February 5th, 2012
11:12 PM ET
Bishop Eddie Long apologizes to Jewish group after Torah ceremony
Atlanta (CNN) - Bishop Eddie Long has apologized to the Anti-Defamation League over an incident in which he was wrapped in a Torah scroll and crowned "king."
As shown in a video that went viral, the televangelist was wrapped in a "Holocaust Torah" and crowned king during a recent ceremony at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, his suburban Atlanta congregation.
"The ceremony was not my suggestion, nor was it my intent, to participate in any ritual that is offensive in any manner to the Jewish community, or any group. Furthermore, I sincerely denounce any action that depicts me as a King, for I am merely just a servant of the Lord," Long wrote in a letter dated Saturday.FULL STORY
October 21st, 2011
06:04 AM ET
New Birth member speaks out about lawsuit against Eddie Long
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) - Lillian Wells said she had been laid off from her job, gone into real estate, and was looking for extra income when she went to church one Sunday and heard about a “sure thing.”
Two years later, Wells said her house is weeks away from foreclosure, she can barely pay for medication and she’s lost at least $122,000 in retirement savings.
“I’ve been hurt,” Wells said. “I’m looking for resolution and restitution at this point, and I haven’t gotten that.”
Wells’ story is at the center of a lawsuit that pits her against Bishop Eddie Long, one of the nation’s most well-known televangelists, and a charismatic investor who Long reportedly compared to Moses.
October 7th, 2011
12:26 PM ET
Joel Osteen takes on his critics
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) - He peddles “gospel lite," a watered-down Christianity that mixes prosperity with piety.
That's how critics have described Joel Osteen's message. The televangelist may be the pastor of the largest church in America, but he still doesn't get respect in many parts of the religious community.
Osteen, a college dropout who never attended seminary, has built a huge international audience with inspirational messages that blend positive thinking and personal transformation. But is he preaching "gospel lite" messages devoid of any mention of sin and hard choices?
Osteen rejects that charge with the same honey-toned voice and unflappability he displays in the pulpit at Lakewood Church in Houston. There's no hint of defensiveness.
October 1st, 2011
10:00 PM ET
Preachers confront 'last taboo': Condemning greed amid Great Recession
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) - Bishop Harry Jackson is a former college middle linebacker who can still hit hard.
He once described same-sex marriage as a satanic plot to destroy the family, called on Republicans to get “political Viagra” and said African-Americans needed to abandon what he called the Gospel of Victimization.
Jackson is not shy about stirring up controversy, but he stops short when it comes to preaching about greed. The Maryland bishop said he encourages his congregation to get through the Great Recession by saving and sharing. But he doesn’t want to alienate well-off members by talking about what’s behind the nation’s economic woes.
"I've got to watch it," said Jackson, pastor at Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland. "I could get into some big teaching on greed, but the reality is that a lot of that teaching may wind up creating anti-economic-growth and anti-capitalism concepts (in people’s minds). ... I always talk about personal responsibility so we don't get into the blame game."
The Great Recession is more than an economic crisis. It has become a spiritual dilemma for some of the nation’s pastors and their parishioners, religious leaders say.
September 8th, 2011
04:44 PM ET
Gay priest was 9/11's first recorded casualty
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
You may not hear a lot about gay Roman Catholic priests.
But one such clergyman is getting a lot of attention this week: Father Mychal Judge, a Franciscan friar who donned a brown robe and sandals and who was the first recorded casualty of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Among the many hats Judge wore was as chaplain for the New York Fire Department. He was killed after going to the World Trade Center with some off-duty firefighters after the first plane hit.
August 31st, 2011
09:26 AM ET
Malaysia's first openly gay pastor to marry
By Elizabeth Yuan, CNN
(CNN)– Malaysia's first openly gay pastor has chosen Wednesday, coinciding with the country's Independence Day, to get married to his American partner in New York, barely a month after same-sex marriage became legalized there.
"It means a lot to be married that day, to honor my country and people in Malaysia," said Rev. Boon Lin Ngeo, who also goes by his pen name O.Young or Ouyang Wen Feng, in a telephone call from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Malaysia's Sabah state, during a visit there last week.
He said the date was chosen to remind others that "we need to keep fighting for our rights and be independent from all kinds of oppression."Read the full story about Malaysia's first openly gay pastor getting married
August 29th, 2011
01:59 PM ET
Texas pastor opens drive-in church
A pastor outside Dallas has launched a drive-in church that operates along the same lines as a drive-in movie theater: Congregants stay in their vehicles and tune in to the sermon on their car radios.
Sanctuary Under the Sky, which meets in a high school parking lot in Lucas, Texas, is the third outdoor church launched by Pastor David Ray, according to CNN Dallas/Fort Worth affiliate WFAA.
August 22nd, 2011
03:09 PM ET
Your Take: Comments on the Christian crusade against porn
By Ashley Fantz, CNN
More than 3,000 readers posted comments on our Sunday story about Christian leaders’ assertion that porn is a serious problem facing the church. The story explores a new kind of psychotherapy that uses the Bible to treat porn and sex addiction.
Of course, the vast majority of comments consisted of readers’ insulting each other and making juvenile jokes about sex.
However, several comments questioned the photo illustration of a man reading a Playboy tucked inside a Bible. Many asked if CNN would have used another holy book, such as the Quran, in the same way.
August 15th, 2011
01:24 PM ET
Florida megachurch pastor found dead in New York hotel room
By Chris Boyette, CNN
NEW YORK (CNN) - An inconclusive autopsy left unanswered questions Monday in the death of Florida megachurch founder Zachery Tims, whose death in a New York hotel room shocked members of his congregation.
More tests are needed to determine the cause of death, a process that could take a few weeks, said Grace Brugess, spokeswoman for the New York Medical Examiner's Office.
Tims, 42, was found unresponsive about 6 p.m. Friday on the floor of a room in the W Hotel in Times Square, New York Police Department spokesman Sgt. John Bethorn said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
June 23rd, 2011
02:15 PM ET
When does a pastor tainted by scandal deserve forgiveness?
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) - “Who am I to judge?” “That’s between him and God.” “God has already forgiven him.”
When a church is hit by a pastor’s scandal, parishioners face a choice: Remain at the house or worship or move on. Those that stay often cite the reasons above - God has already forgiven the pastor so why shouldn’t I?
That’s the kind of thinking that annoyed a Missouri seminary professor so much that he wrote a blistering open letter in the online magazine Religion Dispatches last week attacking its rationale. Lerone A. Marti, an assistant professor of American religious history at Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, wrote that church folks who stick by unrepentant pastors have a lot to learn about forgiveness and accountability.
What set Martin off was the latest entry in the Bishop Eddie Long saga. Long, senior pastor of an Atlanta megachurch, was sued last year by four young men who claimed he pressured them into sexual relationships.
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.