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December 24th, 2011
10:00 PM ET

'What's Christmas without chopsticks?' How other faiths celebrate December 25th

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) -
Two days before Christmas, Imam Mohamed Magid, the executive director at the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, preached about Jesus at Friday prayers.

"We live in a country with a majority of Christians, where Christmas is a major holiday... It's a reminder we do believe in Jesus. Jesus' position in Islam is one of the highest prophets in Islam," Magid said, adding that Muslims view Jesus as a prophet on par with Abraham, Moses, Noah and Mohammad.

Often when he says the name of Mohammad or Jesus in conversation, Magid adds the Islamic honorific "Peace be upon him" after his name.

"Jesus is a unifying figure, unifying Muslims and Christians," he said. The Quran, the Islamic scriptures, makes specific mention of Jesus and of his mother Mary. "It's very interesting that there are many places where the prophet (Mohammad) is quoting Jesus."

Christmas has a way of bleeding into other faiths in America.  The Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ in a manger in Bethlehem 2000 some odd years ago is ubiquitous across the country, even if the American tradition has leaned away from the sacred and toward the secular.

Christmas at every corner can be somewhat problematic for those who are not in the estimated 246 million Christians living in the United States.  But for some faiths, the season brings reminders of their own traditions.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

Magid said Muslims believe many of the same things about Jesus that Christians do: Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, he lived a sinless life, he raised the dead, and he preformed miracles. He also said many Muslim scholars believe that Jesus will one day return to the earth, using the Christian vocabulary of "the Second Coming."

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"Certain aspects of our theology are different," he carefully notes, pointing specifically to incarnation, the Christian belief that Jesus was divine. Muslims are perhaps the most ardent monotheists in the world, making them at odds with Christians theologically over not only the Christian doctrine of incarnation, but also belief in the Trinity, that God the Father, the Holy Spirit and Jesus are three in one.

The All Dulles Area Muslim Society is one of the largest Muslim congregations in the country with ties to 5,000 families in the Washington area. Some of the families do put up a Christmas tree and exchange gifts, which one member suspects is often more about cultural assimilation than religious observance.

"I think Muslims, although they believe in Jesus, they give respect to this as a Christian holiday, so they don't pretend to celebrate this in a religious way," Magid said. "A Muslim would not expect a Christian to celebrate his holiday."

My Take: Why we're skipping the Christmas roast

At the Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery three hours north of San Francisco, there is a small Christmas tree set up near the statue of the Buddha.

"Normally we just have flowers, incense and candles, but now we have a tiny Christmas tree. It's really cute," Ajhan Yatiko, a monk in residence who is originally from Canada, said. "It's more like a traditional thing, respecting and appreciating the culture of where we live."

During the holidays, Yatiko said, "The senior monk might give a talk to the lay people which might draw parallels between the Christian faith and the Buddhist faith, as well as the differences, because I think both of those are important aspects of interfaith harmony.

"Sometimes in the West these days there's a kind of tendency to clump all the religions together and say, 'We're all climbing the same mountain,' and I think the intention there is nice. There's a harmonious intention there. But I think it's much nicer to say, 'Let's respect the differences and love and appreciate the differences of the other faiths," Yatiko said.

For the monks at Abhayagiri, life is spent in meditation, community, celibacy and work. They practice Buddhism in the Theravada tradition or the Thai Forest tradition. In their faith tradition, monks cannot handle money, grow their own food or trade, so they live entirely off of the generosity of others.

That means every half moon, about once a week, they head into town for alms rounds, where they walk around in their saffron robes with alms bowls to collect donations. The new moon this week fell on Christmas Eve.

"Everyone we see is going to be wishing us a Merry Christmas, and we'll be doing likewise," Yatiko said a few days before Christmas.

"We don't touch money and live a very simple lifestyle, so the Christmas tradition of exchanging gifts doesn't work so well for us," Yatiko said.

Yet Buddhists are called to live generously at every chance, be it in material things or spiritual ones, so at Christmastime the monks bring a truckload of fire wood and a fruit basket to a neighboring Ukrainian Catholic monastery.

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"We do have some rather revered traditions for Christmas Day," said Rabbi Rick Rheins.  "I'm not sure if it was Talmudic or not, to visit the movie theater followed by a Chinese dinner," joked Rheins referring the collection of ancient rabbi teaching called the Talmud.

"What's Christmas without chopsticks?" joked Rheins who is the head of Denver's Temple Sinai, a Reform congregation of about 1,100 families.

