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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. kyle

    Child Molestation seems pretty accepted in Christianity to me. I mean the Pope things gays are worse then child molesters.. Enough said

    November 14, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Entil'za

      Is that what the Pope said? Oh that's right...he never said anything like that before. It's just your lackluster opinion.

      November 14, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hmm..... Ok I will play your game of absurd comments.

      Satanism seems pretty accepted in those not Christian to me.

      or

      Neo-Nazism seems pretty accepted in the White to me.

      or

      Gang affiliation seems pretty accepted in the African American and Hispanic community to me.

      or even

      Due to the drone strikes that kill have killed innocent children, it seems that pretty accepted to the American Military and American people to me.

      ...sigh ... folks like you are funny. 🙂

      November 14, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Free

      Entil'za
      Well, the Vatican did say that ordaining women priests was as 'grave' a crime as child molestation, but you are free to read into that what you will.

      November 14, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Entil'za

      Where did it say such a thing?

      November 14, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • Free

      Entil'za
      From "Outrage After Vatican Declares Ordination of Women a 'Grave Crime'", for example:

      http://abcnews.go.com/WN/outrage-vatican-declares-ordination-women-grave-crime/story?id=11183098#.TsJyxq4QFk8

      November 15, 2011 at 8:14 am |
  2. brooksjk

    The Four Pillars of the Kingdom

    Some of us approach our faith much like the fearful servant in the Parable of the Talents. We take what little we have been given and bury it, never seeking to grow it into some thing more, certainly not a faith that would lead Christ to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a few things; I will set you over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord."
    Sadly, for many people, their religion is largely a matter of proximity. Author and noted atheist, Bertrand Russell, said this:
    “…people choose the book considered sacred by the community in which they are born, and out of that book they choose the parts they like, ignoring the rest.”
    It is hard to argue against that point. Do we really choose our faith or is it largely chosen for us by our parents and the culture into which we happen to be born?
    Available now on Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

    http://amzn.to/sSL3YY

    http://amzn.to/smSZLR

    November 14, 2011 at 8:44 am |
    • Free

      Same goes for what sports you'd end up being a fan of too. You're far more likely to be a NASCAR fan if you grew up in the South, and a hockey fan if you grew up in the North, or in Canada. Outside of the US and Canada you'd likely be a soccer fan, and very unlikely to be what we would call a football fan. Our religious choices are usually more a product of our culture than any underlying superior 'truth' they may have.

      November 14, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  3. geekgirl42

    The US is not a "Christian Nation", it's a nation of individuals, each with a unique point of view. The biggest problem with this country is not that we don't all believe the same thing, but that we don't respect each others' choices and experiences. We can be a nation of laws without being a nation of a certain religion.

    November 13, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
    • MartinT

      Awesome response geekgirl42... VERY well said.

      November 14, 2011 at 7:16 am |
    • Free

      We can still respect each others' choices and experiences while also exercising our right to criticize people's choices and the beliefs they base them on, especially if they affect us as well, right?

      November 14, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Nonimus

      Criticism is not automatically disrespect.

      November 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Free

      Nonimus
      Criticizing fundamentalist Christianity here is not only seen as disrespect, but it will get you labeled a 'hater' as well.

      November 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  4. Cathedral

    The wake up call for us to turn back to God has long been given, we don't need a Cain/Paterno to question if we are a Christian nation or not.
    Did you look around to see the decline in family values? did you verify who has the highest divorce rates?
    It is time to turn back to God and repent of our sins.
    May God so help us!

    November 13, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Um, yeah, I did. And "Christians" are right up there in terms of divorce, abortion, and incarceration for criminal acts.

      Did you have a point?

      November 13, 2011 at 8:55 pm |
    • Mirosal

      If you think this is a X-tian nation, you are as deluded as that moldy book of fairy tales you seem so proud to spout off about. If this is so much a X-tian nation, please tell me, why isn't this "god" of yours mentioned in our Consti.tution? Why is freedom of religion the FIRST right granted in the Bill of Rights?

