October 2nd, 2010
11:15 PM ET

Washington's 'Red Mass' attracts top government leaders, controversy

CNN Supreme Court Producer Bill Mears filed this report from Washington:

The beautifully ornate Catholic church in the nation's capital has seen its share of history and controversy.

In 1963, the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle was the site of John F. Kennedy's funeral. After the service, on the steps outside, the slain president's young son famously saluted his father's memory.

But the church is also the site of an annual Mass that has drawn criticism for what some see as an unhealthy mix of politics, law and religion.

Washington's 57th annual "Red Mass," which celebrates the legal profession, will be held on Sunday - the day before the Supreme Court begins its new term.

Several justices traditionally attend, along with congressional leaders, diplomats, cabinet secretaries, and other dignitaries. Past presidents have also attended, though Barack Obama is not expected to appear this year.

It is a Catholic Mass, but power brokers of other faiths are asked to attend the invitation-only event. Justice Stephen Breyer, who is Jewish, is a regular.

The Mass "takes its name from the color of the vestments. ... (It) goes back centuries, to Rome, to France to England," Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl told CNN.

"There was the idea (to) bring all the people who are involved in the law... once a year so that together, they can simply pray for the wisdom of God."

The church, built starting in the 19th century, is considered one of Washington's hidden gems.

Tucked between modern office buildings a few blocks from the White House, it is a mix of architectural styles - a hint of ancient Rome, a splash from the Italian Renaissance and a definite Byzantine flavor.

St. Matthew, noted Monsignor Ronald Jameson, was the patron saint of civil servants - appropriate in a city where the federal government dominates the workforce.

A record six justices attended last year's Red Mass - including then-new member Sonia Sotomayor.

Critics of the service, however, find the attendance of leading decision-makers - including members of the highest court in the land - to be inappropriate.

"The truth is, this was set up as a way to basically lecture and give information to the justices," said Rev. Barry Lynn, President of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "There is no other institution that has this special way to talk to the justices on the Supreme Court."

The Red Mass was started in Washington in 1952 by the John Carroll Society, a lay Catholic group of prominent lawyers and professionals. Chief Justice John Roberts' wife Jane is currently an officer of the group.

Lynn, an ordained minister with the United Church of Christ, noted that the Mass was begun following several high court decisions disapproved of by the archdiocese.

"They figured if they got all the justices together and chatted them up in a worship service, they might be able to convince them to see the law their way," he said.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington strongly objects to that explanation of the Red Mass' beginnings.

Past homilies by Mass speakers have lamented the high court's ruling legalizing abortion and the constitutional separation of church and state.

Last year, U.S. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo made an unspecified reference to the rights of the unborn, saying those represented by lawyers are "more than clients... In some cases the clients are voiceless for they lack influence; in others they are literally voiceless, not yet with tongues and even without names, and require our most careful attention and radical support."

Other recent Red Mass events have been free of discussion on hot-button social and political issues, focusing on universal themes.

In 2008, Cardinal John Patrick Foley noted that many parts of the Bible "sound very much like American ideals" and urged members of the high court to build a society "of justice, of peace and of love."

One member of the court who no longer attends is Ruth Bader Ginsburg who, like Breyer, is Jewish. Ginsburg said she grew tired of being lectured to by Catholic officials.

"I went one year, and I will never go again, because this sermon was outrageously anti-abortion," Ginsburg said in the book Stars of David: Prominent Jews talk About Being Jewish, by Abigail Pogrebin.

"Even the Scalias - although they're much of that persuasion - were embarrassed for me."

Six Catholics now sit on the high court: Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor.

Newest Justice Elena Kagan, like Breyer and Ginsburg, is Jewish. She is not expected to attend the Red Mass.

Church officials insist that they do not attempt to persuade anyone who attends the service. Wuerl says the event provides a place to put aside the partisanship and troubles in the world to seek comfort in a shared community and a sacred place.

Americans have "been very careful about ... not allowing any one tradition or church to become the state church," he said. "But from the very beginning, we've always said we need to hear the voice of faith in all the discussion that is a part of determining what we want to do."

Lynn takes a different tack. "I don't think there is any doubt that people in that congregation - including the Supreme Court justices - are going to listen to what is said," he said.

"They might hear something phrased in a way you might never hear it in the court, but it might become a lingering factor in their decisions," Lynn said. "People who are concerned about the Red Mass worry about this kind of undue influence."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Abortion • Catholic Church • Courts • Politics

soundoff (277 Responses)
  1. Ulises

    Considering some of the asinine decisions reached by the Court, the Legislature, & others in government, a reminder that everyone is responsible for his or her actions is more than appropriate. Feel free to disagree, but keep your Anti-Catholic & anti-Christian BIGOTRY to yourselves. A charitable person has more influence thatn one who acts like an ass.

    October 3, 2010 at 2:16 am |
    • SensibleAmerican

      Oh yeah, let's disregard the centuries of real bigotry that Christians have perpetuated and let's focus on your crocodile tears.

      October 3, 2010 at 2:36 am |
  2. Brian

    "Ginsburg said she grew tired of being lectured to by Catholic officials.".....

