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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. Bruce

    To pretend Jesus was poor is also ignoring some simple facts. IF the stories in scripture that describe Jesus are at all true, he was most-certainly not poor. He could read, and he was buried in his father's family grave, which meant his family had money. More importantly, to pretend he was poor and powerless ignores the inherently POLITICAL thrust of his execution. That people like Caiaphas wanted him dead at all is proof (if you take the description of the events as historically accurate) that Jesus had powerful political enemies who wanted him silenced.

    Today we don't kill our political enemies. We don't need to. Those in political power maintain their political power by other methods. Today Jesus wouldn't be put to death. Today he would be discredited. He would be made to look a lot like David Koresh.

    This is not to say that Koresh wasn't an insane pedophile and that his insanity and pedophilia were trumped up charges, because he most-likely was an insane pedophile. This is just to say that someone in today's world can be made out to be something they are not, and people will believe what they want to believe, and it would be much much easier for people–especially Christians–to believe that a modern day Incarnation was actually a wacko than for them to reassess their opinions regarding what/who God might be.

    April 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
    • mattmchugh

      "he was buried in his father's family grave" ... Uh, no. Joseph of Arimathea is not Joseph husband of Mary. Two different guys.

      Matthew 27:57-60 – "As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of J. Going to Pilate, he asked for J’s body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
    • Bruce

      Thanks mattmchugh–you are correct. Jesus was not buried in his father's family grave according to the gospels. I was mistaken about that.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Sally Li

      Bruce, you are absolutely right. Joseph of Arimathea was the second husband of Madonna (the woman called Mary in the Bible – Mary is not her name, but in fact an ethnic slur which makes fun of her Egyptian appearance). You are ABSOLUTELY right about the way authorities discredit people in America today – and when they do this, they don't care whether they break the law or not. (Welcome to Pennsylvania, on your way to see this in action today). Jesus was associated with a society who called themselves "The Poor" (hence, Blessed are The Poor . . .") and Christianity arose as a synthesis of breakaway groups of five societies: the Poor, the Nasoreans, the Way, (I am the Way, the Truth and the Life . . .) the Essenes, and the Pharisees. The Nasoreans were the elders within the Mandean religion, and John the Baptist was a Mandean. This explains why early Christians were known as Nosrit by their Jewish neighbors, and why the term has
      come to stay in Hebrew. The name Nazareth comes from the word Nosrit, which means Christian. Interestingly, the Way is
      a Middle Eastern offshoot of Taoism, and the Poor (the Ebionites) were offshoots of the Buddhists. The origin of the Hebrew words Nosrit and Nazarite are identical, but they refer to two different things. "Nazarene" means Nasorean, and it speaks to the connection with the Wise Men (a fairly good approximation for Nasorean).

      April 24, 2011 at 4:24 am |
  2. JoshfromIowa

    I love the militant atheist. Hey Mr. PhD, read a little more Dawkins and develop some cultural relativism. You are the reason that our 11% isn't higher Mr. Scary God Killer.

    April 22, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  3. wileysee

    and because Jesus never died for anyone's sins, Christianity never really got "off the ground". Western civilization never formed, there was never any reformation, the middle ages never happened...etc. Well you get my point. Sometimes things happen for the best both good or bad.

    April 22, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  4. Nathan

    Well there is a few minutes of my life that I'll never get back.... This article could easily be posted as a successful piece on The Onion News Network. What a joke.

    April 22, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  5. Believer

    Going to the cross and dying was a choice God made, all a part of plan to redeem us from sin. God knew exactly what people would do, if Jesus hadn't died on that cross we would not have a way back to the Father, we would all have to pay for our sins when we die. He took our place voluntarily, and He had the Power to take it back, and that is exactly what He did!! God knows full well that humans will always tend to want to do evil, and yet He has loved us so much that even while we were yet sinners, He gave His son for us! He didn't wait until we deserved it, until we were good enough, He paid the price for those of us who would believe in Him, although He also knew that there would be some that would never believe. His Love is So Great that He didn't think it JUST to condemn us to an enternity without Him simply because Adam and Even chose to disobey Him. He leveled the playing field and gave us all access to His Kingdom. If we don't choose Him in Life, we cannot blame Him for the Eternity we will live completely separated from Him and in torment paying for our sins. Trust Him while there is time. Isaiah 55:6-7 says:

    Seek the LORD while he may be found;
    call on him while he is near.
    7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
    and the unrighteous their thoughts.
    Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them,
    and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

    April 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Artist

      Sorry, your god came late to the game. Others have already done this. Just a copied story. Please play again.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  6. Chris K

    Not that I expect any different from teh interwebz but...

