home
RSS
My Take: Town prayers need less Jesus, more Krishna
May 21st, 2013
11:35 AM ET

My Take: Town prayers need less Jesus, more Krishna

Editor's note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

(CNN) — At first glance, it would seem that the town of Greece, New York, has been brazenly violating the First Amendment. For roughly a decade, it invited local Christians — and only Christians — to offer prayers opening its Town Board meetings.

Two non-Christian town residents — Susan Galloway (who is Jewish) and Linda Stephens (who is an atheist) — objected, arguing that this practice violated the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.”

The Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, finding that the town’s practice of repeatedly inviting Christians to offer demonstrably Christian prayers amounted to an unconstitutional endorsement of Christianity. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up the case.

As Town of Greece v. Galloway made its way through the courts, the town, represented by the Arizona-based (and faith-based) nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, argued that the founders prayed in public, and members of the U.S. Congress continue to do so today. To side with Galloway and Stephens, therefore, is to determine that members of the House and Senate have been violating the constitution for over two centuries.

Ayesha Khan, legal director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which represents Galloway and Stephens in the lawsuit, said in a statement that “legislative bodies should focus on serving the community and stay out of the business of promoting religion.”

That is unlikely to happen, since there is, as Alliance Defending Freedom has argued, an “unambiguous and unbroken history” of prayer in government bodies in the United States. But there is an equally long history of ensuring that these prayers are, as Americans United has observed, “inclusive and non-sectarian.” And those in Greece were neither.

According to the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision, “Christian clergy delivered each and every one of the prayers for the first nine years of the town’s prayer practice, and nearly all of the prayers thereafter.” Moreover, “a substantial majority of the prayers in the record contained uniquely Christian language,” including references to “Jesus Christ” as “our Savior.”

This “steady drumbeat of often specifically sectarian Christian prayers,” the appeals court concluded, left an indelible “impression” that the town was “associated ... with the Christian religion.”

Town of Greece v. Galloway is a vexing case. What makes it vexing is that, when it comes to church/state questions, Americans have traditionally opted for a middle path between a theocratic marriage and Great-Wall-of-China-style separation. As a result, U.S. Supreme Court justices are left in many cases to intuit whether a particular practice leans too far toward either extreme to be acceptable.

Nonetheless, there seems to be a clear path forward here.

As I see it, the U.S. Supreme Court is not going to outlaw prayer in the U.S. Congress or in town board meetings. It made that clear in Marsh v. Chambers (1983), where it upheld a tradition of opening prayers in the Nebraska state legislature.

But neither is the Supreme Court going to permit in these venues a “steady drumbeat of often specifically sectarian Christian prayers."

In other words, the question the Supreme Court decided on Monday to take up is not whether town boards can pray but what sorts of prayer practices are constitutional in governmental settings.

When the founders listened to prayers in the early republic, they never would have allowed any one Christian denomination to enjoy a monopoly over the others. But neither would they have insisted that some be delivered by a Muslim or a Hindu, as is the practice in the U.S. Congress today. Nonetheless, the key principle was established — that such prayers should reflect the religious diversity of the nation at the time.

That diversity is much broader today, of course. At the interfaith prayer services after 9/11 and after the Boston marathon bombings, it was not enough to have a Presbyterian and a Quaker rubbing shoulders with a Congregationalist. Such services are not truly interfaith nowadays unless they include Catholics and Jews, Muslims and Sikhs, and perhaps a secular humanist, too.

In a “friend of the court” brief signed by 49 members of Congress, the Family Research Council argued that 97% of the prayers offered in the U.S. Congress are offered by Christians and the “majority of these prayers include identifiably Christian content.”

If that is true, then that needs to change, lest Americans be given the impression that the U.S. Congress is a Christian missionary organization. Still, it should be noted that the prayer practice in Greece was even more egregiously exclusive and sectarian, with all the prayers over a nine year period being given by Christians.

