Battlefield chaplain’s war unfolded on many fronts
Army chaplain Darren Turner, left, wound up quitting the Army for a spell after returning home from Iraq.
May 26th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Battlefield chaplain’s war unfolded on many fronts

Editor’s note: CNN.com writer Moni Basu is author of “Chaplain Turner's War,” published by Agate Digital.

By Moni Basu, CNN

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) - Darren Turner insisted on going to war, even though the Army usually reserves desk jobs at home for new chaplains like him.

Turner was young and green, enthusiastic about taking God to the battlefield. The Army captain had learned that people in pain are often wide-open to inviting God into their lives.

Jesus always ran to crises. Turner was going to do the same.


- Moni Basu

Filed under: Christianity • Military

My Take: It takes a nation to make a massacre
Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, left, is accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians.
March 19th, 2012
10:31 AM ET

My Take: It takes a nation to make a massacre

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

We now know the name of the man accused of leaving his combat unit in Afghanistan's Kandahar Province on March 11, walking into two Afghan villages and murdering 16 innocent people, including 9 children.

The narratives we are supposed to follow here are clear, and each absolves the rest of us of any sin. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was mentally unstable and went off the deep end. Or perhaps he was a cold-blooded killer all along. Either way, he deserves to be separated from the rest of us by life in prison, or worse.

But why is this 38-year-old husband and father of two sitting today in solitary confinement at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas?

I do not know. I suspect, however, that the answer is more complicated than the simple stories we tell ourselves in these circumstances.


- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Afghanistan • Crime • Death • Iraq • Iraq • Middle East • Military • Sin • Uncategorized

February 8th, 2012
09:33 PM ET

Contraception controversy ensnares military chaplains

By Larry Shaughnessy, CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The still-lingering controversy over the Obama administration's mandate about health insurance coverage that includes contraception spread to American Army posts all over the world before the matter was settled.

For the Army, it started when Timothy Broglio, the archbishop for the military services, sent a letter to all Catholic chaplains in the military objecting to the administration's new mandate, calling it "an alarming and serious matter."

Broglio, who oversees all Catholic chaplains in all branches of the service, also wrote: "We cannot - we will not - comply with this unjust law." He wanted Catholic chaplains to read the letter aloud during their sermons on Sunday, January 28.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Military

October 19th, 2011
07:16 PM ET

Military backs off threat to pull atheist from ceremony

By Jennifer Rizzo, CNN

Washington (CNN) - Fort Jackson officials said Friday that an atheist soldier was asked to lower their head during a prayer portion of a graduation ceremony rehearsal, but then decided it was ok for the soldier to stand at Attention.

The 20-year old private first class, a proclaimed atheist, graduated from Advanced Individual Training at Fort Jackson in South Carolina on Thursday.

The soldier, who requested that CNN not give a name and gender for fear of repercussions, called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation on Wednesday after taking part in a rehearsal for the graduation.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church and state • Military

September 30th, 2011
10:18 AM ET

Military chaplains to perform same-sex marriages

By Charley Keyes, CNN Senior National Security Producer

Washington (CNN) - Ten days after the military dumped its "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays and lesbians, the Pentagon has issued new rules allowing military chaplains to perform same-sex marriages, but only if allowed by law and the chaplain's beliefs.

"A military chaplain may participate in or officiate any private ceremony, whether on or off a military installation, provided that the ceremony is not prohibited by applicable state and local law," a memo released Friday says.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture wars • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Military • Same-sex marriage

August 30th, 2011
04:23 PM ET

Preparing clergy for war: army chaplains train by the hundred for the combat zone

By Eric Marrapodi and Chris Lawrence, CNN

Fort Jackson, South Carolina (CNN) – The summer sun beats down on camouflaged Kevlar helmets.  Weighed down by heavy body armor, men and women of the cloth are crawling through sand, under barbed wire and learning how to run with soldiers.

Explosions in woods simulate the battlefield as an instructor barks commands.

"You are not following simple instructions!  Cover me while I move!  Got you covered!  Let's go!"

This is the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, where the Army trains clergy of all faiths how to survive in combat.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Afghanistan • Belief • Buddhism • Christianity • Content Partner • Hinduism • Iraq • Islam • Middle East • Military • TV-The Situation Room

August 9th, 2011
05:14 PM ET

Air Force's use of Christian messages extends to ROTC

By Jennifer Rizzo, CNN

Washington (CNN) - The Air Force’s use of Christian religious messages goes beyond those used in briefings for missile launch officers, as reported by CNN last week, and extends to training for ROTC cadets.

In a lesson designed to teach the Air Force’s core values to ROTC cadets, Christian beliefs such as the Ten Commandments, the Sermon on the Mount, and the Golden Rule are used as examples of ethical values, CNN has learned.

Slides go on to explain what each of them are, for example listing 7 of the Ten Commandments.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church and state • Military

August 3rd, 2011
07:50 PM ET

Air Force: Bible and nukes don't mix

By, Barbara Starr and Jennifer Rizzo, CNN

Washington (CNN)–The Air Force has suspended an ethics briefing for new missile launch officers after concerns were raised about the briefing's heavy focus on religion.

The briefing, taught for nearly 20 years by military chaplains at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, is intended to train Air Force personnel to consider the ethics and morality of launching nuclear weapons - the ultimate doomsday machine.

Many of the slides in the 43 page presentation use a Christian justification for war, displaying pictures of saints like Saint Augustine and using biblical references.

"Abraham organized an Army to rescue Lot," one slide read, referring to the story of the Hebrew patriarch and his nephew found in the book of Genesis.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Military • United States

July 28th, 2011
01:36 PM ET

Official: American Muslim soldier wanted to attack Fort Hood troops

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - An AWOL Muslim American Army private arrested near Fort Hood, Texas, told investigators that he wanted to attack fellow soldiers outside Fort Hood, two law enforcement officials said Thursday.

FBI agents discovered a bevy of potential bomb-making materials in the hotel room of Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, who refused to deploy to Afghanistan and later went AWOL from Fort Campbell in Kentucky after being charged with possessing child pornography, said FBI spokesman Erik Vasys.

After a tip-off from a local gun shop, Killeen police arrested Abdo in a traffic stop Wednesday, Vasys said.

Read the full story on the arrested Muslim American soldier
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Military • Texas

May 31st, 2011
08:48 AM ET

Counterprotesters confront Westboro Baptist Church at Arlington

Washington (CNN) - Protesting members of the controversial Westboro Baptist Church were met with an unlikely group of counterprotesters Monday at Arlington Cemetery.

Hours before President Barack Obama led the nation's Memorial Day observances at the Tomb of the Unknowns, three members of the Westboro Baptist Church were challenged by others who disagreed with them - including members claiming to be from the Ku Klux Klan.

The Kansas-based church has attracted nationwide attention for its angry, anti-gay protests at the funerals of U.S. military members.

Read the full story about the Westboro Baptist Church's Memorial Day protest
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Military • Westboro Bapitst Church

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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.