      November 14, 2011 at 7:26 am |
    • Erin

      Why? So we can ignore atheist idiots. That's why freedom of religion was first given. lol

      November 14, 2011 at 7:32 am |
    • Mirosal

      Just so I'm clear about your point ... all atheists are idiots?

      November 14, 2011 at 7:36 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ Cathedral – We are not a christian nation. Perhaps you need to re-read the treat of Tripoli. Regarding divorce rates – research shows that the more fundamentalist your religion, the higher the divorce rate. And the lowest divorce rate? That would be the atheists.

      @Erin – research shows that on average, atheists IQ's average 6 points HIGHER than fundamentalists.

      November 14, 2011 at 9:00 am |
    • Free

      Cathedral
      It's curious that Christians would preach a pro-family gospel when Jesus clearly rejected his own family and wasn't very positive about other people's relations with their own. For example:

      -And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many that are first will be last, and the last first. Matt. 19:29-30

      -"If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26

      November 14, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • IntlPol101

      Well written article. America has forsaken the Lord; and He has turned His back on this nation.

      November 14, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
    • Erin

      Primewonk- "research shows that on average, atheists IQ's average 6 points HIGHER than fundamentalists."

      I see claims but no research to back it up. And are you meaning fundamentalist Agnostics? Christians? Jewish? Islamic?

      November 14, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Free

      IntlPol101
      "America has forsaken the Lord; and He has turned His back on this nation."
      Well, time to move on with the real work of making this nation better then. The future looks bright!

      November 14, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Searcher

      Erin - "I see claims but no research to back it up."

      There is an array of studies on this subject here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religiosity_and_intelligence

      November 14, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @IntlPol101,
      "Well written article. America has forsaken the Lord; and He has turned His back on this nation."
      So much for All-loving, I guess.

      November 14, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Erin

      @Searcher- You mean such things like:
      "The measurement of religiosity is hampered by the difficulties involved in defining what is meant by the term."
      Sounds like they don't have much to work on if they cannot even define it in a scientific manner.

      "However, it would be committing the ecological fallacy (e.g. too much stereotyping) to infer that every atheist has a higher IQ than every believer. It would also be a mistake to infer that every highly religious country will have an average IQ that is lower than every less religious country."

      My...your article doesn't seem very compelling. It even says that religion does NOT make one dumber at all.

      November 14, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      The evidence on these boards says otherwise, Erin. Your posts are proof positive that it does.

      November 15, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  5. ikusei sukra

    well, listening to all this, i certainly hope that the US is NOT a christian nation. we have enough problems as it is.

    November 13, 2011 at 6:32 pm |
    • hippypoet

      for answer read below

      November 13, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  6. hippypoet

    i posted this on other pages of this site but this article seems to still be alive...so to clear up any confusion to "IF" this country is a christian nation ...

    the first line in this article is a complete showing of how ignorant our country has become... was this country founded by religious people – yes and no... some were and some weren't...the first settlers came here to be "their" type of religious rather then stay in england and be Henry the 8th's version of belief... so in the sense, yes this country is started by nut jobs, but this country is not yet a country at this point – its a colony of England. The founding fathers put into the const!tution a separation of church and state, so there is a very clear difference between the colonists and the founders... This is in my opinion beyond clear that our country was founded not as a christian nation, not even a religious nation, but one that allows for any belief but has laws that are not bound to any dogma – they are instead voted in and changed by vote over time as to stay up to date for the times. The fact that some morons have the "10" commandments outside a house of justice is sad and @ssbackwards... So with the first sentence of this article – "In the never-ending debate over whether the United States is a Christian nation" we the people show our ignorance of our own land and founders – thats insulting to the core. I wish people if they are going to talk, let them please at least try to know half of what they are talking about! All i am asking for is half, but apparently thats asking too much!

    Sad and further insulting as i am a citizen of this nation!

    oh and pla you said

    "if your passport is in order then there is nothing keeping you from leaving"

    my relpy, i love my country, and i will try everything in my power to correct this nation even if that means running for pres when i am old enouhh... no matter if i win, which i hope i don't win but ... by running, i get an open forum to voice issues and possible solutions, that is all i am asking for by running – if i do not win – well then that sucks.. cause i don't want the eyes of ultimate judgement on me 24/7 . But before you think this is the best country out there – visit other places... you may find a different opinion forming.

