September 9, 2010

Obama: Quran burning helps al Qaeda

Posted: 11:31 AM ET

(CNN) - A controversial plan by a small Florida church to burn Qurans on September 11, which has triggered worldwide controversy, is a "recruitment bonanza for al Qaeda," President Barack Obama said Thursday.

"You could have serious violence in places like Pakistan or Afghanistan" as a result of the proposal by the Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center, Obama said on ABC's "Good Morning America." "This could increase the recruitment of individuals who'd be willing to blow themselves up in American cities, or European cities."

The Rev. Terry Jones, pastor of the Dove Center, has said he will proceed with the plan Saturday, the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, despite increased pressure to abandon the proposal and warnings that going ahead could endanger U.S. troops and Americans worldwide.

On Wednesday, the Vatican joined a chorus of groups imploring the church not to burn Islam's holy book, saying it would be an "outrageous and grave gesture." The president of the United Nations General Assembly, Ali Abdussalam Treki, also expressed concern, saying it will "lead to uncontrollable reactions" and spark tension worldwide.

Earlier this week, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, warned that the plan "could cause significant problems" for American troops overseas.


POLL: Is burning Quran a hate crime or a free speech issue?

Filed under: Religion

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July 23, 2010

Pastor Rick Warren blinded by poisonous plant, expected to recover

Posted: 08:53 AM ET

Megachurch pastor Rick Warren is home recovering after his eyes were burned as he pruned a firestick plant in his yard, his spokesman told CNN Thursday.

Warren was hospitalized Monday after the incident and released Tuesday, said his spokesman, A. Larry Ross. Warren is expected to make a full recovery, Ross said.

"My eyes were severely burned by a toxic poison," Warren wrote in a Twitter message Thursday morning. "Hospitalized Mon. Excruciating pain. Now home. Pray my sight loss is restored."

Though the pain was initially so intense that Warren could not open his eyes on Monday, he was seeing well enough Thursday to send the Tweet himself, Ross said. "The pain was excruciating – 12 on a scale of 1 through 10," Ross said. "It's now down to an 8."

Read more from CNN's Religion Blog

Filed under: Health • Religion • Rick Warren

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January 10, 2010

Stephen Baldwin takes faith so seriously, he'd watch his daughter die in the name of religion.

Posted: 06:46 PM ET

via WENN

"It's Complicated" New York Premiere - Outside Arrivals

The actor reinvented himself as a born-again Christian following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America, and his wife Kennya and their kids Alaia and Hailey are equally as devoted.

During a candid chat on Celebrity Big Brother, Baldwin revealed the lengths he would go to to stay true to his belief in God.

He explained, "I'm gonna sound fanatical right now but what my faith requires is if I were sitting here, and my wife and two kids were sitting there, and we were on a public bus and somebody came in with a machine gun and pointed it at my daughter and said to my daughter, 'Say Jesus doesn't exist' – if she turned to me and said, 'What do I do?', I'd say, 'What have I taught you to do?'

(Read More)

Photo: Jim Spellman/

Filed under: Larry King Live • Religion

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December 5, 2009

And then a rabbi went to the capitol....

Posted: 06:32 PM ET

By Eric Stern

HELENA, Mont. — In Montana, a rabbi is an unusual sight. So when a Hasidic one walked into the State Capitol last December, with his long beard, black hat and long black coat, a police officer grabbed his bomb-sniffing German shepherd and went to ask the exotic visitor a few questions.Though there are few Jews in Montana today, there once were many. In the late 19th century, there were thriving Jewish populations in the mining towns, where Jews emigrated to work as butchers, clothiers, jewelers, tailors and the like.

The city of Butte had kosher markets, a Jewish mayor, a B’nai B’rith lodge and three synagogues. Helena, the capital city, had Temple Emanu-El, built in 1891 with a seating capacity of 500. The elegant original facade still stands, but the building was sold and converted to offices in the 1930s, when the congregation had dwindled to almost nothing, the Jewish population having mostly assimilated or moved on to bigger cities.

There is a Jewish cemetery in Helena, too, with tombstones dating to 1866. But more Jews are buried in Helena than currently live here.

And yet, in a minor revival, Montana now has three rabbis, two in Bozeman and one (appropriately) in Whitefish. They were all at the Capitol on the first night of Hannukah last year to light a menorah in the ornate Capitol rotunda, amid 100-year-old murals depicting Sacajawea meeting Lewis and Clark, the Indians beating Custer, and the railway being built. The security officer and the dog followed the rabbi into the rotunda, to size him up.

