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Picking up a bagel instead of a partisan fight
President Barack Obama speaks during the National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton Thursday.
February 7th, 2013
12:24 PM ET

Picking up a bagel instead of a partisan fight

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Editor

Washington (CNN) -
Translation headsets squawked in four languages at the early morning breakfast in Washington, mixing in with the sounds of stirred coffee and clinking china in the immense ballroom at the Washington Hilton.

The sound reverberated over the quiet of a momentary political cease-fire in Washington.

For the 61st time, the president came to pray with the U.S. Senate and House prayer groups at the National Prayer Breakfast.  It is an event that is equal parts prayer and politics, where members of both parties laud one another about a temporary political truce, lay down their partisan ammunition, and pause to pray together.

Members of Congress mixed in across the ballroom with the 3,000 diplomats, dignitaries, clergy, veterans and many more from 140 countries who bought a ticket to join in the ecumenical prayer event.

All told there were four short prayers, delivered by a senator, an admiral, a Cabinet secretary and an Olympic gold medalist, Gabrielle “the Flying Squirrel” Douglas.

The remainder of the 90 minutes was filled with speeches, songs, coffee, mini-quiches, and bagels.

Sen. Mark Pryor, R-Arkansas, greeted the crowd from the podium with a crisp, “Good morning sinners.”   He then turned it over to fellow emcee Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, who opened the event in prayer.

Dr. Benjamin Carson, the director of pediatric neurosurgery for The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, delivered a keynote address that covered a broad range of topics.  As he touched on taxes, deficit, education and health care, he received applause first from half of the crowd and then from the other half, in a way that was reminiscent of a State of the Union speech.

He reminded the crowd of Washington power brokers that the American bald eagle needs both its left wing and its right wing to soar.

President Barack Obama spoke at the annual breakfast for the fifth time since taking office, keeping the streak of presidential attendance of the event unbroken.

The president began by announcing that his head of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Joshua DuBois, will be leaving his post on Friday.  DuBois has been working with the president since his days in the Senate and has reached out to religious leaders across the spectrum on a range of issues.  He has also been a key player in Obama’s personal faith life.

“Joshua has been at my side at work and in prayer for years now,” the president said.

“Every morning he sends me in an e-mail a daily meditation.  A snippet of Scripture for me to reflect on, and it has meant the world to me.  And despite my pleas, tomorrow will be his last day at the White House.”  The president thanked DuBois, who was standing off stage to his right, and wished him well.

The president used his speech, as he has in years past, to illuminate pieces of his own Christian faith and a faith in God and country.

“We come together as a people of faith.  We know faith is something that must be cultivated.  Faith is not a possession.  Faith is a process,” he said speaking from notes and without a teleprompter.

“As Christians we place our faith in the nail-scarred hands of Jesus Christ,” the president said, emphasizing his personal belief as a Christian before turning toward an interfaith tone: “So many other Americans know the embrace of faith Muslims and Jews, Hindus and Sihks, and all Americans, whether religious or secular, have a deep abiding faith in this nation.”

The president spoke of the two men whose Bibles he used during his recent presidential inauguration ceremonies, President Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.

He spoke of the trials they each faced and compared them, in part, to the current struggles facing the United States - the deficit, taxes and education - picking up on the major themes from Carson’s keynote.

“In the midst of all these debates, we must keep that same humility that Dr. King and Lincoln and Washington and all our great leaders understood is at the core of true leadership,” the president said.

“I do worry sometimes that as soon as we leave the prayer breakfast, everything we've been talking about the whole time at the prayer breakfast seems to be forgotten - on the same day of the prayer breakfast,” he said, drawing a laugh from the crowd as he turned toward Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, a loud critic of the president’s policies who was seated at the head table.

“I mean, you'd like to think that the shelf life wasn't so short.  But I go back to the Oval Office and I start watching the cable news networks and it's like we didn’t pray,” the president said as he then turned to Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, who was seated next to him at the head table.

“Sometimes I search Scripture to determine how best to balance life as a president and as a husband and as a father.  I often search for Scripture to figure out how I can be a better man as well as a better president,” he said.

The president added he thinks the country is united in fighting common struggles, “but I also believe that we are united in the knowledge of a redeeming savior, whose grace is sufficient for the multitude of our sins, and whose love is never failing.