    Why does EVERY entry on Belief Blog need to be followed by the same arguments for/against God?

    Does anyone have anything to say about the ACTUAL Topic? Isn't there another board you can go troll on?

    And to avoid hypocrisy.... So, eh...how about that Jesus trial?

    April 22, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Atheist PhD

      I think you find this because it is natural for people to defend their position, be them atheists or religious. Truth is, I don't care if a person is religious, just keep it in church where it belongs and out of our schools, government, and people's bedrooms you don't even know. Oh and out of women's wombs, too.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • No One Is Safe

      @PhD – rock it! "preach on, brutha!!" 😉

      April 23, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
  7. Atheist PhD

    Here is a question, how many people today really believe in the supernatural? Well, the things Jesus is supposed to have done were all supernatural in that they do not occur in nature.

    April 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Lycidas

      or also could be said do not occur in nature on a person's cue.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Artist

      Everything that is claimed outside of their bible is not real or made up. What their jesus did was real **rolling eyes** no seriously ROLLING EYES

      April 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Lycidas

      I don't think anyone said that.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Bruce

      Atheist PhD–your comment to this article didn't "occur in nature" either.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  8. Barabus

    It's sad that this lawyer from a good Christian school has so little clue (or such disregard) for the story of the passion. This is just another opportunity for him to push his agenda against the death penalty.

    April 22, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  9. Mark B.

    This article is crass, simplistic and a waste of time. First off He IS alive today. 2nd when He comes back you will know it. You will bow before h=Him and call Him Lord, whether you are a believer or not. To infer Jesus was idigent is to infere he was in need. He knew His father would provide all things necessary. He and His followers are STILL hated and persecuted in every corner of the world to this day.

    April 22, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • Jay

      Help! Help! I'm being oppressed!

      'cause, you know, not forcing kids to pray to your God in public school is just like Nazi Germany and Cambodia under Pol Pot... Combined.

      April 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • Atheist PhD

      Jay, you are a hoot. Man, we need to get together.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  10. smc

    If Jesus was in the US today, Republicans would call him a welfare mooching, communist, hippie, liberal and then moved on to their next scheme to funnel money from the middle class to the wealthiest.

    April 22, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  11. Jay

    If Jesus were alive today, the "Christian" right would declare him a radical leftist hippie that hates America.

    As we still have freedom of religion in this country, I doubt he would be sentenced to death. That said, some crazy right-winger would probably shoot him in the face, like that nut that shot up the Unitarian church in Knoxville.

    April 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Mark B.

      You show you know nothing about the Christian right and less about Jesus with this comment.

      April 22, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Hate conservatives enough Jay?

      April 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
    • Jay

      Sure, Mark B. You do know that I did not make up the part about a right-winger shooting up a Unitarian church, right?

      You're assuming that Jesus would float down from the heavens with a halo, doves on his shoulders, and holy mana flying out of his rear. I have no doubt you all would fall to your knees if it were like that... But if he were just some long-haired middle eastern dude who thought he was God? Please... You all would ship him to Gitmo.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Lycidas

      I think you are a bit confused by what made ppl believe in Jesus Jay. It wasn't what he looked like. Heck the Bible doesn't even give a rough idea what he looks like. I think you must have been looking at too many Ren. era art work.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Jay

      Lycidas, "Christian" "conservatives" wouldn't know what he looks like, either. That's my point. How do you think "christian" "conservatives" would respond to someone saying "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God", today?

      And, BTW, he was Middle Eastern, yes?