    November 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • hippypoet

      sry, i meant – by running – if i do win – well then that sucks...

      November 13, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Concerned Lutheran

      Stay with us hippypoet. You may yet avoid "the eyes of ultimate judgement on me 24/7". And take heart – statesmen who look to God are sometimes with us. We were well beyond the founding of our country when the following was written (and things weren't particularly good in 1863 – even compared to now):

      By the President of the United States of America.

      A Proclamation.

      The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

      In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

      Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

      By the President: Abraham Lincoln

      November 13, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • Observer

      “My earlier views of the unsoundness of the Christian scheme of salvation and the human origin of the scriptures, have
      become clearer and stronger with advancing years and I see no reason for thinking I shall ever change them."
      - Abraham Lincoln, to Judge J S Wakefield, 1862

      November 14, 2011 at 2:21 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Concerned Lutheran must be Missouri Synod.

      November 14, 2011 at 7:31 am |
    • John Richardson

      @Concerned Lutheran When politicians make public proclamations, they of course gussy it all up in the language of the people they are talking to. You'll find the founders too making apparently religious comments in their public proclamations. But it's in their private correspondence that you'll find something a lot closer to their truest beliefs – and doubts. To try to turn Abe Lincoln into a conventional religious Christian is absolute idiocy.

      November 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  7. Hoping for serious reparations

    I'm not a big Jesus person, but the concept of "morality" in the US is so misguided that it is barely worth addressing. Recently, having faced some crime victimization and obstruction of justice that is far worse than anything I have read in US crime news. I looked around for some redemption for the US and found absolutely nothing. I know some nice people, people who do good things in one or another aspect of their lives, but it does not make up for the majority or for the people behind my victimization. It's too bad – I've lived i n literally one of the poorest countries in the world that has one of the lowest life expectancies and one of the highest infant mortalities. I lived there during a civil war no less. And yet there were people with more empathy and deep sense of justice than the majority here. Period.

    November 13, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Nonimus

      @Hoping for serious reparations,
      "Recently, having faced some crime victimization and obstruction of justice that is far worse than anything I have read in US crime news. I looked around for some redemption for the US and found absolutely nothing. "
      Not sure what you are trying to accomplish here. Without any idea of the circu.mustances you are talking about, we have no clue as to the accuracy of your claims.

      November 14, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  8. Keith

    I hate to say this, but unless I'm misunderstanding him, I think I'm in at least partial agreement with Prothero. Wow, did I really just say that? I find it peculiar that the current administration finds it necessary to remove references to God from quotes from FDR and Douglas MaCarthur at the WWll memorial. Geez. Let's just re-write history. If you don't like the fact that many in leadership since the beginning of this great country were Christian, then just erase the quotes, like they never happend. Like a magic eraser. Guess Orwell was right. Obama's Ministry of Truth strikes again.

    November 13, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Snopes is you pal, dear. Look it up. Never happened.

      Really, don't be so gullible.

      November 13, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      But I DO love how you altered history by changing the spelling of General MacArthur's name. Really inspired.

      November 13, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Keith

      you pal? did you mean "your"? okay, pot. Don't know "snopes" but I did watch the Hal Lindsey Report Friday night.

      November 13, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Don't care what you watched, moron. Look it up on Snopes. FDR was not misquoted.

      November 13, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      If you are unfamiliar with Snopes . com, Keith, you should search it with your claim (or Hal Lindsey's) about FDR. It's false and has been refuted by the National Park Service. I'll bet you can find a number of ridiculous claims made by televangelists and conservative crazies on the talk show circuit that have been refuted and proven false.

      November 13, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Keith

      Then why did the administration admit to it if it didn't happen? What's the matter Tommy are you so upset that you must resort to name-calling? Is Tommy having a bad day?

