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Atheist gets her day at the Supreme Court
November 1st, 2013
04:39 PM ET

Atheist gets her day at the Supreme Court

By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer

(CNN)– Linda Stephens has lived in her upstate New York community for more than three decades and has long been active in civic affairs.

But as an atheist, those views have put her at the center of a personal, political, and legal fight that has reached the U.S. Supreme Court.

The issue is public prayer at her local town board meetings, another contentious case over the intersection of faith and the civic arena.

The justices on Wednesday will hear arguments over whether Greece, New York, may continue sponsoring what it calls "inclusive" prayers at its open sessions, on government property.

Stephens and co-plaintiff Susan Galloway have challenged the policy, saying virtually all of those invited to offer legislative prayers over the years were Christians.

"It's very divisive when you bring government into religion," Stephens told CNN from her home.

"I don't believe in God, and Susan is Jewish, so to hear these ministers talk about Jesus and even have some of them who personally question our motives, it's just not appropriate."

The town of about 94,000 residents counters that after concerns from the two women and others, it sought diverse voices, including a Wiccan priestess, to offer invocations. Officials say they do not review the content of the remarks, nor censor any language.

"The faith of the prayer giver does not matter at all," said John Auberger, Greece's board supervisor, who began the practice shortly after taking office 1998. "We accept anyone who wants to come in and volunteer to give the prayer to open up our town meetings."

A federal appeals court in New York found the board's policy to be an unconstitutional violation of the Constitution's Establishment Clause, which forbids any government "endorsement" of religion.

Those judges said it had the effect of "affiliating the town with Christianity."

"To the extent that the state cannot make demands regarding the content of legislative prayers," said Judge Guido Calabresi, "municipalities have few means to forestall the prayer-giver who cannot resist the urge to proselytize. These difficulties may well prompt municipalities to pause and think carefully before adopting legislative prayer, but they are not grounds on which to preclude its practice."

Some legal experts say while the high court has allowed public prayers in general, it has not set boundaries on when they might become too sectarian in nature.

"The case involves a test between two different kinds of legal rules," said Thomas Goldstein, SCOTUSblog.com publisher and a leading Washington attorney.

"The Supreme Court has broadly approved legislative prayer without asking too many questions. But in other cases where the government is involved with religion, it has looked at lots of different circumstances. So we just don't know whether this court will be completely approving of legislative prayers in this instance."

The justices are now being asked to offer more firm guidelines over when and if such public prayers are constitutionally acceptable.

Felt marginalized

Galloway and Stephens say the elected board of the community outside Rochester almost always invited Christian clergy to open the meetings, usually with sectarian prayers. And they say they felt "marginalized" by the practice.

"When we tried to speak with the town, we were told basically if we didn't like the prayers, we didn't have to listen," said Stephens, "or could stand out in the hallway while they were going on."

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Washington-based group that is representing the two women, cited records showing that between 1999 and 2010, approximately two-thirds of the invocations contained the words "Jesus Christ," Jesus," Holy Spirit," or "Your Son."

And the lawsuit claims that from 1999 through 2007, every meeting had a Christian-only invocation. Following the complaints from the plaintiffs, four other faiths were invited in 2008, including a Baha'i leader and a Jewish lay person.

The plaintiffs say the Christian-only invocations resumed from January 2009 through June 2010. They claim those invited to the monthly meetings were selected by a city employee from a local guide that had no non-Christian faiths listed.

"Politics and religion simply don't mix, and they certainly don't mix in the local context of the Greece town council," said the Rev. Barry Lynn, AUSCS executive director.

"The town seems to take the position that because once or twice over a decade, it hears from someone of a different religion, that somehow is inclusive. It trivializes what's going here - a local government that should be willing and interested in participation of all its citizens, it wants those citizens to participate in an almost inevitably Christian prayer, in order to begin doing their business."

Different rulings

While the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in New York last year unanimously ruled against Greece's policy, other courts around the country have found such invocations - if inclusive and limited in scope - to be permissible.

Congress regularly opens its sessions with a prayer. Wednesday's invocation by House Chaplain the Rev. Patrick Conroy began: "Eternal God, we give you thanks for giving us another day. Once again, we come to ask wisdom, patience, peace, and understanding for the members of this people's House."

Nearly 120 members of Congress, mostly Republicans, along with several state attorneys general have filed supporting legal briefs backing the city. So has the Obama administration.

