9/11 Ceremony won't include clergy or formal prayers
Visitors look over Ground Zero. Some religious leaders are upset there will be no formal prayers during the 10th anniversary ceremony.
August 25th, 2011
07:48 PM ET

9/11 Ceremony won't include clergy or formal prayers

By, Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)– As the city of New York prepares to remember the 10th anniversary of 9/11, religious leaders are raising concerns over the lack of clergy participating in the anniversary events.

"Utterly disappointed and surprised," Fernado Cabrera a New York City councilman and the pastor of New Life Outreach International church in the Bronx, said over the decision not to include any clergy in the ceremony.

"There's certain things that government cannot do, and answering questions of meaning of 'Why are we going through this?' and 'Where am I going to get strength from?' - those are existential questions that can only be answered from a spiritual aspect," Cabrera said.

"I'm telling you I saw it first hand, the power of prayer," he added of his time at ground zero on September 11, 2001.

Cabrera said he reached out to the mayor's office and was told there would be no prayer in this year's ceremony.

He has started a petition on Facebook to change that.

"The ceremony was designed in coordination with 9/11 families with a mixture of readings that are spiritual, historical and personal in nature," Evelyn Erskine, a spokeswoman for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said in an e-mail to CNN.

"It has been widely supported for the past 10 years and rather than have disagreements over which religious leaders participate we would like to keep the focus of our commemoration ceremony on the family members of those who died."

The exclusion of clergy was first widely reported by the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.

Bill Donahue of the Catholic League rejected the mayor's office explanation of potential religious infighting over who would get to pray, saying the issue is sorted out all the time for presidential inaugurations and other major events.

"What [the mayor] did is what he often does, which is to make autocratic decisions," Donahue said. "I don't think this is something that will sit well with New Yorkers and the biggest mistake Bloomberg has made is he's given us three weeks."

On July 29 Bloomberg spoke about the ceremony during his weekly radio show. He announced that President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush would both be attending and participating, as well as other politicians and elected officials.

"This cannot be political," Bloomberg told the radio audience. "That's why there's a poem or a quote or something that each one of the readers will read." He added there would be "no speeches whatsoever."

While he was talking about which officials would attend, he noted, "There's an awful lot of people that would like to participate but you just can't do that, once you open it up. So the argument here is it's elected officials and those who were there at the time and had some influence."

There have been 10 ceremonies at ground zero in New York to pause and remember the events of 9/11, one six months after the attack and on September 11 each following year.

Spirituality and religion have been reserved for the moments of silence in those events.

In past ceremonies, four moments of silence were observed to mark when each tower was struck and when each tower fell.

For this year's ceremony, organizers added two additional moments of silence to recognize the strike on the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

"This year's six moments of silence allow every individual a time for personal and religious introspection," Erskine said.

Throughout the city there will be other prayer events leading up to September 11.

In particular, the New York Police Department will be hosting its own ceremony, which will include prayers, at Lincoln Center on September 8.

The event is scheduled to include Rabbi Alvin Kass, the chief of chaplains for the NYPD; Cardinal Edward Egan, the Archbishop emeritus of New York; and the mayor.

But Donahue and Cabrera said because this is the 10th anniversary, there should be clergy and prayer in the 9/11 ceremony to reflect the contribution faith, religion, and spirituality played in the recovery.

"This is not a message of unity when you begin to exclude people who were crucial in the turnaround moment that we needed," Cabrera said.

Donahue said he hoped the mayor would reconsider and invite clergy to participate.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 9/11 • Belief

soundoff (1,461 Responses)
  1. The Jimster

    atheists, stop ur bashing...the religious, stop ur loose interpretations of things u barely know of...as an agnostic atheist, i'm sickened to see that these religious debates have been taken to the comments section of many news providers...this is a lose-lose approach to debate people...i just want to read one intelligentt comment for once that doesn't include negativity.