    I don't blame her but Jews also get tired of listening to unctuous rabbis. Religion in general is the problem.

    October 3, 2010 at 2:10 am |
    • kyle

      The problem of what?

      October 3, 2010 at 4:04 am |
    • Gom Jabbar

      @kyle: The problem with d@mn near everything.

      October 3, 2010 at 8:39 am |
    • kyle

      Gom, Like what? Just name a few.

      October 3, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
  3. AK

    AH, Sam, y'ever think there was a reason that most powerful empire was unable to nip that "cult?" Maybe the cultists had something so powerful on their side that made the empire rank unequal to the task. The same 'something' that the heirs to that cult have today....

    Believe what you like, as will I . We'll all find out one way or the other, won't we....?

    October 3, 2010 at 2:03 am |
    • Bozole Clun

      Oh goody! Finally the god of eternal conscious torment has entered the lists! Whoooooeeee!

      October 3, 2010 at 8:02 am |
    • Dan

      In the end, we say "Thy WIll Be Done," or He'll say "THY will be done."

      God won't be sending anyone to hell who didn't choose it.

      (That's my theology. I state it is a fact, because I think it is. I'm not bashful about that. Thank you, by the way, for doing so, too.)


      October 3, 2010 at 9:06 am |
  4. jamesbrummel

    Keep you religion 1) Out of our gov't 2) Out of our public schools. Practice your faith all you want. No one is stopping you. But don't force me to promote your faith with my tax money.

    October 3, 2010 at 2:01 am |
    • Sydney Australia

      You just might want some religion back into your schools before the current group of little monsters hit the streets. Just what is wrong with

      Honor your father and your mother- that goes a long way to respect all people and being a good citizen.

      You shall not murder- that one sounds pretty damn good to me also.

      You shall not commit adultery – yeah, I know this one is a bit boring these days but come on. Pick a mate (male or female) and be true to them until the relationship is over.

      You shall not steal -That should be acceptable for all everyone including atheists.

      You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor – ditto here. Don't want people spreading lies about you.

      You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

      Under religion or not, those values should be taught in todays schools.

      October 3, 2010 at 10:05 am |
    • CatholicMom


      Perhaps it will come down to... your tax dollars will go to your school and my tax dollars will go to my school; then people can place their tax dollars towards the school of their choice and send their children to that school [the children that are not aborted would go to mine]. So it would appear that 80+% of the schools would have religion in them and roughly 20-% would not. I hope you live close to one of your 'kind' of schools.
      Or maybe you don't have any children.....

      October 4, 2010 at 9:25 am |
  5. Sam

    Everytime I read an article about Christianity, I just lament how incompetent Rome was in nipping at the bud a certain cult some 1900 years ago. If only they had been more successful. Funny how the most powerful of all these gods is also the one that always is in need of money. People, ever thought of turning to a god that can better handle his finances?

    October 3, 2010 at 1:46 am |
    • Frank

      You do know that Roman Paganism (Religio Romana) was obsessed with money too, right?

      October 3, 2010 at 3:42 am |
    • kyle

      So, what do you wish would have happened back there in Rome?
      Should more Christians been killed?
      In your mind, is there another solution?
      It's unbelievable what you're implying!

      October 3, 2010 at 4:01 am |
    • kyle

      When you start your own empire will there be freedom to believe as you wish, or just as Sam says?
      What kind of freedoms would you have in your country?

      October 3, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      The Holy Spirit promised that He would guide and guard the Apostles and lead them into all Truth through His Church. Do you think He didn’t mean what He said?

      October 3, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Jesus also said, he would be back for act II before the end of the 1st century. He is late. 19 centuries and counting late.

      Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” – Matthew 24:34

      This controversial verse is in all three of the Olivet Discourse accounts. (These accounts are to be found in Matthew 24:1-51, Mark 13:1-37, and Luke 21:5-33).

      For some time, critics of the Christian faith have argued that Jesus explicitly said here that all of the events prophesied in the Olivet Discourse, including His return, would happen before the last person living at that time died.

      Jesus promised, that He would return within that generation, but He did not.

      Since He was wrong, He could not have been God, so the Christian faith, is based on error.

      To bolster the argument, in all of the other places in the Gospels where Jesus used the term “this generation,” he was referring to people living at that time.

      October 4, 2010 at 8:39 pm |
    • kyle


      Look at the context. He is talking about the end times and is saying that the generation that experiences these events won't pass away until all of it is fulfilled. It says elsewhere that the people that experience these things will cry (in vain) for the rocks to fall on them. In other words, it will get so bad, that people will want to die but may not have the means to do so.

      October 6, 2010 at 12:59 am |
  6. suzi stars n peace

    Whats wrong with a peaceful get together except if u r trying to push your specific religious agenda on the supreme lawmakers of the land. Something smells fishy... A subtle guise to influence their minds. I believe in good ideals and values but not in one humanlike god or any god for that matter. Jesus had a good message and was smart enough at the time to realize if he told people he was the son of god they might listen to him more closely. Over the years i have known a few people who projected themselves as god. Lets make the earth a better place first. Heaven can wait if u really do believe in it.

    October 3, 2010 at 1:20 am |
    • kyle

      So, are you still following the people who projected themselves as god, or did you think they were crazy?

