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A Mormon Passover Seder
A traditional Seder plate used to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover.
April 15th, 2011
05:08 PM ET

A Mormon Passover Seder

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

The scene played out like many other Seders at Jewish campus centers, but in Provo, Utah, there was a twist. This traditional Passover celebration was hosted by Brigham Young University.

As Gabrielle Birkner writes in The Jewish Daily Forward, about 160 people packed into a hall at the Mormon college a few Fridays ago to dip the bitter herbs in salt water and remember the tears shed when the Israelites fled Egypt to escape slavery.

According to the university, Birkner reports, only three Jews are enrolled there; 99% of the students identify as Mormon.

The premier college of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is hosting seven Seders this spring, Birkner writes. FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Holidays • Judaism • Mormonism • Schools • United States • Utah

October 7th, 2010
05:45 PM ET

Family Research Council responds to Day of Truth pullout

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins has responded to my story yesterday about Exodus International pulling its sponsorship of Day of Truth, an annual event that encourages school students to "counter the promotion of homosexual behavior."  Exodus, a national Christian group, said the event has become too divisive and confrontational.

The Family Research Council, a powerful conservative Christian group in Washington, has promoted the Day of Truth in the past.

Here's Perkins' statement, more a response to allegations about faith-based bullying than about the Day of Truth:

We stand ready to work with all pro-family groups to ensure that students continue to hear an alternative to the ideological indoctrination in support of the homosexual movement which has become all too prevalent in our public schools.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Culture wars • Homosexuality • Schools

October 6th, 2010
05:37 PM ET

Christian group pulls support for event challenging homosexuality

CNN's Dan Gilgoff filed this report:

A national Christian organization will stop sponsoring an annual event that encourages school students to "counter the promotion of homosexual behavior" because the event has become too divisive and confrontational, the group's president told CNN on Wednesday.

"All the recent attention to bullying helped us realize that we need to equip kids to live out biblical tolerance and grace while treating their neighbors as they'd like to be treated, whether they agree with them or not," said Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International, the group that sponsored the event this year.

Called the Day of Truth, the annual April event has been pushed by influential conservative Christian groups as a way to counter to the annual Day of Silence, an event promoted by gay rights advocates to highlight threats against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Culture wars • Homosexuality • Schools

September 19th, 2010
11:54 AM ET

Mosque Denies Students Were Invited To Pray

Editor's Note: A separation of church and state controversy is brewing outside Boston. This story comes from CNN affiliate WCVB.

(Wellesley, Massachusetts) A Wellesley Middle School field trip to a local mosque has sparked controversy in the affluent community west of Boston after a video surfaced showing some of the students praying inside the hall.

The school superintendent apologized to local parents after the video, shot by a parent, was made public. It shows a handful of Wellesley sixth-grade boys kneeling and engaging in the prayer ritual during the May event at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center.

A chaperone who was on the trip said the prayer was voluntary.

Read the full story from CNN affiliate WCVB in Boston.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church and state • Islam • Muslim • Schools

July 15th, 2010
01:39 PM ET

Q&A: former Khalil Gibran school head on Ground Zero mosque

Debbie Almontaser is the founding and former principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, New York’s first Arabic language school, which opened in 2007. She left that year over a controversy ignited by reports she defended the word "intifada" on a T-shirt, and she later said she was forced out by the office of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, according to The New York Times. She now chairs the Muslim Consultative Network. CNN’s Nicole Dow talked to Almontaser about a new New York controversy that contains echoes of the one that embroiled her three years ago: a proposal to build an Islamic Center near Ground Zero.

What are your thoughts on the controversy surrounding the Cordoba House, the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero?

I am saddened and perturbed that this hysteria is playing itself out again in New York City by the same interest groups that are out there basically spewing hate-filled propaganda about Muslims across New York City and America. America is bigger than that better than that. This country was built on the shoulders of giants who migrated from all over the world for the American dream.

Does it remind you of what you went through back in 2007 at the Khalil Gibran school?

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 'Ground zero mosque' • Houses of worship • Islam • Mosque • Muslim • New York • Schools • United States

July 7th, 2010
10:04 AM ET

Your views on schools closing for Muslim holidays

Comments on whether New York schools should close for some Muslim holidays, as a recent Belief Blog guest poster argued, are coming from Muslims who don't want their kids to miss class, from Christians who don't want the state to sanction Islamic traditions and from strict church/state separationists who want government to stop observing all religious holidays.

Here's a somewhat representative sampling.

From a Muslim:

In response to the question: YES! Let the Muslims have Eid off. It doesn't have to be the full amount of days for both Eids but it is frustrating year after year when my children and my husband have to miss or be late to work and school to attend prayer only to rush back to the daily grind. Christians and Jews get to "take a break" on some of their holidays, it would be really nice if for a change if we could, too.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Islam • New York • Schools • 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.

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