    August 29, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
  2. Leona

    I am not an American but i live in a country where faith, regardless of religion is valued.
    It is ridiculous how your Mayor and most politicians have become so extreme in their view of religion.
    Their intention to remove faith out of every corner of Americans life is wrong ! Especially denial of prayer at memorial ceremony ??

    With leaders that has no sense of right and wrong, no wonder this great nation is on the decline. Americans need to speak up against leader like that, be it the recent debt ceiling crisis issue or way the leader handle the 911 ceremony issue.

    August 29, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  3. ralph t

    Awful. Ridiculous. Pathetic.

    August 29, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
  4. Robert Sutherland

    @ David Johnson.

    I've read your response and you no doubt will have read the many other postings I've made. There's little point in me responding further as I would only end up repeating myself. All you need to do is read my previous comments.
    I am after all, an idiot Christian, I believe that was one of your many descriptions, who just happens to be one who cares and tries to make a difference.

    August 28, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  5. Robert Sutherland

    @ FlyingZirelli.

    Thank you for your support. It is truly appreciated. Secular bigotry appears to be alive and well. I find it somewhat frightening. Thank you again.

    August 28, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  6. Dakhath

    "There's certain things that government cannot do, and answering questions of meaning of 'Why are we going through this?' and 'Where am I going to get strength from?' – those are existential questions that can only be answered from a spiritual aspect."

    See, he already knows why prayer shouldn't be a part of the ceremony. The government can't and shouldn't associate itself with religion, period. Haven't we had enough damage done by zealots?

    August 28, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
    • Diane Hauser

      My personal view is that people are confusing those of us who believe in praying for the family of those who were lost and the false believers who are praying only to show off. People need to remember this is about the families not about what they believe or don't believe. Has anyone asked them what they want. Zealots give us true believers in Christ a bad name! May the Lord be with you. I will pray that you will get to meet the truth of the Lord instead of what you have seen so far.

      August 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  7. Robert Sutherland

    @ GW.

    Thank you for that. I do have an open mind though I'm the first to admit we don't have all the answers which probably defines the very word, faith. I can only go where my heart leads me. I have seen the joy in a small childs eyes when they receive their very own childrens Bible in their own language and can only hope their happiness continues through their lives.
    I have a friend here in New Zealand, a young Asian girl, who once gave me a little Buddha to protect me, and told me I had a gentle heart. Despite my own beliefs I've always kept it. In fact it stays in my suitcase when I travel, probably out of respect for a lovely caring girl. We've always had an understanding and respect for each other that avoids conflict. I'm in a different time zone over here hence the odd times I'm on this site.

    August 28, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
  8. Floyd

    Psalm 111:10

    "10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom"

    I think not...however wisdom is the end of fear though. I left religious fear a long time ago.

    August 28, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Bryan Jon

      You need to research the true and complete meaning of the word fear as it is used here. I could tell you what it is, but finding it out for yourself is of much more value. Oh, and by the way; wise!

      August 28, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You made the right choice!

      Cheers to you!

      August 28, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
  9. Floyd

    I don't worship anyone. I just try to figure out how to do the right thing. Very simple, very easy (the late, great Chef Tell).
    Oh yes, and I scribble down the recipes.

    August 28, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Bryan Jon

      And, how's that working out for you?

      August 28, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  10. Robert Sutherland

    @ GW.

    In answer to your question, once Gods Grace has been given he doesn't take it back again when you reach a certain age.
    I'm not a religious bigot. I'm a 63 year old man who tries to live a decent live and tries to do good for people in the secular world. The vast majority of my friends and others I have contact with are not people of faith, and I've never let than get in the way of my friendships. I was simply trying to have some friendly communication with you. You've asked questions of me, I've tried to answer them honestly. I'm at a complete loss as to why you seem to be intent on hurting and attacking me.

    August 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • GW

      I am truly sorry if you got that impression. I'm not attacking you, and I'm most certainly not questioning your character; quite the contrary. I'm only pointing out the uncomfortable facets of Christianity. When I was a believer, if someone were to claim my god was immoral, I would feel deeply offended and hurt. I also would not listen to anything more that person would say, so I have to commend you for keeping an open mind.

