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February 21st, 2013
08:50 PM ET

Milwaukee lawsuits shadow N.Y. archbishop

By Ted Rowlands and Kathleen Johnston, CNN

(CNN)–He's the top Roman Catholic figure in the United States, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and one of the princes of the church who will decide on a new pope.

But Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, is now under fire for how his old archdiocese in Milwaukee shifted money as it faced lawsuits by victims of sexual abuse by priests in Wisconsin.

Dolan sat for a deposition with lawyers for some of the victims on Wednesday, the New York archdiocese confirmed. He was Milwaukee's archbishop from 2002 to 2009, a period in which the archdiocese moved $55 million into a fund for cemetery maintenance and as much as $74 million to a fund for individual parishes.

Dolan "made a conscious decision to secretly and in a quite sinister way to move funds into parishes and transfer funds into other corporations to avoid having to pay the survivors," Jeff Anderson, a lawyer for some of the abuse victims, told CNN.

Dolan declined an interview with CNN for this report. But in a 2011 interview with a New York television station, he called the allegations "ludicrous."

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But the Rev. Jim Connell, the former vice chancellor of the Milwaukee archdiocese, said the church needs a directive from the very top to come clean.

"There is a sense of secrecy from a top level," said Connell, now retired. "And I would hope that starting with the holy father, Benedict XVI, he would tell the cardinals and tell the bishops to talk."

The worldwide church has spent years dealing with the fallout from its handling of priests accused of sexually abusing children, and Anderson said the Milwaukee archdiocese "has been particularly deceitful." Wisconsin state law blocked lawsuits by most victims of sexual abuse for years, which protected the church. When that changed, lawyers for the victims say, the archdiocese began preparing for court by moving its money.

The archdiocese declared bankruptcy in 2011 when faced with lawsuits by hundreds of potential victims. In December, a bankruptcy court judge found that the timing of the 2005 transfer to the Parish Deposit Fund appeared "fishy," but ultimately decided that the move was justified: The money belonged to individual parishes, not the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Judge Susan Kelley ruled.

A creditors' committee pointed to minutes from a 2003 meeting of the archdiocese's finance committee that discussed whether to set up a fund to "shelter" the Parish Deposit Fund. But Kelley said that sentence "does not necessarily constitute the smoking gun" that proves the church was trying to shield money from the victims.

Church officials argued the $55 million transfer to the cemetery fund, in 2007, was needed and came from people who paid for burial plots in eight Catholic cemeteries, expecting perpetual care for the grave sites.

"The obligation to maintain the cemeteries never ends," said William Duffin, an attorney representing the cemetery fund. "No one knows for sure how much is enough."

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Kelley has yet to rule on the question of whether the transfer to the cemetery fund was proper. But Marquette University law professor Ralph Anzivino said that if the archdiocese was moving money around to hide it from abuse victims, it may have broken the law.

"That is what's called a fraudulent conveyance under the law," Anzivino said. "You can't, in anticipation of insolvency, transfer assets away from yourself for your own benefit and lessen what the creditors are entitled to."

A win for the victims could mean that they would not only get a share of the cemetery trust fund, but a share of future earnings from the sale of grave sites. A win for the church could lay out a blueprint for the other dioceses now grappling with lawsuits themselves and could cement Dolan's reputation in the eyes of the Vatican as the guardian of the American church.

Dolan is among the cardinals who will choose a new pope after the resignation of Benedict XVI. The cardinal himself was a 33-1 longshot for the papacy as of last week, according to one British bookmaker.

Milwaukee's Chapter 11 proceedings already have led to the discovery that in 2003, he approved payments of $20,000 to get abusive priests to leave the church. The Milwaukee archdiocese confirmed that it had offered the payoffs as "the most expedient and cost-effective way" to get rid of molesters.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests urged Dolan to allow his Wednesday deposition to be open to the public rather than placed under seal: "The 570 victims of priest sex offenders who filed cases, Catholics of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, and the public deserve to read and see Dolan's testimony."

