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Faith leaders condemn hearings
Rep. Andre Carson, D-Indiana, speaks with a coalition of clergy against the radicalization hearings
March 10th, 2011
05:32 PM ET

Faith leaders condemn hearings

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Clergy from across the nation's religious spectrum condemned Muslim radicalization hearings by Rep. Peter King, R-New York, which they said unfairly targeted Muslims. The clergy spoke at a press conference Thursday in the Cannon Congressional office building, one floor below the radicalization hearings.

The clergy group called Shoulder-to-Shoulder came from Protestant, Catholic, and Evangelical churches; Conservative, Reform, and Orthodox temples; and mosques. Group members said violent extremism was a threat to national security, but it was morally wrong to lump all Muslims into the category of violent extremists.

"We also stand shoulder-to-shoulder in opposing the singling out of any one religious community in a way that would cast unwarranted suspicion on that part of the American population," the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, said.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • DC • Muslim • Religious liberty • United States

Baha'is lobby U.S. commission to help them survive in Iran
Sina Sabet Sarvestani, Iraj Kamalabadi, Azadeh Rohanian Perry and Kamal Khanjani (from L-R), realatives of Baha i prisoners in Iran, tell their stories before The US Commission on International Religious Freedom
February 11th, 2011
07:29 AM ET

Baha'is lobby U.S. commission to help them survive in Iran

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN

Washington (CNN) - It is a bad time to be a Baha'i in Iran, American adherents of the faith say.

The religion, founded in Iran in 1844, is now considered heretical by Iranian authorities. Its 300,000 adherents in the country "may face repression on the grounds of apostasy," according to the annual report of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.

On Wednesday, Iraj Kamalabadi and other Baha'is came to Washington to tell the commission just how bad things are for his sister, Fariba Kamalabadi, and six others who have been imprisoned because of their faith since 2008.

Iraj Kamalabadi was born in Iran and came to the United States for college. He stayed in the U.S. after the Iranian revolution for fear of religious persecution in his homeland. Now he is petitioning his adopted home government to step up the pressure on Iranian authorities.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Baha'i • Belief • Interfaith issues • Iran • Islam • Muslim • Persecution • Religious liberty

Obama reappoints religious freedom ambassador amid controversy
February 8th, 2011
08:48 PM ET

Obama reappoints religious freedom ambassador amid controversy

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

President Barack Obama has renominated his stalled pick for international religious freedom ambassador, likely extending a controversy over the pick and over the White House’s approach toward religious freedom issues.

Obama first nominated Suzan Johnson Cook, a prominent Christian pastor, to the post in June. But a Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote on her confirmation dragged on until December, as one senator reportedly put a temporarily hold on the nomination.

Obama nominated Cook again on Monday.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Christianity • Foreign policy • Politics • Religious liberty

February 3rd, 2011
07:05 AM ET

Pakistani teen jailed for blasphemy, group says

Pakistan must immediately drop blasphemy  charges against a teenager and let him out of jail, Human Rights Watch said.

"Pakistan has set the standard for intolerance when it comes to misusing  blasphemy laws, but sending a schoolboy to jail for something he scribbled on  an exam paper is truly appalling," Bede Sheppard, senior children's rights  researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement Wednesday.

Police told CNN Tuesday that they had arrested a teenager accused of  writing insulting comments about Muslim prophet Mohammed in a school exam.

They arrested 17 year-old Sami Ullah in Karachi after receiving a  complaint from the local board of education, said Karachi police official  Qudrat Shah Lodhi.

Read the full story on the teen jailed for blasphemy
- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Islam • Muslim • Pakistan • Religious liberty • Teens

December 23rd, 2010
08:27 AM ET

Pakistan parties protest possible blasphemy law changes

Pakistan's religious parties are planning protests this week against any attempts to change the nation's blasphemy laws, a party spokesman said Thursday.

Moulana Amjad Khan, spokesman for the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal ur Rehman (JUI-F) party, said the JUI-F and other religious parties are going to hold the rallies on December 24.

JUI-F recently left the collation government led by President Asif Ali Zardari's Pakistan People's Party.

Religious parties have been upset since the governor of Punjab province, Salman Taseer, helped file a mercy petition with Zardari's office, requesting a pardon for Asia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced for death for blasphemy.

Read the full story here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Islam • Quran • Religious liberty

December 2nd, 2010
10:28 AM ET

Penalized for thanking God?

Editor's Note: CNN Affiliate KOMO brings us this story.