      November 13, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Real Deal

      Keith,

      Here is a link to the snopes.com article regarding FDR's quote:

      http://www.snopes.com/politics/military/memorial.asp

      Snopes researches and gets to the bottom of numerous urban legends, fallacies and misunderstandings, false, made-up mass e-mails, and it is simply a wealth of information. They have been doing this for several years, I am surprised that anyone who is interested in facts would not be aware of them. You can easily spend a couple of days browsing there - and should...

      p.s. the report that you saw recently is regarding a Senator who wants to change the monument's quote.

      November 13, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • hippypoet

      you said "I find it peculiar that the current administration finds it necessary to remove references to God from quotes from FDR and Douglas MaCarthur at the WWll memorial. Geez. Let's just re-write history"

      Now, first things first – i didn't check out of these were proper and exact quotes but if people are quoting others improperly then its not a quote at all, but a lie. Now i have to say i agree with you on the point you are making in this sentence... people should know that others do believe and have for some time...some of the greatest quotes are found said by the most devote people. Because of them being so devote is the same reason why the quotes touch us so much and why they are so well known – they say things they mean with true heart felt feeling of love or fear or wisdom – or lack thereof. A.K.A. – true human experience spoken thru passion.

      November 13, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Do post proof that "the administration admitted" anything of the kind, Keef. And try to use a neutral source, not some nut you saw on a conservative TV show.

      November 13, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      hippy, please. It's "devout". There's no misquote in the memorial. The words quoted are a portion of FDR's speech, not the entire speech. The portion quoted doesn't omit anything.

      This idiocy has been floating around since the memorial opened. Some people are just slow to get the news.

      November 13, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • hippypoet

      hey tom tom... i was just commenting on the point of if they were wrong and then i added to it by doing a simple explain of how certain people's quotes are known and valued by us today...and that some of them just happened to be believers in a god or sorts.

      why the correcting my spelling, i have no problem appearing du-mb and ignorant – its a tool i have used for a long time to play people into thinking i am a dum-b@ss and have know nothing...it all started when i found that i really do just su-ck at spelling so i adapted. 🙂

      November 13, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I have a lot of respect for your ideas, hp, but really, would it kill you to use a decent spell-check?

      November 13, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
    • Christian

      why get all upset about spell check? sheesh!

      November 14, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • Observer

      Keith,

      Why not do some research next time? The National Park service said your claim is baloney.

      Too many people believe all the email nonsense spread by the right-wing over the Internet. Probably 95% of all rightwing urban legends contain significant blatant lies. Liberals don't circulate nearly as many phony emails. So much for the moral values right.

      November 14, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • John Richardson

      Since 'devote' is a word, a spell checker would not have picked up HP's grievous error. You'd need a grammar check to note that a verb is in a non-verb position, but most grammar checkers suck and flag all sorts of stuff that's perfectly okay.

      I believe the only way to resolve the issue is to subject HP to a public stoning. But it's okay. We'll use styrofoam stones like they do in the movies.

      November 14, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Keith

      Observer, I did my research-or should I say, Hal Lindsey did it for me. Did you watch the Hal Lindsey Report from Friday? This man has never lied to me. I watched him report on Israel bombing a Syrian nuke site, none of the other media reported on it until more that 6 months after the fact-not even your precious cnn.

      November 14, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What's the matter, Keith? Are you afraid to look up your 'claim' on Snopes or don't you know how to do it?

      What a nut-bag you are.

      November 15, 2011 at 8:04 am |
  9. Trace

    Thank you, Mr. Prothero, for focusing on empathy as an important viewpoint to consider on this issue, and so many others. It is a key point for each of us to recognize that we establish our point of view with the people/issue we feel for and establish our enemies as those who threaten us and who/what we empathize with.

    I would like to add that this very personal and feeling level identification with others joins us to the world and brings forth our inherent goodness, the qualities we value that come from our capacity to love.

    The problem is that we tend to identify with only one side of any issue. The other side is invariably against our sense of identification and results in bringing forth our opposite side – our inherent badness, the qualities that lead to hate, violence and destruction.

