August 9th, 2011
10:33 AM ET

Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs sentenced to life in prison

By the CNN Wire Staff

Tune in to HLN's "Nancy Grace" at 9 p.m. ET Tuesday for more on Warren Jeffs' sentencing.

San Angelo, Texas (CNN) - Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison plus 20 years for sexually assaulting two girls he claimed were his "spiritual wives."

Jeffs, 55, will have to spend at least 45 years in prison before being eligible for release, according to Jerry Strickland, spokesman for the Texas Attorney General's office.

The jury sentenced Jeffs to life in prison for aggravated sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl and 20 years in prison for the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl. He must serve at least 35 years of the life sentence and half of the other sentence, Strickland said. The judge in the case ordered that the sentences be served consecutively.


Leader of Hispanic organization at center of sought-after voters
August 6th, 2011
02:28 PM ET

Leader of Hispanic organization at center of sought-after voters

By Padmananda Rama, CNN

(CNN) - For the Rev. Sam Rodriguez, who leads a Hispanic organization that represents more than 24,000 Christian congregations, the future of American Evangelicalism is clear.

"If you are an Evangelical Christian, the fastest growing demographic in the American Evangelical community is embedded in the Hispanic church," said Rodriguez, leader of the National Hispanic Leadership Conference.

Rodriguez is in Houston this week preparing for a leading role in Saturday's Christian prayer, "The Response," which organizers describe as "a call to prayer."


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Politics • Rick Perry • Texas

Perry prayer event hopes to pray away the malaise
August 5th, 2011
09:35 PM ET

Perry prayer event hopes to pray away the malaise

By Jim Acosta and Erika Dimmler, CNN

Houston, Texas (CNN) – Rick Perry seems to believe in the power of mixing prayer and politics.

The Texas governor has called on both Christians and politicians to attend his religious gathering, dubbed "The Response," in Houston this weekend.

In a video posted on "The Response" web site, Perry said he hopes worshipers at the event will help kick-start the nation's sluggish economy. In other words: pray away the malaise.

Read the full story at CNN's Political Ticker
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Politics • Prayer • Rick Perry • Texas

July 28th, 2011
01:36 PM ET

Official: American Muslim soldier wanted to attack Fort Hood troops

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - An AWOL Muslim American Army private arrested near Fort Hood, Texas, told investigators that he wanted to attack fellow soldiers outside Fort Hood, two law enforcement officials said Thursday.

FBI agents discovered a bevy of potential bomb-making materials in the hotel room of Pfc. Naser Jason Abdo, who refused to deploy to Afghanistan and later went AWOL from Fort Campbell in Kentucky after being charged with possessing child pornography, said FBI spokesman Erik Vasys.

After a tip-off from a local gun shop, Killeen police arrested Abdo in a traffic stop Wednesday, Vasys said.

Read the full story on the arrested Muslim American soldier
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Military • Texas

July 26th, 2011
03:07 PM ET

Warren Jeffs seeks to control polygamist sect from jail

Editor’s Note: CNN’s Gary Tuchman explores the latest developments in the saga of polygamist Warren Jeffs, the jailed leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in a special report on tonight’s “AC 360” and for CNN Presents, airing Sunday, July 31, at 10 p.m. ET.

By David Fitzpatrick, CNN

El Dorado, Texas (CNN) - Fundamentalist Mormon leader Warren Jeffs has been held in a tiny jail in this west Texas town for roughly three years. According to his jailers, he has spent his time doing one thing above all else: talking on the phone..

Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran told CNN that in one month, Jeffs has spent roughly $3,000 on phone cards.

And while Jeffs was recently held in another Texas jail roughly 50 miles away, he spent close to $10,000 in phone cards in three months.

Reagan County Sheriff James Garner, who oversees that jail, told CNN that no inmate there has ever spent that much money on phone cards.


Group sues Texas governor for 'unconstitutional' participation in prayer rally
Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
July 13th, 2011
09:00 PM ET

Group sues Texas governor for 'unconstitutional' participation in prayer rally

By the CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) - A national organization focused on ensuring the separation of church and state challenged Wednesday the involvement of Texas Gov. Rick Perry in an upcoming evangelical Christian prayer rally.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking the Southern District Court of Texas in Houston to declare Perry's connection to a "Day of Prayer and Fasting" unconstitutional and stop any further participation on his part, the foundation said.

Perry's office says the governor still looks forward to the event.


- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Church and state • Politics • Texas

Houston's growing Hindu community
July 10th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

In Texas, young Hindus want to Americanize ancient faith

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

Houston, Texas (CNN) - In many ways, 29-year-old Rishi Bhutada is a traditional Hindu, not so different from his Indian-born parents.

An officer at his dad’s pipefitting company, Texas-born Bhutada had an arranged marriage in India three years ago and then brought his wife back to his hometown, where they recently welcomed a son.

Bhutada is a strict vegetarian and avoids alcohol, as do many observant Hindus.

Complete coverage: Defining America

And the dashboard of his Toyota Prius is adorned with a small metal statue of Ganesh, an elephant-headed Hindu god known as the remover of obstacles. Bhutada prays to it each morning before leaving his driveway.

And yet Bhutada is a different kind of Hindu than his mom and dad.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Content Partner • Hinduism • Interfaith issues • Texas

Texas governor's modest Christian giving raises eyebrows
June 13th, 2011
02:14 PM ET

Texas governor's modest Christian giving raises eyebrows

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who recently attracted national attention for publicly mixing Christianity and politics, is putting some of his money where his mouth is - but not, critics say, very much.

According to an analysis of his tax returns by the San Antonio Express-News, the Republican Perry has given half a percent of the $2.68 million he earned as governor to churches and religious organizations.

Here's the Express-News:

By comparison, Americans averaged gifts of nearly 1.2 percent of their income to churches and religious groups from 2004 to 2008, according to Empty Tomb Inc., an Illinois-based research firm specializing in U.S. church-giving trends.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Money & Faith • Politics • Texas

June 6th, 2011
04:07 PM ET

Following court ruling, Texas student prays at graduation

(CNN) - With the backing of a federal appeals court, a Texas student prayed from the podium of her high school graduation on Saturday.

"Whether you would like to join me or not, feel free to do as you see best," Angela Hildenbrand said shortly before she prayed at the Medina Valley High School graduation in Castroville, according to CNN San Antonio affiliate KSAT.

“God, I thank you for the support of the entire community through this case hearing," she said.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Church and state • Schools • Texas

Bishops bet on basketball finals
June 2nd, 2011
04:28 PM ET

Bishops bet on basketball finals

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)– With the NBA Finals under way between the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks, Catholic bishops from Miami and Dallas are betting on the action.

Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski is a big Heat fan. He offered a "friendly wager" to Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell, himself an avid Mavericks fan.

"Archbishop Wenski approached us. He decided he wanted to prove the Miami Heat were much better than the Mavs. I couldn't let them think they were better than we were," Farrell said by phone from Dallas.

While the Heat's Lebron James and Maverick's Dirk Nowitzki battle it out on the court over the right to hoist the NBA's Larry O'Brien championship trophy, they are also unwittingly fighting for the bishops' bragging rights and some hometown gear.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Florida • Food • Sports • Texas • 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.