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After decade in storage, Washington letter on religious freedom will go public
George Washington's letter will go on display after being out of public view for almost a decade.
May 23rd, 2012
02:18 PM ET

After decade in storage, Washington letter on religious freedom will go public

By Alex Zuckerman, CNN

Washington (CNN) – After sitting in storage for nearly a decade, George Washington’s signature statement on religious liberty will go on display this summer in the city where freedom of religion was enshrined in the Constitution: Philadelphia.

America’s first president wrote the letter to a Jewish congregation in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1790, assuring American Jews that their freedom of religion would be protected. The document will go on display this summer for the first time since 2002 in an exhibition at Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History.

For nine years, the letter has been kept out of public view, in storage at a sterile Maryland office park a few hundred feet from FedEx Field, where the Washington Redskins play. CNN took an inside look at the document in September.

But the Morris Morgenstern Foundation, which owns the letter, has agreed to put the historic document on public display, officials at the National Museum of American Jewish History said.

“Our institution as well as others have been trying to have access to (this) for a long time,” said museum director and CEO Ivy Barsky. “We feel fortunate that the Morgenstern Foundation thought us worthy.”

The loan agreement between the museum and the foundation is unusual. The museum will have the letter for three years but will be allowed to show it for just three months per year. The letter will be kept in a dark storage area for preservation for the other nine months.

An excerpt of the letter showing George Washington's signature.

The document will be accompanied by an exhibit called “To Bigotry No Sanction: George Washington and Religious Freedom,” which will run June 29 to September 30. Barsky said the exhibit came together only after the museum was certain it could showcase Washington’s letter.

Before going into storage in 2002, the letter was on display at the Klutznick Museum at B’nai B’rith International Headquarters in Washington. It was on display there for 45 years before the organization downsized, closing its museum. The letter went into storage.

After that,  many people did not realize where the letter had gone, according to Jane Eisner, editor of  Forward, a Jewish newspaper. Eisner dedicated a series of editorials over the last year to lobbying for public display of the letter. She also sent a reporter, Paul Berger, to research the history of the letter.

“This is one of those rare moments as a journalist where you can see the fruits of your labor,” Eisner said. “All we had was all Washington had, which was words. We just have our words and arguments that we try to put out in the public sphere as best we could.”

Morris Morgenstern, center, showed a number of notable people his prized letter, including then-Sen. John F. Kennedy.

The letter is considered to be Washington’s key public statement on religious freedom. Eisner and Barsky say that the document signaled a welcoming of all people to America in pursuit of freedom.

“May the father of all mercies scatter light, and not darkness, upon our paths,” the letter reads, “and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in His own due time and way everlastingly happy.”

The letter addressed the congregation’s fears that Jews could face discrimination in the new nation. “The letter starts off to the Hebrew congregation of Newport, Rhode Island,” said Mordechai Eskovitz, rabbi of the Touro Synagogue in Newport. “It was meant for the congregation. It is addressed to the congregation.”

The Touro Synagogue, in Newport, Rhode Island, where Washington sent his letter.

The Library of Congress had asked to display the letter during a 2004 exhibit on the 350th anniversary of Jewish life in America. When the loan was not completed, many historians speculated that no one would be able to meet the standards of the Morgenstern Foundation for exhibiting the letter.

“Usually people would die just to be invited to display their property,” said Jonathan Sarna, professor at Brandeis University and a pre-eminent scholar on Jewish-American history. “If the Library of Congress wanted something of mine, they would have it the next day with insured mail.”

Berger, the Forward reporter, says the letter’s placement at another Jewish museum could mean the Morgenstern family would like to see the letter stay in a Jewish facility. “Nobody knows why the family chose the museum in Philadelphia over the Library of Congress,” he said.

The Morgenstern Foundation did not respond to requests for comment.

It is unclear where the document will go after its three-year loan at the Museum of American Jewish History.

- CNN’s Dan Merica contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: History • Judaism

soundoff (869 Responses)
  1. Peikovianyi

    Tom Paine was an atheist, Ben Franklin was an agnostic, Washington and Jefferson were deists, and John Adams was the type of Christian who could sign the Treaty of Tripoli, 1797: "The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation." They were all there at the founding of the nation and they knew what they were talking about, which wasn't m0r0nic religious doctrines or social class warfare or new age degeneracy.

