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Jesus on trial: What would a modern jury do?
April 22nd, 2011
07:18 AM ET

Jesus on trial: What would a modern jury do?

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Richmond, Virginia (CNN) - If Jesus were tried in Richmond, Virginia, today, would he have been sentenced to death? Or would he have faced life behind bars with no chance for parole?

That’s the choice given to jurors here recently.

During Lent, the Church of the Holy Comforter used Virginia law to retry the sentencing phase of the blasphemy case against Jesus of Nazareth. Church members and guests played the role of the jury.

The trial was the brainchild of Mark Osler, a former U.S. Attorney in Detroit who teaches at the University of St. Thomas Law School in Minneapolis and is friends with a member of the Richmond church.

Osler wanted to hold the trial in part to call attention to the state’s use of capital punishment. Virginia is second only to Texas in the number of executions per state since the mid-1970s, when the U.S. Supreme Court reinstituted the death penalty, according to federal statistics. He held a similar event in Texas a few years ago.

“For many of us our faith, as it relates to policy especially, is often unexamined,” Osler said “We’re surrounded by people who feel the same way, and what we need to do is have it be troubled at least and see if that takes us someplace different.”

The mock sentencing phase was held the night before Palm Sunday.

Osler played the part of Caiaphas, the Jewish high priest in the biblical narrative of the trial. In that account, Jesus had no defense council. But on this night, Osler faced off against Jeanne Bishop, a real-life public defender from Chicago.

“Jesus was indigent,” Bishop said. “And so I think [Osler] wanted a public defender to underscore the point that this is a man with no money, no resources, no position in society.

“Most of the people that I represent fit that description.”

“He also wanted to have a young African-American man play Jesus, and that’s what we have tonight. Most of clients look exactly like this young man who will be sitting beside me,” she said.

The night was bittersweet for Bishop. “My younger sister, her husband and their unborn baby were murdered 21 years ago today, the day before palm Sunday.”

In 1990, Nancy Bishop Langert was killed during a home invasion in Winnetka, Illinois. Her death was part of the reason Jeanne Bishop became a defense attorney and an outspoken opponent of the death penalty.

Even before her sister’s murder, Bishop said, she was against the death penalty. “When my sister and her husband and their baby were killed, my immediate response was, ‘No more killing, no more bloodshed, please let it stop right here.’”

Jeanne Bishop questions a witness at the trial of Jesus in Richmond, Virginia

Osler is also against the death penalty. It was a decision he said he reached as a prosecutor while sitting in church one Sunday.

“They read John 8, about stoning the adulteress, and I’m like everyone else - when I hear a story like that, I put myself in the role of Jesus. A lot of prosecutors who are Christians who talk about that will say, ‘Jesus said go and sin no more.’ And what I came to eventually is, ‘I’m not Jesus. I’m part of the mob. I’m somebody with a stone in my hand.’

“I think that story is very direct that we don’t have the moral authority” to execute prisoners, Osler said.

Playing the role of prosecutor and asking jurors to condemn Jesus to death was difficult for Osler.

“It’s very dark to have the prosecutor in me go to war with the faith [in me]. There’s a cynicism you need to be a good prosecutor,” he said. “It’s been in some ways a troubling enterprise, and I didn’t see that coming.”

“We don’t have a script,” Osler said shortly before taking the stage at the Church of the Holy Comforter. “We’re approaching this the way trial lawyers would. I haven’t known what her theory of the case is or what her arguments will be, and she doesn’t know mine. That’s the way it really works. It’s not a play. It really is a trial in that sense.”

Mark Osler waits to take the stage at the trial of Jesus

As the audience took their seats, Bishop leaned over and whispered to her client, a teenager from the church who sat beside her in a dark blazer and khaki pants.

William G. Broaddus played the role of the judge. He was Virginia’s attorney general for six months after his predecessor stepped down to run for governor. During that time, five defendants were executed in Virginia.

“We will now call the case of the Commonwealth of Virginia versus Jesus of Nazareth,” Broaddus bellowed from the pulpit. “I will remind you this man has already been found guilty of the criminal charge of blasphemy.

“Tonight it is your duty to determine the proper punishment,” he told the jurors.

The attorneys each called two witnesses. The prosecution called Peter, one of Jesus closest disciples, and a rich young ruler whom Jesus urged to sell all of his possessions and give the money to the poor, here though the witness was played by a woman from the congregation. The defense called a centurion whose slave Jesus had healed, as well as Malchus, a high priest's slave whose ear was cut off by Peter then reattached by Jesus.

The sentencing trial followed the rhythms of a standard criminal case. Bishop spoke gently yet firmly as she questioned the witnesses, her line of questioning seeking to emphasize Jesus' acts of compassion and mercy.

Osler was forceful and tried to paint Jesus as a rebel who sought to rend the fabric of society. He also played heavily on the issue of slavery in his questioning.

Richmond was an international slave port prior to the Civil War - a fact not lost on members of the audience, who quietly bristled or frowned when Osler brought it up. He repeatedly reminded them that while Jesus healed the centurion and high priest’s slaves, he did not set them free.

In her closing argument, Bishop told the jury that Jesus loved his enemies. “A man who showed such compassion is at least deserving of your compassion at this moment,” she said.

Osler rebutted that Jesus had “poked a hole in the fabric of society. Are you going to let it tear or are your going to keep it a small hole?” he asked as he tore a hole in his own pressed, white button-down shirt to gasps in the crowd.

After the closing arguments, the audience broke into several juries of 12. Following the Virginia state statutes, they had two votes to consider. First: “Do you find that there is a probability that, if not executed, the defendant would commit criminal acts that would constitute a continuing serious threat to society?”