      As for your answer, I have two caveats. One: we know from Mark 3:29 that god does not forgive apostasy. Two: children are pure in heart, and thus automatically inherit the kingdom of god. At some point, though, they will lose their innocence, as we know that everyone sins. All sin has to be forgiven before one can enter into heaven, but can't be forgiven without faith.

      August 28, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  11. Reality

    The following should be made with three foot letters then bronzed and then permanently displayed at the memorial:




    August 28, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • FlyingZirelli

      If atheism is true, the atheist is just as deluded as a believer. This is an obvious and even scientific fact. Since all we are are neurons and since our consciousness 'emerged' via mechanisms which favoured improved survival of the progeny, all we believe are illusions to keep our moods up and ourselves away from suicide and to persevere against hardship of existence. Then there is the fact that free will does not exist, say neuroscientists. We either turn to religion or we turn to other ideologies. But these are all then non-value propositions. There is no truth. There is no reason to save anyone from anything and in fact if religion makes some people feel they have a purpose – the best to them. Why not be realistic and rational and realise that all you believe is just as deluded as what the people you obviously despise (Christians, Muslims, and others) believe and get over it? Why not realise that atheists killed more people than believers? Of course you could also be wrong and in that case you may find yourself roasting in hell for all eternity. And if there is no God you'll die and you won't learn that you were correct. So your proposition is not only illogical but quite incomprehensibly silly. It could make sense to a guy like Hume or Russel but now that we know more about our minds and evolution, it is just silly to believe in any objective knowledge as an atheist. Everything becomes meaningless.

      No God = no meaning/no purpose = all this CNN blog stuff = just an illusion. Your anti-God hate is just some instinct which has become warped by some other ideas. If no God, no meaning and the concept itself becomes absurd. Only thing left over is nihilism and you can ask Hitler, Stalin and the rest of them how that turned out. Adieu.

      August 28, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • Reality

      Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are atheists.

      August 28, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • GW

      Hitler was Catholic.

      August 28, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • 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)"

      August 29, 2011 at 12:42 am |
  12. SN

    to my Christian brothers and sisters who insist that THEIR way is the ONLY way and all others are doomed to hell.. ask yourselves 3 basic qns
    1. How can you insist your way is the ONLY way – if men of other faith also say the same – you are doomed to fight for supremacy of opinions?
    2. By ridiculing and insulting the faith of others – what others consider sacrosant and holy, are you not in a way showing the intolerance that you bear within?
    3. By not really understanding the faith of your neighbor and his beliefs are any better than a frog in a well that thinks the world is all round, deep, fark and made of stone?

    Point made.. come on folks.. wake up and don't drown in your own ignorance.

    Peace, NYS

    August 28, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • FlyingZirelli

      Dear SN,

      1. No-one is doomed to fight for anything. We can't all be right, eh? However does not follow that we are all wrong. So someone is correct, someone isn't. But if there is truth out there, well someone has it. Fighting over supremacy of opinions is not something the Church has ever fought for. It has fought for objective moral good and it has argued for its beliefs so as to bring in new members and keep existing ones. It's not an argument over who is or who isn't correct though and how that reflects on our egos. Secondly, You are quite convinced YOU are correct so maybe you should just NOT HAVE AN OPINION ON THE SUBJECT and stay coherent to your philosophy, unless you have some secret knowledge.
      2. No-one is ridiculing or insulting anyone else. If you say someone is WRONG it does not follow that you are RIDICULING or INSULTING them. By that standard the writings of Dawkins, Dennet, Hitchens, PZ Myers and Sam Harris would all be bigoted hate speech and their books and websites would be pulled in many if not most countries. They haven't. It also does not mean that when I tell you that you are WRONG, that I am being intolerant of you. If I discriminated unfairly against you on the basis of your opinion, that's something else, but disagreement is not intolerance. Otherwise we should hold no opinions at all. Even your own opinion is something you should not hold. We should all just stop thinking or even better listen to you and let you decide everything for us.
      3. Understanding others' beliefs. Do you understand Quantum Field Theory or Quantum Electrodynamics? Do you understand relativity? Do you understand the pathogenesis of modern illnesses of lifestyle? Do you understand what makes an Impressionist painting different from Pop Art? Point is that there are millions of things we do not understand for we are limited by time and other resources. It would be silly to put that as a reason against believing that what one believes is true. We can't all wade through modern science, philosophy, religions, arts, etc and do expert studies of them to know what is really true or not.

