A rabbi, a Mormon and a black Christian mayor walk into a room...
The worlds of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, left, Michael Benson, center, and Mayor Cory Booker collided 20 years ago. The unlikely trio has maintained a friendship ever since.
June 23rd, 2012
10:00 PM ET

A rabbi, a Mormon and a black Christian mayor walk into a room...

By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

Newark, New Jersey (CNN) – Mayor Cory Booker waits in his wood-paneled city hall office for his next visitors. His life, even on a Sunday, is tightly scheduled. He checks the time on his cell phone and lets the ribbing of his two friends, who are now late, begin.

“Jewish time is even worse than black time,” he says, “although I should never drag all the Jewish people down with Shmuley.” And then, about the other guy: “I thought Mormons were always 15 minutes early?”

If the friendship between these men – a black Christian mayor, a rabbi running for Congress and a Mormon university president – wasn't so real, this would sound like a bad joke. Instead, it’s a reflection of how three men from profoundly different backgrounds met 20 years ago, connected and changed one another.

So when this unusual trio got together for a rare meeting this spring, we jumped at the chance to join them.

But before the others arrive, let’s introduce the players.

There’s Booker, the 43-year-old Democratic mayor of Newark, a rising political star and headline grabber, a man who was recently lauded for saving a neighbor from a burning building and grilled for his perceived off-message remarks on a Sunday talk show. He was raised by parents who fought in the courts to integrate the northern New Jersey suburbs where he grew up.

Mayor Cory Booker takes a break on a Sunday from running Newark to dish about his old friends – two men from profoundly different backgrounds. (Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images for CNN)

The two men he’s waiting for are no schlubs themselves.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, 45, is a TV personality, former radio host, prolific author - his books include “Kosher Sex” and “Kosher Jesus” - and now Republican congressional candidate in New Jersey. He was also an unofficial spiritual adviser to Michael Jackson. He was raised by a single mom in Miami.

And Michael Benson, a 47-year-old political scientist and president of Southern Utah University, comes from Mormon and Utah royalty, of sorts. His grandfather is the late Ezra Taft Benson, secretary of agriculture under President Dwight D. Eisenhower and the 13th prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

With his wife and two young children in tow, the Mormon shows up first.

“Brother Benson,” Booker booms, addressing his friend in Mormon-speak as he stands to give him a big hug.

The last time these two had seen each other was five years ago, when they both helped celebrate the rabbi’s 40th birthday in New York. The massive party, as described by the mayor, was “a mosh pit of yarmulkes and sweat.”

CNN's Belief Blog: the faith angles behind the big stories

Boteach, who lives in New Jersey and sees the mayor often, rushes into the room on this Sunday a half-hour late.

“Let the record reflect, the Mormon got me lost,” he says by way of hello. The rabbi then glances down at Benson’s two little ones, who sweetly peer up at him.

“They’re a little too Mormon perfect,” he quips. “When Mormons walk into a hurricane, does their hair move?”

Booker, whose nearby desk features a stack of religious texts including the Bhagavad Gita and the Quran, watches as a crowd streams in behind Boteach. The mayor has box seats for this afternoon’s Cirque du Soleil performance of “Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour,” and he wants his friends and their families to join him. But first he demands to know of the rabbi, “How many people are with you? … They just multiply.”

“Are you kidding?” Boteach shoots back. “We have 30 kids.” Actually, he only has nine.

Long before he became an author, TV personality and now congressional candidate, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach ran a popular student organization at Oxford University, which is where he met Benson and Booker. (Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images for CNN)

The three men and their very different worlds collided in the early 1990s at Oxford University in England, where they overlapped for two years. Booker was there on a Rhodes scholarship; Benson on a Rotary scholarship - "but if I slurred, it sounded like Rhodes,” he says. Boteach was there as an emissary for Chabad Lubavitch, a Hasidic movement in Orthodox Judaism.