Tumwater beat East Valley 63-27 on Monday night at the Tacoma Dome during the 2A state semifinal game, but a post-touchdown penalty call was a big surprise for the player responsible.

In the second quarter of the game, Tumwater running back Ronnie Hastie scored on a 23-yard run, took a knee in the end zone and briefly pointed to the heavens above.

For that the referee threw a flag, saying it was unsportsmanlike conduct.

Hastie said he's pointed up as a gesture to God after every touchdown he's scored in every game and never had a problem before.

"It's usually one or two seconds long," he said. "It's something I've done as a tradition."

Hastie said he asked the ref why he was penalized, and the ref responded that Hastie wasn't supposed to draw attention to himself.

"That wasn't the point (of the gesture), so I guess I was a little confused," Hastie said. "I do that to give glory to my heavenly father, Jesus. He gives me the strength. He's the one who gives me these abilities in the first place."

Read the full story from CNN Affiliate KOMO.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Religious liberty • Sports

November 29th, 2010
04:27 PM ET

Judge issues permanent injunction on Oklahoma Sharia law ban

Editor's Note: CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears brings us this report from Washington.

A federal judge in Oklahoma has issued an order putting on hold the certification of a ballot measure that forbids state courts from considering or using international laws, as well as Sharia, or Islamic law.

That permanent injunction will allow the judge more time to consider the constitutional issues raised by State Question 755, which was approved by voters earlier this month.

Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange had earlier issued a temporary restraining order in favor of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which had sued to nullify the law completely.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church and state • Courts • Islam • Oklahoma • Politics • Religious liberty • United States

China and Vatican fight over control of church
November 25th, 2010
08:37 AM ET

China and Vatican fight over control of church

A long-simmering battle between the Vatican and China over  control of the Chinese Catholic Church blew up this week over the creation of a  new Chinese Catholic bishop without the pope's permission.

The Roman Catholic Church said Beijing forced bishops to participate in  the ordination of Joseph Guo Jincai, while China charged the Vatican with  interfering with religious liberty in China.

Guo was ordained a bishop on Saturday, the Vatican said, calling the  unauthorized act "a grave violation of Catholic discipline."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Thursday that the  Chinese Catholic Church was independent and that any "intervention" constituted  "restriction of freedom and non-tolerance."

FULL POST

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

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

On trial: Faith, delusion or excuse for crime?
November 15th, 2010
02:32 PM ET

On trial: Faith, delusion or excuse for crime?

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

He's a self-proclaimed prophet who called his bed an altar.

He wore robes, grew his beard long and penned a rambling manifesto.

He said he received revelations and was destined to take 49 wives.

And he is on federal trial for kidnapping Elizabeth Smart, now 23, and moving her across state lines for sex.

Smart testified that Mitchell handed out a pamphlet stating the "Declaration of Our Faith" while preaching on the streets.

The lawyers for Brian David Mitchell do not dispute that he abducted Smart, then 14, and held her captive for nine months. But they say his religious beliefs were delusions, that their client was insane and therefore cannot be held responsible for his actions.

Smart, in her courtroom testimony last week in Utah, countered that he "used religion…to justify everything." And that is the prosecution's case: that Mitchell's religious "revelations" were all self-serving.

Jurors will have to decide: To find Mitchell insane, they must believe that he suffered from mental illness or defect at the time he kidnapped and held Smart captive, and that it kept him from knowing that what he was doing was wrong. Or they may find him guilty; that he used his purported beliefs to justify his crimes.

It is a long-awaited and complicated trial, one likely to focus more on the letter of the law than the veracity of faith. But this is certain: When it comes to determining competency vs. criminality, religious beliefs are sometimes central to the debate.

FULL POST


Sikh Americans oppose turban screening at airports
November 8th, 2010
01:33 PM ET

Sikh Americans oppose turban screening at airports

Three of the largest Sikh advocacy groups in the United States are opposing airport passenger screening measures they say require hand-searches of turbans, despite the use of electronic imaging technology.

The Sikh Coalition, United Sikhs and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund are lobbying members of Congress in an effort to pressure federal transportation authorities to re-examine a policy they say unfairly scrutinizes members of the Sikh community.

"Sikh Americans are already looked at differently in this country," said the Sikh Coalition's director of programs, Amardeep Singh. "Once you start pulling Sikhs aside for extra screening, it sends a message that the government is suspicious of them for the same reasons [other passengers] are suspicious of them."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Religious liberty • Sikh

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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.

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