“And most of all, I know that all Americans - men and women of different faiths and, yes, those of no faith that they can name - are, nevertheless, joined together in common purpose, believing in something that is bigger than ourselves, and the ideals that lie at the heart of our nation’s founding - that as a people we are bound together.”

After the conclusion of the president’s remarks Italian opera singer Andrea Bocelli sang Ave Maria to close the event.

As he finished singing he motioned that he wanted to add a few words.

In Italy, he said, “left and right can’t speak together.”  He lamented his poor English but added that when he returns to Italy he will do so with a new lesson. “I received a big teaching.  I will transmit this: the will to pray together.”

After the event Pryor, in a brief interview with CNN, said he didn’t see the president’s remarks as a partisan dig from his standpoint and echoed the president’s sentiments that leaders in the United States need to remain humble. He added he hopes they will continue to pray together.  “By praying together and trying to find unity in prayer, hopefully we can take the day-to-day stuff to a higher plain.”

“It’s tough to pray with someone and then go on the Senate floor and beat the tar out of someone.  It’s tough, but not impossible,” he said with a wide grin.

“The challenge for all of us is to connect Sunday to Monday and keep that in our minds and make a difference," he said. "Washington is an interesting place.  I think the National Prayer Breakfast makes it better.”

And with that he and the other members of Congress headed back to Capitol Hill and the president returned to the White House.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Church and state

soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. Nietodarwin

    “Scientists do not join hands every Sunday and sing "Yes gravity is real! I know gravity is real! I will have faith! I believe in my heart that what goes up, up, up must come down, down, down. Amen!" If they did, we would think they were pretty insecure about the concept.”
    _ Dan Barker, Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists

    February 7, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • Wrathbrow

      Yes, but atheist really could use some improved and organized mobilization to spread their message of reason, critical thinking and doing good things for others. Many religions continue to recruit and champion their beliefs to grow more followers. We atheists need to step up and do more things with others. And do so in a way that engages others. I would love to attend a atheist based celebration.

      February 10, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  2. David Axelrod

    It's almost comical how the fundi-atheists like to look down their noses at "religious" people. I guess they never stopped to consider that what they believe takes just as large a "leap of faith" as what Christians believe, perhaps even larger! There is ample evidence of intelligent design. Its all around us. We see it daily. Where's your evidence of evolution...still looking for that "missing link", eh?

    Have you fundi-atheists ever considered how ridiculous YOUR beliefs are? Seriously, you really think that somehow a glob of "magic mud" spontaneously came to life, and that man somehow "evolved" from that mud? Do you think that is somehow more "intellectual" than the concept of Intelligent Design?

    The bottom line is that the ONLY people in this world who you need to fear are people who insist they know the truth, when the truth is not knowable. At least the Christians have the intellectual integrity to acknowledge that their religion is based entirely on faith.

    You dopy atheists with your "Magic Mud" theory look idiotic insisting that somehow YOU know that which is unknowable.

    Remember, we all die alone...and at some point YOU will be taking your last breath, and finally getting the chance to find out for sure. In the interim, I would suggest to both the fundi-atheists AND the fundi-Christians that you keep an open mind and boldly challenge your own thoughts and beliefs.

    February 7, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • bostontola

      David,
      I respect and admire religions (not all the people within them of course). I don't care what anyone believes. But to ignore the evidence of evolution is to turn a blind eye. There is a s much evidence of evolution as there is evidence that there was a Roman empire. The vast majority of scientists regard evolution as a fact (like gravity is a fact, while the theory of exactly how it works gets refined over time). You should respect scientists in their business, just like you request atheists respect your beliefs.

      February 7, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      You poor fellow, even your own Pat Robertson now admits that "if you go against science, you're gonna lose your kids." I hope you don't share your delusional beliefs with vulnerable children. You believe these things because you were taught, (brainwashed) these things as a child. Forcing a child into a RELIGION IS CHILD ABUSE. Like all child abuse, religious child abuse continues from generation to generation. There is NO EVIDENCE of "intelligent design." Any that has been give has been debunked. Believe what you want, but stay away from children and break the cycle of abuse. The other guy that answered is correct, evolution is regarded as FACT, like gravity, even by many xstians. Take a biology class at a community college, change churches, do what it takes to break the cycle. We need scientists in this country.

      February 7, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      Being a "fundi-atheist" may take a leap AWAY from "faith." Acknowledging evolution as fact, based on evidence, is no more based in religion and faith than acknowledging that the earth revolves around the sun, or that if you take your "leap of faith" from a high enough level you will end up "dead" (biologically speaking) and end up meeting your beloved "intellligent designer" that much more soon. JUMP !