If they answered yes to that question, they were instructed to move on to the second: “In the light of all mitigation, is a death sentence warranted?” Both questions required a unanimous vote.

In one of the juries, 11 members quickly agreed the answer to the first question was yes, but there was one holdout. The other jury members began to press her in favor of the prosecution. Eventually they were successful.

“I think he's convincing," an older woman on the panel said of Osler, adding, “I didn't like myself for thinking that."

As the judge told the crowd they had just five minutes left to deliberate, the noise in the sanctuary grew louder and more heated.

The votes were taken and the jury forms passed forward.

The judge stepped forward and read the verdict.

“Jesus please stand,” he said.

He read the first question aloud and said, “The majority of the juries have found that should be answered in the affirmative.”

It meant the juries thought Jesus would blaspheme again if not executed.

“Turning then to the next question,” he said. “The majority of the juries voting on that issue found that the death sentence is not warranted.”

There was applause from the audience.

“The defendant is remanded to the jailer for the rest of your natural life.”

And with that the trial ended.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Episcopal • United States

soundoff (1,632 Responses)
  1. chief

    Come on CNN.... that picture sucks

    This article sucks

    April 22, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Let's not mix words chief. LOL.

      Amen.

      April 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • marta

      Come on chief...your comment sucks!
      Who asked you to read the sucky article, look at the sucky picture, but most of all go through the effort of putting out the only thing that sucks: your comment... for it brings absolutely no insight or value to the topic argued here!

      April 22, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  2. Jill

    Nobody killed Jesus, He freely gave up his life. Whoever believes that He died on the cross to forgive your sins, believes He rose from the dead and repent, It is written: You shall be saved. If you deny be before man I will deny you before my father.

    April 22, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • William Demuth

      Jill, Jesus is a complete fabrication. There is no actuall historical Jesus, just fabrications and fables

      He is akin to Mickey Mouse or The Incredible Hulk.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • JSS

      @William Demuth
      There are several historians during the time of Jesus that reference Jesus as a real person.

      April 22, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • HeavenSent

      William, is it now? All these handles for one person (LOL).

      10 Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.

      Proverbs 15:10

      Amen.

      April 22, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  3. William Demuth

    What happens if he comes back and isn’t baptized again? Is he then awash in original sin?

    If I do what the Imam says, and blow up the school bus in Tel Aviv, do you think Jesus would be ok if I took his mom as one of my virgins?

    Her Hiijab is hot!

    April 22, 2011 at 10:16 am |
  4. William Demuth

    Technically speaking, we don't need a retrial

    According to Roman law, he was sentenced to death.

    If he lives again, he has to die again.

    Now if he had been given life, would that include the afterlife?

    April 22, 2011 at 10:14 am |
    • HeavenSent

      The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

      Proverbs 8:13

      Amen.

      April 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
    • Artist

      Ah yes the hateful heavensent. Are you going to smile at me in he!!?

      April 22, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  5. Joe

    Heck, I'd of crucified him again, personally, and then leaned over him and whispered, "and if you come back here again with your cruddy slave religion just wait and see what we'll do to you then!" Then I'll laugh at all the Christians standing nearby.

    April 22, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • HeavenSent

      34 Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.

      Proverbs 3:34

      Amen.

      April 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  6. Doesn't matter

    @ mat

    While I don't disregard what many people have done under the banner of "Christianity". In our day and age somebody who proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ is called any number of names such as,"bigot, h-om-o-phobe, hatemonger..." and has no special interest groups representing their views in the media the way that both h-om-os-ex-ual and faithless people do. Everyone preaches a message of tolerance but no one tolerates a "christian" who is sharing what they believe with someone. I don't agree with someone "pushing" their beliefs on someone else and therefore I also don't think that it should be okay to push pagan or h-om-os-e-xual beliefs on me by having parades and teaching it in schools...am I being intolerant by asking for the same thing as you because alot of people will accuse me of it for what I have written when all I have asked for is the same thing which you did...

    April 22, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • William Demuth

      Quit your bellyaching and pay your taxes.

      You and your cronnies control far to much as it is!

      Sheltering men who sodomize children and hiding behind some ridiculous book.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Nonimus

      If you promote hate, then you will probably be called a hate monger.
      If you fear ho.mos.exuals, then you will probably be called a ho.mophobe.
      Not all Christians are this way and not all Christians are called these names.

      I'm not aware of what exactly is being taught about ho.mos.exuality in schools these days, if anything, but sheltering kids from reality is not the answer either.

      The next time there is a protest against building a church, just because it's Christian, then you can talk about being persecuted.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • HeavenSent

      William, give it a rest with your baloney excuses about the priests. You hated Jesus before any of that happened. There isn't a Christian alive today that condones what these priest have done so stop thinking we are hiding them. Christians have nothing to do with any of that criminal activity. That belongs to the phonies at the top of the Catholic Church.

      Amen.

      April 22, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • William Demuth

      Jesus is a lie told to the children who try to think for themselves

      I do not hate Jesus, because he never existed.

      I only hate his followers

      April 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Doesn't matter

      @William Demuth

      Well Will, I do pay my taxes...so what does that accomplish when the issues I mentioned in my post have nothing to do with funding issues per se...although a lot of the things I mentioned being taught in the schools are funded by my tax dollars...

      Which cronies are you talking about WIll? Who have you decided I belong to since apparently you can judge me and decide what I am based off of one post you read? Am I a Christian or a Muslim or a Werewolf? How do you know since I never said?