After Greece’s town board was called out by Galloway and Stephens, it caught a brief whiff of pluralism (and constitutionality) in 2008, when it allowed prayers to be offered by a Wiccan, a Baha’i, and a Jew. Thereafter, however, it returned to the unconstitutional practice of inviting only Christian clergy.

That practice might have been permissible in 1787 or 1812, but it does not pass constitutional muster in 2013, when the United States is, as President Barack Obama acknowledged in his first inaugural address, “a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers.”

In discussions about this case, defenders of the town have expressed nostalgia for a time when Christian prayers — and only Christian prayers — would pass constitutional muster. Defenders of Galloway and Stephens have hoped for a future when no prayers would be allowed at such gatherings. The Supreme Court is likely to please neither side, nor should it.

Our tradition is to allow public prayer at public gatherings of this sort, but to insist that such prayers (in the aggregate) be inclusive and non-sectarian. So if the citizens of Greece, New York, want to continue to hear before their town board meetings that Jesus Christ is "our savior," they are going to have to line up some Hindu priests willing to tell them that Krishna is "our Lord." Anything less than that just won't pass constitutional muster, at least not in 2013.

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

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Baha'i • Church and state • Interfaith issues • United States

soundoff (369 Responses)
  1. aldewacs

    Nothing fails like prayer.

    May 26, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
  2. faith

    report science anvil tom

    they r criminals.

    they are perverts

    the r sick

    criminals

    they will be jailed for longer terms

    report them now

    they r criminals

    May 25, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Science

      Hey faith................... the legal end ?

      Search
      Learn About the Law
      Find a Lawyer
      FindLaw Answers
      Legal Forms
      News
      Blogs
      ...

      FindLaw
      Legal Pulse
      Story
      ..

      CNN logo CNN 3 weeks ago
      When Christians become a 'hated minority'
      .
      Hey Buffy..............from Bing.

      When Christians become a 'hated minority'
      The point where religious speech becomes hate speech is difficult to define, though, scholars and activists say. The Southern Poverty Law Center in Alabama is a nonprofit civil rights group that combats and monitors hate groups. Three years ago, it... Full Article at CNN

      http://legalnews.findlaw.com/article/0bj7cdy2zIcqA?q=law+OR+lawsuit+OR+legal+OR+%28court+AND+law%29

      Hey Vic and Chadie

      Faith-Healing Churches Linked to 2 Dozen Child Deaths

      by Vince Lattanzio posted on May 25, 2013 02:45PM GMT

      http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/5/25/faith-healing-churches-linked-to-2-dozen-child-deaths#

      Have a great life.

      Peace

      May 25, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Thank you for your feedback. We will look into it.

      May 26, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  3. Krishna is hawt

    Who needs a prayer I say lets have a big statue of Krishna sliding down a pole and into a bucket of non dairy whipped toping.

    May 25, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  4. faith

    report science anvil tom

    they r criminals.

    they are perverts

    the r sick

    criminals

    they will be jailed for longer terms

    May 25, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Science

      faith where was it over 250 million years ago ?

      Rock Where India Crashed Into Asia And Pushed Up The Himalayas [PHOTO]

      Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/chris-hadfield-himalaya-satellite-photo-2013-5#ixzz2UdQgGr1G

      http://www.businessinsider.com/chris-hadfield-himalaya-satellite-photo-2013-5?nr_email_referer=1&utm_source=Triggermail&utm_medium=email&utm_term=Science%20Select&utm_campaign=1-SCIENCE_SELECT_NEW&utm_content=emailshare

      May 28, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
  5. Smurfy

    Yo listen up here's a story
    About a little guy who lives in a blue world
    And all day and all night and everything he sees
    Is just blue like him inside and outside

    May 25, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Anne

      For your information, the blue symbolizes that the person was dark skinned. As they apparently didn't dark brown for skin tone back then, they used blue. Look it up

      May 28, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
  6. mama k

    Bill Moyers interviews Daniel Dennett, an American philosopher, writer and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, science & biology. He is a professor of philosophy at Tufts University.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUeQXmYVamA
    Dennett: "[not all, but for many, the dangerous thing about religion is that] it gives people a gold-plated excuse to stop thinking."