      April 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Of course he was Middle Eastern (as far as the term can be used) and that had no bearing on how one would listen to him. If there are ppl today that would look upon him and judge him by how he looks on the outside, I would question their faith and tell them to do a bit of soul searching.

      I am a Christian and I am Ind/Repub. Jesus not being white with blue eyes has nothing to do with who he was to me.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  12. VinoBianco

    Exactly, I think it's a good thing this church is trying to show how barbaric and archaic the death penalty it, and how innocent people can die under it (and do), but Jesus would not be on trial in modern day. I don't think he broke any laws that exist today.

    April 22, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  13. Tony

    Well you guys are missing the point. The trial is predestined to whatever God wanted to happen. The crucifixion was going to happen regardless of judge and jury.

    April 22, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Atheist PhD

      Lets see was that the same crucifixion that was done to Krishna, Sakia, Thamuz, WITTOBA, IAO OF NEPAUL , HESUS OF THE CELTIC DRUIDS ,QUEXALCOTE OF MEXICO and I can go on.... there were sixteen in all... All gods, all crucified. Sound familiar????

      April 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Artist

      Atheist PhD

      Lets see was that the same crucifixion that was done to Krishna, Sakia, Thamuz, WITTOBA, IAO OF NEPAUL , HESUS OF THE CELTIC DRUIDS ,QUEXALCOTE OF MEXICO and I can go on.... there were sixteen in all... All gods, all crucified. Sound familiar????
      ---–
      .
      Probably does not, they are trained to reject everything outside their word of god. Heck most dont even know the real history of how their "word of their god" came to be. lol

      April 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Not really Aphd

      April 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Lycidas

      Wow artist, you rank right up there with racists. Good job, it's hard to find such closed minded ppl nowadays that lump ppl into a generalized group like you just did. You have the makings of the kind of Tea Party person MSNBC shows all the time.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • Atheist PhD

      Really Lycidas? You mean the fact that four hundred years before Jesus, Mithra was born of a virgin on December 25th, bore the burden of the world's sins, died on a cross, performed miracles, and so on, doesn't even sound remotely familiar?

      April 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • PittGuins

      Christ was an historical personage, recently born in a well-known town of Judea, and crucified under a Roman governor, whose name figured in the ordinary official lists. Mithra was an abstraction, a personification not even of the sun but of the diffused daylight; his incarnation, if such it may be called, was supposed to have happened before the creation of the human race, before all history. The small Mithraic congregations were like masonic lodges for a few and for men only and even those mostly of one class, the military; a religion that excludes the half of the human race bears no comparison to the religion of Christ. Mithraism was all comprehensive and tolerant of every other cult, the Pater Patrum himself was an adept in a number of other religions; Christianity was essential exclusive, condemning every other religion in the world, alone and unique in its majesty.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • Contradiction

      Any thoughts on Mithra can be addressed here:
      http://carm.org/christianity/bible/doesnt-religion-mithra-prove-christianity-false

      April 22, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Atheist PHD- If you was a PHD, you would realize that "Correlation does not imply causation".

      April 22, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Atheist PhD- You might also note that Mithra was born from a rock and not a virgin. Unless your meant virgin stone? Plz try and do a bit of research before you prattle on.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm |
    • LOL

      Correlation is not causation but it sure is a hint.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @LOL- not in reasonable debate. And besides, the "hint" actually has to make sense. When someone claims Mithra to be born of a virgin when the myth is he was born from a rock, the hint kind of fades away.

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

      How's this for a hint.

