My Take: Catholic bishops against the common good
The American Catholic bishops celebrating Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
April 15th, 2012
08:00 PM ET

My Take: Catholic bishops against the common good

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

(CNN)–The U.S. Catholic bishops who claim, increasingly incredibly, to speak on behalf of American Catholics hit a new low last week when they released a self-serving statement called “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty.” As this title intimates, the supposed subject is religious liberty, but the real matter at hand is contraception and (for those who have ears to hear) the rapidly eroding moral authority of U.S. priests and bishops.

On Easter Sunday, Timothy Dolan, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told CBS that the controversial Health and Human Services contraception rule represents a “radical intrusion” of government into "the internal life of the Church.” On Thursday, 15 of his fellow Catholic clerics (all male) took another sloshy step into the muck and mire of the politics of fear.

In “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty” there is talk of religious liberty as the “first freedom” and a tip of the cap to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement. But first and foremost there is anxiety. “Our freedoms are threatened,” these clerics cry. “Religious liberty is under attack.”

But what freedoms are these clerics being denied? The freedom to say Mass?  To pray the Rosary?  No and no. The U.S. government is not forcing celibate priests to have sex, or to condone condoms. The freedom these clerics are being denied is the freedom to ignore the laws of the land in which they live.

When I first heard of the HHS rule requiring all employers to pay for birth control for their employees, I thought it should include, on First Amendment grounds, an exemption for Catholic churches. And in fact it did.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Moreover, when Catholic bishops and priests opposed the contraception mandate, HHS modified its rule, exempting not only Catholic churches but also Catholic-affiliated hospitals, universities, and social service agencies. (For these organizations, employees would receive contraceptive coverage from insurance companies separately from the policies purchased by their employers).

Once the Obama administration presented this compromise, I thought Catholic clerics would withdraw their objections. I was wrong. Instead they acted like political hacks rather than spiritual authorities, doubling down on the invective and serving up to the American public an even deeper draught of petty partisanship.

The bishops refer repeatedly in their statement to “civil society.” But think for a moment of the sort of "civil society" we would have if religious people were exempt from any law they deemed “unjust” for religious reasons.

Mormon employers who object to same-sex marriages could deny life insurance benefits to same-sex couples.

Jehovah’s Witnesses who object to blood transfusions could deny health care coverage for blood transfusions.

Christian Scientists who oppose the use of conventional medicine could refuse to cover their employees for anything other than Christian Science treatments.

And Roman Catholics could demand (as the bishops do in this statement) state financing for foster care programs that refuse to place foster children with same-sex parents.

As the Roman Catholic Church has taught for millennia, human beings are not isolated atoms. We live together in society, and we come together to pass laws to make our societies function. Virtually every law is coercive, and care must be taken not to violate the religious liberties of individual citizens. But care must also be taken to preserve the common good.

In their statement, Catholic bishops accused American political leaders of launching “an attack on civil society.” They also attempted to cloak themselves in the mantle of Dr. King. But theirs is a vision of an uncivil society, and their cause has nothing to do with the civil rights movement.

The civil rights movement succeeded because its cause was just, and because its leaders were able to mobilize millions of Americans to bring an end to the injustice of segregation. The effort by male Roman Catholic leaders to deny contraception coverage to female employees who want it does not bear even a passing resemblance to that cause. And even the bishops behind this so-called "movement" must admit that it is failing to mobilize even American Catholics themselves.

At least since the Second Vatican Council of the early 1960s, Catholics worldwide have been asking, “Who is the Roman Catholic Church?” Is it the hierarchy–a collection of priests, bishops, and cardinals overseen by a pope? Or is it the "People of God" in the pews whom these leaders are ordained to serve?

In recent years, this question has jumped by necessity from the realm of Catholic theology into the rough and tumble of American politics. Does American Catholicism oppose contraception? It depends on who speaks for the Church. The 98% of American Catholic women who have used contraception?  Or the 15 male clerics who issued this statement?

According to “Catholics for Choice,” which has published a rejoinder to "Our First, Most Cherished Liberty," “The bishops have failed to convince Catholics in the pews to follow their prohibitions on contraception. Now, they want the government to grant them the legal right to require each of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to set aside our own guaranteed freedom from government-sanctioned religious interference in our lives."