    May 25, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Sience

      You know faith you are stuck in a big pile GREEN SLIME with NO horn-y red devil to save your ass.

      May 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |

      Agree ...............mama k............. everybody do a simple search for Prof. Higgs............the church hates that .

      A box does not work well for thinking.............think outside the box at http:/ted.com/talks

      Peace

      Hey faith/chad... and sally too........Thanks have a great life.

      http://www.wecanbeheroes.org/

      http://www.caterpillar.com/Foundation

      http://www.autismspeaks.org/

      http://www.hlntv.com/clusters/salute-troops

      https://www.zotero.org/colleengreene/items/5XRFKX8N

      Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

      By Dan Merica, CNN

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/23/heaven-for-atheists-pope-sparks-debate/

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/02/09/my-take-a-word-to-christians-be-nice/comment-page-44/#comment-2369235

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/03/23/the-money-man-behind-atheisms-activism/comment-page-77/#comment-2369249

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/21/who-hears-prayersforoklahoma/?replytocom=2369279#respond

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/19/proofs-of-heaven-popular-but-not-with-the-church/?replytocom=2366421#respond

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/24/has-the-oklahoma-atheist-been-saved/comment-page-2/#comment-2369325

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/05/when-christians-become-a-hated-minority/

      May 25, 2013 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |

      May 25, 2013 at 9:16 am | Report abuse |

      Hey doogie you too !

      Hey Chad,faith the peach and all creationists what color JELL- O you stuck IN. ? Star Dusts (chondrites) and water !

      Scientists Offer First Definitive Proof of Bacteria-Feeding Behavior in Green Algae

      May 23, 2013 — A team of researchers has captured images of green alga consuming bacteria, offering a glimpse at how early organisms dating back more than 1 billion years may have acquired free-living photosynthetic cells. This acquisition is thought to have been a critical first step in the evolution of photosynthetic algae and land plants, which, in turn, contributed to the increase in oxygen levels in Earth's atmosphere and ocean and provided one of the conditions necessary for animal evolution.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130523143741.htm

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lafL_mmv3EA

      Game over .................god(s) did NOT create US !

      NO red horn-y devil either........ NEVER has been one.!

      The DINOSAUR ?...............Chomp Chomp !...Evolution WINS hands down...time for the horn-y red devil to get the

      HELL out of the way.....................Stem Cell research !

      Allosaurus Fed More Like a Falcon Than a Crocodile: Engineering, Anatomy Work Reveals Differences in Dinosaur Feeding Styles

      May 21, 2013 — The mighty T. rex may have thrashed its massive head from side to side to dismember prey, but a new study shows that its smaller cousin Allosaurus was a more dexterous hunter and tugged at prey more like a modern-day falcon.

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521152638.htm

      PLUS

      Better than Comedy GOLD................it is THE PEARLY GATES !.............what a JOKE !

      Heaven for atheists? Pope sparks debate

      By Dan Merica, CNN

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/05/23/heaven-for-atheists-pope-sparks-debate/comment-page-18/#respond

      Peace

      May 25, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  7. HeroesAre Rare

    Prothero's sole aim in life is to be here to encourage all the 'foaming at the mouth bigots ' out for a treat. OK The trick is to understand that his views are extremely narrow therefore worthless.

    Trying to make a sensible point is like wading through molasses!

    May 24, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
  8. kat

    Why not do silent prayers instead this way everyone have a chance to offer prayers in their own religion, instead of banning prayers altogether. This way non-believers don't need to pray and they don't have to listen to anyone praying.