      That's the difference. Jesus' followers could SEE that he was who he said he was, because of the things he DID. He backed up his words.

      October 3, 2010 at 3:56 am |
    • Dan

      Jesus taught a high level of morality; he also claimed to be the son of God. (His contemporary adversaries certainly didn't misunderstand his claims.) So, either he's the most wicket liar in history, completely off his rocker or (gasp!) exactly who he said he was. Including the Way, The Truth and the Life. His own words limit the options. Fluff about "did Jesus really say" doesn't hold up historically (and incidentally, is reminiscent of a story early in Genesis).

      But, I'll agree w/you on this part...I'm all for working on earth first. Christians have a habit of being "so heavenly minded, they're of no earthly good" – so, let's create heaven on earth, as much as we can...that'll make the transition easier, right?


      October 3, 2010 at 9:02 am |
    • CatholicMom


      How can you make earth into Heaven, if you have your mind stuck on earthly things only?

      When we pray the Lord’s prayer… "thy will be done on earth as It Is in Heaven"…..consider how [Jesus Christ] teaches us to be humble, by making us see that our virtue does not depend on our work alone but on grace from on high. He commands each of the faithful who prays to do so universally, for the whole world. For he did not say "thy will be done in me or in us," but "on earth," the whole earth, so that error may be banished from it, truth take root in it, all vice be destroyed on it, virtue flourish on it, and earth no longer differ from heaven.

      To get there, where Heaven is on Earth, we cannot exclude Heaven while we work on earth….

      October 3, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      You said, (His contemporary adversaries certainly didn't misunderstand his claims.) Then why did they cry…CRUCIFY HIM!..? They did not understand who He was.....

      Even the Apostle’s did not grasp His Words right off and when the crowds turned away from Jesus saying His Words were too hard to take, Jesus turned to His Apostles and asked if they were going to leave Him, too. They didn’t really understand Him but asked ‘Where should we go?’

      It wasn’t until Jesus breathed on them in the upper room, behind closed doors, that the Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles and filled them with Truth and their eyes were open; they were no longer afraid and were now ready to go out to all nations, baptizing, and preaching all that the Holy Spirit would bring them into remembrance of.

      Peter was the one who proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah and Jesus said He would build His Church upon Him with Himself the Cornerstone because Jesus knew that Peter received this information straight from the Father.

      No, Jesus’ contemporary adversaries knew not the Truth….they liked His miracles and liked that He fed them and wanted these things so their lives would not be hard, but they did not think of their eternal life or beyond their earthly existence and comforts.

      October 3, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You said, "That's the difference. Jesus' followers could SEE that he was who he said he was, because of the things he DID. He backed up his words."

      Actually, the New Testament was written with the idea in mind, to "prove" Jesus was the Messiah. There is not one shred of evidence, other than the gospels, that Jesus ever even lived. Let alone was the son of god. LOL

      Jesus predicted He would be back in the 1st century. Fundies try to muddy the water, but Jesus said what he said.

      Jesus hasn't been heard from in 2000+ years. This is because he is dead. This occupies a great deal of his time.

      Jesus also said, faith could move a mountain, etc. Prayer does not work. Many studies have shown this.

      Jesus did not backup what he said. Jesus was an illiterate, whose only bath was when he was baptized. LOL

      October 4, 2010 at 9:54 am |
    • David Johnson


      Are you doing the Jesus is either a Liar, a Lunatic or Lord?

      This argument looks good at first glance, but is fatally flawed.
      The 3 choices are not collectively exhaustive. They are not the only 3 choices.

      Jesus may have simply been mistaken.


      The gospel writers simply embellished the story, to make their case for Jesus being Lord.


      October 5, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
  7. matt

    "Reality," sanchez was fired because he made an anit-semetic comment. There is zero truth in what he said. He's an ignorant jerk and so are you.

    October 3, 2010 at 1:15 am |
  8. matt

    Big fancy club of rich Democrats and Republicans. Illuminati....

    October 3, 2010 at 1:13 am |
  9. glenn

    I don't find this that scary yes the catholics are trying to influenc leaders but how is that any diferent from any from another persn voicing their opinion this isn't going to drastically change court decisions anymore then tv or the news and what next do we monitor what governmnt officials watch on tv? This is going too far as long as the don't use the bible or any other religous text to make nation altering decisions I'm fine with them going to a mass which sounds like they are invited to attend not forced too

    October 3, 2010 at 1:13 am |
    • jamesbrummel

      As long as not tax dollars are used and the church adheres to its legal obligations no prob. Of course one of its legal obligations is to not to discuss politics from the pulpit, so commenting on court decisions would be a big no no.

      October 3, 2010 at 2:05 am |
    • girl

      Well, we do place our hand on a what... bible ~ swearing not to lie? we do use it. This country was born of a Christian nature. I'm glad too. Thank God it wasn't born of athiesm. How weak would we have become believing humans are the center of the universe. How much stock would you want to put into something that convinces you ... ' none of this is special".

      October 3, 2010 at 6:37 am |
    • Dan

      To James B – can you point out to me ANY law that says churches can't comment on legal matters? I know the aethiests want it that way.

