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February 28th, 2012
09:46 AM ET

Judge’s dismissal of atheist's harassment claim against Muslim makes waves

By Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd, CNN

(CNN) - A protester who ridiculed the Muslim prophet Mohammed claims he was assaulted by a Muslim who was offended by the stunt, but a judge has sympathized with the alleged perpetrator, in a case that has drawn national attention.

Self-proclaimed atheist Ernie Perce marched in a Halloween parade in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania last October, dressed in a costume mocking Mohammed.

In a YouTube video he posted, Perce can be seen wearing a long fake beard, a white turban and green face paint, calling out provocative phrases like: "I am the prophet Mohammed! Zombie from the dead!" Perce and someone else in a zombie-themed pope costume are carrying a banner that reads "The Parading Atheists of Central Pennsylvania / Ghoulish – Godless – God-Awful."

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Then a man who is not seen on the video can be heard saying, "Take it down." Amid sounds of a scuffle, Perce can be heard saying "Hey, he's attacking me!"

Perce told CNN affiliate WHTM that the man “grabbed me, choked me from the back, and spun me around, to try to get my sign off that was wrapped around my neck."

Based on Perce's complaint, a Muslim named Talaag Elbayomy was charged with harassment. But on December 6, District Judge Mark Martin dismissed the case, saying it was one person's word against another's, and that there was no other evidence or eyewitness testimony to prove that Elbayomy had harassed or touched the alleged victim.

The judge also scolded Perce, saying he’d been needlessly provocative on an issue sensitive with Muslims.

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"You have that right, but you're way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights," Martin said, according to a recording Perce made of the court hearing. "I think our forefathers intended that we use the First Amendment so that we can speak our mind, not to piss off other people and other cultures, which is what you did."

The judge went on to point out that in many Muslim countries, ridiculing Mohammed could warrant the death penalty under Islamic law.

Critics say Martin's lecture shows he used Muslim cultural grounds to excuse a deplorable assault, and failed to defend an atheist's First Amendment rights.

"That's greatly disturbing to people that believe in free speech," said George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. "You can say things that are hurtful to others. We hope that you don't, but you most certainly can be protected. People like Thomas Paine spent his entire life ticking off people across the colonies."

Former terrorism prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, writing on the blog of National Review, accused the judge of allowing the Muslim suspect to invoke a "Sharia defense – what he claimed was his obligation to strike out against any insult against the prophet Mohammed."

And Perce said of Judge Martin, "He let a man who is Muslim, because of his preference of his culture and his way of life, walk free, from an attack."

The judge, in a phone interview with CNN, defended his ruling.

"The commonwealth didn't present enough evidence to show me that this person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," Martin said. "That's why I dismissed the case. Nothing as nefarious as what everyone's thinking, that I'm a Muslim or I'm biased. I'm actually a Lutheran."

Martin added that he has served three tours of duty, totaling more than two years, in Iraq and Afghanistan, where he learned more about Muslim culture.

"It just amazes me that people think that I'm biased towards Islam," he added. "I got sniped at once, I got ambushed once, I got attacked by a mob once... I've served close to 27 years in the military - and have gone overseas - exactly to preserve that right [freedom of speech.]”

But Martin also repeated his criticism of the atheist protester. "With rights come responsibilities. The more people abuse our rights, the more likely that we're going to lose them," he said. " We need to start policing up our own actions, using common sense, in how we deal with others."

Attorney R. Mark Thomas, who represented the Muslim suspect, blamed Perce for the Halloween altercation. "The so-called victim was the antagonist," he told WHTM. "I think this was a good dressing down by the judge."

A blog post by the group American Atheists disagrees. "That a Muslim immigrant can assault a United States citizen,” it says, “in defense of his religious beliefs and walk away a free man, while the victim is chastised and insulted... is a horrible abrogation."