"The history of prayers offered in connection with legislative deliberation in this country makes clear that a legislative body need not affirmatively solicit a court-mandated variety of different religious faiths– from inside and outside the borders governed by the legislative body– in order to avoid running afoul of the Establishment Clause," said Justice Department lawyers' in their amicus brief.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal ministry based in Scottsdale, Arizona, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Greece Town Board, saying the Supreme Court has upheld the practice of government bodies "to acknowledge America's religious heritage and invoke divine guidance and blessings upon their work."

"A few people should not be able to extinguish the traditions of our nation merely because they heard something they didn't like," said Brett Harvey, an attorney for the group. "Because the authors of the Constitution invoked God's blessing on public proceedings, this tradition shouldn't suddenly be deemed unconstitutional."

Stephens realizes the stakes are high for her community and for the law as a whole. But on a personal level, this legal fight has been tough.

"I've received something of a backlash, both Susan and me," the retired librarian said. "Threatening letters, some vandalism to my property, things like that. The prayers, and all the controversy, it makes you feel like an outcast, like we don't count in our town."

The case is Town of Greece, N.Y. v. Galloway (12-696). A ruling is expected by early summer.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Courts

soundoff (6,237 Responses)
  1. Mike

    LOL. Funny thing is, the Separation of Church and state organization doesn't realize that the Separation of Church and State is NOT a law, and it isn't to keep the church out of government, it's to keep government out of church. If you say it's not, read about it. A lot of country's allow prayer in government. This country WAS founded on Christianity don't you know?

    November 3, 2013 at 1:15 am |
    • Doris

      Uhhhh no and who cares and no again.

      Establishment Clause and Amendment 9. They pack quite a punch.

      November 3, 2013 at 1:19 am |
    • EvinAR

      Yeah? Well it shouldn't be. The founding fathers were pretty smart, but they didn't know a lot of things we know today, and their morals reflected a population who was keeping slaves. Slaves were part of their morality. Any other dumb comments you want to make?

      November 3, 2013 at 1:22 am |
      • L.S.B.

        Those guys who wrote the hoax story(=bible) didn't know much.

        November 3, 2013 at 1:41 am |
      • Mark

        Actually, slavery was brought in and supported by the Christian church, slave owners used Exodus 21 and the laws set forth in Leviticus as their reasoning to say slavery was moral. It was not the secularist minority. Do you bother to research anything or do you simply assert that what you think is true?

        November 3, 2013 at 1:50 am |
    • Mirosal

      Whle our laws guarantee a freedom of religion, they also guarantee us freedom FROM religion as well. Ours is a secular government, not bound by ANY religious texts, laws, prayers, or beliefs. They do not belong in the functions of any government service or duty, be it the local dog catcher, all the way to the Oval Office.

      November 3, 2013 at 1:23 am |
    • Stayxsie Johnson

      I do know that you are a revisionist historian....MY country (the US) was definately nOt founded in christianity...in fact quite the opposite....you need to go back and research more histroy.

      November 3, 2013 at 1:23 am |
    • Answer

      The fundies want their version of history.. will do anything to get it to their base constituents that what they say is the truth.

      "You must reiterate that this country was founded upon by christianity. Yes, master."

      "Don't think, just say it over and over again."

      November 3, 2013 at 1:25 am |
    • Observer

      Mike,

      "The United States is not a Christian nation any more than it is a Jewish or a Mohammedan nation."
      — Treaty of Tripoli (1797), carried unanimously by the Senate with many members who were founders of the U.S. and signed into law by President John Adams (the original language is by Joel Barlow, US Consul)

      November 3, 2013 at 1:25 am |
    • Jerry

      FALSE, Mike, totally false. This country was founded by people FLEEING government invoked religions. The Catholics and Protestants battling it out in merry old England and Spain and elsewhere....people fled that nonsense and started America with the principle that there would be NO RELIGION IN POLITICS.

      November 3, 2013 at 1:33 am |
  2. gggg

    What will we do when people on a diet object to others eating around them? We'll have to close the outdoor bistro's so the dieters won't see anyone eating. If you don't want to do something, don't do it. But you don't have to stop everyone else from doing it. If you are not gay, do not engage in the gay lifestyle. If you are an atheist, do not go to church or pray. Not everyone in life will act how you think they should. If they aren't hurting you, just deal with it and move on. If you can't deal with these little things, your coping skills are not very good and you've got bigger problems than people praying while you are in the room.