      October 3, 2010 at 8:55 am |
    • deb

      It's interesting that a lot of people are saying that they're not forced, but isn't politics about who you know and I'm sure some may feel ostracized for not attending. Of course it's only an hour's sermon, but it's really something when those in power or people of different faiths/beliefs feel it their obligation to preach or educate others about the proper path.

      October 3, 2010 at 11:55 am |
    • steven harnack

      Dan, check out the laws that give them tax exempt status and answer your own question.

      October 3, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      I doubt if the homily would be an hour long….this is a Mass…there will be Bible readings and prayers said; most likely hymns will be sung and most likely Holy Communion distributed.

      October 3, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
    • David Johnson

      You said, "Well, we do place our hand on a what... bible ~ swearing not to lie? we do use it.

      Physically placing ones hand on a Bible and swearing an oath is not required nor was it ever legally enforceable. The court gives those giving testimony the option of "swearing an oath" or making an affirmation to tell the truth as to the best of their knowledge.

      You said, "This country was born of a Christian nature."

      The words "Jesus" "Christ" "Bible" "God" and even "Creator" appear nowhere in the Consti tution ("Endowed by their Creator" is in the Declaration of Independence.) Just how stupid would someone have to be to create a Christian nation then forget to mention Christ in the Consti tution?


      October 3, 2010 at 10:31 pm |
  10. w7rkd

    As I read this article, and the more I read, the more I see the churches influence in our government, but the stupid thing is our laws were written or supposed to be written without the influence of religion separating church from state. This pony and dog show is a joke! Plastic Popes anyone?

    October 3, 2010 at 1:01 am |
    • Maty

      What are you referring to? You offer no facts, and no proper explanation. You realize the fruition of an idea as "As I read this article, and the more I read, the more I see"...What does that mean? This article is only talks about a fairly specific incident. Huh?

      October 3, 2010 at 1:09 am |
    • Sydney Australia

      You sure got that ass-backwards – keep the damn politicians out of our churches! Obama wanting the church to preach that his policies are correct. Pelosi asking the catholic clergy to preach her beliefs. Don't worry about religion in the government, worry about the government in religion. Those 2 are busy pimping obamacare, immigration and dadt liberal beliefs asking the clergy to help sway the congregations.............

      October 3, 2010 at 2:58 am |
    • kyle

      If this nation wasn't founded on Christian principles, people wouldn't have the freedom to believe or not believe as they choose. As a Christian, I know I can't force someone to believe. I can try to persuade.

      Many of our founding fathers wrote about the importance of religion. Read what they had to say.

      Nobody is forcing these government officials to believe in what they are saying from the pulpit...or even forcing them to attend! So what's your problem? Are you afraid they might believe something different from you?

      October 3, 2010 at 3:48 am |
    • Dan

      To Sydney Australia, I agree with your point, but would suggest it differently. Get the politicians into church(es), but don't allow them a speaking role. It'll do them good to listen (for a change).


      October 3, 2010 at 8:53 am |
    • steven harnack

      Hey marty, unlike yourself some people read other reference works to form their opinions and that is what further reading would refer to.Try it sometime, the results may surprise you.

      October 3, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
  11. Sydney Australia

    What are people worried about?? Obama sat in Rev Wrights church of Black Liberation for 20 years........ and everyone believes him when he said he didn't hear any of that sh!+.

    October 3, 2010 at 12:54 am |
  12. 8andSkate

    Ruth Ginsburg later went on to say, "Get off my lawn or I'll abort you!"

    October 3, 2010 at 12:48 am |
  13. Maty

    The Catholic religion, and the practice thereof, is a chance for people to step outside their daily lives and take a look at themselves, aside from their facebook page, their credit score, their resume, what-have-you, and look at the real person and see who you are and how you can better yourself. You can argue doctrine/dogma all you want, but what are you really afraid of? That the 'nothing' you claim exists really doesn't?

    October 3, 2010 at 12:48 am |
    • don corpier

      please dont unload that piece of catholic crap on me or anybody else. as a US citizen i resent any politician attending a religious event. SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE PERIOD. if you want to attend religious events then resign your political post period. i especially dont like the church of child molesters.

      October 3, 2010 at 7:37 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @don corpier

      Sing it loud Preacher! Cheers to you!

      October 3, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
    • Frank

      "please dont unload that piece of catholic crap on me or anybody else. as a US citizen i resent any politician attending a religious event. SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE PERIOD. if you want to attend religious events then resign your political post period. i especially dont like the church of child molesters."

      So politicians don't have the right to religious beliefs? That's a violation of their First Amendment rights.

      They were invited to attend the Mass, not forced. It was not a requirement.

      "Church of child molesters"? What church is that? Stop swallowing everything the media feeds you.

      October 4, 2010 at 1:12 am |
    • David Johnson


      You said, ""Church of child molesters"? What church is that? Stop swallowing everything the media feeds you."

      Umm...That would be the Catholic Church, Frank. These accusations are not just media hype. Lets look at the facts! Something you hate to do. Way more fun inventing your conspiracies huh?

