The Pope, atheists and Islam: The year in religion

(CNN)Amid all the uncertainty in the world today, there are those who rely upon religious beliefs and those who find comfort believing in no God at all. We spent the year looking at stories across the spectrum, from the journey of Pope Francis and those who are inspired by him to a scandalous secret that led to salvation and a family that traded traditional faith for the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

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Years before he stepped onto the international spiritual stage and emerged a religious rockstar, Pope Francis spent two years exiled to a small room. The painful lessons he grappled with then shaped who he'd become. CNN's Religion Editor Daniel Burke traveled to Cordoba, Argentina, to explore this period in the pope's life that's been shrouded in mystery.
This is a story that revisits how one of the nation's first and largest megachurches imploded amid a sex scandal. But CNN's John Blake looks beyond what once served as tabloid fodder. He explores what rose from the ashes.
When you live in the Bible Belt and come from a big Irish Catholic family, you're not supposed to become a nonbeliever, much less lead a new phase of atheism. CNN's Religion Editor Daniel Burke spent 10 months getting to know how one family found their place while tapping into their religious past. What he discovered belied the stereotypes often attached to atheists.
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Their family and friends called them crazy. Maybe they were. The husband and wife from Buenos Aires, after all, had packed up their four children in a VW bus and set out on a 13,000-mile journey through 13 countries. Their destination: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to see Pope Francis. CNN's Moni Basu hopped on board for part of the ride. And later, much later, the pontiff did indeed meet the family.
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Many English translations of the Quran have been ill-suited to foiling extremist ideology or introducing Americans to Islam. Ten years in the making, "The Study Quran" is an effort to change that. CNN's Religion Editor Daniel Burke delves into this Quran's development and learns that it's more than a rebuttal to terrorists.
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Shifts in the country's demographics -- and in the U.S. Catholic Church -- are bringing people from different cultural backgrounds into the pews. CNN's Catherine Shoichet traveled to Philadelphia to study how two parishes -- one Latino, the other white -- are managing as they merge for Sunday Mass.
Pope Francis may be the head honcho of the world's largest Christian church, but since he stepped into the papacy in March 2013, he's captured hearts across religious -- and even nonreligious -- lines. CNN's Jessica Ravitz checked in with representatives of all sorts of traditions to learn why this pontiff has sparked such a lovefest among non-Catholics.
In a landmark opinion, a divided Supreme Court ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriage, establishing a new civil right and handing gay and lesbian advocates a long-sought victory. But as several justices noted in forceful dissents, the war between religious and LGBT rights is far from over. CNN's Religion Editor Daniel Burke explores the landscape of this battlefield.