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My Take: Reactions to Cain, Paterno point to a not-so-Christian nation
Penn State students rally around a cut-out of football coach Joe Paterno after he was fired.
November 12th, 2011
05:00 AM ET

My Take: Reactions to Cain, Paterno point to a not-so-Christian nation

Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "God is Not One: The Eight Rival Religions that Run the World," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

In the never-ending debate over whether the United States is a Christian nation, recent events support the nay-sayers. I am referring to the troubles of Herman Cain and Joe Paterno.

How we respond to ethical conundrums often boils down to empathy. In the abortion debate, do you identify with the woman who wants an abortion or with the fetus? Concerning the federal deficit, do you identify with the wealthy person who might see his taxes rise or with the poor person who might see her unemployment benefits extended?

One purpose of the world's great religions is to widen our circle of empathy beyond ourselves and our families to others in our community, and in the wider world. Christianity, for example, has long taught that we should empathize with “the least of these,” and particularly with the poor and oppressed (see Luke 4:18).

The morality plays we are now witnessing—the sexual harassment allegations swirling around Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain and the sexual assault charges swirling around the Penn State football program headed by former coach Joe Paterno — provide an opportunity to assess just where our collective empathy lies.

When we look as a nation at the Herman Cain campaign, do our hearts go out to the wealthy businessman and White House contender or do they go out to the women who are accusing him of sexual improprieties? In pondering this case, and trying to determine where we stand, how do we approach the evidence? To whom do we give the benefit of the doubt? To the “least of these”? Or to the most powerful?

When we turn our gaze to Penn State, do our hearts go out to the boys, some as young as 10, who were allegedly sodomized or otherwise sexually assaulted by a former assistant coach under Paterno? Or do we empathize with Paterno, the closest State College, Pennsylvania, gets to a graven image?

I know there are many unanswered questions in both cases. So I am not commenting here on whether Cain is telling the truth or whether Paterno did all that he was obligated to do when he first heard allegations of a sexual assault in his locker room.

I am talking about where are hearts instinctively go in these situations.

When I turn on the television and see “family values” conservatives jumping to Cain’s defense within hours of the first charges surfacing, or Penn State students rioting over the decision of their university’s Board of Trustees to fire Paterno, I have to ask myself, “What has happened to this supposedly Christian nation"?

I know that in the United States defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty. But I am not talking about the law here. I am talking about where our hearts incline, and whether they incline in a Christian direction.

I do not know whether Jesus is a Penn State football fan. He may well be. But if he were here today, would he be laying flowers at the front door of Paterno’s house (as many students have done), or would he be seeking out the boys whose lives have allegedly been so irreparably damaged?

Would he be standing alongside Cain’s lawyer as he issues not-so-veiled threats against accusers who have not yet gone public with their stories, or would he be standing by their side?

In your heart of hearts, I think you know the answer.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Christianity • Herman Cain • Pennsylvania • Politics • Sexuality

soundoff (2,118 Responses)
  1. Pat

    Bob....I don't eat pie's that your mamma makes so well and samples them too.

    November 12, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  2. David Johnson

    This country is a nation of laws. These laws are not based on any morals decreed by a desert war god.

    Any god is irrelevant. This great nation is a secular nation.

    Everyone who is not willing to accept the fict_itious "Jesus", should rejoice in this. Even if you accept Jesus, you will be subject to the Christian Right's ideas of Jesus' wants. Will Catholics and Jehovah Witnesses be "Christian" enough for the Christian Right? If I were a Muslim father, I would not want to have to explain to my children how the god they love and worship is inferior to the Christian god.

    Why, I can see how this might cause some to rebel. That's okay though. Jesus will provide Christian warriors to slaughter those that do not bend their knee to Him. Pfui!

    The Christian god is very unlikely to exist.

    Jesus was a myth, patterned after the sun gods that were popular before and during this time period.

    Prayer does not work and there is no soul. Both,because of the above truths.

    We also don't have a leprechaun nation, because leprechauns don't exist....See a pattern?

    Cheers!