    The silent prayer can be carried out for a specific time – say 5 or 10 minutes and timed by the chair person for the meeting, after the time slotted the chair person just needs to say 'thank you' and the prayers is done. No one has to hear any prayers from any religion.

    May 24, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      It's a great idea Kat, well said ...........and that's why it will give the bigots and Godless an apoplexy!!!!

      May 24, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Government meetings are for the purpose of business. If a person has taken the responsibility of governing a city, be it a paid or unpaid position, they should work for their city during the time set aside for doing that work. They can pray on their own time at home or in the church of their choice.

      May 25, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
  9. Bryan

    So let me get this straight, 2 people out of all the other people there had an objection to the prayers and this is what comes out of it? You all do know that in a democtatic society the MAJORITY rules right? So forget what the MAJORITY want because 2 people have a problem with it? Really? When did this country become ruled by special interests and the minority? The freedom of religion clause in the first amendment was to keep the government from establishing a state religion that all must be party to like it was in England (hince the Church of England) not to keep prayer out of anything the government has it's hands in. All of these lawyers needs to learn to read. It's written in plain English.

    May 24, 2013 at 12:02 am |
    • Karl Marx

      Abe Lincoln was elected by a small minority, less than 42%, so, since 1860.

      May 24, 2013 at 12:57 am |
    • Kris1970

      The majority in a democracy is supposed to represent ALL people not only those who got them elected. So yes, we are a democracy, not a representative "republic." The views of one group cannot and SHOULD NOT be imposed on all. We have ceased to be a democracy and wished our elected rep's would stick to doing their jobs of making sure the country's bills gets paid and leave it at that. All this other crap is for the birds!

      May 24, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • Kris1970

      The majority in a democracy is supposed to represent ALL people not only those who got them elected. So yes, we are supposed to be a democracy, not a representative "republic," which we have become. The views of one group cannot and SHOULD NOT be imposed on all. We have ceased to be a democracy because the "ruling party/regime" idiotic ideology is not what democracy is; and I wish our elected rep's would stick to doing their jobs of making sure the country's bills gets paid and leave it at that. All this other crap is for the birds!

      May 24, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • faith

      lincoln got the majority of the electoral votes, u idiot

      May 24, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • .

      Faith is still a gigantic cunt.

      May 25, 2013 at 12:02 am |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things
    Prayer to God not krishna

    May 23, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • keeroc15

      Krishna is God.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • Smurfy

      I'm blue dIah bo di dah bo dye

      May 25, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • aldewacs

      Nothing fails more spectacularly than prayer.

      May 26, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
    • 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!

      May 28, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • Really?

      "Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things"

      That's why the data, has shown that atheists have happier and healthier lives than conservative Christians. Your post is built on a lie!

      May 28, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • yakridermedia

      Wow. You're right! Prayer does change things:
      You may have been honest once but then prayer made you start lying.
      If i become religious like you, will I have to start fabricating the truth, too?

      May 28, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
  11. PeterD

    The jesus missing years in Bible are true because he went to India insearch of spirituality and to study the creation of Brahmand from Lord Brahma.

    May 23, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • justbecause

      and you read that in a history book? or you have a PHD in ancient human origins? – or you read it off some website using Google?

      May 23, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • faith

      he was busy working. try it sometime dodo. people r not responsible to correct your stupid assertions day and night. manipulating your way out of facing your sin accomplishes nothing except buying u time to postpone the hell u r.

      May 24, 2013 at 10:32 am |
  12. Ted Jones the crusader not for khrist

    Jesus was smiling

    May 22, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • Bridget Jones the crusader not for Chrisna

      Ever seen a Russian Blue cat smile? They do.

      May 25, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  13. Reality

    Stevie P,

    Please post the following on the doors of all your classrooms before you are transferred to the BU Mythology Department:

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

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

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

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

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

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

    • A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

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

    e.g. Taoism

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

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

    May 22, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • justbecause

      as far as i know, your great , great grandfather 4000 years ago....did not exist. its only a figment of your imagination.

