My Take: 'Real Catholics' not opposed to birth control
There has long been a division between Catholic clergy and congregants on contraception.
February 3rd, 2012
02:06 PM ET

My Take: 'Real Catholics' not opposed to birth control

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

(CNN) - I don’t know yet what I think of the Obama administration’s policy of requiring employers, including Catholic ones, to offer contraceptive services for free as preventive care. But I know this: It is crucial in this dispute to distinguish between the Catholic hierarchy and rank-and-file Catholics.

Catholic bishops have a clear position on contraception. Citing the encyclical Humanae Vitae (1968), they contend that sex has a purpose, and that this purpose is procreation inside marriage. Therefore, any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, as is any “unnatural” means of birth control inside marriage. So while the so-called rhythm method is acceptable, condoms and IUDs and the pill are not.

But is this the Catholic position? It depends on what you mean by Catholic.


- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Bishops • Catholic Church • Health care • Politics • Polls • Religious liberty • United States

My Take: Huge win for religious liberty at the Supreme Court
The Supreme Court handed down a landmark religious liberty ruling on Wednesday.
January 12th, 2012
09:58 AM ET

My Take: Huge win for religious liberty at the Supreme Court

By Douglas Laycock, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Douglas Laycock, Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Virginia, represented Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in the case the Supreme Court decided Wednesday.

(CNN) - Wednesday’s Supreme Court decision holding that ministers cannot sue their churches for employment discrimination was a huge win for religious liberty. It was unanimous, it was sweeping and it was unqualified.

This decision was about separation of church and state in its most fundamental sense. Churches do not run the government, select government leaders, or set criteria for choosing government leaders.

And government does not run the churches, select religious leaders, or set criteria for choosing religious leaders. The Court unanimously reaffirmed that principle on Wednesday.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church and state • Courts • Opinion • Religious liberty

Perry hits Obama for war on faith, despite a ghost of 'holiday season' past
December 7th, 2011
04:54 PM ET

Perry hits Obama for war on faith, despite a ghost of 'holiday season' past

By Kevin Liptak, CNN

(CNN) – Rick Perry doubled down on his religion-based attack of President Barack Obama Wednesday, saying the president was preventing students from celebrating Christmas in schools. But just last year, Perry issued a holiday statement as governor of Texas that omits any mention of the Christian holiday.

In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Perry said Obama and the political left were waging a "war on religious traditions," including preventing students from praying in schools and having Christmas parties.

"What we're seeing from the left, of which I would suggest to you, President Obama is a member of the left and substantial left-of-center beliefs, that you can't even have a Christmas party. You can't say a prayer at school," Perry said in an interview airing on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

But in a holiday statement to troops issued by his office on Dec. 22, 2010 and posted on the governor's website, Perry fails to mention Christmas at all, sticking instead to more general terms like "holiday season."

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Politics • Religious liberty • Rick Perry • TV-The Situation Room

U.S. support for Iranian pastor continues to grow
Support for Yousef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Christian who is slated for execution, is becoming a political issue in the United States.
October 3rd, 2011
04:15 PM ET

U.S. support for Iranian pastor continues to grow

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) - Calls to stop the execution of Yousef Nadarkhani, an Iranian pastor, continue to grow after a week in which demands for leniency came from the highest levels of the U.S. government.

On Monday, GOP presidential hopeful and Texas Gov. Rick Perry released a statement that called the pastor’s impending execution “unacceptable.”

“There is no shade of gray or room for equivocation here,” stated the news release. “Freedom to worship is a basic human right, and the charges against Pastor Nadarkhani are an affront to the essential principles of the civilized world.”


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Iran • Religious liberty

August 9th, 2011
02:09 PM ET

Report: Religious freedom declining for nearly 2.2 billion people

By Moni Basu, CNN

Nearly a third of the world's people live in nations where practicing religion freely is becoming increasingly difficult, according to a new study released Tuesday.

The Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life said government restrictions and religiously motivated hostility rose significantly between mid-2006 and mid-2009, when the research was conducted.

Only 1% of the world's population lives in countries where the trend was the opposite.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Religious liberty

July 17th, 2011
05:55 AM ET

Vatican's battle with China over church control heats up

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

The Vatican stepped up its battle with the Chinese Catholic Church this weekend, excommunicating a bishop who was ordained during the week without the pope's permission.