Watch The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4pm to 6pm ET and Saturdays at 6pm ET. For the latest from The Situation Room click here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Halloween • Islam • TV-The Situation Room

soundoff (2,453 Responses)
  1. Obvious evidence

    If people actually believe that the plaintiff wasn't attacked, and they believe that the scuffle in the video was just staged just so they could accuse a Muslim, I feel very sorry. Additionally, the judge refused to listen to the police account, who was at the incident, and to whom the defendant even admitted assault. So, no, there wasn't a lack of evidence, it was the judge's refusal to see the obvious evidence. This warrants at least a suspension, the judge is supposed to look at ALL cases of evidence.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • sarah

      I believe there is a possibility it was staged. Not that it was, but that it is possible. I know that by showing his disdain for a group in the way that he did makes his motives suspect just as I would suspect a KKK member with evidence like this against a black man.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Don Juan

      Not only did the defendant admit to the attack, he actually called 911 after to report the guy that he attacked for "insulting Islam" because the thought it was against the law to do that like it is in his home country. Every first year law student knows that claiming ignorance of the law is not a defense...unless of course you happen to be brought before this complete imbecile of a judge.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Don Juan

      @Sarah,
      People like you just make people want to shake their heads. The defendant admitted to the attack. The police investigation reveals the attack to place and there is video to corroborate that. What part of all of this is too difficult for you to understand?

      February 28, 2012 at 7:13 pm |
    • Facts

      yep, ignorance of the law is no excuse (ignorantia juris non excusat)

      There was a police report-what happened to the police report?

      February 28, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  2. Dana

    Judge, it is still not ok to be attacked for saying something.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  3. Fr33th1nk3r

    The atheist should have cut the Muslim's nose off. Hey, that is what Muslims do in their armpit of the world....

    February 28, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  4. Dan

    The judge thinks that he knows what the forefathers intended. He must be channeling the dead.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  5. joe

    And I don't believe the First Amendment specifically protects someone from harm when they are intentionally instigating or provoking others.
    ------–
    First, he wasn't intentionally provoking someone. He wasn't up in a Muslim's face. The Muslim came after him while he was marching in Halloween parade

    Secondly, free speech makes any subject fair game. That's why it's called "free." Your God, your beliefs, your President, your wife, your child. Anyone is allowed to speak on any subject without being attacked.

    Now, if it was someone who was trying to shout somebody down or getting in their face or interrupting their funeral, I'd tend to agree. But this guy was marching in a Halloween parade, for Jesus' sake. Last year at Halloween I saw a guy dressed as a Priest with a baby doll strapped to the front of his crotch facing him. Think about it. It was a great comment on how the catholic church-the "godly" people have let our children get abused by their so called servants of God.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • sarah

      So you're saying that this atheist was so stupid that he had no idea he would be provoking anyone while marching in a parade? Strange. Very strange.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Don Juan

      No Sarah, we're just saying that you're stupid.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  6. Linden Pike

    Just as the KKK is protected, and as the Westboro Baptist Church is protected, so should this man's speech be protected. The content of the speech is irrelevant, the 1st ammendment isn't there to protect popular speeches, its there to protect unpopular speeches. And whether he is trying to make a spectacle of himself, he should not be subjected to assault for his way of thinking, no matter how distasteful it is to the rest of us. End of story.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • momoya

      ...Unless you think assault is a reasonable response to speech, call and voice your opinion, now!!!

      Call the judge's office now:

      717-240-7864 << live operator

      717-766-4575 << leave message

      February 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • sarah

      The problem wasn't the speech, it was the lack of evidence. The video really doesn't show anything and the witnesses set out to provoke people. If the Westboro church had this evidence against someone, they wouldn't get a conviction either.

      The Judge didn't punish the atheist, he just exercised HIS free speech. Free speech means that sometimes you have to hear things you don't want to.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • Don Juan

      Sarah, you're a complete and utter moron.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
  7. Abdel

    "The freedom of each finds its limits in that of others; no one has a right to absolute freedom. The limit where freedom begins and ends, where its rights and duties come together, is called law, and the State itself must bow to the law." (Albert Camus: Resistance, Rebellion and Death). With that being said, the judge did the right thing in light of the lack of evidence, this is what any unbiased judge would do given the same facts. That does not imply that anybody who got provoked or offended take matter in their own hands. Proud American Muslim.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  8. Nicole

    @ Don Juan:

    The video did not show the assault. "Then a man who is not seen on the video can be heard saying, "Take it down." Amid sounds of a scuffle, Perce can be heard saying "Hey, he's attacking me!"" Sounds of a scuffle are not enough for criminal battery. Sounds like you need to "get a clue". I suppose that was your best insult...

