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A rabbi, a Mormon and a black Christian mayor walk into a room...
The worlds of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, left, Michael Benson, center, and Mayor Cory Booker collided 20 years ago. The unlikely trio has maintained a friendship ever since.
June 23rd, 2012
10:00 PM ET

A rabbi, a Mormon and a black Christian mayor walk into a room...

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Newark, New Jersey (CNN) – Mayor Cory Booker waits in his wood-paneled city hall office for his next visitors. His life, even on a Sunday, is tightly scheduled. He checks the time on his cell phone and lets the ribbing of his two friends, who are now late, begin.

“Jewish time is even worse than black time,” he says, “although I should never drag all the Jewish people down with Shmuley.” And then, about the other guy: “I thought Mormons were always 15 minutes early?”

If the friendship between these men – a black Christian mayor, a rabbi running for Congress and a Mormon university president – wasn't so real, this would sound like a bad joke. Instead, it’s a reflection of how three men from profoundly different backgrounds met 20 years ago, connected and changed one another.

So when this unusual trio got together for a rare meeting this spring, we jumped at the chance to join them.

But before the others arrive, let’s introduce the players.

There’s Booker, the 43-year-old Democratic mayor of Newark, a rising political star and headline grabber, a man who was recently lauded for saving a neighbor from a burning building and grilled for his perceived off-message remarks on a Sunday talk show. He was raised by parents who fought in the courts to integrate the northern New Jersey suburbs where he grew up.

Mayor Cory Booker takes a break on a Sunday from running Newark to dish about his old friends – two men from profoundly different backgrounds. (Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images for CNN)

The two men he’s waiting for are no schlubs themselves.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, 45, is a TV personality, former radio host, prolific author - his books include “Kosher Sex” and “Kosher Jesus” - and now Republican congressional candidate in New Jersey. He was also an unofficial spiritual adviser to Michael Jackson. He was raised by a single mom in Miami.

And Michael Benson, a 47-year-old political scientist and president of Southern Utah University, comes from Mormon and Utah royalty, of sorts. His grandfather is the late Ezra Taft Benson, secretary of agriculture under President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the 13th prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

With his wife and two young children in tow, the Mormon shows up first.

“Brother Benson,” Booker booms, addressing his friend in Mormon-speak as he stands to give him a big hug.

The last time these two had seen each other was five years ago, when they both helped celebrate the rabbi’s 40th birthday in New York. The massive party, as described by the mayor, was “a mosh pit of yarmulkes and sweat.”

CNN's Belief Blog: the faith angles behind the big stories

Boteach, who lives in New Jersey and sees the mayor often, rushes into the room on this Sunday a half-hour late.

“Let the record reflect, the Mormon got me lost,” he says by way of hello. The rabbi then glances down at Benson’s two little ones, who sweetly peer up at him.

“They’re a little too Mormon perfect,” he quips. “When Mormons walk into a hurricane, does their hair move?”

Booker, whose nearby desk features a stack of religious texts including the Bhagavad Gita and the Quran, watches as a crowd streams in behind Boteach. The mayor has box seats for this afternoon’s Cirque du Soleil performance of “Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour,” and he wants his friends and their families to join him. But first he demands to know of the rabbi, “How many people are with you? … They just multiply.”

“Are you kidding?” Boteach shoots back. “We have 30 kids.” Actually, he only has nine.

Long before he became an author, TV personality and now congressional candidate, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach ran a popular student organization at Oxford University, which is where he met Benson and Booker. (Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images for CNN)

The three men and their very different worlds collided in the early 1990s at Oxford University in England, where they overlapped for two years. Booker was there on a Rhodes scholarship; Benson on a Rotary scholarship - "but if I slurred, it sounded like Rhodes,” he says. Boteach was there as an emissary for Chabad Lubavitch, a Hasidic movement in Orthodox Judaism.

The first one to arrive at Oxford was Boteach, in 1988. His official mission was to serve as a rabbi to the students, but by 1990 he’d broadened his outreach by establishing the all-inclusive L’Chaim Society, a campus organization to promote the universal values of Judaism while celebrating differences. The society, whose Hebrew name means “To Life,” became the second largest student group on campus, surging to 5,000 members – no more than 800 of them Jewish.

The Mormon arrived in 1991, having spent six months in Israel at the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center. Benson, who earned a doctorate at Oxford, would write his dissertation on President Harry S. Truman and eventually write a book about the Jewish influences in Truman's life and his contributions to Israel’s founding. (The “Mormon perfect” son in the mayor’s office, it turns out, is named Truman.)