    November 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      Jesus was a myth? You do know that even secular non-Christian scientists believe this Jesus did live during this time, just as recorded? The large amount of witnesses that spread to all parts of the Roman Empire is pretty evident of that. In fact, 30 yrs after this fake jesus, Nero killed a mass of Christians in Rome, located over 1000 miles from Jerusalem. I think you may want to deliberate with your scientists before trying to misrepresent what your own scientists think!

      November 12, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Free

      GauisCaesar
      "Jesus did live during this time, just as recorded?"
      So, actual scientists who believe that Jesus was God, as recorded in the New Testament, but can they prove it, like scientists? There is a sharp distinction between the two and scientists are not immune to holding crazy ideas just as doctors aren't immune to being smokers, but you won't find it in their work as doctors to advocate for smoking or as scientists to argue for the existence of the supernatural.

      There were sizable cults to Mithras, Hercules, Sol Invictus, Isis, Cybele, and others in the Roman empire too, but does that prove that the central figures of these cults were not myths either?

      November 12, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @GauisCaesar

      You said: "Jesus was a myth? You do know that even secular non-Christian scientists believe this Jesus did live during this time, just as recorded? The large amount of witnesses that spread to all parts of the Roman Empire is pretty evident of that. In fact, 30 yrs after this fake jesus, Nero killed a mass of Christians in Rome, located over 1000 miles from Jerusalem. I think you may want to deliberate with your scientists before trying to misrepresent what your own scientists think!"

      Nero did indeed kill and torture Christians. I didn't say Christianity didn't exit. I said an actual Jesus the Messiah did not exist.

      Assumptions:
      (1) Jesus died in about 30 C.E.
      (2) Hearsay is not acceptable evidence.

      Hearsay – hear•say/ˈhi(ə)rˌsā/
      Noun: Information received from other people that cannot be adequately substantiated; rumor.
      The report of another person's words by a witness, usually disallowed as evidence in a court of law.
      Synonyms: rumor – report – gossip – whisper – scuttlebutt – crap (mine)

      There were no eyewitness accounts of Jesus. The Gospels were written by god knows who in the third person. The Gospels were written with an agenda i.e., Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God.

      We know virtually nothing about the persons who wrote the gospels we call Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
      -Elaine Pagels, Professor of Religion at Princeton University, (The Gnostic Gospels)

      The bottom line is we really don't know for sure who wrote the Gospels.
      -Jerome Neyrey, of the Weston School of Theology, Cambridge, Mass. in "The Four Gospels," (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 10, 1990)

      Jesus is a mythical figure in the tradition of pagan mythology and almost nothing in all of ancient literature would lead one to believe otherwise. Anyone wanting to believe Jesus lived and walked as a real live human being must do so despite the evidence, not because of it.
      -C. Dennis McKinsey, Bible critic (The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy)

      There are no known secular writings about Jesus, that aren't forgeries, later insertions, or hearsay. NONE!

      Most of the supposed authors lived AFTER Jesus was dead. Can you say hearsay?

      Philo of Alexandria (20 BC – 50 AD) a contemporary Jewish historian, never wrote a word about Jesus. This is odd, since Philo wrote broadly on the politics and theologies around the Mediterranean.

      Lucius Annaeus Seneca (ca. 4 BCE – 65 CE) A.K.A. Seneca the Younger. A contemporary of Jesus wrote extensively on many subjects and people. But he didn't write a word about a Jesus.

      Gaius Plinius Secundus (23 AD – August 25, 79 AD), better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher. Plinius wrote "Naturalis Historia", an encyclopedia into which he collected much of the knowledge of his time. There is no mention of a Jesus.

      The area in and surrounding Jerusalem served, in fact, as the center of education and record keeping for the Jewish people. The Romans, of course, also kept many records. Moreover, the gospels mention scribes many times, not only as followers of Jesus but the scribes connected with the high priests. And nothing about the Jesus. Nada! Not even something chiseled on a wall or carved into a tree like: "Jesus Loves Mary Magdalene".

      John 21:25 King James Version (KJV)
      25And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

      Golly Gee! You would think a fellow this "gifted" , would have at least been mentioned by one of these historians.
      There is a line in the musical Jesus Christ Superstar that says:"The rocks themselves would start to sing".
      Hmm...
      We don't even have a wooden shelf that Jesus might have built. Or anything written by Jesus. God incarnate, and we don't even have a Mother's day card signed by Him.