    February 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Don Juan

      The video doesn't have to show the full assault, Einstein. It's corroborating evidence along with the police investigation and statements made by the police. Never mind the fact, genius, that the defendant admitted to the attack. Now please get lost, as you have no idea what you're talking about.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
  9. tnmtl

    If this were KKK or Xtians dehumanizing someone they hated, the judge would have said something different. Personally I don't agree with the athiest's actions, but apply the law consistently, not just for who you agree with. Personally what people are doing with religion is making me so sick of it.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • blondie

      here here

      February 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  10. SnowBear80

    America is currently suffering a 'crisis of civility.' Disrespectful speech and actions do nothing more than obliterate common ground where all can meet to have constructive dialogue about their differences. I applaud the judge's ruling and reminder that just because you can say something doesn't mean you should.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • momoya

      You think ASSAULT is a reasonable reaction to mere WORDS? O.o Wow!

      February 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • JeramieH

      Except there was no evidence of assault.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • Don Juan

      @JareamieH,
      What part of the fact that the defendant admitted to the attack can't your teeny tiny brain understand?

      February 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • JeramieH

      Show my teeny brain where in the article it says he admitted to it.

      February 29, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
  11. James

    I always wondered what it meant to be an atheist. For some reason, I was under the impression that atheism was a lack of belief in any diety or God. However, whenever I hear a news story about an atheist, it's always about mocking religion or complaining about it. Could someone please explain which is atheism? A disbelief in God, or a disbelief in people who do believe in God? Because they are very cleary two different things. One is a personal right, the other is imposing on someone elses rights. So, are atheists against human rights, or for them?

    February 28, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • JeramieH

      This guy is to atheists what the Westboro Church is to religion.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Inglourious

      What does it mean to be religious? Does it mean privately holding spiritual beliefs, or does it mean proselytizing and trying to convert all non-believers? That is basically the question you are asking.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Aristotle

      Why would a story about typical atheists be in the news? Of course the stories you hear about involve those who are on the fringe or are looking for publicity. The "typical" atheist is teaching your child, delivering your mail, performing your surgery, or serving in the military.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • JeramieH

      I like the color yellow. You can like whatever color you want. But I want our currency to be changed to yellow. I want all school uniforms to be yellow. I want songs sung in school to say yellow is the best color. You can like whatever color you want, I won't mind, as long as everything is yellow, because almost everyone likes yellow, so why don't we celebrate yellow everywhere and in everything we do. If you like blue... that's OK, just keep it to yourself.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  12. ArizonaUSA

    Mocking Mohammed is the presence of Muslims is like sticking your finger in an angry bull's eye. I don't feel sorry for stupid people. How crazy is it for a grown man to dress up in such a costume and then participate in a "protest" designed to inflame people? Soldiers die for our freedoms, and this kind of thing makes a mockery of free speech.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Matt

      Actually, this was not a protest of religion... This was a parade of sorts

      February 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  13. Nicole

    This is not a hard case. There was no First Amendment issue here because no governmental official or law prevented Martin for expressing himself in this way. That is what the First Amendment is for, to prevent the GOVERNMENT from suppressing speech. That did not happen here. As for the man who attacked Martin, looks like there was no evidence that supported a finding of criminal battery....so it had to be dismissed. This "debate" about whether Islamic law played a role is stupid since there was no First Amendment issue here anyway. This article is misleading with its headline.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:44 pm |
    • Don Juan

      There was a video of the incident, Einstein. A video that this worthless judge refused to admit into evidence. Get a clue or get lost.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
    • sarah

      The video shows nothing. You hear a guy who set out to provoke people yelling briefly off camera before going back to his chanting. You don't see the attack and the witnesses are the attacker's friends. We can't tell what actually happened. He may had been attacked, may not. Lack of evidence.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • momoya

      I think the judge could not have been more wrong, but I respect your viewpoint. Even if the judge were right on his ruling, why his tirade about what the punishment would be in an Islamic country? Why the tirade about certain speech permitting physical assault? Do you find any of the judge's words inaccurate? Because if you agree with his whole speech, you're either very dumb or you're biased–or perhaps paid for stating the position you hold.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Nicole

      The video did not show the assault. "Then a man who is not seen on the video can be heard saying, "Take it down." Amid sounds of a scuffle, Perce can be heard saying "Hey, he's attacking me!"" Sounds of a scuffle are not enough for criminal battery. Sounds like you need to "get a clue". I suppose that was your best insult...