      Roman Pagan Religion: Attis was a son of the virgin Nana. His birth was celebrated on DEC-25. He was sacrificed as an adult in order to bring salvation to mankind. He died about MAR-25, after being crucified on a tree, and descended for three days into the underworld. On Sunday, he arose, "as the solar deity for the new season." His followers tied an image of Attis to a tree on "Black Friday," and carried him in a procession to the temple. His body was symbolically eaten by his followers in the form of bread. Worship of Attis began in Rome circa 200 BCE.
      Greek Pagan Religion: Dionysus is another savior-god whose birth was observed on DEC-25. He was worshipped throughout much of the Middle East as well. He had a center of worship in Jerusalem in the 1st century BCE. Some ancient coins have been found in Gaza with Dionysus on one side and JHWH (Jehovah) on the other. In later years, his flesh and blood were symbolically eaten in the form of bread and wine. He was viewed as the son of Zeus, the Father God.
      Egyptian Pagan Religion: Osiris is a savior-god who had been worshipped as far back as Neolithic times. "He was called Lord of Lords, King of Kings, God of Gods...the Resurrection and the Life, the Good shepherd...the god who 'made men and women be born again'". Three wise men announced his birth. His followers ate cakes of wheat which symbolized his body. Many sayings as-sociated with Osiris were taken over into the Bible. This included:
      • 23rd Psalm: an appeal to Osiris as the good Shepherd to lead believers through the valley of the shadow of death and to green pastures and still waters
      • Lord's Prayer: "O amen, who art in heaven..."
      • Many parables attributed to Jesus.
      Worship of Osiris, and celebration of his DEC-25 birth, were established throughout the Roman Empire by the end of the 1st century BCE.
      Persian Pagan Religion: Mithra was a Persian savior. Worship of Mithra became common throughout the Roman Empire, particularly among the Roman civil service and military. Mithraism was a compet-itor of Christianity until the 4th century. Their god was believed to have been born on DEC-25, circa 500 BCE. His birth was witnessed by shepherds and by gift-carrying Magi. This was celebrated as the "Dies Natalis Solic Invite," The "Birthday of the Unconquered Sun." Some followers believed that he was born of a virgin. During his life, he performed many miracles, cured many illnesses, and cast out devils. He celebrated a Last Supper with his 12 disciples. He ascended to heaven at the time of the spring equinox, about March 21.
      The Babylonians celebrated their "Victory of the Sun-God" Festival on DEC-25. Saturnalia (the Festival of Saturn) was celebrated from DEC-17 to 23 in the Roman Empire. The Roman Emperor Aurelian blended Saturnalia with a number of birth celebrations of savior Gods from other religions, into a single holy day: DEC-25. After much argument, the developing Christian church adopted this date as the birthday of their savior, Jesus. The people of the Roman Empire were accustomed to celebrating the birth of a God on that day. So, it was easy for the church to divert people's attention to Jesus' birth.

      April 22, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @YEAH- Attis was not a product of immaculate conception. Does AGDISTIS sound familiar? Attis did not die on a tree but became one.

      You keep mentioning Dec 25th but there is no records of it in the mythologies you cite. Plz quit insulting us by merely throwing up the date as if no one would check. And ask yourself this, why would they use Dec 25th as we know it? It had nothing to do with the Sun on that date at the time periods you are citing.

      April 22, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "Some followers believed that he was born of a virgin."

      Mithra was born of a rock. Plz cite otherwise.

      April 22, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • Sharon

      Attis was killed by a boar then hung on the tree. The story has similarities to the Jesus story but of course if you were trying to sell Jesus to people they would have to change it. That doesn't take a creative genius to figure that one out. The point is there are too many similarities to pagan cults, it was Constantine that decided selling the Jesus story gives people hope and are easier to control.

      April 22, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @Sharon- You have no evidence that anyone sampled Attis's story for any other story. You cannot prove it because it did not happen.

      Your whole hanged from the tree bit falls apart too. ht tp://ww w.theoi.co m/Phrygios/Attis.htm l

      Unless you have some sitation that supports your claim.

      April 22, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • No One Is Safe

      @lycidas – you can nitpick the various myths that preceded the story of your christ all you want. the point you deliberately ignore is that all these myths were *out* there, already... the fact that your particular favorite myth doesn't *exactly* correspond to any one of its predecessors is utterly irrelevant... so the NT writers cherry-picked their favorite parts of the earlier stories, and left out the bits they didn't like... so what? the point is, they still had the entire palette of pre-existing mythology to choose from in order to construct the story of your man-on-a-stick, and that's EXACTLY what they did!