      And lastly Will I in no way support what the Catholic church has allowed to happen in their congregations by sheltering p-e-d-ophiles, the fact that you lump me in with them tells me what kind of person you are...you are one of the judgemental people that I mentioned in my post who preach tolerance as long as it conforms with your views, if not than I am a hater...

      @Nonimus

      You say if I promote hate then I will be called a hate monger, I give you this direct quote from Will, in fact directly above your's, "Jesus is a lie told to the children who try to think for themselves

      I do not hate Jesus, because he never existed.

      I only hate his followers."

      Does this make Will a hate monger, because if it does than a lot of people have been hate mongering on this website against "Christians" .
      Next you say," If you fear ho.mos.exuals, then you will probably be called a ho.mophobe."
      At no point in my post did I say I fear them or dislike them or anything else...If you read my post again, you will see that what I wrote what was that God says it is wrong...I didn't say God hates them, He loves them, God is intolerant of sin, He hates sin not people who commit sin...

      Next you say, "Not all Christians are this way and not all Christians are called these names."
      What "way" are you talking about, because if anyone "Christian" or not says that something is wrong because God says it is, then that is where the name calling comes in...

      Next you say, "I'm not aware of what exactly is being taught about ho.mos.exuality in schools these days, if anything, but sheltering kids from reality is not the answer either."

      It is being taught that it is normal and okay...Who said anything about sheltering from reality? I just disagree with teaching only one viewpoint and saying it is correct...If you want to say that it is okay to be h-o-om-s-e-x-ual thats fine but they should also be required to say that not everyone agrees with that...

      And lastly you state, 'The next time there is a protest against building a church, just because it's Christian, then you can talk about being persecuted."

      Well I never said anything about persecution, but since you brought it up I'll go into this a bit...What you mentioned happens all the time in other countries...In fact people in some are countries are put to death for their beliefs in Christ...so really if your going to make a comment about something you don't really know anything about, think about this and perhaps do some research next time first...

      April 23, 2011 at 9:01 am |
  7. Eric

    Yes, because in the Arab world everything carries a death sentence.

    April 22, 2011 at 10:11 am |
  8. Bugs

    Sounds like a left-wing circle-jerk to me. Hope they had fun, though.

    April 22, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Jose

      Im conservative on most issues...but I oppose
      The death penalty
      Unjust wars
      Social injustices.
      Im not a "left winger" I believe in LIFE and human dignity. Too many people have been found innocent before they were going to be exectuted for me to believe that this system can accurately gauge guilt or innocence. Further.. I dont believe one person has the right to kill another except in self defense or defense of another and even then its a last resort.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Jesus told us to send murderers back to him. Others will see this and murder will cease among you. Disobey Jesus' truth and get rid of the death penalty, other murderers laugh because they know we don't do anything to deter them and murders continue.

      1 John 3:14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not [his] brother abideth in death.

      1 John 3:15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

      Amen.

      April 22, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  9. William Demuth

    I tried him in absentia

    I found him guilty of crimes against humanity (and rationality)

    I sentenced him to death for the second time

    I put two 2×4’s, a crown of thorns, a sword and a box on nails in my car.

    Now I guess I just have to wait another several thousand years to serve his sentence?

    Justice is REALLY slow ain’t it!

    April 22, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • HeavenSent

      4 I said unto the fools, Deal not foolishly: and to the wicked, Lift not up the horn:
      5 Lift not up your horn on high: speak not with a stiff neck.
      6 For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south.

      Psalms 75:4-6

      Amen.

      April 22, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  10. Brent

    I wasn't aware Richmond, Virginia existed back then.

    April 22, 2011 at 10:00 am |
  11. NoMind

    Yes, Jesus will be put to death, especially if tried by a Christian dominated country.

    Christians never understood Jesus and never will. After all, Jesus was not a Christain.

    Strange is this world. Jesus was a rebel and a brave soul. His messages have nothing to do with Virgin Birth, Miracles, Crucifixion and commandments. All those are the interpretations of all the idiots. If you take all the miracles, virgin brith and resurrection out of Jesus's life, all these so called Christains will throw Jesus away.

    Jesus's messages have more to do with rebellious individual spirits, freedom and love than commandments, blind following and greed (for heaven). Jesus can only be understood by individuals in their own light.. not by masses and churches..

    April 22, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • socrateze

      Nice.. Good points!!!

      April 22, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • William Demuth

      True, if Christ is real he was a Jew

      So when he comes back, is he going to be Christian or Muslim?

      JESUS AKBAR!

      April 22, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • CatS

      You hit the nail on the head. Jesus preached against organized religion. Early Christians practiced this and were persecuted. Only after compromise with emperors and kings did the religion finally organize and become mainstream. So – who are the REAL Christians?
      BTW, the Bible everyone keeps quoting was put together by said authorities to support their takeover of the religion. They picked and chose what they wanted from all the letters being passed among Christian groups – and burned the rest as heresy.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • NoMind

      @William Demuth said:
      "So when he comes back, is he going to be Christian or Muslim?"

      Only one thing is sure.. Jesus will not join the company of Christians or any other organized religion for that matter.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • HeavenSent

      The only way to understand Jesus is to read His letter (the Bible) He wrote to all of us. After you start reading His truth, you will then start comprehending His truth so that you can apply His truth to your life.

      Amen.

      April 22, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Sk8rgrownup

      There were many types of councils; they mostly discussed doctrine, not what books were scripture. There was not any final decision by anyone to decide "these books are the Bible." No council anywhere made any conclusion; however, Christians throughout history have measured and agreed the 66 books in the Bible are God inspired, and the canon has been closed (Although it could probably be reopened if some authenticated letter from Paul or another apostle is found [unlikely though]). And monks did not write the Bible, they rewrote the accounts to save them.

