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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. Enoch

    I was told once by a very wise man that the devil is messing up the Middle East and beyond from the al-Aqsa Mosque, a few meters from those churches. That means, no peace until this Mosque is destroyed!

    December 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Cool

      I say we nuke it. 40 megaton air bursts at about 1200 foot, spread in a pentagram spacing of 10,000 yards each.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Why don't we just scrap every beautiful or historical building in the world why we are at it. Who needs a cultural heritage.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Lycidas: Agreed. Let's get to it. Lots of prime real estate to free up.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Lycidas

      Your heritage or mine?

      My heritage puts people like them into gas chambers.

      December 28, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @Demuth- I wonder if you are the original one to use this username. I remember you being a little more refine with your comments. Anyway, I am referring to our collective human heritage. Not to point out the obvious, but what you inferred as your heritage also included Jewish ppl before some crazy nationalists took over.

      December 28, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
    • Ted M.

      W.D. – good idea. I like the pentagram shape idea, too. Very nice.

      December 28, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • Ironicus

      Some buildings should be destroyed. Some areas of the planet need to be vaporized and turned into a large crater.
      Move the people first and I'd be very willing to blow the hell out of Jerusalem. Then we can all fight over something else.

      December 28, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @Ironicus....but who would choose? Which Big Brother would know best?

      December 28, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  2. EatRunDive

    Always remember, the only thing worse than a religion that's totally different from mine is one that's almost identical.

    December 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • Eric G

      Best post ever.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • sam

      +1

      December 28, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Jen

      Can I get this on a shirt, or a bumper sticker of some sort?

      December 28, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Ironicus

      Too flimsy and inaccurate. But it sounds catchy. Roll again.

      December 28, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  3. sweetiepie

    What is going on with reporting these days? This article is superficial and boring! Remember when a story was supposed to include "who, what, when, where, and WHY?" Where is the "why" in this story? What were they arguing about? that's what makes this story and it's missing. Guess you just printed a press release and asked no questions.

    December 28, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Keith

      that's why cnn puts it in the belief blog-so the atheists can tell us all why.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Keith

      We need to tell you why?

      Its we who ask the basic questions you can't answer.

      It is you who chooses to ignore the obvious.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  4. Joe B.

    My understanding is that there at the Church of the Nativity there has been an ongoing dispute and an uneasy truce that's been going on for decades. So this story is nothing new - it's more about political turf than fait. A little searching on Google can confirm that. But sure it attracts the flies to the dung, huh?

    What's really a howler is that you clear-thinking, open-minded skeptics take every opportunity to take a ding at religion and those who are religous. It's like you have to keep throwing sticks at a snake to make it leave. But aren't you the one hanging around on here on a page about religion. So it repulsing you, or makes you laugh, but you still have to stay close - beating the bushes until another snake appears so you can throw more sticks. A little obsessed, aren't we?

    It's okay to admit it, because when you lay down at night, away from other skeptics and your computer keyboard, you wonder if it's all true - all real. And a fight at a church really pushes you deeper in the darkness. But I promise you - there is Light that no man can understand until it dwells within him. Don't be fooled by "religion" or a turf war - just call out to the Jesus. And don't worry if you've mocked Him on here - He loves you anyway. He is very real and his Spirit is real, too.

    December 28, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Eric G

      Joe, please provide any verifiable evidence that your god exists. I really am curious as to why you believe.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Observer

      Joe B.

      When any story about gays or abortion appear, Christians come running. No difference.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Should the children around the world being buggered by your priests at this very moment yell out to Jesus for help?

      December 28, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ...

      I absolutely love it that you compare the religious to snakes .. lol

      December 28, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Joe

      Religious turf wars. Our history records millions dead in them.

      I am sure they all started the same pathetic way, with little indoctrinated deviants playing with broomsticks.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • IceT

      Joe, Eric G asked a simple question .. do you have an answer? Or are you just throwing sticks?!

      December 28, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
    • Lycidas

      I doubt Joe feels the need to prove anything to you. He probably doesn't see the point.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Enoch

      A generation was always 20 years

      With enough brutality I can convert anygroup into any group in 60 years.

      For example, most slaves were MUSLIM when they were caught.

      They were beaten and tortured into Christianity!

      December 28, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Ted M.

      I, too, enjoyed the snake reference. So apt!

      December 28, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  5. EM

    Stupid religions.

    December 28, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Ignorant posters.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:58 pm |
    • Ironicus

      Lycidas, we know you are an ignorant poster already! You don't need to keep telling us!!

      December 28, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Thank you for giving us an example Ironicus of a ignorant poster. Plz...post something else for an encore. You can be more trollish than this.

      December 28, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
  6. Bob Dobbs

    "Gentleman! You can't fight in here! This is the War Room!"

    For some reason this quote from Dr Strangelove comes to mind when reading this article... Religion of peace, indeed.