      February 28, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I love the Islamic bean pie!

      February 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • momoya

      @ Nicole

      The police officer that responded to the incident at 2 feet away disagrees with you. The judge suppressed other evidence than the videotape.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Nicole

      Monmoya: Why do you have to suggest "i'm dumb"? I never said I agreed with the judge's unnecessary comments. He should have kept his mouth shut. My point legally is that it doesn't matter since there was no case without the evidence necessary to convict on battery OR a valid First Amendment claim. Do not jump to conclusions.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • momoya

      I said "if you agree..." Please read b/4 you type and respond to what I actually said.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Nicole

      I do not see any mention of any police officer Momoya. If I am wrong I apologize, but I still do not see any mention of a witness like a police officer in the article. Of course, if there was a witnessing police officer I would agree that the judge made the wrong decision on the battery end of the case.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Don Juan

      The video doesn't have to show the assault, it's considered corroborating evidence along with the police investigation. Never mind the fact the defendant admitted to the attack. (rolls eyes)

      February 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Nicole

      I think "dumb" should not appear in any sentence of a thoughtful and decent dialogue.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Nicole

      Don Juan: none of that information is on THIS article. If that information is located in another news site I did not see it...nor do I care. Based on THIS article, there apparently wasn't enough evidence. If that is not true..fine, the dude should have been charged with criminal battery. Otherwise, it is clearly NOT a 1st amendment issue and not really that interesting of a case (rolls eyes).

      February 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Don Juan

      If by your own admission you don't know what you're talking about, then why are you commenting?

      February 28, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  14. john

    the judge did the right thing. free speech should be allowed but not when it goes to simplying inciting people and thats what he went to do. he could have done it in a different way and still bring his point accross. This guy just wans attention and i wish they press charges on him.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Ituri

      Being an id iot is not against the law. Being offensive is not either.

      The guy may have been acting like a je rk, but he was not acting violently.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • sybaris

      So it's OK to make your point as long as YOU approve.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      You are wrong, your rights are next

      February 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Don Juan

      You're a complete imbecile with absolutely no understanding of the First Amendment, none whatsoever. Do you think the British agreed with the "free speech" of the founding fathers? The First Amendment doesn't say you can say what you want as long as it's PC and everyone agrees with it. People such as yourself, who lack any sort of real education are a large part of what is wrong with this country.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
    • nostradoofus

      And where does this suppression stop? It may have been in extremely poor taste but the 1st amendment protects that also. In fact, poor taste seems to be the norm in society today. The judge was still wrong.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      You are obviously a simpleton. Your abuse of the English language is one clue.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Dana

      So I can attack you if you say something I don't like?

      February 28, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
  15. Ituri

    So we have the freedom of speech, but not the freedom to be protected when assaulted for using our freedom of speech.

    How does that make sense in the slightest? I don't care if what he did was offensive, he was not being violent and he was assaulted for speaking his mind.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      The guy didn't get caught and no witnesses

      February 28, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • Bimston

      It is not appropriate to attack somebody, even if they annoy or offend you.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • James

      Its equally not right to convict someone on something with a lack of evidence.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
  16. kolohegirl

    I am an atheist who agrees with this judge. This man went out of his way to provoke an attack and then cried victim when it happened. This is probably what he was *hoping* for and now he's complaining. Atheists like to say that religious people shouldn't shove their beliefs down our throats – the same respect should be returned. Don't shove your beliefs down someone else's throat.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
    • Bimston

      Just because it's nice to be respectful, that doesn't mean it's okay to assault people who aren't being respectful. If I am offended by your hat, I cannot legally choke you from behind and attempt to yank the hat off your head. If I am offended by your zombie Mohammed, likewise. If there was enough evidence, the case should have proceeded, and if there was not, that would be the end of it. The judge said: "You have that right, but you're way outside your bounds of First Amendment rights." You cannot be within your rights and outside the bounds of your rights. That's a logical fallacy and the judge was wrong.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      So what you are telling us is that we do not have the right to dress up as historical figures anymore, and that if we do, we are subject to being beaten? That is very strange.....