The first one to arrive at Oxford was Boteach, in 1988. His official mission was to serve as a rabbi to the students, but by 1990 he’d broadened his outreach by establishing the all-inclusive L’Chaim Society, a campus organization to promote the universal values of Judaism while celebrating differences. The society, whose Hebrew name means “To Life,” became the second largest student group on campus, surging to 5,000 members – no more than 800 of them Jewish.

The Mormon arrived in 1991, having spent six months in Israel at the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center. Benson, who earned a doctorate at Oxford, would write his dissertation on President Harry S. Truman and eventually write a book about the Jewish influences in Truman's life and his contributions to Israel’s founding. (The “Mormon perfect” son in the mayor’s office, it turns out, is named Truman.)

Shortly after Benson arrived at Oxford, a Jewish friend told him about Boteach, saying, “You have to meet this rabbi.”

Boteach admits his previous impressions of Mormons had been pretty negative. Then Benson walked into the L’Chaim Society – and the rabbi’s life – one Friday evening. “Not a hair was out of place,” a slightly disheveled and wild-bearded Boteach says, remembering when they met. “I was fascinated.”

Benson never budged from his own religious beliefs, but he became a devout member and officer of the L’Chaim Society, which held legendary Friday night dinners.

Michael Benson, a grandson of the 13th prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, helped change how his friends – and countless others – view Mormons. (Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images for CNN)

Booker arrived on campus a year later. He first met Benson through basketball - they both played for the Oxford Blues - then got to know Boteach with the help of a woman who stood him up for dinner. Booker was supposed to meet her outside the L’Chaim Society; when she never showed, he moseyed inside on his own to check out this mysterious place with a name he couldn’t pronounce.

Inside, hordes of people – many of them drunk – were dancing around with sacred scrolls containing the first five books of the Hebrew Bible. They were celebrating Simchat Torah, a holiday that marks the end of the annual Torah-reading cycle.

“I felt like I walked into a scene from ‘Yentl,’” Booker says.

Booker would go on to become president of the now-defunct organization, taking on tasks like lighting a Hanukkah menorah with Mikhail Gorbachev when the former Soviet leader visited Oxford.

Like Benson, Booker doesn’t drink; together they became allies as well as teammates. At the end of holidays like Simchat Torah or Purim – another raucous Jewish festival where celebrators often get drunk - they bonded as sober men in the room. They also led the Oxford Blues to win a British collegiate championship.

“I was their mascot,” boasts Boteach, whose friends tower above him.

The rabbi and Mormon say the mayor's humanity and heart inspire them. Booker says these two faithful men taught him to love and respect different religions, while helping him deepen his own beliefs and sense of awe. Likewise, both the mayor and Boteach say Benson changed how they and hundreds of others view Mormons.

Booker has been known to have his driver pull over when he spots young Mormon missionaries walking in pairs. He understands they’re often financially strapped, so he gives them some money for food and thanks them for being in his city.

“That’s something I never would have done if I hadn’t met Mike,” the mayor says.

And Booker certainly wouldn’t have pulled all-nighters studying Jewish texts before meeting Boteach. There’s a tradition, the rabbi explains, for a father to stay up and study the night before his son is circumcised. It was the middle of exams at Oxford when the rabbi first roped Booker in to join him the night before his first son Mendy's circumcision. Boteach came back again 11 years ago after the birth of Yosef, to which Booker responded, “Shmuley, you’re killing me” before he agreed to take part.

But the last time the rabbi issued his all-night study decree, Booker wasn’t having it.

“Forget it. Don’t even ask. I’m running for mayor,” the then-candidate told his friend six years ago, after Dovid Chaim was born. At 1 a.m., though, there was a knock on Boteach’s door. “You have 60 minutes. That’s it,” the mayor said as he rushed inside.

“Cory and I see each other whenever he needs advice,” the rabbi likes to say of Booker. And it's comments like this that prompt the mayor to retort, “He needs to get his head examined by a proctologist.”

