My Take: Catholic bishops' election behavior threatens their authority
The American bishops staged a rigorous campaign against the White House's new contraception mandate.
November 8th, 2012
10:18 AM ET

My Take: Catholic bishops' election behavior threatens their authority

Editor’s note: Vincent Miller is the Gudorf Chair of Catholic Theology and Culture at the University of Dayton.

By Vincent Miller, Special to CNN

President Obama’s narrow victory among Catholic voters this week will be seen by many as a political loss for the U.S. Catholic bishops, who appeared to be openly opposing Obama during the presidential campaign.

The Catholic Church was well within its rights to conduct its campaign on religious liberty, but its “Preserve Religious Freedom” yard signs were clearly designed to be placed alongside partisan candidate signs. And they were - in very large numbers.

The technically nonpartisan nature of the Church’s religious liberty campaign was further drowned out by a small chorus of strident bishops who left no doubt about how Catholics ought to vote for president.

In a letter he ordered read at all parishes last Sunday, Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria juxtaposed the Obama administration's new contraception mandate with the scourging and mockery of Jesus. Jenky declared that “electoral supporters” of pro-abortion rights politicians reject “Jesus as their lord,” as did the crowd that roared, "We have no king but Caesar.”

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Such forceful statements were never balanced by significant challenges to the Republican presidential ticket.

There is more at stake here than politics.

Though I agree with the bishops that the exemption for religious employers in the White House contraceptive insurance mandate is too narrow, the bishops’ posture toward the administration during the election poses a major risk to the Church because it left the impression that there was only one legitimate Catholic choice for president – Mitt Romney.

The result is that half of the Catholic electorate felt it was being judged as voting “against the Church,” even though such voters weren’t actually dissenting from Catholic teaching. They were, instead, making the complex decisions that any serious voter must, weighing their own moral commitments against a candidate's professed values, the policies they propose and how much is likely to be accomplished on a given issue given the political climate.

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Voters must weigh the mix of positions of both candidates, not just the objections against one. This year, they had to weigh, among other things, a new problem with religious liberty against the Republicans' earnest proposal to replace Medicare’s guaranteed coverage with a subsidy for private insurance.

By putting voters in a “with us or against us” bind, some of America’s bishops have risked eroding their own authority. They imply that specific political judgments are matters of Church teaching, when by Catholic tradition, the more they descend into the details of policy, the less certain their judgments become.

Bishops must allow room for and respect believers' own specific political judgments. The Second Vatican Council taught that it is primarily the responsibility of the laity to undertake the secular work of inscribing “the divine law…in the life of the earthly city.”

The way out of this crisis is for the bishops to carefully respect the necessary limits involved in the task of forming the consciences of lay believers. They must teach moral principles and, yes, argue for their specific application, but always in a way that respects individual judgments about how best to enact these principles.

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At times this formation might even require forceful challenge, but it should never assume ill will or ignorance when the faithful vote differently than they desire.

Trusting laypeople to make the political decisions that are properly theirs gives them room to embrace the Church’s doctrines, even if they cannot enact all of them in their voting choices. This is essential to sustaining a Catholic identity separate from the divisiveness of partisan politics. This election season like none before left many Catholics feeling like the Church gave them no such room.

The Catholic Church will enhance its public authority by speaking out in a way that supports and challenges both parties. Prophets are respected when they are perceived to be an independent and fair voice. When the deep coherence of Catholic moral teaching is communicated, it can free people from our partisan moral straightjackets. But when parts of this teaching are passed over in silence, the Church puts itself in a partisan straightjacket.

The official Church response to the candidacy of vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan displayed this failure to forcefully challenge both parties. In the spring, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had challenged Ryan’s proposed federal budget for failing to put “the needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty” first. But the bishops were largely silent on this issue during the campaign.

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The response of Catholic voters, however, displayed a decidedly Catholic instinct for the common good. Introduced as a “faithful Catholic” by Romney, Ryan brought no significant bump in Catholic support for the ticket.