      February 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Jake

      I am an atheist and I agree. If the Muslim did indeed attack him, that was wrong and if there was enough evidence (which there apparently wasn't), there's every indication that the judge would have sentenced him.

      The atheist had every right to do what he did, just like I have every right to call someone an idiot to their face. But if you're going to intentionally provoke someone, don't whine about the consequences. Obviously he didn't attack him enough to hurt him or there would be evidence, now wouldn't there?

      February 28, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Another atheist

      I think you have things backwards, Kolohegirl. Atheism doesn't distinguish between Islam and Christianity as to irrationality. Both are what is being "throat-shoved" mainly through parochially preserved ignorance. "That in many Muslim countries, ridiculing Mohammed could warrant the death penalty under Islamic law" is what is ridiculous about this religion. This protester is one of the few atheists with the courage to make a statement in the face of such danger.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Don Juan

      You're not an atheist, you're just some clown with less than a 2nd grade education.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    February 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Jesus

      "–The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Evan

      Prayer does work. In 2007 a boy contracted a rare flesh eating disease and in his "near death expedience" he saw Jesus Christ and his grandparents in what he described to be Heaven. Guess what; the boy woke up shortly after and doctors pronounced that he was virtually free of his disease. That is proof of a miracle.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Jesus

      "That is proof of a miracle.'

      No it's not it's been proven it's all in your head if we stopped believing in religion and focused on our minds we could heal far more people. It's all in your head!

      February 28, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      Jesus and Evan – actually you agree with each other. Prayer does nothing, faith can do anything

      February 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Proven,

      February 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Jake

      I hope this is a joke. Religion is most common form of mental abuse of children in our country. Teaching a child not to think for themselves, teaching a child that it's ok to believe things based on "faith" alone, teaching a child that if they don't believe what you believe, they will burn for eternity...yeah, THAT'S healthy.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Prayer changes things
      Proven,"

      No it has not been proving and lying is a sin. If you had actual proof you would have posted it by now. The experts have proven you wrong and your desperation is showing in every post proving them right. LOL! Please continue proving the right..... 😉

      February 28, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Evan

      I feel sorry for you "Jesus" it must be a morbid feeling knowing that when you die you die, when you're alone you're alone. Explain to me then how a woman in Mexico was saved by a simple painting of the Virgin Mary when she held the portrait to protect her from the bullet that would of killed her. The bullet did not get through the painting. Go ahead an explain please.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Jake

      Yes, faith can even make people believe it's a good idea to fly planes into buildings or bomb people who have a different view. Yeah faith! Wake up – faith is a horribly dangerous concept. Logical thought is what we need.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Jake

      Evan, first, I'm curious as to how many years of religious brain washing it took to get you to a position where you actually believe a piece of canvas stopped a bullet. I'm guessing it started since before you remember...

      February 28, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things .

      February 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Gawd

      You are a brainwashed moron.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Evan

      No challenge Jake, Jesus? How about Keith? Give me a "logical" explanation to these various cases.
      Oh and it's funny how many "atheists" have a near death expedience and see Heaven and Hell when they don't even believe in God. The Irony.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Duh

      "Oh and it's funny how many "atheists" have a near death expedience and see Heaven and Hell when they don't even believe in God. The Irony."

      There's no proof of that. It's amazing how many Christians are such liars.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • Evan

      Oh Duh, catch up with the news. There are preachers today that were once atheists but changed after their experience, check it out before you talk.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Duh

      "There are preachers today that were once atheists but changed after their experience, check it out before you talk."

      Why don't you check out how they found it's all a chemical reaction in your head so they are merely hallucinating nothing more. It's like when you drop acid you can even see pink flying elephants if you want doesn't make it real. DUH!

      February 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Jake

      Even, what do you mean no challenge? I am clearly challenging you to explain how you possibly could believe that a piece of canvas stopped a bullet. Since I don't believe in supernatural beings, "Jesus" doesn't qualify as a sane explanation. If you can't (and obviously, I know you can't or this would be world-wide news), you must believe it because you're brain-washed.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Jake

      Even, to be perfectly clear, there is absolutely a logical explanation and it is this: It didn't happen. You believe it happened because you want to believe it happened.