      We humans are a freak incident in nature, trees plants and life itself all happened accidentally. Tomorrow another freak incident will happen and trees will have super powers.

      ****Sigh***

      May 23, 2013 at 11:25 am |
    • Reality

      For $199, you can find out if you are part Neaderthal- not kidding:

      As per National Geographic's Genographic project:
      https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/

      " DNA studies suggest that all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who about 60,000 years ago began a remarkable journey. Follow the journey from them to you as written in your genes”.

      "Adam" is the common male ancestor of every living man. He lived in Africa some 60,000 years ago, which means that all humans lived in Africa at least at that time.

      Unlike his Biblical namesake, this Adam was not the only man alive in his era. Rather, he is unique because his descendents are the only ones to survive.

      It is important to note that Adam does not literally represent the first human. He is the coalescence point of all the genetic diversity."

      For your $199 and a DNA swab:

      "Included in the markers we will test for is a subset that scientists have recently determined to be from our hominin cousins, Neanderthals and the newly discovered Denisovans, who split from our lineage around 500,000 years ago. As modern humans were first migrating out of Africa more than 60,000 years ago, Neanderthals and Denisovans were still alive and well in Eurasia. It seems that our ancestors met, leaving a small genetic trace of these ancient relatives in our DNA. With Geno 2.0, you will learn if you have any Neanderthal or Denisovan DNA in your genome."

      o More details from National Geographic's Genographic project: https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/

      "Our spe-cies is an African one: Africa is where we first ev-olved, and where we have spent the majority of our time on Earth. The earliest fos-sils of recognizably modern Ho-mo sapiens appear in the fossil record at Omo Kibish in Ethiopia, around 200,000 years ago. Although earlier fossils may be found over the coming years, this is our best understanding of when and approximately where we originated.

      According to the genetic and paleontological record, we only started to leave Africa between 60,000 and 70,000 years ago. What set this in motion is uncertain, but we think it has something to do with major climatic shifts that were happening around that time—a sudden cooling in the Earth’s climate driven by the onset of one of the worst parts of the last Ice Age. This cold snap would have made life difficult for our African ancestors, and the genetic evidence points to a sharp reduction in population size around this time. In fact, the human population likely dropped to fewer than 10,000. We were holding on by a thread.

      Once the climate started to improve, after 70,000 years ago, we came back from this near-extinction event. The population expanded, and some intrepid explorers ventured beyond Africa. The earliest people to colonize the Eurasian landma-ss likely did so across the Bab-al-Mandab Strait separating present-day Yemen from Djibouti. These early beachcombers expanded rapidly along the coast to India, and reached Southeast Asia and Australia by 50,000 years ago. The first great foray of our species beyond Africa had led us all the way across the globe."

      May 23, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • Brad Koeven

      One of my favorite books is called debt of honor by Tom Clancy and there is a part in the story where Clancy's hero, Jack Ryan, saves the American financial system which was deliberately sabotaged by someone who wiped out all the financial information for the NYSE. Ryan suggests that because there are no records authorities could just say it was a computer problem and start over like it never happened. You cannot say that the Abraham is false, or that Noah didn't exist because someone wrote it down, who passed it on to someone else who also wrote the story down. You can certainly argue that the bible has holes in it because it's essentially a compilation of translated records but you can not say with impunity that the stories contained in it have no foundation in fact. As for the Book of Mormon; I am a Mormon and I tell you that the Book of Mormon is true, it's changed my life for the better as i have read it's pages and you cannot escape the fact that it exists waiting to be read and tested.

      May 23, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Reality

      Added details are requested: – Part I

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. (prob•a•bly
      Adverb: Almost certainly; as far as one knows or can tell).