    May 24, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
  2. "Atheism is not healthy," "just sayin," and "pervert alert" are all the same poster

    --formerly known as herbie
    --also hides behind numerous other names on here
    --stinks up the place with his dull-witted and uncreative trolling
    --is a moron who truly does not understand that he is a moron
    --do not give this moron the attention he craves. it's bad for him and bad for us.
    Have a Great Day!!

    May 24, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • just sayin

      Nice theory... prove it. God bless

      May 25, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  3. fred

    i like freedom !! hope how soon it arrives . . . never mind ...It's Here ...

    May 24, 2012 at 9:58 pm |
    • fred

      What kind of freedom do you think you have when you are in bondage to sin with death pending?

      May 24, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • LinCA

      @fred

      You said, "What kind of freedom do you think you have when you are in bondage to sin with death pending?"
      Oh fred, lighten up. Live a little. Odds are, this this your only chance at it.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What would fred do with his life if he didn't have the Bible to use as an excuse for doing nothing at all?

      May 24, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • fred

      Tom Tom
      LinCA
      The Bible is reality so I guess I would live in the make believe world where God never existed. We have never experienced a world without God (real or imagined). I have no idea what that would be like. Even before I became a believer the rest of the world still believed and in the U.S. it was the vast majority. There would be no good or agreement on what good is since that requires a higher authority that we agree to accept.
      Gads your right I would not have life as we know it without God. Oh, neither would either of you since you cannot escape the effect of ”God

      May 24, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      You idiot, there IS no god. You're experiencing reality. Get used to it, dumbazz.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • fred

      Tom Tom
      Are you suggesting there is some absolute measure of what const-itutes reality? I look at a room full of people and see eternal souls and you see organic matter responding to chemical reactions. How can we reconcile these two views without an authoritative source that we can both agree on?

      May 24, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • fred

      LinCA
      Just how would you calculate those odds? I do not think you have any more acceptable proof as to the origin of life or the afterlife than I do. You are as certain of your belief as I am. I am no worse off in the afterlife if there is or is not God than you are. Could we say regardless of what the odds may be there is a 100% probability that I will fair the same or better than you in the afterlife if we died 10 seconds ago?
      Please tell me we are in total agreement on this one!

      May 24, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • LinCA

      @fred

      You said, "Just how would you calculate those odds?"
      Since there isn't a single shred of evidence for any form of afterlife, it isn't an exact science. But considering the thousands of different religions over the millennia that claimed one, yours isn't any more likely than any of the others. Equal evidence yields equal merit.

      You said, "I do not think you have any more acceptable proof as to the origin of life or the afterlife than I do."
      Without any evidence it is unreasonable to just make shit up and claim it to be the one and only possibility.

      You said, "You are as certain of your belief as I am. I am no worse off in the afterlife if there is or is not God than you are."
      You are mistaken, as usual. I never (except now) in absolutes. I accept, with reservation, evidence based narratives. That doesn't mean I accept them as 100% true, merely likely true.

      You said, "Could we say regardless of what the odds may be there is a 100% probability that I will fair the same or better than you in the afterlife if we died 10 seconds ago?"
      Of course not. The odds that you picked the right god are infinitesimally small. If there is a god, the odds aren't in your favor. Most are said to not distinguish between an atheist and a believer in a rival god.

      You said, "Please tell me we are in total agreement on this one!"
      I doubt we'll agree on much, if anything, regarding religion. If you feel the need to agree with me, I suggest we talk about music, or art, or beer, or so.

      May 25, 2012 at 12:56 am |
    • fred

      LinCA
      “ The odds that you picked the right god are infinitesimally small. If there is a god, the odds aren't in your favor.”
      =>no I meant God not a particular flavor of God or other gods. The God refer to is the one true God and even I know that there is little chance that I have a complete true image of God in my head or heart since my personal filters shade things.
      I am 99% sure there is God and you are 99% sure there may not be God. What are the odds we are both right?