      Do non-Christians go to hell? Well it may be so, but it may also be that they get another chance after they die, for we think God is the most fair and merciful judge and would not condemn people to hell through lack of fault of their own.

      To add, I have never hated anyone because of their beliefs. I have however disliked hypocrites (and not saying that's you here) who say that my beliefs are intolerant while they are not intolerant for condemning me, or others who hate Christian morality and say it is arrogant but wish to replace it with subjective judgements dependent on the stimulation of their meso-limbic system. Yes if it feels good (i.e. area of your limbic system is stimulated) it is morally GOOD. Sorry such self serving ego driving judgements are also made by people who have it all figured out and are bound to change as their moods and internal states change. They think their judgments are correct. Let's learn to get along in peace as we've done for hundreds of years.


      August 28, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  13. SN

    @GW.. LOL! You are my Sunday morning comedian... Hindus and Budhists go to hell? and you KNOW that for SURE? Bud listen to yourself – you are delusional. I believe in spirituality BUT don't believe in i***ts like you spewing your beliefs as truths..
    BTW – show me ONE person who has seen Hell and I will show you a BILLION who have experienced spirituality..

    @Robert Sutherland – you sound like a mature soul!
    Peace, NYS

    August 28, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • GW

      My goodness, SN, I absolutely do not believe that anyone goes to hell, and I certainly don't spew truths. I was simply talking about Christianity and the bible, which states that those who do not follow Christ do not go to heaven. While you misread my post, I am glad that you are not okay with this type of belief.

      August 28, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  14. Robert Sutherland

    @ GW.

    I'm sorry if I didn't cover your points adequately, I thought I had. You're comment regarding an imaginary friend surprised me, I thought I was sharing thoughts with a fellow Christian. That doesn't concern me so I'll elaborate regarding your question, "Why must it be the God of the Bible. A few points. Most of the children I care for are either Buddhist or Hindu so I don't pick and choose where I direct my help, and if they already have faith I'm don't try to convert them. If they recognize what I do as being compassionate and explore Christianity later in life because of this, that's fine, otherwise I'm just happy to hold out loving hand.
    The children I hope to reach have no knowledge of God are often orphans with absolutely no one to turn to. They've already lost their families, Gods love cannot be taken from them. One last and very important point as to why must it be the God of the Bible. Obviously it's my faith I'm sharing but more importantly it's accessible due to Gods gift of Grace being free to any who believe.
    With all other faiths there's a requirement to earn approval. With Buddhism your required to follow the eight-fold path, Hinduism the doctrine of Karma, The Jews have the Covenant and Islam the code of the Law. All of these are very difficult to commit to unless your surrounded by the culture of whichever faith you explore. It's very difficult for example to follow Buddhism or the Hindu faith if your in the middle of an African famine and have no access to a Temple. Christianity on the other hand with its offer of love and grace requires no additional trappings, just belief. Christ may be an imaginary friend to you but to all who have experienced true faith it's anything but, and certainly not imagined to a child.
    Something that may interest you. I live in New Zealand and like yours, it's a society driven by capitalism. There are many distractions in a consumer driven society and faith tends to become lost and unnecessary. I've experienced exactly that and let my faith take a back seat. I travel extensively and on one trip I travelled from Nepal to London by land. I always though it odd to set off to see the world and end up missing most of it by flying. The one thing that stood out for me as I headed west traveling through India, Pakistan, Kashmir, Afghanistan and the Middle East and then eventually Europe, was the further west I travelled the greater the wealth and the deeper the frowns on peoples foreheads. The most contented, happiest people I met were dirt poor. They couldn't afford fuel, let alone a car to put it in. In fact most didn't even have running water. The one thing they did have was a very deep faith. There was a lesson in that for me, one I've never forgotten, which almost certainly led me down the path I took.