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach rushes in for the reunion, and a hug from Booker, 30 minutes late. Michael Benson looks on, laughing as Boteach blames him, “the Mormon,” for making him late. (Shaul Schwarz/Getty Images for CNN)

All kidding aside, these three look out for each other's interests. After leaving Oxford for Yale Law School, Booker became a self-appointed kosher police officer, alerting the rabbi when he heard about Jewish L'Chaim Society members who had stopped keeping kosher. “You really need to do something,” he'd tell the rabbi.

Ever since Boteach learned that Benson’s older brother, Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist Steve Benson of The Arizona Republic, had shrugged off religion, the rabbi has said he’s on a mission to bring the older Benson back to the LDS Church.

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The Mormon can’t help but marvel at the rabbi’s chutzpah, but he’s happy to let him give it his best shot. So far Boteach has only e-mailed with the older Benson, but he looks forward to a face-to-face meeting so he, the Jew, can give the ex-Mormon the proper Latter-day Saint sell.

Boteach has fallen for the national parks of Utah, where the LDS Church is headquartered. He has lectured a handful of times at universities where Benson has been affiliated. Benson has led the way in scrambling to find kosher food for the rabbi before the two have headed out for weekend hikes.

Booker reflects on his old friends and says, “I love the fact that those two have kept such a good friendship. They’re very different. Mike is humble and soft-spoken; Shmuley is loud and bordering on obnoxious.”

Noticing the time, Booker rushes off to squeeze in a meeting before Cirque du Soleil.

The mayor's friends, at home in his office, take their time leaving. They stroll down the empty and echoing hallways toward the exit of Newark City Hall. The Mormon throws his arm around the rabbi's shoulder.

“I have to get back to Utah soon,” Boteach says. “It's been too long.”

“This time, we'll get you baptized,” Benson tells him.

The suggestion of a Mormon conversion, even in jest, might stop other rabbis in their tracks. But Boteach doesn’t skip a beat: “If it'll get me votes, fine.”

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Christianity • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Interfaith issues • Judaism • Politics • Race

soundoff (941 Responses)
  1. Brett

    Statistics Prove Five Out of Five People Die – (Don't Go Without Jesus)

    June 24, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      I went this morning without Jesus. I never take him along when relieving myself.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      The entire planet is affected by the irrational belief systems of the various mainstream religions. It affects the global economy, it affects world peace, it affects our secular life style in the United States.

      These ancient belief systems are based on superst.ition and mythology.

      One would think humans would have moved forward by now but instead we as a species behave in the same self-destructive manner now as we did thousands of years ago with more at stake then at any other time in history. It matters.

      Religious people are dangerous fools.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:26 pm |
    • Brett

      This is not about religion, this is about a relationship with Jesus Christ. Religion is man trying to find God, Christianity is God finding man through a relationship with Jesus Christ.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Jesus is an ancient myth. You believe in it because you were born in America and brainwashed practically from birth to believe it. If you'd been born in India, you'd be arguing just as strongly that Hinduism is the only right "way". THINK about it. It's all just archaic mythology and superst!tious nonsense. THINK, using logic and reason. To a thinking person, all religions just sound silly.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Ok, God is Jesus, Jesus is God. God wanted (needed?) to have a physical manifestation of himself on Earth and though he created the heavens and the Earth, Adam and Eve, he couldn't manage a “Jesus” so he knocked up a virgin by proxy who then gave birth to Himself and then he waited for himself to grow up so that he could preach the "truth" to those who would listen.

      Then he set up his own death (suicide) so that he could suffer on a pole to "die" (even thought he can't die) for the sins of all the many billions of people who would be born who had not yet committed any sins but for whom he has a plan and that plan includes sinning for some unknown reason so he needed to die for them. Then he becomes a ghost, takes a little trip to Hades to hang with the red guy and then he "rises" and walks about frightening people and then disappears after telling everyone he would return (an apparent lie) and never shows his face again.

      So my question would be, why?