    November 3, 2013 at 1:14 am |
    • akak

      I agree with your point when talking about private citizens. However, when the government does something, seeing as they represent all of us, it is an endorsement of that. When they pray, it is an endorsement of religion. It should not happen. Everyone can believe whatever they want, but keep faith out of government.

      November 3, 2013 at 1:18 am |
    • pencilz

      I agree with you, except THEY'RE NOT IN CHURCH, THEY'RE IN A GOVERNMENT BUILDING. And every time someone official intones a Christian prayer, what it means to the non-Christians in the room is "you're an outsider." Which is why they do it, of course. There's no Christian requirement to ask God's protection over every freakin' committee meeting.

      There's this thing called privilege. Look it up. Christian privilege, white privilege, male privilege–understanding how it works, how it pervades society could totally change your worldview if you let it.

      November 3, 2013 at 1:36 am |
      • RobS

        How about this: if the building where the meetings take place belongs to a church then it's okay to have public prayer in that building(s). However, if the city, county or feds own the building then it's not okay to have public prayer in the building? That ought to fix the problem, and everyone goes home happy as a lark!

        November 3, 2013 at 1:15 am |
        • pencilz

          What about leasing? ;P Seriously, though, it makes sense to me, but then the whole issue of schools is waaay too complicated and I'm turning the laptop off now...

          November 3, 2013 at 1:35 am |
    • RobS

      Well, yes, sorta. I watch Congress on C-Span and sometimes catch the opening prayer. It just rubs me wrong and is usually a pro-forma junk prayer, a "Bless this nation" type of thing. I'm a believer (christian – small c) and firmly believe that God has a relationship with each individual, believer, non-believer or other believer. I believe God has no relationship at all with a "nation" or a Congress. Congress is our problem, not God's.

      November 3, 2013 at 1:26 am |
  3. Todd

    Yeah, you have a right to be a dummy atheist. Now go away, please.

    November 3, 2013 at 1:12 am |
    • I'm just blown away by

      your post. mind-numbing depth and insight. Publishers will be scratching at your door for the opportunity to work with you.... Go for it, don't delay!

      November 3, 2013 at 1:16 am |
    • Atheistically Yours

      Like there is something "intelligent" in believing in a NON-EXISTENT DEITY, or this "soul-concept" that is "loved" by this same "deity", and you will get pie in the sky when you die? Gee, you must be ready for a NOBEL PRIZE! For stupidity, you win!

      November 3, 2013 at 1:18 am |
      • RobS

        Belief doesn't call for intelligence. You can't "figure out" whether God exists or not, you can only believe or disbelieve. It's no skin off my nose if people choose to not believe, atheism doesn't affect my belief. I don't depend on the opinions of others as to whether I should believe or not. So there ya go. Oh, and prayer should be private and not public. Public prayer is kinda pro forma and so kinda misses the whole point of praying. Other than that I leave it up to the Supreme Court.

        November 3, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • Mirosal

      you believe in invisible sky-people because a 2000 year old book (whose origins cannot be verified), filled with 3000 year old stories tells you to, and you calll Atheists "dummies"??? Pot, meet kettle.

      November 3, 2013 at 1:19 am |
      • RobS

        I don't think atheists are dummies, and I'm a believer. Although I suppose there are some atheists who are real dummies, but it has nothing to do with beliefs – I know a few believers who are dummies – just to share the wealth witcha.

        November 3, 2013 at 1:08 am |
  4. Junk

    Why are people that believe in imaginary beings be allowed to roam free, if they cause harm?

    November 3, 2013 at 1:01 am |
  5. sly

    Prayer in government is disgusting. I would be ashamed to live in a country that allowed that.

    November 3, 2013 at 1:01 am |
  6. Junk

    Conservatives are delusional and

    November 3, 2013 at 12:59 am |
    • lol??

      You don't conserve?? The GREENS will not like it.

      November 3, 2013 at 1:08 am |
      • berryrat

        How many conservatives does it take to throw a Christmas party? Two.

        One to fuss at Santa and the other to take away all the free stuff.

        November 3, 2013 at 1:20 am |
        • lol??

          A traditional con would not come near to the groves where sons are sacrificed. They be waiting on God to save em. Rightly so. Just like Abe believed.

