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Progressive Christians join controversy over excluding clergy at 9/11 event
Progressive Christians are criticizing both New York Michael Bloomberg and his conservative critics.
September 7th, 2011
02:15 PM ET

Progressive Christians join controversy over excluding clergy at 9/11 event

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN

(CNN) - A handful of progressive Christian leaders are joining the mostly conservative chorus of religious leaders who are criticizing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg for excluding clergy from this weekend’s 9/11 commemoration event at ground zero.

But there’s a twist.

In addition to criticizing Bloomberg, progressive religious leaders are also taking aim at prominent conservatives who’ve blasted Bloomberg in recent days, alleging that those critics are stoking division at a time that calls for national unity.

The group is planning a press conference near ground zero on Friday to stress that “religion should not be excluded from 9/11 remembrances” but to also “urge unity, not division, on 9/11,” according to a Tuesday press release.

The Friday press conference, which will overlook ground zero, will feature Jim Wallis, who leads the evangelical social justice group Sojourners; the Rev. Floyd Flake, a prominent New York pastor and former Democratic congressman; and Geoff Tunnicliffe, who heads the World Evangelical Alliance.

“Mayor Bloomberg made an understandable but regrettable decision,” said Tim King, communications director for Sojourners, an evangelical Christian social justice group that is helping to plan the press conference.

“Religion, and religious leaders, have caused a lot of unnecessary conflict and controversy,” King wrote in an e-mail message. “But avoiding religion entirely does not get to the root of the problem.”

“The answer is better religion,” King continued. “And to those religious leaders who are stirring up a media controversy about this decision ... you are showing exactly why Mayor Bloomberg didn’t want you there in the first place.”

Since The Wall Street Journal first reported last month that the 10th anniversary September 11 anniversary event – which will be attended by President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush, among other leaders - will exclude clergy and formal prayers, conservative Christians have vented outrage.

“The clergy gag rule is being instituted to avoid ‘disagreements over which religious leaders participate.’ But since when has this been an issue?” wrote Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, in recent e-mail message to supporters.

“Plenty of clergy, including an imam, spoke at an interfaith service at Yankee Stadium after the attacks, and they managed to pull it off without a problem,” he wrote. “Why would it be any different this time?”

Bloomberg’s office has defended the mayor's decision on clergy.

"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 Bloomberg spokeswoman, said in an e-mail to CNN in late August.

"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," she wrote.

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.

–CNN's Eric Marrapodi contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: 9/11 • Christianity

soundoff (861 Responses)
  1. Peikovian

    I am not in the least religious myself, but that doesn't change the general feelings of people. 9/11 is the worst day in American history in this past decade. Thousands of civilians were killed. The public should mourn in the way they feel is best. This is healing for them and they aren't receiving the sanction of their beliefs by the government, only its sympathy.

    September 9, 2011 at 12:37 am |
    • Vern

      The government is supposed to be the people. It doesn't "feel sympathy" like a person you nitwit.

      September 9, 2011 at 1:01 am |
    • Johnny

      What's the difference between 9/11 and a cow? .... You stop milking a cow after 10 years

      September 9, 2011 at 1:12 am |
    • Peikovian

      Clearly you feel no sympathy. Perhaps you are that cow.

      September 9, 2011 at 1:24 am |
  2. rob

    If the religious fanatics don't like it, let them hold their own ceremony. Better yet, let them pray where it's appropriate: in their churches, or behind closed doors in their own homes.

    September 8, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • *frank*

      A mental ward would be even more appropriate.

      September 8, 2011 at 11:17 pm |
    • wilbur

      Can't have priests there. No place to do 'Choir Practice' with the young boys. No priests are interested, no privacy for their "prayer session" with the "Choir".

      September 8, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
    • HUnsaker

      Every one of the 9/11 highjackers were Muslems. Now thats religion and they are welcome. Wake up America.

      September 9, 2011 at 12:11 am |
    • Vern

      *frank*
      You hit the nail on the head, there.