The bishops' statement gives lip service to “civil society” and the “common good,” but what these 15 clerics are trying to do here is destructive of both. To participate in civil society is to get your way sometimes and not others. To seek the common good is to sacrifice your own interests at times to those of others.

I will admit that the HHS contraception rule does ask these Catholic clerics to sacrifice something. But what is this sacrifice? Simply to allow the women who work for their organizations to be offered contraceptive coverage by their insurers. To refuse this sacrifice is not to uphold civil society. It is to refuse to participate in it.

Toward the end of their statement, the 15 bishops who signed this statement called on every U.S. Catholic to join in a “great national campaign” on behalf of religious liberty. More specifically, they called for a “Fortnight for Freedom” concluding with the Fourth of July when U.S. dioceses can celebrate both religious liberty and martyrs who have died for the Catholic cause.

As Independence Day approaches, I have a prediction. I predict that rank-and-file American Catholics will ignore this call. They will see that the issue at hand has more to do with women’s health than with religious liberty. And in the spirit of Vatican II, which referred to the church as the “People of God,” they will refuse to allow these 15 men to speak for them. Whatever moral capital U.S. bishops have in the wake of the sex abuse scandal that rocked the nation for decades will be insufficient to win over lay Catholics to what has been for at least a half a century a lost cause.

These 15 clerics write that American Catholics “must have the courage not to obey” unjust laws.  I think the courage called for today is something else—the courage not to obey those who no longer speak for them.

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

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Church and state • Culture wars • Health care • Leaders • Politics • Religious liberty • United States

soundoff (783 Responses)
  1. WillieLove

    Holy Father belongs to God...Not some human being..

    April 17, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  2. WillieLove

    Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for THOU ONLY ARE HOLY

    April 17, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  3. WillieLove

    I am the LORD: that is my name: and MY GLORY WILL I NOT GIVE TO ANOTHER...

    April 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  4. WillieLove

    For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:

    April 17, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  5. WillieLove

    The Roman Pontiff...as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful.. (#891, p. 256)

    The Pope's position as "supreme pastor and teacher" is null and void, for the Bible says this position is already filled by someone else, and He will abide forever. Thus, there is no need to elevate Korol Wojtyla to take over the job that is reserved for the Holy Spirit alone.

    But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, HE SHALL TEACH YOU ALL THINGS, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
    –John 14:26
    Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, HE WILL GUIDE YOU INTO ALL TRUTH...

    -John 16:13
    And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you FOR EVER;

    –John 14:16

    April 17, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  6. WillieLove

    God did not appoint Korol Wojtyla (John Paul II) to be the universal power over the whole Church. The Bible says the Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the church:

    For the husband is the head of the wife, even as CHRIST IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH... -Eph. 5:23

    April 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  7. WillieLove

    For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.(#882, p. 254)

    April 17, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  8. John

    Wow it continues to amaze me how little people know about the Catholic Church and how they can make any critical statement confident that they are 100% spot-on, even though their knowledge is limited to only that which the media and other uninformed friends tell them. Or what they hear from "Catholics" who don't actually believe what the Church teaches. Go talk to somebody who actually knows what they are talking about. Read the Bishops' actual letters instead of this guy's.

    April 17, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      "Wow it continues to amaze me how little people know about the Catholic Church"

      Include the majority, or at least nearly so, of professed Catholics in that count.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • intramural

      Bishops take in so much money it is sickening. Just the other day I saw a picture of one writing a letter, however his $30,000 watch was photoshopped out of the photo. Why does a church official have something that nice? Shouldn't that go toward some kind of mission to feed people or anything else in order to help people?

      April 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
    • Bibletruth

      The Catholic church is Satans magnificent masterpiece of Deception. It is a counterfeit system of the true religion. It is designed to ensnare almost all: all who would be saved by their works (ascribing salvation merit to their own certain activities, beliefs, words or to those of other human beings, dead or alive) and to those who would be saved in their sins (purgatory and confession to a sinful human and the rest of the God insulting rubbish).

      April 23, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  9. Southern Guy

    Of COURSE Catholic Bishops are for the common good. They're for the good of ALL Catholic Bishops and pedophiles everywhere! Geez, already!