      May 25, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
    • LinCA

      @fred

      You said, "no I meant God not a particular flavor of God or other gods. The God refer to is the one true God and even I know that there is little chance that I have a complete true image of God in my head or heart since my personal filters shade things."
      So, you are completely open to the idea that, if there is a god, it is equally likely to be Thor as it is Ra or Zeus, or any of the thousands of gods ever worshiped? If so, then why do you call yourself a christian?

      Somehow I doubt that you accept that possibility. I gather you are actually strongly atheistic about those other gods. Even more so than I am. I suspect that you are atheistic about those gods to the point where you deny even the possibility that they exist.

      You said, "I am 99% sure there is God and you are 99% sure there may not be God."
      You've made it abundantly clear that you have very little doubt about your god. I have no reason to doubt that you believe that, but you do so without having a single shred of evidence to back you up. Everybody who ever believed in a god, or gods, has an equal chance of being right, but without any evidence there is no reason to believe anyone has it right.

      You said, "What are the odds we are both right?"
      I'd say about zero percent. As I mentioned above, I don't even think we agree on gods other than the christian one.

      May 25, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • fred

      LinCA
      Just one God with various people over a number of years seeking God the best they can. Zeus is easy to identify as man made yet the core need to worship the creator is the cause of seeking. Simply because Islam puts a different face on God than Christians does not change God. Neanderthal seemed to have some sort of eye towards a creator as most humans have over the years. It is easy to understand the cultural element of attributes chosen by various cultures for God. When a heart is inclined towards God it does not need to be a Hebrews heart as we are speaking of disposition

      May 28, 2012 at 1:35 am |
  4. Snowdog

    The idea that God or Christianity encourages or approves of slavery is shown to be false. In fact, anybody who was caught selling another person into slavery was to be executed. However, since voluntary slavery was widely practiced during biblical times, the Bible proscribes laws to protect the lives and health of slaves. Paul, the author of many of the New Testament writings, virtually ordered the Christian Philemon to release his Christian slave from his service to "do what is proper". In addition, numerous verses from the New Testament show that God values slaves as much as any free person and is not partial to anyone's standing before other people.

    May 24, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • MikeH

      And thus we prove it is generally and outdated book in need of a new volume. So what group of guys do we get together to write this one? Sure, there are some decent principles to be found in the book, as there are in many other old books. However, anyone trying to use it as a literal instruction manual needs to find some perspective and accept a higher level of personal responsibility for their motives and actions.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • ROY SNIPES

      I really like you response...so true

      May 24, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Manonfire

      The final book has been written already. It has not come to pass yet, but one day the trumpet will sound and those who are alive and remain will see Truth face-to-face. Right now we see throug, h a dark glass and do not understand many mysteries, but when the Truth is revealed, we will see clearly. Believe it or not is your choice, but for me..I will be ready. Perhaps today!

      May 24, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      A "dark glass"? Nah, dearie, you are looking at things through your anus.

      Grow up.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • greg

      Mike H
      The Heights your are aiming for can not be reached by man, we love ourselves to much place to much faith in our own nobility and when it gets right down to it care for only ourselves over all others. There will never be another volume to the bible until there is someone here that is above all that is mankind, Cause you have to agree when by taking one good look around this world, man on his own is a disaster.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Question

      Slavery is a human problem, not a Christian problem.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Possum

      Yet, the bible approves of certain procedures in beating a slave but not so much they die. Else, the owner is to be put to death. Except, if the owner beats the slave just enough so the slave can still get up and walk two days later, the owner is spared.

      Lucky bruised and hobbling slave! His Master's going to live to beat again! Yay!

      May 25, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Randy

      There was slavery as indentured servitude, but there was also slavery as servitude forced onto people who were in conquered villages and cities or foreign lands. It was anything but voluntary. And, such slaves did not have a time limit placed on their servitude. They were to be enslaved forever and treated as property to be inherited by heirs when their owner died. The Bible regulates this practice. You don't regulate practices you don't condone. If you don't condone it, you prohibit it. Worshiping graven images wasn't regulated; it was prohibited. Slavery wasn't prohibited; it was regulated. Your God was in a position to tell his people not to own other people as property. He could have done that. No slavery. But, that never happened. Either your God condoned (and, as the Bible never changes its position on slavery, CONTINUES TO CONDONE slavery), or the Bible was written by people who condoned slavery and thus had no reason to prohibit its practice.