      September 9, 2011 at 1:04 am |
  3. WilliamTeller

    Remember

    We can not forget what we saw, be it live or screen.
    We can not forget what we saw, we was home when we got the call.
    We can not forget what we saw, Tower in flames.
    Was it a jet or a plane.
    we can not forget what we saw, another object coming near.
    We can not forget what we saw, an accident becomes a fear.
    We can not forget what we saw, tower two hit in flames.
    We can not forget what we saw, souls falling, men take to the stairs.
    We can not forget what we saw, tower moving over
    We can not forget what we saw, tower breaks, my god.. No
    We can not forget what we saw, Tower 2 breaks, Jesus...
    We can not forget what we saw, mountains of darkness covering all.
    We can not forget what we saw, dusted tears running down faces.
    We can not forget what we saw, lost eyes with fear.
    Not moved by words of party or tone.
    We remember what we all saw..
    be it live or screened.
    We can't shake the fear or tears we shed.
    Forgetting is a pretended moment.
    We can't forget what we saw..
    That Eventh day in September,
    We must not forget and always remember.

    Dgon

    God Save America

    -+- -+-

    September 8, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • *frank*

      I'll never forget the trauma of reading that abomination.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • wilbur

      bunch of garbage. forget it. 35,000 die per year in traffic accidents. 2,000 kids are abused to death every year. move on. move on. forget it like it did not happen...it is HISTORY get over it.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Tee

      Corny.

      September 8, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
    • John Richardson

      OMG, *frank*, I've been laughing the past 10 minutes over your remark! You are SO cruel. Don't ever change!

      I'm not sure whether I should be ashamed of myself or just laugh some more. That is, I don't know what I SHOULD do. I do know what I WILL do! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

      September 9, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • vikki

      your poem touched me deeply. Prayers to God for America to STAY united, regardless of political party. It's so so very sad how quickly this country once again became divided because of various individual thoughts as to how the government should be run. WE THE PEOPLE.....will it take another horrific attack on our soil to be united again, Americans?????? stop bickering, for God's sake

      September 9, 2011 at 12:57 am |
  4. Lola

    It is so utterly ridiculous that whenever there is an article referencing religion all of the atheist go read it to antagonize those that believe. If you don't like what Christians believe, stop reading their comments. You are not going to convert them.

    September 8, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • David

      Likewise, you should ignore what Atheists write, if you think they are a threat to Christianity.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
    • wilbur

      i don't want to convert them. i want to insult them with truth: mary got r aped. c hristians all worship the 'electric chair of the day'...the Cross. Only religion that actively worships death. C hrisitian ity has a long and recent history of endemic 'child abuse'. The bible is garbage that is interpreted to control believers. How very pathetic. Your children hate Christianity. Media turned all you Children to Jewish, good thing, finally!

      September 8, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
  5. Zac

    Congratulations, you made the same argument every atheist makes. Yes religion condemns non-believers. But once again, who created religion? Humans. Regardless of whether religion is "in the right or wrong" Religion has become a tool to make excuse for the ignorant selfish things humans do. To blame religion for all the bad things people do, is to blame science for giving us the means to create the atom bomb. Religion isn't evil, evil humans are. Science gives us the means to rebuild organs, religion gives some people the chance to rebuild their lives. I am not going to use either to excuse the actions of man, and if I have to be and intolerant hypocrite to make my point I will.

    September 8, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  6. Rev. Ben Cable

    The horrific experiences of the 9/11 terrorist attacks ten years ago are not limited to any religion or lack of belief. The 9/11 attacks impacted ALL of the United States and developed countries. The arguments for or against religious representation at 9/11 events are interesting.

    As an interfaith minister I ask, how can one person represent faiths; or an invited 12 clergy or one thousand people to represent what is in the hearts of millions?

