Why South Korea could be the church of future
Catholics attend Mass in Seoul, South Korea. When Pope Francis visits the country this week, he will find a thriving Catholic community .
August 12th, 2014
05:08 PM ET

Why South Korea could be the church of future

Opinion by Candida Moss, special to CNN

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(CNN) – When Pope Francis arrives in South Korea on Wednesday for a five-day visit, he’ll get a look at just the kind of church he’s been trying to create worldwide.

The trip, planned to coincide with Asia Youth Day, marks the first time a pope has visited the country since 1989, and is part of a new papal focus on globalization in general and on Asia in particular. (Francis plans to visit Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Japan in January.)

The time has long passed that the Catholic Church is elderly white men and women in European enclaves.

The last papal conclave and the election of the first Latin American Pope raised awareness of the Catholic Church’s growing presence in Africa, but Asian Christianity was hardly mentioned at all.

Even if it is rarely discussed in the media, Korean Catholicism is among the most vibrant in the world.

Here are five reasons South Korea might be the future of Catholic Church.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Asia • Catholic Church • Christianity • North Korea • Opinion • Pope Francis • South Korea

The worst places in the world to be religious
Rohingya Muslim children at a refugee camp in Burma, where authorities have incited violence against them, according to the State Department.
May 15th, 2014
10:56 AM ET

The worst places in the world to be religious

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Editor

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(CNN) - Since 1999, the U.S. State Department has tracked the world's worst abusers of religious rights. 

As the most recent report notes, it has never lacked for material. Persecutions of people of faith are rising across the globe.

Among the most worrying trends, according to the State Department, are "authoritarian governments that restrict their citizens’ ability to practice their religion."

In typically bland bureaucratic language, the State Department calls these "countries of particular concern." But the designation can come with some teeth.

Sudan, for example, where a Christian woman was sentenced to death this week for leaving Islam, is ineligible for some types of foreign aid.

In addition to Sudan, here are the State Department's "countries of particular concern." You might call them "The Worst Places in the World to Be Religious."


- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Africa • Baha'i • China • Christianity • Church and state • Discrimination • Foreign policy • Interfaith issues • Iran • Islam • Islamic law • Middle East • Muslim • North Korea • Persecution • Prejudice • Religious violence • Saudi Arabia • Tibet • Tibet • Violence

April 12th, 2013
03:47 PM ET

Franklin Graham calls for prayer on North Korea

By Dan Merica, CNN
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Washington (CNN) – In light of threatening statements from North Korea, famed evangelist Franklin Graham says prayer is a viable option for cooling tensions between the communist country and the rest of the world.

“First of all, I think we need to pray,” Graham, the CEO of Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian humanitarian organization, said in an interview on CNN’s “Starting Point.” “We need to pray for our president, we need to pray that God will give him wisdom as he makes decision at this point. This is a very critical time, right now, for our country and we need to come behind our president and support him with prayer.”

Through Samaritan’s Purse, an organization founded in 1970, Graham has visited North Korea four times over the last 13 years. The group’s slogan is “Helping in Jesus Name” and it describes itself as a “Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.”

Tensions with North Korea began to rise last month, as the rogue state began issuing increasingly threatening statement towards its Asian neighbors and the United States. Most recently it was uncovered that North Korea may be able to deliver a nuclear weapon via missile with low reliability, according to the Pentagon.


- Dan Merica

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • North Korea • Politics • Prayer

December 27th, 2011
05:48 PM ET

Korean American pastor seeks reunification through humanitarian aid

By Stan Wilson and Casey Wian, CNN

Los Angeles (CNN)–When Chang Soon Lee reflects on his childhood years in North Korea, his joy quickly turns to deep sadness. Like millions of Koreans caught in the middle of the Korean War in the early 1950s, Chang at the age of 15 was forced to flee his native homeland.

His father, a prominent minister who survived World War II, disappeared just days after communist-led forces invaded Pyongyang. "After the (World War II) liberation of Korea, my father often visited churches and preached but one day we waited for him and he never returned home," says Chang.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Asia • Belief • Christianity • Church • North Korea

December 20th, 2011
12:17 PM ET

My Take: Kim Jong Il and the danger of deifying leaders

Editor's Note: R. Albert Mohler, Jr., is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, the flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of the largest seminaries in the world.

By R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Special to CNN

There are no atheists in dictatorships. The death of North Korea’s “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il underlies a basic fact of earthly politics: when a political regime denies any transcendent supernatural reality, it deifies itself.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • North Korea • Opinion

August 27th, 2010
03:44 PM ET

American freed from North Korea thought to be a Christian activist

Check out this line in CNN's story about North Korea freeing Aijalon Mahli Gomes, the U.S. citizen who'd been sentenced to eight years of hard labor for crossing into the country from China:

Gomes is believed to be a Christian activist.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Asia • Christianity • North Korea

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.