Pope Benedict XVI "deplored" the "illicit" ordination of the Rev. Joseph Huang Bingzhang and expelled him from the church because he was "ordained without papal mandate," the Vatican said Saturday.

He was the second bishop ordained by Chinese Catholics without Vatican permission in the past month, and at least the third in the past year, as Beijing and Rome struggle over control of the Catholic Church in China.

Huang Bingzhang was ordained as Bishop of the Diocese of Shantou in southeast China on Thursday, the Vatican said, although Rome had asked him "on numerous occasions not to accept episcopal ordination."


- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • China • Pope Benedict XVI • Religious liberty

Atheists flying ad campaign meets strong resistance
June 30th, 2011
06:41 PM ET

Atheists flying ad campaign meets strong resistance

By Katie Glaeser, CNN

(CNN)–It's a battle of belief - and the right not to believe - in a country founded on freedom.

"I'm a patriotic American. I served my country. I get out there and celebrate the Fourth, too," Blair Scott, who calls himself a proud atheist, proclaimed.

"This America belongs to everyone."

Blair, the communications director for the New Jersey-based American Atheists, said atheists in the United States often feel alienated and face accusations of being anti-American because of their lack of belief in God.

To combat those notions, his group is using Independence Day to say atheists love their country, too.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • New Jersey • Religious liberty • United States

My Take: Congressional hearings on Islam betray American values
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King at Wednesday's hearing on Muslim radicalization in U.S. prisons.
June 15th, 2011
04:01 PM ET

My Take: Congressional hearings on Islam betray American values

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

The anti-Muslims are at it again.

It is commonplace to think of the United States as a tolerant nation, an asylum for immigrants from all nations and religions. But throughout U.S. history there are moments that remind us of our collective depravity—our inability as a nation to live up consistently to the values articulated in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Today is one of those moments, because Representative Peter King (R-NY) held a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Muslim “radicalization" in U.S. prisons.

Some who watched the hearings this morning might be experiencing a sense of deja vu, since this is Round Two in King's hearings on the "radicalization" of Muslim Americans. But watching King's bigotry on display brought me back to a much earlier moment in U.S. history: the burning of a Catholic convent by Protestant protesters in Charlestown, Massachusetts, in 1834.


- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Church and state • Islam • Politics • Religious liberty • Religious violence • United States

June 7th, 2011
04:18 PM ET

Opinion: Parents, not government, should decide on circumcision

Editor's note: LZ Granderson writes a weekly column for CNN.com. A senior writer and columnist for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com, he has contributed to ESPN's "Sports Center," "Outside the Lines" and "First Take."

By LZ Granderson, CNN Contributor

Grand Rapids, Michigan - Just so I'm clear, the state of California is broke, right?

Californians are facing billions in tax hikes and spending cuts that could mean more cutbacks in services and givebacks by state workers.

And yet, for some reason the debate over foreskin has a place.

You read me right, anti-circumcision activists convinced thousands in San Francisco to sign a petition, and now in the fall voters will decide whether to ban the procedure from being performed on boys younger than 18. Don't laugh, Santa Monica was looking at a similar vote up until this week, and the organization responsible for this movement wants to see this on the ballot all over the country.

I can see the lawn signs now - Circumcisions: Nip 'Em in the Bud.

Read LZ Granderson's commentary
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: California • Judaism • Opinion • Politics • Religious liberty • Sexuality

Day of Prayer observed as always, with reverence and controversy
May 5th, 2011
04:36 PM ET

Day of Prayer observed as always, with reverence and controversy

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - President Obama bowed his head silently Thursday after laying a wreath at the 9/11 memorial at ground zero in lower Manhattan.  He was in part playing the role of "pastor in chief," taking a moment with the nation to remember the fallen in the decade-long struggle against terrorism.

Last Friday, before he addressed the country late Sunday night to announce Osama bin Laden was dead, Obama issued his yearly proclamation on the National Day of Prayer.  Thursday marked the 60th observance of the day in the United States. In his proclamation, Obama called all Americans to pray for, among other things, the men and women in the military, to ask God for "sustenance and guidance," and to pray for those affected by natural disasters.

"The most popular function for presidents is chief of state, because it's the unifying function," said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.  "They love it  because it unifies people and it seems less political than when they have to make tough policy choices as head of government or brazenly political choices as head of party."


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Belief • Christianity • Church and state • DC • Politics • Religious liberty • United States

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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.