      The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

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

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

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

      May 24, 2013 at 6:59 am |
    • Reality

      Added details as requested, Part II:

      AND THE INFAMOUS ANGELIC CONS CONTINUE TO WREAK STUPIDITY UPON THE WORLD

      Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

      "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

      Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

      Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

      Jesus and his family had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented. (As does BO and his family)(As do Biden and Ryan)

      The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

      Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

      May 24, 2013 at 7:00 am |
    • keeroc15

      Nothing to see here folks. Just a another jew trying to rewrite history and reality – their specialty.

      May 24, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
  14. rob

    Stephen Prothero wrote:"That diversity is much broader today, of course. At the interfaith prayer services after 9/11 and after the Boston marathon bombings, it was not enough to have a Presbyterian and a Quaker rubbing shoulders with a Congregationalist. Such services are not truly interfaith nowadays unless they include Catholics and Jews, Muslims and Sikhs, and perhaps a secular humanist, too."

    Have you forgotten the Holy Spirit which binds all Christian and Jewish faiths together? Muslim crap does not acknowledge the Holy Spirit. Why don't you get your schtuff together next time before you mouth off?

    May 22, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Why don't you get your schtuff together next time before you mouth off?"

      Speaking of mouthing off.....

      May 22, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
    • Lou

      "Muslim crap does not acknowledge the Holy Spirit"

      LOL! So what?! The Easter Bunny doesn't acknowledge Santa Claus, either!

      May 22, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • markinator

      "Muslim crap does not acknowledge the Holy Spirit". Right. It's only the christian crap that acknowledges it.

      May 24, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      Prothero might have crammed for a degree but he's ACTUALLY as thick as a plank because he cannot see beyond his own EGO. A bit like Obama – they'd make great BFFs

      May 24, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
    • HeroesAre Rare

      Respect to you rob. You're like a candle in the garbage can here. Keep up the good work and God Bless friend

      May 24, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
  15. Leigh

    I've been saying this forever. Christians want to pray at governmental gatherings? Great. But tbey will HAVE to move the heck over and allow some of that prayer time to be led by OTHER faiths or no faith. They may believe that Jesus is God, but a large percentage of others DO NOT. The problem with these people is that they are very pro-prayer when it comes to their own faith, Christianity, but highly intolerant of other faiths doing the same. It's either ALL or NONE.

    May 22, 2013 at 11:20 am |
    • rob

      I guess I could say that I agree with you, except have you noticed that this is May, 22, in the good year of OUR LORD, 2013. The Holy Spirit is Our Lord. You and you pantywaist whining couldn't change that, even if you tried to put your god's name over the top of LORD in the bible.

      May 22, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • rob

      If you want to celebrate the Chinese new year, why don't you go to China and worship someone's lord buddha? Over here, we acknowledge the Lord.

      May 22, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
    • sam stone

      rob: you really are a mouthy little b1tch, aren't you?

      May 22, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Joey

      Actually it is 2013 C.E. as in Common Era. Nice try though.

      May 22, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Dave

      ACTUALLY, C.E. is still based upon the timeline established with the birth of Jesus Christ as its center-point.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • Lou

      As you know, xtians CAN PRAY at government meetings and everywhere else they want – SILENTLY. But it's part of their idiotic belief that you are required to listen to them express their stupidity in their attempt to force their delusion upon everyone else.

      May 22, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Linda

      Leigh you are mis-guided. I will pray that God opens your heart. No one prayes more than Muslims. If you don't believe in Jesus- why would it matter to you if people chose to pray to him. No Christin will kill you for not praying to Jesus. One day you will face judgement weither you believe it or not.

      May 22, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Observer

      rob,

      Today is Thursday, named for the god THOR.
      Yesterday was Wednesday, named for the god Woden.

      What was your point, if any?

      May 22, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • JWT

      Thor is way cooler and more meaningful than rob's lord. I mean that hammer and the lightning!!! Go Thor.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • Observer

      Oops! I got ahead of myself.

      We can look forward to Friday, named after the goddess Frige with a translation of "day of Frigg" according to the experts.