"We acknowledge the importance of this day for our Christian neighbors and for my Christian colleagues. And so we don't celebrate Christmas as Jews, but we do thrill for our Christian neighbors," he said. Rheins said the celebration of Hanukkah simultaneously at Christmastime this year will mean he won't be bringing in any Christmas metaphors into services on Friday and Saturday.

As for the Christmas Day itself, including the popcorn and chopsticks, he said, "We encourage our members to do special volunteer work to relieve our Christian neighbors of their responsibilities, whether it's at hospitals or emergency services, to give them the opportunity to spend this time with their family and celebrate this sacred day for them.

"Christians and Jews, especially over the last generation, have really worked so hard to build bridges, not just of tolerance, but also have generated true mutual respect and cooperation," he said. He cited working to fight hunger and poverty together. "These are the expressions of a society where the differences in religion and the expressions of one's faith are less divisive than they are enriching.

"I don't think that was the case a generation ago," Rheins said.

Christmas has a way of seeping into Hindu traditions, as well. At least the tree and presents part.  "Because of the children," Uma Mysorekar, the president of the Hindu Temple Society of North America said.

"The children say, 'Oh, there's a tree in my friend's house.  Why not in my house?' So they will get a small tree, a symbolic tree," Mysorekar said.

"We do look up to Jesus as one of the deities of Christianity," Mysorekar said.

At the Hindu Temple Society of North America in the Flushing area of Queens, New York, Christmas Day will be filled with worshipers coming in and out.  Unlike other faiths, Hindus do not have a set day for communal worship.  The temple is a key part of Hinduism for prayer, worship and offerings.  Christmas will be busier because of the three day weekend, Mysorekar guessed.

Their temple even had a holiday party for the children.

Sacred Spaces: Inside a Hindu temple

"We have a holiday party for them, and we give them gifts and tell them what it's all about.  You know the Hindu festival of Diwali, it is more or less the same, where we give gifts and we meet with friends... So the custom is very easy to relate to."

During Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, lamps are lit in celebration of good triumphing over evil.

"Apart from the religious aspect of it - the concept, theme of Christmas - I think it's very much the same all over," she said.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Buddhism • Christianity • Christmas • Hinduism • Islam

soundoff (2,252 Responses)
  1. Cancan

    Merry Christmas. what ever your religion, I wish everyone a happy and safe holiday.

    December 25, 2011 at 7:24 pm |
    • Dirty Dan

      And Allah Akhbar to you, good friend! Happy Ramadan!

      December 25, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Rick

      Same to you and yours

      December 26, 2011 at 12:56 am |
  2. The Flamingo Kid

    Christmas is a pagan sham. No one even knows the true date of the birth of Christ. It has been ascertained, however, that is is definitely NOT the date of Dec 25, nor was it even in the month of Dec. Christmas promotes nothing but greed and materialism and is a slap in the face of Jesus Christ. STOP bringing Jesus into your PAGAN holidays!

    December 25, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • just sayin

      The Christ Mass is celebrated to acknowledge the advent, not as a dated birthday party.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • JohnR

      No, Christmas is celebrated because there was a major festivity happening every Dec 25th that wasn't going to go away. Christianity tries to co-opt whatever it can't destroy.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
    • just sayin

      john r were you there at the first Christmas? Perhaps you can tell us when December 25 was first celebrated by the church?

      December 25, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  3. Maurice

    Wow, a lot of you need to read this a article few more times. It's about being tolerant and respectful of others. Take a hint.

    December 25, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Keith

      If I hear the words "tolerant", "hateful", or "bigot" one more time, I think I'll puke. Hopefully, these are some of the words removed from our vocabulary in 2012.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Rick

      Whatsa matter, Keith? Feeling a bit put upon?

      December 25, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • emetic

      I used to be a tolerant bigot but found it to be too hateful.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
    • Keith

      Rick, I wear em all like a red badge of courage every time some atheist uses these labels on me. When they don't have an arguement or a leg to stand on, the first thing that comes out of their keyboard is the name-calling. It's their way of running up the white flag of surrender before they even fire a shot. Pathetic really.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • JohnR

      @Keith It's not "name calling" to call someone out on their bigotry. Your comment is idiotic. That's not name calling. It's simply an accurate assessment.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Keith

      JohnR, you forgot "ignorant", too. And when you want to insult the Savior, don't forget "jeebus". And when you want to insult His Word, "buybull" or "babble". Nevertheless, JohnR, I accept your surrender, also.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • Keith

      Jhn 15:18 ¶ If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before [it hated] you. I'm in excellent company, JohnR. You on the other hand....

