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November 29th, 2012
12:40 PM ET

Short Takes: Gauging the impact of 'Purpose Driven Life,' 10 years on

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the best-selling hardback book in American history: Rick Warren's "The Purpose Driven Life."

We reached out to scholars, religion experts and Warren's wife, Kay, to ask about the book's impact after a decade.

Here's what they told us:

Kay Warren is an author, speaker and co-founder of Saddleback Church.

I knew when I was reading the unfinished manuscript of “The Purpose Driven Life” that I was holding a treasure in my hands, but I was clueless as to how deeply the book would strike a nerve in the souls of millions of people around the globe.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Books • Leaders • Opinion • Pastors

The Gospel according to Obama
President Obama is not just a racial trailblazer, but some say a religious pioneer as well. No president has ever shared his type of Christianity, historians say. Some say he may revive a form of Christianity that once dominated America.
October 21st, 2012
06:59 AM ET

The Gospel according to Obama

By John Blake, CNN

President Barack Obama was sharing a pulpit one day with a conservative Christian leader when a revealing exchange took place.

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a conservative Christian who has taken public stands against abortion and same-sex marriage, had joined Obama for an AIDS summit. They were speaking before a conservative megachurch filled with white evangelicals.

When Brownback rose to speak, he joked that he had joined Obama earlier at an NAACP meeting where Obama was treated like Elvis and he was virtually ignored. Turning to Obama, a smiling Brownback said, “Welcome to my house!”

The audience exploded with laughter and applause. Obama rose, walked before the congregation and then declared:

“There is one thing I have to say, Sam. This is my house, too. This is God’s house.”

Historians may remember Obama as the nation’s first black president, but he’s also a religious pioneer. He’s not only changed people’s perception of who can be president, some scholars and pastors say, but he’s also expanding the definition of who can be a Christian by challenging the religious right’s domination of the national stage.

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: 2012 Election • Atheism • Barack Obama • Belief • Bible • Books • Christianity • Church • Courts • Creationism • Culture & Science • Culture wars • Evolution • evolvution • Faith • Fundamentalism • Gay marriage • Gay rights • God • History • Homosexuality • Interfaith issues • Obama • Protestant • Religious liberty • Same-sex marriage • Schools • Science

Barton's 'Jefferson Lies' book yanked
David Barton's book attempted to dispel the popular notion that Thomas Jefferson was a secular politician.
August 10th, 2012
05:15 PM ET

Barton's 'Jefferson Lies' book yanked

By Eric Marrapodi and Dan Gilgoff, CNN

(CNN)–A best-selling book is getting boxed up and returned to the publisher after complaints of historical inaccuracies.

Publisher Thomas Nelson has withdrawn 'The Jefferson Lies" after a lengthy review found the author, David Barton, had included "historical details that were not adequately supported," said Brian Hampton, a senior vice president and publisher for Thomas Nelson.

Hampton said the move was "extremely rare" and he could not recall a time in the publisher's history when it had recalled a book in this manner. "We’re disappointed for everyone concerned," Hampton said.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Books • Christianity • Church and state

July 3rd, 2012
09:20 AM ET

My Take: Library of Congress's 'books that shaped America' list plays down religion

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

When I first saw the Library of Congress' new list of the 88 “Books That Shaped America,” it looked to me like it was drawn up by the professors who taught me American studies in the 1970s and 1980s.

Unlike E.D. Hirsch’s book "Cultural Literacy," which emphasized the work of dead white men, the Library of Congress' list is admirably inclusive. It includes books by or about various “outsider” groups, from native Americans to gays and lesbians. It attends to the problem of class via Jacob Riis’ "How the Other Half Lives" (not to mention F. Scott Fitzgerald’s "The Great Gatsby," which is also about class).

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Bible • Books • History • Mormonism • Opinion • United States

Why a president’s faith may not matter
We’re accustomed to presidential displays of piety but historians say a president’s faith is no sure guide to how he will govern.
June 30th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Why a president’s faith may not matter

By John Blake, CNN

He called himself a “life-long Quaker and a church-going Christian,” and at first there was no reason to doubt him.

He played piano in the church, taught Sunday school, and praised Jesus at revivals. His mother thought he was going to be a missionary. His friends said he would be a preacher.