Indeed, Ryan’s radical budget and ideologically driven plan to end Medicare as a guaranteed benefit program did what decades of work by Catholic social justice advocates had never been able to achieve: It activated a gut level Catholic concern for solidarity and the common good. President Obama’s Catholic poll numbers peaked in the weeks following Ryan’s selection.

The Catholic Church can never turn its back on the moral dimension of politics. But it must beware the divisiveness that even the appearance of partisanship can bring into the Church. Teach and preach the fullness of the Church’s doctrines forthrightly and forcefully, but honor the decisions of the laity. The danger is not that the Church might inappropriately interfere with politics, but that partisan politics will infect the Church.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Vincent Miller.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 2012 Election • Barack Obama • Catholic Church • Mitt Romney • Politics

soundoff (1,317 Responses)
  1. Zieroh

    Tax the church! Tax the church! Tax the church!

    If the Catholic Church wants to play at politics, We The People will revoke their tax exempt status.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  2. Mike

    You mean after the child abuse scandals and every other moral failure, the Catholic bishops still have any authority left to lose? That's news to me

    November 8, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      I concur Mike. It has become the way we the people are mulled over and unkindly bantered and the clergy keeps one eye open and one eye shut and another eye blinded and yet another eye on the prize and still an eye is left to be prodded. Project "Eye's Full Up"

      November 8, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • Tony R

      I guess you never heard of the "Judas principle"? Or how Christ reminded all of His apostles that there would always be scandal in His Church.

      November 10, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Tony R.,

      Every 'generation' from the beginning onwards has built a church and in the building of God's church the body of a solitary man is found.

      1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.

      November 10, 2012 at 8:38 pm |
  3. Sly

    Who would trust a bunch of wierdo's dressed up in clown outfits?

    Most of these guys in the picture have molested little boys – that is pretty much why they become Bishops.

    We've read about thousands of these pedophiles, meaning there are likely hundreds of thousands of victims.

    Sandusky-wanna-be's. That's who is in these pictures.

    Only the Boy Scouts have more pedophiles in their staffs.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Michael

      The Bishops are trying to insert themselves into the political arena with the objective being that the government will take away the individuals free will.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
  4. Blessed are the Cheesemakers

    Catholics believe god gave us free will, but the church seeks to take it away.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      Dumb buildings the catholicists all are! 1Corinthians 3:9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building. Dumb de dumb buildings!

      November 8, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • marsilius

      You're confusing volitional freedom with civil and political freedom.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers


      The church is confusing those two....that is the point.

      November 8, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • marsilius

      BATC: I think you misunderstood me. I'm not defending the Church, by any means. But the Church is certainly not trying to take away the kind of originating free will that God supposedly grants to people.

      November 8, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  5. Jim

    53 percent of Catholics and 73 percent of Latinos voted for President Obama. The majority of Catholics voted against their bishops. Republican bishops belong to the party of old white men who become more irrelevant as time goes on.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  6. God's Oldest Dreamer

    Dumb de dumb dumb dumb. What part of John 18:36 Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world" don't you understand? Dumb-bells do not and will not and shall not ring dumb futz.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:38 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Any good cult leader would say the same thing (and has).

      November 8, 2012 at 11:44 am |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      No cult intended Cheesy Puff. 🙂

      November 8, 2012 at 11:52 am |
  7. ME II

    Interesting... What happened to the "Report Abuse" link?

    ... not that it worked anyway.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  8. Bill Deacon

    An open question to Professor Miller: Using the teachings of the Catholic Church please substantiate a theology of social justice and personal property rights that precludes the right to life from conception.

    Answer: You cannot.

    Therefore, how can any Catholic in good conscience support a political candidate or party that promotes unfettered access to abortion?

    Answer: You cannot.

    November 8, 2012 at 11:27 am |
    • ME II

      Not sure about "Catholic" teachings, but didn't this article already explain a Christian pro-choice position?

      Also, who said anything about "unfettered access" to abortion?