    December 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  7. Enoch

    A perfect story for CNN. There is always fighting among brothers and sisters. Well, at least they are not killing each other or murdering others for their belief. By the way, have you seen the unblievable hysteric scene in atheist North Korea today? Even the "birds were mourning and weeping" over the death of their great leader, who has become god in a goddless state. This will be your future soon in Europe and North America.

    December 28, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Enoch

      The NK worship whomever they are beaten into worshiping.

      The little clown leaders methods are EXACTLY the same as were used on you and all the other Christians. Carrot and stick. Fear instilled at a young age, and endless threats of punsihment for misbehavior.

      You don't even know why you believe. Perhaps it was your ancestors who were beaten into the pattern?

      Give me Carte Blanche, and a million of your best Christians, and in five generations I can make them Muslims.

      Hell I could even get them to worship Scooby Doo.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • Enoch

      @William Demuth

      In five generation? That means in 500 years. But why were you able to become like North Koreans, Maoists Chinese or Bolshevick Russians just in less than a generation?

      December 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • SeanNJ

      @Enoch: I like money. Your god is most likely fictional.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • Enoch

      You worship money?! Is that why you spend sleepless nights on your waterbed mattresses?

      December 28, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • I = rubber, U = glue

      @ Enoch

      So you are 100 years younger than your parents. No, a generation is roughly 25-30 years. So 5 generations = 150 years

      Pay it forward.

      December 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
    • Enoch

      -This particular story was posted today on this blog at 12:34 PM ET, and has 330 comments
      -and this one "Death toll rises from Nigeria church bombings" was posted on the 26th of December, and has 55 comments

      Another proof fort satan being the ruler of this world.

      December 28, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • TR6

      “Even the "birds were mourning and weeping" over the death of their great leader, who has become god in a goddless state.”

      This is exactly the point. Communist states are not godless. They are just another religion with a head of state as god. This is why they behave just as brutality and senselessly as all the other religious theocracies down through history

      December 29, 2011 at 6:56 am |
  8. Peter

    Every time there is a story of Muslim disruption, I see lots of posts from Christians about Islam being a religion of violence and that the violent faction represents ALL Muslims EVERYWHERE.

    Christians, of course, will say that these priests do NOT represent all priests any more that pedophile priests represent all priests. They are right, of course, but somehow forget to apply the same logic to a billion and a half Muslims.

    December 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Ode to the Dorky Priests

      Blades

      Sharp, dangerous edges

      An army waiting to be attacked

      The wind an interruption as the blades spring back

      This army of green

      Alive, taught, stiff and ready

      What devils will try to destroy these perfect solders today.

      What hope do they have?

      December 28, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • Wow

      I can't even wrap my head around how hypocritical that post is...

      December 28, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • ender wiggins

      The priests did not kill each other or anyone else. That is the dfference.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  9. BoBo

    Don't ph uck with a brother with a broom.

    December 28, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Who put all these mutha fuk'n brooms in this mutha fuk'n church??

      December 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
  10. WDinDallas

    I'll put my money on the Dominicans

    December 28, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  11. Roger Ramjet

    Okay, the Palestinians had to come keep the peace because the Christians got violent again? That's really hilarious!

    Religious people are such a giggle. From all the "end of the world"s to the lakes of fire, the speaking in tongues and the spitting ultra-orthodox Jews, there is just a never-ending stream of absurdist comedy from those wackadoodle religious people.

    The very best, most funny part is that they try to debunk things that have a mountain of scientific evidence in support, based on their chosen myth that has not even the slightest evidence in support.

    Very funny stuff.

    December 28, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ...

      .. and are constantly trying to debunk each others "version" of the same religion.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "the Palestinians had to come keep the peace because the Christians got violent again? That's really hilarious!"

      Plz don't make the error in as_suming that the Palestinians in question were not Christian themselves. There has been a large Palestinian Christian population in the region for a long long time.

      December 28, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
    • Ironicus

      Uncouth – so you would prefer to assume in the other direction? How ironic.

      December 28, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Nothing ironic about it Ironicus, just your own ignorance. Roger seemed amused by the Palestinians being there. Did you even ask why or were you just focused on giving a quick and ineffective cheap shot? Obviously to the sane ppl on here...he must think the Palestinians here are not Christians. Is this making sense to you? If not..read it over a few more times and it might just sink in.

      December 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  12. gary

    Religion = dangerous sick delusional cult. Euthanize them all.

    December 28, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Thank you Adolf, and now for our next speaker...

      December 28, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • bachmanntwit

      Starting with the evangelical right wingers here in the US. Bachmann, Santorum, Palin, Perry, etc. etc. etc.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • TheButcher

      I'm Your Huckleberry.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Just make it a crime to indoctrinate their kids.