      December 25, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • Keith

      Jhn 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

      Jhn 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

      Jhn 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

      Jhn 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

      Jhn 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • Tom Shriver

      Poor, poor Keith, an intolerant, hateful, Christian bigot, spending his "religion's" holiest day spewing intolerance, hatred, and bigotry, and all because he's lost so many arguments to Atheists. You have my pity. Get psychiatric help, Keith.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Tolerance and respect are words that Keith doesn't understand. He doesn't understand "turning the other cheek," and despite his many sins, he would happily throw the first stone. If he is the type of christian who ends up in heaven, then heaven is an evil place and god is an evil being.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • Rick

      Keith: Good for you, wearing your bigotry like a red badge of courage. I am sure you are every bit the C word that Georgie is. And, it doesn't stand for Christian

      December 26, 2011 at 12:47 am |
    • Keith

      Rom 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

      December 26, 2011 at 8:50 am |
    • Keith

      Eph 4:18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:

      Eph 4:19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
      A couple of reasons that you JUST DON'T GET IT!

      December 26, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • Rick

      Keith: And when YOU don't have an argument, you parrot "scripture". Does it make you feel god-like?

      December 27, 2011 at 1:53 am |
  4. david

    "Popcorn and chopsticks" indeed! Thank you CNN for reporting (inadvertently) on the contempt that the Jews have for christianity. Simple fact is that the Jews did indeed kill Jesus (nothing historically controversial about Mel Gibsons "The Passion") and it took the Romans commitment to public order to protect the early Christians from the Jewish mob. To this day, we see many examples of Jewish contempt for Christians in the media (Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where Larry David urinates on a picture of Jesus and then mocks christian intelligence by suggesting that his urine is worshipped as Jesus's "tears"). The bottom line: There is NO judea-christian heritage! The Jew, not the Muslim, is the enemy of christians.

    December 25, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Don't let facts get in the way of your delusions

      Jesus was a Jew. He never ever said he was creating another religion, he only preached to Jews, and he insisted upon obedience to the Jewish laws of the Old Testament.

      Jesus was a Jew. It was only after he died that Paul perverted the whole thing into something radically different. Then Constantine came along and gave Christians power, and that REALLY ruined it for good. Not that the original version was all that great.

      Jesus was just another street howler, what conservatives today would call a liberal that hated to work and lived off others.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • Keith

      keep on consuming those flammable liquids on your way to hell, moron.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Don't let facts get in the way of your delusions

      Someone just said: "When they don't have an arguement or a leg to stand on, the first thing that comes out of their keyboard is the name-calling. It's their way of running up the white flag of surrender before they even fire a shot. Pathetic really."

      Oh yeah, that was you, Keith. Hypocrisy much?

      December 25, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • Felix The Navidad

      "facts" You are leaving out the most important part of the faith. Between Jesus and Paul the Holy Spirit was given.Paul came under the anointing of the Holy Spirit as did all Christians then and forevermore. As such the Christian is a new creation indwelt by the Spirit of God and in total spiritual agreement with God the Father and with Jesus. Paul was in agreement with Jesus and wrote and taught directly from God. There was no division between Jesus and Paul. Try checking your facts rather than assuming.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • Sillyme

      how does this article in any way show contempt? The only place I see contempt being displayed is in your post...

      December 25, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • Keith

      Hypocrite. Yes. Yes. 2 points for you, good job.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • Keith

      You're right. I shouldn't have called you a moron. Just as you shouldn't have called my Savior a street howler. I do apologize, I shouldn't stoop to your level.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • George H

      "Mein Kampf" reads like a mission statement for the GOP. Anybody notice that, yet?

      December 25, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  5. Kevin

    I'm an atheist that loves Christmas. I love the spirit, the singing, the time off work. Who doesn't? It's a great tradition and I don't wish to end it. But let's face facts. Christmas stopped being the Christian holy day on June 26, 1870; the day it was adopted as a national holiday by a secular nation. Freedom of religion means that no religion shall be recognized above or before any other. The idea of a holy day as a national holiday flies in the face of religious freedom. Anyone who is religious, especially devout Christians, should be categorically opposed to the federal celebration of Christmas for the simple reason that the original meaning of the celebration is now almost completely eroded.

    December 25, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
  6. NeilPeart

    Admitting you are either agnostic or an atheist is psychologically liberating. It is for me.

    December 25, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Hitler, Jr.