      November 8, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • fred

      Nobody is forcing you to stay and support anyone Bill. If you feel so strongly about this issue and don't like the government, you're free to seek out a suitable theocracy and move there. Otherwise STFU, because the people have spoken and they don't want to be ruled by religion so just get over it!

      November 8, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      An open questionnaire may only be attained by proprietal nuances. The fees for such open candor is reported to be unobtainable by the moralizing majorities' counting on the moments.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:49 am |
    • Explain Please

      @Bill Deacon
      What "work of Catholic social justice advocates had never been able to achieve." So Bill, you use the term social justice in you posts quite often, I would like to know what that means to "you" as it can be interpreted in different ways by other people depending on their perspective?

      November 8, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Zieroh

      Strawman argument.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:52 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers


      Many Catholics just think.... "well it is one of many times the church has been wrong..."

      November 8, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV


      the price of democracy is that you don't get to have everything your way.

      If I recall correctly, you are opposed to capital punishment. So am I. I would like to see this scourge removed from our laws, but eliminating this does not yet have enough public support.

      I applaud your passion and commitment. You stand on your principle. But we live in a democracy. This is the price of liberty with responsibility over anarchy.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • JFCanton

      However important we may think abortion is, it's still just one issue, and one that frankly the president affects minimally. The religious freedom issue is a bigger deal, but still not a dealbreaker if you believe in the ability of the court system to sort this out fairly. I didn't vote for Obama, but didn't feel led by my parish or diocese not to.

      ME, the discussion offered from the pro-choice position does seem to revolve around "unfettered access." Europe in general has pretty strict time limits that judging by their rhetoric NOW, etc. wouldn't even consider. There should be room for compromise, but everyone is worried about the slippery slope.

      What evangelicals "thought" prior to the organization of their ideology into something resembling cohesion is fairly useless as precedent...

      November 8, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Primewonk

      An open question to Bill Deacon: Using the teachings of the Catholic Church please substantiate a theology of social justice and personal property rights that advocates for capital punishment.

      Answer: You cannot.

      Therefore, how can any Catholic in good conscience support a political candidate or party that promotes unfettered application of the death penalty?

      Answer: You cannot.

      November 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Just to clarify, I am not advancing any argument for legislation in the body politic. I am trying to initiate a thought process among Catholics who claim they believe the teachings of the Church but do not recognize that the sanctiity of individuals up to and including the rights of workers, personal property, free association, and public charity to name just a few areas of Catholic social justice are built upon the foundation of the right to life. It is basic Catholic theology that the right to life from conception is the fountain from which all other human rights flow. Whether the political system of any given country, even the U.S., ratifies that philosophy into the law of the land is, frankly, academic to me. What matters to me is that Catholics come to grips with what the Church teaches and why it is taught. The reason the Bishops are being vilified is because they understand and are sworn to uphold the teaching whether the congregation wants to hear it or not.

      November 8, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • ME II

      I thought the SCOTUS had already decided that viability was at least one point at which access to abortion was "fettered". Is that being contested?

      November 8, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • Chris R

      Bill, can you show me where in the Bible the idea that life begins at conception is laid out? There is the one line in Jeremiah "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." Of course this line clearly seems to be dealing with a per-ordained prophet and it's application to all conceptions everywhere seems suspect. It's telling that this is in the Old Testament and, as such, is best reviewed in light of Jewish thinking. In that tradition the fetus isn't fully human until it draws it's first breath. This isn't to say the fetus has no value but it's not, in anyway, placed as highly as a fully formed breathing person. Trying to argue otherwise simply displays an ignorance of the Bible and traditions thereof.

      November 8, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
    • Michael

      Choice is the law of the land. Period. And that is the way it ought to be . Get over it.

      One can be, and many are, both anti-abortion and pro-life. Have you ever heard of the God-given free will? An absolute ban on abortions is outside of the goverment's purview and should remain outside of it. Any woman who seeks an abortion will answer to God for her choice, not me or anyone else.