    April 17, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  10. Jacob

    IF their authority has been eroding so rapidly for so long then why isn't it all gone?

    I would argue that people are at least as disillusioned with the pagans who run the United States right now!

    April 17, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  11. geraldh

    Amazing how these CNN posts bring out the wackos. If these people are representative of society we are in real trouble. But I doubt they are.

    April 17, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"Amazing how these CNN posts bring out the wackos. If these people are representative of society we are in real trouble."

      So when you hit the "post" button did you start singing this song in your head. 🙂


      April 17, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  12. realists

    catholic charities is run primarily off our tax dollar, grant money. Don't let them fool you. In fact your tax dollar enables them to greater exposure, that's marketing. If it weren't profitable, the catholic church would shut it down as they did churches, schools and hospitals. Today the are big in nursing homes, pick pocketing priests stealing the childrens inheritances.

    April 17, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
  13. Voice of Reason

    Voice of Reason

    For the matter of a debate, let us say that you could have a criminal record if you wanted to run for president.

    Here's the scenario:

    A born again Christian that has a felony past of attempted robbery, 2nd degree murder, incest and terrorism is running for president against a known atheist that has no criminal past.

    As a Christian, who would you vote for?

    April 17, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • geraldh


      April 17, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • hey all

      a sensible person would answer your question. I will, the atheist makes sense.

      April 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Easy, you vote for the Atheist, but it also depends on the type of Atheist, which you did not give detailed information. Before coming to the Belief Blog I felt all Atheist were the same but just like there are militant feminist, whites, blacks, Gays and Latinos..etc etc, there are Militant Atheist that I would not want into office as well. If I did not factor into the equation I would be just as nuts as those that didn't know Obama's platform or views but just voted for him because he was Black. You could have just left it as would any of us of the Christian Faith vote for Fred Phelps of Westburo Baptist, for president just because he is a Christian.

      Voice, I think you need to talk to more Christians because there are those of us who read your question/challenege and the major factor that you did not list or present, the persons denomination, would have to be known. Christians are not monolithic but I will say that the person running that you mentioned is between him and God. I can forgive but if such a person made it past the Primary elections with the incest and murder to get to face the Atheist Republican candidate then that might concern me a bit more.

      The question for you is to simply turn the question around and ask if a person were a Catholic or another denomination and had a clean record and she or he was facing a Atheist that carried the same baggage you mentioned.... will you pull the lever and vote for the Christian?

      April 17, 2012 at 12:36 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Mark from Middle River

      I think a lot of christians would vote for the christian just because he believes in god and the atheist doesn't.

      If the atheist was the criminal I wouldn't vote for either.

      April 17, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"I think a lot of Christians would vote for the Christian just because he believes in God and the Atheist doesn't."

      At the begining of the Republican primaries many felt that all of the traditional Christian Republicans would vote for anyone but a Mormon and they were wrong. When you come to the Belief Blog, often you have to wade through all of the Heavensents and TomToms and you can find those on all sides that have more in common than the ones on the extreme edges want us to have.

      Your answer though is interesting in that if you were faced with a Criminal Athiest and a Non-Criminal Christian you would vote for neither. Can you explain your reasoning? Would a Christian stating he or she would vote for neither make sense to you as well?

      Try this, go non faith or no Faith to your question. What if it was a guy or girl running that had well established history of economic knowledge and sucess. Now, add to that all of your criminal details that you originally posted. If you knew that this person was all of those things but at the same time you knew that he or she could or have the best shot to restore or surpass economic growth in America, reduce unemployment, drop gas prices, and do all of it in a Green way so complete that Al Gore would pass out.... would you overlook his or her criminal past for economic sucess and stabilty?

      April 17, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      ...would you overlook his or her criminal past for economic sucess and stabilty?

      Absolutely not.

      April 17, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • Chad

      Really there is nowhere near enough information in the original post to answer the question.

      If, the Christian had a dramatic born-again experience, root caused and worked through the issues that led to that criminal past and had a subsequent record of sufficient duration and scrutiny to demonstrate that indeed both his conversion experience and subsequent transformation (sanctification) were authentic, AND he/she had a record of solid support for issues that I agree with, AND I had developed enough confidence in that person based on their record to feel that he/she could execute well in the office of the President,
      I would vote for him/her.

      otherwise, I would work to find another Christian to run. I would never, under any circumstances, vote for an atheist.

