August 9th, 2014
06:01 PM ET
By Daniel Burke and Ashley Fantz, CNN
(CNN) - It wasn’t as if God's voice boomed through sun-parted clouds, telling Kent Brantly to move his family to Liberia.
Still, the young doctor said, the call was clear.
It echoed through the congregation where he was raised, Southeastern Church of Christ in Indianapolis.
Standing before the church community in July 2013, months before he left for Africa, Brantly said he heard the call in the teachers who urged him to memorize Scripture and the neighbors who funded his first mission trip years ago.
He saw it in the aunts and uncles who spent their vacations running Bible camps, organizing youth groups and serving missions themselves in Africa.
“It may not seem like much,” Brantly said in an emotional address to the Southeastern congregation, “but when you connect the dots you see a grand design that God has used to draw my life in a certain direction.”
For Brantly, that meant serving a two-year medical mission in Liberia with Samaritan’s Purse, a Christian relief organization. But in a grim twist that garnered international headlines, the 33-year-old contracted Ebola while treating patients and was airlifted back to the United States.
Brantly and a fellow missionary, Nancy Writebol, who was serving with SIM, another Christian aid organization, are being treated for the disease at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
After Liberia's outbreak began in March 2013, Writebol volunteered at a hospital in Monrovia, where she disinfected doctors and nurses working with patients stricken by the disease.
Despite their weakened health, their trust in God remains strong, family members said.
“Mom is tired from her travel, but continues to fight the virus and strengthen her faith in her Redeemer, Jesus,” said Jeremy Writebol, Nancy’s son.
On Friday, Brantly said that he felt a spiritual serenity even after learning his diagnosis.
“I remember a deep sense of peace that was beyond all understanding,” he said. “God was reminding me of what he had taught me years ago, that he will give me everything I need to be faithful to him.
Though Brantly's wife and children had been in Liberia with him, they had returned to the United States when he became ill.
June 29th, 2014
08:19 PM ET
By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog EditorFollow @BurkeCNN
Washington (CNN) – For the Greens, the Christian family behind the Hobby Lobby chain of stores, their battle with the Obama administration was never really about contraception. It was about abortion.
After all, the evangelical Greens don't object to 16 of the 20 contraceptive measures mandated for employer coverage by the Affordable Care Act. That puts the family squarely in line with other evangelicals, who largely support the use of birth control by married couples.
Like other evangelicals, however, the Greens believe that four forms of contraception mandated under the ACA - Plan B, Ella and two intrauterine devices - in fact cause abortions by preventing a fertilized embryo from implanting in the womb. (The Obama administration and several major medical groups disagree that such treatments are abortions .)
“We won’t pay for any abortive products," Steve Green, Hobby Lobby's president, told Religion News Service. "We believe life begins at conception.”
August 14th, 2013
09:12 AM ET
Photographers Jean-Marc Caimi and Valentina Piccinni rode with 600 pilgrims and volunteers as they took the “white train” from Reggio Calabria in southern Italy to the French town of Lourdes. Disabled believers make the journey annually in hopes of a miracle.
June 28th, 2013
02:08 PM ET
By Dan Merica and Kevin Bohn, CNN
(CNN) - The Obama administration finalized rules on Friday that allow religiously affiliated organizations to opt out of a federal mandate requiring that they provide employees with insurance coverage for birth control.
The mandates give women at nonprofit, religious-based organizations, like certain hospitals and universities, the ability to receive contraception through separate health policies at no charge.
The rules, which were first proposed in February and then open for comment through April, have undergone only minor changes.
Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, deputy director for policy and regulations at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said the rules were "very similar" to the administration's original proposal.FULL STORY
February 7th, 2013
03:34 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops does not support the Obama administration’s revised proposal for providing insurance coverage for contraception, saying it falls short of addressing concerns about religious freedom.
In a response to the policy update announced last week by the Department of Health and Human Services, the church leaders said the policy offers “second-class status to our first-class institutions in Catholic health care, Catholic education and Catholic charities.”