      Starve them by taxing them into the ground, and PROSECUTE the deviants, con men and lunatics.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • sam

      Nah, just give 'em brooms and let 'em duke it out.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  13. TheButcher

    All these guys have been playing SWTOR for the last week. Broom... looks enough like a light saber... lets get it on!! I don't blame them, it looks pretty exciting. I'm pretty sure I heard one of the prists yell "Jedi suck!" at one point in the vid.

    Someone please edit light sabers into this video so it's worth watching.

    December 28, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  14. Fuji

    But at least they aren't suicide-bombing.

    December 28, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  15. Mr. Correct

    This article needs to be corrected! "Bethlehem, Palestine" even the United Nations aknowledges that fact.

    December 28, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • ender wiggins

      Bethlehem is in the West Bank. There is no state of Palestine in the United Nations.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  16. bachmanntwit

    FACT: Michelle Bachmann's husband, Marcus Bachmann, is as quee* as a 3 dollar bill.

    December 28, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      So what if he is?

      December 28, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • bachmanntwit

      He tried and he tried and he tried, but he couldn't pray away his own gay.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
  17. If horses had Gods ...

    Leviticus clearly states that Man should never sweep with Man.

    December 28, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Sarah

      Haha!

      December 28, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Ted M.

      I sweep what you did there...

      December 28, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  18. The Central Scrutinizer

    The Universe ceases to exist at the moment of your death. Likewise, the Universe springs into existence at the moment of comprehension. “Reality” is personal. It is not universal. What I believe, is true. What I perceive, is real. Therefore, there is an infinite number of realities (call them universes) both coming and going at all times for infinity. The reason physics breaks down as we get close to that frightening doom is because we realize at that point that WE are the God we seek. We create our reality only to destroy it.

    Is there a Bible when I die? No. Galaxies? No. Do you exist when I die? Not to me.

    A “life” is a dream so amazing and long coming that true comprehension is out of reach.

    However:

    Try meditation and find the heart in your stomach. Not the one in your chest. It is there. A bundle connecting mind and body. There are clues available to those who can concentrate and not waste time on religious reflection full of lies. Look into the pool. See the reflection of the impossible. Perhaps you will see yourself there. Perhaps not.

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

      lol

      December 28, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ...

      Reality is truth, only your perception of it is personal.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Horses I don't understand what you are saying. If you don't exist, how then can a world exist that is not perceived by you.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • ender wiggins

      You are a rational solipsist. Quite refreshing.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ...

      Reality still exists, you just no longer have the ability to perceive it. It's like a .. "if a tree falls in the woods & no one is there to hear it does it make a sound" .. sort of thing.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Reality is that which continues regardless of your beliefs, or even your exsistence.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      horses
      Nothing outside the mind of the observer can be rationally confirmed. Not even a tree falling in the woods.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ...

      ender .. just looked up solipsist, very interesting. I never knew the name of this philosophy.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      William, if I don't exist, nothing exists.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • ender wiggins

      Reality is essentially Transcendental Subjectivity. The myth created by an individual subject who
      does not know itself is Objective Reality.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • If horses had Gods ...

      Mr. Scrutinizer .. I may not subscribe to that philosophy but I can't disagree either. So, you're saying that only one person exists? There was a movie I saw on TV several decades ago that had only one person existing & everything else was there just for him, wish I could remember the name of it. Thank you for your post, interesting viewpoint.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      horse
      Thanks, I think it interesting and possible. I have considered it since a was very young and my thoughts are home grown. I didn't know it had a name either, so thanks to Ender! Now I feel stupid LOL.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • William Demuth

      The Central Scrutinizer

      You exist because I drink. My sobriety is your disolution.

      December 28, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      William, now that you mention it, I think I did see your liver while meditatating recently....

      December 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • ender wiggins

      Horses and Scrutinizer:
      It is a delight to know that rational minds still exist on the internet.
      Cogito ergo sum !

      December 28, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      Thank YOU Ender. I learned something today! I have some fun research to do now.

      December 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  19. John

    They have been doing this for as long I remember. First I heard of it was in high school about 1960 and it was a ongoing thing then

    December 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • The Central Scrutinizer

      I think it is refreshing to know that they can act like men. Bar fight, some fat lips and bloody knuckles, then slaps on the back all around and drink til dawn! Just like us good 'ol boys do it here partner!

      December 28, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  20. joesmith

    wheres' the story about the ultra-orthadox jews spreading hate to their own, small school age children in Israel, wolf must not think it news worthy..just christain failings fits his idea of a story-line..

    December 28, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • William Demuth

      UMMMM.

      Guess you missed it yesterday?

      December 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • EatRunDive

      Have you considered looking to the right under Recent Posts, where the link is located? The moral of both stories is that religious nuts are the worst kind of nuts. Sorry though, that story wasn't written by Wolf either. You should really work on your observation skills. The authors are listed at the tops of the stories.

      Here, just in case you can't find it: http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/26/ultra-orthodox-demands-spark-debate-in-israel/

      December 28, 2011 at 3:26 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.