And they're not the only ones calling for openness. Connell said the church needs to "open up, let it all be known."

"It's the love of money that translates into greed, that is the root of all evils," Connell said. "And that seems to be what I see is playing out in this situation.

"What's under the lid?" he asked. "What's being hidden? How embarrassing can it be?"

CNN's Elizabeth Nunez contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church

soundoff (240 Responses)
  1. Poot and Toot

    People who give money to the church are paying for the deviance of sick people in robes. Why keep going to church when they r@pe your kids? Is there anything more egregious than that? Sheep.

    February 22, 2013 at 12:30 pm |
  2. Mark

    As stated in the article, the Milwaukee archdiocese confirmed that it had offered the payoffs as "the most expedient and cost-effective way" to get rid of molesters.

    Really? Seems like calling the police would have been faster and cheaper.

    February 22, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Unless reporting a specific criminal act would have caused numerous other criminal acts to be discovered. . .

      February 22, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of SEVERE mental illness

      "Unless reporting a specific criminal act would have caused numerous other criminal acts to be discovered. . ."
      .
      Bingo...the Catholic Church has zero integrity. Anybody who supports the church also supports the illegal and immoral acts.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • What

      Anybody who supports the germans also supports the illegal and immoral acts.

      Anybody who supports the English also supports the illegal and immoral acts.

      Anybody who supports the muslims also supports the illegal and immoral acts.

      Anybody who supports the USA also supports the illegal and immoral acts.

      Heck, the list can go on and on.

      February 22, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
  3. Matthew Kilburn

    Wolves in Sheeps clothing – not simply the pedophile Priests, but these "victims rights" groups. They're trying to bankrupt the church, knowingly and intentionally. By all means, seek justice. But how is it justice to push the church into insolvency, where it cannot provide for the upkeep of cemeteries and churches, thus depriving good people of faith of the ability to fully exercise their religion?

    But no matter, Dolan could well be on the shortlist for the next Pope, so the liberal social agenda network that is CNN will happily smear his name.

    February 22, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Doobs

      This organization needs to be pushed into nonexistence. It's got centuries of evil works and cover ups in its history, all done in the name of god.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • CMoses

      Doobs, you are blind to the centuries of good work the Church has done which far outweighs the sins of so many of its members. There are so many Catholics across the globe ministering to the sick, the helpless, the needy, the orphaned, the hungry, the hopeless, and the oppressed. It is sad that you are so ignorant of the millions who have been lifted up by the sacrificial works of mercy done by Catholics worldwide since the Church's inception, work that still continues today.

      February 22, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ CMoses

      The hateful, evil things that the RCC has done and continues to do far outweigh any good that their PR department comes up with. If the RCC wasn't protected by having their own country, where they can shelter their criminals, and by their brainwashed flock of sheep, they'd have been out of business long ago.

      Their crimes against children stand out, because they allowed the continued abuse of those who are helpless to defend themselves, they have tried to impede scientific, medical and technical progress because it makes their dogma obsolete, and they prey on the superstitious and uneducated.

      Some "charitable" work there.

      February 22, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
  4. M.A.D.

    Dolan "one of the princes of the church who will decide on a new pope", "made a conscious decision to secretly and in a quite sinister way to move funds into parishes and transfer funds into other corporations to avoid having to pay the survivors", simply blood boiling. Entire Roman Catholic is founded on s ex abuse, blood of innocents, lust, and greed, a religion of and religion by DEVILS.

    February 22, 2013 at 10:22 am |
  5. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    Recently we learned of the head of LCMS chastising a minister of that church for participating in a joint service for the victims of the Newtown school shooting. One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one is already performing gay marriage. Poster Douglas (below) doesn't know the difference between being gay and pedophilia. These ridiculous polarization and conflicted belief come right from the very beginning of Christianity as it splintered in the beginning and continues to splinter and create divisions even more so today.