    Love and Respect,

    September 8, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • KaiXan

      The first voice of reason that I have heard. Keeping the clergy away lets everyone look into their own hearts, not what they are told to look at by a representative of their own faith. This is a time we should draw together as human beings, not as Christians, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, as so on, but draw together as the human race, empathetic to one another in tolerance, peace and love. Are there bad people, yes, of every flavor (cultural and religious). But that can be combated by a mass of 'human beings' feeling love and tolerance, mourning as ONE. No divisions, no lines, no differences other than those who support and believe in what is right and those who support and believe in what is wrong. Will there people who stand in the middle, those shades of grey? Yes. They are important as they keep the rest of us balanced, and looking at different points of view to grow both spiritually and as human beings. So I say, keep the clergy away and let those feel their own hearts, their own hopes and their own souls, unfettered and without dogmatic control, with others that share their pain, sorrow, their hopes and their planet.

      September 8, 2011 at 11:31 pm |
    • KaiXan

      PS....I am not an atheist, but I am not a Christian or Catholic either. I have not animosity towards any religion except when they hostilely try to shove it down my throat (like the seven year evangelical, with his mother, that told me I was going to burn in hell because I was not an evangelical christian and would not convert to their religion. Once again the extreme, which I do not compare other Christians with). I think every denomination has its place for those who seek it. Just please quit waving the cordwood and kerosene in my direction.

      September 8, 2011 at 11:37 pm |
  7. David

    one one please don't ever write out a poem like that EVER.. It was terrible. I will never get that minute that it took me to read your post back again. It is atheist, agnostic coffee shop rhetoric. It is "IMAGINE" head in the clouds, liberal moral relativism like what you posted, as a good reason why this country is going to Hell. Just because you do not believe, that does not mean that God is not real. God draws close to the ones who draw close to Him. Jesus said "Blessed are those who have not yet seen, but have believed." Jesus is coming back soon.

    September 8, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
    • *frank*

      No, he died, and has long since rotted and disintegrated.

      September 8, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • Zac

      Jesus supposedly has been coming back for quite sometime. But yeah that poem did suck. What would Jesus do? He would definitely tell a nation that is so divided between religious right and liberal left they are going to hell because one side is trying to make the world a better place for all, and the other is try to conform the world to their here-and-there belief system.

      September 8, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • *frank*

      But yeah, the poem was terrible.

      September 8, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • mickey1313

      david, I hate to be rude (not really) but god is as real as the tooth fary and santa clause. Do not put people down because they do not subscribe to you propagandast dirvle.

      September 8, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • wilbur

      Jesus coming back? He would be put in jail. They would think him a terrorist. He would end up at Gitmo.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:28 pm |
    • Zac

      Guantanamo is shutting down Wilbur, why would they send him there just to move him?

      September 8, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
  8. RB

    Most of these clergy members are probably de facto atheists and politicians anyway. More bland, meaningless prayers. They are dead and had there chances, and we will all die too, so what makes any of this so special in the long run? More tears all day long for these Americans as if some sacrifice on an alter was made. Meanwhile no one would dare "pray for your enemies" too. Let the flag waivers enjoy it, some just just prefer real love and not false humility.

    September 8, 2011 at 9:04 pm |
  9. koga

    I think not having the clergy anywhere would be great, but not having them at the 9/11 memorial is a good first step. Religion is the reason that those people died. Reminding their loved ones that the ruling class of this country uses religion as a tool to antagonize that ruling class of other religions would only detract from the event and increase their sorrow. religion is such a stupid thing.

    September 8, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
    • Zac

      "Religion flies planes into buildings, science flies us to the moon." Humans create religion. Humans advance science. Yeah it is religions fault makes sense. Stupidest argument ever. If you are going to be an atheist, at least say something original. Religion didn't fly the planes into the building, humans did. Don't give humanity excuses.

      September 8, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"but not having them at the 9/11 memorial is a good first step"

      On the road or path to a Nazi style final solution, I guess there has to have been a " first step" 🙁

      September 8, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • Zac

      Not having religious leaders/representatives at a highly controversial memorial = electing an extremely disturbed fascist dictator after a major depression, and following him out or faith or fear...