      April 22, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  12. mat

    In response to Adelina, Christians are certainly NOT THE MOST PERSECUTED of all time. You christians have persecuted everyone who doesn't believe the way you do, especially us Pagans. Just because we don't believe in the same things as you dosen't give you the right to try to change us or persecute us, as you have done for almost 2 millenia! GIVE ME A BREAK!

    April 22, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • HeavenSent

      For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

      1 John 2:16

      Amen.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Ok

      Quoting scripture at a someone who doesn't believe as you do is classic of intolerant Christians. You just proved Mat's point.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:42 am |
    • Jessica S

      Thanks a lot HeavenSent... You think you could come up with something on your own to say or do you just know how to spout off stuff from the bible. You should maybe try cominig up with things to say in your own words. Maybe people would take you more seriously.

      April 22, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  13. Logic

    Faulty premise. Blasphemy is not a crime in the United States.
    This entire "sentencing" is noting more that social activism showmanship wrapped in a patchwork cloak of religion and faux legalese.

    April 22, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • Nonimus

      Thank you. I was wondering if anyone was going to point this out.

      "If Jesus were tried in Richmond, Virginia, today, would he have been sentenced to death? Or would he have faced life behind bars with no chance for parole?"
      "'We will now call the case of the Commonwealth of Virginia versus Jesus of Nazareth,' Broaddus bellowed from the pulpit. 'I will remind you this man has already been found guilty of the criminal charge of blasphemy.'"
      Couldn't happen!

      "Following the Virginia state statutes, they had two votes to consider. First: 'Do you find that there is a probability that, if not executed, the defendant would commit criminal acts that would const.itute a continuing serious threat to society?'"
      Obviously the Judges instructions were *not* according to Virginia statues, because blasphemy is *not* a "criminal act".

      April 22, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Charles Stevens

      @Nonimus 'because blasphemy is *not* a "criminal act".' <<=== It will be if the religious right gets its way.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • William Demuth

      Jesus was a revolutionary. If he came back, he would be in Guantanimo with a week.

      I was wondering, can you waterboard someone who can walk on water?

      April 22, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Charles Stevens,
      "'because blasphemy is *not* a "criminal act".' <<=== It will be if the religious right gets its way."

      They would have to repeal the 1st and/or 14th amendments to make that work. Seems unlikely to me.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • moakley

      Nice Logic. That was the first thought that occurred to me, "Blasphemy is a crime in Virginia?". Can't be since blasphemy is a victimless crime.

      April 22, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • justastudent

      Professor Mark Osler teaches me criminal law at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. He and Jeanne Bishop performed the same trial in our Moot Court before taking the performance to Virginia. The idea was originally conceived to be performed for the audience described in the article: a religious one. Though our school identifies as Catholic, there are a large proportion of students that do not identify as Catholic, or even claim any sort of religion at all.

      Regardless, the mock trial was a powerful one for the whole audience at UST, religious or not. The point of the trial is as a commentary on the use of capital punishment in the United States. The fact that blasphemy is not a crime in Virginia doesn't remotely matter. The object was to examine the death penalty by implementing Virginia rules on how a jury goes about deciding for the death penalty: they used Jesus because forcing a group of average Christians to think about whether or not they would have condemned Jesus to death is a powerful idea based on the rules of their own state is a big deal for them. They used the crime of blasphemy because that IS what Jesus was convicted of and crucified for. Professor Osler and Ms. Bishop pose the hypothetical, "IF Jesus' crime (blasphemy) was a capital crime where we are today, would we still have condemned him to die at the hands of the state?"

      The answer to this question at the outcome of the trial (though the Richmond church didn't vote so–picture a bunch of good Christian churchgoers actually allowing their consciences to vote for Jesus to die) was a resolute YES. I myself am Catholic; I understand that according to my religion Jesus had to die on the cross to save the world, that he was condemned despite his innocence for the sins of the world, etc., etc. THAT IS NOT WHAT THIS WAS ABOUT.

      According to the hard facts presented at the "trial" and the arguments made by each attorney and the Viriginia death penalty rules, Jesus should have been on Death Row. Professor Osler (as "Ciaphas") had the better argument. In response to the two questions asked by the state in instructing a jury on deciding whether to put a person to death, Jesus was an affirmative to both. YES he would have continued "breaking the law," (blaspheming, undermining the order of society) and YES the crimes were serious and subversive enough that he should be put to death. The trial was an examination of OUR criminal justice system and a display of just how easy it is to LEGALLY end someone's life in our country and an opportunity for the average person to put themselves in the shoes of a juror with a man's life in his hands. Please don't miss the whole point of a very pertinent commentary on the legal system in which we all live because you're determined to fight the semantics.

      April 22, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  14. socrateze

    1. Jesus is used as an idol for sheep to kneel to while the Imperialsm continrues
    2. Jesus would not be sent to death, he'd be sent to guantanamo and water boarded because anti-govt/anti imperialsm is classified as terrorism in America
    3. God is within, not in the sky
    4. The world will never live in peace and harmony until religion falls and everyone respects the other person as God as well.
    5. Love is my religion, God is love
    6. Wake up, the same kind of people that killed Jesus are sending your sons to Iraq--GOD WILL NOT HAVE MERCY ON THE PEOPLE WHO LIVE BY THE SWORD.

    April 22, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • Doesn't matter

      @socratze

      if you truly believe what you have written then you are decieving yourself...The things you write about will NEVER happen on this fallen earth...people will never respect each other. Also you say your religion is love and God is love...the difference is God is perfect love not the type of "what can you do for me?" kind of love that we actively engage in...You also say that God will not have mercy on people who live by the sword...that is patently false, God will have mercy on anyone who pleads for it regardless of wht they have done...