Shortly after Benson arrived at Oxford, a Jewish friend told him about Boteach, saying, “You have to meet this rabbi.”

Boteach admits his previous impressions of Mormons had been pretty negative. Then Benson walked into the L’Chaim Society – and the rabbi’s life – one Friday evening. “Not a hair was out of place,” a slightly disheveled and wild-bearded Boteach says, remembering when they met. “I was fascinated.”

Benson never budged from his own religious beliefs, but he became a devout member and officer of the L’Chaim Society, which held legendary Friday night dinners.

Michael Benson, a grandson of the 13th prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, helped change how his friends – and countless others – view Mormons. (Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images for CNN)

Booker arrived on campus a year later. He first met Benson through basketball - they both played for the Oxford Blues - then got to know Boteach with the help of a woman who stood him up for dinner. Booker was supposed to meet her outside the L’Chaim Society; when she never showed, he moseyed inside on his own to check out this mysterious place with a name he couldn’t pronounce.

Inside, hordes of people – many of them drunk – were dancing around with sacred scrolls containing the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. They were celebrating Simchat Torah, a holiday that marks the end of the annual Torah-reading cycle.

“I felt like I walked into a scene from ‘Yentl,’” Booker says.

Booker would go on to become president of the now-defunct organization, taking on tasks like lighting a Hanukkah menorah with Mikhail Gorbachev when the former Soviet leader visited Oxford.

Like Benson, Booker doesn’t drink; together they became allies as well as teammates. At the end of holidays like Simchat Torah or Purim – another raucous Jewish festival where celebrators often get drunk - they bonded as sober men in the room. They also led the Oxford Blues to win a British collegiate championship.

“I was their mascot,” boasts Boteach, whose friends tower above him.

The rabbi and Mormon say the mayor's humanity and heart inspire them. Booker says these two faithful men taught him to love and respect different religions, while helping him deepen his own beliefs and sense of awe. Likewise, both the mayor and Boteach say Benson changed how they and hundreds of others view Mormons.

Booker has been known to have his driver pull over when he spots young Mormon missionaries walking in pairs. He understands they’re often financially strapped, so he gives them some money for food and thanks them for being in his city.

“That’s something I never would have done if I hadn’t met Mike,” the mayor says.

And Booker certainly wouldn’t have pulled all-nighters studying Jewish texts before meeting Boteach. There’s a tradition, the rabbi explains, for a father to stay up and study the night before his son is circumcised. It was the middle of exams at Oxford when the rabbi first roped Booker in to join him the night before his first son Mendy's circumcision. Boteach came back again 11 years ago after the birth of Yosef, to which Booker responded, “Shmuley, you’re killing me” before he agreed to take part.

But the last time the rabbi issued his all-night study decree, Booker wasn’t having it.

“Forget it. Don’t even ask. I’m running for mayor,” the then-candidate told his friend six years ago, after Dovid Chaim was born. At 1 a.m., though, there was a knock on Boteach’s door. “You have 60 minutes. That’s it,” the mayor said as he rushed inside.

“Cory and I see each other whenever he needs advice,” the rabbi likes to say of Booker. And it's comments like this that prompt the mayor to retort, “He needs to get his head examined by a proctologist.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach rushes in for the reunion, and a hug from Booker, 30 minutes late. Michael Benson looks on, laughing as Boteach blames him, “the Mormon,” for making him late. (Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images for CNN)

All kidding aside, these three look out for each other's interests. After leaving Oxford for Yale Law School, Booker became a self-appointed kosher police officer, alerting the rabbi when he heard about Jewish L'Chaim Society members who had stopped keeping kosher. “You really need to do something,” he'd tell the rabbi.

Ever since Boteach learned that Benson’s older brother, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Steve Benson of The Arizona Republic, had shrugged off religion, the rabbi has said he’s on a mission to bring the older Benson back to the LDS Church.

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The Mormon can’t help but marvel at the rabbi’s chutzpah, but he’s happy to let him give it his best shot. So far Boteach has only e-mailed with the older Benson, but he looks forward to a face-to-face meeting so he, the Jew, can give the ex-Mormon the proper Latter-day Saint sell.

Boteach has fallen for the national parks of Utah, where the LDS Church is headquartered. He has lectured a handful of times at universities where Benson has been affiliated. Benson has led the way in scrambling to find kosher food for the rabbi before the two have headed out for weekend hikes.

Booker reflects on his old friends and says, “I love the fact that those two have kept such a good friendship. They’re very different. Mike is humble and soft-spoken; Shmuley is loud and bordering on obnoxious.”