    This division can never be resolved. It is an eternal conflict. But it only exists in minds restricted to one and two dimensional thinking. One dimensional thinking decides I am right or I am wrong. Two dimensional thinking decides I am right and they are wrong. A three dimensional mind sees and understands both these ways of thinking and the dynamic involved that turns us against ourselves (1D) and against others (2D). A 3D mind goes beyond this and empathizes with the people on both sides because it can see how in being for something it loves and cares about it automatically becomes an enemy to what someone else loves and cares about. Everyone suffers from this and the pain of this suffering affects us all.

    So I add to your ideas of empathy, Mr. Prothero, this additional idea – we need to have empathy for both sides and compassion for both sides and forgiveness for both sides – in this and in any conflict – because when we are in a 1D or 2D mind, there is no way out of suffering except by destroying ourselves through suicide, alcoholism, drug addiction, etc. (1D) or by mutually destroying each other through violence while we seek singular dominance for our side (2D), or by reaching the point where we can't do it any more and we go 3D and see how the whole problem lies in how we keep dividing ourselves and everything in the world and fighting each other over it to the bitter end.

    So I ask everyone to make the choice that stops the duality game – go 3D and simply feel for the suffering of everyone involved in this conflict equally. Respond to it with equal understanding, equal empathy, equal compassion, and equal forgiveness as a blessing and a prayer for mutual resolution that brings peace and an end to suffering.

    Peace. Love. God bless. Namaste. Shalom. Salam.

    (All these words, and so many more in other languages, are meant to express the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us and the sincere acknowledgment of the soul in one recognizing and honoring the soul in another, regardless of any and all of our worldly differences.)

    November 13, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • District

      Well said.

      November 13, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  10. myklds

    May atheists have a blessed Sunday.

    November 13, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • evolvedDNA

      mykids well thanks.. the Flying Spaghetti Monster points his noodely appendage toward you too....what a happy world. What about the those who starved to death today in Africa? why did you not bless them to?

      November 13, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • Free

      myklds
      If we are blessed as well then that makes committing to belief rather pointless, doesn't it? Like getting the milk for free while everyone else feels they need to buy the cow.

      November 14, 2011 at 12:18 am |
  11. District

    I'm not sure that refusing to jump to conclusions and not judging people without all the information (or at all, actually) is so terribly un-Christ-like. A biased hack piece under the banner of moral religious righteous "tolerance" is still a hack piece. And I don't think Jesus ever asked anyone to lean any certain way on deficit policy. The moral oversimplification of that issue alone in this article removes all credibility of its author.

    November 13, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Jes Sayin

      I think you missed the point of the article, and that alone speaks volumes about what kind of person you are.

      November 13, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  12. Mr. Widemouth

    Easy Bible Quiz – Test yourself!
    http://www.squidoo.com/bible-quiz-1

    November 13, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  13. montymoose

    CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A RELIGION!
    It is a relationship with the living God. Going to church does not make you a Christian anymore than sitting in a garage
    makes you an automobile. Its who is Lord of your life, You or Christ.
    A religion is a word that implies if you follow certain rules, you will come to a certain outcome.
    You cannot earn salvation as a Christian. Its a gift from above, a human efforts have nothing to do with it.
    Its by Faith, which is believing in the promises of God. Its an expectant hope and depends totally on the fact that what you hope for can be delivered by the person who gives you the promise.
    The question to answer, is how can God save those who have sinned against Him and remain righteous in doing so when He has said the wages of sin is death.
    Read your bible for the answer.

    November 13, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • JT

      Deluded types such as yourself frighten me more than anything. I wished I had a dime everytime one of you claims to be the real True Christian® while telling everyone how all others not like you are fake.

      November 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • John Richardson

      There is no livng god, at least not the sort of god you imagine having a relationship with. Guess that leaves you out in the cold, huh? May as well go back to sitting in that garage there, kid. You have as good a chance of becoming a car as you do of having a relationship with this "living god" character!

      November 13, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
    • Real Deal

      montymoose,
      "Read your bible for the answer."

      It is not *my* bible... it is yours. There is not a shred of verified evidence that the supernatural beings and events in it are true. Would you like Ali to tell you to read your Quran? Would you like Raji to tell you to read your Vedas?