      April 22, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • socrateze

      Then quit saying your Christian prayer that has been taken from other religions before that: " on earth as it is in Heaven" What are you striving for? If you put all your eggs in the "wait till Jesus comes back" basket you're gonna wind up with a one-world govt and a bunch of fat zombies running around...... sounds like Amerikkka.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • jerricho

      You are fooling yourself if you think getting rid of religion will make the world a happy place. Religion is an excuse for bad people to do bad things, if not in the name of religion the thugs like Osama, or the Crusaders, or Cleansing in Darfor would do the exact same thing in the name of Race, Country, Region, or pubic hair curliness. It does not matter, they would come up with another reason to do what they do. Religion is just a convenient one.

      April 22, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  15. Doesn't matter

    @Jim

    The fact that you focus on what someone else may have done wrong rather than admitting your own shortcomings, shows that you have never truly examined your own life. God does not grade sin, we do...sin is sin and it separates us from God.

    @Adelina

    You say that there is no civility without Christianity...that is too sweeping a statement Adelina, there are many people who are very nice people who have hidden sin in there lives, to the outsiders there lives look just and righteous but there is secret sin in their lives that no one knows about. Also Adelina you need to realize that if you are speaking about eternity than you could say without Christ you have nothing, but Christianity is not going to save you only Christ can do that.

    April 22, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  16. theoldadam

    Yeah!!! And George Washington NEVER existed either!

    I have never seen him! They probably just made all that suff up!

    Cut down a cherry tree, my foot...

    April 22, 2011 at 9:00 am |
    • Beatrix

      He never did cut down a cherry tree. That was made up by a biographer later to demonstrate Washington's character.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • Sybaris

      I had a minister tell me that there was exponentially more evidence for Jesus having lived than George Washington. When I asked him if he could produce Jesus DNA or ancestors he recanted.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • Charles Stevens

      @theoldadam Yes, George Washington existed, but the cherry tree thing is a myth. Jesus also existed, his cherry tree is miracles.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • HeavenSent

      For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

      Romans 11:25

      Amen.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • Jessica S

      Thanks a lot HeavenSent... You think you could come up with something on your own to say or do you just know how to spout off stuff from the bible. You should maybe try cominig up with things to say in your own words. Maybe people would take you more seriously.

      April 22, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • Yeah right...

      Jessica S other people have shown that this HeavenSent looks them up on Sciputer lookup sites on the internet. Give it a try you can do it by keyword search too www biblegateway dot com

      April 22, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  17. Reality

    Actually, Jesus was a bit "touched". After all he thought he spoke to Satan, thought he changed water into wine, thought he raised Lazarus from the dead etc. In today's world, said Jesus would be declared legally insane.

    Or did P, M, M, L and J simply make him into a first century magic-man via their epistles and gospels of semi-fiction? Most contemporary NT experts after thorough analyses of all the scriptures go with the latter magic-man conclusion with J's gospel being mostly fiction.

    Obviously, today's followers of Paul et al's "magic-man" are also a bit on the odd side believing in all the Christian mumbo jumbo about bodies resurrecting, and exorcisms, and miracles, and "magic-man atonement, and infallible, old, European, white men, and 24/7 body/blood sacrifices followed by consumption of said sacrifices. Yummy!!!!

    April 22, 2011 at 8:21 am |
    • Jose

      .. Saying that most contemporary NT scholars think its all made up is akin to saying most Imam's think that muhammad was an average dude or buddhists scholars think its all fabricated.

      Its litteraly impossible. Unless by most you mean a narrow group of your choosing.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • HeavenSent

      17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
      18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
      19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
      20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
      21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

      Romans 11:17-21

      Amen.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • William Demuth

      Wow, Jesus was trippin wasn't he!

      The original Dead head, and the first Zombie, all rolled into one!

      If the Romans had only known that they had to put the nail into his head, we would have all been spared this nonesense!

      April 22, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Jessica S

      @Heaven Sent.. Shut up.. Do you really feel the need to put a separate scripture from the bible on every single person's post? You think you could come up with something on your own to say or do you just know how to spout off stuff from the bible? You should maybe try cominig up with things to say in your own words. Maybe people would take you more seriously.

      April 22, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  18. jimtanker

    "Mankind has no civility without Christianity."

    History shows this to be very untrue. The cusades, the inquisitions, and Hitler's mass genocide were all perpetrated because of and with the backing of the christian church.

    April 22, 2011 at 7:44 am |
    • Adelina

      Jim, Hitler was Darwinian and was taken down by Christian USA. Abuses were done by every name. Christianity alone established freedom, human rights, equality, charity, schools, hospitals and sane government systems, besides preaching God's truth. You have nothing if you don't have Christianity.