Noticing the time, Booker rushes off to squeeze in a meeting before Cirque du Soleil.

The mayor's friends, at home in his office, take their time leaving. They stroll down the empty and echoing hallways toward the exit of Newark City Hall. The Mormon throws his arm around the rabbi's shoulder.

“I have to get back to Utah soon,” Boteach says. “It's been too long.”

“This time, we'll get you baptized,” Benson tells him.

The suggestion of a Mormon conversion, even in jest, might stop other rabbis in their tracks. But Boteach doesn’t skip a beat: “If it'll get me votes, fine.”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Christianity • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Interfaith issues • Judaism • Politics • Race

soundoff (941 Responses)
  1. Name*Joni Grossman

    I loved this article. Being a Jewish convert to the Mormon Church has not changed the essence of who I am - a Yiddish "ma-da-la". Not even after 36 years!

    June 24, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Have a nice flight Joni.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
    • Brampt

      Why be in the Jew religion if the temple was destroyed in the year 70 by the Romans??..

      June 24, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • Bob Loblaw

      Why be a Christian, brampt, when the Romans executed him as a petty rabble rouser in the year 24? The Jewish temple zombied back to life, just like Jesus.

      June 24, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Try reading truth Bob, Matthew 26:59 tells who had Jesus crucified.

      June 25, 2012 at 3:13 am |
  2. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    June 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes otherwise intelligent adults into believing in imaginary friends.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Atheism is healthier for them than religion. Atheist won't kill you in the name of their god.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • truth be told

      Atheists have murdered more people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      HS, did you pray for rain? I got nothing man, what gives? Was God too busy over-seeing some child molester somewhere to make sure he remembered to kill and hide the body when he was done?

      June 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      More people have been killed in the name of one god or another than for anything else.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • truth be told

      Is that where you were alien?

      June 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Truth

      First of all, those people were killed because of power, not religion or atheism. Secondly, the Islamic conquests alone killed more than any atheist dictator.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • nope

      Atheists have killed more than Muslims and all other false religions combined due to technology. Atheists murder by the millions.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Nope

      What isn't a false religion?

      June 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Jesus is Lord

      Jesus has said no man comes to the Father, except through me. Christianity is the one True religion.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Lordy

      I wouldn't come on anybody's father.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • truth be told

      when confronted and con founded with Truth all atheist wanna bees resort to filth.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      All you have to do is study the crusades, the Salem witch trials, the Spanish Inquisition, etc. etc. etc. to see how many people have been killed in the name of the Christian god. But people have also been killed in the name of Allah and other gods as well.

      In Numbers 31: the Christian god ORDERS the murder and enslavement of thousands of women and children. With a large percentage of the women slaves going to the priests. (Now he just gives them little boys, times have changed).

      June 24, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Ask yourself this simple question: Why, when you read the Bible, are you not left in awe?

      Why doesn't a book written by an omniscient being leave you with a sense of wonder and amazement? If you are reading a book written by the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving creator of the universe, wouldn't you expect to be stunned by the brilliance, the clarity and the wisdom of the author? Would you not expect each new page to intoxicate you with its incredible prose and its spectacular insight? Wouldn't you expect the author to tell us things that scientists have not been able to discover yet? In short, if someone has to explain a book to me because it is so poorly written that I can’t “understand” it or “put it in context” than it is a worthless book.

      Yet, when we open the Bible and actually read it, we find it is nothing like that at all. Instead of leaving us in awe, it leaves us dumbfounded by all of the nonsense and backwardness that it contains. If you read what the Bible actually says, you find that the Bible is ridiculous. The examples showed above barely scratch the surface of the Bible's numerous problems. If we are honest with ourselves, it is obvious that an "all-knowing" God had absolutely nothing to do with this book.

      The reason why the Bible contains so much nonsense is because God is imaginary. The Bible is a book written thousands of years ago by primitive men. A book that advocates senseless murder, slavery and the oppression of women has no place in our society today.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • Jesus is Lord

      I know because it says so in the Bible and the Bible is true.

      I have no reason to believe the Bible over any other religious text, but accept it as true based on my leap of blind faith, which makes more sense than any other religious person taking a leap of faith in their respective religions because their faith is not based on the Bible, which is true, because it says it is.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • truth be told

      A lot of the instances you mention were the work of atheists not to mention that the murders of atheist chairman Mao made all those others look like childs play by comparison.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • truth be told

      when confronted and confounded by Truth an atheist wanna bee will steal an honest handle in a vain attempt to defeat the Truth. Jesus is Lord, for example.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
  3. Mohammad A Dar

    Jerry, Please pay attention to Hedron Atom smasher results, the dark matter. Matter has to have physical property, but Spirit, essence labeled as dark matter has no physical property but self sustaining pre programmed soft ware. physical matter is attracted to. Every thing in existence has a pr programmed soft ware, or spirit. such as black hole. Human are spirit hving human experience for short period on this earth. Can any one deny it, only by hinduism, denial of truth absolute by hindu, blinded.