      Logical argument.

      September 8, 2011 at 9:43 pm |
    • mickey1313

      Zac, how about this, agnostics and athiests wish for everyone to get along and leave eachother alone. Religon wishs the same, as long as you agree with religon, if you do not, it wishs you dead. That is not good, spiritual, or devine, just evil hateful and WRONG.

      September 8, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • Zac

      Congratulations, you made the same argument every atheist makes. Yes religion condemns non-believers. But once again, who created religion? Humans. Regardless of whether religion is "in the right or wrong" Religion has become a tool to make excuse for the ignorant selfish things humans do. To blame religion for all the bad things people do, is to blame science for giving us the means to create the atom bomb. Religion isn't evil, evil humans are. Science gives us the means to rebuild organs, religion gives some people the chance to rebuild their lives. I am not going to use either to excuse the actions of man, and if I have to be and intolerant hypocrite to make my point I will.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • Zac

      LOL hit the wrong link.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • Zac

      Mickey, (now I am going to say this, and you won't believe me, I am not saying this to be a spelling or grammar Nazi, and for all I know you don't speak english as a primary language) I just wanted to let you know you spelled "devine" wrong in two of your comments. It should be divine.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • wilbur

      Zac, anyoine who picks on sombodys spellng is just an IDIOT. Tht means U.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • Zac

      Oh wow Wilbur. That is sad thing about computers there is no way to see sarcasm and emotion. Now you could have given me the benefit of doubt, especially after I said, "now I am going to say this, and you won't believe me, I am not saying this to be a spelling or grammar Nazi, and for all I know you don't speak english as a primary language." But instead like the ignorant sacks of meat we humans tend to be, you automatically assumed I was being a jerk. You do know what they say about assuming right? Congratulations, me and you are just alike.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • MrCurve

      Why are there always people on here that denounce religion, say religion is stupid, ad infinitum ad nausea. I've read where someone said it was because of religion 9/11 happened. Well perhaps, but remember ANY religion has extremists, Christianity and Islam alike. There are many who take their religion completely out of context, and usually they are the ones who go and kill in the name of their religion.

      September 8, 2011 at 11:39 pm |
  10. Michael Overton

    Bill Donohue is being somewhat dishonest about the "no problems" part: at least one clergy member was removed from his post because he participated in the 9/11 ceremony to which he alludes. I don't blame the mayor for deciding to make the service a non-religious event, especially since there are so many stoking the fires of anti-Islam rhetoric these days.

    September 8, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
  11. Mark from Middle River

    We are Gladiators. Better the battle is here with words than in the streets with bullets and bo'mbs

    September 8, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
    • Dark from Diddle Diver

      LOL
      what a putz

      September 8, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  12. Shame on CNN for Creating Division

    Need I say more? Every time an article of faith is posted on CNN's website, they create the arena for others to spew their hatred toward each other by opening it for comments. As for me, I will choose the path of unity in these divisive times through tolerance of all, believer and non-believer. I hope you will do the same.

    September 8, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
  13. J

    Progressive Christian is an oxymoron.

    September 8, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Well to make a simular blanket statement. I guess the same as a tolerant Atheist 🙂

      September 8, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
    • oneone

      Jesus doesn't believe in religious tolerance. He sends people to hell for not believing in him.

      September 8, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • Zac

      Actually God sends them to Hell... get you "facts" straight.

      September 8, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • mickey1313

      nail on the head, and to your comentors, no tolerance is the perview of athiesm, if you do now reconize the devine force that tears humanity apart, then you are imune to its hate.

      September 8, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  14. sleepytime

    As long as Bill Donohue is crying then it's all good with me.

    September 8, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  15. oneone

    God wants our worship and love it seems.

    But he only appears to us in our dreams.

    You can pray for his help, but don’t hold your breath.

    For his plan for you is your inevitable death.

    They claim if you believe, you’re heaven bound.

    But a witness for this has never been found.

    No guarantees for this claim, now THAT’s a sin.