    =================================================

    Thomas Jefferson, POTUS #3 (from Notes on the State of Virginia):

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    James Madison, POTUS #4, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights (from A Memorial and Remonstrance delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785):

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    John Adams, POTUS #2 (in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816):

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    Ben Franklin (from a letter to The London Packet, 3 June 1772):

    If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England.

    Thomas Paine (from The Age of Reason):

    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    February 22, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • clarity

      This ridiculous polarization and conflicted belief

      February 22, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  6. Atheism is healthy for everyone - pets too!

    February 22, 2013 at 10:04 am |
    • Right on

      Atheists tend to live longer because the have no jesus they are dying to meet.

      February 22, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • chrissy hitchens

      like atheist hitchens whose blasphemous drunken throat rotted out of him at an early age?

      February 22, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • HotAirAce

      So chrissy, are you suggesting the 20 children massacred in Newtown were atheists?

      February 22, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • chrissy hitchens

      Nrever said anything about Newtown, is Newtown in your country?

      February 22, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • chrissy hitchens

      Scratch an atheist find a murderer. Those innocents were murdered, Hitchens earned his.

      February 22, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • HotAirAce

      The location of Newtown is not relevant. You suggested god punishes atheists by making them die at an early age. The children in Newtown died very horrible deaths at very young ages, so using your (il)logic, they mst have been very evil atheists.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • nostrildamus

      Famous atheists Adolf and Josef managed to kill 50 million or more people between them. Healthy you say?

      February 22, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • Doobs

      Chrissy sounds like SOC.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • ..

      Chrissy IS SOC, tbt, captain america, just wondering, and just saying. Same troll, different name, always a liar.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
    • clarity

      Hitler was a devout Christian; also trying to associate totalitarian regimes with atheism is ridiculous since 1) you don't know the actual religious leanings of the populations under those dictators and 2) if someone did commit atrocities you would have to prove that they were doing so in the name of atheism; good luck with that. By contrast we know that in the name of specific religions, many atrocities have been committed.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • chrissy hitchens

      The location of Newtown is extremely relevant in determining if you have a legitimate concern for the innocent victims murdered by an atheist or if you are intent on making some obscure point and giving yourself a big ego by using the victims to make that point.

      February 22, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • truth be told

      To those that knew him hitler was an atheist. Atheist Stalin murdered 60 million, atheist Mao is reported by some to have over 800 million victims, atheist pol pot is responsible for over 2 million murders. All atheist leaders have been tyrants given to mass murder there is no exception.

      February 22, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
  7. Laurence Ringo

    So,let me ask you,"Ungodly Discipline":Other than having an inordinate amount of time on your hands(are you unemployed?Retired,perhaps?),what's REALLY behind this unhinged rant? To be frank with you,as someone who has studied Biblical theology for almost 30 years,I found your diatribe sadly amusing,yet paradoxally sensible:I myself have wondered at these very issues,and more than once.(Even so,I managed to not get bogged down in ignorant stereotyping:speaking for myself,I know of no genuine Christians who pray in the manner you suggested;that's a rank absurdity.) Your post attempting to analyse Almighty God's motives inre the Crucifixion was mind-numbing in its failure;I could only read it,mouth agape,and ask myself:"Who is this guy talking about??!" At any rate,my friend,my sad,lost,pathetic friend,I see one of two paradigms working here:(1)your hunger,your need to know and understand The Lord God is far deeper and more desperate than you realize,or(2)your pyschotic rants against that which DOES NOT EXIST has truly unhinged you.Which is it? If it's the former,HE'S waiting to hear from you,and HE'S the only one who can give you the WHY;no human being's attempts to answer your admittedly legitimite questions will satisfy you(believe me,I've been down that road;it's no accident the Lord God told the Prophet Isaiah..."Your thoughts are not My thoughts,neither are your ways My ways"...in other words,ONLY GOD CAN ANSWER THE GOD QUESTIONS!!) But...If you are suffering from the other malady,my advice:SEEK HELP,NOW.