      April 23, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Sally Li

      Atheist PhD – it sounds like you read the book "Sixteen Crucified Saviors" by Kersey Graves, the sage of Richmond, Indiana.

      April 24, 2011 at 4:07 am |
    • Lycidas

      @NO ONE IS SAFE- "were *out* there, already"

      I love it when atheists can't stand it when they have been corrected. My response is, "who cares"!. I already addressed with by pointing out you are claiming the fallacy of Correlation does not imply causation. Just because there were stories out there does not mean that Christianity "borrowed" from any of them.

      But I will be sporting. Plz cite your evidence that Christianity did borrow. This does not mean to rehash more fallacies.

      April 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  14. Matt

    As I recall Jesus was on trial for claiming he was the son of God. Pretty sure this is not illegal in 2011, so there wouldn't even be a trial. Possibly the loony bin if he made this claim but he as he pretty much walked around and told people to love one another, he would be jsut fine.

    April 22, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • smc

      Jesus was on trial for supposedly portraying himself as King of the Jews, and the Romans didn't want anyone challenging their governance.

      April 22, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  15. Atheist PhD

    At this time in the year, everyone is looking for a new angle on the whole Jesus thing to keep him relevant, which he isn't. I believe that Christianity is a dying religion, just like the ancient Greeks and Romans' gods. We are experiencing the last dying gasps of a failed religion. Today eleven percent of Americans claim to have no religion, those are the ones brave enough to speak up. 93% of scientists have no religion, and the percentage of biologist is even higher. The more we learn the less we need a god to explain that which we now have science for. Good night god, rest in peace.

    April 22, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
    • Artist

      Atheist PhD

      At this time in the year, everyone is looking for a new angle on the whole Jesus thing to keep him relevant, which he isn't. I believe that Christianity is a dying religion, just like the ancient Greeks and Romans' gods. We are experiencing the last dying gasps of a failed religion. Today eleven percent of Americans claim to have no religion, those are the ones brave enough to speak up. 93% of scientists have no religion, and the percentage of biologist is even higher. The more we learn the less we need a god to explain that which we now have science for. Good night god, rest in peace.
      ----------

      Actually, I thought I read somewhere the percentage that do not believe is up to 24%. When light is cast on ignorance it must flee to a habitat that supports it...3rd world countries. Not in my lifetime but I suspect Jesus will share a space next to Roman mythology. We will scoff at it like we do witch doctors and zues.
      .
      How many more thousands of years have to pass before people start realizing that their god is not real nor showing up for the picnic.

      Interesting thought, will islam be the sole survivor of mythology considering most if not all of the ME is 3rd world?

      April 22, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Atheist PhD

      Hey Artist,

      You may be right about the numbers, I was quoting a conservative number I read a while back. You are right, the arguments made by the likes of Dawkins make sense, "We are all atheist, I just take my atheism one god further than most." I do think that the Muslims will prevail for some time until we are able as a world educate more and more of our inhabitants. You are right that will probably not happen in any of our lifetimes, but I believe it will happen, eventually.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • A Priest and a Rabbi walk into a bar...

      Atheist: You're so smart! We could all learn so much from you.
      A priest and a Rabbi walk into a bar. An atheist sits at the other end. As they sit down, the Atheist says, "Bartender: a beer for the Rabbi, a beer for the Priest, and a beer for their imaginary friend."

      The bartender sets up three beers. They thank the man, and each take a sip. The third glass remains full.

      The atheist, upset at not inciting the two, says, "how can you two believe that some magical flying genie just waved his hand and created all the universe?"

      The Rabbi asks, "And what do you believe, my son?"

      "I believe in logic and science–things we can see and prove!" answers the atheist

      "Well, I see you. You are my proof of God. And here is your blessed logic: If life was created at random, or by just the right conditions occurring on earth, then why doesn't life just spontaneously occur all the time? And why can't scientists recreate these conditions? If life was truly created just by making the right soup, then why would it be so elusive? If we know the effect, why can we not find and recreate the cause? No, my son, life is not random: you are my proof of God."

