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June 12th, 2014
09:14 AM ET

One priest killed, another injured at Catholic church in Phoenix

(CNN) - A shooting at a Catholic church in Phoenix left one priest dead and another one in critical condition, authorities said early Thursday.

A 911 call came in about 9 p.m. Wednesday local time from the Mother of Mercy Mission Catholic Church, said Sgt. Steve Martos of the Phoenix Police Department.

One of the victims made the call about the attack, which Martos described as a burglary.

The Rev. Kenneth Walker, who was killed on Thursday, and the Rev. Joseph Terra, who remains in critical condition, both belonged to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a Catholic community founded in 1988 that trains priests and celebrates the traditional Latin Mass.

In a statement, the fraternity said:

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- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Guns • Houses of worship

June 10th, 2014
02:40 PM ET

Meet the atheist ... who believes in God

Opinion by Frank Schaeffer, special to CNN

(CNN) - All the public debates between celebrity atheists and evangelical pastors are as meaningless as literary awards and Oscar night.

They are meaningless because participants lack the objectivity to admit that our beliefs have less to do with facts than with our personal needs and cultural backgrounds.

The words we use to label ourselves are just as empty.

What exactly is a “believer?” And for that matter what is an “atheist?” Who is the objective observer to define these terms?

Maybe we need a new category other than theism, atheism or agnosticism that takes paradox and unknowing into account.

Take me, I am an atheist who believes in God.

Let me explain.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Culture & Science • Faith • God • Nones • Opinion

June 10th, 2014
11:13 AM ET

Sister Act: Singing nun wins 'The Voice' in Italy

Sister Cristina Scuccia won Italy's version of "The Voice." CNN's Delia Gallagher reports.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church

June 7th, 2014
07:31 AM ET

Finding wholeness in a holy place

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

(CNN) - Earlier this year, thanks to a global religion reporting fellowship, I had the opportunity to explore the spiritual landscape that is Rishikesh, India.

It’s a magical little city nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas that’s holy to Hindus and a mystical playground for Westerners.

The journey was something I lightly anticipated as “Eat, Pray, Love … minus the pizza and sex.” It turned out to be so much more.

Maybe you followed the two-week experience, as it unfolded, at #RoamingRavitz. Or perhaps you’re hearing about this adventure for the first time. Either way, I hope you’ll be curious to learn more.

My time in Rishikesh was full. What I learned from the swamis, gurus, astrologers, yogis, healers and seekers I met there left my head and heart spinning.

Months later, I have finally made sense of it all. I invite you to check out the full story of my odyssey at "Indian Awakenings."

Also be sure to read "Lost and found: Missing in Rishikesh, India, the 'Land of Gods,'" where I delve into the mysteries surrounding the disappearance in Rishikesh of two Western men. Some have theorized that they fell victim to "India Syndrome," an unusual condition in which young Western travelers become delusional and, in extreme cases, disappear - often during quests for enlightenment.

I went into both reporting ventures not knowing what to expect. They brought me places I never saw coming.

If a spiritual destination left you transformed, I'd love to know where you went and what you learned. Please feel free to share in the comments section.

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Hinduism • India • Journeys

June 6th, 2014
08:28 AM ET

Does Islam really condemn converts to death?

Opinion by Abed Awad, special to CNN

(CNN) – Last month, a Sudanese court imposed a death sentence on Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a 27-year-old pregnant mother, because she refused to renounce her Christian faith.

Ibrahim says she was raised Christian by her mother after her Muslim father abandoned them when she was 6 years old.

But this week, a man claiming to be Ibrahim’s brother said that she was raised a Muslim and that if she does not return to the faith, she should be killed.

Both the Sudanese court and the man who claims to be Ibrahim’s brother say the Islamic faith is clear: Apostasy, renouncing the religion, is a capital crime.

But is it really?

