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January 21st, 2014
02:24 PM ET

Six surprising changes to the anti-abortion March for Life

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor
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(CNN) - For decades, the March for Life has followed a familiar formula: Bus in thousands of abortion opponents. Protest in front of the Supreme Court. Go home.

But this year, in addition to braving snow and bone-chilling wind, the March will move in a different direction, says Jeanne Monahan, president of the anti-abortion group.

Long-winded political speeches? See ya.

An exclusive focus on Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that lifted restrictions on abortion? Gone.

A hipster Catholic musician, evangelical leaders and March for Life app? Welcome to the protest.

And those changes just skim the surface.

The March for Life, billed as the world’s largest anti-abortion event, is remaking itself in deeper ways as well, says Monahan.

FULL POST

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Abortion • Bioethics • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Culture wars • Ethics • evangelicals • Politics • Women

Supreme Court skeptical of abortion clinic buffer zones
January 16th, 2014
11:29 AM ET

Supreme Court skeptical of abortion clinic buffer zones

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

(CNN) - The Supreme Court waded cautiously back into the larger debate over abortion on Wednesday.

A number of justices raised concerns about a Massachusetts state law preventing activists from crossing a 35-foot buffer zone around reproductive health clinics.

During an intense hour of oral arguments, Massachusetts officials said the issue was more about public safety and pedestrian access on local sidewalks. Anti-abortion supporters countered their free speech rights were being violated.

What the high court decides in coming months could affect a broader range of free speech arenas - over issues such as war, taxes, corporate bailouts and elections - where the location of the message is often key.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Abortion • Courts • Culture wars • Ethics • gender issues • Health • Protest • Women

Supreme Court to hear abortion clinic case
The Supreme Court hears a contentious case about abortion clinics on Wednesday.
January 15th, 2014
09:50 AM ET

Supreme Court to hear abortion clinic case

By Bill Mears, CNN

Boston (CNN) - Outside the Planned Parenthood Clinic in Boston on a recent winter day are the regulars - a small, devoted team of anti-abortion activists, handing out fliers and urging patrons to hear their message: "Save that child." "Every life is precious, protect that life within you." "Please change your mind." Several people pray silently nearby.

Clearly marked on the sidewalk, nearly 12 yards from the front doors, is a painted boundary, a line the protesters cannot cross. By state law, their First Amendment rights stop there.

A metaphoric line - testing the competing limits of what has become a constitutional fight between free speech and public safety - will now be surveyed by the nation's highest court.

The justices on Wednesday will step back into the larger national debate on abortion, when it holds oral arguments on a challenge to a Massachusetts law that established tighter buffer zones around facilities that perform the procedure.

FULL STORY
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Abortion • Courts • Culture wars • Ethics • Women

December 24th, 2013
06:00 AM ET

CNN Poll: Pope's approval rating sky-high

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - As Pope Francis prepares to celebrate his first Christmas at the Vatican, Americans' opinions of the pontiff appear to be as high as the dome on St. Peter's Basilica, according to a new survey.

A CNN/ORC International poll released Tuesday found that 88% of American Catholics approve of how Francis is handling his role as head of the 1.2 billion-member church.

The popular pontiff has also made a positive impression among Americans in general: Nearly three in four view Francis favorably.  The new survey suggests that the Pope is arguably the most well-regarded religious figure among the American public today, said CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

FULL POST

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Culture wars • Leaders • Pope Benedict XVI • Pope Francis • Pope John Paul II • Sex abuse • Vatican

Why atheists should quit the 'War on Christmas’
The group American Atheists has placed this billboard in New York City's Times Square.
December 21st, 2013
10:22 AM ET

Why atheists should quit the 'War on Christmas’

Opinion by Chris Stedman, special to CNN

(CNN) - The “War on Christmas:”  what — or who—is it good for?

In recent years, one organization, American Atheists, has claimed the mantle of prime atheist promoter of the tired “War on Christmas” narrative.

This year, they ushered in the season with an electronic billboard in New York City’s Times Square carrying the message: “Who needs Christ during Christmas? Nobody.” The word "Christ" is crossed out, just in case their message wasn't clear enough.

The American Atheists maintain that their latest entry in the annual “War on Christmas” saga is a message to other atheists that they are not alone.

In a recent Fox News appearance, American Atheists President Dave Silverman said, “The point that we’re trying to make is that there’s a whole bunch of people out there for whom religion is the worst part of Christmas, but they go to church anyways, and we’re here to tell them they don’t have to.”

While that intention is important and admirable, very few people—atheist or theist—seem to interpret the message as welcoming to anyone. Many of the responses I’ve seen have been vitriolic and disturbingly anti-atheist.

FULL POST

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Christianity • Christmas • Church and state • Culture wars • Discrimination • God • Health • Holidays • Opinion

Does Phil Robertson get the Bible wrong?
Phil Robertson of A&E's "Duck Dynasty" has been suspended for his comments on homosexuality.
December 20th, 2013
11:23 AM ET

Does Phil Robertson get the Bible wrong?