      Neil, you are among the finest rock drummers ever, but your association with the Jew Geddy Lee is inexcusable. Repent.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
    • yeap that's right

      Hitchens was spot on...once again.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • George

      Good that you can feel liberated when you are burning in hell. Reconsider you choices before it is too late.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • just sayin

      hitchens is a grease spot right about noe

      December 25, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • George

      Hitchens has already been burning for 9 days or something if he didn't repent.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Lyssa

      Best drummer I've ever heard.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • Lyssa

      George, you are disgusting and a liar and an ignorant boo.b. You deserve burning more than Hitchens ever did.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Rick

      Georgie: Sure glad you are not being judgmental.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • Rick

      Lyssa: Georgie is a bitter petty person (it comes out in all his posts), so he finds comfort in a bitter, petty god.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • Rick

      Georgie: Jesus said he can't wait for you to be kneeling in front of him. He said you got a purrrty mouth

      December 25, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • just wondering

      Do you go into immediate torment in hell or could you hold out awhile before starting to scream for mercy? Once it starts you have forever to deal with the anguish of the memory that you did it to yourself. Even if you could hold out a couple of centuries you would still have to face eternity.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • ric

      @george..typical christian..Judging what others are doing and condeming non-belivers to hell>>Maybe thats part of the reason why atheist chose not to follow religion.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • Rick

      ric: i don't think Georgie is a typical Christian. In fact, he describes himself as a ultra conservative Christian. Seems to me that, in his case, that is just a code word for bigot. In any case, I think he should make his way to the tallest building in down and meet Jeebus halfway

      December 26, 2011 at 12:58 am |
  7. Hitler, Jr.

    Take a close look at the decaying flesh of our ruined culture and you'll find the Jew maggot feeding.

    December 25, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
    • Cancan

      I hope this isnt your real name. Hate is a ugly thing. And if Hitler was right then why is he dead and none of his philisophy living on?

      December 25, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
  8. Khan

    I find it incredibly interesting to see CNN not mention what Jews think of Christians(they despise them). It comes to show how biased, and unreliable our media actually is. Psy-ops at it's best. Keep it up, CNN!

    December 25, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • JohnR

      I have had lots of Jewish friends who have had lots of Christian friends.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • Some Jewish Guy

      Jews don't hate Christians. Or anyone, really. Most Christians can be called Noahida or "Righteous Gentiles". They are fine with us. Same with Muslims. And even the pagans are cool with us so long as they aren't trying to hurt us. I don't know where you get your assumptions about Jews but you'll be relieved to know that we care about Christians and strive to get along with them. There are racist Jews just like there are racists in all groups but these people are the exception.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
    • Rick

      Khan: How are those black helicopters doing tonight?

      December 25, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  9. John

    How can Jesus be the Messiah if there is no peace on earth? Wasn't the Messiah supposed to bring peace to all of the planet?

    December 25, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • Lyssa

      I think you need to get off the internet. You are sounding more and more stupid with every post.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • Will S

      I think you've been confusing Christmas carols with religion.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • gager

      Lyssa, The most stupid post was a question, "What if you're wrong?" That is insulting to anyone's intelligence. What if I'm wrong. I would tell god that he has got to be full of sh* t. And look at all the idiots who claim to hear gods message. LOL

      December 25, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • John

      Lyssa, I think you have cornered the market on stupidity.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
    • Lol

      I think you're confusing reality with the ravings of backwards flea-bitten fanatics (i.e.–the Bible).

      December 25, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Jesus did bring peace. All those who embrace him as their Lord and Savior know peace with God and the peace of God.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • Lisa Bloom

      That is why the 2nd coming was fabricated. It is a theology based on desperation.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
    • John

      Sciguy, I have heard that before but the evidence says you are totally wrong. Christians have just as high a rate of mental illness than other religions or atheists. I had fundamental Christians as neighbors and two of them had severe schizophrenia and were very mean, violent people. There other roommates were not schizophrenics but were not happy. The pastor of their church was a very mean, dishonest woman who was very troubled by depression and bizarre thoughts. She might have been mildly schizophrenic but at the very least she was anything but happy and peaceful. All them would go around preaching how wonderful Jesus was and how everyone should convert to fundamental Christianity yet they were very unhappy, malcontents.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • SciGuy

      John, there are many who profess to be Christian, because it is popular. My statements are true for genuine Christians, but certainly not for professing Christians in general. You can know immediately that a church with a woman pastor is not composed of Biblical Christians, since the NT forbids women to be pastors.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • Kevin

      "there are many who profess to be Christian"

      I sense a No True Scotsman fallacy a brew'n.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • Keith

      Lisa Bloom, based on what do you make that statement?

