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December 28th, 2011
12:34 PM ET

Police storm Church of the Nativity to break up brawling priests

From Enas Muthaffar and Kevin Flower, CNN

Bethlehem, West Bank (CNN) -
Clergy from two Christian sects came to blows in the Church of the Nativity on Wednesday morning, prompting police to storm the Bethlehem holy site.

Several dozen Greek Orthodox and Armenian priests were cleaning the interior of the church Wednesday morning when, according to witnesses, two of them began fighting.

The fight quickly escalated, and soon, 50 to 60 priests were exchanging blows with broomsticks.

Bethlehem police were sent in to quell the fighting, Palestinian police Maj. Ahed Hasayen said.

Police stand guard inside the Church of the Nativity after a fight broke out between priests.

"This is an internal problem related to the Nativity church only. The Palestinian police had to interfere to stop the clashes as soon as possible to avoid devastating consequences," he said.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

According to tour guide Ghassen Tos, the fight, while intense, was short in duration.

“This did not last for long as soon as the Palestinian police interfered and succeeded to halt the clashes immediately,” he said.

There were no reports of any serious injuries.

The Church of the Nativity is built in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on the site where Christian tradition holds Jesus Christ was born, and it is a major attraction for tourists coming to the Holy Land.

Greek Orthodox and Armenian clergy clean the Church of Nativity on December 28, 2011.

The interior of the church is traditionally cleaned by priests in between celebrations of Christmas on December 25 and the Orthodox celebration in the first week of January.

The church is administered jointly by the Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Armenian religious authorities, and tension between the sects is not uncommon.

In 2007, clergy from the same sects came to blows in a similar incident.

CNN Photos: Christmas in Bethlehem

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • Israel

soundoff (684 Responses)
  1. ART

    Religious freaks

    December 28, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      We are the Freakies! We are the Freakies! This is the Freakies church! (I hope I am not the only one who remembers that breakfast cereal jingle...)

      December 28, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  2. Diana

    "We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another"~Jonathan Swift

    December 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  3. Bobby Williston

    To those of you using this to attack Christianity in general: This is not a basis to condemn Christianity itself any more than Casey Anthony is a basis to condemn motherhood itself. These idiots are not doing anything which even comes close to any command of the Bible, and are violating multiple Scriptural principles.

    December 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ...

      Casey Anthony is not a "leader" of mothers, but these guys are leaders in the church. They ARE the representatives of Christianity.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • rami

      Thank you Bobby, remember these words when a Muslim lunatic does something stupid like that

      December 28, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
    • Thomas

      @Rami We could live with a few Muslim leaders trying to beat each other with sticks. Its the blowing airliners out the sky and blowing the legs off innocent civilians that we have a problem with.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Bobby Williston

      No, they are not leaders of Christianity, they are leaders of their church. This is not the same thing.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Observer

      They are just some of many Christian hypocrites in high positions in a church.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
    • TR6

      “These idiots are not doing anything which even comes close to any command of the Bible, and are violating multiple Scriptural principles”

      Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.'"
      1 Sam 15:3

      December 29, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  4. taffd

    I'm a Christian who wants NO part of organized religion. These hypocrites do more for the kingdom of satan than can be imagined. These jokers have nothing to do with the real teachings of Christ.

    December 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • EatYouAlive

      Satan has a kingdom? COOL!

      December 28, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Diana

      God has no religon

      December 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • rami

      Yes eatyoualive, and the POPE is the gate keeper.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
  5. anthony

    just shows us all that evil is lurking in every corner of the world and even the purest can be turned ever so quickly,,,,, peace is comming for us all, sooner then we think,,,,, enjoy life now as we know it,,,,,,,,

    December 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Religious sects

      Even the "purest" can be turned .. ? Who are you referring too? Being a priest is a career choice & in no way makes you any "purer" than anyone else.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • gregg

      Actually, it only goes to show we are all human animals. We think we are not, we think we are a "gods" creation, but we are simply beings just like bears, birds and cats. Life as we know it willl go away, but only if humans destroy the earth or our sun explodes.
      I suggest people quite waiting for the "next" life and start making this life, our only life, a good one for all.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Thomas

      @gregg Spiritual things are hidden from the natural man. Keep looking, God is there.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  6. bdgfn

    You just can't make this stuff up...

    December 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  7. If horses had Gods ...

    Gotta love rough religious sects ..

    December 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  8. Dirkle

    Peace on earth, and good will to all men

    😀

    December 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • ib42

      How'd you do that smiley thingie here?

      December 28, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  9. don

    Palestinian police...I bet we in the US paid for their uniforms.

    December 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • bdgfn

      Ummm...huh?

      December 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • rami

      Actually I did. Thank you though

      December 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • ib42

      They broke up a war between Christian priests and monks! The Palestinian Police should have let them kill each other off....

      December 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  10. rami

    Thank God for the Palestinian police. Thank you....

    December 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Kind of nice of them to be stopping some fights than encouraging them for a change.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Ted M.

      Now who's making baseless assumptions? Hmm.

      December 28, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
    • Lycidas

      You don't read the Jerusalem Post much do you?

      December 29, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  11. wow

    Reminds me of Monty Python and the holy grail especially with that picture

    December 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  12. Boinking Bill

    You gotta love it! Christians beating the crap out of Christians. So much for following the teachings of Jesus Christ. Maybe they were actually fighting over a little boy who happened to wander into the church.

    December 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Lycidas

      If you are going to be a jack@ss Bill...at least seem like one that has a little bit of knowledge. No Catholics were mentioned in this article, just the Greek Orthodox and Armenian groups. You do know the differences right?