    June 24, 2012 at 7:57 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Ooga booga booga. That statement makes more sense.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Mohammad – Delusional much?

      June 24, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  4. Truth

    A muslim, a communist, a nagger, and a f@&&ot walk into a bar.
    The bartender asks, "What will it be, Mr. pResident?" XD

    June 24, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
  5. Apalled

    Religion is not the problem. Hate and fear. Selfishness and greed. Judgmentalism and intolerance. These are what we need to worry about. If you are on here attacking others you'd do better to look in the mirror.

    June 24, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Just the facts please.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • John

      Religion rejects reason. That is a big problem.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Greed is good. It drives human endeavor.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:52 pm |
    • JWT

      Alas those are part of some people's religion

      June 24, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • Apalled

      Painting all believers as unreasoning is patently ridiculous and not worth any more of my time.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • John

      Religion depends on taking a leap of faith, which is irrational by definition. Faith accepts as truth that which is irrational.

      Religion is irrational.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Religion is indeed the problem. Religious people want to force their beliefs on everyone else.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:37 pm |
  6. Rational Libertarian

    "A rabbi, a Mormon and a black Christian mayor walk into a room..."

    And a rational person laughs at them for their belief in an evil desert Storm God.

    June 24, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Everyone else holds onto their wallets and runs out of the room.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  7. Alien Orifice

    When you look at different religions, they usually contain "magic." For example:

    • The Mormon religion contains the magical golden plates, the magical angel, the magical seer stones, the magical ascension of the plates into heaven, etc.

    • The Muslim faith contains the magical angel, the magical flying horse, the magical voices, the magical prophet, etc.

    • The Christian faith contains the magical insemination, the magical star, the magical dreams, the magical miracles, the magical resurrection, the magical ascension and so on.

    The presence of "magic" is a clear marker for "imaginary." For example, how do we know that Santa is imaginary? Because (among other things) he has eight magical flying reindeer. How do we know that Jack and the Beanstalk is a fairy tale? Because (among other things) the story contains magical seeds. In the same way, how do we know that God is make believe? Because God is surrounded by magic.

    According to believers, God is an all-powerful being who has the divine, magical power to do anything. How do we know that this belief is a fairy tale? One way to know is to try to invoke God's magical power. For example the Bible tells us in many places that God answers prayers. However, whenever we try to pray, we notice that nothing happens. That tells us that God is completely imaginary. The magical powers ascribed to him are a fairy tale.

    Another way to know is to read the stories of magical events in the Bible. There is the magical flood, yet we know with certainty that the flood never happened. There are the magical miracles of Jesus, but (predictably) none of these miracles left behind any tangible evidence. There is the magical resurrection, yet there is zero evidence that it ever occurred and no reason to believe it.

    God is identical to Leprechauns, mermaids and Santa. God is a magical fairy tale creature. The magic surrounding God tells us that God is imaginary.

    June 24, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      One Christmas I heard what I thought were footsteps on my roof. To me, there is far more proof for the existence of Santa than there is for any deity.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • sdmom

      Cell phones might be thought of as magical if we lived 150 years ago.

      June 26, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  8. Jerry

    Would light not have to be created before the sun since the sun is formed of light?

    June 24, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Jerry, do you really not know how stars form or are you just trollling...? You can't be that stupid.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Oh and Jerry, even if you can't be bothered to understand gases or gravity or anything routine about the universe (like the creation of stars) at least you should know that stars PRODUCE light. They are not made of it. What is wrong with you?

      June 24, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Arguing with religious people is like talking to a brick wall. Their minds are closed. Nothing you can say or do will pry open their tightly closed minds. They don't think for themselves, they just blindly follow ancient mythology without questioning it.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Jerry

      @Alien Orifice
      Jerry, do you really not know how stars form or are you just trollling...? You can't be that stupid.
      I didn't see your response until now.