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - The Robertson family of "Duck Dynasty" fame has rallied around its patriarch, saying his controversial comments on homosexuality are "grounded in the teachings of the Bible." But Scripture is fiercely contested ground, and some experts say Phil Robertson misinterprets a key Bible verse.

A&E, the network that broadcasts the hugely popular "Duck Dynasty" show, suspended Robertson for a now infamous interview with GQ magazine. In the article, Robertson, who became a born-again Christian in the 1970s after a prodigal youth, is asked to define "sin."

Here's what Robertson says: “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men."

Robertson, 67, then paraphrases a Bible passage from the New Testament: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers - they won’t inherit the kingdom of God.”

FULL POST

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Culture wars • Discrimination • Ethics • evangelicals • Faith • Gay marriage • Gay rights • gender issues • Prejudice • Same-sex marriage • Sexuality

December 19th, 2013
01:49 PM ET

CNN Exclusive: Family pastor defends 'Duck Dynasty' star

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - While controversy swirled around Phil Robertson Wednesday evening, the "Duck Dynasty" patriarch was at his longtime church, praying for a young woman who suffers from cancer, the TV star's pastor told CNN in an exclusive interview.

"Phil led us in prayer," said Mike Kellett, senior pastor of White's Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, Louisiana. "There were greater things on our minds than the firestorm of controversy about this article."

Asked how Robertson is taking the fierce criticism of his remarks on homosexuality, Kellett said, "He's very calm, and very confident that if he serves the Lord, God will take care of everything."

FULL POST

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Celebrity • Christianity • Culture wars • Discrimination • evangelicals • Faith & Health • Gay marriage • Gay rights • gender issues

Satanists want statue next to 10 Commandments
A Ten Commandments monument erected outside the Oklahoma state Capitol.
December 9th, 2013
01:46 PM ET

Satanists want statue next to 10 Commandments

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
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(CNN) - Lots of lawmakers have been accused of devilish behavior, but Oklahoma's state capitol may become the first to actually have a monument to Satan.

If a New York-based group called the Temple of Satan gets its way, a statue of the Evil One would sit next to the recently erected 10 Commandments monument on state capitol grounds.

"They said they wanted to be open to different monuments," said Lucien Greaves, a spokesman for the Temple of Satan, "and this seems like a perfect place to put that to the test."

Greaves and some legal experts say the Constitution is clear: the government can't endorse one particular religion. So, if a state capitol has a monument to one faith, it must allow monuments to others as well.

FULL POST

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Church and state • Culture wars • Devil • Satanism

Illinois bishop plans gay-marriage exorcism
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Illinois is planning an exorcism for the state after it approved gay marriage.
November 15th, 2013
10:10 AM ET

Illinois bishop plans gay-marriage exorcism

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

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(CNN) - The devil made them do it?

According to a Catholic bishop in Springfield, Illinois, Satan was behind his state's recent legalization of same-sex marriage.

So, next Wednesday, at about the same time Gov. Pat Quinn signs the gay marriage bill into law, Bishop Thomas Paprocki will hold an exorcism ceremony "in reparation for the sin of same-sex marriage."

Paprocki, who's something of an expert on exorcism, says he's just following the Pope's marching orders.

When Pope Francis, then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, was an archbishop in Argentina, he called that country's legalization of same-sex marriage "a 'move' of the father of lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God."

FULL POST

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Culture wars • Faith • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Pope Francis

The Obamacare 'scandal' you haven't heard about
Few Bible Belt pastors mention what's in their backyard, millions of poor people trapped in the Obamacare “coverage gap.”
November 8th, 2013
10:01 AM ET

The Obamacare 'scandal' you haven't heard about

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - The Rev. Timothy McDonald gripped the pulpit with both hands, locked eyes with the shouting worshippers, and decided to speak the unspeakable.

The bespectacled Baptist minister was not confessing to a scandalous love affair or the theft of church funds. He brought up another taboo: the millions of poor Americans who won’t get health insurance beginning in January because their states refused to accept Obamacare.

McDonald cited a New Testament passage in which Jesus gathered the 5,000 and fed them with five loaves and two fishes. Members of his congregation bolted to their feet and yelled, “C’mon preacher” and “Yessir” as his voice rose in righteous anger.

“What I like about our God is that he doesn’t throw people away,” McDonald told First Iconium Baptist Church in Atlanta during a recent Sunday service. “There will be health care for every American. Don’t you worry when they try to cast you aside.  Just say I’m a leftover for God and leftovers just taste better the next day!”

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Baptist • Barack Obama • Belief • Bible • Christianity • Church • Church and state • Courts • Culture wars • Ethics • evangelicals • Fundamentalism • Politics • Poverty

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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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