    February 22, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • meifumado

      You said "as someone who has studied Biblical theology for almost 30 years"

      Do you know you may as well have studied any fairytale or myth? I hate to break this to you but you have wasted your life.
      It's not to late to wake up and embrace reality.

      February 22, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • ..

      Pity you haven't studied syntax and punctuation for 30 years, Laurence. Your post is nearly unreadable. SEEK A TUTOR, NOW!

      February 22, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • charles darwin

      Spoken like a true brainwashed religious right wing.
      You can quote all the religious passages you like till hel freezes over but the truth remains.....there is no god, no jesus so everything you are saying is just blah blah blah!

      February 22, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
  8. Douglas

    The serial r-a-p-e of young boys by gay priests is the result of a failure to adhere to the vow of celibacy that
    these predators took when they were ordained as priests. The fact that Dolan covered up the r-a-p-e-s by the predator gay priests makes him an accessory to the crimes. He should be prosecuted convicted, jailed for life, and defrocked.

    The sin of gay coitus with children or adults is a crime against God and humanity.

    February 22, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • ReligionIsBS

      you and your religion are the problem. dont try to pass the blame onto gay people. you catholics are the problem, and the world is getting fed up.

      February 22, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • clarity

      Idiot Douglas still doesn't know the difference between being gay and pedophilia. Sure sign of a bigot.

      Whenever... preachers, instead of a lesson in religion, put [their congregation] off with a discourse on the Copernican system, on chemical affinities, on the construction of government, or the characters or conduct of those administering it, it is a breach of contract, depriving their audience of the kind of service for which they are salaried, and giving them, instead of it, what they did not want, or, if wanted, would rather seek from better sources in that particular art of science.

      –Thomas Jefferson

      February 22, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • sam stone

      doogie is still obsessed with gay coitus.....perhaps he should leave the closet and head to san francisco

      February 22, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • Wow

      The poster Douglas is soooooo dumb that they can't comprehend the difference in definitions between someone who is gay and someone who is a pedophile. Poor Douglas has been proven wrong over and over so they have to post their prejudice posts over and over again in hopes people don't call them out on their continued lying. This troll is NOT a real Christian and all their posts should be disregarded.

      The distinction between a victim's gender and a perpetrator's sexual orientation is important because many child molesters don't really have an adult sexual orientation. They have never developed the capacity for mature sexual relationships with other adults, either men or women. Instead, their sexual attractions focus on children – boys, girls, or children of both sexes.

      The research to date all points to there being no significant relationship between a homosexual lifestyle and child molestation. There appears to be practically no reportage of sexual molestation of girls by lesbian adults, and the adult male who sexually molests young boys is not likely to be homosexual. The debates about gay people as molesters "have little to do with everyday child abuse" and lamented that they distract lawmakers and the public from dealing with the real problem of children's sexual mistreatment.

      February 22, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Mirror Mirror

      And Douglas bips in again to share his repressed desires in perverse inversion, as is characteristic of major closet cases.

      Notice he rarely talks about anything but gay sex?

      Guess what, Douglas!

      February 22, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • Truth

      Douglas is just jealous that Father Dicky chose the other boys and not him.

      February 22, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • ..

      The serial rape of CHILDREN, both genders, is a result of rampant pedophilia within the RCC, you hysterical old woman. It's not because of a vow of celibacy, asshole. If it were, why the hell are you calling for people to be celibate all the time? Better hunting grounds for you? Enabler.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
    • MAGESTERIUM

      Upwards of 95% of the victims were young males (according to the John Jay Survey). But it ain't a gay problem? Really? The RCC was infiltrated. By gays. But we've been working on solving that problem. Much better screening. More in depth psychological testing in the seminaries. Oh, by the way, for those that think that the Bishops were "hiding" the perpetrators: they were, on the advice of psychologists and psychiatrists who told them that gays could be cured. Unfortunately, they can't. And that's why we have to keep them away from our young boys. If you disagree with that then explain the existence of N.A.M.B.L.A. Let the $h!t$t0rm commence.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
    • Actually

      Truth
      Doogie' s nickname in the sacristy was pony boy because all the priests and older boys liked to ride him.

