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April 9th, 2012
08:38 AM ET

Can a public servant be a non-believer?

(CNN)– Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, and Ralph Reed, discuss on State of the Union with Candy Crowley whether a public servant can declare be a "non-believer." Their answers may surprise you.

For more on State of the Union with Candy Crowley and the debate over religion and politics here.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 2012 Election • Atheism • Belief • Church and state • Politics • TV-State of the Union

soundoff (426 Responses)
  1. JD

    A non-believer? it shouldn't matter what you believe to be a public servant. This is not a christian country.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  2. ????

    Could someone please rewrite this in English please:

    Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, and Ralph Reed, discuss on State of the Union with Candy Crowley whether a public servant can declare be a "non-believer." Their answers may surprise you.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  3. Anne

    When atheists attack "religionists" and "religionists" attack atheists, what they are really saying is that they are insecure in whatever they believe in. The truth is whatever it is. Truth is not a result of some democratic process ( if it were then the Earth might still be flat and the sun might still be revolving around the Earth ). Just because so many people believe in God does not make it so. Just because some people do not believe in God does not make it so. God is either real or not. I am secure in my faith. I have no need to "convert" anyone else to my beliefs. I have no need to attack others' beliefs. And I have no need for anyone else to believe what I believe. Doesn't mean we cannot share our perceptions of things.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • Primewonk

      The problem, Anne, is that theists, primarily fundamentalists, have a real problem with not forcing their views on others. The seek to have their religous myths taught as science in our public schools. The want their religious myths wove into the fabric of our laws. They ignore the founding precepts of our nation.

      April 10, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  4. DUH

    I'm a non-believer and although not a public servant I do things to benefit the community. I've been a scout leader for 7 years now, served 20 in the US Navy and help out others through local church efforts (but I'm not a member). I respect others beliefs and practices but do not personally believe. I don't argue or debate the topic with anyone because it's a waste of time. Either like me for who I am and the good acquaintance I could be or not. I stress to my children (and scouts) the importance of being kind and helpful and respectful. I personally do not believe I need religion to teach me, or anyone, to be a good person/citizen nor does it guarantee it will make anyone so. Like John Lennon's song "Imagine".

    April 10, 2012 at 9:31 am |
  5. cooldaddysquid23

    Can a non-believer be a public servant? Should women be allowed to vote? Should slaves be freed?

    April 10, 2012 at 9:22 am |
  6. Lord Vader

    I have a question for atheists...... IF God does not exist, then religion does not exist right? So if religion does not exist then religious people do not exist right? so why is there people fussing about a God, religion, and religious people that do not exist according to atheism logic?

    April 10, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      "IF God does not exist, then religion does not exist right?"

      Wrong. That's like saying if Allah doesn't exist there are no Muslims. If you are Christian you might claim the Muslim God does not exist, but obviously there are still Muslims.

      April 10, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • hecep

      Let's see if this gets through to you, Vader, since you seem to be laboring under the logic system of a 4 year old: There are people today who still believe in leprechauns; that does not mean that leprechauns do exist. Get it?

      April 10, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Footnotegirl

      Oh please. Your argument is entirely faulty. Of course atheists know religion exists, there's clear proof of that fact. But your argument is no different than saying "The Firce isn't a real thing, so the Star Wars movies don't exist," all by your logic, all deities must exist since they have religions and followers.

      April 10, 2012 at 9:02 am |
    • WeWereOnTheMoon

      All you know about god comes from someone's interpretation of someone else's words, there is no direct link to what Jesus, Moses or God said, so all you believe in is that someone 300 years after Jesus death was telling the truth...that is to much faith to base your life on, if you ask me.

      April 10, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Chris

      @Lord Vader your comment was some off twisted logic. that would be like saying Hobbits don't exist, so books and movies about hobbits can not exist, so Peter Jackson has to give back his Academy Awards. See makes no sense at all. Religion does exist. Fact

      April 10, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • Adam

      Dude.. take a logic class. What you said isi completely non-sensical. God existing or not existing has nothing to do with people's will to believe. Religion is not proof of the existence of God...it exists independently. We could start up a religion that worships the flying spaghetti monster. Scientologists believe that Xenu is an evil alien...