      And I would offer up this counter possibility. Mary got knocked up by the blacksmith. Jesus was a cult leader. Jesus broke the law and was punished and died.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Alien Orifice. You're half right. Mary was knocked up by the blacksmith and then tells Joseph – "God did it". He's like, "Okay, duh...whatever". That dude had to be the dumbest guy that ever lived. Wow, I should write a book – I'll call it "Nine Months BC or Joseph will believe anything." 🙂

      June 24, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Alien, look up what Tares, Kenites, Pharisees, Scribes mean. Then we can have an intelligent discussion. Other than that, you're still at swinging from trees level.

      June 24, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  2. reasonablebe

    The Mormon, age 47, has only 2 children– not the usual, maybe , the rabbi has 9? (not common either- ) and the Christian mayor– a selfless hero– no mention of children or wife.... a very extraordinary group. May there friendship continue as strong and lasting and may the rest of us learn something from them.

    May the religious right realized how wrong they are and join instead in recognizing that we are all people, equally, and that we have more in common than we have differences.

    June 24, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I'm a democrat that hasn't attended formal church since my teens. However, I do know Jesus' truth ...

      Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

      John 14:6


      June 24, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
  3. Dan

    Who cares? Most people have friends of other religions or no religion. These guys are just rich and prominent, whoopdie doo

    June 24, 2012 at 12:17 pm |
  4. Alien Orifice

    God has you in his book. He has a plan for each of us. He knows when you will be born and when you will die. He is therefore responsible for all death, murder and destruction for all of history including every abortion ever performed, every r.a.p.e, every murder, every miscarriage, every atrocity. He is perfect. He is omniscient. He is omnipotent. So how could this not be so? It is God’s will. Praise the Lord!

    June 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Delusional much?

      June 24, 2012 at 12:10 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Oh..duh...sarcasm. Heh heh, didn't read your post all the way through. Sorry, you're right.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Alien, were you still swinging from trees when someone fed you that slop? I know we can never get you to read the Bible (Jesus Christ's truth about life and the hereafter), it must have been when your eyes were scorched by the blazing sun ... as you slithered for thousands of years to get to the shaded tree area away from the beaches, having no food, nor water to be survival of the fittest ...

      You can have someone read to you about the Pharisees, Scribes, Kenites, Tares ... that walk among us ... today, as in Biblical times.

      Now, climb down from your tree ... and go be a good little monkey.

      June 24, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
  5. Jerry Falwell

    A black preacher and a white preacher were arguing over whether God is black or white.
    "He's white of course.", says the white preacher.
    "No, of course he's black." the black preacher replies.
    Ok, let's ask him, says the white preacher. They both get on their knees and pray: "Oh Lord are you white or are you black?"
    A big booming voice comes out of the sky and says "I AM WHAT I AM."
    "Well, that proves it, the white preacher says, he's white."
    "What?" the black preacher says, "How do you figure that?"
    The white preacher replies, "If he was black, he would have said, "I IS WHAT I IS."

    June 24, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
  6. Boyd

    Great story CNN we need more like it!!! It gives me hope for this country! We need it!

    June 24, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
  7. Joseph

    I expected to see Romney.Thought CNN forgot the d in Rabbid.

    June 24, 2012 at 11:52 am |

      Rabid? Romney would be much more interesting if he were.

      The presidential race has been narrowed down to the 2 most boring contenders. I'm not sure it's a bad thing; a Perry presidency would be a Bush II style disaster. A Bachmann administration would bring our educational system back to the 12th century.

      Now a Trump admin would be interesting. It would probably suck horribly but it might be fun to watch.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  8. A dose of reality

