November 18th, 2013
08:18 AM ET
Tacloban City, The Philippines (CNN) - The day after the typhoon, the Rev. Edwin Bacaltos stepped out of the compound of the Church of Our Mother of Perpetual Help in central Tacloban and began his work.
The scene was one of unspeakable horror. Dead bodies were strewn all over the place. The debris of shattered buildings and their contents filled the street.
Bacaltos' self-appointed task that day was to bless the bodies that lay scattered around his parish.
"It was difficult for me," he said. "It was a really emotional experience."
The next day, he said, "When I celebrated the Eucharist, I broke down because of all the suffering I had seen."
Hundreds of survivors were taking refuge in the church compound, much of which withstood Super Typhoon Haiyan's ferocious winds and destructive storm surge.
Many of them asked the pastor how God could let such a calamity befall this predominantly Catholic city.
His response, he said, was to tell them that "God is not the cause of the suffering. God cannot prevent this. This is the work of nature."
But why it had to happen to Tacloban and its more than 200,000 residents, Father Bacaltos acknowledged, is "difficult to explain."
As the people who remain in this broken city attempt to come to terms with the catastrophe that engulfed them a week ago, religion is offering a degree of solace for some of those who have suffered incalculable losses.
It's also providing basic elements of community and support to residents of an area where local government ceased to fully function for several days and is still only slowly sputtering back into action.
October 5th, 2013
08:00 AM ET
By John Blake, CNN
(CNN) –"Yo mama..."
Whenever I heard those two words while growing up in inner-city Baltimore, I knew something bad was about to happen. Trading insults was a childhood ritual. But everyone understood that one subject was off-limits. You didn’t talk about anybody’s momma unless you were prepared to start swinging.
Now that I’m all grown-up, I’ve discovered a new arena for combat: The reader’s comments section for stories about religion.
When I first started writing about religion for an online news site, I eagerly turned to the comment section for my articles, fishing for compliments and wondering if I had provoked any thoughtful discussions about faith.
I don’t wonder anymore.
When I look at the comment section now, I see a whole lot of “yo mamas” being tossed about. Readers exchange juvenile insults, condescending lectures and veer off into tangents that have nothing to do with the article they just read.
For years, I’ve listened to these “holy trollers” in silence. Now I’m calling them out. I’ve learned that the same types of people take over online discussions about faith and transform them into the verbal equivalent of a food fight. You may recognize some of these characters.
You might even recognize yourself.
August 22nd, 2013
03:07 PM ET
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
(CNN)–The mother of a gay detective has been booted from the Tennessee church she attended for decades.
Elders at Ridgedale Church of Christ told Linda Cooper and two relatives that their public support for Kat Cooper, Linda Cooper's gay daughter, went against the church's teachings, local media reported. In a private meeting, reports say, Linda Cooper was given a choice: publicly atone for their transgressions or leave the church.
Linda left the church.
Kat Cooper is a detective with the Collegedale Police Department. This month, she fought successfully for health benefits for her same-sex spouse, Krista, from the town.
August 15th, 2013
03:48 PM ET
By Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
(CNN) - As violence again scars Egypt, Christians in the country believe they're being targeted amidst the chaos following a government crackdown on Muslim Brotherhood protest camps in Cairo.
There have been dozens of attacks on Christian churches, homes and businesses in the past 24 hours. Full details of the attacks are still emerging, as the country reels from its bloodiest day in recent history.
Bishop Angaelos, the Cairo-born head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, said he was told by colleagues in Egypt that 52 churches had been attacked in the space of 24 hours beginning Wednesday, as well as numerous Christian homes and businesses across the country.
Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, told CNN he had confirmed attacks on at least 30 churches so far, in addition to the targeting of church-related facilities, including schools and cultural centers.FULL STORY
July 15th, 2013
02:50 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
(CNN) - How many ways are there to disbelieve in God?
At least six, according to a new study.
Two researchers at University of Tennessee at Chattanooga found that atheists and agnostics run the range from vocally anti-religious activists to nonbelievers who still observe some religious traditions.
“The main observation is that nonbelief is an ontologically diverse community,” write doctoral student Christopher Silver and undergraduate student Thomas Coleman.
“These categories are a first stab at this," Silver told the website Raw Story. "In 30 years, we may be looking at a typology of 32 types.”
Silver and Coleman derived their six types of nonbelievers from 59 interviews. We're pretty sure we've spotted all six in our comments section.
May 29th, 2013
03:06 PM ET
By Dan Merica, CNN
Washington (CNN) – More than three in four of Americans say religion is losing its influence in the United States, according to a new survey, the highest such percentage in more than 40 years. A nearly identical percentage says that trend bodes ill for the country.
"It may be happening, but Americans don't like it," Frank Newport, Gallup's editor in chief, said of religion's waning influence. "It is clear that a lot of Americans don't think this is a good state of affairs."
According to the Gallup survey released Wednesday, 77% of Americans say religion is losing its influence. Since 1957, when the question was first asked, Americans' perception of religion's power has never been lower.
April 6th, 2013
05:20 PM ET
By the CNN Wire staff
(CNN) -After a lifelong battle with mental illness, the youngest son of Pastor Rick Warren has committed suicide, his family said.
Matthew Warren, 27, died from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound on Friday, said Deputy Daniel Aikin, with the Orange County Coroner's Office.
The family shared news of his death in an e-mail to church staff.
Rick Warren and his wife founded Saddleback Valley Community Church, a megachurch in Southern California.
"No words can express the anguished grief we feel right now," the pastor wrote in the note, a copy of which was sent to CNN.
April 4th, 2013
03:46 PM ET
(CNN)–Curator Michal Friedlander of the Jewish Museum in Berlin defends a controversial exhibition titled "Jew in a Box."
April 4th, 2013
03:34 PM ET
(CNN)–Is her job at odds with her faith? CNN's Alina Cho reports on Muslim bikini model Maryam Basir.
April 2nd, 2013
10:34 AM ET
(CNN)–A mother who was with her husband and five children in St. Peter's Square for the holiday helped lift her young son with cerebral palsy, Dominic, into the arms of Pope Francis for a blessing after Easter Mass. Christiana Gondreau describes the touching moment to CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
"There was not a dry eye around us. It was really, really moving," she says. "Not in a million years, really, did I expect to end the Easter Sunday Mass with a kiss from the pope. It was very beautiful."
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.