      February 7, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
  3. David Axelrod

    I wonder if the arrogant leftist we currently have in the White House learned anything from Dr. Benjamin S. Carson on what it's like to be a REAL leader. Let's hope so...

    February 7, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
  4. Reality

    Free Will and Future are inherent to all the thinking beings in the Universe. This being the case, it is not possible to alter life with prayers. Statistically, your request might come true but it is simply the result of the variability/randomness of Nature..

    So put down your rosaries and prayer beads and stop worshiping/revering cows or bowing to Mecca five times a day and stop going to useless prayer breakfasts. Instead work hard at your job, take care of aging parents, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to charities and the poor and continue to follow the proper rules of your religion or any good rules of living as gracious and good human beings.

    February 7, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
  5. Nietodarwin

    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.
    Seneca the Younger 4 b.c.- 65 a.d.

    “The reason people use a crucifix against vampires is because vampires are allergic to bullspit.”
    _ Richard Pryor
    If god created man in his own image, how come I'm not invisible?”
    _ David Powers

    February 7, 2013 at 4:51 pm |
  6. Nietodarwin

    I’m an atheist, and a militant atheist when religion starts impacting on legislation.”
    _ Daniel Radcliffe

    “Since Jimmy Carter, religious fundamentalists play a major role in elections. He was the first president who made a point of exhibiting himself as a born again Christian. That sparked a little light in the minds of political campaign managers: Pretend to be a religious fanatic and you can pick up a third of the vote right away. Nobody asked whether Lyndon Johnson went to church every day. Bill Clinton is probably about as religious as I am, meaning zero, but his managers made a point of making sure that every Sunday morning he was in the Baptist church singing hymns.”
    _ Noam Chomsky

    February 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  7. Nietodarwin

    I'm very disappointed to see President Obama attend this event again. I wrote him several months ago and pointed out that this was an official event that he SHOULD NOT be attending on taxpayer time. If he wants to go to church on his "free" time, not in his "official" capacity, that's fine. I voted for him, and would do so again even after this "betrayal" but it just sickens me the hold that these SICK xstians have on our nation. Despite mentioning "secular" people, along with Jews, Muslims, etc. he should still be ashamed. It's 2013, "Nones" make up more than %20 of this nation, and we don't need any SILLY PRAYER BREAKFAST

    February 7, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
    • Chuckles

      Meh

      If he wants to be a christian and go to a prayer breakfast in order to rub elbows with politicians and use that as a way to pass bills, it's fine by me. As long as he doesn't sit in the oval office praying for god to stop Al Quaeda or thinking that god is telling him to invade places or rjust inserting god into his policy I'm all good.

      February 7, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
  8. Peace out.

    If you want to know about Obama's religious beliefs, then read his book, "Dreams of my Father". He states that he isn't religious, but used religion and religious leaders to accomplish his purposes as a community organizer. His wife is more religious.

    February 7, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • Manny

      That book was published in 1995. People's religious views can change a whole lot in the 20 or so years that this represents.

      February 7, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
  9. sendthistodave

    Barack had best pray that e fails to destroy capitalsim since it is the only real mother or father he ever had:

    every student in America would benefit from reading Atlas Shrugged," Brook said in a statement to FoxNews.com. "Not only does the book explain, in economic, political and philosophical terms, the challenges facing this country, but it also shows what's required to restore the ideals of the Founding Fathers. Atlas Shrugged is not a Republican or conservative book, but an American book: a hymn to the ideals of individualism, capitalism, and the free human mind."

    February 7, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • My Dog is a jealous Dog

      Grow up – Objectivism is nothing more than justification for selfishness.

      I used to be a libertarian until I realized that although I would prosper in such a climate, my idiot brother (and many, many more) would be eaten alive.

      February 7, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • George

      I would never read anything written by a filthy atheist like Atlas Shrugged was.

      February 7, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
  10. avg nobody

    Hitler did not kill those peole becaue of religion, it was for the German people and int he name of goverment. More people have been killed by Government than by "religion". That is a fact, no way to even argue it!

    February 7, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
    • Akira

      And this is true, but you will not convince the trolls who can't differentiate between atheism, theism, or governments. It gets tedious.