    August 28, 2011 at 3:35 am |
    • GW

      I get it. I was a believer all my life, so I know first hand what it is, and means, to be Christian. I've talked to Jesus, felt his presence, and been moved by his warmth. I understand that Christianity is different from all the other religions; that it's actually not a religion, but a relationship, and that any religion besides Christianity is false.

      I also understand, and always have, that nonbelievers, including Buddhists and Hindus, go to hell. This is no secret; the cat has always been out of the bag, I'm just astonished that it took me so long to really notice and acknowledge this cat. I'm going out on a limb here, but I'm guessing that you don't see hell as a problem because god gave us free will, and thus we choose our fate. However you rationalize it, if you were omnipotent, omniscient, and all-loving, you wouldn't allow anyone to suffer, and you certainly wouldn't create an individual who was just going to end up in hell. You also wouldn't create hell to begin with. If you really were aching for company, you wouldn't need to go through this whole earth process to discover who's worthy of heaven.

      I've asked this rhetorical question already, but I think it bears repeating: When you tell children that god/Jesus loves them, do you also tell them that after they grow up they will go to hell if they do not worship this christian god? Ask yourself why you don't tell children this.

      While many people take things for granted and lose sight of what's important, it is indeed possible to deconvert without losing compassion and happiness. Many people have freed themselves from faith, and now have a much greater appreciation for life, and understand that it is infinitely precious.

      August 28, 2011 at 10:25 am |
  15. Yeah Sure

    One other thing. "Why did God let this happen?" The same reason God let the greedy warmongers create this situation. Why did God let the US invade Libya? So we can get there oil and send in Haliburton contractors and the Military contracts. God wanted the United States Billionaires to be richer right?

    August 28, 2011 at 12:20 am |
    • Jim

      So, tell me, where is the oil from Iraq? Why are out gasoline prices so high? I was stationed in the Middle east for 2 yrs. I paid about 1.25 for a gallon of gas. Why are our prices so high if, as you say, we are getting all of Iraq's oil?

      Ur an Ignoranus.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Jim, most of our oil comes from Canada,Mexico, and ourselves. The oil in the Middle East is normally China, India and The EU nations. Now if the oil does not flow to them then the same countries will begin to dig into where we get our oil. Which would push our oil higher.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:38 am |
    • Entar

      ‎911 it's insdie job that,old Bush president tell George W, Bush president to work with Osama Bin Laden,if you don't belive it,go to watch youtube to bleive it,because if you want to hit a building on airplane,you have to need a direction like a light perhaps go to find it and belive it,if you saw George W. Bush biography the movie you will clearly understand what am i saying!!!

      August 28, 2011 at 2:10 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      I heard a Muslim declare that it was not GW Bush but the Jews. He too pointed to numerous Youtube clips that he stated would convince all of us who thought differently to believe in the evil Jew.

      ..sigh...Can't we just say the Towers fell, the pentagon was hit and a plane crashed in a field in PA. The rest is just many folks who have a axe to grind with some person or group.

      August 28, 2011 at 2:52 am |
  16. Yeah Sure

    "There's certain things that government cannot do, and answering questions of meaning of 'Why are we going through this...?'
    That's a total blown up lie. The Government knows EXACTLY why. 1: Bin Ladin was the US Government's "Freedom Fighter." back when the CIA helped create the Alcida to help fight the Russians along with Bin Ladin back in the Russa=Afgan war.
    The US keeps waging wars and promoting terrorism for its own greed. Then when the monsters the US feeds turn on us people stumble around like morons and say 'why." Once the United States no longer needed Bin Ladin because of the end of the cold war, They turned on him then he turned on the USA. Get your head out of the sand people. The US pillages and plunders the world for its resources, and personal greed for the rich, the corporations and for the big military industry that nets Billions.Stop pretending you have no blood on your hands because you do.

