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November 18th, 2013
08:18 AM ET

Religion as solace in the Philippines

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.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Death • Faith • Foreign policy • Philippines

Holy Trollers: How to argue about religion online
They are the same cast of characters that surface during every online debate about religion. Do you know a "Holy Troller?"
October 5th, 2013
08:00 AM ET

Holy Trollers: How to argue about religion online

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.

FULL POST

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Ethics • Internet • News media • Nones

August 22nd, 2013
03:07 PM ET

Gay detective's mother booted from church

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor
[twitter-follow screen_name='EricCNNBelief']

(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.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Gay marriage • Gay rights

August 15th, 2013
03:48 PM ET

Egypt's Christians under pressure as churches are torched

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
- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Coptic Church • Egypt • Middle East

July 15th, 2013
02:50 PM ET

Behold, the six types of atheists

By Dan Merica, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

(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.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Holidays • Lost faith • Nones • Spirituality • Trends • United States

Poll: America losing its religion
The Reason Rally, sponsored by secular organizations, draws a crowd to Washington.
May 29th, 2013
03:06 PM ET

Poll: America losing its religion

By Dan Merica, CNN
[twitter-follow screen_name='DanMericaCNN']

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.

FULL POST

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • United States

April 6th, 2013
05:20 PM ET

Son of Pastor Rick Warren commits suicide, family says

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.

FULL POST

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity

April 4th, 2013
03:46 PM ET

Museum defends 'Jew in a Box' exhibit

(CNN)–Curator Michal Friedlander of the Jewish Museum in Berlin defends a controversial exhibition titled "Jew in a Box."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Judaism

April 4th, 2013
03:34 PM ET

Bikini model: I'm a faithful Muslim

(CNN)–Is her job at odds with her faith? CNN's Alina Cho reports on Muslim bikini model Maryam Basir.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Islam • Muslim

April 2nd, 2013
10:34 AM ET

Pope embraces disabled boy on Easter

(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."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Content Partner • Pope Francis • TV-Anderson Cooper 360

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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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