      February 22, 2013 at 12:40 pm |
    • Hey Mirror

      Well, lets see how well the RCC dealt with the se*x problens in the past. The Servants of Parcalete ran a dumping ground for se*x deviant priests with over 2000 clients passing through the doors. The facility was in a county in New Mexico that had the highest abuse rate in the country because the supposidly cured clerics were allowed out even though they never got "cured".

      February 22, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  9. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    February 22, 2013 at 7:11 am |
    • HotAirAce

      I'm confident it helped Dolan, TheRat and others to protect child abusers, payoff criminals and hide RCC assets.

      February 22, 2013 at 7:22 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      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 22, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • HeavenSense

      Hi Prayerbot.

      February 22, 2013 at 11:19 am |
  10. ???????

    How can catholics continue to go mass and give 10% of gross to pay for s-ex crimes . when the RCC is moving/hiding money.

    February 22, 2013 at 4:37 am |
  11. The Pious Cardinal Dolan

    We've hurt a lot of people. The thing to do is shunt all the money away so that we don't have to make right with anyone.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
  12. Reality

    Cardinal/Pope Tim will not be able to save the crumbling RCC. Like all religions, the FEMs of said church cannot be corrected or eliminated.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
  13. Jesus sayeth

    And yeah, verily, hide the money.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
  14. Ancient Texan

    Stop with the symbols already.

    February 21, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
  15. Ungodly Discipline

    Understand that religion is superstition

    Let's say that you were to create a far-flung news network, and you somehow had the capacity to observe all of the inexplicable tragedy that occurs on Earth each day:

    • all of the murders,
    • all of the car wrecks
    • all of the rapes
    • all of the mutilations
    • all of the torture
    • all the miscarriages and stillbirths
    • all of the disease
    • all of the starvation
    • all of the destruction
    • all of the terrorism

    Let's say you had a news feed that delivered this all to you in real time.

    Just ten minutes with this news feed would be unbearable. Thousands of tragic, heart wrenching events would impinge themselves upon you every minute. It would make you vomit over and over and over again until you passed out in exhaustion and despair.

    In other words, the amount of gut-wrenching, anguished tragedy in our world is unspeakable.

    Meanwhile, there is a housewife in Pasadena who firmly believes that God answered her prayer this morning to remove the mustard stain from her favorite blouse. She prayed to God to help with the stain, and after she washed it the stain was gone. Praise Jesus! There are tens of millions of people in the United States who firmly believe that God is personally helping them each day with their trivial prayers like this. They believe that they have a personal relationship with God, that God hears their prayers each day, and that God has time to reach down and remove the mustard molecules one by one. They believe it with all of their hearts.

    It makes you wonder: If God has the time and the will to answer these trivial prayers, then why does he have no time for the millions of other massively serious problems that arise on earth every day?

    Simply look at the world we live in. All around us we have murderers, rapists, robbers, child molesters, terrorists, etc... How do they do their deeds? If God is all-knowing and God answers prayers, then we have to believe that:

    • God watches them as they murder, rape, molest and terrorize other people millions of times a day, but he does nothing to stop them.
    • God watches the victims as they are being murdered, raped, molested and terrorized, but he does nothing to help them.
    • God completely ignores the prayers of the planet to eliminate murder, rape, child molestation and terrorism and allows these atrocities to continue unabated.