      November 8, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
    • nothing new here

      I would personally like to see you escort all these so-called "pro-choice Catholics" out of the RCC.
      And all the ones that use birth control.
      Answer – you cannot.
      But then again, the RCC is doing an excellent job of losing followers as it is 🙂

      November 9, 2012 at 8:24 am |
  9. Reality

    The Topic headline:

    "My Take: Catholic bishops' election behavior threatens their authority."

    My Take: Catholic bishops' promulgation of a severely flawed religion both historically and theologically completely vitiates their authority.

    To wit:

    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!!!!

    November 8, 2012 at 11:23 am |
    • Dionysus

      Just a small town boy living in a magic world and the guys that wrote him up stole most of their material from me and the Theogony. Think what a total failure he/jesus was, that love thy neighbour gig. is the last thing that christian religions hold true. Hades, they can't even get along with each other.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • Nii

      Jesus did not suffer from anything. You on the other hand suffer from OCD.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:37 am |
    • Nii

      dio whatever
      Continue believing your lies! If it makes u sleep at night! LOL

      November 8, 2012 at 11:39 am |
    • ME II

      ...not even hunger?

      November 8, 2012 at 11:41 am |
    • Nii

      ME II
      Have you read "John came fasting and going without (alcoholic) drink and you said he's mad but the Son of Man (Jesus Christ) came eating and drinking (alcohol) and you say there goes a drunkard and a glutton". Hunger? You can Google the words in quotation marks without those in brackets.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:53 am |
    • fred


      Have you read Cinderella, or perhaps Pinocchio would be more your speed?

      November 8, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
    • Nii

      The fact that I grew up with an agnostic father makes me very conversant with how you think. Funny enough even Cinderella and Pinocchio can teach you spiritual truths that can help you. Unfortunately you did not learn those as a kid. How then do you graduate to understanding the Bible. It is about wisdom not just knowledge.

      November 9, 2012 at 2:41 am |
  10. William Demuth

    If Obama had a drop of REAL courage, he would have the Attorneys General begin prosecuting these parasites.

    A good Ho Slapping is what these closet queens really need!

    Tax the church, imprison the pedophilles!

    November 8, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Bobbers

      I wonder why people are so vehement against the RCC. I mean, I don't believe in Islam or support many of their historical actions, but I don't insult them or call them names. I believe we should love people instead of hate!

      November 8, 2012 at 11:36 am |
    • Huebert

      There are numerous reasons for one to be vehemently against the RCC. Their stance on ho.mose.xuality, their protection of pedophile priest, and teaching against condom use in AIDS ridden parts of Africa, quickly come to mind.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  11. Rose

    Once again, the moral relativist raises its ugly head with a "be like me and we can get along" article. Im glad the Church reminded is parishioners to vote their conscience, what they choose to do with that is between them and God. If we lose Catholics to a vote not in line with Church teachings, we have only further purified the flock. Benedict said there would remain a remnant few that will be a spark to the world. This step in line article is only the beginning of the whirl wind about to take place in all sectors of our lives. Godspeed to all.

    PS How does one determine a rigged election anyway?

    November 8, 2012 at 11:12 am |
    • Huebert

      Typical conservative logic. If you don't like the results of an election, it must have been rigged.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • ME II

      By combining purity of the flock with the common understand that all are sinners, the results:
      The purest flock has a population of zero.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:19 am |
    • jennygirl

      purity begins from the top ranks downward. if the leadership is corrupt, get out of her, my people.

      November 8, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Alina

      Your point regarding purifying the flock explains a lot. I wonder if that's what the GOP is thinking too: it's the closest explanation I can think of for alienating all the moderates and perpetually reducing their base.

      November 8, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • commonesnes

      Well said!

      As you voting fraud: for starters you can just point to a 90% turn out rate in Philadelphia where you couldn't get 90% of the these voters to turn out if you were handing out $100 bills. Then you can add to that a poll judge that had an approved Republican observer removed when she refused to leave at the judge's order. If that's not good enough you can point to the voter intimidation by New Black Panther members who again stood at polling places in Philadelphia. You also can point to the absentee ballots allegedly requested by voters who showed up at the polls and said they never requested or received absentee ballots. Should I go on?