The idea of apostasy as a crime within Islam begins with the Quran and the Sunna, the faith’s foundational texts.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Africa • Belief • Death • Foreign policy • Islam • Islamic law • Muslim • Opinion • Religious liberty • Religious violence • Sharia

June 3rd, 2014
01:02 PM ET

Inside Manhattan's most hipster-y megachurch

(CNN) - While some churches are struggling to attract younger members,  20 and 30-something-year-olds are waiting in long lines to get into Hillsong's services.

Pastor Carl Lentz is the main attraction. He spoke to CNN's Poppy Harlow about the church's success and where he stands on several major issues.

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Celebrity • Christianity • Church • evangelicals • Leaders • Protestant • Sacred Spaces • Trends • TV-Anderson Cooper 360

June 2nd, 2014
11:25 AM ET

China's latest crackdown target: religion

Opinion by William McKenzie, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Early on the morning of November 28, 2007, Jia Weihan was forced to think the unthinkable: Was her father really a bad man?

At the time, she was an 11-year-old attending a school in Beijing that taught her to respect the communist authorities. When 30 or so police officers arrived to arrest her father, she did not know what to think.

As it turned out, her father, Shi Weihan, the pastor of a house church, was simply trying to live out his religious beliefs. That should be a fundamental right, but in China - even the more economically liberalized China – it’s not.

Twenty-five years after Tiananmen Square - where on June 4, 1989, Chinese soldiers turned their guns on protesting students and activists - freedom remains elusive.

In China, Tibetan Buddhists and Uyghur Muslims face worse conditions than at any time over the past decade, according to a report from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

The report warns that independent Protestants and Catholics face arrests, fines and the closing of their churches. The government recently bulldozed one large church in the city of Wenzhou.

The report also highlights other restrictions, including these problems:

"Practitioners of Falun Gong, as well as other Buddhist, folk religionist, and Protestant groups deemed 'superstitious' or 'evil cults' face long jail terms, forced denunciations of faith and torture in detention, and the government has not sufficiently answered accusations of psychiatric experimentation and organ harvesting."

In Shi's case, he had decided not to tell Jia and her 7-year-old sister, Enmei, that he was printing Bibles and Christian literature. That was against Chinese law, so he did not want to put his children in jeopardy by letting them in on the secret.

Their children soon came to understand the secret, in a life-altering way.

FULL POST

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Asia • Belief • China • Christianity • Church and state • Discrimination • Foreign policy • Opinion • Persecution

June 1st, 2014
07:02 PM ET

When religious obsessions slide into OCD

(CNN) - When she was 12, Jennifer Traig's hands were red and raw from washing them so much. She'd start scrubbing a half an hour before dinner; when she was done, she'd hold her hands up like a surgeon until her family sat down to eat.

Her handwashing compulsions began at the time she was studying for her Bat Mitzvah. She was so worried about being exposed to pork fumes that she cleaned her shoes and barrettes in a washing machine.

"Like a lot of people with OCD, I tended to obsess about cleanliness," said Traig, now 42. "But because I was reading various Torah portions, I was obsessed with a biblical definition of cleanliness."

Family dinners were awkward for Tina Fariss Barbour, too, as an adolescent. She would concentrate so hard on praying for forgiveness that if anyone tried to interrupt her thoughts, she wouldn't respond.

"First I had to get rid of all my sins, ask forgiveness, do it in the right way, and then I had to pray for protection," said Barbour, now 50. "Or, if something bad happened to my family, it would be my fault because I had not prayed good enough."

The women come from different faith backgrounds: Barbour is Methodist and Traig is Jewish. But as children they believed fervently that they needed to conduct their own rituals and prayers, or else disaster would befall their families.

Both women say they suffered from a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder known as scrupulosity. A fear of sin or punishment from deities characterizes this condition, saidJonathan Abramowitz, professor and associate chairman of the department of psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, involves unwanted thoughts ("obsessions") and accompanying behaviors called compulsions that patients use to reduce anxiety. In scrupulosity, the obsessions have a religious or moral underpinning.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Uncategorized

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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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