      April 22, 2011 at 8:04 am |
    • Reality

      Putting it into proper perspective:

      The Twenty (or so) Worst Things People Have Done to Each Other:

      from: http://necrometrics.com/warstatz.htm#u (a "must read")

      The Muslim Conquest of India

      "The likely death toll is somewhere between 2 million and 80 million. The geometric mean of those two limits is 12.7 million. "

      Rank <<<Death Toll <Cause <<Centuries<<<(Religions/Groups involved) *

      1. 63 million Second World War 20C (CHRISTIANS et al and COMMUNISTS/atheists vs. CHRISTIANs et al, NAZIS/PAGANs and SHINTOISTS)

      2. 40 million Mao Zedong (mostly famine) 20C (Communism)

      40 million Genghis Khan 13C (Shamanism or Tengriism)

      4. 27 million British India (mostly famine) 19C (Anglican)

      5. 25 million Fall of the Ming Dynasty 17C (Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Chinese folk religion)

      6. 20 million Taiping Rebellion 19C ( Confucianism, Buddhism and Chinese folk religion vs. a form of Christianity)

      20 million Joseph Stalin 20C (Communism)

      8. 19 million Mideast Slave Trade 7C-19C (Islam)

      9. 17 million Timur Lenk 14C-15C

      10. 16 million Atlantic Slave Trade 15C-19C (Christianity)

      11. 15 million First World War 20C (Christians vs. Christians)

      15 million Conquest of the Americas 15C-19C (Christians vs. Pagans)

      13. 13 million Muslim Conquest of India 11C-18C

      14. 10 million An Lushan Revolt 8C

      10 million Xin Dynasty 1C

      16. 9 million Russian Civil War 20C (Christians vs Communists)

      17. 8 million Fall of Rome 5C (Pagans vs. Pagans)

      8 million Congo Free State 19C-20C (Christians)

      19. 7½ million Thirty Years War 17C (Christians vs Christians)

      7½ million Fall of the Yuan Dynasty 14C

      *:" Is religion responsible for more violent deaths than any other cause?

      A: No, of course not – unless you define religion so broadly as to be meaningless. Just take the four deadliest events of the 20th Century – Two World Wars, Red China and the Soviet Union – no religious motivation there, unless you consider every belief system to be a religion."

      Q: So, what you're saying is that religion has never killed anyone.

      A: Arrgh... You all-or-nothing people drive me crazy. There are many doc-umented examples where members of one religion try to exterminate the members of another religion. Causation is always complex, but if the only difference between two warring groups is religion, then that certainly sounds like a religious conflict to me. Is it the number one cause of mass homicide in human history? No. Of the 22 worst episodes of mass killing, maybe four were primarily religious. Is that a lot? Well, it's more than the number of wars fought over soccer, or s-ex (The Trojan and Sabine Wars don't even make the list.), but less than the number fought over land, money, glory or prestige.

      In my Index, I list 41 religious conflicts compared with 27 oppressions under "Communism", 24 under Colonialism, 2 under "Railroads" and 2 under "Scapegoats". Make of that what you will."

      April 22, 2011 at 8:29 am |
    • Ed

      @Reality, I'm impressed this it the first time I have every seen you not blindly blame religion for every thing thats wrong in the world

      April 22, 2011 at 8:49 am |
    • Alan

      Adelina writes – " You have nothing if you don't have Christianity."

      I don't think I've ever heard a more arrogant, self involved statement in my life....maybe YOU have nothing without christianity. I enjoy a fulfilled life in a REALITY BASED WORLD!!!

      I truly feel sorry for you... and don't respond with your silly bible quotes

      April 22, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • Sybaris

      @ Adelina. You are either a troll or know little if anything about athropology, sociology or history.

      April 22, 2011 at 9:59 am |
    • Jose

      Hitler said he would never worship a Jew.

      Christanity was split on its responce to the persecution of the jews. Some didnt say or do much, others tried to help hide. Still others fully believed the party brainwashing.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • HeavenSent

      51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
      52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

      Luke 1:51-52

      Amen.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • jimtanker

      "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.

      -Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922

      April 22, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Christianity alone established freedom, human rights, equality, charity, schools, hospitals and sane government systems, besides preaching God's truth'
      This is total and absolute nonsense. Where did you learn your history?

      April 22, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Reality

      "The allegation is sometimes made that Hitler was a Catholic – a Christian until the day he died. This claim is based upon the fact that Hitler was born and raised in a Catholic family.

      However, as an adult, Hitler specifically rejected the Catholic Church, as well as Christianity in general. He described himself as "a complete pagan".

      The book Hitler's Secret Conversations: 1941-1944, published by Farrar, Straus and Young, Inc. (1953), contains definitive proof of Hitler's real views. The book was published in Britain under the t-itle, Hitler's Table Talk: 1941-1944, which t-itle was used for the Oxford University Press paperback edition in the United States.

      Some excerpts:

      All of these are quotes from Adolf Hitler:

      Night of 11th-12th July, 1941:

      "National Socialism and religion cannot exist together.... The heaviest blow that ever struck humanity was the coming of Christianity. Bolshevism is Christianity's illegitimate child. Both are inventions of the Jew. The deliberate lie in the matter of religion was introduced into the world by Christianity.... Let it not be said that Christianity brought man the life of the soul, for that evolution was in the natural order of things. (p 6 & 7) "

      10th October, 1941, midday:

      "Christianity is a rebellion against natural law, a protest against nature. Taken to its logical extreme, Christianity would mean the systematic cultivation of the human failure. (p 43)"

      April 22, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • neoritter

      @Reality (first post) – I feel the list could better be arranged if it was done by proportion. Random example, 10 million people alive, incident kills 2 million, 20% death toll; etc. As a general rule, more people involved means more people adversely affected.

      @Cedar Rapids – The real question needs to be asked where are you learning YOUR history from. Reality's post quite effectively invalidates your statement. The fact is Hitler had to "appear" to be ok with Christian until he could wipe it out. One of the biggest political blocs in the German legislature was Catholic. If he didn't have their support or at least them not being hostile to him, he'd never get anywhere. Remember people lie, how in the world would you think one of the most evil men in history wouldn't?