We now know this former Sunday school teacher as “Tricky Dick” or, more formally, President Richard Nixon. He was one of the most corrupt and paranoid men to occupy the Oval Office. Nixon gave us Watergate, but he also gave presidential historians like Darrin Grinder a question to ponder:

Does a president’s religious faith make any difference in how he governs?

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Books • Christianity • Church • Church and state • Culture wars • History • Poverty • Uncategorized

June 15th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: How I constructed 'The American Bible'

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

Over the past year or so, I have been working on a book called "The American Bible." The hardest part was the table of contents.

“The American Bible” isn’t a new translation of the Christian Bible. It’s my term for the texts that function like scripture in American public life, the voices to which we are forever returning as we reflect together on what America is all about.

In some cases, we refer explicitly to these texts as “sacred” or “immortal.” At a campaign stop in Mesa, Arizona, in February, Mitt Romney implied that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution might be “inspired by God.”

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Bible • Books • Church and state • Culture wars • History • Leaders • Opinion • Politics • United States

FBI recovers rare first-edition of the Book of Mormon
The FBI recovered a stolen first-edition of the Book of Mormon.
June 14th, 2012
04:15 PM ET

FBI recovers rare first-edition of the Book of Mormon

By Carol Cratty, CNN

(CNN)–Law enforcement agents have recovered a rare first-edition copy of the Book of Mormon that was reported stolen from a Mesa, Arizona, bookstore in late May.

The FBI announced Thursday the religious book, first published in 1830 in New York, was located two days ago in Herndon, Virginia, and a suspect was arrested.

The Book of Mormon is considered scripture by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, on par with the Bible.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Books • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Mormonism

My last conversation with Ray Bradbury
Ray Bradbury grew old but he never grew up. The late author radiated joy.
June 6th, 2012
05:54 PM ET

My last conversation with Ray Bradbury

By John Blake, CNN

The voice on the other line was slurred and halting.  My childhood hero, I realized, was nearing the end of his life.

“Hello, Mr. Bradbury,” I shouted into the phone, so loud that one of my colleagues sitting nearby raised his eyebrows.

The call was supposed to be professional. I had called Ray Bradbury’s daughter to tell her that I wanted to write about a different side of her father: What did this science fiction giant think about God and the afterlife?

But that request was a smokescreen. I just needed an excuse to talk to the man whose books and stories had enriched my childhood. Would he be as fun to talk to as he is to read, I wondered?

Overheard: What CNN.com readers are saying about Bradbury

He was better than I imagined. In more than 20 years of journalism, I have never encountered anyone quite like him.

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Books • Culture & Science • Faith • God

The Gospel of Stephen King
Is this a vampire from Stephen King’s “Salem’s Lot” movie or a character from one of the author’s "sermons"? Both, pastors say.
June 2nd, 2012
10:00 PM ET

The Gospel of Stephen King

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - When the horror novelist Stephen King was once asked why he wrote such gross stories, he said he did it because he had the heart of a small boy - which he kept in a jar on his desk.

With his beady eyes and I-just-killed-the-cat grin, King looks and sounds like a horror novelist. But when the Rev. Paul F.M. Zahl read several of King’s novels, he learned something new about the author: There’s a lot of faith behind his fright.

Zahl says some of the most stirring affirmations of Christian faith can be found in the chilling stories of King. The horror master has been preaching sermons to millions of readers for years, only most of King’s fans don’t know it, he says.

“People tend to think that Stephen King is anti-religious because he is a horror writer, but that’s completely mistaken,” says Zahl, a retired Episcopal priest who has written about King’s religious sensibility for Christianity Today magazine. “Several of his books are parables of grace in action.”

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Books • Celebrity • Christianity • Jesus • Movies

My Take: The 5 key American statements on war
Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment place American flags at Arlington National Cemetery.
May 28th, 2012
12:01 PM ET

My Take: The 5 key American statements on war

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Today is a day to remember those who have given their lives in the service of their country. It is also a day to reflect on war.

In my new book, "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," I explore 27 texts that have served as “scripture” of sorts in American public life. Each of these texts addresses the meaning of “America” and “Americans,” and each has provoked much commentary and controversy.

Here are the five best, in my view, on the meaning and ends of war.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Books • Holidays • Military • Opinion • United States

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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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