      December 28, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • rami

      Lycidas, i did not know Catholic are Christians.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Not really surprised there rami.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • redragon

      I didn't think he mentioned catholics.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Religious sects

      Lycidas, so you're saying only Catholic priests molest little boys?

      December 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • chump

      Lycidas: don't try to reason with Bill–he is one of those bitter, whiney atheists who love only to see other people's pain. Pretty sure it's Bill Maher (sure as hell hope there isn't two of them!).

      December 28, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • bdgfn

      rami...are you serious?

      December 28, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @chump- Maher is so much more clever than what they have said. Much more.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Religious sects- so...care to show any mass of stories that feature the Greek Orthodox or Armenian Churches that have that kind of scandal in them?
      Do you really think when these ignorant ppl keep mentioning little boys as if they are being clever, they are thinking of anything they have read about the Greek orthodox or Armenians?

      December 28, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Ted M.

      Lycidas / Uncouth Swain: "ya ya ewwww yw mooo wah wah onny boody hatred foo ba"

      Yep.

      LOL

      December 28, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
    • Lycidas

      I have no doubt Ted that is exactly what you hear bouncing around in your head when we are using three or more syllable words in our comments. Lol.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  13. Tes Stone

    Yes...by all means...let's consider religious belief the most important factor in a good president!

    December 28, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • chump

      or at least one of them.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • bdgfn

      Where the hell did that come from?

      December 28, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  14. melvinslizard

    Wow. They can't even sweep next to each other. What a bunch of clowns.

    December 28, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Lycidas

      The church is divided up between the certain denominations. Little things can get any side fired up. A lot of this is due to a time when one christian sect would literally destroy another.
      They believe in something and have the courage to stand up for it. Not exactly the way most westerners would think is best but thats the way it is.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • melvinslizard

      Thank you, Captain Obvious.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Sadly from all the comments on here...it must not be obvious.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Ted M.

      melvinslizard is right.
      They are a bunch of clowns wearing dresses and acting like angry women over useless and meaningless things.

      December 28, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "Make me useful to my friends, rather than agreeable."

      Ted...we can see you are not agreeable...try being useful now. Your comments lack any wisdom and no knowledge.

      December 28, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Ted M.

      "ya ya ewwww yw mooo wah wah onny boody hatred foo ba"

      So you think your mealy-mouthed puerile ramblings are worth reading? Do tell.

      December 28, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Oddly enough they must be...you read them. You dolt...haha.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  15. Touchdown

    I guess nobody wanted to turn the other cheek?

    December 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Unless I missed it, they never said what this argument was about.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • melvinslizard

      Not with a Roman Catholic in the room lol

      December 28, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Jen

      @Lycidas I wasn't aware that piece of advice from your book was conditional on what the disagreement was about

      December 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Jen- are we guessing about something? What book are you talking about eh?
      Forgive me if I actually want to know all sides of a story. I know life is easier just to nod my head and agree with the majority like you seem to be doing.

      December 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Ted M.

      You can tell Lycidas is mad about being shown to be an idiot when he responds like that.

      So childish to pretend to a maturity you don't have, Lycidas. Patience, young one. Maturity will probably come to you in time...

      December 28, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Oy..and this coming from a person that uses "whiney" in the majority of their comments. Nice try Teddy.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  16. Bobby Williston

    "Bless this, b$tch!!!"

    December 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  17. Anon

    Typical Christian morons. Say they worship Jesus who preached peace but they always seem to be going to war with someone. We'd be much better off if Constantine had been assassinated and we had never heard of Christ.

    December 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Lycidas

      More like typical humans than the crap you posted.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  18. JohnQuest

    This is the funniest story I read in a long time. I'm still laughing.........

    December 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Lycidas

      The foolish are easily amused.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Lycidas, you don't find a bar fight between Priest funny?

      December 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Let's see...ppl getting hurt...nope, not funny.
      Unless they all start fighting like the 3 Stooges, I doubt it will ever be funny.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Lycidas, did you not read the article "There were no reports of any serious injuries". 50 – 60 Priest brawling and no serious injuries sounds like the 3 Stooges to me.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
  19. Steve

    Sharpen the end of the broom sticks and have them finish each other off. Just a rediculous display of a cult thats gotten out of hand.

    December 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Hmm...for some reason, I do not think you are as sophisticated and evolved as you probably think you are.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Boinking Bill

      Take your meds Lycidas, you are making a fool of yourself.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • Lycidas

      You'll forgive me Bill if I don't care what your opinion is.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Ted M.

      Ah, Lycidas, your posts so far show us that your opinions are the ones that do not matter here. You would fit right in with a broomstick and wearing a dress in the "fight".

      December 28, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • Lycidas

      You wear your ignorance quite well Ted. No doubt you have grown into it throughout all your life.

      December 28, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • Ted M.

      So you agree with me? Thanks. I will celebrate when I'm done running errands.

      December 28, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Yes Ted..I agree...you are ignorant. Celebrate all you want.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  20. MHB

    How Christian!

    December 28, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Thomas

      @MHB And how obvious is your response?

      December 28, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Lycidas

      More like...how human.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • M.F. Luder

      Humans aren't taught to "turn the other cheek", Christians are.

      December 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      I am certain that certain atheists would disagree. They are always going about how moral they are without religion.

      December 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Ted M.

      What is "moral" about "turning the other cheek"? To the contrary, allowing injustices to continue is immoral. Jesus was an idiot.

      December 28, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      I bet Martin Luther King Jr. would sooooo agree with you 😉
      Ghandi would too...lol.

      December 28, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Ted M.

      Actually, I rather think they would, too.

      December 28, 2011 at 11:12 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Considering the vast amount of knowledge you have shown on here...I am not surprised.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
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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.