      May 22, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • justbecause

      are you saying you Atheists want to come an pray 😉 ??

      but then if you are hinting to let a Muslim pray, here is what will eventually happen:

      I copied this from another comments board on another site:

      Outstanding overview: Islam is not a religion, nor is it a cult.

      In its fullest form, it is a complete, total, 100% system of life.

      Islam has religious, legal, political, economic, social, and military components. The religious component is a beard for all of the other components.

      Islamization begins when there are sufficient Muslims in a country to agitate for their religious privileges.

      When politically correct, tolerant, and culturally diverse societies agree to Muslim demands for their religious privileges, some of the other components tend to creep in as well.

      Here's how it works:
      As long as the Muslim population remains around or under 2% in any given country, they will be for the most part be regarded as a peace-loving minority, and not as a threat to other citizens. This is the > case in:

      United States – Muslim 0..6%
      Australia – Muslim 1.5%
      Canada – Muslim 1.9%
      China – Muslim 1.8%
      Italy – Muslim 1.5%
      Norway – Muslim 1.8%

      At 2% to 5%, they begin to proselytize from other ethnic minorities and disaffected groups, often with major recruiting from the jails and among street gangs. This is happening in:

      Denmark – Muslim 2%
      Germany – Muslim 3.7%
      United Kingdom – Muslim 2.7%
      Spain – Muslim 4%
      Thailand – Muslim 4.6%

      From 5% on, they exercise an inordinate influence in proportion to their percentage of the population. For example, they will push for the introduction of halal (clean by Islamic standards) food, thereby securing food preparation jobs for Muslims. They will increase pressure on supermarket chains to feature halal on their shelves – along with threats for failure to comply. This is occurring in:

      France – Muslim 8%
      Philippines – 5%
      Sweden – Muslim 5%
      Switzerland – Muslim 4.3%
      The Netherlands – Muslim 5.5%
      Trinidad & Tobago – Muslim 5.8%

      At this point, they will work to get the ruling government to allow them to rule themselves (within their ghettos) under Sharia, the Islamic Law. The ultimate goal of Islamists is to establish Sharia law over the entire world.

      When Muslims approach 10% of the population, they tend to increase lawlessness as a means of complaint about their conditions. In Paris , we are already seeing car-burnings. In Russia, grade-schools were attacked. Any non-Muslim action offends Islam and results in uprisings and threats, such as in Amsterdam, with opposition to Mohammed cartoons and films about Islam. Such tensions are seen daily, particularly in Muslim sections, in:

      Guyana – Muslim 10%
      India – Muslim 13.4%
      Israel – Muslim 16%
      Kenya – Muslim 10%
      Russia – Muslim 15%

      After reaching 20%, nations can expect hair-trigger rioting, jihad militia formations, sporadic killings, and the burnings of Christian churches and Jewish synagogues, such as in:

      Ethiopia – Muslim 32.8%

      At 40%, nations experience widespread massacres, chronic terror attacks, and ongoing militia warfare, such as in:

      Bosnia – Muslim 40%
      Chad – Muslim 53.1%
      Lebanon – Muslim 59.7%

      From 60%, nations experience unfettered persecution of non-believers of all other religions (including non-conforming Muslims), sporadic ethnic cleansing (genocide), use of Sharia Law as a weapon, and Jizya, the tax placed on infidels, such as in:

      Albania – Muslim 70%
      Malaysia – Muslim 60.4%
      Qatar – Muslim 77.5%
      Sudan – Muslim 70%

      After 80%, expect daily intimidation and violent jihad, some State-run ethnic cleansing, beheadings, stoning, and even some genocide, as these nations drive out the infidels, and move toward 100% Muslim, such as has been experienced and in some ways is on-going in:

      Bangladesh – Muslim 83%
      Egypt – Muslim 90%
      Gaza – Muslim 98.7%
      Indonesia – Muslim 86.1%
      Iran – Muslim 98%
      Iraq – Muslim 97%
      Jordan – Muslim 92%
      Morocco – Muslim 98.7%
      Pakistan – Muslim 97%
      Palestine – Muslim 99%
      Syria – Muslim 90%
      Tajikistan – Muslim 90%
      Turkey – Muslim 99.8%
      United Arab Emirates – Muslim 96%

      Is this the future of the United States?