      December 25, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • JohnR

      SciGuy commits the no true Scotsman fallacy yet again!

      If I were to pick a religion whose adherents seemed unusually at peace, it'd be Buddhism, but there are nasty, disgruntled Buddhists as well.

      In any event, the peace the messiah is supposed to bring isn't just psychological peace for a few adherents, but is indeed the sort of world peace always prophesied and never realized. So yes, that counts as an empirical refutation of the claim that Jesus was the messiah. He clearly wasn't and it is also clear that there will never be one.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • SciGuy

      Kevin and JohnR, no such fallacy committed here. There is literally no peace for the wicked says God. But he made peace for all believers in his Son Jesus. Of course this peace only applies to true believers. I have four sons, and advertise that I've placed a million dollars in an account for each of them. The fact that a hundred who profess to be my sons find their is no cash for them, while my true sons cash in on it at their will is no indication of any logical fallacy. In this case the faulty logic lies entirely with you.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
    • Kevin

      "Of course this peace only applies to true believers."

      SciGuy, you obviously don't understand the No True Scotsman fallacy and you're sidestepping basic logic. The problem is that there is no way to properly define what a true believer is. The only objective definition of a Christian for example is belief in Jesus Christ as lord and savior. Everything beyond that is debatable. Your definition of a True Christian may be much more strict than mine, and someone else's definition much more strict than yours. The real problem isn't that we don't agree, it's that there's no way to objectively determine who's definition is correct. So the argument descends into rhetoric; the only correct definition is "my definition", a truly arrogant and self-centered assertion.

      December 26, 2011 at 1:24 am |
    • SciGuy

      Kevin, the fallacy at hand is simple to understand, and just as easy to misapply, as you have done. I am not obligated to know who the true Christians are. What I do know is that God clearly teaches us in his word that he has given peace to all believers in Jesus, that is, to all his children. Just as the children in my example, the father knows who they are, and they indeed have what the father has given them. I'd recommend you get a book on logic for some examples of where this fallacy applies. Or, just check out wiki and you'll likely find some. But you've missed it on this one.

      December 26, 2011 at 1:43 am |
  10. The Flamingo Kid

    The Flamingo Kid

    Christmas is a pagan sham. No one even knows the true date of the birth of Christ. It has been ascertained, however, that is is definitely NOT the date of Dec 25, nor was it even in the month of Dec. Christmas promotes nothing but greed and materialism and is a slap in the face of Jesus Christ. STOP bringing Jesus into your PAGAN holidays!

    December 25, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
    • gager

      Stop having jesus holidays.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • John

      Christmas was started by Constantine in the 3rd century to recruit the Christians and pagans into his army. He thought if he threw a big party for both then they would join his army. He was right. They did join his army and they became great fighters because they had no fear of dying because they expected to go to heaven.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
    • alkan2012

      If no one knows the tru date of brth of Jesus Chrst, how can you say that it was definitely NOT Dec. 25th?

      December 25, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • George

      I already responded to this once. The point is that we CHOOSE to celebrate Jesus' birthday on Dec. 25.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:54 pm |
  11. Lisa Bloom

    People wonder why Jews speak up about Christmas. Well, Christianity basically hijacked our religion. They were our scriptures, our Torah, God gave the Torah to the Jews. And then Christianity came along and tried to tell us, our Rabbis that we who had the Torah for 1000 years before Christianity are all wrong and that we are going to burn in hell!! I think that Christianity should be considered a totally separate religion from Judaism. Christianity is NOT the fulfillment of Judaism just as Islam is NOT the fulfillment of Christianity. Jesus is NOT the Messiah of the Old Testament. Christianity is mostly a Greek and Roman religion that borrowed bits and pieces from Judaism. Christians should stop trying to convert Jews and Muslims for that matter. Let each religion be totally separate and have mutual respect for each other. Christians should stop telling Jews they are going to hell because they don't accept Jesus. The Torah was given to the Jews and we have a right to determine what is Judaism and what isn't.

    December 25, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • Johnny Orlando

      Well Islam is not the fulfillment of Christianity because there are no prophets after Jesus according to Christian beliefs. According to the book of Daniel and other Hebrew prophets there would be a messiah, and thus you get a messianic figure in Jesus. As for Christianity "hijacking" the Hebrew religion, I would tell you to take a biblical studies course at a university. They will teach you that the history of the Jewish people is filled with those who changed the direction and emphasis of their faith. I have not gone to a Synagogue recently but last time i did, they didnt sacrifice doves as they used to. There are reforms of every religion and Christianity was a reform movement which aimed at creating a more peaceful coexistence and closer adherence to the nature of the commandments.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • Keith

      So in your religion, you're still awaiting the first coming of Messiah?