      February 7, 2013 at 3:02 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      You'll find that atheism is frequently conflated with:
      Communism, nihilism, social darwinism, solipsism, sociopathy, satanism, naziism, etc ad nauseum
      The fact that the prefix "A" means "lack of" and when combined with "theism", which means belief in gods, comes out to "lack of belief in gods" – nothing more, nothing less – is totally lost on a lot of people.
      The term describes only what one does NOT belief –
      It's like describing the singer of a band as an "a-instrumentalist" – it described only what the singer DOESN'T do...

      February 7, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • sendthistodave

      "Government is NOT the solution, it is The Problem"

      Ronald Reagan

      February 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Peace out.

      Sorry, Hitler didn't attend any church and had a very rough view of Christianity. Part of the Nazi plan was to phase out religion.

      February 7, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Peace out.
      Hitler was nearly obsessed with collecting as many religious artifacts as he could. Religion was a huge driving factor in his decisions and directives.

      February 7, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Peace Out
      "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so."
      – Adolf Hitler, to General Gerhard Engel, 1941
      "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. ...Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross."
      – Adolf Hitler, speech on April 12, 1922
      The fact that the Curia is now making its peace with Fascism shows that the Vatican trusts the new political realities far more than did the former liberal democracy with which it could not come to terms. ...The fact that the Catholic Church has come to an agreement with Fascist Italy ...proves beyond doubt that the Fascist world of ideas is closer to Christianity than those of Jewish liberalism or even atheistic Marxism...
      – Adolf Hitler in an article in the Völkischer Beobachter, February 29, 1929, on the new Lateran Treaty between Mussolini's fascist government and the Vatican
      By its decision to carry out the political and moral cleansing of our public life, the Government is creating and securing the conditions for a really deep and inner religious life. The advantages for the individual which may be derived from compromises with atheistic organizations do not compare in any way with the consequences which are visible in the destruction of our common religious and ethical values. The national Government sees in both Christian denominations the most important factor for the maintenance of our society. ...
      – Adolf Hitler, speech before the Reichstag, March 23, 1933, just before the Enabling Act is passed.

      "We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out".
      The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, Oxford University Press, 1942
      Hitler, Franco and Mussolini were given VETO power over whom the pope could appoint as a bishop in Germany, Spain and Italy. In turn they surtaxed the Catholics and gave the money to the Vatican. Hitler wrote a speech in which he talks about this alliance, this is an excerpt: “The fact that the Vatican is concluding a treaty with the new Germany means the acknowledgement of the National Socialist state by the Catholic Church. This treaty shows the whole world clearly and unequivocally that the assertion that National Socialism [Nazism] is hostile to religion is a lie.” Adolf Hitler, 22 July 1933, writing to the Nazi Party

      February 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • truth be told

      adolf hitler by those that knew him was an atheist. Only a card carrying idiot would use the words of a proven liar like hitler to justify any position. Hitler was a liar and hitler was an atheist.

      February 7, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      tbt, And your evidence is?

      February 7, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @tbt,

      so you're a personal friend of Adolf's then?

      February 7, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Topher! truth be told is not playing nice!! And he's lying too – off to hell with him.

      February 7, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • George

      Hitler killed the Gypsies and Communists for political reasons. The Jews and gays he killed for the same reasons, except the religious bigotry rampant in Germany at that time made it a lot easier for him to justify.

      February 7, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
  11. Sane Person

    Two hands working will accomplish more than a thousand hands clasped in prayer.

    February 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • sendthistodave

      God`s hands, perhaps

      February 7, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      sendthistodave, What evidence do you have that prayer works? All scientific tests have found that it has no effect.

      February 7, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
  12. Rob

    Claiming Christianity and then making up morality as though you are God, tells me Obama has never humbly accepted Jesus
    Christ as Savior.
    As a leader he will be held to greater accountability by God.

    February 7, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • sam

      Oh honestly, shut the hell up.

      February 7, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Do you think Obama is the first president or even the first christian to do so? Why nominate Obama?

      February 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • End Religion

      Almost no Christian finds any other Christian righteous. It's the nature of the beast. You can't even stop picking on yourselves long enough to get together and focus on other religions.

      February 7, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • FrankinSD

      Your arrogance tells me the same thing about you.

      February 7, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Akira

      Rob, you just outed yourself as a false Christian, you self-righteous prig.

      February 7, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • sendthistodave

      As Barack reminded all of us, in his famous campaign expletive: "You didn`t do that......and neither can he.