    August 28, 2011 at 12:13 am |
  17. Robert Sutherland

    @ GW.

    I don't actually need a lesson in theology, nor do I pick and choose segments of the Bible to believe. Many on these blogs don't have an understanding of scripture and it is those I was trying to reach. I certainly don't water down scripture.
    Believe me I've witnessed hell on earth in places most people only see on the news. I've been feeding and clothing children in third world countries for over thirty years and have witnessed tiny children who truly are separated from God and I spend a considerable amount of my income trying to reach them. I've seen little eyes vacant and devoid of hope sparkle with joy when they learn of Gods love and discover, when you feed their tiny hearts, that their lives have true value.

    August 28, 2011 at 12:06 am |
    • GW

      I was hoping that you would address the points I made, but, c'est la vie.

      Children are precious and have true value with or without god. When you tell them that god loves them, do you also tell them that after they grow up, they will go to hell if they do not reciprocate god's love and worship him? Of course not, because that would be sick. I can understand the comfort that an imaginary friend or hope may provide to a child, but why must that be the god of the bible, or of any religious text?

      What you do to help people in need is beyond admirable to be sure; you are doing a lot more than any god has ever done, and you're only human.

      August 28, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • FlyingZirelli

      GW said:

      "Children are precious and have true value with or without god. When you tell them that god loves them, do you also tell them that after they grow up, they will go to hell if they do not reciprocate god's love and worship him? Of course not, because that would be sick. I can understand the comfort that an imaginary friend or hope may provide to a child, but why must that be the god of the bible, or of any religious text?"

      Why do children have value? Do we not abort children by the million? Do parents not make decisions to abort one baby and keep the other, especially in cases of multiple pregnancy such as when one uses IVF? Yes children are precious but that does not follow from atheism. Sorry. In fact our atheist friends like Pol Pot, Lenin, Stalin, etc all killed millions of children and their parents. They killed these children to make the world better for future children. Yes, those future children had value, but the current ones did not.

      In a godless world there are no moral absolutes. So "Children are precious" is a fale statement, you can only say "To me, at this time, children seem precious. However, I can't force that moral belief on anyone else. " Why is evolved sentient bacteria so precious? Because children are cute and tug at our heart strings? Sorry that's an evolutionary instinct designed to get animals to look after their young. Sorry – no God = no objective morality = and yes we end up aborting away millions of children.

      BTW have you done what Robert Sutherland has done? Have you helped any children? He's saved some. Have you? What right to you have to prioritise your ideology over welfare of children?


      August 28, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • FlyingZirelli

      Robert I agree with you. When we realise that we have a purpose our whole outlook changes. If we believe we live in a purposeless universe we become resentful and hateful of others. We are unwanted, without purpose and if atheism is true there is no purpose or meaning in life and so we cannot create our own purpose. Our own purpose thus created is a self deception or a delusion. Sadly this is lost on the ideologues.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Uh-oh

      FLYING ZIRELLI – it's so sad to hear people like you condemn atheists (altho, that's what religious people do best, isn't it? Condemn others)...How do you explain a moral atheist?? It's not like they don't exist, I know dozens. If you need religion to be moral, than explain me? I'm more moral than many people I know. I know many churchgoers who never, EVER volunteer or practice the well-preached "take care of thy neighbor" community-minded sermons given at their local churches (oh, the rich ones can write a check in about 15 seconds, but do they donate? do they serve meals? do they read to elderly strangers? do they help abused women? do they foster inner city children?)