      December 25, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • Lisa Bloom

      According to Judaism, Malachi was the last prophet.

      The Messiah will not be a prophet. He will be someone who does the following: ingathering ofJews to the Land of Israel; restoration of the religious courts of justice; an end of wickedness, sin and heresy; reward to the righteous; rebuilding of Jerusalem; restoration of the line of King David; and restoration of Temple. Jesus didn't even come close.
      Judaism is not a religion that chages in the way you describe. Any change has to be done within Jewish law called Halacha. You can't do whatever you want and call it Judaism. So, while your resposne was respectful and thoughtful and I do appreciate it, it is not the way Judaism works. There are no sacrifices because there is no Temple. I am not in favor of them being reinstated, however, it would be a halachic question that the Messiah and the Rabbinical court would deal with. I do agree that religion does change over time. I think the role of sacrifices was necessary at the time due to the the fact that sacrifice was the global cultural norm for all people at that time. But, again, Judaism does not ever make changes without going through the Halachic process. Again, you can't do whatever you want and call it Judaism.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • George

      Wasn't this exact same post already made by a person named Klein or something? I think you are a troll, probably an atheist, who is trying to sow seeds of resentment between Christians and Jews.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • NeilPeart

      ALL religions are a grand SHAM, given the fact that ALL religious holy books, tomes, and manuscripts were written by MORTAL MEN, not some chimera 'god'! They're all ridiculous, nonsensical CULTS, period. That is the truth. There are NO 'prophets' or 'messiahs'. Never were. Never will be. Belief in a 'superior being', or 'god' is a whole other subject. But whether you know this or not, you are ALL agnostics, given the fact that you will never know (we can't) whether a 'god' existed, or exists in the present. End of story. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

      December 25, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Keith

      Some of the things described will happen at the 2nd Coming, not the first. Isa 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, [there is] no beauty that we should desire him.

      Isa 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

      Isa 53:4 ¶ Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

      Isa 53:5 But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

      Isa 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

      Isa 53:7 ¶ He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
      This doesn't sound like the Soveriegn of the Universe ruling from Jerusalem with a rod of iron because He did not fulfil that role at the 1st coming. He will at the 2nd.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • JohnR

      @Lisa Bloom I appreciate the intelligent and informed refutation of the goofy notion that Jesus was the messiah. But I have to add that your messiah will come round about when Jesus returns. Time to turn the page on this whole way of thinking.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • kr

      I am a Catholic Christian and our Church does not teach Jews will go to hell. But sorry maybe the other smaller Churches do, the narrow minded ones.

      December 25, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  12. TheWiz71

    Ah yes, more and more hate wafting from the "comments" section of the "Belief Blog". I'll keep steering clear.

    December 25, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
    • Lyssa

      Yes, go away! If we want stupid posts we'll ask for them.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  13. Johnny Orlando

    Well I think we have found a frustrated loser who thinks he knows everything in gager. Typical atheist: all comments, no clue

    December 25, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
    • Lyssa

      Funny how you say something stupid and then say someone else has no clue.
      If you have an argument spit it out.
      Otherwise just go play with yourself and leave the posting to us.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  14. MarkNolan

    This country was founded Christian beliefs. Argue til you're blue in the face, it's still true. I couldn't care less about this story. What bothers me is CNN's feeble efforts to minimize the opening sentence of this post. Let's have the American people feel bad about being Christians and maybe even convert ? Screw you CNN. And the rest of you too.

    December 25, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
    • John

      You are totally wrong. This nation was founded on the belief of individual rights. Where in the bible or any Christian tradition is individual rights emphasized? Where in the bible is there a contsituion professing freedom as a primary goal? Where in the bible are the amendments listed? This is a Greek and Roman philosophy. I suggest you go take a class in political science to learn the truth.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
    • tallulah13

      MarkNolan, you have no idea what you are talking about.