    So don’t take the bait and get hooked and reeled in.

    September 8, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • Redneck louie

      ah seen way better writin on the outhouse wall whats this yokel atryin to say

      September 8, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Badoom Tish

      Aktually that ain't half bad.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  16. ljspin

    I am rather confused. This is a religion blog, and yet, many, many of the posters here are obviously atheists and agnostics. This bewilders me. There are blogs on New Age beliefs, on Tarot cards, on UFOs, on conspiracy theories. I don't believe in any of these things, and so I don't go to these sites. I don't care about these beliefs and, consequently, I don't care about these blogs. However, people who have no religious beliefs are somehow drawn to religious blogs like moths to a flame. Why are atheists obssessed with a religious blog? And when you are here, I've noticed that you do not discuss or debate religious belief rationally. Rather, you whine over, complain about, and insult believers and their beliefs. Is insulting people who believe in God your version of Holy Communion? The equivalent of a sacrament? Are you going to tell me that posting here is your way of protecting your rights against religion? Puh-lease! If you are more rational, more intelligent, more sane, and more grounded than I am, surely you can come up with a better excuse. This blog has no bearing on your lives, my life, anyone's life. What's posted here is a conversation, and conversations are two-sided. To blast out insults and patronizing statements is not engaging in a conversation; it is a grasp for power. For anyone's information, I have spoken (in real life, face-to-face) with atheists, and I was not ridiculed or criticized for being a believer. I received respect, both for myself and my beliefs, and I returned that respect in kind. I have yet to see that kind of respect between believer and non-believer here. And while we are talking about respect, let me come to the point that set me off on this tirade. Several posts commented on the Catholic priest who was injured and died while administering Last Rites to victims of the 9/11 attacks. Someone, I won't single him out, stated that the priest was not a hero, that he wasted the time of the other first responders, that he did nothing, and his Last Rites were "nonsense." To a believing Catholic, the Last Rites, a last confession, a prayer, an annointing with holy chrism, means a great deal. It gives comfort to the dying. And I am sure that others - Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, etc. - who knew they were dying, would not object to a man of God, even if his faith were different, giving them a moment of peace and comfort before death. This poster, however, does not understand this. In spite of his great rationalism and intelligence, he does not have the empathy or the imagination to realize what comfort a short prayer or a touch of oil can bring. And even if it turns out that it all really is "nonsense," NO ONE can deny the comfort that it brought those people in the moments before their deaths. How dare you suggest they should be denied this "nonsense"! And how dare you suggest that these people probably did not want prayers or Last Rites! Just because you, if you were a victim of the Twin Towers, would have prefered to lie in the dust, in pain, and bleed out your life alone, doesn't mean that others wanted to leave the world in that way. How dare you suggest it! In case you haven't realized it, I am a believer, and a - horror of horrors!!! - a Roman Catholic. I have many faults, but one I trust I do not have is the belittling and insulting of another for his/her beliefs. I do not like it when others see themselves so far above me that they cannot reciprocate the respect. Oh, and as far as the article that started this discussion: Mayor Bloomberg is being very short-sighted when he declares that religious leaders should have no participation in the 9/11 commemmoration. He should choose one representative from each faith: Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, and the major Protestant denominations. Even if these clergy did not speak, they would at least be there to represent the fallen of each congregation. You can do the same with other groups. Choose a representative or representatives for the police, the firemen, the paramedics, the other first responders so that they all will be represented. One more comment and then you can thank God - if you believe in Him - because I will shut up. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak my mind.

    September 8, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • Ryan A

      Lol...what a waste of virtual ink.

      September 8, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • sleepytime

      I clicked on a headline on cnn's main page and ended up at this article. I assume that's how most other people ended up here as well.

      September 8, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
    • wm

      I'm bewildered by long rambling notes with no paragraph breaks.

      September 8, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
    • Babs

      Sweetie...I agree with watchyer sayin' but you took a mightly long time to say it.