      April 17, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Voice of Reason


      I appreciate your honesty.

      April 17, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"Absolutely not."

      Voice, then that makes you really no different from those who would only vote for a upstanding Christian or White or Black.

      Economics is a factor that touches all Americans. It touches the Atheist, the Faithful, right down to every Man, Woman and Child. We have people who hate the country and burn the flag and when they are parked at the gas station they are no different than the guy with "Go USA" on multiple bumper stickers. Heck, I even went "Green" in my example to catch all of those who might still be living on communes and have rejected money.

      I am interesting into your "reasoning" on why you would not.

      April 17, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"otherwise, I would work to find another Christian to run. I would never, under any circu'mstances, vote for an atheist."

      Chad, even if the person were more qualified? Your statement, is it really any different than those that said they would not vote for Obama just because they could never under any circu'mstances vote for someone who is African American? Or could not vote for Palin or H.Clinton, just because of their gender?

      April 17, 2012 at 1:28 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Mark from Middle River

      There would be many factors for my decision, among them are morals, ethics, education, and the lack of a god, to name a few. Why the lack of god? Because I find it to be irrational and unreasonable to believe in the unproven. If a so called rational human being believes in something that doesn't exist except only in faith, then yes, I have a real problem with them being at the helm of our government. I do not think that a person like that could run a country without first inquiring into their beliefs and if those beliefs are religious based there is a huge innate influence born into it.

      April 17, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
    • Chad

      @Mark from Middle River "Chad, even if the person were more qualified? Your statement, is it really any different than those that said they would not vote for Obama just because they could never under any circu'mstances vote for someone who is African American? Or could not vote for Palin or H.Clinton, just because of their gender?"

      – couldnt care less about gender, I hope Condoleezza Rice runs next time, I would vote for her in a heartbeat.
      – I am extremely proud that America elected an African-American for a president (although I didnt vote for him because he is so liberal.. and I think he has done a terrible job, but still, it is a stupendous watershed moment for the country)
      – I would never vote for an atheist. Why? Who do you trust? The person, or the God? Now, that doenst mean I vote for an unqualified Christian just because he/she is Christian. Go and find a qualified one.

      April 17, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”I do not think that a person like that could run a country without first inquiring into their beliefs and if those beliefs are religious based there is a huge innate influence born into it.”

      Voice, then how are you really different than the Fred Phelps of the world? While I would absolutely prefer to have a Christian as a president, for me it no different than preferring that a African American, Republican, male as well. It is what I prefer because it is what matches what I see in the mirror and give my views. If I go by your standards I have eliminated so many of my fellow Americans because of a demographic not because of their qualifications.

      See, I can see a non-militant Atheist as President if he or she can get folks jobs, and generally improve the economy. I thought for Atheist it was that we Faithful should have no problem with a Atheist as President if he were qualified. Should not the reverse hold as true as well?

      >>>”- I would never vote for an atheist. Why? Who do you trust? The person, or the God? “

      Chad, I put my trust in God for my salvation and to protect our country. My trust in a candidate ...any political candidate ...even the former Gabby Giffords... I trust none of them that much.

      So, I would trust a Atheist candidate to screw us just the same as any other candidate.

      April 17, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • Chad

      @Mark from Middle River "Chad, I put my trust in God for my salvation and to protect our country. My trust in a candidate ...any political candidate ...even the former Gabby Giffords... I trust none of them that much. So, I would trust a Atheist candidate to screw us just the same as any other candidate."

      @Chad "I dont trust any politician that much either to be honest.. For example I do believe that George HW Bush is an absolutely sincere Christian that sought direction, yet I think he made a catastrophic mistake in thinking that the US could be an agent for introducing democracy in the middle east. Being a politician requires a big ego to begin with, and that applies to every race, creed, color and political affiliation.

      But still, I'll trust an egotistical Christian before I trust an egotistical atheist. At least with the Christian, he/she might receive SOME guidance.. in the atheist case, he/she is guaranteed not to receive any.