      This nation was founded on the principles of equality and individual freedom. Among those freedoms is the right to worship or not worship as you choose. Without that freedom, any religion, even yours, might be outlawed at the whim of the government. There is a christian majority in this country, but this is not a christian nation, thanks to the wisdom of our Founding Fathers.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
    • Rick

      Mark: Perhaps you can take your bible, and a 5 gallon container of KY jelly and c-o-m-e in the name of the lord

      December 26, 2011 at 1:12 am |
  15. Ahmed

    What about 'Christmas for Joos'? Of course CNN wouldn't dare explain what Joos think of Jesus! So I'll tell you all myself. They see the Virgin Mary as nothing more than a whor e, and her son, Jesus (God bless him) as a fraud and a bastaard child. Just so you know. SHAME ON YOU CNN! And why is it that CNN monitors our freedom of speech? Why must I deliberately use poor spelling just to get my comment posted?

    December 25, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
    • gager

      Freedom of speech is a government thing. CNN is not required to post every nutcase comment.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • just sayin

      Poor spelling comes so natural to you. Your opinion shows you to be a person of extremely low character.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • Johnny Orlando

      Its very sad that CNN wont let you use a non offensive word. It goes to show how bad the world's population is of them that you cant even call them what they infact are.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Keith

      Let me hear you say "I kill you" once.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  16. soraya

    salam...and all my respect for christians.I do believe in Jesus for All Muslims must believe in all prophets .we don't believe in the Trinity.And that's the big difference.In the qu'ran wa have surat Maryam ...and each time i read it ,i have tears in my eyes.We Are brothers and sisters.And with a heart full of love and respect ,i invite you to Know more about Islam in order to get rid of all stereotypes.Islam is not one Muslim .Islam is a world of Knowledge and wisdom.Don't focus on a minority which calls for violence ...but try to understand those who spread the true Islam.Thank you for reading and may Allah Bless you all.

    December 25, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • gager

      You have been duped by nonsense. You live in a world where magic does not exist. Look around you, you will not see magic.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Some Jewish Guy

      Gager,

      I'm sorry that the magic in life alludes you.

      Soraya,

      Your comment is wonderful. Shalom to you and yours.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • kr

      Gager: I look around me and the beauty of creation, creatures, friendships, and love are telling me there is a God. Everywhere I see the imprint of God.

      December 25, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
  17. james capobianco

    Jesus is a myth?? Oh yeah what if your wrong??........ talk tuff now... wait till you come face 2 face with ur maker........

    December 25, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • gager

      It's not believable, I can believe if I'm offered proof but there is none.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
    • tallulah13

      And what if you are wrong and when you die find yourself face-to-face with the Egyptian pantheon? There has never been any proof of any god, therefore, there is no reason to believe that if a god does exist, it is the particular one you worship.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Johnny Orlando

      Jesus was real, you do not get a contemporary movement of people in a fixed area who follow the teachings of a person who did not exist and is easily researched. HAHA silly atheists, get educated and not from the history channel

      December 25, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • Lyssa

      If Jesus was real, he is definitely dead now. Hard to be afraid of dead people. They don't really do much, you see...

      December 25, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
    • ric

      typical religious person..threatening non-believers with hell..is this the reason you believe, out of fear?...

      December 25, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • kr

      Gager: If the Jesus story is nonsense, myth or legend, what is the power behind it that it contributed so much goodness around the globe in the past 2000 years. The Christian movement's contribution to education, medicine, science, social work, and progress in civilization is phenomenal.

      December 25, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
  18. Saladin

    Jesus Birthday?
    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/christ-is-born?cmpid=Social_Facebook_TDIH_12252011_1

    December 25, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • Marcy

      Personally, I think Jesus is a libra....jmo..

      December 25, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  19. Chris

    I have never met an atheist in the 44 years I have been alive. At least no one who admitted to being one. But for some strange reason, whenever I read any story on belief blog, dang if they don't come dropping from the sky. Always hateful, always rude, always insulting. I would think that a true atheist would not believe nor care if anyone else did. However, the atheists that troll this site seem to have made their own religion out of hating religion. Seems rather pathetic.

    December 25, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
    • gager

      Funny, the only true ethical people I know are atheists.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • gager

      There is nothing hateful about saying religion is nonsense.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Erin

      If it makes you feel any better, I am an atheist and I have been wishing everyone I see a Merry Christmas. In my view, the atheists who try a jam 'THERE IS NO GOD AND YOU'RE AN IDIOT FOR BELIEVING IN ONE' down your throat are no better than the religious zealots who try and force their ideals on people.

      So, Chris, to you I wish you a Merry Christmas (or whatever, you didn't specifically say you were Christian 🙂 ) and to everyone else, please understand – just like all of you aren't Pat Robertson, not all of use are the freaking internet atheists.