          November 3, 2013 at 1:24 am |
  7. Junk

    shhhhhhh....... I spoke a serious truth that can not be repeated on this site...as its been deleted repeatedly

    November 3, 2013 at 12:56 am |
    • Answer

      It's just the filter on the page.. might be a few word combinations that it recognizes as *bad words*

      Do a "back page" and re-edit it.

      November 3, 2013 at 12:58 am |
      • lol??

        Or it's just the cleansing of the mind by socies hitting the abuse ruse.

        November 3, 2013 at 1:06 am |
    • Such as

      Consti-tution. a separator character between "t" and "it" is necessary to get around the filter

      November 3, 2013 at 1:05 am |
    • fyi

      Deleted? Or just never appeared?

      Google "CNN Belief Blog word filter hints" and go to an article with the list of hints in it.

      November 3, 2013 at 1:07 am |
      • fyi

        ok, here's a list:

        Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN Belief Blog/WordPress automatic filter:
        Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
        You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters or some html tricks to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
        -
        ar-se.....as in ar-senic.
        co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, etc.
        co-on.....as in racc-oon, coc-oon, etc.
        crac-ker…
        cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
        ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
        ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, drift-wood, etc.
        ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, sopho-more, etc.
        ho-oters…as in sho-oters
        ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
        inf-orms us…
        hu-mp… as in th-ump, th-umper, th-umping
        jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
        ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
        koo-ch....as in koo-chie koo..!
        ni-gra…as in deni-grate
        nip-ple
        o-rgy….as in po-rgy, zo-rgy, etc.
        pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
        p-oon… as in sp-oon, lamp-oon, harp-oon
        p-orn… as in p-ornography
        pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
        que-er
        ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
        se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
        sl-ut
        sm-ut…..as in transm-utation
        sn-atch
        sp-ank
        sp-ic.....as in desp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
        sp-ook… as in sp-ooky, sp-ooked
        strip-per
        ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, t-itle, ent-ity, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
        tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, salt-water, etc.
        va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
        who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
        wt-f....also!!!!!!!
        x-xx…
        There's another phrase that someone found, "wo-nderful us" (have no idea what sets that one off).

        There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.

        November 3, 2013 at 1:11 am |
        • Pseudotriton

          apparently they won't let you post the word "s u p e r s t i t i o n" either. Rather insecure of them if you ask me.

          November 3, 2013 at 1:29 am |
    • If you're

      having trouble finding the bad word, but have an idea where it might be, then try different words with hyphens througout such as C-o-n-s-t-i-t-u-t-i-o-n.

      November 3, 2013 at 1:08 am |
      • lol??

        Hyp-hens are cool. The evidence is the russian and american brides with weird last names.

        Chicks get it.

        November 3, 2013 at 1:12 am |
  8. Andy

    I'm from Brighton NY, which is right below Greece NY. Brighton NY has a large Jewish community. The citizens of Brighton would FREAK if a public open meeting was held in the community and the leader started seriously preaching from the New Testament.

    November 3, 2013 at 12:55 am |
    • lol??

      The not-a Jews have a problem with Paul, right??

      November 3, 2013 at 12:58 am |
  9. lol??

    The Father and the Son endured separation to save the dirtbag dustballs from PROPER Judgment. Separate at yer own peril and risk. You play, you pay.

    November 3, 2013 at 12:54 am |
    • hawaiiguest

      @lol??

      Are you really still spitting the same perceived threats expecting them to be taken as anything other than pure stupidity?
      That's kind of sad.

      November 3, 2013 at 12:57 am |
      • lol??

        Cry now or cry later.

        November 3, 2013 at 1:00 am |
        • berryrat

          Typical...using fear to scare people into believing your nonsense.

          November 3, 2013 at 1:04 am |
      • hawaiiguest

        What a pathetic response.

        November 3, 2013 at 1:00 am |
      • lol??

        Socies copycat a deadline with Obama's HealthScare.

        November 3, 2013 at 1:01 am |
      • hawaiiguest

        Are you just trying to make as little sense as possible now? I'm really tempted to call poe on your idiocy, but unfortunately there are people who are as stupid as you're making yourself out to be.

        November 3, 2013 at 1:05 am |
        • lol??

          No debts, no sin?? Play that in Vegas. Now wash those dishes.