      Telling fibs to protect your faith is not right Frank. It makes Jesus sad. He is turning over in his grave! LOL!

      The Catholic $ex abuse cases are a series of scandals in the Catholic Church related to $ex crimes committed by Catholic priests and members of religious orders, while under diocesan control or in orders that care for the sick or teach children. These cases began receiving public attention beginning in the mid-1980s. The attention led to criminal prosecutions of the abusers and to civil lawsuits against the church's dioceses and parishes where abuse was alleged to have occurred.
      $exual abuse of minors in the priesthood has received significant media attention in Canada, Ireland, the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Belgium, France, and Germany, while cases have been reported throughout the world.

      In addition to cases of actual abuse, much of the scandal has focused around members of the Catholic hierarchy who did not report abuse allegations to the civil authorities and who, in many cases, reassigned the offenders to other locations where the alleged predators continued to have contact with minors and had opportunities to continue to $exually abuse children.

      In the United States, churches have paid more than $2 billion (£1.25 billion) in compensation to victims. In Ireland, reports into clerical $exual abuse have rocked both the Catholic hierarchy and the state. A nine-year government study, the Ryan Report, published in May 2009, revealed that beatings and humiliation by nuns and priests were common at insti tutions that held up to 30,000 children. The investigation found that Catholic priests and nuns for decades "terrorised thousands of boys and girls, while government inspectors failed to stop the abuse." Source Wikipedia

      October 4, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
    • Frank

      "He is turning over in his grave! LOL!"

      You know, it is possible that you have some sort of demon. You are obsessed with the idea of Christ being dead in the grave, nevermind the fact that no grave of His has ever been found. And you always close those statements with self-righteous laughter as if to assure yourself. I suppose you feel that if you repeat it enough, it will be true.
      I will pray for you.

      October 4, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
    • David Johnson


      I mention Jesus being dead, just to remind of a fact. You can pray for me all you want. Prayer does not work. Why? 'Cause there ain't no god.

      October 4, 2010 at 8:31 pm |
    • Frank

      No, David. You just want Him to be dead. Christ's tomb has never been found and not for lack of looking.

      October 6, 2010 at 5:52 am |
  14. Maty

    Let me get this out of the way: I'm Catholic. That being said, if some one has a priestly collar on, or a habit, or a chapel veil, does that make them less an American, and not able to freely speak their beliefs?Yes they've got the pulpit, but feel free to disagree. I believe in separation of church and state-who am I or my God to say that some other person's path to the truth is not the right one? I know others don't prescribe to this, but this s pseudo-intellectual demonization of religion and spirituality is beyond the pale.

    October 3, 2010 at 12:39 am |
    • Dan

      Nicely said, except you CAN say someone else is wrong. If what you and I believe are mutually exclusive...AT LEAST one of us is wrong. (Logic dictates we can both be wrong, too.) But, take a binary question (such as "is there a God?") and if we answer differently, the one of IS wrong.

      Don't be shy about your beliefs. That's what the Evangelica Aethiests want...you ane me to quit proclaiming our faith. BTW, I'm a pro-Catholic Protestant...yeah, there's a couple of us left....


      October 3, 2010 at 8:51 am |
    • CatholicMom


      You said, ‘I believe in separation of church and state-who am I or my God to say that some other person's path to the truth is not the right one?’

      Your God did say He is the Way…the Truth and the Life. John chapter 14… 6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me 7 If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him."

      Where did He say there are many differing paths to the Truth?

      October 3, 2010 at 1:37 pm |
    • OhMy


      Words in a book... Muhammad said a bunch of stuff like that about Allah too. So what?

      October 3, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
  15. Reality

    There should be only one sermon preached during this Mass and it should be the last sermon read there or at any other house of "worthless worship":

    The Sermon: (for new members only)

    origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    "The New Torah and NT For Modern Minds"

    1. Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment.

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan se-cts.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hit-ti-tes, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.


    For added "pizz-azz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "fil-icider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedo-ph-iliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    3. Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems in "protesting-type" religions:

    Adu-lterous preachers, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    With these revelations, we will now ask you all to leave as we permanently lock the door to this church!!! " Amen

    October 3, 2010 at 12:27 am |
    • Maty

      Honey, the whole Madonna and Child icon probably is an amalgamation of Isis suckling the baby-god Horus, pre-Christian times. Do you think people don't realize the origins of their faiths and the iconology of such? I'm sorry that you read one or two articles and decided that was what you believed,because it satiated your ego, instead of deciding for yourself.

      October 3, 2010 at 12:43 am |
    • Thorrsman

      Why should the beliefs of Evangelical Atheists be held over all other beliefs? To be certain, you offer nothing and you can prove none of your deeply held beliefs. Why do you feel the need to PREACH your brand of religion and yet deny that what you take on FAITH is a religion?

      October 3, 2010 at 12:47 am |
    • M Core

      There is no Obama only Zool.

      October 3, 2010 at 12:50 am |
    • LouAz

      Don't hold back, dude. LMAO !!!!

      October 3, 2010 at 12:58 am |
    • w7rkd

      I got some Lithium and Prozac I can share if your out of your own? I also got the Crisis Help line if you need someone to talk to?