      April 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  19. Adelina

    The answer is yes. Mankind has no civility without Christianity. Judaism was the best but the Jews along with Romans executed the visiting Son of God. Those two races represent the unregenerated whole mankind, religious or otherwise. Christians have been the most severely and widely persecuted group of people on Earth for all time because Christianity knows no compromise. Unborn humans are being massacred today. Whatever done to the least of humans is same as done to Himself, Jesus said.

    April 22, 2011 at 7:34 am |
    • lemonhead628

      Jesus had to be sentenced to die. it was prophesied, it was God's plan, and it was the only way God and man could be reconciled. nice job of making a point, but you guys are missing the point.

      April 22, 2011 at 7:50 am |
    • jimtanker

      I thought that jesus was god. So he sacrificed himself to himself so that he could let child rapists go to heaven if they believe in him? Makes no sense to me.

      April 22, 2011 at 7:59 am |
    • Adelina

      @Lemonhead, men didn't need to abuse the Son of God who came. God foreknew everything, but mankind did according to their evil desires. The reason we must admit our own sinfulness and repent. @Jim, Jesus sacrificed Himself because we sinned and cannot save ourselves. God is Holy Trinity. Salvation is free but living a Christian life costs everything. Untransformed criminals go to hell along with unrepentant common people.

      April 22, 2011 at 8:14 am |
    • Mel

      Mankind has plenty of civility without Christianity. Morality exists outside of Christianity. Christianity is like any other religion on earth – it has its good contributions to society. It also has its bad contributions to society. It is merely a different interpretation of the world, and should be viewed as such. Only to those who follow its teachings is it important for morality. The rest of us have other paths we follow to seek enlightenment.

      April 22, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • Traveler

      Balderdash. I've been to many civilized places and met many civilized people who had no connection whatsoever with Christianity.
      What a bunch of contemptible nonsense.
      Stop being an embarrassment to Christianity and use your brain. Having faith doesn't mean you have to be a fool.

      April 22, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • OurGodsAreAliens

      No civility without Christianity? Christianity brings about many things, unfortunately, CIVILITY is typically not one of them ( unless of course civility to you is ra-ci-sm, h-o-m-ophobia and all around intolerance). Religion allows people to do bad things and blame it on " satan." Without religion it would simply be good people doing good things and bad people doing bad things, pretty simple.

      April 22, 2011 at 9:42 am |
    • Doesn't matter

      @ourgodsarealiens

      While there may be people who claim to be Christians who are ho-mo-phobic and racist, you can not and should not put all people of that same faith in that category anymore than you could say that all people who are muslim are terrorists...As for intolerance, people need to understand something: when people say that ho-mo-s-exuality is wrong or that abortion is wrong or lying is wrong or stealing is wrong, they are (or should be at least) simply telling people what God says about these things not their own personal opinion (although this is not always the case) and God is intolerant of sin! The things that God says are wrong are sins and they will seperate us from Him. He does not grade or rank sin...sin is sin...it all seperates us from Him. If you only did one thing wrong in your entire life (not likely but...) you would still be seperated from God for eternity, this is called hell or the lake of fire or gehenna. If you tell someone they are wrong for killing someone are you judging them? In order for our society to continue to exist we need to have absolute morals and right now we do not. The Bible sets many absolute morals but people are unwilling to follow them...

      April 22, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • jim

      You have a very pleasant comic-book approach to life. I suppose it gives you a sense of security. Pity, though, that you can't find it in anything but fairy tales.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:08 am |
    • Codepwned

      I just don't get how anyone can worship a being (god) that slaughtered well over 2 million people in the bible (the numbers we can verify). Or... the fact that the bible was written by monks taking second hand stories from murderers, rapists, criminals and drunks and is currently published in 5,440 (as of 2003) active versions, all varying to small and wide degree. The world is fine without God... we've been doing good for the past 2000 years without him.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • John Richardson

      Pure ethnocentrism here, Adelina

      April 22, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • Mike

      So what about the Spanish Inquisition was an example of Christian Civility?

      April 22, 2011 at 10:18 am |
    • CatS

      If you think Christianity knows no compromise, you don't know the history of your own religion. Every aspect of Christianity is a compromise from the moment Jesus died. Even the Bible was put together as a compromise. If you are going to blow the Christian horn, you should at least know how the music was composed.

      April 22, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Adelina
      You said: "men didn't need to abuse the Son of God who came. God foreknew everything, but mankind did according to their evil desires. The reason we must admit our own sinfulness and repent. @Jim, Jesus sacrificed Himself because we sinned and cannot save ourselves. God is Holy Trinity. Salvation is free but living a Christian life costs everything. Untransformed criminals go to hell along with unrepentant common people."

      Hmm... Did you ever stop to think who Jesus was saving us from? My toddler wets her pants. It is one of my "rules" that she use the big potty. I don't require her to sacrifice her puppy as an atonement. I love her, so I have forgiven her, even before dry clothes are put on. Maybe your god needs to attend some anger management classes...
      The Christian god seems to be a drama queen.

      The Christian god is said to be omniscient. He had a plan. Nothing could have been done differently than the way god planned it. Jesus had to be killed. Judas had to betray Him. Peter deny Him. Every person, every event had to happen exactly as was planned by god.

      Believers give impossible attributes (Omniscients, Omnipotents, Omnibenevolence ) to their god and then aren't happy when it makes their delusions unlikely.

      "this man [Christ Jesus] delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23a NASB).

      The belief, that a person who does not accept Christ (unrepentant sinner), will burn for all eternity the same as Hitler, or a child killer, is vile. Where is the justice?

      Jesus' offer of salvation is in the same vein as the choice offered by Vito Corleone. There is no choice, when a gun is at your head. "Love me or burn".

      Cheers!