      May 25, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
  5. jesseballew

    Yr Daughter dosen't believe is Santa Claus. I do cuz i always worked for "Santa".First U.S. Army..Then Great State of Mi. Santa has been sending me several nice checks every month for decades now. Some call him "The Tax Payers". But u will always be "Santa" to me Daddy!

    May 24, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
  6. ug

    Something you a–hole libs and marxist freaks need to know about...freedom of religion!

    May 24, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Earthling

      Freedom of religion includes freedom FROM religion. Keep your religion in your church where it belongs, and out of my face.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Ok whatever

      Yeah it's the libs that have a lack of understanding of freedom of religion....wow

      May 24, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • lenojames

      Freedom of speech includes the freedom to not speak.
      Freedom to assemble includes the freedom to not assemble.
      Freedom to bear arms includes the freedom to remain unarmed.
      Freedom of religion includes the freedom to be atheist.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • MikeH

      Freedom of religion is also freedom from religion. That is clearly stated in letters by other Founding Fathers. George Washington was among a small group of Continental Congress members who joined to pray before meetings. The vast majority of the founding group thought it best to forego prayer and purposefully decided to not start the meetings with prayer because the separation of church and state should be strict. Largely the group thought it inappropriate for church to dictate law and government to dictate religion. As Jefferson so rightly pointed out, who your neighbor chooses to worship or not worship does no harm unto you, therefore it is none of the government's business. Of course that only holds true so long as people do not use their religion to oppress others or turn/keep them down as second class citizens.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • spartan77

      Or freedom from your religion.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Manonfire

      lenojames,
      Atheism IS a religion. It is your choice to deny the Lord or not. I am not getting in your face about it. BUT, what if you are wrong? What could the consequences be? You need to check out all the facts with a sincere effort and an open mind before you make a final decision. If you think you already have, you need to rethink your choice if you have even an iota or a doubt. Once you die, it is too late to turn back. Love you, man – hope I didn't sound too preachy!

      May 24, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      No, you dolt. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in a god. Get a friggin' clue stick and smack yourself, you moron.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • greg

      Keep your atheist rant out of mine as well U intolerant Piece of Sh it!

      May 24, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nope. I'll post whatever I choose whenever I choose. Don't like it? Tough toenails. No one's forcing you to read it. Scroll or scram. I guarantee no one will miss you.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:50 pm |
    • jsleno

      @manofire,

      Okay, I'll give you these talking points once again so you theists will get it...

      Atheism is a religion like "off" is a TV channel, like "NOT collecting stamps" is a hobby, like "healthy" is a disease.

      And I think the more important question for you to ask is what if YOU are wrong?

      What if after you die...nothing happens? What if you just get switched off like light? And the one and only life that you will ever have was devoted to worshipping a figment of the imagination of someone who lived 2000 years ago? All of the time, work, and money spent on trying to please a non-existent god would be a gigantic waste. But you wouldn't realize it because you would be dead, and that would be the end. Boy,that's a frightening thought, isn't it?

      It's so frightening, that people will spend their time, work, and money propping up a belief that only serves to make them less frightened about death, as opposed to being more happy with life.

      May 24, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • Possum

      Well, that's just it. Apparently, those "libs and Marxists" (two separate things, of course), along with a good many free-thinking people, including many of the Founding Fathers, know/knew exactly what freedom of religion could do if it were taken to the extreme and allowed to run rampant through our laws and society. Thus, why provisions were made to prevent the Liberty-halting, Freedom-usurping powers of a Theocracy from taking root.
      Basically, you have the right to attend whatever church or bar you like but as soon as you've become drunk enough from either and start stumbling into other people's yards and messing up their lovely shrubbery and such and then, continue affecting their lives by yammering on about their way of life as opposed to yours and demanding they adhere to your chosen way of life, well, that's where your party – and your rights – end. So, mind your own business and let others mind theirs.