      October 3, 2010 at 1:06 am |
    • Bert

      How DARE you insult the Magic Hippie? Why, he's one of the cornerstones of religion! And, maybe if they took out the cornerstones, a lot of this faith-based mumbo-jumbo would just sort of collapse, and people would find a new hobby to fill in time on the weekends.

      October 3, 2010 at 1:55 am |
    • Frank

      "Why should the beliefs of Evangelical Atheists be held over all other beliefs? To be certain, you offer nothing and you can prove none of your deeply held beliefs. Why do you feel the need to PREACH your brand of religion and yet deny that what you take on FAITH is a religion?"

      Right on.

      October 3, 2010 at 3:46 am |
    • Sam

      "Why should the beliefs of Evangelical Atheists be held over all other beliefs? To be certain, you offer nothing and you can prove none of your deeply held beliefs. Why do you feel the need to PREACH your brand of religion and yet deny that what you take on FAITH is a religion?"


      October 3, 2010 at 6:38 am |
    • Reality

      Just some of the references required to understand the "last sermon":

      1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.

      2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/

      – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

      30-60 CE Passion Narrative
      40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
      50-60 1 Thessalonians
      50-60 Philippians
      50-60 Galatians
      50-60 1 Corinthians
      50-60 2 Corinthians
      50-60 Romans
      50-60 Philemon
      50-80 Colossians
      50-90 Signs Gospel
      50-95 Book of Hebrews
      50-120 Didache
      50-140 Gospel of Thomas
      50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
      50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
      65-80 Gospel of Mark
      70-100 Epistle of James
      70-120 Egerton Gospel
      70-160 Gospel of Peter
      70-160 Secret Mark
      70-200 Fayyum Fragment
      70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
      73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
      80-100 2 Thessalonians
      80-100 Ephesians
      80-100 Gospel of Matthew
      80-110 1 Peter
      80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
      80-130 Gospel of Luke
      80-130 Acts of the Apostles
      80-140 1 Clement
      80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
      80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
      80-250 Christian Sibyllines
      90-95 Apocalypse of John
      90-120 Gospel of John
      90-120 1 John
      90-120 2 John
      90-120 3 John
      90-120 Epistle of Jude
      93 Flavius Josephus
      100-150 1 Timothy
      100-150 2 Timothy
      100-150 T-itus
      100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
      100-150 Secret Book of James
      100-150 Preaching of Peter
      100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
      100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
      100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
      100-160 2 Peter

      3. Historical Jesus Studies, faithfutures.org/HJstudies.html,
      – "an extensive and constantly expanding literature on historical research into the person and cultural context of Jesus of Nazareth"

      4. Jesus Database, faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html–"The JESUS DATABASE is an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."

      5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm

      6. The Jesus Seminar, mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria

      7. Writing the New Testament- mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/testament.html

      8. Health and Healing in the Land of Israel By Joe Zias

      9. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.

      10. 7. The Gnostic Jesus
      (Part One in a Two-Part Series on Ancient and Modern Gnosticism)
      by Douglas Groothuis: equip.org/free/DG040-1.htm

      11. The interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission
      Presented on March 18, 1994

      12. The Jesus Database- newer site:

      13. Jesus Database with the example of Supper and Eucharist:

      14. Josephus on Jesus by Paul Maier:

      15. The Journal of Higher Criticism with links to articles on the Historical Jesus:

      16. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/

      17. Diseases in the Bible:

      18. Religion on Line (6000 articles on the history of religion, churches, theologies,
      theologians, ethics, etc.religion-online.org/

      19. The Jesus Seminarians and their search for NT authenticity:

      20. The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgateway.com/

      21. Writing the New Testament- existing copies, oral tradition etc.

      22. The Search for the Historic Jesus by the Jesus Seminarians:

      23. Jesus Decoded by Msgr. Francis J. Maniscalco (Da Vinci Code review)jesusdecoded.com/introduction.php

      24. JD Crossan's scriptural references for his book the Historical Jesus separated into time periods:

      25. JD Crossan's conclusions about the authencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the conclusions of other NT exegetes in the last 200 years:

      26. Common Sayings from Thomas's Gospel and the Q Gospel: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan3.rtf

      27. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by t-itle with the complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html

      28. Luke and Josephus- was there a connection?

      29. NT and beyond time line:

      30. St. Paul's Time line with discussion of important events:

      31. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan's books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at Google Books.

      32. Father Edward Schillebeeckx's words of wisdom as found in his books.

      33. The books of the following : Professors Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.

      34. Father Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY, 1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.

      35. Luke Timothy Johnson's book The Real Jesus

      October 3, 2010 at 7:48 am |
    • Pirate65

      I particularly enjoyed reading the Enuma Elish, from which the Torah "borrows" the story of the flood that supposedly destroyed the earth.

      October 3, 2010 at 10:04 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      'Why should the beliefs of Evangelical Atheists be held over all other beliefs? To be certain, you offer nothing and you can prove none of your deeply held beliefs. Why do you feel the need to PREACH your brand of religion and yet deny that what you take on FAITH is a religion?'
      Lol, the old atheism is a religon as well crap. And lol at those like Frank with the whole 'word' response.
      Too funny,.