      September 8, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Babs

      Sweetie...I agree with watchyer sayin' but you took a mighty long time to say it.

      September 8, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • *frank*

      Just speaking for myself, but if I'd been laying there dying I'd much rather've had a shot of morphine than a priest.

      September 8, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • realist

      Yup, I ended up here by accident so might as well take the opportunity to offend some people. Silly Christians, they should try praying to the sun. At least you know its real and actually does something for you....oh wait that would mean a belief in science.......my bad.

      September 8, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
    • mickey1313

      that is an easy question to answer. The new age stuff, while rediclous, does not harm anyone. Thiesm, on the other hand, is extreamly harmful to all who incounter it. It erodes the mind and soul of the believer, and opens them up to hate those who do not believe, since every bible type book states clearly that the non-believer is evil. These beliefs hurt every liveing soul, and that is whiy smart athiests and agnostics come out against the hate spewed by the church.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • Kays

      Wow. You pretty much negate your whole argument when you say that atheists need to be more intelligent and rational.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • Looooong Post

      Even though you seem unable to hit the "enter" key, I found it easy to read your post. That's rare.
      As to your points, I don't see why you feel the need to post anything any more than these atheists you rail against.
      You felt a need to post. So did they.
      We express what we can when we feel it strongly enough to break past our usual apathy. That's why so many on-line comments are emotional and skewed like yours.
      One response to your post mentioned the need for morphine rather than prayer to ease the very real pain. That's very practical and effective compared to waving your hands in a mystical way and saying words the dying may not even be able to comprehend much less hear. Extreme agony is amazingly distracting to the one suffering it. He may not have heard anything or understood that your Catholic "Last Rites" were being said.
      Morphine would have meant much more to him, I am very sure, or perhaps he was in such shock that neither morphine or mystical words would have made a single iota of difference. You are assuming much where there is nothing to base your assumptions on.
      As for atheists, consider their plight. The big religions all abhor atheists and command violence against them. That means no guilt need be felt by a "believer" when viciously torturing an atheist to death. Many would also think that the soul of the atheist is going to burn forever anyway so why not get started on that before they die? Vicious religious passages virtually guarantee a negative and violent emotional reaction on the part of the "believers" when faced with "blatant" atheism.
      The irony here is that you appear unable to see the other side of it. Empathy and sympathy are rare when one is blinded by their religious beliefs. That's how Muslims can find it so easy to kill others in the name of their religion. Religion is like that.
      To make a long explanation short, atheists don't have any recourse against the major religions of the world and get short shrift when trying to point out the glaringly obvious problems caused by the irrational religious believer.
      Majority rule does not equate to correctness, efficiency, or even morality. It is mob rule and nothing else.
      Our history is filled with examples of rational people attempting good changes for everyone only to be murdered, oppressed, etc. because the "majority mob" was against any such good. People can be led by the nose rather easily. That's what religions do and what atheists fight against. Your narrow religious view of the world is skewed extremely far from reality and when you are opposed with realistic and rational arguments, most religious people like you express shock that anyone would have the temerity to challenge your religious mindset.
      Blind to your own shortcomings regarding your worldview, you seek to silence any and all opposing viewpoints without taking the time to evaluate the actual merits of the other side. That's really not a good thing to do, yet our brains are wired that way. We are not a race of super-beings or intellectual giants. We're a race of sub-intellectual, emotionally-charged loose cannons. If you were expecting your deity to fix this, I must inform you that your deity is not doing anything about anything and is taking no calls and answering no prayers. In short, your deity does not exist.
      An atheist sees the evils done by all religions, not just the ones you don't like.
      When a well-meaning person sees evil being done, they often want to oppose it and stop the evil. That's all I see atheists doing these days- -opposing the evils they see in the world with the main focus being religion-based evil.