      Mark 3:7- 8 King James Version (KJV)
      7But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great mult_itude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea,
      8And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great mult_itude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him.

      Yet, not one of these adoring fans, bothered to draw a picture, chisel a bust, or even write down a description. Even Mohammad has a description. Virtually all important people do. And god, being god, could have preserved it.

      Huge groups of people following a man who had performed miracles...yet no historian of the time, commented on it.

      The Dead Sea Scrolls did not mention Jesus or have any New Testament scripture, as some have claimed.

      Jesus, if he existed, was not considered important enough to write about by any contemporary person. The myth hadn't had a chance to flourish. The future stories and miracles needed awhile to grow and spread.
      Paul's writings were the first, about Jesus. But, Paul's writing was done 25 to 30 years after Jesus was dead. In a primitive, ultra-supersti_tious society, 25 years is a lot of time for a myth to grow. Twenty-five years was most of the average person's lifespan in the 1st Century.

      Some people feel that Paul, not Jesus, is the real father of what most Christians believe today (Pauline Christianity).
      Paul never actually met Jesus. His knowledge and faith was the result of hearsay and an epileptic "vision".

      The Christian Right has embraced Paul as the moral lawgiver. Paul's First Ep_istle of Paul to the Thessalonians, is often quoted by the Republicans. You never hear them quote Jesus' advice to the rich. You don't bite the hand that feeds you.

      Questions on the Crucifixion story:
      "Likewise also the chief priests mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; himself he cannot save." Mark 15:31

      "Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe..." Mark 15:32

      It would appear, that the chief priests are admitting that Jesus "saved" others. If they knew this, then there is no reason for them to demand that Jesus descend from the cross, in order for them to believe. They already admitted to knowing of Jesus' "miracles".

      This is just an obvious embellishment by Mark. A work of fiction possibly constructed to make it appear that some Old Testament "prediction" was fulfilled. Like:

      "I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting." – Isaiah 50:6

      Here is another:
      1 Corinthian 15:14-17 – Paul says Christianity lives or dies on the Resurrection.

      1 Corinthians 15:4 "4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures"

      Matthew 12:40 – Jesus said, that he would be buried three days and three nights as Jonah was in the whale three days and three nights.

      Friday afternoon to early Sunday morning is only 2 days at the most. Or, if you count Friday and Sunday as entire days, then you could get 3 days and 2 nights. This is a gimme though. The Mary's went to the grave at sunrise and it was empty.

      Obviously, the believers spin this like a pinwheel. I have seen explanations like: Jesus was actually crucified on Wednesday or maybe Thursday; The prophesy actually means 12 hour days, and not 24 hour days; The partial days are counted as full days. This one is true, but still doesn't add up.

      At any rate, the crucifixion day and number of days and nights Jesus spent in the grave, is disputed.
      It looks very much like, that Jesus was not in the grave for 3 days and 3 nights. The prophecy was not fulfilled.

      1 Corinthian 15:14-17 – Paul says Christianity lives or dies on the Resurrection. Hmm...

      And what of this?:
      Jesus had healed a woman on the Sabbath!:

      Luke 13 31:33 KJV
      31The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee.

      32And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected.

      33Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.

      NOTE that Jesus is saying, it is impossible for a prophet (Himself) to be killed outside of Jerusalem.

      Yet, Jesus WAS killed outside Jerusalem!

      Calvary or Golgotha was the site, outside of ancient Jerusalem’s early first century walls, at which the crucifixion of Jesus is said to have occurred. OOoopsie!

      And there is this:
      According to Luke 23:44-45, there occurred "about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour, and the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst."

      Yet not a single secular mention of a three hour ecliptic event got recorded. 'Cause it didn't happen!

      Mathew 27 51:53
      51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ crucifixion and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

      How come nobody wrote about zombies running through the cities? 'Cause it is all b.s.

