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June 20th, 2013
10:22 AM ET

Exodus apologizes to gay community, shuts down 'cure' ministry

(CNN) - After 37 years, Exodus International, an organization whose mission was to "help" gay Christians become straight, is shutting down. But not before issuing an apology.

"We're not negating the ways God used Exodus to positively affect thousands of people, but a new generation of Christians is looking for change - and they want to be heard," Tony Moore, an Exodus board member, said Wednesday.

The announcement comes less than a day after Exodus issued a wide-ranging apology to the gay community for "years of undue judgment by the organization and the Christian Church as a whole," a statement from the group says.

"Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we've ceased to be a living, breathing organism," said Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus. "For quite some time, we've been imprisoned in a worldview that's neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical."

Chambers, who has a wife and children and previously identified as gay, has acknowledged that he has "ongoing same-sex attractions."

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Culture wars • Gay rights • Homosexuality

June 19th, 2013
03:28 PM ET

How the 'Francis effect' could rescue the church

Opinion by John Gehring, special to CNN

Can Pope Francis save the Catholic Church?

The question is part hyperbole, of course, but perhaps a fitting way to ponder what some are now calling the “Francis effect.”

At a time when nearly 1 in 10 Americans are former Catholics, Pope Francis is using a humble style to set a new direction for the church that could reinvigorate the multitude, many of whom are weary of culture-war Christianity.

While a rising number of young Americans no longer identify with a particular religion, many seekers still hunger for moral clarity and prophetic voices that challenge the shallow materialism and spiritual alienation of our fractured culture.

During his first 100 days, Pope Francis has emphasized the Gospel’s radical and still relevant messages of peace, compassion and justice for the poor. He also just might break through to reach the religiously disaffected where others have failed.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Opinion • Pope Francis

June 14th, 2013
04:05 PM ET

Superman: Flying to a church near you

By Eric Marrapodi, Co-Editor CNN Belief Blog
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Baltimore, Maryland (CNN) - As the new Superman movie takes flight this weekend, filmmakers are hoping the Man of Steel lands not only in theaters, but also in pulpits.

Warner Bros. Studios is aggressively marketing "Man of Steel" to Christian pastors, inviting them to early screenings, creating Father’s Day discussion guides and producing special film trailers that focus on the faith-friendly angles of the movie.

The movie studio even asked a theologian to provide sermon notes for pastors who want to preach about Superman on Sunday. Titled “Jesus: The Original Superhero,” the notes run nine pages.

“How might the story of Superman awaken our passion for the greatest hero who ever lived and died and rose again?” the sermon notes ask.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Celebrity • Christianity • Church • Entertainment • Media • Movies

June 13th, 2013
02:15 PM ET

The pope said what? Six stunners from Francis

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) –Pope Francis has challenged his flock of 1 billion Catholics not to be “starched Christians” who chat about theology over tea.

He’s been taking his own advice.

Since his election in March, Francis has delivered sharp and unscripted remarks on everything from homosexuality to atheism to his unlikely election to the seat of St. Peter.

Anyone who bet the 76-year-old Jesuit from Argentina would become Supreme Pontiff likely won a lot of dough, Francis joked on Sunday.

We’re wagering this pope’s got a few more surprises up the sleeves of his white cassock.

Meanwhile, here are six eye-openers Francis has uttered thus far.

FULL POST

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Pope Francis

June 12th, 2013
02:32 PM ET

Big Baptist group urges ouster of Boy Scout execs

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - The Southern Baptist Convention, the country's second largest church, said Boy Scout executives who pushed to allow openly gay Scouts without properly consulting members should be ousted from office.

In a resolution approved Wednesday at their annual meeting, Southern Baptist leaders stopped short of urging churches to cut ties with local troops in protest of the Scouting change, but didn't encourage them to stay, either.

Either way, the historic decision to allow gay Scouts could "complicate basic understandings of male friendships, needlessly politicize human sexuality, and heighten sexual tensions within the Boy Scouts,” the Baptist resolution says.

The Boy Scouts of America initially planned to lift its longtime ban on openly gay youth without canvassing members, Southern Baptists charged in a resolution that passed overwhelmingly.

The executives behind that plan should be removed, the Baptists said.