      The atheist, clearly frustrated at this response, turns to the priest and points at the full beer, "If your God exists, then why can't he empty that glass of beer?"

      The priest, takes the glass, pours it over the atheist's head, and says, "the Lord works in mysterious ways."

      The signs are everywhere, subject to your interpretation.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "whole Jesus thing to keep him relevant, which he isn't."

      I think you have rather a high and lofty view of yourself. Just because you don't see relevence in Jesus doe not mean that he does not have relevence to others.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Theologian PhD

      You seem to have it completely backwards. What happens this time of year is that the most controversial theories about Jesus come out to rock the orthodox boat, challenging the motive of relevancy as theologically driven. This year, it has been the changes in the NIV and NAB, which have upset majorities of fundamentalists. Rob Bell's latest book questioning a place of eternal damnation has also been a theological lightning rod this season. Actually, it's with great thanks to atheists that Jesus continues to be as relevant as he's ever been. So it helps to get your facts straight rather than throw around numbers that mean nothing. A PhD would know that. If you want real numbers, the Barna Group who tracks this kind of information still shows that Christianity remains well represented, and as far as Jesus goes...his relevance transcends even the Christianity that bears his imprint. Happy Easter!

      April 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Lycidas

      "but I believe it will happen, eventually."

      Why? and to what end? What benefit would there really be? Oh and plz don't tell us how you feel about it, tell us with facts. I mean, I wouldn't want you to look foolish and tell us what you feel. That's what ppl of faith do.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • PittGuins

      My dear Atheist "PhD",

      Please cite your sources where you get your statistics from. Please provide enough detail that I can verify your accuracy in repeating them.

      Thank you,
      An actual PhD

      April 22, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
    • Kirstyloo

      Dear Atheist, with all of your high and mighty understanding of life, you really missed the point of the event. The goal was to have people rethink their position on the death penalty and if it was right. Why do you think that they matched it the states procedures? This was less about celebrating Jesus and more about getting Christians to reconsider some of the barbic (my opinion) things that are done in this county. Why was he a African American man? Because he looked like the type of person who is disportionally sitting on death row. Why did they need to answer the two questions? Why did them give him a public defender. The authors of event chose this time of year because people would be more sensitive to it and they would begin to think. And like it or not, there are more Christians (in name or practice) than hard core atheists. On that note, target the larger group and the group that you have a wedge issue with (their belief in Christ). On that note, go back to the drawing board and discuss the activites intent...not simply your own bias.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
  16. Josh

    He would be a celebraty. He would get off. If the glove doesn't fit you must aquit!

    April 22, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
  17. Artist

    Atheist PhD

    No Pete, what you have felt is the same hypothalmus reaction I feel toward a good baseball game, it satisfies my need for something. I have a friend who was once an evangelical minister, now an atheist, and he can still create in himself that same feeling that he had as a holy roller, only now he understands where it comes from and why he feels it.
    -----------
    .
    I have to agree. I almost became a preacher. Talked in tongues, felt evil spirits, felt the holy ghost, had visions and signs etc. The mind is an interesting thing. And people need something so bad in their life or a "reason" and they will experience things.

    April 22, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Artist

      It was no easy task to get where I am at now. In a way I pity some of the people on here. Either the lightbulb will go off in their head and they start the very hard path of reversing the brainwashing....or they dont and live in their delusion and provide entertainment for the rest of us.

      April 22, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Atheist PhD

      Read Dan Barker's book, Godless, if you want to learn more about the psychological effects of religion. He does a wonderful job. You can also join the Freedom from Religion Foundation, its a great resource.