      November 13, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Free

      montymoose
      Can you prove that the Hindu gods are not 'living' and that Hindus don't have a similar 'relationship' with them? How about any other group of people who worship a god or gods? If Christianity isn't a religion then maybe none of these forms of worship are either because all of them share the exact same general characteristics of Christianity no matter how you like to claim that they don't.

      I've been around for a while now, and I've heard all of the arguments for belief, but this whole "It isn't a religion, it's a relationship" line has got to be the most desperate one yet.

      November 14, 2011 at 12:30 am |
  14. Rainer Braendlein

    Independent from the above cases of alleged immorality I see the problem that we in the Western World (not merely the USA) have become too materialistic. Our whole life is about producing goods and consuming goods. Our life has degenerated to a circulation of dead matter.

    We totally neglect our invisible part, which is our precious soul. We take much care of our bodies, but we are not concerned about the health of our soul (by the way, many diseases of the body are caused by an ill soul).

    Is this a reason to start to protest against the policy of our governments, which is totally focused on economy? Assumed, we would start to protest right now, it would take a very long time until the system would change. What we can change immediately, is our personal life. I claim it is possible to escape the hamster wheel of producing and consuming goods. Just start to consume less goods. This will cause that you immediately need less money. When you need less money, you need to work less or you can do an easier job. When you work less, you have more time to take care of your soul.

    Having more time, you could participate in church life (I admit that the Christian Church has entered a state of crisis and has nearly ceased to exist; it is a real challenge to find a church, which behaves according to Christ's intentions). Real church life means deep and true brotherhood. Christians should love each other independent from social status, colour, nationality, etc.. The top of brotherhood is the so-called private confession. We are not merely supposed to serve each other by practical services or by just talking with each other, but Christ has ordered that we can forgive each other sins in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. This is, what we need. We need the assurance of a fellow Christian that Christ has borne our sins on the cross, even a specific bothering sin, and that he wants to forgive us and to release us. This is the core task of the Christian Church or the so-called Power of the Keys.

    Read the book "Life Together" by Dr. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was a most faithful pastor of the Confessing Church.

    November 13, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • Chad

      Well said Rainer

      November 13, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, it wasn't "well said", Chad. But it isn't surprising you would think so.

      Anyone who presumes that a job that pays less money is 'easier' is an absolute moron. There are many jobs that are difficult and stressful, allow the worker little or no control over anything, require advanced education, yet pay peanuts. The assumption that if one just consumes less, one can find an 'easier job' that pays less is idiotic.

      November 13, 2011 at 3:39 pm |
    • Free

      Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son
      I'm guessing that Chad and Rainer don't know any teachers personally, wouldn't you say?

      November 14, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Or nurses.

      November 14, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
  15. RIGHTEOUSNESS ABOVE ALL !!!

    AMERICA IT IS TIME TO REPENT AND TURN FROM YOUR WICKED WAYS... THAT IS THE KEY TO PROSPER AND TO BE BLESSED IN ABUNDANCE... YOU HAVE TURNED AWAY FROM GOD IN YOUR WICKED WAYS AND EVIL DESIRES... AMERICA YOU KNOW WHAT YOU MUST DO IN ORDER TO BE PUT BACK IN THE PLACE YOU HUNGER FOR... FOR YOU WERE WELL FED BY THE GOD ALMIGHTY IN YOUR TIMES OF OBEDIENCE AND HONOR... COME BACK TO THE FATHER AND CELEBRATE AS A LOST CHILD WOULD.

    November 13, 2011 at 11:36 am |
    • Kevin

      America was founded on religious freedom d*mb @$$

      November 13, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • JT

      Notice how the more frothing at the mouth the Christian the more CAPS ARE USED?

      November 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • Hadenufyet

      JT..your not going to sway anyone with your comments , why bother.

      November 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • BRC

      YEAH JT< IF YOU WANT PEOPLE TO TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY YOU HAVE TO TYPE LIKE THIS.

