September 14th, 2013
01:06 PM ET
What makes Jerusalem so sacred?
World-renowned chef, best-selling author and Emmy-winning television personality Anthony Bourdain returns for the second season of CNN's showcase for coverage of food and travel. "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" is shot entirely on location and premieres Sept 15 at 9pm ET/PT. Follow the show on Twitter and Facebook. Bourdain's first stop: Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
Opinion by Richard Hect, special to CNN
JERUSALEM (CNN) - Perhaps the most repeated observation about Jerusalem is that it's a sacred city for the three monotheistic faiths of the west, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Hundreds of tour guides tell it to the busloads of tourists brought to the city each day. Journalists who have to file stories from and about Jerusalem will use this description in their leads.
But what does that observation really mean? What does it mean to call a place, a city sacred?
Of course, this immediately refers to sites and buildings which contain and make concrete the sacred or the holy. In Jerusalem, there are literally hundreds of these containers, some better known than others.
One can immediately think of the Western Wall for the Jews, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher or the Garden Tomb for Christians, or the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa mosque for Islam.
August 9th, 2013
02:00 PM ET
'No Muslim parking' signs spark outrage
From CNN affiliate KPRC
Houston - New signs posted outside a mosque in Spring Branch, Texas, have sparked outrage from Muslims nationwide.
In black letters, the signs reads, "No Muslim parking in the Westview Shopping Center. Your car will be towed."
The posters lined the street near the El Farouq Mosque, where Muslims heading to worship services said they were were offended.
"I feel sorry for the person who wrote it," Ahmed Hassan told CNN affiliate KPRC. "This is what comes to mind because obviously he has a lot of hate."
June 22nd, 2013
11:25 AM ET
Church without God - by design
By Dan Merica, CNN
Boston (CNN)-– It’s Sunday in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a rapt congregation listens to a chaplain preach about the importance of building a community.
A few dozen people sit quietly for the hourlong service. Music is played, announcements are made and scholars wax poetic about the importance of compassion and community.
Outsiders could be forgiven for believing this service, with its homilies, its passing of the plate, its uplifting songs, belongs in a church.
If so, it’s a church without one big player: God.
April 25th, 2013
05:26 PM ET
Minaret destroyed at 12th-century Syrian mosque on World Heritage list
By Michael Martinez and Hamdi Alkhshali , CNN
(CNN) - Both sides in Syria's civil war were in rare agreement Wednesday: The minaret at a 12th-century mosque in Aleppo has been obliterated.
Unclear, however, was who destroyed the tower at the Great Umayyad Mosque, which has witnessed the march of nine centuries. It was just last month that a United Nations official expressed concern about the two-year war possibly damaging the mosque, a World Heritage site.
An opposition group blamed the government.
"Regime forces have committed today a new crime against human and cultural heritage by targeting the minaret of the mosque and completely destroying it," the Local Coordination Committees said. The group released a photograph of the mosque without its signature minaret, apparently reduced to rubble.
The Syrian Coalition also blamed President Bashar al-Assad's regime.FULL STORY
February 8th, 2013
03:48 AM ET
Mecca redevelopment sparks heritage concerns
By Tim Hume and Samya Ayish, CNN
(CNN) - An Ottoman-era portico in Mecca's Grand Mosque has become the latest battleground in a conflict between those who want to preserve the city's architectural heritage and Saudi authorities pushing for redevelopment.
The 17th century portico - one of the oldest parts of the Grand Mosque, Islam's holiest - is being removed by Mecca authorities as part of an expansion project to create more space for soaring numbers of pilgrims.FULL STORY
February 5th, 2013
02:00 PM ET
Arkansas to allow concealed guns in churches
By Dan Merica, CNN
(CNN) - The Arkansas House of Representatives has overwhelmingly passed a measure that would allow concealed guns to be carried in churches and houses of worship, and the governor’s office says it plans to sign the bill.
The measure, which passed 85-8 on Monday, gives houses of worship the option of allowing concealed weapons.
August 10th, 2012
10:56 AM ET
Tennessee mosque opens after 2 years of controversy
Editor's note: CNN's Soledad O'Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over a mosque in the heart of the Bible Belt. "Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door" airs on CNN at 8 ET/PT Sunday night.
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN)–Saleh Sbenaty was asked more than once Friday how he slept the night before. He didn't.
How could he when a longtime dream was about to be fulfilled?
Friday afternoon, Sbenaty and other Muslims in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, entered a brand new mosque, Tennessee, and fell in prayer to their knees.
They'd waited more than two years for the opening of their new Islamic center, delayed by legal wrangling and anti-Muslim sentiment that surfaced through protests, arson and vandalism.
August 7th, 2012
10:25 AM ET
Close-knit mosque community shaken by fire
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - Members of the Joplin, Missouri, mosque destroyed by a suspicious fire are sad and shaken, but resolute in their plans to stay in the area, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
"This is a very close-knit community," Kimberly Kester said on CNN's "Early Start." "I think we feel secure and nobody's going to move away because of this action."
A fire that broke out early Monday destroyed the worship house of the Islamic Society of Joplin, a small mosque serving about 50 families in the southwest Missouri city.
The mosque's community is no stranger to attacks, Kester said.
"We've had our mailbox destroyed. Our sign was burned. The sign has been shot with guns. People would sometimes drive by and yell at us," she said.
August 7th, 2012
08:00 AM ET
My Faith: After my mosque was torched
Editor's Note: This piece was originally published in 2011. Daoud Abudiab is president of the Islamic Center of Columbia, Tennessee, where he works as an administrator for a physicians' group.
By Daoud Abudiab, Special to CNN
Last year, my son and I attended the White House conference on bullying prevention. We heard stories of people being bullied for being black, gay, lesbian and Sikh. The stories were compelling and left me more critical of our culture, in which it is popular to act in ways that dishonor our traditions.
Some of my friends were interested in the details of my Washington trip. I commented on the diversity at the White House event. A friend made a joke about the composition of attendees reflecting a typical Democratic Party gathering.
I thought of it as a typical American gathering. But I have become aware that not all Americans honor my American citizenship.
Read: Missouri mosque destroyed in fire
In some circles, my Muslim faith is not even accepted as a religion.
August 6th, 2012
06:32 AM ET
Temple shooting dredges up memories of long history of bias crimes against Sikhs
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN)–Immediately after the September 11, 2001, terrorist acts, Sikhs came under attack.
Mistaken for Muslims for their beards and turbans, they became ripe targets for zealots seeking revenge.
The first person murdered in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks was a Sikh – a gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona, named Balbir Singh Sodhi who was shot five times by aircraft mechanic Frank Roque.
In the intervening years, the Sikh Coalition, a New York-based advocacy group, reported more than 700 attacks or bias-related incidents.
Some Sikhs had their houses vandalized; others were spat upon. In some extreme cases, Sikhs were set upon by groups of people and beaten.FULL STORY
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.