      Alien, first, calling a someone a troll would be extremely hypocritical as evident in these comments. Second, saying you "know" how stars form is naive unless of course you have been there and experienced it. This is precisely the same argument you use against us Christians. Third, you believe in science from a book not from experience (where scientific theories get overturned very often. That is not to say I don't believe in science. You arguments are all invalid. Indeed, I am not that stupid. I have taken a few astronomy courses, but the "element" of light is an abstract argument. You believe that light is somehow magically produced? It is not produced my friend. Light is in the fundamental laws of Physics. It must have always existed because light cannot be "created". Sure a lightbulb can be pumped electricity which gives off light, but the light was always present. Just because you cannot see it, it does not mean it doesn't exist. Citation String Theory. It is almost the same argument as saying you have produced argon. You cannot produce it. All elements can be decayed into other elements over time. Citation Geology. As Uranium can decay into lead and so on. A comparable metaphor is potential energy. Citation Physics.

      I am not trolling. I am simply asking you to reflect before you tell people how dumb they are. No man is the smartest in the room.

      June 25, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Jerry

      @Josef Bleaux
      "Arguing with religious people is like talking to a brick wall. Their minds are closed. Nothing you can say or do will pry open their tightly closed minds. They don't think for themselves, they just blindly follow ancient mythology without questioning it."

      Is that exactly what you do with science? You read it from a book and believe every word. Did you know gravity isn't proven? It is our best guess that explains the vertical pressure towards earth. We don't actually know if it is the mass of earth that pulls smaller elements towards earth. I question my beliefs daily, do you question yours?

      June 25, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  9. Wayne

    Three grown men can play pretend but then put their imaginations aside so they can still be friends. Wonderful story.

    June 24, 2012 at 7:31 pm |
  10. Kindness

    kindness
    This is my experience... Thank you.

    MY personal testimony.
    A thought to consider without an ego response

    Accept Jesus christ as your lord and saviour. You never know how soon is too late. Transcend the worldly illusion of enslavement.
    The world denounces truth....

    Accepting Jesus Christ (for me) resulted in something like seeng a new colour. You will see it .....but will not be able to clearly explain it to anyone else..... Its meant to be that way to transend any selfism within you.

    Also... much the world arranges "surrounding dark matter into something to be debated" in such a way that protects/inflates the ego.

    The key is be present and transcend our own desire to physically see evidence. We don't know anyways by defending our own perception of dark matter.

    Currently.... most of us are constructing our own path that suits our sin lifestyle. Were all sinners. Knowing that we are is often an issue. But both christians and non are sinners.

    We don't like to Let go and let god. We want control to some degree. This is what Jesus asks us to do. "Follow me".
    It's the hardest thing to do... but is done by letting the truth of scripture lead you (redemptive revelation)... as I said .

    Try reading corinthians and see if it makes sense to you. Try it without a pre conceived notion of it being a fairy tale.
    See the truth...
    do we do what it says in todays society... is it relevant... so many have not recently read and only hinge their philosophy on what they have heard from som other person...which may have been full of arogance pride or vanity..

    Look closely at the economy ponzi, look at how society idolizes Lust , greed , envy, sloth, pride of life, desire for knowledge, desire for power, desire for revencge,gluttony with food etc .

    Trancsend the temporal world.

    Just think if you can find any truth you can take with you ....in any of these things. When you die your riches go to someone who will spend away your life..... You will be forgotten.... history will repeat iteslf.... the greatest minds knowledge fade or are eventually plagerzed..... your good deeds will be forgotten and only give you a fleeting temporary reward . your learned teachings are forgotten or mutated..... your gold is transfered back to the rullers that rule you through deception. Your grave will grow over . This is truth .

    Trancsend your egoism and free yourself from this dominion of satan. Understand you are a sinner and part of the collective problem of this worldly matrix... Repent.... Repent means knowing (to change) The Holy spirit (within) will convict you beyond what you think you can do by yourself. Grace is given to those who renounce the world. That are" in" the world but not "of " the world.

    Evidence follows faith. Faith does not follow evidence..... Faith above reason in Jesus Christ.

    Faith comes by Reading or Hearing the word of god from the bible . Ask Jesus in faith for dicernment and start reading the new testament... You will be shocked when you lay down your preconceived notions and ....see and hear truth ... see how christ sets an example ... feel the truth....

    Read Ecclesiastes. Read corinthians.

    You cant trancend your own egoism by adapting a world philosophy to suit your needs. Seek the truth in Christ.

    Sell all your cleverness and purchase true bewilderment. You don't get what you want ....you get what you are in christ.

    I promise this has been the truth for me. In Jesus christ .

    Think of what you really have to lose. ...your ego?