      April 10, 2012 at 10:01 am |
    • sam stone

      If god does not exist then religon does not exist? Not true.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • Emperor P.

      @Vader
      I hereby strip you of your lordship, and banish from the dark side for your display of complete and utter idiocy.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Elvira Gulch

      Ah, I like that logic, Vader! Your logic supports the concept that if there are religioous people, then there must be god.

      So since Muslims exist, Allah must exist. Still like your logic?

      Since Wiccans exist, then real witches exist.

      Since Hindus exists, Kali, goddes of destruction, exists.

      Since Flying Spaghetti Monster followers exist, Flying Spaghetti Monster exists.

      By your logic, if one person exists who believes in a religion, then that religion and ts god exists.

      All hail Thor!

      April 10, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer really changes things

    April 10, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • Footnotegirl

      Placebo: it works because you want it to.

      April 10, 2012 at 9:03 am |
    • Prayer changes things

      God is and rewards those who diligently seek Him
      A good man prays
      A great man acts on prayer
      Prayer changes things

      April 10, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • DUH

      prayer did not stop my wifes alcoholic mother from beating her as a child, catholic school did not stop her sister from turning to drugs/alchohol and dying at 33. excuse my if I don't share your belief's.

      April 10, 2012 at 9:35 am |
    • An inconvenient truth

      There really is no excuse for you.

      April 10, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Jesus

      `Prayer doesn’t not; you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs! ~,~

      April 10, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  8. NII

    There are so many reasons why the atheist religionist's attacks on other religions is unhealthy but chief among them is it speaks of a superiority complex which is a symptom of brainwashing. How do you pass over the millions of medical authorities to declare those who do not follow your religion or at least are not non-believers mad. There is no need for name-calling if u r truly emotionally sound. Sometimes atheists do not understand that th ey behave basically the same as the Evangelical Christians of the fundamentalist literalist persuasion whom they hate so much. There are better things to do than styomp your feet and shout because someone disagrees with you. As Paul wrote if you say someone is doing wrong because he does not belong top your particularly true religion(in this case militant atheism) are you sure you do not do the same things. Check your life against your own standards. How do you measure up. Do you refuse to admit Christians are sane, intelligent beings on religious grounds. Do you only see the evil Chrisatians but none in your camp?

    April 10, 2012 at 5:41 am |
    • Kebos

      Wow. Your post doesn't justify a response as it is illogical and poor grammar. Religion is not your biggest concern.

      April 10, 2012 at 6:19 am |
    • lunchbreaker

      Kebos, I believe you mean ,"Your post doesn't justify a response as it is illogical and HAS poor grammar." Calling out someone for poor grammar on a message board is pointless, but if you must, don't be a hypocrite.

      April 10, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • Chris

      I call the good ones "Johnny Cash Christians". the kind of Christians who actually act on the teaching of Christ and show love and compassion to ALL

      April 10, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • sam stone

      "..chief among them is it speaks of a superiority complex which is a symptom of brainwashing."

      Definitely sounds like religious indroctrination. Seems to me that you have claimed to be a minister. How is this not a "superiority complex" that makes you think you know god better than others?

      Still wanting to deny people their civil rights, boy?

      April 10, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  9. doctore0

    You see how absurd and insane religion is.. but only when you see other religions. Religious people need help, they have mental problems; Fact

    April 10, 2012 at 4:37 am |
  10. Nii

    Also Sunday though the day set aside for the worship of Appollo is also the day Christ resurrected and since Jewish Christians attend Synagogue(which was nondenominational) but Gentiles cudn't follow on Saturday. There was a general assembly of Xtians on Sunday. Nothing but de day's name is pagan.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:29 am |
  11. Nii

    De Xtian PASSOVER is an adaptation of de Jewish Passover (Hebrew:Pesach) 2 celebrate de Resurrection of Christ. De 2 coincided this year. De word Easter is popularly used cos it also coincided with Passover. However Easter is fertility but Passover is Independence. Its like Shabbath n Saturday.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:24 am |
  12. The Madness of King George

    Do you realize that over 50% of the posts on this story have been from one person? just sayin and all of his Sybil other selves has gone absolutely nuts. I mean, she/he/it blasted out close to a thousand posts on Easter, and is keeping it up.