      The next election in Philadelphia there will be an army of volunteer veterans gathered and positioned to respond promptly to any reported irregularities including but not limited to voter intimidation.

      November 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  12. Colin

    As to your forth point, Catholics DO believe that absurd hocus-pocus nonsense. I know no scientist who thinks of what you are saying about abiogenesis (which has nothing to do with the point I made, btw)

    November 8, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  13. Laughing Skeptic

    The Catholics in Germany in 1934 obeyed their Bishops and block voted to support Hitler’s ascension. Hitler bought the Bishops support by promising to return lands and property confiscated during Otto von Bismarck’s Anti-Catholic Kulturkampf in the 1870s. When Bishops get their way, bad things happen - just ask the little boys.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • William Demuth

      Study the Reichskonkordat, and you will find the blood of 20 million stains the altar of this church.

      The Catholics were AXIS during WW2, directley complicit with the Nazi Party.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:25 am |
  14. Colin

    Prime, as to your first point, you pretty much just agreed with me, didn't you. As to your second point, so what? About 70% of Catholic take Genesis as literal truth.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  15. Dyslexic doG

    The Nuns on the Bus can smile to themselves for a job well done.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:51 am |
  16. Bobbers

    As someone in the Diocese of Peoria, hearing that note read in mass, I've given this much thought. Jenky is not an idiot, he knew that his letter would not change the Illinois vote. I mean.. the state was called when fewer than 1% of the vote was counted. 🙂 So, knowing this would not change the outcome, why would Jenky write that? Mull over that one......

    The answer is at least two-fold. First, he cares about his flock's souls. I think if we vote selfishly and without regard to what is right, it has a big impact on our souls. Our duty to vote well has been written about in various encyclicals. Second, he *always* talks about how it is wrong to support abortion, gay marriage, disregarding immigrants, just wars, religious liberty, etc... He just preaches it like it is, according to the catholic churchs doctrine and without regard to politics. He has no political affiliation. If Romney was on the wrong side he would still say the exact same sentences. As I read this article, I'm thinking the author wants the bishops to just shut up during political seasons? That's crazy talk.. preach the truth always brother

    November 8, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • tallulah13

      I suspect his greatest concern is his own dubious position of authority. He certainly doesn't care about the Const.itutional rights of his fellow Americans, or the legal separation of church and state. He can play all the power games he wants within his church. It is not his place to decide the laws of this country.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • jennygirl

      too wordy to read. moving on to the next post.

      November 8, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  17. Bet

    The catholic church needs to clean up their own pedophile-filled sewer before they try telling anyone else how to think.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  18. LinCA

    Is it really their election behavior that threatens their authority? I'd think it is the free flow of information that will do them in. While being stuck in the 1950 won't help their case in the long run, having their sheeple exposed to other views will erode their position. Their reliance on infantile beliefs will be their undoing.

    There is only so much bullshit people will take. Eventually, even the staunchest believer will open their eyes, or shut them for eternity. Once either happens, a believer is lost. To retain the status quo, every believer lost through rational thought or death, will have to be replaced. Enticing new believers will be an increasingly difficult task with a story that fails to meet even the most basic standards of a rational argument.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • tallulah13

      I absolutely agree. Education and access to knowledge are the biggest threats to religion (and conservative politics). Churches have lost their historical monopoly on education and can no longer edit out that which they find "heretical".