    Rather than inculcating our children with the primary-color simple Sunday school legends and myths most people do, might I suggest the following ten comandments to enable them to think for themselves.
    1. DO NOT automatically believe something just because a parent, priest, rabbi or minister tells you that you must.
    2. DO NOT think that claims about magic and the supernatural are more likely true because they are written in old books. That makes them less likely true.
    3. DO analyze claims about religion with the same critical eye that you would claims about money, political positions or social issues.
    4. DO NOT accept it when religious leaders tell you it is wrong to question, doubt or think for yourself. It never is. Only those selling junk cars get frightened when you want to "look under the hood".
    5. DO decouple morality from a belief in the supernatural, in any of its formulations (Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc.). One can be moral without believing in gods, ghosts and goblins and believing in any of them does not make one moral.
    6. DO a bit of independent research into whatever book you were brought up to believe in. Who are its authors and why should I believe them in what they say? How many translations has it gone through? Do we have originals, or only edited copies of copies of copies– the latter is certainly true for every single book in the Bible.
    7. DO realize that you are only a Christian (or Hindu or Jew) because of where you were born. Were you lucky enough to be born in the one part of the World that “got it right”?
    8. DO NOT be an apologist or accept the explanation “your mind is too small to understand the greatness of god” or “god moves in mysterious ways” when you come upon logical inconsistencies in your belief. A retreat to mysticism is the first refuge of the cornered wrong.
    9. DO understand where your religion came from and how it evolved from earlier beliefs to the point you were taught it. Are you lucky enough to be living at that one point in history where we “got it right”?
    10. DO educate yourself on the natural Universe, human history and the history of life on Earth, so as to be able to properly evaluate claims that a benevolent, mind-reading god is behind the whole thing.
    I sometimes think that, if we first taught our children these simple guidelines, any religion or other supernatural belief would be quickly dismissed by them as quaint nostalgia from a bygone era. I hope we get there as a species.

    June 24, 2012 at 11:51 am |
    • MarkP

      Your superiority is awe-inspiring. Where can I get a dose of your condescension?

      June 24, 2012 at 12:02 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Absolutely true.

      MarkP – He's not condescending, just pointing out the facts. Grow a brain and you'll understand.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
    • Chuck

      You are so right. Teach the young to think for themselves and make their own informed decisions on religion.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:42 pm |
    • JustSaynn

      Yeah, but the world would be so much uncivilized without religion. Religion makes science possible...why? Because it makes us think about why things are the way they are and if we can make things better. Without the two there is no even discussion. "Thinkers" that think they have logically disproved religion have actually caused bigger questions about religion and how the universe works. It also just makes religious people think these "thinkers" are not humble for thinking that out of the billions of people born before them that they are somehow smarter than all of them...yeah, right after billions you were born with the brains that everyone else should have...that in itself is wrong and disrespectful to those dead people and even to the "thinkers" ancestors.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • Chuck

      Hey there Just sayin. How could religion or lack there of make anything more or less civilized. Maybe if there was only one religion we wouldn't have people killing each other over who's belief was the correct one.

      June 24, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Chuck

      MarkP, condescension is an awfully big word for you to use since you didn't seem to get what he was saying.

      June 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  9. Catholic Hispanic

    Loved this article! What a wonderful story about friendships among different and yet similar people. The lesson I hope my nephew learns when he goes off to college this year- which is tolerance and compassion for what is different can and is possible.

    June 24, 2012 at 11:48 am |
    • Alien Orifice

      I hope your nephew learns not to believe in superst.i.tion and mythology. Hope he gets laid a lot too. Good times, good times.

      June 24, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • The web site you got this from is a joke

      We are generally very tolerant of all religions yes there are some crazy cookie cutters in our religion but overall we will be best friends with any religion.

      June 24, 2012 at 11:57 am |
  10. MarkP

    Excellent article. Thank you.
    Let the anti-religious bigots squeal. We are all meeting our maker in the end.

    June 24, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • John

      How do you know?

      June 24, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • A dose of reality

      I second the question...How do you know?

      June 24, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      He doesn't "know," because one can't know based on faith. Faith gets you belief, not knowledge. Silly xtian.

      June 24, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • oxy243

      Why do you have to know?

      June 24, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Seyedibar

      sure... if by "maker" you mean "having your body decay into reusable energy and matter"

      June 24, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
  11. TG

    These three, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Mormon Michael Benson, and mayor Cory Booker, have seen no wrong in mixing faiths or as it is called, interfaith. The Jews have rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah, though he fulfilled every single prophetic statement in the Hebrew Scriptures (commonly called the Old Testament) concerning the Messiah or "anointed one"(Greek khriston, Latin, christos).