      An interesting note, which should not be ignored:
      "The same phenomena and portents of the sudden darkness at the sixth hour, a strong earthquake, rent stones, a temple entrance broken in two, and the rising of the dead have been reported by multiple ancient writers for the death of Julius Caesar on March 15, 44 BC." – Sources Wikipedia (John T. Ramsey & A. Lewis Licht, The Comet of 44 B.C. and Caesar's Funeral Games, Atlanta 1997, p. 99–107

      Hmmm...

      If you can't even believe the crucifixion story how likely is the resurrection account to be true? In a book that is a mix of fiction and "fact", how do you know which is which? Especially, since all of the bible seems very unlikely and does not fit with the reality we see around us.?

      If Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God, who died for man's redemption, then this would be the most important event in the history of man.

      Having gone to the trouble of impregnating a human and being born god incarnate and dying for mankind's sins, why wouldn't god have ensured there was tons of evidence that this was true? Multiple Writings by contemporary eyewitnesses – Jews and Romans and Greeks.

      You are going to want to say that there IS lots of evidence, but look at reality: There are way more people, in the world, who are not Christians (67%) than who are (33%). Obviously, the evidence is not adequate to convince even a majority of the world's people.

      You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep-seated need to believe. – Carl Sagan

      Cheers!

      November 12, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Joel Weymouth

      You are an idiot Johnson. Tacitus mentions the existence of Jesus . The Gospels were written in the 1st Century because Tatians Diatessoran openly quotes them and Tations Diatessoran was wrttien 120 AD. Furthermore, 1st Century Christian literature mentions quotes the gospels (Polycarp, Ignatius) – both who were personal friends of John. We have Papyrii fragments of the gospels that go to the 1st Century.

      Have you ever heard of SImon Greenleaf – one of the fathers of American Jurisprudence. He created the "rules of evidence used in our courts today. He set out to disprove the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and converted to Christianity because according to his rules of evidence, it was incontrovertible.

      You are obviously a trained monkey following the whims of you twisted teachers. I would seriously consider your atheistic viewpoint as more than laughable -but for two things –

      1. More people have been killed in the name of atheism than any other reason. You talk about the Crusades – more people died under Pol Pot in Cambodia – atheistic communism. And when you factor in the death tolls under Mao and the Soviet Union – all religions will never catch up to the "butchers bill" of atheism.
      2. When you get a man the caliber of Sir Isaac Newton supporting your view points. Newton – physicist, mathematician (inventor of Calculus), and the ONE THAT EINSTEIN CREDITS FOR HIS DISCOVERIES.

      Really – who do you have – Hichens? Hawking ? what can he do – other than drool a lot.

      November 12, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Joel Weymouth

      Assumptions:
      (1) Jesus died in about 30 C.E.
      (2) Hearsay is not acceptable evidence.
      Hearsay – hear•say/ˈhi(ə)rˌsā/
      Noun: Information received from other people that cannot be adequately substantiated; rumor.
      The report of another person's words by a witness, usually disallowed as evidence in a court of law.
      Synonyms: rumor – report – gossip – whisper – scuttlebutt – crap (mine)

      Hearsay evidence, if allowed, could be used to "prove" the Greek gods and demigods were real. Just as we have a brief mention of Jesus by Joesphus in his Antiquities, Joesphus also mentions Hercules (more times than Jesus), in the very same work (see: 1.15; 8.5.3; 10.11.1). Josephus wasn't born until 37 C.E. Is Hercules real, just because his tales were told?

      So, let's look at your comment:

      You said: "Tacitus mentions the existence of Jesus ."

      Tacitus, the Roman historian's birth year at 64 C.E., puts him well after the alleged life of Jesus.

      He gives a brief mention of a "Christus" in his Annals (Book XV, Sec. 44), which he wrote around 109 C.E.

      It is worthless. He wasn't born until Jesus was moldering in this grave, according to the myth.

      What Tacitus wrote, if he wrote it, was told to him by someone else. Who that someone else is, isn't even known.

      You said: " The Gospels were written in the 1st Century because Tatians Diatessoran openly quotes them and Tations Diatessoran was wrttien 120 AD."

      Mark – was written in about 70 C.E. 40 years after Jesus reportedly died.
      The average lifespan of a person was about 29 years in the 1st Century.
      "Most contemporary scholars now regard it as the earliest of the canonical gospels"
      Source: Brown, Raymond E. (1997). Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Anchor Bible. pp. 164. ISBN 0-385-24767-2.