      In a similar vein, I think the best way to get peace in the Middle East is not war, but internet access. There will always be fanatics, but I think most people are curious and will learn in spite of themselves. A more educated population is less accepting of the autocratic and rather ridiculous nature of religion.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:57 am |
  19. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things,

    November 8, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • TrollAlert

      "Ronald Regonzo" who degenerates to:
      "Salvatore" degenerates to:
      "Douglas" degenerates to:
      Taskmaster" degenerates to:
      "truth be told" degenerates to:
      "The Truth" degenerates to:
      "Thinker23" degenerates to:
      "Atheism is not healthy ..." degenerates to:
      "another repentant sinner" degenerates to:
      "Dodney Rangerfield" degenerates to:
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      "christopher hitchens" degenerates to:
      "Atheist Hunter" degenerates to:
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      "WOW" degenerates to:
      "fred" degenerates to:
      "!" degenerates to:
      "pervert alert"

      This troll is not a christian..

      November 8, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Huebert

      Lets test that Claim. 😀

      November 8, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does 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

      November 8, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Hahaha

      @Atheism is...
      LOSER. Even if their was a god he/she would not pay attention to a loser like you. Hearing voices in your head and talking to yourself are early signs of schophrenia.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:24 am |
    • Actually

      I was thinking they are a loser because they spend so much time on this blog means they actually don't have a real life, that's a LOSER.

      November 8, 2012 at 11:46 am |
  20. Colin

    A few questions should help highlight why some might be inclined to question Catholicism

    The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings on the planet are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the religion of:

    (a) The ancient Celts;

    (b) Bronze Age Egyptians;

    (c) Pre-Colombian Aztecs; or

    (d) Modern Catholics

    You are about 70% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are:

    (a) a reptile handler who has severe mental issues;

    (b) a five year old boy who just read a fairytale;

    (c) a scientific fraud; or

    (d) a Catholic

    I believe that an all-knowing being, powerful enough to create the entire cosmos and its billions of galaxies, watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty" like protect myself from disease with a condom. I am

    (a) A victim of child molestation

    (b) A r.ape victim trying to recover

    (c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions

    (d) A Catholic

    I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am

    (a) A gifted psychologist

    (b) A well respected geneticist

    (c) A highly educated sociologist

    (d) A Catholic with the remarkable ability to ignore inconvenient facts.

    I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am

    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;

    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly

    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or

    (d) your average Catholic

    Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:

    (a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;

    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;

    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or

    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.

    The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:

    (a) Architecture;

    (b) Philosophy;

    (c) Archeology; or

    (d) Religion

    What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from Catholicism:

    (a) Catholicism tells people not only what they should believe, but what they MUST believe under threat of “burning in hell” or other of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;

    (b) Catholicism can make a statement, such as “God is comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;

    (c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas Catholicism is regional and a person’s Catholicism, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than geographical upbringing; or

    (d) All of the above.

    If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:

    (a) a deep psychiatric issue;

    (b) an irrational fear or phobia;

    (c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or

    (d) my religious belief.

    Who am I? I don’t pay any taxes. I never have. Any money my organization earns is tax free at the federal, state and local level. Despite contributing nothing to society, but still enjoying all its benefits, I feel I have the right to tell others what to do. I am

    (a) A sleazy Wall Street banker

    (b) A mafia boss

    (c) A drug pusher; or

    (d) A Catholic Priest

    What do the following authors all have in common – Jean Paul Sartre, Voltaire, Denis Diderot, Victor Hugo, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Immanuel Kant, David Hume, René Descartes, Francis Bacon, John Milton, John Locke, and Blaise Pascal:

    (a) They are among the most gifted writers the World has known;

    (b) They concentrated on opposing dogma and opening the human mind and spirit to the wonders of free thought and intellectual freedom;

    (c) They were intimidated by the Catholic Church and put on the Church’s list of prohibited authors; or

    (d) All of the above.

    The AIDS epidemic will kill tens of millions in poor African and South American countries before we defeat it. Condoms are an effective way to curtail its spread. As the Pope still has significant influence over the less educated masses in these parts of the World, he has exercised this power by:

    (a) Using some of the Vatican’s incomprehensible wealth to educate these vulnerable people on health family planning and condom use;

    (b) Supporting government programs that distribute condoms to high risk groups;

    (c) Using its myriad of churches in these regions as “boots on the ground” to distribute condoms; or

    (d) Scaring people into NOT using condoms, based upon his disdainful and aloof view that it is better that a person die than go against the Vatican’s position on contraceptive use.