    The Jews were cast off as a nation, with Jesus telling them: "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent forth to her,—how often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks together under her wings! But you people did not want it. Look! your house is abandoned to you. For I say to you, you will by no means see me from henceforth until you say, ‘Blessed is he that comes in Jehovah’s name! "(Matt 23:37-39)

    The Mormons have elevated the Book of Mormons above the Bible, and have promoted the view that "as man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may become."(Mormon prophet Lorenzo Snow, 1814-1901) These teach that all humans were once spirits in heaven that have come down to the earth to be tested and that includes even "God". Joseph Smith (1805-44) said that "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens."

    Mr Cory Booker, is a political activist, whose thoughts rest on ascending possibly the political ladder. Neither Shmuley Boteach, Mormon Michael Benson nor Cory Booker recognize any wrongs, especially the two that are supposedly religious. Under the Mosaic Law, the Jews were not to make friends with the surrounding nations, such as involving marriage of their sons and daughters.(Deut 7:1-4)

    Of those who are genuine Christians (which the Mormons profess to be), the apostle Paul wrote that "Do not become unevenly yoked with unbelievers. For what fellowship do righteousness and lawlessness have? Or what sharing does light have with darkness? Further, what harmony is there between Christ and Be´li·al? Or what portion does a faithful person have with an unbeliever?"(2 Cor 6:14, 15)

    All three have seen nothing wrong with mixing religious ideas with politics, like a soup, where everything but "the kitcken sink" is tossed into it. However, our Creator, Jehovah God, sees it in a different light, for he says: "Therefore get out from among them, and separate yourselves,’ says Jehovah, ‘and quit touching the unclean thing’”; “‘and I will take you in.’” “‘And I shall be a father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to me,’ says Jehovah the Almighty.”(2 Cor 6:17, 18)

    All religion that does not honor Jehovah (Rev 18:5, 8), as well as the political governments (Rev 19:19, 20), as well as the commercial system of the "world" is to be disposed of (Rev 19:21), with only those who love Jehovah God remaining.(Rom 10:13)

    June 24, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • A mormon

      Dude leave the jews alone let them believe what they want to.

      June 24, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      All religions are just ancient mythology and superst!tious nonsense. Where you were born determines which fairytale you believe in, not common sense. You're brainwashed to believe in the religion of the culture where you were born. Only very intelligent people can break out of that conditioning. Try THINKING, using logic, reason and objectivity. And if you have any intelligence at all, you'll come to the obvious conclusion that it's just ancient mythology with no resemblance at all to reality.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:19 pm |

      The obvious problem with your post and your outlook is that you confuse your beliefs with truth. You believe what you believe because you heard a preacher say it or it's how you interpret ancient scripture. That doesn't make it true and it doesn't make what other people believe any less true.

      A god with elephant arms is just as likely as a man who raised the dead and walked on water.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:28 pm |
    • yrok71

      Spoken like a true zealot. Truth before Tolerance results in enless bloodshed. See the Middle East for proof.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • reasonablebe

      i don't think you get it– things change, including people's understanding of life and life on earth. Else we'd still be burning 'witches' and declaring that the beswt test is throwing 'suspects' in the open sea– if they can swim, they must be a witch, so brurn 'em at the stake. if they drown. oops....but at least maybe they'll go to heave,

      better yet, we can all blow each other up– kind of like the middle east... brilliant (sarcasm- really, really stupid).

      Archaic nonsense, your comments. People believe what they believe– you can't control it, I can't control it and most people can't control what they believe, only recognize it. It is no one's place or right to insist that what they believe is truer than what anyone else believes, or to insist that others should (or worse, must) believe what they themsleves believe. It is the outright and ultimate claim of outlandish superiority 'just because'– it is arogant and ignorant.