    According to the Standard Model of God, God is an omniscient, all-powerful, all-loving being who answers prayers. Imagine God sitting on his magnificent throne in heaven looking down upon Earth, seeing every detail. God speaks:
    "Look at all of those praying people getting tortured in that death camp. Excellent! I won't do anything to stop that. And look at that little girl down there being raped and murdered. Perfect! She is praying like mad, and so is her mother, but I won't do anything to stop that. And there are three terrorists preparing to blow up a church and kill 1,500 people who are saying the Lord's Prayer to me right now. Outstanding! I won't do anything to stop that. How wonderful it is that 1,000 prayerful people will die of starvation today in Ethiopia. I love it! I won't do anything to stop that. Oh… and there's little Suzy Jankins praying that I remove that pimple from her nose for her big date with Chad tomorrow. Let me go help Suzy right now…"

    Do you believe in a God who acts like this? Of course not. If you believe that God is specifically reaching down from heaven to answer your trivial prayer to remove a zit or to wash out a mustard stain or to help you find your lost keys, while at the same time God is allowing 27,000 children to die of starvation each day by specifically ignoring their prayers, then your God is insane.

    If you are a typical Christian, however, you are just like our Pasadena housewife. You say dozens of little prayers every day. You may pray for 20 trivial things today:

    1. Pray for your car to start in the morning.
    2. Pray for traffic to be light so you get to work on time.
    3. Pray that you don't get fired for the mistake you made yesterday.
    4. Pray that the coffee stain on your purse comes out.
    5. Pray that it doesn't rain.
    6. Pray that the price of a stock has gone up.
    7. Pray that your computer doesn't crash.
    8. Pray that your son got a decent grade on his math test.
    9. Pray that there's enough money in your checking account.
    10. Pray that the guy you went out with on Saturday calls you.
    11. Pray that your mother in law cancels her trip for the weekend.
    12. Pray for there to be an available washing machine at the Laundromat when you get there.
    13. Pray that your car passes inspection.
    14. Pray that they have your size in the shoes you are thinking about buying at the mall.
    15. Pray that the envelope you are opening contains a check rather than a bill.
    16. Pray that your cat didn't pee on the new sofa.
    17. Pray for your baby not to wake you up tonight screaming so you can get some sleep.
    18. Pray that you have the winning bid for that camera on EBay.
    19. Pray that they have the video you want at the video store tonight.
    20. Pray that your team wins the game on Sunday.

    What happens? Some of your prayers would get "answered," some would not. If you are a believer, you handle each little prayer in the following way:

    • If something nice happens, you attribute that to God - he answered your prayer and is "looking out" for you.
    • If you pray for something and it does not happen, or if something bad happens, you rationalize that it is part of "God's plan”. It is "his will" that this bad event happens.

    So what is actually happening? An unbiased observer looks at the same good and bad events and sees them for what they are - random events. God has nothing to do with them. To an unbiased observer, it is obvious that religion is nothing but superstition.

    If you are a believer, you can prove to yourself that they are random events. Tomorrow, instead of praying about everything, simply watch 20 trivial things happen without praying. Some will work out, some will not. There will be no difference. The act of praying about them does not change the outcome in any way. If you were to statistically analyze your prayers, it would become obvious to you that every "answered prayer" is a coincidence.

    The belief in prayer is just like any superstition. Walking under a ladder is not "bad luck". Neither is breaking a mirror. Neither is seeing a black cat. Statistics prove that a broken mirror has zero effect on your life. In the same way, statistics prove that God never answers prayers.

    The dictionary defines the word "superstition" in this way:

    An irrational belief that an object, action, or circumstance not logically related to a course of events influences its outcome.

    Prayer is rank superstition, nothing more. People who believe in the power of prayer are no different than people who believe in the power of crystal balls, horoscopes or lucky rabbits feet. Prayer is scientifically proven to be meaningless.
    The reason why there is so much suffering in this world, and the reason why a statistical analysis of your trivial prayers always shows them to be complete coincidences, is because God is imaginary. The belief in God is pure superstition.

    February 21, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • Matthew Kilburn

      And so its much easier, more logical, etc. to believe that all of creation is the result of random, spontaneous, unplanned, and unguided events. Everything from nothing with no direction?

      Yeah, NEXT!

      February 22, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • CMoses

      So much grief from someone who deep down wants to believe in something greater but is blinded by the destruction which man has created. You mistakenly equate prayer with casting magic spells where if it were real, it would always result in what you want. Christians don't profess that. In fact, as Jesus himself was about to be crucified, knowing what lay in front of him, he prayed for God to find another way. He prayed to the point that he was sweating blood and asked in Luke 22:42 "Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done." Even Jesus understood that sometimes, no matter how hard we want something, no matter how hard we pray, we must still be subject to God's will.