      April 22, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • OurGodsAreAliens

      @Doesnt matter : ho-m-o-phobia is expressed in the bible, why wouldn't any ordinary " christian " follow that ancient, out dated law? It's written clear as day in the collection of fairytales known as the bible. Really listen to and think about what you are saying and what your religion is saying. You honestly think that if a God exists he is so vain as to become upset over those who don't believe? You honestly think that of the 12 major religions in the world that Christianity is the only one that got it right? If you had been raised muslim or islam you would be just as convicted about your beliefs because that would have been how you were raised. The fact of the matter is you don't know and either do I. I believe that the knowledge between religion, science and upcoming extraterrestrial information are all correlated. I believe we only know a small fraction of the truth. The bible is an ancient book that was written by MAN to be applicable to the time it was written. The only reason it is used today is because weak minded humans need it to get through the day.

      April 22, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      'Christians have been the most severely and widely persecuted group of people on Earth for all time'
      Actually I would hazard a guess and say the Jews would actually be able to claim that spot.

      And dont forget that christianity did not spread across the globe by peaceful means, it was all war and conquest.

      April 22, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • QS

      Mrs. Phelps? Is that you?

      April 22, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Sean

      I got a little logic issue

      God is all powerful and all knowing -> human is part of god's plan -> Jesus dies for human's sin (part of god's plan as stated)

      If life is predetermined, then we cannot sin as we are all part of god's plan, if he let us be then it must be in his plan because he is all powerful and all knowing.

      If life is not predetermined, then we have free will and therefore our actions cannot foretold and god is not all knowing.

      Simply put it, the book is not logical, therefore we should not involve faith in a logical debate as faith is separate from logic and science.

      April 22, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • neoritter

      @Cedar Rapids – "And dont forget that christianity did not spread across the globe by peaceful means, it was all war and conquest" Apparently history wasn't your best subject in school.

      @Sean – Circular logic combined with a strawman. Nice going. Want to try again?

      April 22, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
    • Doesn't matter

      @ourgodsarealiens

      Okay, I will do my best to respond to each of your points as you made them...
      You say that, "ho-m-o-phobia is expressed in the bible, why wouldn't any ordinary " christian " follow that ancient, out dated law? It's written clear as day in the collection of fairytales known as the bible. Really listen to and think about what you are saying and what your religion is saying."
      Not really sure what you point is here, but clearly you don't believe that the Bible is historically accurate, a belief that shows you have not looked into the matter yourself but simply taken someone elses opinion and threw it out there. I never said what religion if any I have, and I have thought about what I said which is why I said it in the first place...

      Next you said, ": You honestly think that if a God exists he is so vain as to become upset over those who don't believe? You honestly think that of the 12 major religions in the world that Christianity is the only one that got it right? "
      It has nothing to do with vanity and everything to do with forgiveness, without which people remain in their sins...As far as your point about "Christianity", the name is thrown around a lot these days but the belief that Jesus came a died to redeem mankind is unique among other world religions in the fact that all others are about what you do to get right with God (or they don't acknowledge a Diety at all) "Christianity" is the only one where God did something to make you right with him...

      Your next point was, "If you had been raised muslim or islam you would be just as convicted about your beliefs because that would have been how you were raised. The fact of the matter is you don't know and either do I."
      I wasn't "raised" anything, my own personal faith came about in adulthood and had nothing to do with how or where I was raised. Also, you can say you don't know and you might not believe me, but actually I do know...and so do you whether you are willing to acknowledge it or not...

      Next, "I believe that the knowledge between religion, science and upcoming extraterrestrial information are all correlated. I believe we only know a small fraction of the truth."
      Just wanted to touch on these ones quickly, I find it telling that you start each of these sentences with "I believe"...and then go on to state "upcoming ET info" ...Upcoming? Do you actually have knowledge of something that hasn't happened yet? You say that someones belief in God is weakness and go one to say you believe in something that hasn't yet taken place...

      And your final points, "The bible is an ancient book that was written by MAN to be applicable to the time it was written. The only reason it is used today is because weak minded humans need it to get through the day."

      You misunderstand the Bible completely...It was written by man, but inspired by God through His Holy Spirit...It is applicable for all time and maybe you should at least read it before you show your contempt for it. Finally people who believe in the Bible are not all weak minded anymore than people who don't...I will agree that some people follow "Christianity" because they were raised that way, but you cannot as-sume that is always the case...

      April 23, 2011 at 9:49 am |
  20. jimtanker

    The answer to this one is an easy NO. Our courts done sentence fictional characters.

    April 22, 2011 at 7:20 am |
    • Zombie Jesus

      Awesome!!! and correct.....

      April 22, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • neoritter

      Missing the point award to this guy.

      April 22, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
    • Nancy

      Good point. The Belief Blog is weekly fiction corner. Ted Turner must have guilt issues to permit it. Astrology section would make more sense.

      April 22, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
    • Martin

      Interesting that our courts/law are based on Judeo/Christian teachings here in the US. Would you want it any other way? Of course there are inconsistencies in ancient scripture, there was no readily available printing methods, and most people probably could not read, therefore these stories were passed down generations by word of mouth and probable embellishments were added. Does not mean they did not exist or happen. We are fortunate to live in history when we do. We have access to some of the greatest knowledge and opportunities in the history of the world. IMHO, the evolutionary process would steer us more in the direction of the teachings of Christ (parable of the talents) so that we would continue to advance. Regardless of how pagan traditions have mixed with Christian doctrines, I believe in Christ as the Redeemer of the world and feel that if everyone tried their best to follow his teachings, the world would be a better place. Happy Easter, everyone!

      April 24, 2011 at 8:05 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.