      Grow up and join the 21st century.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:38 pm |
    • Josef Bleaux

      reasonablebe – You nailed it. Well said.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  12. sayitlikeiseeit

    Oh! cant we all get along...for me, the moral of the story is we dont have to be cut from the same cloth to love and respect each other. so lets just try to get along..

    June 24, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  13. mack


    Its a shamed how you took a great article about diversity and crippled it by being racist. The article never mention Rev. Write but you use him to attempt to make a political statement and to attempt to shame blacks I spent most my life serving this country with different racist and religions. I have friends from all walks of life from that experience of which I would have give my life for. Your self righteous statement makes you the racists. You are not worthy of such a great nation its not always political.

    June 24, 2012 at 11:45 am |
  14. John

    Hopefully they can figure which one of them is going to be saved.

    June 24, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Well, gee, if there was any definitive proof on the matter, they'd already agree. Religion's not like math or chemistry that all three agree on and use regardless of their different gods and salvation plans.

      June 24, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • John

      If there is no proof how can so many people claim to know their religion is the one truth?

      June 24, 2012 at 11:50 am |
    • A dose of reality

      Gee. Moby duck, they all think they are right and the rest are wrong.....so I think the question was legit....which one will be saved? the answer.......none. religion is bunk. I can hope we lose this Bronze age BS SOON!

      June 24, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Because they've been indoctrinated/brainwashed. All believers use faith, but faith only gets you belief, not knowledge. I can have faith all day long to get myself belief that I can fly by flapping my wings, but my belief is irrelevant once I jump off a tall building. I didn't have the knowledge I needed to actually fly; I only had belief.

      June 24, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Saved from what? Ignorance and stupidity? Not much chance of that with any religion.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
  15. oz4krt

    Great story on how to get along and see whats important in life. Friendship and community. Haters gonna hate.

    June 24, 2012 at 11:43 am |
  16. jeff

    actually a cnn artical i liked

    June 24, 2012 at 11:41 am |
  17. kevin

    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself.
    Each is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thine own
    Or of thine friend's were.
    Each man's death diminishes me,
    For I am involved in mankind.
    Therefore, send not to know
    For whom the bell tolls,
    It tolls for thee.

    For each hate-filled comment on here, one day you, too, may be on the receiving-end of bigotry. The point is that we are all human and that transcends any belief-set. Just get along and enjoy variety.

    June 24, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      What "hate-filled" comments? You do realize that "hate" and "difference of opinion" are two completely separate things?

      June 24, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • kevin

      yup. I wasn't referring to the difference-of-opinion comments...just the hate-filled ones. 😉 Shalom.

      June 24, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • Josef Bleaux

      Religion has to be opposed, it dulls the mind. It would be fine if religious people just wallowed in their fantasy worlds and left everyone else alone but they don't. They try to push their fairytales on everyone else. They try to pass legislation forcing our children to participate in mumbo jumbo ritual chantings (prayer). They try to pass legislation restricting birth control and a woman's right to choose. They want to force everyone to accept their archaic beliefs. They must be opposed at every opportunity. I don't hate religious people, I hate religion.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • yrok71

      Well said, Kevin...

      June 24, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  18. open-mind

    "this article teaches open mindedness." Why should I be open minded to fairytales and wish-thinking presented as fact? The call for tolerance and multi-culturalism applied to religious belief cloaks flaccid-minded and even sinister agenda.

    June 24, 2012 at 11:39 am |

      The article isn't about accepting religion; it's about making and supporting friends who have different beliefs than you.

      I'm agnostic and think religion is pretty silly but I admire anyone who can sit with people who obviously disagree with you on the most basic issues and not only get along but like and support each other.

      June 24, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
  19. Dana

    More religious nonsense. It must be make-believe day again.

    June 24, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  20. that guy

    so the "Rabbi" and the "Black Mayor" argued over the new testament while the "Mormon" sympathetically apologized for baptizing dead Jews??? Or is this another photo op to "help"

    June 24, 2012 at 11:32 am |
    • Sean

      I'm sure you thought that witty.

      June 24, 2012 at 11:42 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.