      April 17, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Nii

      Don't worry your head. VOICE n the other militant atheists here have found a convenient solution to shortage of atheist caandidates. They just rebaptise their favorite Xtian as a closet atheist or at least non-believer n vote. Obama is a closet atheist I hear. I thought we were deluded? lol.Smh

      April 17, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • Bibletruth

      This really touches on perhaps the fundamental truths of God. If the person is born again He is a new creature, a new man, all things are new. He loves rightousness and hates iniquity. He would rather die than sin. So, of course, only a fool would not vote for the born again, if that born again had strong leadership qualities in big picture activities of the kind that a president must face. The sad thing is that almost noone (I am talking about Christians) actually believes that a person can stop sinning, therefore, to them, being born again is no real barrier against the 'past" things mentioned in the "choose" question. They really have no faith in the word of God concerning what being born again is/means, the infilling of the Holy Spirit, etc.

      April 23, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  14. realists

    Here is reality http://imgur. com/gallery/iX6GP (remove space)

    April 17, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • gerald

      Was it not Jesus who said the expensive oils used to anoint Jesus before burial should be sold and given to the poor. Ah but he wasn't really interested in the poor and neither are you.

      April 17, 2012 at 11:09 am |
    • realists

      proof of the disgust in the catholic church

      April 17, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
    • Reality

      Mark 14:3-7 as per Professor Gerd Ludemann in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, p. 94, "The historical yield of the tradition is nil but it does reflect the closeness of Jesus to a probably notorious woman in Galilee".

      "While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.

      4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages[a] and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.

      6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you,[b] and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. "

      April 17, 2012 at 3:26 pm |
  15. Nii

    A civilisation can supersede another without wiping out its people. It was mostly a cultural change. If u were tied up waiting to be sacrificed that day you wud be singing a different tune. The Mayas, Incas n Aztecs wud have done same. They already had hundreds of tribes in subjection.

    April 17, 2012 at 9:07 am |
  16. Reality


    To be fair:

    Putting the kibosh on all religions in less than 500 words:

    • There was probably no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • There was probably no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    "The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother's womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. "

    No clerics, imams, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired. Time for Stevey P to find honest work.

    April 17, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • gerald

      To be fair, this is based on your own personal extensive unbiased research and not based on your own personal prejudices of whether there is a God or not.

      April 17, 2012 at 11:10 am |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

      The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,


      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      p.168. by Ted Peters:

      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      April 17, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Reality

      Only for the those interested in a religious update:

      1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

      “New Torah For Modern Minds

      Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “

      2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

      The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.


      For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

      Current RCC problems:

      Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

      2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      Current problems:
      Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

      3. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

      This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

      And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

      Current crises:

      The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

      4. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

      The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

      Current problems:

      The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

      5. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

      "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

      Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

      Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

      Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

      April 17, 2012 at 11:58 am |
  17. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    April 17, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • victim

      and alcoholics don't think they have a drinking problem.. Religionist, as alcoholics, need 'delusion' buddies.

      April 17, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • victim

      I understand that by you posting your message, you are really trying to convince yourself, it's a psychosis brought on by fear. Most of us see that clearly..

      Good luck and 'Therapy is good for you, it changes things.'

      April 17, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • just sayin

      How long have you been a liar? You are not very good at it. God bless

      April 17, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • Realist

      actually, I'm tired of liars.. you know, like the pope and bishops. Having a life destroyed due to these disgusting pigs, I have no time for lies. Sorry to disappointing you, since you need to have victims who lie or people might not believe you.

      April 17, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • Realist

      yes that is me <– victim of pedo by a catholic bishop..

      April 17, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer doesn’t not; you are such a LIAR. 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 17, 2012 at 10:43 am |
  18. victim

    one of the priest who so-do-m-z-ed me when I was eight years old is a catholic bishop today. The parishioners love him.What a filthy disgu-st-ing bunch.

    April 17, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • fraud

      Lying for dramatic effect. Had you actually been a "victim" you would not be here using it like that. It appears if you want attention that badly why don't you do yourself and do it in public.

      April 17, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      @fraud: If 'victim' has used their actual name, it might be considered dramatic but given that they did not, it is safe to say they are doing what deserves to be done-exposing these pedophiles. You do not have the right to judge anyone based on whether or not they are telling the truth in this sort of matter or anything. Until you have walked that mile in their shoes, you have no clue.
      You should check out bishop-accountability.org for facts. The Catholic diocese covers up and protects pedophiles constantly and wrongfully.