      May 25, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  7. jesseballew

    Well Lets see now George Washington held hundreds of Slaves. And The same Indian tribe that brought blankets & food for his suffering troop's during winter at Valley Forge. Well when He was Prersident ,White men wanted the Tribal Lands in Upstate New York. So President Washington sent U.S. Army to burn the crops..slaughter the live stock..burn the homes n drive the savior's of his starveing army from their land! And that was when he in a good mood!So i've never given a good goid damm about "The Father Of Our Country. It was really Ben Franklyn anyway.Franklyn talked The French King into sending The French Army..French Navy..French Weapons n Ammo n Supplys to defeate The British.

    May 24, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • WDinDallas

      Maybe so Jesse, but he did that as Pesidnt. Not as a Christian.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      As WHAT? Do translate your post into English, you moron.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  8. Rich

    The country has taken a very sick turn to the right.Christian?I think not.Not in the USA.Not real Christians

    May 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
  9. Johnny America

    Moronical atheists are quick to point out that slavery is legalized in the Bible and they also point out that people like Thomas Jefferson were atheists(which is never supported by facts). It is a fact that Jefferson owned slaves.

    There were no atheists who lead the abolitionist movement. It was Christians who recognized that slavery was wrong. No atheists had anything to say about it.

    May 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Surviving the World

      I think you're sort of missing the point. Regardless of who led the abolitionist movement, the bible allows slavery, that's a fact, no ifs ands or buts.

      Please learn to debate intelligently next time. Thanks!

      May 24, 2012 at 9:01 pm |
    • Michael

      @Johnny, How do your as.ertions relate to the fact that George Washington categorically reassured people that in this country, non-Christians are free to express their religious beliefs, which, by the way, includes atheists?

      May 24, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • BuyG

      The Bible doesn't "allow" slavery – it recounts that there were slaves.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Earthling

      "No atheists had anything to say about it."

      I'm sure you have citations to back that up.

      You, like most blind religious fools, are full of crap.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Earthling

      Not in the bible?

      However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

      When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

      There are numerous other examples. Not difficult to research this stuff on the internet, unless you are so blinded by irrational beliefs that you can ignore the evidence of your own eyes.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • lenojames

      If slavery was condoned in the bible...
      and Christians helped fight against and abolish slavery...
      Wouldn't that those Christians be apostates? Wouldn't every christian that opposes slavery be an apostate?

      After all, slavery is supported in the bible. And the bible is the word of god. And the word of god is what guides the lives of Christians...correct?

      Or is it possible...just possible...that people can do good and be good without the bible's influence?

      May 24, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • nope

      @lenojames
      nope

      May 24, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • Snowdog

      Keep reading earthling:

      First, we must recognize that the Bible does not say God supports slavery. In fact, the slavery described in the Old Testament was quite different from the kind of slavery we think of today – in which people are captured and sold as slaves. According to Old Testament law, anyone caught selling another person into slavery was to be executed:

      "He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death." (Exodus 21:16)

      That is the problem with people who read 1 verse without reading the verses around it.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • lenojames

      @nope

      Then why did christians fight against slavery? Why did christians go against the word of god? Whu is this "christian nation" not a slave nation, like the word of god says?

      The answer? Because the bible is not a good guide to use for how to treat each other. Yes, there are some good generalities in the bible, but the specifics are either cruel, outdated, or unworkable. The bible has had it's two millenia. Now it's time for something better.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Surviving the World

      Snowdog

      You miss the key element that guides the entire torah as well as most of jesus's words which is that it's meant for jews and only jews. It was against The Law to sell another fellow jew into slavery, BUT it was perfectly acceptable to do so to another human being that wasn't jewish.

      Get it?

      May 24, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
    • nope's a fool

      @nope

      you got OWNED!

      May 24, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
  10. The law of the land

    I happen to be Jewish and do NOT support any type of variation of our laws. The orthodox Jews want (and have been granted) their own justice, sort of a self-govern in accordance with their traditions. Sharia is another example. NO! We have the laws of the United States of America and there is to be standarized protocol and transparency and and due process,REGARDLESS of what faith one abides. It is a slippery slope to tribalism or feudalism. America wake up, do not let this happen.

    May 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • MikeH

      I agree wholeheartedly.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changeth things .

    May 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • lenojames

      ...other living things???

