Poll: Bin Laden tops religion news in 2011, tie for top newsmaker
December 15th, 2011
05:09 AM ET

Poll: Bin Laden tops religion news in 2011, tie for top newsmaker

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – The killing of Osama bin Laden was voted the top story of the year by the Religion Newswriters Association, beating out Rep. Peter King’s hearing on the radicalization of U.S. Muslims and Catholic Bishop Robert Finn’s failure to report the suspected abuse of a child.

Though on face bin Laden’s death is not a religion story, it created conversation on a number of faith topics, the RNA said.

“Faith-based groups reacted to the terrorist leader’s death with renewed sympathy for victims’ families, scriptural citations justifying the demise of evil, and hopeful prayers for peace among the nations,” stated the RNA release.


- Dan Merica

Filed under: Osama bin Laden

May 20th, 2011
12:35 PM ET

What would Jesus do: Florida church to pray Sunday for Osama bin Laden

By Amy Sullivan, Time

The mass this Sunday at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church in West Palm Beach will be offered on behalf of five people. Only one of them is a recently deceased head of a global terrorist network.

Parishioner Henry Borga requested the mass intention, on behalf of one Osama bin Laden, which is a long-standing tradition in the Catholic Church in which masses are offered for souls in purgatory or to remember someone who has died or in honor of someone still living. Borga told a local television channel that he placed the request for bin Laden because "he needs forgiveness and compassion from God."

Read the full story at Time.com
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Catholic Church • Osama bin Laden

May 11th, 2011
04:11 PM ET

My Take: Poll on bin Laden's death reveals a disposable Jesus

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

A few years ago, I was walking through the streets of Indianapolis with a friend. Whenever anyone asked us for money, she would offer a dollar or two. I asked her why she did this. She replied, “Because Jesus said so.”

I didn’t believe her. “Where in the Bible does it say that?” I asked, and she responded with chapter and verse, Matthew 5:42: "Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you." (Luke 6:30, I should add, says basically the same thing.)

This passage is one of the so-called “hard sayings” of Jesus. It comes in a barrage of equally hard sayings toward the end of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus tells his followers to turn the other cheek, give away your coat if someone sues you for your shirt, and “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:44-45).

The chatter around a poll released Wednesday by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Religion News Service will likely focus on the findings highlighted in their news release: 82% of Americans surveyed believe that bin Laden distorted the teachings of Islam to suit his own purposes; 65% believe the al Qaeda leader is rotting in hell; and 62% think it is wrong to celebrate the death of another human being.

Survey: Most Americans say it's wrong to celebrate bin Laden's death

What amazes me, however, is how disposable Christianity and the Bible are in this conversation. America, it seems, has become a nation of Christians of convenience, who trot Jesus out when he suits their politics and prejudices only to hide him away when he does not.


- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Osama bin Laden • Politics • Polls • United States

May 9th, 2011
12:25 PM ET

Dalai Lama: Osama bin Laden deserves compassion

By Ishaan Tharoor, TIME

After delivering a lecture on "secular ethics" at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles just days after the U.S. raid on Abbottabad, the Dalai Lama was asked of his thoughts about the killing of Osama bin Laden. A headline in the Los Angeles Times claimed the great spiritual leader in exile thought bin Laden's death "was justified," quoting the Dalai Lama: "If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures."

But the Dalai Lama's camp responded almost immediately, claiming this was not at all the gist of his remarks, emphasizing his appeal for us to distinguish between "the action" and "the actor" and stressing that, as a fellow human being, even bin Laden deserves our compassion and forgiveness. But, he stressed, "forgiveness doesn't mean forget [sic] what happened."

Red the full story on TIME.com
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Dalai Lama • Osama bin Laden

May 9th, 2011
12:21 PM ET

Opinion: Bin Laden's sea burial was 'sad miscalculation'

Editor's note: Abdal Hakim Murad is a lecturer in Islamic Studies at the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge University, England. In 2010 he was voted Britain's most influential Muslim thinker by Jordan's Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center. His latest book, "Bombing without Moonlight," is about the religious meaning of suicide bombing.

By Abdal Hakim Murad, Special to CNN

Death, as Henry James put it, is "that distinguished thing." Whether we believe in immortality or think that consciousness dies with the body, we instinctively treat it with a mixture of nervousness and respect. We remember the deaths of Socrates, of Kennedy, of Gandhi, and of Hitler.

Unless suicidal, their deaths were not of their choosing; yet in a strange way they remain a living part of their legacy. Sometimes our final moments forever shape the way we are remembered.