      Mathew – was written in 80 to 90 C.E. 50 years after Jesus ran into that tree.
      Mathew is a combination of material from Mark (over 90% of Mathew was copied from Mark), a docu_ment called "Q" and some of his own material, "M".
      Mathew was not an eyewitness to anything. He was just copying stuff people told him - HEARSAY

      Luke – The author of Luke admits himself as an interpreter of earlier material and not an eyewitness (Luke 1:1-4). Luke was not an eyewitness of the life of Christ. He was a companion of Paul who also was not an eyewitness of Christ's life. Most modern critical scholarship concludes that Luke used the Gospel of Mark for his chronology and a hypothetical sayings source Q docu_ment for many of Jesus' teachings. See a pattern here? LOL

      John – was written in ~ 90 C.E. 50 years after Jesus was dead and gone forever.
      "According to most modern scholars, John was not the author" – Source: Wikipedia "Although ancient traditions attributed to the Apostle John the Fourth Gospel, the Book of Revelation, and the three Ep_istles of John, modern scholars believe that he wrote none of them." Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible (Palo Alto: Mayfield, 1985) p. 355

      So, yes the Gospels were written in the 1st Century. Which is why you can find people who quote from them at that time. You man not believe this, but I have even found people who quote from them today.
      Every bit of the Gospels are written to "prove" Jesus was the Messiah. It is just a myth.

      Calling me names does not do much for your argument.

      Look at my arguments, and answer them.
      Give me a list of secular historians that wrote about Jesus while he was supposedly doing all the miracles.
      Show me a description of Jesus, given during His life.

      Your arguments that were meant to make me cringe and crawl away, didn't. Your arguments were sad.

      God is very unlikely to exist.
      Jesus was a myth. He never lived.

      Cheers!

      November 12, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
      • Joel Weymouth

        A written record IS NOT HEARSAY. This statement that you make shows that you are not a very smart person. Tacitus had access to the records of Pontius Pilate (who definitely did exist). Living 34 years After Jesus, does not make him unqualified to RESEARCH JESUS. Look at the findings of Simon Greenleaf, the dean of the rules of evidence for American Jurisprudence. According to the rules of evidence used in criminal law, he concluded that Jesus did exist. Alas, I can see you are merely trained.

        Have a good eternity in Hell boy.

        January 25, 2014 at 6:48 pm |
  3. Jack-o-lantern

    He would have left flowers at neither doorstep; he would have preached the gospel to the masses, as before.

    November 12, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Yuri Pelham

      and been given lip service and then ignored

      November 12, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  4. Pat

    Bob....your not being a Christian, as you see it. Like I said by your statement, we are all sinners and saints. I guess this is your sinner coming out.

    November 12, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  5. Pat

    Bob...stop reading the Bible. To be a good person, one doesn't need to read the Bible to find answers. Answers are given to us at every moment to make the right decision through God if we just listen.

    November 12, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  6. Steven9337

    All religions are simply tools used to self-pontificate ones self and to judge all others.

    November 12, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
    • GauisCaesar

      Yes, of course....everyone that has ever lived and had religion just used it to brainwash other people. I just hope you are not ignorant enough to believe your own lies.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • Loggan44

      I disagree with your comment about religion. The problem isn't the religion, its the people who follow the religion and interpret the religion to suit their own means. There are many decent people of various religions who don't fit the blanket stereotype you present here.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Free

      Loggan44
      People follow the religion, people interpret religion, and people invent religion. So, the problem is not religion, but people. Makes perfect sense.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  7. Pat

    Bob...who said life exists after this. Life as we know doesn't. That's based on ego. Going back to infinity, becoming one with God exists, before we came to this life.

    November 12, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Bob

      and your proof for that extraordinary claim is?

      November 12, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  8. Beth

    "A No-So Christian Nation"?!? People advocating to lobby for restrictions on how we behave in the privacy of our own homes while themselves breaking their own religious convictions and setting new levels for hypocrisy... I thought that was the defining characteristic of Christianity.