      November 14, 2011 at 9:45 am |
  16. Rainer Braendlein

    I guess, as long as the alleged fault of someone is not proved by a lawsuit, his innocence should be presumed. That is just a matter of prudence. The cases must be checked out first. Are the statements of the victims true of false? Do the suspects have any alibi? Are there any witnesses? Assumed, the suspects have indeed committed the crimes, what was their motif? How did they behave, before they failed? Do they feel remorse? It is a real job to find out, if someone is really guilty and what measure of penalty is appropriate. This is the work of judges.

    Thus, let us be patient and wait what for the decision of the courts. It would not be righteous to prejudge the suspects.

    Secondly, we should not judge, because we are guilty ourselves. Of course, the authority must punish transgressors, in order to avoid a spread of criminal deeds in the society (yet the authority is merely occupied with the tip of the iceberg, regarding spreading immoral behaviour). But crimes are nothing more than heavy sins. Thus, the authority dampens merely the heavy sins, which are called crimes. God knows our hearts and our carnal desires, which sometimes prevail. It is just God's grace, which preserves us from heavy evil deeds. Our depraved flesh is able to commit every bad sin. We should thank God for every day of preservation.

    Thirdly, we need the power of Jesus death and resurrection to overcome our carnal desires. Jesus has borne our sins on the cross. The releasing power of Jesus we get by faith and sacramental baptism. At baptism our old man of sin dies and we resurrect together with Jesus. At baptism the releasing power of Jesus is dedicated to us. We get born by Water and Spirit. We get born from above. God makes us a new creature in Christ.

    By daily comtemplation on Jesus' wonderful work on the cross and remembering our baptism, we can overcome our old sinful life. The sin dwells in our limbs, but by the power of the Holy Spirit we can act against the will of our limbs. That is the mystery of Christianity. Moreover we should eat modestly and sleep little in order to avoid to strengthen our personal carnal beast of our body too much.

    May the supects recognize the releasing power of Christ's atonement. May they start to believe and receive forgiveness and deliverance (this does not exclude any measures of the authority for already commited transgressions of the suspects).

    November 13, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Bob

      And may your knife remain sharp, so that you can easily sacrifice sheep often, like your sky fairy says you should.

      November 13, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • Free

      "Thirdly, we need the power of Jesus death and resurrection to overcome our carnal desires."
      And yet, may non-Christians and even non-believers have far less trouble overcoming their carnal desires than Christians do. Your faith does not have the data to back up your claim. "Good" people can be found in any religion or creed, and some of them just happen to be Christian. If anything, an argument can be made that these people are good in spite of being Christian. That they chose not to give in to the peer pressure to be bigoted and judgmental, but let their hearts guide them instead.

      November 14, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • John Richardson

      What we don't need: We don't need to overcome ALL of our carnal desires. Some are quite spiffy! And the vast majority of people have no carnal desire at all to ra-pe young boys in the shower. So the vast majority have no need to overcome a carnal desire that they don't have. Finally, as ascetics all over the world have proven again and again, it is possible to overcome carnal desires without Jesus. So we don't need him.

      Clear now?

      November 14, 2011 at 11:53 am |
    • John Richardson

      Oh, and amongst the world's noted ascetics, one finds such charmers as Adolf Hitler and Robert Mugabe.And there are many great non-ascetics. So this whole overcoming carnal desires thing is way more complicated that the religious make it out to be.

      November 14, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Free

      John Richardson
      From my experience, the large majority of men have no carnal desire for other men either, so it's strange that the conservative Christian stand is to treat h0mo$exuality as a choice, isn't it?

      November 14, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Free Yes, I've long wondered about that. Long before cases like Ted Haggard proved the point, I kept reading back in the 80s all these rightwing fulminations about the gay lifestyle choice and concluded that the only people who could possibly look at the world this way are people who CHOSE to pursue a straight lifestyle despite strong yearnings in a different direction. One can almost pity these people, if they didn't earn our contempt by externalizing their self-loathing so aggressively.

      November 14, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Free

      John Richardson
      I pity those they condemn more than I pity them as well.

      November 15, 2011 at 8:19 am |
  17. Reality

    Failures to follow two phrases of good human conduct, "Do No Harm" and "Call A Cop" define the current "vomit inducing" situation at Penn State, the Boy Scouts of America, the RCC, the Southern Baptist Convention, Seventh Day Adventists, Judaism, the Citadel et al.