      I'm sure you'll say that it's just a copout, but Christians don't really spend all day long praying to get rid of coffee stains or to find a good parking space. We spend a great deal of time praying for healing, for peace, for grace, for understanding, for acceptance, for strength, for guidance, for inspiration, for forgiveness, and for patience.

      We pray for people like you, too. Maybe you'll go through your whole life screaming at the top of your lungs how much you don't believe. Maybe you're stubborn enough to walk through the rest of your life with blinders on, ignorant to the miracles of life and creation all around you. When doctors are stumped and science is dumbfounded, maybe you'll still just chalk it up as pure chance that a loved one overcame an illness, or that a tragedy was averted. Don't get me wrong, science is fantastic. Science is fantastic at understanding how things happen. But science can never tell you why. Science may be able to prove to you that we evolved from apes and developed the ability to use tools, manipulate our environment, and use reason to better ourselves and our living conditions, but it will never be able to explain to you why that happened. It will lead you to God, or it will leave you with an equally implausible answer. "Chance" is no more substantive an answer than "faith", but "faith" leads to so much more.

      February 22, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • OTOH

      CMoses,
      "But science can never tell you why."

      – How do you know that?
      – Why does there have to be a "why" for all of it?

      February 22, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • cricket

      I didn't hear you. Will you please say that again?

      February 22, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • CMoses

      OTOH, that's my point. science can't give you a why. The best it can give you is that everything happened by chance, that by chance there was a massive explosion which created all matter out of nothing, that by chance there existed laws of nature which caused matter to gravitate to itself, that by chance this gravity and matter combined, in some cases, to create stars which are virtual limitless sources of heat and light energy, that by chance some of these gigantic stars attracted other balls of matter, likewise forming into virtual spheres, and captured them into near-perfect orbits, that by chance one of these such planets was a perfect distance from one such a star, that its chemical composition was so perfect that as chemicals reacted to one another, they spontaneously began to bond in such ways that life was created. This life, created again by random chance, developed such that it could reproduce, passing on instructions to its progeny on how to develop a new life form from a single cell into an exact copy of itself. Later, by pure chance, life began to combine that genetic code so that its progeny was genetically different. By chance, mutations occurred so that life could evolve from a single celled paramecium into a man who would one day walk on the moon.

      If you ask science how it things could have possibly occurred this way, what the odds are that from a single explosion and millions of years we could be sitting here even asking the question, us, the children of an explosion, science cannot even fathom a guess.

      There needs to be a why because somehow you have to explain how Life, a statistically impossible occurrence, has in fact occurred. If the odds were in our favor, the question would be unnecessary, but since out existence is impossible, then we have to ask why we exist at all.

      I believe with my whole heart that Christianity holds the truth of our existence and the nature of God. Sure there are tens of thousands of different variations of Christianity, but most are all at least circling around the same truth. I believe in that truth, but I accept that there is a possibility that I might be wrong. Maybe it's another religion, or a combination of religions, that hold more truth than that. But the idea that all of this is by pure chance, without something or someone guiding and causing it, now that I find completely unbelievable. We are children of God, not children of an explosion.

      February 22, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/02/22/four-reasons-why-teachers-should-not-teach-creationism/

      February 22, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
  16. Ungodly Discipline

    Contemplate the crucifixion

    Have you ever thought about how bizarre the crucifixion story is? Imagine the all-powerful, all-knowing creator of the universe sitting on his magnificent throne in heaven. He looks down onto earth and says to himself:

    Those evil humans down on earth. I hate what they are doing. All this sin...