    Break the Matrix of illusion that holds your senses captive.

    once you do . you too will have the wisdom of God that comes only through the Holy Spirit. Saved By grace through Faith. Just like seeing a new colour.... can't explain it to a transient caught in the matrix of worldly deception.
    You will also see how the world suppresses this information and distorts it

    You're all smart people . I tell the truth. Its hard to think out of the box when earthly thinking is the box.
    I'ts a personal free experience you can do it free anytime . Don't wait till you are about to die.. START PUTTING YOUR TREASURES WHERE THEY REALLY MATTER >
    Its awsome and It's just between you and Jesus

    my testimony

    Romans 10:9

    "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved

    June 24, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      If you would like to prove to yourself that God is imaginary, here is one easy way to do it: Look for places in the Bible where God is an absurd, unmitigated jerk instead of the "all-knowing", "all-loving", "fully-enlightened" being that he is supposed to be. The utter contradiction proves that God is imaginary.

      There are many parts of the Bible that display these tendencies. However, if you are a woman, the place where God's absurdity becomes completely clear is when you look at God's s.e.xism.

      The dictionary defines a misogynist as "One who hates women. It defines the word "s.e.xist" as:

      1. Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.

      2. Att.i.t.udes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender
      Is God a s.e.xist? Let's look at the evidence. We find this in 1 Corinthians chapter 14:

      As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

      This seems like a straightforward passage. And God is the one who inspired the Bible. In Isaiah 40:8 God says that the word of the Lord will last forever, and he says the same thing again in 1 Peter 1:24-25. So here we have God, in his eternal and everlasting Word, saying that it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

      This quote from 1 Corinthians 11 is important:

      But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but any woman who prays or prophesies with her head unveiled dishonors her head–it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her wear a veil. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. (For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.) That is why a woman ought to have a veil on her head, because of the angels.

      You may find it hard to believe that something that confusing is in the Bible, yet if you look it up you will find it is there.

      Then there is this section from 1 Timothy chapter 2:

      Also that women should adorn themselves modestly and sensibly in seemly apparel, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly attire but by good deeds, as befits women who profess religion. Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent.

      It is hard to miss God's meaning when he says something as direct as, "I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent."

      If you think about it, you will realize that God started this type of s.e.xism at the very beginning of the Bible. In Genesis
      chapter 17 God says:

      This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circ.u.mcised. You shall be circ.u.mcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.

      God makes no mention of forming any sort of covenant with women.

      There are many other examples that we can find in the Bible:

      • In Matthew 25:1 Jesus says: "At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom."

      • In John 20:17 Jesus says to Mary: "Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father," as though the touch of a woman is somehow improper, but a few verses later, is happy to have Thomas touch him.

      • In Genesis chapter 3, God punishes Eve, and all women for thousands of years, with greatly increased pain during childbirth. No such pain is inflicted on Adam.

      • In Ephesians 5:22-24 we find this: "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."

      • In 1 Peter 3:7 we find: "Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers."

      • In 1 John 2:13, John says, "I write to you, fathers, because you have known him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I write to you, dear children, because you have known the Father." No mention is made of women.

      • And so on. There are many, many examples like these throughout the old and new testaments.
      There are other, broader examples of misogyny that are readily apparent in the Bible as well:

      • Are any of Jesus' disciples women? No.
      • Are any of the elders in the book of Revelation women? No.
      • Are any of the books of the Bible written by women? No.
      • Etc...

      God, it would seem, wants nothing to do with women.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      @Alien Orifice – You forgot Numbers:31 where the Christian god commands that thousands of women and children be murdered and enslaved, with a large portion of the women slaves going to the priests. Nice guy the Christian god. Also, he sends billions of people to be tortured forever, burning and screaming throughout all eternity, simply for being raised in another faith or using their intelligence to question ancient mythology. Nice.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Lee

      @alien and josef: It is admirable that you are so knowledgeable of scripture. Matter of fact, you will therefore be without reason or excuse when you stand before Him on the day of judgement, being unable to plead ingnorance. Have a nice day!

      June 24, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
  11. John

    Hopefully they can figure which one of them is going to be saved.

    June 24, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  12. Truth

    There is no "God". If there was some kind of "intelligent design", then how can you explain the presence of blacks? Something clearly went horribly wrong there.

    June 24, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  13. MotherofanInterfaithFamily

    Thank you for a fabulous article, CNN. It's reaffirming to read about a trio of clearly intelligent adults with different ideologies respecting each other's beliefs.

    June 24, 2012 at 7:08 pm |
    • fofo

      I have no respect of any religious belief, period.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • I guess they forgot to bring babies to kiss.

      It's an infomercial. Didn't you notice the news crew and cameras? Or that two are running for elections?