    No Christian god or other god(s) required, needed or desired !!!

    November 13, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  18. MSS

    Commenting on the last few paragraphs, if Jesus were really here at all he wouldn't have let the monkeys do what they did to each other. Oh yeah, I know, free will... (just a religious loophole trying to explain human nature) What this should have been asking is are you a cynical or sympathetic monkey?

    November 13, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • JT

      Free will – Believe in and worship me or raost for an eternity in firey red-hot flames you disgusting jesus hater. It's your choice and remember jesus love you!

      November 13, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Free

      The same kind of free will that led people to accept Vito Corleone's 'offers'.

      November 15, 2011 at 8:22 am |
  19. Sam

    The two stories of Paterno and Cain only show that in America, you are innocent until accused.
    The Media is to blame for the perpetuation of this trial by Media mentality. It only shows how biased people are, how they are quick to judge, and how little evidence one needs to say HANG 'EM HIGH!!
    It's really quite frightening how archaic we all are.

    November 13, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Jes Sayin

      Um, Sam...Paterno as much as admitted his guilt when he admitted that he should have done more.

      November 13, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  20. Rev. Ray Dubuque

    When Stephen says " 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?" he is touching on the very essence of what distinguishes the "liberal" from the "conservative", as I show extensively at http://Great-Liberal-Insights.org/definitions . Contrary to the conventional wisdom that conservatism is about preserving the traditional and liberals are about promoting the new, I show that what conservatives strive to "conserve" are the advantages of the few (which used to be taken for granted) and what liberals promote is the welfare of the 99% (which was rare in the past) . This is an extremely important insight to appreciate and to promote.

    November 13, 2011 at 10:13 am |
    • Me

      You are an idiot.

      November 13, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Peter Henderson

      I don't think it's very important at all. I think it's a shallow cheap shot. If you want to understand the struggle of left and right you have to go back to the Enlightenment and the French Revolution. And a large part of it, Reverend Ray, is that the left wanted to get rid of the church, by executing the clergy if need be.

      November 13, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • John Richardson

      The left's new love affair with the middle class, which they used to deride incessantly as the bourgeoisie, is pretty laughable.

      As for Prothero's comment, the blithe assumption that raising taxes on the rich will better the lot of the unemployed is also pretty laughable, Modern governments enjoy a concentration of vast wealth like nothing ever seen before on this planet and yet they all still manage to go bankrupt. Why flush more and more money down THAT sewer? People who believe in an all powerful, all loving big government are stupider than the religious nut jobs, because governments are REAL and REALLY NASTY in much of what they do and REALLY INCOMPETENT in most of the rest of what they do.

      November 13, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Free

      Yes, I'm reminded of this Rolling Stone article about the Tea Party last year. The Medicare junkie crowd that rallied against government spending, and never suspected that this would conflict conflict with their interests. You can almost hear the bleating. 🙂

      Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/matt-taibbi-on-the-tea-party-20100928

      November 14, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Free Oh, that's funny!

      Yes, just as it's easy to go big gov't on other people's supposed sins, it's easy to go libertarian on spending when you assume it's someone else's gov't check that will stop coming.

      We got to get away from "all taxes are good/bad", "all gov't programs are good/bad", "all free market solutions are good/bad" and start articulating exactly what is good and bad with each and pick things that work at an acceptable price.

      November 14, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Free

      John Richardson
      "Oh, that's funny!"
      Actually, it's really rather sad. I don't know who is the more to blame: The ignorant for not bothering to look into whom they are supporting, or the politicians who are banking on this ignorance.

      "start articulating exactly what is good and bad with each and pick things that work at an acceptable price."
      Which again is subject to whatever 'spin' one's favorite politician or political pundit puts on them, right? Trouble is that too many people are just too lazy to figure things out for themselves, so they rely upon someone they trust to tell them what to believe.

      November 14, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Damn, you're a downer today, Free!

      November 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Free

      John Richardson
      That's what happens when you take off the Christ-colored glasses and look at the reality of the world. 😉

      November 15, 2011 at 8:24 am |
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About this blog

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