      I know it is a waste of time to offer a real logical argument to people like you, but think about it – if it REALLY did happen (obviously, it would have to be proved somehow for us to know this), don't you think there would be thousands of scientists talking about this and trying to figure out HOW it happened? You can be sure that if there was proof that it happened, scientists would just stop trying to figure it out and say "well, guess it was Jesus".

      February 28, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Evan

      Ah. A chemical reaction? Nope. Even if you give me a logical explanation to every single Miracle on Earth even then I wouldn't deny faith.
      And another thing; it's not okay for the religious to spread their ideas because the atheists scream to the sky when they forcibly too want to shove things in someone's head? The hypocrisy of you people.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Peter

      "Ah. A chemical reaction? Nope. Even if you give me a logical explanation to every single Miracle on Earth even then I wouldn't deny faith."

      It's because you've been brainwashed by your cult.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • Evan

      Then how can you claim that religion is the source of many deaths? Sure during the Middle Ages the Crusades occurred and guess it brought Science with it back to Europe. Thank you science for making wars even deadlier.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • Evan

      An Add for thinking Logically:

      "Religion is bad, it has caused the deaths of many people."
      "How can we stop it?"
      "By thinking logically of course. With logic we invented the atom bomb. No need to worry about religious wars when with logical thinking we endangered the entire planet."
      "Thank you Logical thinking for making the world a more dangerous place!"

      February 28, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • No need to believe

      This whole transaction is a joke. Even the name alone "atheist bad for children" is a hateful message. I will raise my child as an atheist, but let them choose when they are mentally capable... Unlike the Christians that brainwash at week 8 and up.... I was brainwashed in the south....then I grew up and so should all of you.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  18. shawn

    Chalk one up for team muhammad. Dumb Muslims. Allah akbar. Allah akbar. They're so stupid they make me sick.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
    • Pg$CAZM

      why do they make you sick?

      February 28, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  19. Mike Speakman

    The judge should be disbarred and Muslims need to grow thick skins or leave our country.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • momoya

      ...Unless you think assault is a reasonable response to speech, call and voice your opinion, now!!

      Call the judge's office now:

      717-240-7864 << live operator

      717-766-4575 << leave message

      February 28, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • Maya LA

      Exactly

      February 28, 2012 at 6:38 pm |
    • James

      Yep, and black people should learn to put up with being called the N-word, we should call Polish people pollacks right to their face, and name our crayons Navajo red. This is a classic dismissal tactic to avoid confronting discrimination, and I don't fall for it.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      James, you ignorant boob. Classic attempt at misdirection. No, your analogy is that of a simpleton.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • James

      You're welcome to read Popper's take on the paradox of tolerance if you want, but no I'm not ignorant, nor is this misdirection. Telling someone to tolerate intolerance is a problem, maybe a parody will help explain to you the fallacy you don't seem to understand yourself. Go to TheOnion and look up the ACLU defending the nazi's right to burn down their building. See if you don't see the problem behind this.

      February 28, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  20. Abbot

    Poor Athiests, they want to destroy christianity. We should ship them all to an Islamic country and then they will see how good they have it here.
    I am athiest, but love my christian Heritage. I dont feel insecure about anything christian.
    Becasue if not for christianity, Islam will start filling the void. And we have seen what happens then. Just look at Egypt, Lebanon and more recently Europe.

    February 28, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • JohnR

      The fastest growing sector is "no religious affiliation". Work to keep that and other irreligious sectors growing and we can be rid of both Islam and Christianity, which is a great twofer!

      February 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Don Juan

      You're a complete moron and no...you're not an atheist. You don't even have the first fundamental understanding of what it means.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Actually, I don't believe in god. That is what makes me an atheist. I have no master plan. I have no desire to change anyone's personal belief. However, our Const.itution protects free speech. It doesn't protect physical as.sault. Do you see the problem here?

      February 28, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • Jimmy Joe Jim Bob

      We should ship you to a muslim country. Then you will be around people just as ignorant as yourself.

      February 28, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
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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.