    November 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  9. Yuri Pelham

    Christian nation? So far removed from reality. We exterminated the Indians, enslaved the blacks, then segregated them and lynched them; now we're impoverishing the middle class and increasing the numbers of poor. Overseas we're killing tens of thousands for no good reason. Look how we've treated gays. Christian nation??? Hogwash. The devil's nation cloaked in angels garb. The Christian tradition includes the slaughtering of innocents during the Crusades, burning them at the stake during the inquisition, the Salem witch trials, the holocaust, and the ignoring of subsequent genocides around the world.
    Onward Christian soldiers!!

    November 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
    • Bob

      Given all the slaughter that Christian god purportedly does according to the bible, it's not that surprising.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
    • Yuri Pelham

      Well Bob good point. I think most of the slaughter was in the Old Testament. Then came a change in emphasis with the New Testament.. supposed to supercede the old. You know.. love and forgiveness and no judging glass houses and all that. I'm still waiting for that message to get thru. So far Unitarians and Quakers get it.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
    • Eric

      The New Testament added the concept of hell, which is one of the most immoral things ever devised.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
    • Free

      Eric
      They got it from the Greeks and Romans. They invented Hades, and the New Testament authors eve use that word in Greek. People likely just transferred the Greek model for the Jewish idea and got it all wrong, like some other things.

      November 12, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Tony

      You said: "Isn't it funny how a bunch of hillbillies LOVE Jesus, and quote scripture which has been translated into English, and act as though Jesus answers their prayers, in English..."

      I have an elderly friend, who has an elderly wife. She is very religious. She prays to god in King Jame's English. No joke. She feels god listens better when she does this.

      Cheers!

      November 12, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
  10. Tony

    Isn't it funny how a bunch of hillbillies LOVE Jesus, and quote scripture which has been translated into English, and act as though Jesus answers their prayers, in English, and act as if Christianity was somehow "American", when in fact, they've bought into a bizarre fable scheme from the Middle East, the very place they most despise (with equal ignorance)? Christianity and morality are not synonymous. What is ethical and right is not the same as what is Christian. And to that end, the concept of "fairness" is ethical, but is apparently not Christian according to the article– when someone is accused of wrongdoing, the benefit of the doubt is fair, no matter what their position or level of power. Imagine if you were accused. Trial by public opinion is unethical. Let them have their day in court, let us see the hard evidence, and then let us decide where our hearts will lead us.

    November 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  11. Evelyn Elizabeth

    I'm not sure if this question posed to Jesus can be an either-or. Perhaps he would do the Christian thing and invite the sinner to look into his heart and repent (and go and sin no more), and the victim to reach out and forgive: to invite both to courageously, faithfully and humbly allow the Truth to set them free. Generally today, the biggest megaphone – the media sound bytes and talking points – gets to "portray" situations involving ethical choices, and how Americans are judging such "headlining" situations involving politically powerful human beings. And that may appear as if we, as an entire nation, are not very Christian. Or that we are highly hypocritical. Or just still too Puritan? But, statically, we are still the most generous of nations when it comes to charity – nationwide and worldwide. Charity is a Christian virtue. We don't kill protesting women and children in the streets, instead, we give them a place to occupy! I believe there are many Americans who are praying, silently, carefully, for both Herman Cain and those women mentioned and yet unmentioned in those interviews. And for Mr. Paterno, and those young men, alleged victims of such unspeakable abuse. I pray for all of them. I pray for America. I don't consider myself religious, although going to church did teach me how to pray, and how to become more charitable. And, I do trust God's plan more than sound bytes, interpretations, good storytelling and political jockeying. And that is what sets me free, too.

    November 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Bob

      You aren't free. You are a slave to sick religious fiction with an ass-hole of a deity. Have a closer read of your bible. Leviticus, for example. Then ask yourself why it says what it does. And why god wants to torture you forever if you doubt him.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  12. Tim Gary

    I have been wondering for a while the question "If Jesus were here today, would he align himself with ideals of a Democrat or a Republican"??? I think we all know the answer to that also!!