      Why do any of you take this at face value and think it is wonderful?

      June 24, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      This article clearly points to the fundamental problem with religion. It makes me sick. And these three morons using this publicity for personal gain. That is all it is. I can't believe people fall for this crap but they do.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • John

      Religious friends who care so little about each others' eternal lives and salvation can get along very well.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      It was just a political photo-op. Get over it.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
  14. fofo

    Once human race gets over the religion and the magical thinking of a four years old, there would be some hopes for humanity. Until then, we're f..ked

    June 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
    • Mesrickel

      That's so true.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Yep.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
  15. Josef Bleaux

    Pati – Again, where did your magical god come from? Did he magically poof himself in to existence? Who created him? You don't believe the Universe could spring into existence from nothing and then humans evolve naturally. But you believe a magical, supernatural, invisible being in the sky could? HA HA HA HA HA HA. Yeah, right.

    June 24, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • Louis Pennington

      Josef,

      Read the King Follett discourse...that should answer some of your questions. Also, you ask why we don't see seas parting or sticks turning into snakes...i would counter by saying I don't see any monkies turning into humans lately, do you?

      June 24, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Louis you are retarded.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
    • Louis Pennington

      Alien,

      Great response...you must be further "evolved" than I.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Monkies Louis? Do you really not understand anything about human evolution?? How can you be so ignorant when there is so much information available to you. It boggles the mind.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      It took millions of years for ape-like creatures to evolve into humans. If you knew what you were talking about you would know that. But no, I guess you believe in the magical poofing theory instead. Or do you believe in the dirt and rib theory? That god made the first man out of dirt, and then because he was too stupid to realize he would need a woman ahead of time, he makes her out of a rib as an afterthought. I can see it now, god slaps himself on the forehead and says "Duh! Why didn't I think of that before?".

      June 24, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  16. TJeff1776

    "Grow a brain"........kinda difficult to do.........requires time. We are often dealing with ten year olds making adolesent remarks.
    Methinks CNN should divide these rooms into groups complete with passwords. One never knows when you're dealing with babies
    making, what appears to be, unusually stupid remarks.

    June 24, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      And none so dumb as yours.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  17. Jowl

    Cory Booker will be vice president one day, never president though.

    June 24, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • fofo

      Have lots of respect for him, but not for his beliefs.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  18. Josef Bleaux

    Heaven Sent – I've read the bible from cover to cover. I've read a lot of other religious texts as well. Have you ever THOUGHT about the bible using LOGIC and REASON and OBJECTIVITY? No. Of course not.

    June 24, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
    • fofo

      That is why the believers in these fairy tales books have no "LOGIC and REASON and OBJECTIVITY either.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
  19. .

    pfft.

    June 24, 2012 at 6:47 pm |
  20. Josef Bleaux

    It amazes me how many people comment here about the "scriptures" or the "word of God" or "Jesus the Savior", etc. it reminds me of children talking about Santa Claus. It's just ancient mythology, people. It isn't REAL. The only reason a lot of Americans believe it is because they've been indoctrinated from birth to believe it. If they'd been born in India, they'd have been indoctrinated from birth to believe in Hinduism and would be arguing JUST as strongly that Hinduism is the only TRUE religion. Why can't people see that??? It's just old myths and superst!tions. THINK about it. Use some LOGIC and REASON. Do you see a god flying around in a cloud or pillar of fire? Do you see seas parting, rivers of wine or blood, sticks turning into snakes, people being raised from the dead???? I don't. If those things actually happened then, they'd be happening now. GROW A BRAIN!

    June 24, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • mickey1313

      Logic and reason are not things theists are capable of using. They believe that every one should think like they do or they should d ie

      June 24, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Yes, we have wisdom taught to us by Jesus, not to buy into that you were slime that got flushed around by the ocean waves ... fast forward, slithered like slime onto the beaches, without, mind you, getting scorched by the glaring sun ... fast forward, slithered for thousands of years to make it off the sun soaked heated sands ... to make your way, as survivors of the fittest, to shaded area of trees ... all while having no food or water (yes, you are SUPER SLIME). Oh, trees aren't located on the sandy beach fronts until man planted them. Oh, my ... so much for logical thinking you non-believers obviously, don't do. Carry ... on, with swinging like apes from tree branches.

      June 24, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Josef, we also know you apes just want to have fun ... have no intentions of picking up the Bible to learn about your heritage ... since, you are still swinging from trees.

      June 24, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      So if your magical god created everything, who created god? Did he magically poof himself out of existence from nothing?