      October 3, 2010 at 10:37 am |
    • Mike

      What nonsense. So you've read a few books that espouse that view, but nothing of the thousands of books that espouse the truth of the old and new testaments? You ought to broaden your reading list before pontificating these decidely minority views.

      October 3, 2010 at 12:55 pm |
    • Frank

      "Lol, the old atheism is a religon as well crap. And lol at those like Frank with the whole 'word' response.
      Too funny,."

      The preachy in your face brand of atheism that Dawkins and Harris expouse is pretty much a religion in its own right. It's just that they worship men in white lab coats instead of a transcendent deity.

      And I'm not the one who said "word".

      October 4, 2010 at 1:08 am |
    • David Johnson


      You said, "The preachy in your face brand of atheism that Dawkins and Harris expouse is pretty much a religion in its own right. It's just that they worship men in white lab coats instead of a transcendent deity."

      No one worships scientists, Frank. Science uses the scientific method to arrive at truth. Science wants to understand the why of everything.

      Religion demands faith. God cannot exist without faith. The learnings of science do not require faith. In fact, if a scientist were to submit a paper for pier review, and mentioned the need to have faith...the poor fellow would be laughed at.

      Early man, because he didn't know very much about the world around him, assigned almost everything to god. Why does it rain? God makes it rain. Why does the mountain rumble? God is angry. Why does the sun move across the sky? The Gods drive the sun across the sky. This is called "God of the Gaps".

      As man's knowledge increases, god has fewer gaps to hide in. His last stand is the creation of the universe. Now, even this is being taken from Him. It is good Jesus has those carpentry skills huh?

      No, science is not a religion. There is no god. Or if there is, prove it!

      October 4, 2010 at 9:43 am |
  16. DirtyBob

    Religion, the worst thing you can ever base a decision on..

    October 3, 2010 at 12:24 am |
    • Pirate65

      Very well said!

      October 3, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  17. Emilio Dumphuque

    It IS like the Sharia, honestanon.
    Those justices that attend are compromised!

    October 3, 2010 at 12:21 am |
    • Maty

      Do you seriously think that attendance at a one-hour "lecture" is going to sway their minds? Wow, then someone like you must be uber-gullible.

      October 3, 2010 at 12:54 am |
    • 4thofJulybaby

      Of course he is gullible, and most likely voted for hope and change.

      October 3, 2010 at 8:25 am |
    • Dan

      Hey, Einstein...unlike Sharia, this is voluntary...you know...free to go, free to not go...no one gets their throat slit for not going....try that where the iman's call the shot. Apparently you don't get out much....

      October 3, 2010 at 8:43 am |
  18. Matt McHugh

    Trust me on this: the Supreme Court justices don't give f–k about what any religious leader has to say.

    October 3, 2010 at 12:18 am |
  19. DownTownBrown


    That's rediculous. We shouldn't let any religion govern us. Your idea that if you don't like catholics, you're a terrorist, is beyond stupid and part of the major problem we're facing today; stupid people with way too much time on their hands.

    October 3, 2010 at 12:18 am |
    • Tony

      I agree, however, it's not just too much time on their hands, it also includes, in some cases, too much power and influence, too!
      We live in an age where ineptness is rewarded by bestowing more power and responsibility to the stupid!
      Now, it's beginning to show in our way of life. God help America. we need a whole new "545" to fix all the bad things
      before we implode!

      October 3, 2010 at 2:07 am |
    • 4thofJulybaby

      Yeah, man, the communist athiests should run the country. Now pass me the hooch... hop head.

      Grow – up. People have beliefs, and yes indeed those beliefs will influence their decisions. As long as there is a free thinking person on this planet, no one can change that.

      October 3, 2010 at 8:24 am |
    • Dan

      Govern? You out of your tree? This is "by invitation," which means non-compulsory. If anyone doesn't want to be lectured to, then don't show up. It's really that simple.

      The Catholic church must be doing something right if it can annoy the liberals without even trying....

      October 3, 2010 at 8:41 am |
    • BADGUY

      The Catholic Church is probably the largest land/property holder in the world. No wonder it hates Communists, Socialists, Liberals or anyone else that believes in helping the poor. The poor are the church's "lifeblood". No matter how little money a poor person has, they can always be coaxed into giving a portion of it to the church. Of course, like in any business, "volume" is important (hence, anti-birth control "teachings"). Attending a "red mass" should be an impeachable offense.

      October 3, 2010 at 9:09 am |
    • dnsmith

      For Badguy: Your rant against Catholics reflects your ignorance. Catholics are probably the most altruistic of all Christian expressions and do more to help the poor worldwide than most other denominations.

      October 3, 2010 at 2:51 pm |
  20. honestanon

    C'mon CNN – why don't you just come out and say it... Catholics BAD... federal government allows them to infiltrate and poison the minds of our government..

    So we should let Sharia law do the same ?


    October 2, 2010 at 11:26 pm |
    • dave

      You anti Catholic bigots! Lind's an idiot!