    Please choose your favorite Catholic superst.ition from those below. For the one you choose, please say why it is any more ridiculous than the rest of the garbage Catholics swallow and give an example of a non-Catholic belief which is just as stupid.

    a. Grocery store bread and wine becomes the flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because a priest does some hocus pocus over it in church of a Sunday morning.

    b. When I pray for something like “please god help me pass my exam tomorrow,” an invisible being reads my mind and intervenes to alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to meet my request.

    c. You can pray to a dead person for something. This dead person will then ask God to fulfill your wish. If this happens twice, this dead person becomes a saint.

    d. A god impregnated a virgin with himself, so he could give birth to himself and then sacrifice himself to himself to negate an “original sin” of a couple we now know never existed.

    November 8, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • nope


      November 8, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • PrimeNumber

      Keep it coming, Colin. Blogs like this have given atheists a place to expose their astonishing ignorance of religious and spiritual matters, as well as their naivete regarding the wonders of secular society . Feel free to keep reinforcing what we now know.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Colin

      Really, what did I get wrong? Actually (d) in the one about no taxes should have read "the Catholic Church" but I think what I said was otherwise accuare, no?

      November 8, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • PrimeNumber

      Well, for starters: "The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings on the planet are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the religion of" You misunderstand the God who has been proposed. THe God we're interested in is so vast the universe cannot contain him, yet is entirely present on the head of a pin. ANd where God fully is, so is his love, omnipotence, etc. THe God we are interested sees all time like an open book – an eternal NOW. You think of time as merely a succession of days.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • PrimeNumber

      "You are about 70% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are". As for the snake, you don't understand how myth was used to explain higher truths. And 10,000 years? Ever heard of Georges Lemaitre? No? He was the Catholic priest developed the Big Bang theory, and convinced Albert Einstein that the universe was expanding.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • tallulah13

      So what you are saying, PrimeNumber is that all 7,000,000,000 human beings on the planet are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being. I guess Colin got it right after all.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:50 am |
    • Huebert


      I understand the concept of God viewing time and the universe from a hyper-dimensional standpoint. I just think that it is completely ridiculous to as.sume that such a being exist.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • PrimeNumber

      ". A god impregnated a virgin with himself, so he could give birth to himself and then sacrifice himself to himself to negate an “original sin” of a couple we now know never existed." But Colin. Don't you believe in a virgin birth? That, of its own accord, a particle popped into existence, changed into proteins and amino acids , to be coded by DNA? Not THAT'S a virgin birth !

      November 8, 2012 at 10:53 am |
    • PrimeNumber

      "Grocery store bread and wine becomes the flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because a priest does some hocus pocus over it in church of a Sunday morning." Which brings us back to the virgin birth just mentioned. A particle popped into existence, miraculously turned into proteins, etc.eventually turning itself into human flesh. This is neater water being turned into wine!

      November 8, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Colin

      Prime, as to your first point, you pretty much just agreed with me, didn't you. As to your second point, so what? About 70% of Catholic take Genesis as literal truth. As to your third point, no I do not believe that. The only book I know that makes the completely absurd claim that complex life can pop into existsnce is the Bible.

      November 8, 2012 at 10:56 am |
    • Colin

      As to your forth point, Catholics DO believe that absurd hocus-pocus nonsense. I know no scientist who thinks of what you are saying about abiogenesis (which has nothing to do with the point I made, btw)

      November 8, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • Akira

      Well said.

      November 8, 2012 at 12:07 pm |
    • God's Oldest Dreamer

      The people have spoken and the ballots not yet counted. Cathologists hammered home Cathology while they finger out the wholesomeness inuendo. God has laid His eyes-a-many upon non-trivial aspects yet He supports no one for any particular reasons. It is 'actions' where people should express reactions. Not vice versa.

      November 8, 2012 at 12:29 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.