      February 7, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "Making up morality" is the whole POINT of Christianity.

      February 7, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
  13. Franz

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwp1CH5R-w4&w=640&h=360]

    February 7, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • Estate (summer) Andrea with Chris Botti

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acJUAlp5dL4&w=640&h=360]

      February 7, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
  14. Liliana

    using working hours to pray... I thought religion and state is not supposed to mix. I think they should use that time to resolve the pressing issues we are facing. the gods are not going to create jobs and balance the budget!

    February 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
  15. Christopher72

    Anyone notice that CNN failed to report on Dr. Ben Carson's amazing speech at this event? He's a decorated medal of freedom American and gave a riveting speech http://www.c-spanvideo.org/clip/4353213

    February 7, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Not a bad speech but too bad he had to drag bullsh!t mythology into it.

      February 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
  16. james

    OK–Done with that. Where is the nearest Masque–

    February 7, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  17. carlos

    all the republicans intelligence can be packaged in a tea bag and that bag is still too big.....

    February 7, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Peace out.

      Sad that you can't have an honest debate.

      There are two parties that have two solutions to problems. Ds want more government solutions (which results in higher taxes, more gov programs and spending - bigger government, less freedoms, less individual risks,.... which, in my opinion isn't sustainable - see uncontrolled debt. The Rs prefer private sector solutions (resulting in less gov spending, lower taxes, more individual freedom, stronger private sector economy.....

      You can disagree with one side, but calling them dumb is.... dumb.

      February 7, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  18. O'drama ya Mama

    Ever hear of the crusades? Christians murdered millions for a 1000 years for not believing in jesus, i highly doubt that is wat he would have wanted

    February 7, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Peace out.

      Agree. Over the years, many bad people have USED religion to do bad things (all religions). Many not religious people have also killed millions as well. It is a human problem.

      February 7, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  19. nothing new here

    I have never had any problem with FISCAL conservatives, or those that believe in a strong infrastructure for this country. But my issue is with religious extremists, those that want to make harsh and excessive laws, while breaking these laws behind everyone's back.

    February 7, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Peace out.

      I agree that fiscal conservative is what our country needs. I don't think that you have to worry about religious politicians making extreme laws and then "breaking them". I'd be more worried about laws that are being made, in the name of 'crisis' that are dooming our country to bankrupcy.

      February 7, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • cuisinemanager

      Dear Lord........ give us the patience of a saint to endure 4 more years of blaming others for the ills of the country, give us kindness in our hearts not to get upset about 4 more years of out of control spending. Give us the guidance to understand why some think that man is not capable to taking care of himself and that the government must do it for us and the strength to endure the foolish people who think that government is the answer for everything. Please dear lord give us the strength to endure the complaints about cable TV. And above all dear lord give our president the intelligence and common sense to understand that our tax money should be used to support only those in real need. Give our president the understanding that he is suppose to be a united and not a divider and that leadership and unity start with him!

      February 7, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  20. End Religion

    I weep for this nation, mired in religion...

    February 7, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
    • truth be told

      Better to weep for the billions of innocent peoples tortured and murdered by atheists in the last 100 years.

      February 7, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • nothing new here

      truth be told,
      Who might these so-called atheists be?
      Please be specific.

      February 7, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • Akira

      Hint, tbt: if you name Hitler again, you'd be lying.

      February 7, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Troll Hunter

      Now were up to billions....
      Lying troll.

      February 7, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Peace out.

      Stalin's actions killed more than 20M. Mao killed around 45M. Cambodia killed over 3M. Hitler's religiousness is questionable and he killed over 15M (plus those that died in war).... You asked.

      February 7, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • End Religion

      @ER: Keep your head up, champ. Religion is on the decline. Wait, did I just talk to myself? Yikes, I've been hanging around nutters too long!

      February 7, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Akira

      "Hitler’s religiousness is questionable and he killed over 15M (plus those that died in war)"
      Only qustionable because he was a Christian, right? Easy to say when the argument goes against Christianity.
      Cut the disingenuity. Hiller was a Christian, albeit a bad one.