      As for this article, we have a Const-tution that our country is based upon, not some bible or holy text. That means our government must remain separate from endorsing or respecting any religion....so....if you want a public religious ceremony, you'll have to do it on your own time and not the government's time even though many religious people have railroaded their beliefs into every place they do not belong. This criminal behavior has got to stop. We need to support the Const-tution, not disrespect it by opposing it at every turn in the name of some religious yearning.
      In other words, either every religion gets included in the ceremony or none of them get to be included.
      Please. Do you really want Satanists included? Muslims? Wiccans? They have the same rights as anyone else. Atheists, having no religion, would actually be excluded yet they are always represented by rational people everywhere.
      Religion is inherently irrational. That is worth opposing and even going out of our way to come here to a "belief" blog to oppose such things.
      Were the question between the irrational and the rational, which would you choose?
      No, don't tell me. I can guess your wild response already. The cognitive dissonance and disconnect of religious believers is paraded daily in these blogs.
      You have no idea how insane you all sound. If you did, you would be well on your way to being an atheist yourself.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
    • Magic

      ljspin,
      "There are blogs on New Age beliefs, on Tarot cards, on UFOs, on conspiracy theories."

      If fortune tellers and astrologists were trying to pass laws and public policies, intrude into public education, gain tax exemptions and, in general, rule the country, I'll bet that you would stop in and visit those blogs from time to time.

      September 8, 2011 at 11:04 pm |
  17. jeff

    I thought the bible mentioned something about praying in secret. Why does so many media christians feel the need to be seen praying? Ask GOD why....but do it in private.

    September 8, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • mickey1313

      that is easy to answer. Because 9,999 out of every 10,000 who claim to be a thiest, HAVE NEVER read there book filled with filth, and they just do what the talking heads say is christianity. No one could honestly read the bible and say it is absolute truth, AND a good thing. that is the exact reason that Cathlocs are told NOT TO READ THE BIBLE.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  18. Norm - not that one

    Let me get this straight: chri9stian religious believers and leaders are upset about being excluded from the 9/11 ceremonies.

    "The group is planning a press conference near ground zero on Friday to stress that “religion should not be excluded from 9/11 remembrances” but to also “urge unity, not division, on 9/11,” according to a Tuesday press release."

    Ummm what about some of those same organizations and people who raise holy hell at the building of a Muslim religious center, just a few blocks away!?!?!?

    September 8, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • Not All Clergy Agree

      Some clergy are bothered, some aren't. I am a Christian pastor, and I decline to participate in my community's 9/11 memorial because I don't think clergy belong at these kinds of secular events. I have no control over what the politicians are going to say, and they usually put clergy on the platform in order to create the impression that they are being endorsed by God. So I'll lead a worship service for my congregation that remembers 9/11, and the town can do its own thing. I support Mayor Bloomberg's decision.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
  19. Real

    Ok.... there's always controversy and disagreement over 9/11 things...usually in regard to religion. So the terrorists were successful I see.

    September 8, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • mickey1313

      I hope you mean the CIA was sucessful

      September 8, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
  20. Reality

    There are some things that need to be repeated over and over and over and over again:

    “John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (a radomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

    The Situation Today
    Barring military conquest, conversion to a faith other than that of one’s birth is rare. Some Jews, Moslems, and Hindus do convert to Christianity, but not often. Similarly, it is not common for Christians to become Moslems or Jews. Most people are satisfied that their own faith is the true one or at least good enough to satisfy their religious and emotional needs. Had St. Augustine or St. Thomas Aquinas been born in Mecca at the start of the present century, the chances are that they would not have been Christians but loyal followers of the prophet Mohammed. “ J. Somerville

    It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to radomness of birth. Maybe just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

    September 8, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      just not by you.hit report abuse to reality posts to end copy paste bs.Its all spam.

      September 8, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • mickey1313

      those affected with the madness of thiesm are too far gone for that. They have been brainwashed from birth. It is sad, it is sadder that this is not cconcidered child abuse. If you taught your kds to sacrifice animals at midnight, you would be arrested for child abuse, and what the christians muslems and jews teach is far more evil and barbaric.

      September 8, 2011 at 10:08 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.