      June 24, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Heaven Sent – I've read the bible from cover to cover. I've read a lot of other religious texts as well. Have you ever THOUGHT about the bible using LOGIC and REASON and OBJECTIVITY? No. Of course not.

      June 24, 2012 at 6:58 pm |
    • Pati

      Actually, they are happening, it's just you don't see it because your mind is closed to it, even you can't explain the whole existence of life, then why not GOD!!

      June 24, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Pati – Again, where did your magical god come from? Did he magically poof himself in to existence? Who created him? You don't believe the Universe could spring into existence from nothing and then humans evolve naturally. But you believe a magical, supernatural, invisible being in the sky could? HA HA HA HA HA HA. Yeah, right.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • fofo

      Why do you think you can instill some logic in people who have none. Religious and logic are a world apart.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Jerry

      No one created GOD. You are stuck in the human mindset of the linear progression of time. Perhaps, it would help if you stepped back from this "Logic and Reason" and took some time to invest in Philosophy. Time is only a construct of human creation. That is to say, time is a matter of decay that we have bound to a variable that we cannot explain in our realm of science as of yet. This is precisely the reason that Philosophers still study multiple doctrines of time. You put to much faith in your eyes my friend, and the eyes can deceive anyone. (Ex: various reports from false eye witness accounts) No one created GOD because time as you know it didn't exist before he created the world. I believe you missed the first sentence of the Bible. Notice the reference in the beginning.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      @Jerry
      You mean the part where God creates light BEFORE he creates the sun? Yeah that makes a lof of sense. Good call.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Religions were never commanded, but way of truth absolute, Religions are handy work of hindu Jew's, criminal secular s of Egypt, pretending to be Israelite. Word religion does not exist in Hebrew, Aramaic or Arabic language. Do not be fooled by hindu Jew's, filthy secular's, deniers of truth absolute pretending to be Israelite, but hindu's, pagans of Egyptian and Persian origin.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • Jerry

      @Alien
      Since the sun is composed of light, would light not have to be created before the sun?

      June 24, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Mohammad A Dar

      Word light does not mean, what hindu's, ignorant s make of it, but knowledge. Human existence is through understanding not by seeing things in physical form.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Jerry

      @Mohammad I am afraid you are arguing a concept in Philosophy that cannot be beaten, which is not to say it is true. The questioning of all objects existence can only be argued against from a position where objects exist. Obviously, this negates the point of the rebuttal. While, I believe it is extremely unlikely that is the case, it cannot be excluded as a possibility.

      June 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • Jerry

      @Josef
      Also "If those things actually happened then, they'd be happening now. GROW A BRAIN!" is an assumption and violates multiple logical standards in the field. Justification of future events based on past events when other variables change creates an incomplete argument with only an intent to persuade. It does not rightly suggest a conclusion. Finally, the grow a brain part is a bit obnoxious. Please don't bring mockery into a logical debate. Have respect for other individuals by not screaming "Logic and Reason" when you already have violated a few of the laws of Logic and Reason. Please just be considerate, and cheer up. :)

      June 24, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Jerry – so you think it's logical and reasonable to believe in an invisible, supernatural man in the sky? It's just ancient mythology, nothing more. Where you're born determines which religion you believe for the most part. That right there should tell you, it's not real.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:08 pm |
    • Jerry

      @ Josef
      I agree with the where you're born helps shape who you are. I would also venture to argue that all religions may not be as different as we think. If you have ever taken one or a few religious studies class, you might already agree with me on that. Perhaps, they may be all different perceptions of the same GOD from different societies.

      And well, this whole supernatural man in the sky is not what I believe. I believe in a GOD that is something indescribable or able to be referenced through human metaphors as our current language does not have the capability to describe GOD. Our words crafted in the manner you suggest highlight the very reason why GOD is often criticized. The Big man upstairs, in the clouds, etc. We are just trying to create words to describe him, but we fail because we lack the ability to posses that knowledge within the constructions of our own languages. With those metaphors we simply paint a god with the vision in our minds, not the actual GOD.

      This is why when you phrase " so you think it's logical and reasonable to believe in an invisible, supernatural man in the sky?" It sounds so ridiculously absurd that no one would believe it. However, that is not GOD. You cannot define GOD. I know you might think I am some person that just looks for Christian arguments online, but I believe I was in a similar position to you before I became a Christian. I questioned the existence of GOD about things like evolution, dinosaurs, and our opposition, the neanderthals (from a very atheist standpoint, which I was back then) . Since then, I have gained many answers and understandings of these issues. I wish you the best my friend.

      June 24, 2012 at 8:29 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.