      February 7, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Communist leaders like Pol Pot and Stalin would not have been charismatic enough to gain converts had they not learned the discourse of dogmatic persuasion from religious inst/itutions.
      Pol Pot spent 8 years at a Catholic school in Phnom Penh and Stalin 5 years at a Russian orthodox seminary. Historians have noted their speaking and writing styles ape those of the Church in being 'declamatory and repet.itive, with liturgical overtones”.
      While they both sought to eliminate traditional religions from their kingdoms, they did so in order to divert the common man’s fervour to their own cults of personality.
      As Karl Marx himself noted “Atheism as a denial of this unreality; has no longer any meaning, for atheism is a denial of God and tries to assert through this negation the existence of man; but socialism as such no longer needs this mediation...”
      Hitler’s Third Reich, on the other hand, was no friend to atheists and encouraged religion in Germany. Having been exposed to religious methods of persuasion in school at a Benedictine cloister, Hitler recognized religion’s power to keep the people compliant.
      Instead of purging faith like the Communist regimes, he purged atheism:
      "We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out".
      The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, Oxford University Press, 1942
      While Mao, Stalin and Pol Pot put themselves into the Godhead position, Hitler publically professed his Christianity until his dying day and used Christian arguments to whip his people into a frenzy. This is why Nazi uniform belt buckles were emblazoned with the slogan “Gott mit uns” (God is with us).
      Each of these leaders wielded their people’s predilection for faith like a weapon. Atheism is not the prime cause for these tragic regimes – the misdirection of faith is.
      Like religion, they demanded blind obedience and obsequious submission from their followers. They tolerated no free-thinkers and enforced dogmatism – a trick they learned from their religious educations.

      February 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Same old crock o' crud from tbt.

      ... and number eight on my list of the most irritatingly stupid arguments religionists post here.

      8. Absurd attempts to conflate atheism with despotic dictators
      eg: ”Atheists have tortured and murdered more people in the last 100 years than were killed in all previous centuries” or slightly less inaccurately: “Atheists killed more than 100,000,000 people in the 20th century”
      The syllogism:
      – Communist despots ordered or failed to prevent the deaths of millions in the 20th century
      – Not believing in God is a tenet of communism
      – Therefore, atheists killed millions in the 20th century
      deliberately misrepresents atheism. It’s a post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy.

      February 7, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • truth be told

      @ nothing...here
      It has been shown many times, how is it that you missed them all... Atheist Joe Stalin responsible for more than 60 million murdered , atheist Mao responsible by some accounts of over 800 million murdered, atheist Pol Pot responsible for over 2 million murdered ... and everywhere an atheist despot has ruled there has been mass murder North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, South and Central America the middle East, Africa. Are you blind or just stupid?

      February 7, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
    • End Religion

      Debunked and refuted about 10 times a day. None of these characters, whether they were atheist or not, killed in the name of a lack of belief in a god. Some of them suppressed religion as a tool to further the goal of totalitarian control.

      There is no such thing as state-imposed atheism. Imposed irreligion is not atheism. Atheism is only the lack of belief in a god; one can't force people to not believe in a god.

      The actions of Mao, Pol and Joe (who attended seminary) were totalitarian opportunists. They sought total authority and banned religion that would compete with that authority. The pursuit of control over a people was the cause for the bloodshed.

      Although Stalin initially sought to rid Russia of religion, once firmly in office he re-instituted the Russian Orthodox Church and re-opened theological schools. Suppression of religion was a tool not a reason.

      Pol Pot is said to have practiced some Theravada Buddhism (and his Khmer Rouge were radical Buddhists. He studied at a Catholic school in Phnom Pen for 8 years. This mad man targeted not only religion but science, medicine and education. Political dissent was not permitted, with torture a common sentence.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Adolf_Hitler

      Hitler was raised Catholic. In his book Mein Kampf and in public speeches he made statements affirming a belief in Christianity. He called the purge of Jews "positive Christianity." While there is debate over his actual private feelings about the faith, he was a publicly practicing Christian. There exists no known evidence that Hitler was an atheist or agnostic. Again: evidence he was Christian; no evidence he was otherwise.

      Hitler said: "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

      The Reichskonkordat was a treaty signed on 20 July 1933 between the Holy See (Catholic Church) and Nazi Germany, guaranteeing the rights of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, giving moral legitimacy to the Nazi regime soon after Hitler had acquired dictatorial powers, and placing constraints on Catholic critics of the regime, leading to a muted response by the Church to Nazi policies. Yes, the Catholic Church colluded with Nazis.

      http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?ti.tle=20th_century_atrocities (take dot out of 'title')
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_Hitlerum
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

      February 7, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.