      May 23, 2013 at 11:28 am |
  16. jumpedupchimpanzee

    Why do politicians of any sort need to say prayers before any meeting?

    Prayers don't work. Never have; never will.

    Just get on with doing your job. If you want to say prayers, you can say them at home or on your way to work. Don't waste intelligent people's time with this nonsense.

    May 22, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • rob

      Not true. If you commit everything to the Lord before the meeting, then in the end, you can claim that had your prayers be answered, you could have made a difference.

      May 22, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • sam stone

      rob: jeebus is waiting for you.....

      May 22, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • justbecause

      they have worked for me. 100%

      May 23, 2013 at 11:29 am |
    • aldewacs

      @justbecause: ("they have worked for me. 100%")
      ___

      As long as you pray for something assured, like "the sun will come up in the morning", then it'll work. Try something harder next time.

      May 26, 2013 at 10:27 pm |
  17. NewEnglandBob

    You are splitting hairs of an inane position.

    Prayer is completely and utterly useless. There is no evidence of prayer doing anything besides wasting time and effort. Studies have even shown that people who know that prayers are being said for them fare worse because of it.

    It is time for the US governments at all levels to grow up and put aside their childish beliefs and fears.

    If something goes wrong, don't waste your time praying; do something to fix the situation: volunteer, send money, go out and make a difference.

    May 22, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • rob

      His spirit fills the whole earth.

      May 22, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • rob

      test

      May 22, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
  18. Mark

    Jesus saves, Cthulhu fhtagn, whatever. Of course, in the myth Jesus said prayer was to be private anyway.

    May 22, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • Which God?

      Mark, jesus who? He never existed. He is a mish-mash of other mythological constructs. Even if, by some remote chance, he did exist, his words were never recorded and left for posterity.Those words you are devoted to are made up by scribes and monks, with an agenda.

      May 22, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Mark

      @Which God?
      I think you should reread the post.

      Of course a superhuman Jesus never existed. The man/men who got their stories turned into the Jesus myth were probably ancient versions of such modern people as David Koresh, Jim Jones, Charles Manson, L. Ron Hubbard, Joseph Smith, etc.

      May 22, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • ttwp

      Scripture is amazingly accurate. That it would foresee that Jesus would be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts would be revealed.

      Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools...therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts

      Turn to the one true living God...Jesus Christ...and be saved!

      May 22, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • Mark

      @ttwp
      The Legend of King Arthur is not evidence for Merlin.
      The Epic of Beowulf is not evidence of Grendel.
      The American folk tradition is not evidence of Paul Bunyan.

      The miracles happened ... in the story. The prophesies were fulfilled ... in the story. The character was emotionally appealing and morally right ... in the story.

      May 22, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • ttwp

      The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

      May 27, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  19. pawky

    Seriously, this post comes from the author who is a "religiously confused scholar"?!?!?!
    Yeah, we get it SP! it make sense from your confused POV 😉

    May 22, 2013 at 9:46 am |
  20. Irrational Exuberance

    The city sands out from revious cases for the reasons the author mentions (prayers are almost always christian, name a specific deity) but also because this wasn't some long held tradition. It *started* in 1999.

    It seems they managed to get along just fine without them for a very long time. An injunction against trying to start a tradition, one which has in fact demonstrated it is sectarian, is a return to the status qou.

    Want to pray, go for it, do it on your own, don' be disruptive, and don't try and start a tradition of the government endorsing it.

    May 22, 2013 at 8:35 am |
1 2 3 4 5
Advertisement
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.