Hanukkah has a special significance in Montana these days. In Billings in 1993, vandals broke windows in homes that were displaying menorahs. In a response organized by local church leaders, more than 10,000 of the city’s residents and shopkeepers put make-shift menorahs in their own windows, to protect the city’s three dozen or so Jewish families. The vandalism stopped.


Filed under: Religion

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November 23, 2009

Bishop bars Kennedy from Communion over abortion

Posted: 08:27 AM ET

Rhode Island's top Roman Catholic leader has asked Rep. Patrick Kennedy to stop taking Communion over his support for abortion rights, the diocese said Sunday.

In a statement issued Sunday, Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin said he told Kennedy in February 2007 that it would be "inappropriate" for him to continue receiving the fundamental Catholic sacrament, "and I now ask respectfully that you refrain from doing so."

Kennedy, a Democrat, is the son of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy and a scion of the most prominent Catholic family in modern U.S. politics.

In an interview published Sunday, Patrick Kennedy told the Providence Journal that Tobin had barred him from receiving communion and instructed priests in the diocese not to administer the sacrament "because of the positions that I've taken as a public official."

Tobin, in a statement issued in response to the Kennedy interview, said his advice to the congressman was "pastoral and confidential," and he was surprised that Kennedy chose to discuss it publicly. "I am disappointed that the congressman would make public my request of nearly three years ago that sought to provide solely for his spiritual well-being," he said.

(Read More)

Filed under: Kennedy • Religion

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November 17, 2009

Tonight: Bishop T.D. Jakes!

Posted: 06:59 PM ET

It's a special hour with Bishop T.D. Jakes, dubbed by Time magazine as "America's Best Preacher" and author of the new book "The Memory Quilt: A Christmas Story for Our Times."

He's one of the President's trusted spiritual advisers. What kind of advice does he have for the Obamas? He'll tell us tonight!

PLUS – What does he make of Sarah Palin mania? Does he agree with the President's decision to try the 9/11 mastermind in federal court? And what's causing Michelle Obama's dip in approval ratings?

That's all tonight on 9ET/6PT!

And we want to hear from you:

What would you like Larry to ask Bishop T.D. Jakes?

Filed under: Larry King Live • Obama • Religion

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Judge Strikes Down Christian License Plate

Posted: 03:46 PM ET

Bishop TD JAKES, tonight on Larry King Live 9pm ET

By Nathan Black | Christian Post Reporter

South Carolina's "I Believe" license plate that features an image of a cross in front of a stained-glass window has been ruled unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Cameron McGowan Currie said the specialty license plate was motivated by a purpose to advance a specific religion and has the effect of state endorsement of Christianity.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, praised the decision, commenting, "Government must never be allowed to express favored treatment for one faith over others. That’s unconstitutional and un-American."

State lawmakers had unanimously passed legislation last summer authorizing the plates. Republican Senator Lawrence K. Grooms, one of the sponsors of the bill, said he didn't see a constitutional problem with it, noting that the state issued plates with other religious symbols and phrases.

(Read More)

Filed under: Larry King Live • Religion

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Waiting for the end of the world

Posted: 03:24 PM ET

By Todd Leopold, CNN

(CNN) - This is how the world ends - at least at the multiplex this month.

Last weekend's box-office champ "2012" primarily uses an ancient Mayan prophecy to spin a tale of world destruction. "The Road," due out November 25, showcases a father and son navigating a post-apocalyptic world of ash, cold and cannibals. And the indie documentary "Collapse" gives voice to one man's belief that, as we exhaust natural resources, civilization is ready to crumble.

Such concerns have always been with us, says Alexander Riley, a sociology professor at Bucknell University who's incorporated eschatology (the study of the end times) into his courses.

"It's been a constant part of the landscape in the Western world for a long time," he says, though it's been particularly present in recent times, perhaps driven by ever-quickening social and technological change, he adds.

Examples can be found through the centuries. At the end of the year 999, pilgrims made their way to Jerusalem, convinced that the Last Judgment was at hand. In 1843, thousands of followers of the religious leader William Miller gathered on New England hilltops, waiting for ascension. In 1982, some believed the "Jupiter Effect" - the rough alignment of several celestial bodies - would cause catastrophe.

And the coming of the year 2000 led to fears about technological collapse - in the form of the Y2K bug - and rumblings about the return of Jesus.

(Read More)

Filed under: Religion

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