August 1st, 2011
08:47 AM ET

Understanding the religious history of the Knights Templar

By Fareed Zakaria, CNN

The group has come to everyone's attention because of Anders Behring Breivik's killing spree in Norway, now just over a week ago. He claimed in his rambling manifesto to represent a modern-day "Knights Templar".

Ancient Knights Templar name used in modern criminal crusades

But who are they?

The name might ring a bell, especially if you've seen The DaVinci Code or National Treasure or one of any number of recent films. But these are, of course, all fictional. What are the facts?

Read more about all the latest security news in CNN's new blog Security Clearance.

The Knights Templar were a Christian military order founded in the early 12th century. Its members were said to be elite warriors who wore distinctive white mantles with a red cross. They made their reputation by winning a series of battles in the Crusades.

Read more about the Knights Templar from GPS
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Europe • Houses of worship • Mosque

Kentucky's Libyan community prays for homeland
Members of the Lexington Muslim community pray at the Masjid Bilal Ibn Rabah mosque.
March 31st, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Kentucky's Libyan community prays for homeland

Editor’s Note: CNN’s Soledad O’Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. Watch “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door,” airing at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. ET April 2 on CNN.

By John Sepulvado, CNN

Lexington, Kentucky (CNN) – The parking lot in suburban Lexington begins filling up around 1 p.m. Men park their compact cars and file in through one side of a ranch-house-style building. Women leave their large SUVs and head through another door.

As they remove their shoes, the men talk about the conflicts in North Africa and the Middle East – especially in Libya. Several young boys crawl on the red carpet, while the women, wearing brightly colored headscarves, read quietly to their daughters in the back of the room.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Islam • Kentucky • Libya • Mosque • Muslim

March 25th, 2011
09:34 AM ET

Christian to Muslim: A change of faith

Editor’s Note: "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door" features the Muslim community of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where Matthew Miller has lived since age 15. CNN’s Soledad O’Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door” airing at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. E.T. April 2 on CNN.

By Elizabeth M. Nunez, CNN

The actual conversion was brief. It only involved one sentence: “I bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship but God, I bear witness that Mohammed is the messenger of God.”

For 30-year-old Mathew Miller, those words represented the culmination of a long religious transformation from Christianity to Islam.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Interfaith issues • Iran • Islam • Mosque • Muslim

March 24th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

CNN Poll: Most Americans 'OK' with a mosque in their community

Editor's Note: CNN's Soledad O'Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. Soledad O'Brien Reports "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door", airing at 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. E.T. April 2 on CNN.

By Debra Goldschmidt, CNN

Would you be "OK" with a mosque in your community?

According to a new national poll, most Americans say yes, they would.

The CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Thursday found that 69%of Americans would be "OK" with a mosque in their area while 28% would not.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Houses of worship • Islam • Mosque • Polls

My Take: Muslim hearings a recruiting bonanza for Islamic extremists
Rep. Peter King is holding hearings on what he describes as the radicalization of Muslims in the United States.
March 9th, 2011
04:31 PM ET

My Take: Muslim hearings a recruiting bonanza for Islamic extremists

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

There are all sorts of reasons to oppose Rep. Peter King’s hearings Thursday on “the radicalization of Islam in America,” but the most powerful one is the fact that they are more likely to foment radicalization than undercut it.

The civil libertarian argument — something Republicans like King used to care about — is, of course, compelling. Imagine that these hearings were on “the radicalization of Judaism in America” and that they were following on efforts to stonewall a proposed Jewish community center in Lower Manhattan by a group calling itself “Stop Judaization of America.” All Americans of good will would rightly be up in arms.

The establishment clause argument against these hearings is equally compelling. As I wrote earlier, the hearings “should be either canceled or reworked to avoid the appearance that the U.S. Congress — whose members are 90 percent Christian — is using its power, contrary to clear meaning of the establishment clause of the First Amendment, to promote Christianity at the expense of other religions.”

My objection today is more pragmatic. My objection is that these hearings will serve as a recruiting bonanza for terrorists worldwide.


- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Church and state • Culture wars • Islam • Mosque • Muslim • Opinion • Politics • United States

New imam quits embattled Islamic community center
The site of the prosed islamic center near Ground Zero in a file photo.
February 4th, 2011
04:06 PM ET

New imam quits embattled Islamic community center

By Allan Chernoff, CNN

A Park51 imam announced his resignation Friday, just three weeks after being appointed to his post at the embattled Islamic community center in New York, according to a written statement Friday.

"I wish the project leaders well," said Imam Adhami, saying he needed more time to complete a book meant to assist English readers in understanding the Quran.

His resignation comes on the heels of a controversial post on his website, sakeenah.org, in which he claimed that "an enormously overwhelming percentage of people struggle with homosexual feeling because of some form of violent emotional or sexual abuse at some point in their life."


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Houses of worship • Islam • Mosque • Muslim • New York • United States

February 1st, 2011
11:05 AM ET

Michigan mosque shaken by terror threat

Worshippers at the Islamic Center of North America in Michigan react to a thwarted attack on the mosque. WDIV reports,

Read more Belief Blog coverage of this story.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Houses of worship • Michigan • Mosque • United States

January 30th, 2011
06:36 PM ET

Man charged with making terrorist threats in connection with mosque

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

A man arrested by Dearborn, Michigan, police and charged with possessing explosives in connection with making terrorist threats was targeting one of America's largest mosques, according to officials at the Muslim house of worship.

A 63-year-old California man was arraigned Wednesday and charged with one count of false report or threat of terrorism and one count of explosives - possession of bombs with unlawful intent - the Dearborn Police Department said in a press release Sunday.

Roger Stockham was in possession of Class C fireworks, according to Dearborn Police Officer Brandon Nichols.

The felony charges carry maximum sentences of 20 years and 15 years respectively, Nichols said. Stockham is being held on $500,000 bond with a requirement of a GPS tether if bond is posted, according to the police department's release.

Dearborn police informed the Islamic Center of America on Tuesday that they had arrested an individual with "a large quantity of fireworks in his car" in the mosque's parking lot a day earlier, a Sunday press release from the mosque said.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Houses of worship • Islam • Michigan • Mosque

January 24th, 2011
05:00 AM ET

Opponent of NYC Islamic center becomes advocate for mosques nationwide

An artist's rendering of a proposed mosque in Temecula, California that has met local opposition but is supported by the Anti-Defamation League.

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

When the Anti-Defamation League - a leading Jewish group devoted to fighting anti-Semitism and "all forms of bigotry" - came out against the construction of an Islamic center and mosque near New York's ground zero last year, some critics alleged that the organization had lost its way.

"I would have expected the ADL to support the building of this Muslim community center," wrote Alan Dershowitz, an influential legal and Jewish voice. "...At the very least I would have expected it to remain silent and not to lend its powerful and distinguished voice to an opposition that includes many bigots."

Stephen Prothero, a prominent religion professor and CNN Belief Blog contributor, said the ADL's opposition to the Lower Manhattan Islamic center showed that the group and its leader, Abraham L. Foxman, "no longer occupy a moral high ground."

CNN host and Newsweek columnist Fareed Zakaria returned an award and honorarium he'd received a few years earlier from the ADL, saying he hoped the move would "spur them to... return to their historic, robust defense of freedom of religion in America."

But several months after the controversy over the New York Islamic center has died down, the Anti-Defamation League has quietly emerged as a leading advocate for mosque construction projects that have run into local opposition across the country.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Houses of worship • Interfaith issues • Islam • Judaism • Mosque

January 5th, 2011
03:14 PM ET

Opinion: Resist terror with more houses of worship

Editor's note: Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, founder of TheMuslimGuy.com and legal fellow for the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington.

By Arsalan Iftikhar, Special to CNN

With the recent deadly attacks on Christian churches, the maniacal terrorists of al Qaeda seem to be aiming at unraveling the neighborliness among Muslims, Jews and Christians throughout the Middle East that has existed for centuries.

In Baghdad, 58 people died in a bomb attack on a church; in Alexandria, Egypt, 21 people were killed and about 80 injured in another bombing.

Of course, al Qaeda has not limited its attacks to Christianity. Before its attacks on churches, al Qaeda was targeting mosques all around the region.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Africa • Belief • Christianity • Egypt • Houses of worship • Iraq • Islam • Judaism • Mosque • Opinion

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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.