      Merry Christmas.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • Sillyme

      @ Chris, I have many atheist friends ( I am jewish) and we openly and freely discuss religion. The ones I know are not only intelligent but very moral people who are concerned with making this world a better place. I think the reaction you are seeing in a lot of cases from the fact that they have been treated poorly by "religious" people in the past, you know, damned to hell and all that. I do not think that this is the rule though when it comes to atheists.

      @Erin= Exactly !!!

      December 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • Marcy

      Wow Chris....great observation! I've never met a TRUE atheist either.....if one has a higher power – one believes in God.... whether one believes God is a woman, a man or a ball of energy we humans still remain infinitely small and inconsequential in the scheme of things......(the universe)

      December 25, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
    • Johnny Orlando

      atheists ethical? Himmler was atheist. You know who were not atheists? The people involved in the Second Great Awakening...google that and educate yourself. I expect some lame comeback or none at all, rather than a debate about the ethics involved in the abolitionist movement.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
    • tallulah13

      You probably know many atheists. They possibly chose not to discuss their lack of belief with you because you don't appear to be open to the conversation.

      As for rudeness on this blog, you'll find that christians give just as good as they get - sometimes worse. Just like you, they look at the words of the few and condemn all. I prefer to judge people by their own actions. That is why I have as many friends who are christians as I do friends who are atheist.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
    • Johnny Orlando

      Exactly as I thought. No debates the points they just blabber on and on. Someone please try to tell me that Christians were not responsible for the abolition movement both in the United States and England...there I made that easy. Just look up something that says it isnt so. The ending of enslavement is probably one of the most ethical humanitarian events in human history. It ended a tradition which was prevalent in most societies for thousands of years.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
    • Lyssa

      The abolition movement was not started in America and it has never ended. It continues to this day. It did not eradicate slavery but just shoved it into the black market. We still have slavery in America. Not always of black people either.
      For slavery you only need 2 people. America has over 300 million. Modern slavery gets uncovered every day.
      If you're trying to argue that Christians didn't own slaves and didn't use the Bible to prove that slavery was okay, then you are insane. Just because some were able to ignore the Bible and fight slavery does not prove anything about Christianity other than there being some who were secular enough to care about slaves and their plight.
      Muslims still have a thriving slave industry. What are you doing about that? Anything? You prefer to be friends with Muslims because they sell us oil, right? Where are your ethics? Swirling around in the toilet, that's where.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
    • ric

      I am an atheist and I am going to church with my Mom out of respect to her belief and because it makes her happy and who doesnt want to see there mom happy?..I do not tell people I am an atheist because the "Christains" come out of the wood work to tell me wither I am going to hell

      December 25, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • ric

      I am an atheist and I am going to church with my Mom out of respect to her belief and because it makes her happy and who doesnt want to see their mom happy?..I do not tell people I am an atheist because the "Christians" come out of the wood work to tell me I am going to hell..Funny thing though, they tend to be meaner, nastier and more judgmental than any atheist I know..

      December 25, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • jim

      @Johnny Orlando Has anyone ever called you an idi0t?.... I thought so!

      December 25, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • kr

      Gager: Yeah ethical people? Marx, Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Polpot, Kim of N. Korea are the most prominent atheists...No atheist has ever contributed anything heroic for humankind.

      December 25, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
  20. Johnson

    Jesus must not be happy with the crazy fundamentalist movement in the US operating under His name. They are so contrary to the ideals of the real Jesus it is sad to think about it. Fortunately, they represent a minority in the faith.

    December 25, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
    • gager

      That whole Jesus story is just not believable. None of that religious nonsense is believable.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • Chris

      Christ said many wonderful, loving things. Even very inclusive things. He also said "go and sin no more". A call to repentance is an integral part of Christianity. We are not called to accept everyone as they are. Never have been. Simply acknowledging the fact that sin does exist and we should turn from it to live a more just life does not make one radical, crazy, or fundamentalist. It is what all Christians are called to do. Many just don't have the guts.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
    • tallulah13

      The problem with christians and sin is that christians pick and choose what the think of as sin. Very little of it is reality based. For instance, there is more real evidence that being gay is innate than there is proof that any god ever existed, yet the church continues to condemn gays for true to their natures. On the other hand, there can be real danger in eating shellfish, from toxins and allergies, but christians still line up at Red Lobster. I guess it's easier to hate someone for no real reason than it is to give up something you enjoy.

      I chose to live by one simple law: Treat others as you wish to be treated. I find it cuts through the bullsh!t and pretty much covers any true transgressions.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.