    November 12, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Al

      Yes, neither. Now if there was a party actually left of center you'd see Jesus there, helping society's less fortunate.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
    • Bob

      Ah, there's near-dead moldy folk in both parties, and most with no sense of finance. He'd fit right in, in either party.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  13. Mike

    As a non-believer, I have long noted the difference between those who are truly Christ-like, and those who call themselves Christian. No amount of zeal will teach a person simple human compassion.

    November 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Evelyn Elizabeth

      Yes, I think so too. It's in the "how they go about it" that says so much about a person's heart. Thank you for posting.

      November 12, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  14. Pat

    Who says Christianity is good. The world is both evil and good. People are both sinners and saints. Everything in this world contains an opposite. That is why God didn't want us to get too attached to the world. There is only goodness outside life. He wants us to grave him not this world. So don't look for goodness in this life, you will be disappointed.

    November 12, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
    • Bob

      You'll be even more disappointed with the next life. It doesn't exist.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • Pat

      Bob...who says it exists. Goving back to infinity is life. Get a clue.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
    • Bob

      Pat: get a sh!t pie and eat it.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Aaron

      "Everything in this life contains an opposite"? Wow. I had no idea that Marcionism, one of the oldest heresies to afflict the church, was still so current. A good and evil side? Is this theology a la Yoda? Let's do recall Genesis – God saw that it was good. The creation is not half good and half evil. The creation is good. We may misuse it, but misuse does not make the world evil...only misused.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  15. JenniferinTX

    Thank you for this article, you put so clearly and succinctly what I've been trying to say to people. We are all twisted up in America these days; it's time we started looking within and clear our own "house" before we begin to tell others who and what they are.

    November 12, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
  16. Rev. E. W.

    Would Jesus have done "enhanced interrogation," commonly known as torture? See for yourself:
    http://antiwar.com/news/?articleid=8560 Is the US a Christian nation? No. Anyone claiming otherwise will have to answer to God.

    November 12, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
    • Al

      No, but the Romans would have and did, as Jesus painfully found out.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  17. So What

    This nation was not founded as a Christian nation. It was founded by wealthy landowners looking to keep what they had. What part of Christianity says its okay to have slaves and then only count them as 3/5 of a person?

    November 12, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • Eric

      "What part of Christianity says its okay to have slaves" - have you read the Bible? True, it didn't say anything about counting them as 3/5 of a person, it's more like 0/5 of a person.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
    • The Beagle

      >> What part of Christianity says its okay to have slaves...?

      God in the Bible not only tolerated slavery but commanded it. Jesus never said a word to the contrary, but upheld the OT Law. See the series of posts on this topic on my blog.

      Introduction and index: http://pathofthebeagle.com/2011/09/10/invitation-to-a-dialog-on-biblical-slavery/

      God commanding slavery: http://pathofthebeagle.com/2011/09/21/did-god-command-slavery-or-merely-tolerate-it/

      Jesus on slavery: http://pathofthebeagle.com/2011/10/20/what-did-jesus-say-about-slavery/

      November 12, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
    • So What

      Who knows if Jesus said something against slavery or not. Since he didn't write any of the new testament we really don't know what he said. We only know what some other people chose to write down after the fact, after hearing other people talk about it, then copied hundreds of times by hand ( I'm sure every one was correct too), then translated, then sifted through by a bunch of people who wished to retain the power they had amassed. Yeah, the Bible, that's a real great source to quote.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  18. Mark

    Sheesh people focus on the article! At a very minimum, if people really had ANY empathy they would at a minimum give the women the benefit of the doubt or at least have the common courtesy to reserve judgment – and in the Penn case, have shown as much compassion for the kids as they did for their beloved coach.

    November 12, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Al

      The problem is that some Christians feel the same empathy for most people that the rest of us do, but they were taught to consider some of them 'sinners' undeserving of actually getting any sympathy.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  19. FBF

    Well the sky is blue and white.

    November 12, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  20. mike halter

    I belive Karma will even things out.

    November 12, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Jeff Williams

      Well, until then we'll use the court system if you don't mind.

      November 12, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
    • Free

      How ironic would it be if self-righteous Christians got reincarnated into the kind of folks they look down their noses at in life?

      November 12, 2011 at 3:44 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.