    I think he/she/it is literally going insane right before our eyes.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:31 am |
  13. err

    Of course they can. What a stupid question only ment to enflame the atheist hate monger. There are only a handfull of true Christians in public service anyhow. The rest are Christian atheists who proclaim that Jesus is alive and live like he is dead.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:16 am |
    • sam stone

      Aheist hate mongers?

      April 10, 2012 at 4:34 am |
  14. bill

    Cleaver is a monumental disappointment. I used to respect him greatly. I heard him deliver an introduction for Michael Dukakis in1988 that was highly effective and full of promise. He was a rising star with phenomenal potential and now this. Self respecting atheists shouldn't be carrying cash. Clearly the god delusions are eating his brain.

    April 9, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  15. Another Unbeliever

    This is what religious based discrimination looks like from the other side...

    A small Muslim-American group, The Jihadist Family Research Foundation (JFRF), is fighting for their rights to wage jihad on non-Muslim Americans. JFRF President Mohammed Ahmadi said early Monday morning, "it is our first amendment right to wage jihad on American infidels, of course only on the grounds that it is being done based on a sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction." Ahmadi has also proposed a bill to Congress designating 9/11 as a religious holiday to be celebrated as "the greatest day of hate ordained by God since the Crusades."

    April 9, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
  16. b4bigbang

    I had a great Easter and i am having an excellent day today as well. The weather is warm and sunny, and i just want to thank the Intelligent Designer who is the Father of all the physical laws, gravity, etc, etc.!
    Yep. He set up the universe and we study it with our science and it gives me a sense of awe.

    April 9, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I had a great Sunday as well. The cats woke me up too early, but it was a beautiful day (thanks to the weather patterns produced by naturally occuring pressure systems) and I got some laundry done. Also, I watched a couple of episodes of Mythbusters. The one about surviving on a deserted island armed only with duck tape and the resources of the island was particularly inspirational.

      I kind of forgot it was easter until I remembered that Best Buy was closed. I was reminded then, of the pagan roots of the day, as a spring festival of fertility named for the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:38 am |
  17. Flappy

    "Any self respecting atheist wouldn't have something in his pocket that says `In God We Trust`".

    What an ignorant thing for Rep. Emanuel Cleaver to say. I'd expect an argument like that from a 12 year old.

    Would Christians not use money if it didn't say 'In God We Trust' on it? I think not.

    Even anarchists use money with pictures of presidents on it. That doesn't mean they are pro government.

    April 9, 2012 at 7:45 pm |
  18. EnjaySea

    Yes, public servants certainly may be non-believers. That is, sometime in the far-flung future when the United States is actually populated with big boys and girls who know how to think for themselves.

    April 9, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    April 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Jesus

      `Prayer doesn’t not; you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!,. ,

      April 9, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • Asthma is not healthy for children and other living things

      It makes it hard to breathe. Proven.

      Breathe without ceasing in 20112

      April 9, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Alfred E Neuman

      Fake Jesus post

      April 9, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Fake Jesus post"

      Thanks for continuing to prove Christians like you are liars and my posts are correct because of your desperation

      April 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
    • Alfred E Neuman

      Fake Jesus, save me.

      April 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • Jesus

      "Fake Jesus, save me."

      LMAO!

      April 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
    • maf5454

      It would appear to me, an atheist, that if you pray to what ever God you choose you seem to have missed a fundamental part of your religion. Follow along here; you believe that your God is all powerful. Then you believe your God created all you see, and has a plan for all things and creatures. Then you beseech this God of yours to change this great plan to satisfy some need you have. Evidentially you seem to think that your perfect God has somehow made an error in its thinking for you and it needs to change its mind. I find this irrational at best and a waste of time in the long run.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  20. Reality

    The Apostles' Creed 2011 (i.e.the Creed of the Non-Believers) : (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    ONLY FOR THE NEWCOMERS:

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

    April 9, 2012 at 4:44 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.