Read the full commentary by Abdal Hakim Murad
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Opinion • Osama bin Laden

In the shadow of 9/11, a chapel carries on
A New York Fire Department uniform is on display at St. Paul's Chapel in New York.
May 6th, 2011
11:23 AM ET

In the shadow of 9/11, a chapel carries on

By Padmananda Rama, CNN

New York (CNN) - As President Obama visited Ground Zero Thursday, the church that served as a home for volunteers and first responders on 9/11 was filled with memories of that day.

“I do remember when 9/11 happened,” said 17-year-old Rebekah Ritter, who was visiting St. Paul’s Chapel with a youth choir from Pennsylvania.

“I was only in second grade. I just find it amazing that this church is still here. And I just love the fact, coming in here looking at a miracle, that it’s still here and seeing how it’s helped so many people.”

The stone chapel, erected in the late 1700s, stands just across the street from the site of the World Trade Center. In the days following 9/11, the church was quickly transformed into a staging area for volunteers who helped first responders and families searching for loved ones. Photos of the missing were posted along the church’s gates.

This week, the chapel once again served as a place to reflect on recent events. In the hours following news of Osama bin Laden’s death, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who rushed to Lower Manhattan following the attacks, returned to St. Paul’s.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Barack Obama • Church • Death • Houses of worship • New York • Osama bin Laden

My Take: Which photo will bin Laden be remembered by?
Will bin Laden be remembered by the contemplative image used by newspapers this week?
May 5th, 2011
04:38 PM ET

My Take: Which photo will bin Laden be remembered by?

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

Images matter.

They matter to Greek Orthodox Christians who see the power of God in icons. They matter to devotional Hindus for whom the key moment in worship — darshan, or “sacred seeing” — comes when you look an image of the divine in the eye.

So the question of whether to release the death photos of Osama bin Laden is not a trivial one. It affects how bin Laden will be remembered — as a shahid (martyr), as “a mass murderer of Muslims" (as President Obama called him on Sunday night) or as something else altogether.

I think the president's decision not to release photos of bin Laden’s corpse was a good one. In this era of digital photography and Photoshop, photographs do not prove much. And they prove nothing at all to conspiracy theorists.

So circulating a photograph of bin Laden bloodied by U.S. troops would almost certainly do more harm than good, not least by fueling the perception that the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks is a martyr for true Islam.

But the absence of a death photo does not mean there will not be photos to remember bin Laden by. In fact, the iconography already seems to be emerging, and, at least for me, it is troubling.


- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Islam • Opinion • Osama bin Laden • Terrorism

May 4th, 2011
12:01 PM ET

My Take: No apology for celebrating after bin Laden's death

Editor's Note: Lauren Kolodkin is an undergraduate student at Boston University; among her professors is CNN Belief Blog contributor Stephen Prothero, who wrote that the celebrations that followed bin Laden's death made him cringe.

By Lauren Kolodkin, Special to CNN

For the past 10 years, my generation has had it pretty bad.

Our youth was taken away by the attacks on 9/11 and the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Our teen years were pockmarked by the Great Recession. Our college days are splattered with political unrest. And when we graduate from college, we will emerge overeducated and underprepared into an America with no jobs, no opportunities and no hope.

My generation has been told for years that our world is a place where there is little reason to celebrate anything.

But then, on Sunday night, President Obama announced that Osama bin Laden, leader of al Qaeda, mastermind of the attacks of September 11, 2001, was killed in Pakistan. The man who murdered thousands of Americans and instigated the war on terror is finally gone. And my generation celebrated.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Death • Osama bin Laden • Terrorism

CNN Poll: Majority in U.S. say bin Laden in Hell
May 4th, 2011
11:52 AM ET

CNN Poll: Majority in U.S. say bin Laden in Hell

Washington (CNN) – Of all the newspaper headlines covering the death of Osama bin Laden, the most provocative may have been the New York Daily News.

Their "Rot in Hell" Monday headline, with a full front-page photo of bin Laden, was mentioned by the cable news networks and generated buzz on the on-line social networks.

So do Americans think that the founder and leader of the al Qaeda terrorist network is now in Hell?

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released Tuesday, 61 percent of the public says yes, with one in ten saying no and nearly a quarter unsure.

"Not all Americans believe in Hell – a point of view reflected in the relatively large number of 'don't know' responses – and many religions don't include punishment in an afterlife as part of their teachings," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Nonetheless, the six in ten who say bin Laden is in Hell reflects how strongly many Americans feel that bin Laden was an evil figure."

Read the full story on CNN's Political Ticker. 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Belief • Osama bin Laden • Politics • United States

May 4th, 2011
10:02 AM ET

Imam talks of bin Laden's death and beyond

Imam Johari Abdul-Malik taks with CNN about the reaction to Osama bin Laden's death, his burial at sea and what's to come.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Osama bin Laden

   older posts »
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.