“Because the stakes are so high, we will not cease from our effort to assure that healthcare for all does not mean freedom for few,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the conference, said in a statement. “We will continue to stand united with brother bishops, religious institutions, and individual citizens who seek redress in the courts for as long as this is necessary.”
Although the bishops identified the changes as a step in the right direction, they made it clear that they were not satisfied.
February 7th, 2013
09:51 AM ET
Editor's note: Dagfinn Høybråten is a vice president of the Norwegian Parliament and chairman of the GAVI Alliance Board. GAVI is a public-private partnership that works with governments, vaccine producers, faith-based organizations and others to expand access to vaccines and immunization. Since its launch in 2000, GAVI has helped immunize 370 million children in the poorest countries.
By Dagfinn Høybråten, Special to CNN
Despite their political, religious and ethnic differences, leaders from around the world are coming together for today's National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. As they do, it is worth noting that faith and science are also coming together around the world to promote healing and equality in the form of access to vaccines.
Vaccines are a triumph of science due to their incredible capacity to save lives and protect health. Yet vaccines reach only four out of five children who need them. To reach the fifth child, science has found an important partner in the faith community, which helps bring vaccines to the most remote areas and the children who need them most. FULL POST
February 1st, 2013
01:55 AM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) - Religiously affiliated organizations will be able to opt out of providing their employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives under updates to an Obama administration mandate that the Department of Health and Human Services is expected to unveil on Friday, according to two sources.
In March, after an uproar among religious institutions that didn't want to pay for contraceptives, the Obama administration offered several policy suggestions that would require the administrator of the insurance policy, not the religious institution or the insurer, to pay for contraception coverage and invited comment on those proposals.FULL STORY
July 6th, 2012
06:30 AM ET
Editor's note: Watch more of Dr. Sanjay Gupta's interview with Melinda Gates on Sanjay Gupta MD on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET.
(CNN) - Responding to simmering controversy among Catholic bloggers about her new birth control program, Melinda Gates - a practicing Catholic - said she will not shrink from her role as an advocate for poor women.
"Part of what I do with the (Gates) Foundation comes form that incredible social justice I had growing up and belief that all lives, all lives are of equal value," said Gates during a recent interview with CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
About the flak over her Catholicism she said: "We're not going to agree about everything, but that's OK."FULL STORY
June 28th, 2012
08:45 AM ET
Editor’s note: This piece ran earlier this year, but we’re spotlighting it now because of Thursday’s health care decision from the Supreme Court. The story generated more than 3,000 comments, including these two:
What’s your take?
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) - He was a healer, a provider of universal health care, a man of compassion who treated those with preexisting medical conditions.
We don’t know what Jesus thought about the individual mandate or buying broccoli. But we do know how the New Testament describes him. The Gospels are filled with stories of Jesus physically healing the most vulnerable and despised people in his society.
June 27th, 2012
01:46 PM ET
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) - When Wendell Potter first saw them, he froze.
“It felt like touching an electrical fence,” he says. “I remember tearing up and thinking, how could this be real.”
Thousands of them had lined up under a cloudy sky in an open field. Many had camped out the night before. When their turns came, doctors treated them in animal stalls and on gurneys placed on rain-soaked sidewalks.
They were Americans who needed basic medical care. Potter had driven to the Wise County Fairgrounds in Virginia in July 2007 after reading that a group called Remote Area Medical, which flew American doctors to remote Third World villages, was hosting a free outdoor clinic.
Potter, a Cigna health care executive who ate from gold-rimmed silverware in corporate jets, says that morning was his “Road to Damascus” experience.
“It looked like a refugee camp,” Potter says. “It just hit me like a bolt of lightning. What I was doing for a living was making it necessary for people to resort to getting care in animal stalls.”
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is a colossal legal and political issue. For Potter, though, the issue became a crisis of faith.
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