FULL POST

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Christianity • Church • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Politics • United States

June 11th, 2013
01:35 PM ET

Pope Francis: `Gay lobby' exists inside Vatican

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - Pope Francis said a “gay lobby” exists inside the Vatican, a surprising disclosure from a pope who has already delivered his share of stunners, and a resurrection of church conflicts that had bedeviled his predecessor's papacy.

“In the Curia,” Francis said, referring to Catholicism’s central bureaucracy, “there are holy people. But there is also a stream of corruption.”

“The 'gay lobby' is mentioned, and it is true, it is there,” Francis continued. “We need to see what we can do.”

READ MORE: The pope said what? Six stunners from Francis

Hints that the Holy See contained a network of gay clergy surfaced last year in reports about a series of embarrassing leaks to Italian journalists.

The "Vatileaks" scandal factored in Pope Emeritus Benedict XIV's shocking decision to resign earlier this year, according to some church experts, as it impressed upon the 86-year-old pontiff that the modern papacy requires a vigorous and watchful presence.

FULL POST

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Gay rights • gender issues • Homosexuality

June 6th, 2013
10:37 AM ET

With his speech, valedictorian brings God to graduation

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN
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(CNN) - Leading up to Saturday’s ceremony, Roy Costner IV prayed on what he was going to do. Liberty High School’s 2013 valedictorian would soon find himself in front of a microphone. He’d have a pulpit from which he could address his small community tucked away in South Carolina’s mountainous corner.

Only his father and pastor knew what was weighing on his heart and mind. Could he, should he, insert a prayer in his pre-approved graduation speech? He’d been told by the school principal that talk of religion wasn’t allowed, and so far he’d followed the rules.

But as the day approached, the 18-year-old couldn’t deny what he felt he needed to do. FULL POST

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Belief • Christianity

June 5th, 2013
03:44 PM ET

A plea from an exhausted Muslim woman

Opinion by Melody Moezzi, Special to CNN

(CNN) - I wasn’t surprised by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's recent statement about a “problem within Islam.”

It's not as though I've never heard anything like it before. I hear it all the time.

Still, his words - in response to a recent attack in London that left a British soldier dead - made me wonder: How might the public have reacted in a different context, had Blair replaced the word “Islam” with “Christianity” or “Judaism”?

I’m guessing not well.

But Muslims are used to having their faith openly denigrated by public officials.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Islam • Opinion • Politics

Atheists to start 1-800 hotline for doubters
The group Recovering from Religion plans to start a helpline for people struggling with religious doubts.
June 4th, 2013
03:08 PM ET

Atheists to start 1-800 hotline for doubters

By Dan Merica, CNN
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(CNN) – Who can people call when religious doubts arise, but they're afraid to talk to their faith leaders or families?

A group that helps people "recover" from religion says it's ready to pick up the phone.

Recovering from Religion, which has about 40 support groups in the U.S. and Britain, plans to launch a hotline that will offer doubters an anonymous place to ask difficult questions and find communities of like-minded nonbelievers.

The group plans to staff the help line 24 hours a day and is modeling it after services like suicide prevention hotlines.

Sarah Morehead, executive director of Recovering from Religion, told CNN that the mission is to help people, not convert them to atheism.

“A lot of the times they just need someone to talk to," Morehead said.

FULL POST

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • United States

Lutherans elect first openly gay bishop
The Rev. R. Guy Erwin was elected the first openly gay bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on May 31.
June 3rd, 2013
02:12 PM ET

Lutherans elect first openly gay bishop

By Dan Merica and Daniel Burke, CNN
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(CNN)– For more than two decades, the Rev. R. Guy Erwin couldn't officially be a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. On Friday, he was elected a bishop.

Erwin's election signals a shift not only for the ELCA – the nation's seventh largest church – but also for American Christianity. Only one other mainline Protestant denomination, the Episcopal Church, has elected openly gay and lesbian bishops.

“In these days such milestones seem to be coming at an ever-faster rate," Erwin told CNN, "and eventually what seems revolutionary now will seem normal and predictable."

With more than 4 million members in 10,000 congregations, the ELCA is the largest of several Lutheran denominations in the United States. The ELCA's decision to allow gay clergy has strained ties between those denominations, some of whom have partnered for relief work.

FULL POST

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Lutheran

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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.

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