    Since I am all-knowing I know exactly what the humans are doing and I understand exactly why they commit each sin. Since I created the humans in my own image and personally programmed human nature into their brains, I am the direct author of all of this sin. The instant I created them I knew exactly what would happen with every single human being right down to the nanosecond level for all eternity. If I didn't like how it was going to turn out, I could have simply changed them when I created them. And since I am perfect, I know exactly what I am doing. But ignore all that. I hate all these people doing exactly what I perfectly designed them to do and knew they would do from the moment I created them. I HATE IT! I tried killing all the humans and animals once in the flood. That certainly did not fix the problem.

    So here's what I am going to do. I will artificially inseminate a virgin. She will give birth to an incarnated version of me. The humans will eventually crucify and kill the incarnated me. That, finally, will make me happy. Yes, sending myself down and having the humans crucify me - that will satisfy me. I feel much better now.

    It makes no sense, does it? Why would an all-knowing being need to have humans kill himself (Jesus is God, after all) to make himself happy? Especially since it is a perfect God who set the whole thing in motion exactly the way he wanted it? The whole story of the crucifixion is absurd from top to bottom if you actually stop to think about it.

    If you believe the story of Jesus, Jesus clearly knew that he is God. In John chapter 14, verse 8 we find this:

    Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we shall be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father."

    So it makes you wonder about Jesus' famous lamenation in Matthew 27:46:

    About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"—which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

    Since Jesus is God, what he really must have meant is: "Myself, myself, why have I forsaken me?" Which of course makes absolutely no sense.

    The reason why the crucifixion makes no sense is because God is imaginary.

    February 21, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • Jim

      In your whole contemplation, I never once saw the words: love, sacrifice, and forgiveness. How sad your hardened heart must be. I will pray for you.

      2Cor 4:4

      February 22, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • meifumado

      @ Jim
      And that's all you take from his post?

      No opinion?

      I'm not surprised.

      February 22, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • CMoses

      When Jesus said "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?", he was quoting Psalm 22, written by King David almost 1,000 years earlier, because the rest of the psalm, particularly verses 16-18, speak of what was happening to him. “They pierced My hands and My feet; I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.” It was a way of getting people around him, those who would have been familiar with Jewish scripture as they were Jews themselves, to point them back to Scripture to further recognize that he was the Messiah.

      Contemplate this: if the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus never took place, why did the people who witnessed it belief it enough to be martyred because of it. They scattered to the corners of the earth, establishing churches and converting new believers, and at that point they were unaccountable to anyone, yet none of them quietly disappeared into anonymity. Instead, their stories are preserved in the writings of that time, in the histories of the churches they founded, and in the survival of Christianity itself. If there was no resurrection, then the thousands of people who had followed Jesus up until that point would have all shaken their heads and said, "wow, did WE just get fooled. Oh well, back to life as usual." Instead the Christian community spread, in spite of being hunted and prosecuted for the next several hundred years. Many of his apostles were crucified themselves, later believers were fed to lions for entertainment or burned as torches to light the Roman emperor's gardens. That faith comes from the example set by those first witnesses who believed what they saw enough to die for it. If it was all just a hoax, they would have just disappeared into obscurity.

      February 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  17. ..

    🙈 🙉 🙊

    February 21, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
  18. 😈

    😈😈

    February 21, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
  19. Correct

    &#12484

    February 21, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
    • .

      February 21, 2013 at 9:27 pm |

    • February 21, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • .

      😈

      February 21, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • .

      😇

      February 21, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • .

      Kewl!

      February 21, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • captain america

      I can only surmise that now we have some low life canadian asian atheist liars on her who are communeincating their evil deeds through some kind of demonic symbols not fitting for a discussion about His Truth. they should keep their evil thoughts on the other side of the border. There's your sign!

      February 21, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • ..

      😸

      February 21, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
  20. Half Mexican half Chinese

    Love the gag am style

    February 21, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • Half Mexican half Chinese

      Gagnam style

      February 21, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
    • Half Mexican half Chinese

      Geez! hard to spell it right gangnam style

      February 21, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • End Religion

      It's no surprise you got it half right.

      February 21, 2013 at 9:39 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.