      How is Atheism harmful to a horse, or a mollusk? How can a horse or a mollusk be either christian or atheist???

      Besides, my daughter doesn't believe in Santa Claus either. She grew out of it.

      You are way, way far afield with that remark.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Cedar rapids

      like rain dances change the weather

      May 24, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • 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!`

      May 29, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  12. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changeth things.

    May 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
    • 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!.

      May 29, 2012 at 11:24 am |
  13. Jean

    Well, so much for the idea that this was intended to be a "Christian" nation. Now that we know that it wasn't, perhaps we can move on to more pressing issues.

    May 24, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changeth things

    May 24, 2012 at 8:56 pm |
    • cleareye1

      The precise opposite is the truth. Brainwashing defenseless children with 2000 year old fantasy stories is a form of emotional and intellectual molestation. We should allow children to grow to capable, thinking human beings before offering them a choice in believe systems. Forcing you choices on them, as they were forced on you is simply unfair, and should be criminal.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • just sayin

      To deny a child a relationship with God is the worst form of child abuse. God bless

      May 24, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Emanual the man

      Can't we all just get along?

      May 24, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  15. 2/8

    You Americans spend so much time trampling other people's beliefs it's no wonder you're not held in very high regard by the rest of us. If someone wants to believe in God, Allah, or whatever other existence they choose, let them do it. Stop pretending you're all knowing and just close your mouths. Please!

    May 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Surviving the World

      You're right, the next time Moammer Ghadafi BELIEVES that all of his citizens should be murdered in their beds, we'll keep our fat noses out of it.... I hope you don't live in Libya!

      May 24, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • cleareye1

      I agree with the 'all knowing' part but don't think anyone should shut their mouth.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
  16. Big Man

    Yet another jewish-centric article posted by CNN. Either we live in Israel or our media is controlled. Or both.

    May 24, 2012 at 8:41 pm |
    • Snow

      Look in the main page.. in the last week or so, there are many articles about christianity and ONE on jews.. and you find that cnn is shoveling that? pull your head out of your a__. if there is anythnig to complain about the blog, it should be to stop writing so many articles on christianity.. But, I don't see you make that complain.. why?

      May 24, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
    • SensibleJoe

      Either that, or it's simply an article showing us that religious tolerance, in such short supply in the USA today, dates back to the very birth of our American heritage. The Big Man might not be so big after all...

      May 24, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
  17. cleareye1

    This letter was written by a liberal.

    May 24, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • SensibleJoe

      Yep, liberalism goes all the way back to our first President and the other Founding Fathers of the United States of America. No surprise there - the conservatives of the day sided with the British monarchy!

      May 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
  18. Sharon Delaney

    Honestly, every time I read an article on this blog, the comments are so abusive and mean, it turns my stomach. I'm saddened to see how we, as Americans, can be so cruel to each other. At the minimum, we should treat one another here as human beings deserving of some measure of dignity and kindness. This forum is part of the public square. Just as George Washington's words carried meaning and weight, so do ours. Wielding them with such bitterness and hate is bad for our country and worse for our souls.

    May 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Lol

      George Washington owned hundreds of slaves.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Michael

      @Sharon, thank you. I agree. There's no reason why people can't respectfully disagree with a point of view. The vitriol here is sickening.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • TAK

      Michael, the problem is that this isn't just about differing points of view. If it was then you'd be right. But this is about hard facts and evidence versus a vivid imagination. They should not be granted equal weight. It's like me saying the sky is blue and proving it with spectroscopy. Then someone else saying no, the sky is purple because a dusty old book told them so and then declaring spectroscopy the work of the devil because they don't have the education to understand it. Should such an opinion be given equal weight? Of course not, it's the rantings of a lunatic.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  19. Christians think Sharia Law is immoral but impose their own Sharia Law in America.

    No matter what version, it's immoral to impose your religion and deny others civil rights.

    May 24, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • SensibleJoe

      Amen. This Christian agrees with you, as do many others.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:53 pm |
    • Michael

      This oft pasted post would make its point better if the second "Sharia" were replaced by the word "Mosaic" for that is in fact, what they actually want to do, maybe not all of it, they want to pick and choose.