      April 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm |
    • Artist

      I really have to chuckle when I think back at my "perception". Liek living in a fantasy land with angels and demons running around. lol

      April 22, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
    • Doomsheep

      I wonder what religions are the largest Atheist creators. Most seem to come from the more radical faiths that take the speaking in tonges thing literally. If I am raised in a black neighborhood of mostly people of faith & I get mugged one day by a black man wearing a Baseball Logoed hat am I to denounce Baseball & hate all blacks? I wonder what turned you atheist instead of simply saying this bel8ief is wrong so I will Find another? For me a pamphlet stating everything is evil, Demonic & such. I no longer believe in the Lutheran Church yet I have not taken the Atheist leap in irationality & Lack of logic. I don't NEED a Faith to believe in God or that Christ died for my sins. I don't need a faith to tell me NOTHING is of God & Everything is of the devil. so how is it we both denounce our faiths Yet I still believe but you don't?

      April 22, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
  18. Sybaris

    There wouldn't be a trial. Jesus and his followers would retreat to some secluded location in South America and wind up drinking tainted kool-aid.
    The problem today is that fundy's imagine that this alleged Jesus man had throngs of followers like he does today when in fact he had relatively few. The only thing Christianity provides is a good example of what a good PR man and political influence can do.

    April 22, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Contradiction

      Sybaris,
      Apparently, Jesus and his disciples were such amazing PR men and political influences that they changed history. You can thank your western freedoms to Christianity. Do you think that hundreds of people who saw Jesus after his resurrection all hallucinated? Have you even investigated the historical EVIDENCE for JESUS CHRIST. The problem that people have with JESUS is that he is either who he claimed to be or he was a crazy man. Quite frankly, I'm amazed at how ignorant people like you are.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Sally Li

      You are right when you say that Jesus had relatively few followers during his time. Around the year which we would call 30 AD, the total number of Jesus' followers could be counted on the fingers of one hand. By about the time of Claudius, the number of Christians was in the hundreds to the low thousands, and has increased steadily since that time. Christianity was, in fact, a family organization, for the first 25 years of its existence.

      April 24, 2011 at 4:03 am |
  19. The Dude

    Well since we don't have religious laws such as blasphemy, he wouldn't be tried at all. Read the 1st amendment before writing stupid articles.

    April 22, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • mattmchugh

      While you may balk at the comparision, people like Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. are pretty reasonable modern equivalents of J - at least in terms of how much they were perceived as threats to national security. Both were arrested repeatedly, had extensive FBI files, and killed by those who feared them (ex-followers in one case). You misunderstand J's place in history if don't think of him as a extremely popular radical... and the establish order always goes after popular radicals, even though it may ignore insignificant ones.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • Kirstyloo

      Dude, you missed the point of the event and what it was trying to say.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  20. alex

    This is stupid. If Jesus was on trial today, he'd be released very quickly and declared a crazy person. He'd be ignored. In fact, since Jesus and St. Paul say that the best a Christian can be is to give away all of one's possessions, there are in fact many Jesuses today. We call them the homeless.

    April 22, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Dallas

      Yeah, because it's so common to call someone crazy and release them when they can heal the sick, the blind, and even raise the dead in public. Christ would have never have suffered the fate he did if he didn't have so many witnesses to the fact that he was the Son of God. You had preachers all over the place, and they didn't get crucified. Christ faced that punishment because they had no choice but to take the account of that many witnesses seriously.

      April 22, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
    • mattmchugh

      "If J was on trial today, he'd be released very quickly and declared a crazy person" - You're missing the point. The idea is to conceive of someone as threatening to our society as J was to his. Not just some eccentric preacher, but a very visible radical who questioned the validity of this nation's very existence and whose language contained metaphors of destruction. I don't think the law today would ignore him.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • pointless1

      He would then take over the 700 club...

      April 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Jen

      Jesus would never make it to trial today. He and his followers would have been burned alive in their compound by the FBI when Peter shot off the ear of one of the agents coming to arrest Jesus.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
    • Kenrick Benjamin

      A man that heals the sick, raise the dead, make the blind see, walk on water........etc.........etc. The end result would be the same, Politics.

      April 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Sally Li

      Dallas – you make a good point. One of the corrupt motives behind the crucifixion of Jesus was to discredit Him (as a witness, inter alia) and to discredit His followers as witnesses to the truth. The entire Crucifixion story is actually a very revealing tale of corruption, and it is morally instructive, even to atheists.

      April 24, 2011 at 3:58 am |
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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.