      October 3, 2010 at 1:48 am |
    • Richard

      Jews represent at most, 3% of American society so why is it every time there is some issue conflicting with faith or offending someone, it is always them? Ban Christmas trees from public display, etc, etc,. You never hear about this stuff when it comes to ANY other minority culture and Christianity mixing.

      October 3, 2010 at 2:08 am |
    • Robert

      Very interesting that "Justice Ginsberg" a left leaning liberal secular abortion loving Jew said she "grew tired of being lectured to by Catholic officials" Imagine if one of the Catholic Justices said they grew tired of being lectured to by Jewish officials? The anti-semtic uproar would be ear splitting. Why is anti-Catholic sentiment ok but anti-Jewish anti-semetic?

      October 3, 2010 at 2:42 am |
    • art

      I agree infinitely, and what is a "patron" saint?, Last time I checked patron saints are not even biblical or "HOLY" for that matter!!

      October 3, 2010 at 3:33 am |
    • Frank

      A Patron Saint is a Saint that has a special sphere of influence. Something that is related to their lives.

      "Very interesting that "Justice Ginsberg" a left leaning liberal secular abortion loving Jew said she "grew tired of being lectured to by Catholic officials" Imagine if one of the Catholic Justices said they grew tired of being lectured to by Jewish officials? The anti-semtic uproar would be ear splitting. Why is anti-Catholic sentiment ok but anti-Jewish anti-semetic?"

      Thought provoking, isn't it?

      October 3, 2010 at 3:38 am |
    • Bryand

      Yep once we start judging one religion, like Islam, the others are going to follow and Catholicism will be next. We need to understand that there are always bad individuals in every organization, religion and community but that does not make the whole bad. This is a time where our country needs to stick together more than ever and demand our economy be brought back to life and not point fingers at innocent Americans.

      October 3, 2010 at 7:04 am |
    • Bozole Clun

      Thank you Bill O'Reilly of Fix News!

      October 3, 2010 at 7:39 am |
    • mike

      @robert, Yes you are correct, the anti-semitism cry would be deafening. However, Jews make it good practice (unlike christians) to not run around trying to shove their religious views and beliefs down everyone's throat. I never hear jews lecture anyone about how they should follow their religion. Christians do it all the time; if they'd just practice their religion quitely, no one would care. Instead they go on and on about how we all have to follow their religous beliefs.

      October 3, 2010 at 10:24 am |
    • Cedar rapids

      'Very interesting that "Justice Ginsberg" a left leaning liberal secular abortion loving Jew said she "grew tired of being lectured to by Catholic officials" Imagine if one of the Catholic Justices said they grew tired of being lectured to by Jewish officials? The anti-semtic uproar would be ear splitting. Why is anti-Catholic sentiment ok but anti-Jewish anti-semetic?'

      Well show me a time when the catholic justices would be lectured by jewish officials and maybe your attempt at 'yeah, but....' might be valid.

      October 3, 2010 at 10:29 am |
    • M

      I'm sick of being lectured about the holocaust, maybe the Jews and Catholics can both put a cork in it...wouldn't that be delightful?

      October 3, 2010 at 10:49 am |
    • BADGUY

      Catholic "Sharia" law has been in place in many US cities for the last 100 years. We don't have to worry about the Muslims imposing it.

      October 3, 2010 at 11:15 am |
    • germaine williams

      Richard, although Jews represent 3% of society, they run close to 100% of the nation because it is a capitalist one. One who owns banks and investments runs the show buddy!

      October 3, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
    • steven harnack

      Up pops the straw man again. So if I don't want Catholics running things I must be for Sharia law? Fallacy.

      October 3, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
    • Rick Anderson

      Ginsberg: "Even the Scalias – although they're much of that persuasion – were embarrassed for me." Oh, sorry, dear Justice Ginsberg. I think they were embarrassed because they know you support murder of the unborn. They were more likely embarrassed by YOUR beliefs, not by their own beliefs.

      October 3, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
    • David Johnson


      Well spoken Mike! Cheers to you!

      October 3, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      You said, ‘Yep once we start judging one religion, like Islam, the others are going to follow and Catholicism will be next.’
      The Catholic Church has been judged for 2000.

      October 3, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      ......that's 2000 years.

      October 3, 2010 at 8:57 pm |
    • kyle

      so mike you're telling us Christians (that always tell others how to practice their beliefs) how to practice their beliefs. Ironic.

      October 3, 2010 at 10:21 pm |
    • Frank

      "Jews make it good practice (unlike christians) to not run around trying to shove their religious views and beliefs down everyone's throat."

      That's because Judaism is a tribal, exclusionist religion. They are very 'us against them' (Jews vs. 'pagan' Gentiles). It's pretty much an ethnic religion. But there are some Orthodox Jews who would like to convert all Gentiles into Noahides, which is basically being a Gentile slave to the Orthodox Jews.

      A Christian is supposed to share their Faith with you because we are called to have concern for EVERY human being's soul. We're supposed to be bursting at the seams with Christ's Love, Compassion and Mercy and reflect His Light unto others.

      October 4, 2010 at 1:03 am |
    • Frank

      "The Catholic Church is probably the largest land/property holder in the world."

      No, that would the Queen of England. She owns whole nations.

      October 6, 2010 at 5:49 am |
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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.