      April 17, 2012 at 7:55 am |
    • Realist

      not a problem,, they enjoy calling victims liars. add to that, catholic cardinal dolan called children victims pris-t-i-tutes. They think they are above humanity when they are actually sc-um.

      April 17, 2012 at 8:31 am |
    • gerald

      Realist, why don't you provide the quote in context. I doubt your accusation.

      April 17, 2012 at 11:16 am |
    • realists

      sure.. read down the list http://www.authorsden. com/visit/viewArticle.asp?id=64896

      April 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm |
    • geraldh

      'And the quote where he said they were p-r-o-s-t-i-t-u-tes is where?

      April 17, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
  19. cccp21

    Hello fellow free thinkers and unbeleivers, we need your help defeating the Republicans and keeping Religion and other nonsense out of schools and Govevernment. Please go to http://www.cpusa.org/ and see what you can do to help us this fall. Your help is needed, never has the situation been so dire as it is now. Thank you.

    April 17, 2012 at 4:39 am |
    • mikstov33

      Ah,yes just what this country needs.....The Party of Josef Stalin...and you thought Sharia law made you shudder.

      April 17, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • victim

      stalin was brought up to be a good christian.. He learned his hate and control from the church.

      April 17, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • just sayin

      Stalins motivation was atheism, it does not matter what he was exposed to as a child. Most of the wanna be atheists on these forms claim to have come from religious backgrounds. Stalin murdered 24 million of his people not counting his war dead as an atheist. Think about that. God bless

      April 17, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • Mirosal

      Hey "just spewin" .. apparently you need a poli-sci course or two. You seem to confuse Atheism with political power. The two are by no means exclusive to one another. Stalin's paranoia rivaled, or maybe exceeded, that of Howard Hughes. His purges were purely poltical in motivation, not religious.

      April 17, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • just sayin

      You cannot separate the man from his belief system or lack of belief. Atheism removed the restraints of moral decency in Stalin and a host of others too numerous to name. All of whom as ATHEISTS murdered more people in the last 100 years than were killed in all the previous centuries. At the heart of every wanna be atheist is lying and murder, only civil restraint keeps your kind from acting out your lack of beliefs. Give an atheist absolute power and millions will die. History proves it. God bless

      April 17, 2012 at 7:51 am |
    • Mirosal

      Give a religious body absolute power and entire races are eradicated. Look what the christards did with South and Latin America in the 1500's, and when they came to North America in the 1600's, entire native civilizations were thrown into complete disarray. All in the name of their "god". Millions of Russians still exist. How many Mayans, Incans, or Aztecs are there, huh? C'mon, how many?

      April 17, 2012 at 8:12 am |
    • Realist

      stalin had a good christian upbringing,, Inquisition was OK with him as the destruction to childrens lives is OK with catholics today.

      April 17, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • Nii

      Why you don't consider Christian Mayas, Incas, or Aztecs or mixed race groups of these people? Recently after a Communist Revolution in C/A the Mayas asked bodies exhumed from mass graves and reburied in individual graves cos of their traditional beliefs. Does that sound like a wiped out people.

      April 17, 2012 at 8:35 am |
    • Realist

      hitler was a devout catholic.. the pope never even spoke out against him.. google 'pics pope and hitler'.. vatican never bombed. the catholic blamed the jews for jesus death back then.

      April 17, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • Mirosal

      Nii, those civilizations were wiped out because they were given the choice of converting or die. Gee what a nice and peaceful religion it is, huh? They were conquered because they did NOT want to convert. See what happens when you say "no" to a church? They get mad. Not a very christard thing to do is it? A people who were once in the millions is now less that 1% of that. All because the Conquistadors were told by their "giod" to kill if they didn't convert. Your "god" sucks, and if your "god" has a problem with ME, tell "him" to bring it on.