      A strong person can have NO belief in a higher power, but can believe in humanity and morality. My personal belief is that some people are not that strong, and require a structure that tells them what to do, and what not to do, in order to be moral and good in their lives. (And heck, even THAT doesn't help sometimes, does it? Are all the murders and tortures in history atheists? Think again.)

      So, so, so sad....

      August 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • GW


      We have morals, thus the bible is infallible. Wait, what?

      Look, if you believe in a deistic god, fine. While I see no reason to believe that the supernatural exists, I have no problem with those that do. The problem I have is with those who purport to know exactly who, or what, that supernatural power is, without providing any evidence.

      It also disturbs me that you cannot fathom there being any value to life without there being a creator. Why do you need there to be an omnipotent being to tell you that you are special? Does the omnipotent being also need a creator in order for it to feel special, and thus you as well?

      And I don't understand why I would need to give you a resume of my life before I can speak on such matters as faith; notice how I haven't stooped to ad hominems to get a point across.

      August 28, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  18. Fred1

    5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to
    be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door
    and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
    Mathew 6

    August 28, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • Carlos

      1 Kings 18:30-39

      "30 And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down.

      31 And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:

      32 And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.

      33 And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.

      34 And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.

      35 And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.

      36 And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.

      37 Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.

      38 Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.

      39 And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God."


      There's a reason why Jesus said to pray in private. He was refering to the hypocrites who do not practice what they preach (in this case, the pharisees of the New Testament era) and not because all prayers should be private. Please, look up the meaning and context of each verse with an open heart, and then think and formulate your opinion.

      Psalm 111:10

      "10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever."

      August 28, 2011 at 1:48 am |
  19. Fred1

    I say we have a national day of cursing god for letting this happen. Especially because the perpetrators were doing it in his name

    August 27, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
    • Cyndi

      I will pray for you Fred1...cursing God is NOT a good idea....you will reap what you sow!!

      August 28, 2011 at 6:39 am |
    • JD

      There are no consequences for cursing something that doesn't exist. Prayer is taking time out from necessary things to pretend you're doing something necessary.

      August 28, 2011 at 9:10 am |
    • The Original

      Some human atheists are clearly worse than demons.

      August 28, 2011 at 9:57 am |
    • FlyingZirelli

      Clever man, sowing discord. On the one hand our atheist friend tells us that belief in God makes you hate others so we should curse God, on the other hand he is posting content which he knows will be hurtful to others, but he's an atheist so it seems that it's not just God belief which makes you a sadist. An atheist can be a sadist too. But this bit of logic is lost on the ideologues.

      August 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • FlyingZirelli


      If God does not exist, everything you do is a self deception anyway. Whatever you consider 'necessary' is also pointless for we all will die, our civilisation will end and this whole universe will one day cease to exist. There will be nothing left. In that context, what is this necessary thing you should be doing? Are you not just self deluded there? Let's all realise that we are deluded and let the hate be, ne?

      August 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Uh-oh

      WOW, this FlyingZirelli dude is all over the place, he seems to think he is the supreme intellectual being on this blog. And he apparently has NO friends, family or acquaintances that are atheists, because he thinks they are all sadists and evil-doers. Hahahaha. Simply ridiculous. I'm an atheist and I could care less about religion, and I have friends who are both theists and atheists. All I know is I am the same as everyone else, I care about my family, I am occupied with living and working and making something of my life, and of leaving a legacy behind me. I am an elementary teacher, and I believe in helping people, but children in particular. I volunteer all the time, I care, I do, and I support everyone I know. The only difference is I don't make time in my life for putting my belief in some being or person or deity who supposedly will help my son win his soccer game, or help me win the lotto, or help our military defeat some other country's military. My life is wonderful, rich, deeply spiritual, and there are many people like me who simply don't NEED religion. Some people do, some don't. Who cares?

      August 28, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  20. George Washington Carver

    If there will be refreshments served after this ceremony, may I suggest a wholesome snack of the humble yet miraculous peanut?

    August 27, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.