by the time this sort of thing starts hitting you every other week, you've already got the infrastructure in place to deal with it. If you want to believe in God, that's fine. But when you replace logic and critical thinking with "the man in the sky will fix all our problems" you then BECOME the problem, the person in the way to finding solution and saving lives. This whole resistance to climate change is going to be the death of us, and surveys show those who do NOT read the science are the very religious, the same folks that get in the way of us finding solutions that could save lives!

      May 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  17. nacho

    This is a serious offense. Ricky's charity movement is motivated by the anger of proving something instead of actually doing charity. He eventually will become a big hypocrite in the future.

    May 22, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • Not sure how I feel

      His motives are certainly not motivated by anger. Digust maybe, but not anger. I am agnostic, I dont know what to believe, though I do believe in something. but organized religion is a problem, a huge problem, in fact, it makes nearly all our problems worse. this idea that God will fix problems is a great excuse to do nothing. It is a great excuse not to plan, not to pay for problem solving, not to read studies that look into trends or causes for what we're doing and what it may lead to. It's lazy. It's childish, and we have reached a time in our development where we need to move past childish notions of a man in the sky taking care of all our problems. Maybe God does love us, maybe he cares, but to do anything other than try to take control of your life and your decisions is just plain old stupid and irresponsible and that is what the very religious tend to do.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Angela's left foot

      Serious offense? OH NO!

      May 22, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
  18. checi

    The Republican congressman from Moore was on the radio yesterday morning and said on the air that the number one thing that Oklahomans needed most was PRAYER. I can't remember number 2 but number 3 was assistance through Red Cross or some other charity like the Federal Government. So his priority for his damaged people is PRAYER. Are you going to argue with their elected official??

    May 22, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • Athy

      Their elected official should be recalled.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Josh

      No need for FEMA assistance.
      Let God pick up the tab.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • reddragon

      And how exactly did prayer help? Did it feed them? Put a roof over their head? I think they need to not vote for that official again.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
  19. bluemalak

    Must be nice to be so self-absorbed that you have time to hassle religious people because they pray for victims. This was a national tragedy, and its time we stopped being so self-serving in whatever religious or non religious camp we're in and figure out that our silly little prejudices have absolutely no relevance here. If someone wants to pray for victims, shut and and leave them alone. If they want to volunteer to help or donate money, fantastic. Why do people feel the need to feed their personal religious/non-religious vendettas at the worst possible times? And hey, I like Ricky Gervais, he's funny, but he's not an American so who the hell cares what he thinks about Americans praying for Americans?

    May 22, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • DC

      thank you

      May 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • Angela's left foot

      We're going to need you to prove you're American before we care what you say. Please post your long form birth certificate.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • reddragon

      He's sending money. You should care.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  20. Erik

    I don't pray because I don't believe it makes any difference. It's not that i'm atheist. There might be a higher power. I just don't believe I have any mental telepathic power to communicate with that being - if it exists at all. Maybe others do. Nothing in my experience has ever led me to believe that I do.

    May 22, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • Athy

      Prayer only helps the mood of the one praying – nothing else.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:03 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.