      April 17, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • Nii

      Are u not confusing Mussollini with Hitler? Hitler cudn't say the rosary with a Russian gun at his temples and committed suicide. Even an irreligious Catholic knows what that implies. Hitler formed his own Church too, did u know that? I've been round this mountain too many times. READ BOOKS

      April 17, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • realists

      You mean the books written by catholics? Sorry, Hitler to his death claimed he was a christian. And he was a friend of the pope and the vatican. The truth is in actions and non-actions; vatican was never bombed, the pope never spoke out against hitler and you can google 'pic pope and hitler'. People can try to taint as they will, but the real truth is seen in action and non-action. Get real please.

      April 17, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • chief

      re nii .. i have 40 family members thats history ended on the trail of tears...... try asking the people of hawaii how our christian nation helped them out.... or alaska ... or how we annexed any other area.... expect with the native americans, the catholic church was a partaker in the elimination of a culture

      April 17, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Trail of tears was because the government found out that there was Gold in the lands that the Cherokee lived on.

      ....and as most know, resources (oil) and precious metals (gold) .... they would move the Vatican if they found it was sitting on top of these items.

      April 17, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Irene

      Actually, the Vatican does have a hoard of gold. But they'll need it to fight all the lawsuits that are coming.

      April 17, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • realists

      good point, chief. They don't care. In fact the early christians came to this country and massacred over 11 million Indians. Christians have left a trail of destruction to humans, and they continue today.

      April 17, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • realists

      vatican would never be moved.. it already has more gold than is imaginable..

      April 17, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • geraldh

      realist – Chief said the other day he was a Christian.

      April 17, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • Nii

      I am W/African. Britain, Holland, France,Portugal,Spain, Denmark n Germany all did worse to us. Why? We sit on de richest gold deposits in the world. Also we didnt know how to stop machine guns. This was greed not Xtianity. Over in Ethiopia they were Xtians n their learning stopped them.

      April 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
    • Diana

      For "Just Saying" Yes Stalin murdered 24 million of his own people and he was an atheist; What do you say about the 9 million women throughout Europe who were burned alive as witches for following an earlier nature based religion at the behest
      of the Inquisition? or the millions of Muslim people and Christians murdered during the Crusades? Or the violence in Northern Ireland between Protestant and Catholic? I personally am not an athiest but I will take an Athiest like Bertrand Russell or Carl Sagan any day over the Religious despots who are in charge of the Vatican today. Judgemental compassionless people like these have nothing to do with the teachings of Christ but have much more in common with the Pharasees of Christs day who were more instrumental than anyone else in having Christ crucified because he taught that compassion and love are more important than following the
      letter of religious law.

      April 17, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Jarvis.Lorry

      Those of you who try to besmirch the philosophical viewpoint of atheists should read "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins. It might change your minds or at the very least cause you to have more respect for a legitimate point of view. I suggest you read it before making additional disparaging remarks about atheists.

      April 17, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Jarvis.Lorry

      @just sayin
      Your argument is thus: Stalin was evil because he was an atheist; therefore all atheists are evil. Try this one: the leaders of the Spanish Inquisition were evil because they were Christian; therefore all Christians are evil.

      April 18, 2012 at 12:17 am |
  20. Frank Bund

    Praise the goddamned lord!

    April 17, 2012 at 2:21 am |
    • Bootyfunk

      i'd rather kick him in the nuts for all the evil he's done. oh wait, you can't touch imaginary friends...

      April 17, 2012 at 2:28 am |
    • er

      That doesnt make sense as usual, If God doesnt exist then how can he be evil?

      April 17, 2012 at 4:31 am |
    • victim

      er, let me help explain it to you.. It is not a real god that is referenced here, it's the fabrication that is. Understand? Be careful of your delusion, it can sometimes distort logical thought.

      April 17, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • Nii

      Oooh! Victim u r so bright! So u can't see the illogical nature of being angry with a fabrication. If a kid tells u he's angry with his imaginary dog, wud u humour him or praise him for logical thought. Why then do u praise these guys for their illogical rantings.

      April 17, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • victim..

      I'm a non believer.. Religion and god is all nonsense, delusional.

      April 17, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • Nii

      Mirosal, u saw the death warrant yourself? I think even using "christard" rather than Christian shows how brainwashed u r. Christophobia is a disease so u can check in with a psychologist. However the conquistadors did what you praise Julius Caesar for doing. Or does being a pagan make him right?

      April 17, 2012 at 8:57 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.