February 24th, 2014
08:20 AM ET

Arizona firefighter families: `Is God punishing us?'
Prescott, Arizona, welcomes home a procession of hearses of 19 firefighters after a 100-mile procession, returning the bodies of members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots.
July 9th, 2013
11:40 AM ET

Arizona firefighter families: `Is God punishing us?'

Opinion by John S. Dickerson, special to CNN

Prescott, Arizona (CNN) - If you stood next to one in a grocery store line, you could smell the smoke on his fire pants.

They were known as the Granite Mountain Hotshots, but to us they were sturdy, sweaty, smoke-stained neighbors, fathers, friends, husbands, sons and uncles.

They were the strong shoulders and backs who ran into danger to protect us. Just two weeks ago they ran toward the 200-footl flames of the Doce Fire northwest of Prescott, diverting it away from my neighborhood.

On June 30, while battling a fierce wildfire in Yarnell, 19 of these elite Prescott firefighters died. It was the deadliest day for firefighters since September 11, 2001, and it had a devastating effect on our small community.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Arizona • Belief • Christianity • Church • Death • Faith • Opinion • Uncategorized

June 21st, 2012
10:56 PM ET

2 communities linked to polygamous sect sued for alleged religious discrimination

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Producer

Washington (CNN) - Two communities dominated by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its jailed leader Warren Jeffs have been sued by the federal government for alleged religious discrimination against citizens who don't belong to the polygamous sect.

The Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department filed suit against Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, and their local utility companies for taking actions including denying or delaying water to nonmembers of the FLDS faith.

The government says over time some actions have been taken by the communities under state pressure to end the discrimination but that federal authorities are seeking a court order to prevent future discrimination by the defendants. The government also is demanding monetary damages be repaid to those harmed by the discrimination.

The government stressed the fundamentalist offshoot has no relationship to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which ended polygamy more than a century ago.


Our Take: Is alleged Arizona shooter evil or mentally ill?
January 17th, 2011
07:00 AM ET

Our Take: Is alleged Arizona shooter evil or mentally ill?

By Michael First and Jerome C. Wakefield, Special to CNN
Editor's Note: Michael First, M.D., a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, has worked as a forensic psychiatric expert in capital cases such as the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the convicted co-conspirator in the 9/11 attacks, and is the editor of the current edition of the psychiatric diagnostic manual, DSM-IV-TR.
Jerome C. Wakefield is a university professor and professor of social work and psychiatry at New York University, and coauthor of The Loss of Sadness: How Psychiatry Transformed Normal Sorrow into Depressive Disorder.

At last week's memorial service in Tucson for the victims of the Arizona shooting, President Obama said that “scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. “

It is tempting to view this heinous crime as purely an act of evil, with its senseless loss of innocent lives. However, as Obama went on to say, “we have to guard against simple explanations in the aftermath.” In one sense, any terrible harms that befall us are “evils in the world.” But are the suspected gunman’s alleged actions best understood as human evil, in light of evidence that the suspect has a mental disorder?

Whether a particular hurtful behavior, like the taking of a life, can be considered evil depends on the context in which it occurs and the intentions of the person committing the behavior.

Taking someone’s life because that person was about to kill one’s child would not be considered an act of evil. For a particular behavior to be considered evil, the person committing the act must be in a position to knowingly make a moral choice between doing something wrong and doing something right, choosing the bad action over the good.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Arizona • United States • Violence

January 15th, 2011
10:30 AM ET

Giffords' rabbi: 'what really matters in this world: love, justice, truth, and shalom'

From Pamela Sellers, CNN

Members of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Gifford's synagogue met Friday night for the first Jewish sabbath services since she was wounded in a shooting attack one week ago that left six people dead and 13 others wounded.

Rabbi Stephanie Aaron of Congregation Chaverim used the occasion to call for the renewal of the Tucson community and to urge members to reject violence and hatred.

"Remember that we are tied to what really matters in this world: love, justice, truth and shalom," Aaron said, wrapping her finger in a long white tassel of her prayer shawl as she spoke.

"Shalom" means "peace" in Hebrew.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Arizona • Houses of worship • Judaism • United States

Monks make, donate casket for youngest victim in Arizona shooting
January 12th, 2011
11:01 PM ET

Monks make, donate casket for youngest victim in Arizona shooting

By Eric Marrapodi and Kara Devlin

A group of Trappist monks in Iowa have donated a handmade casket to bury 9-year-old Christina Green, the youngest victim in the Saturday attack that killed six and wounded 13 others in Arizona.

Sam Mulgrew, the general manager of Trappist Caskets in Peosta, Iowa, told CNN a family representative of the Greens reached out to the monks at New Melleray Abbey near Dubuque after her death. The custom-made casket arrived in Tucson, Arizona, Wednesday morning.

"We didn't want to send an adult coffin that would be too big, we wanted something just for her," said Mulgrew, who is not a monk but who manages the 11-year-old casket business that is part of the abbey.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Arizona • Catholic Church • Death • United States

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.