      May 24, 2012 at 10:00 pm |
    • Possum

      Well, it's not come to that and it's certainly, not all Christians. It's the so-called Christians that foam at the mouth while spewing scripture that are the problem. This rabid behavior also applies to non-Christians that are equally as blinded by their own agendas and set of beliefs they cannot see why others shouldn't also be right in line with them. When any one person or group believes only their choice of codes and guidelines should be the law for everyone else, there will be a problem because not everyone believes exactly the same, even, within a particular religion or mindset.

      In a fair society, law and justice should not be applied or served according to one particular Faith's world view. If it were, that would be moving towards a Theocratic form of rule and thus opening up the possibility that a Sharia Law-type environment could arise. So, in a civilization or country that is supposed to equally provide for and protect the freedoms and rights of all its citizens, it is important to enshrine no one particular Faith into its laws. Washington's letter addressed this respect of freedom of religion and it is a respect and a practice that needs to be more definitively applied as we adopt and mend our laws to better serve and preserve the rights of all citizens' freedom of – and – FROM religion.

      There is no perfect set of Laws that can applied to everyone's personal choice of what they believe. Most people in a civilized society understand and abide by the big rules such as don't kill or steal but not everyone is willing to gather in a mob and stone to death a wife or child for disobedience. Even Christians have tossed aside some of their own scriptural "Sharia Laws" because civilized people don't murder one another. However, that is not to say the concept of public stoning is still not practiced on a social and political level. Mobs still form but instead of stones, they throw vile words and accusations at others who contest their point of view or do not hold the same beliefs as do they. Historically, those accused of actions or behavior deemed unworthy to a particular faith or sect of society, have been cast out, beaten, lynched and/or mutilated. As there are now more stringent laws and consequences for such violent actions, incidences of these types have declined over time and self-proclaimed administers of this type of justice either act in secrecy – and in danger of being found out – or they apply forms of the practice of casting out or shunning to relegate the accused to a prison of social disgrace and public humiliation.
      This practice often extends beyond the smaller society and into the larger society when one group is set against another in politics, beliefs and social backgrounds and viewpoints.

      Today, Social Media is the public stoning square. Given, our right of free speech should never be tossed to the side and lively debate is all-in-all a good thing, the manner in which we go about expressing ourselves or standing up for what we believe should always follow the path of civil discourse and not cross the bounds into belligerence, hate speech and bullying.

      Sadly, though, civil discourse is not always the manner in which we go about communicating who we are as individuals and what we and others we associate with believe in. What occurs in the virtual public stoning square is, in a sense, a biblical and Sharia Law-style judgement and persecution of all individuals, regardless, of which side of any argument or issue they are on; stones fly from all directions. With words meant to cast out, shun, degrade and humiliate, the individuals hurling these wordstones are not much different than those who would participate in an actual stoning. Except, they don't need to get all dressed up in the hoods because they can lob stones from the comfort of their own homes. They are not drawing physical blood from an intended victim but rather, are attempting to exact the social equivalent thereof. The mob mentality still exists. After all, humans are animals.

      May 25, 2012 at 10:06 am |
  20. Rick

    "The Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support"

    "The citizens of the United States of America have a right to applaud themselves for having given to mankind examples of an enlarged and liberal policy—a policy worthy of imitation."

    I wish we had politicians like that today.

    May 24, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • TruthBTold

      When has the "Government of the United States" ever given "bigotry no sanction" and "no assistance" to persecution? Slavery is a sanction of bigotry and today's racism an offspring. The very failure to stop the, undue, persecution of so many – even today – is (at the least) aiding and abetting.

      Had I known an America worthy of applause, I'd give it its due; yet, I do not know such a place, though I have faith in one to come.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
    • Surviving the World

      @Truth

      I think you missed the whole "saving the world from Hitler and nuclear annihilation" part.

      May 24, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • Lol

      Uhhh, the Soviet Union saved the world from Hitler; and regarding "saving the world from nuclear annihilation," lol just lol....... the U.S. 1) INVENTED atomic weapons, you moron, and 2) USED THEM!!!!

      May 24, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • cleareye1

      The Russians did the 'saving the world from Hitler' gig. We just helped them.

      May 24, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
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About this blog

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