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Jewish group fights for chaplain monument at Arlington
On Chaplains Hill at Arlington National Cemetery, no monument exists to Jewish chaplains killed in action.
May 7th, 2011
05:00 AM ET

Jewish group fights for chaplain monument at Arlington

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Arlington, Virginia (CNN) – Three German torpedoes ripped through the icy waters of the Atlantic off the coast of Greenland. On February 2, 1943, the USS Dorchester was transporting 902 U.S. servicemen to war. Only one torpedo hit, but it struck a deathblow - killing scores instantly and resetting the ship's course to the bottom of the ocean.

Amid the chaos, survivors later recalled, four U.S. Army chaplains fought to bring calm and comfort, praying for the dead and encouraging the living to fight for survival. They helped frightened servicemen find life jackets and head to rescue craft. Each of the four chaplains gave up his life jacket to save the life of another.

All four stayed on the ship's new course to the bottom of the ocean and gave their lives so others might live. The last thing survivors saw of the four chaplains, they were huddled together praying.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • DC • Judaism • Military • United States

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."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

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

Religious freedom watchdog group adds Egypt to violator list
Thousands of Coptic Christians protested outside the Egyptian state broadcasting office for nine consecutive days in March.
April 28th, 2011
03:33 PM ET

Religious freedom watchdog group adds Egypt to violator list

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - Egypt has been added to a list of countries named as the worst violators of religious freedom for the first time, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom announced Thursday in releasing its annual report.

"The Egyptian government engaged in and tolerated religious freedom violations before and after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on February 11, 2001," the commissioners wrote in the report. They cited violence toward religious minorities in Egypt including Coptic Christians and non-majority Muslim groups.

"Since February 11, religious freedom conditions have not improved and attacks targeting religious minorities have continued," the report said.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Africa • Belief • Coptic • DC • Egypt • Politics • United States

As faith coalition for the poor grows, so does conservative opposition
From left, Tony Hall, Ritu Sharma, David Beckman and Jim Wallis at the announcement of their hunger strike.
April 28th, 2011
09:09 AM ET

As faith coalition for the poor grows, so does conservative opposition

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - A coalition of Christian groups opposing budget cuts for the poor is growing - and so is the conservative media’s backlash against the group.

It began a few weeks ago when a group of Christians took out a full-page advertisement in Politico asking, “What would Jesus cut” as it relates to the federal budget.

The movement grew to include a hunger strike during Lent spearheaded by Jim Wallis of Sojourners, David Beckmann of Bread for the World, Women Thrive Worldwide co-founder Ritu Sharma and former congressman Tony Hall.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Church and state • DC • Politics • United States

April 19th, 2011
05:00 PM ET

Selling bread for Passover? There's an app for that

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - The emails are flooding into Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld’s Washington office from around the world - London, Zurich, New York, Mexico - all with one goal: to have the rabbi sell all the bread products in their homes in time for Passover.

As Passover approaches, orthodox Jews strip their homes of all bread products, called chametz in Hebrew. Cereal, breads, even grain-based alcohol is consumed, destroyed or sold - through a rabbi - to a non-Jewish neighbor.

Explain it to me: Understanding Passover

After Passover, the seller can buy the chametz back. In almost all cases, the bread products never physically change hands but are put away under lock and key in the seller’s home.

Traditionally, the seller fills out a form for the rabbi. This year, Herzfeld decided to embrace the latest technology and, with the help of a member of his congregation, develop mobile apps to accomplish the task.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • DC • Judaism • Kosher • United States

President offers prayers, thoughts to tornado victims
The President held an Easter prayer breakfast at the White House Tuesday
April 19th, 2011
07:00 AM ET

President offers prayers, thoughts to tornado victims

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama offered his thoughts and prayers Tuesday to victims of weekend storms that spawned dozens of tornadoes that cut a swath through the South, killing more than 40 people.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families that have been affected down there," the president said during an Easter prayer breakfast at the White House.

The twisters hit 12 states in the South, cutting a path of destruction from Oklahoma to Maryland between Thursday and Saturday. At least 45 people were killed, including 22 from hard-hit North Carolina.

Politics were not on the menu during the prayer breakfast. It was the second year the president has held such an Easter prayer event.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Barack Obama • Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • DC • Food • Leaders • Pastors • Politics • Protestant • United States

April 5th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Eyeing a national museum, a collector’s Bibles hits the road

By Gabe LaMonica, CNN

Washington (CNN) - Steve Green owns a lot of Bibles, and he’s starting to show them off.

The president of Hobby Lobby, a national chain of craft stores, Green bought his first biblical artifact less than a year and a half ago. But his is already considered one of the world’s largest private collection of biblical texts and artifacts, and Green is taking it on tour in advance of opening what he says will be a national Bible museum.

The tour kicked off last week with a party at the Vatican embassy in Washington that highlighting samples from a 14,000 square foot traveling exhibition, which is called “Passages.” It’s a prelude to the high-tech Bible museum Green wants to open in the next five or so years.

“The Bible has had a huge impact on societies - politics, the arts, science, music, literature,” says Green, who is Christian. “The impact of the book is a story that we feel needs to be told and that is what we are interested in doing - and encouraging people to consider what it has to say.”

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • DC • United States

Hunger strike aims at congressional cuts
March 28th, 2011
01:47 PM ET

Hunger strike aims at congressional cuts

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Amid a delicate dance to cut the budget in Congress, agitated religious leaders in Washington said Monday that the cuts being proposed are too deep.

Food aid for people at home and abroad, mosquito nets, and Head Start preschool programs are all on the chopping block. That, many religious leaders say, has crossed a moral line. In response, they have begun a fast - a hunger strike.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Charity • Christianity • DC • Judaism • Muslim • United States

March 17th, 2011
04:32 AM ET

Top Democrat calls Japan tragedy 'beyond biblical'

By CNN Congressional Producer Matthew Hoye

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday described the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan as "beyond biblical in terms of its proportion."

The "humanitarian loss is so tremendous," Pelosi,  a California Democrat, told reporters on Capitol Hill, saying the United States is helping with humanitarian and technical assistance, but it's a "huge order.

"We all feel quite inadequate in terms of the size of the tragedy, but completely committed to helping," Pelosi said.

While Pelosi said she doesn't believe any radioactive material would "drift ashore" in this country, she noted that California and Hawaii would be in the "first line of receiving" any fallout and said the Federal Emergency Management Agency "needs to take inventory" of emergency supplies and figure out "how it gets directly to people."

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Bible • DC • Japan • Politics • United States

Saving Thomas Jefferson's scrapbook Bible
Smithsonian paper conservator Janice Stagnitto Ellis displays the cover page from Thomas Jefferson's Bible.
March 11th, 2011
08:52 AM ET

Saving Thomas Jefferson's scrapbook Bible

By Sally Holland, CNN

Thomas Jefferson literally cut passages on the chronology and moral teachings of Jesus out of several Bibles and glued them into what historians have termed the Jefferson Bible.

The founding father completed the book that he called "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth" during his retirement in 1820.

Conservationists at the National Museum of American History are currently working to preserve the almost-200-year-old book so it can go on display in November.

Paper conservator Janice Stagnitto Ellis said the main problem is the way the book was bound. Over time, the paper has become less flexible, and bending the brittle pages caused the paper to tear, she said.

"Without doing modifications to the binding, we could open the book [to] about a 30-degree angle before the paper would be required to bend, which it couldn't do," she said. "It became un-exhibitable."

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state • DC • Politics • 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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