          November 3, 2013 at 1:17 am |
        • hawaiiguest

          Ok. Calling poe now, and will no longer respond to any of your stupidity.

          November 3, 2013 at 1:49 am |
    • Tia

      So pray for your own soul in your own home...surely your imaginary invisible friend can hear you and doesn't need to be drug into a government building.

      November 3, 2013 at 1:10 am |
  10. Junk

    fiat

    November 3, 2013 at 12:54 am |
  11. Junk

    TEST

    November 3, 2013 at 12:52 am |
  12. Where is your God now?

    My mother hurled the bowl at his head. It connected and blood and spaghetti painted the wall like modern art. He was still; he was unconscious.

    “I have to go to work,” she said and was gone as she wiped a tear, hoping I didn’t see. The sun was setting.

    He came to in a few minutes, muttered something about killing someone and then staggered out the front door. The screen slamming with a jolting thud.

    I called my best friend and asked him to come over as if nothing had just happened. He was on his way. I began cleaning up the mess.

    For every child that lives in a violent home, where is you God now?

    November 3, 2013 at 12:52 am |
    • lol??

      Sorry yo mamma was a FSM devotee.

      November 3, 2013 at 12:56 am |
      • Akira

        Do you possess one iota of empathy?

        November 3, 2013 at 1:02 am |
        • lol??

          The Burning Apple Bush posted the exact same thing months ago. Yo be tricked.

          November 3, 2013 at 1:38 am |
        • lol??

          Burnt apple pie ain't was it used to be.

          November 3, 2013 at 1:39 am |
    • Andy

      God would be the process of stopping the violence, anything working toward the end of any violence whatsoever. The Devil would be anything encouraging or escalating the violence. Here God = Good and the Devil = Evil.

      November 3, 2013 at 12:59 am |
      • Answer

        "I like my god to be the good guy.. there is no way it is a monster. No way."

        November 3, 2013 at 1:05 am |
      • Apple Bush

        A. There are no gods or demons
        B. If there were god would have made the satan

        November 3, 2013 at 1:10 am |
        • lol??

          Ever heard of daemons?? Very popular with the Idumaeans and the baby killin' Herodians. Esau and the Frankfurtians are similar in that their killin' goes on long past their founder's demise.

          Power WITHOUT pleasure. Odd. They be zombies.

          November 3, 2013 at 1:10 am |
      • berryrat

        A billion people, by Christian standards, will not make it into heaven. They will be sent to hell to be tortured for eternity. God = Evil Devil=Excited

        November 3, 2013 at 1:12 am |
    • Where is your God now?

      Akira, this is a true story and it happened to me. AB

      November 3, 2013 at 1:05 am |
      • Apple Bush

        Sadly many of us were raised in homes like this. God really was not very relevant.

        November 3, 2013 at 1:07 am |
        • Apple Bush

          The truth of this story is, I chased the SOB off (with the help of my friend). I threw his own empty beer bottles at his car as he sped away. We chased him for two blocks. That was the last I saw of him that I can remember.

          November 3, 2013 at 1:13 am |
      • berryrat

        I'm sad to hear this 🙁

        November 3, 2013 at 1:18 am |
        • Where is your God now?

          no biggy berry, but thanks. That was minor. I had an interesting childhood.

          November 3, 2013 at 1:33 am |
  13. Junk

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

    November 3, 2013 at 12:46 am |
  14. Apple Bush

    The grave digs a while, deep enough for you and your flat screen and a few other gadgets. The worshippers believe if you are buried with your valuables you will get to set up a “cloud” in heaven and you can access your music from any of your wireless devices.

    The grave leans on his shovel and thinks for a moment.

    Being older and more knowledgeable, the dirt guru decided to just fill in the hole and quit for the day. The sun burned bright and the pebbles in the grave’s dirt sparkled.

    He found some shade and quietly hoped no one would try to bury themselves.

    November 3, 2013 at 12:45 am |
  15. ScottCA

    Prayer has no place in a public office.
    Religon has no place in public office.

    Secularism, the separation of religion from public office and governance is a must and one of the greatest achievements of human history. It is this freedom and equality in governance that is greatly responsible for much of the decline in violence through history.

    November 3, 2013 at 12:45 am |
    • Indeed

      "The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

      Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind." –John Adams

      November 3, 2013 at 1:01 am |
  16. Ron

    Galloway and stephans are marginalized, They don't have souls, only people who believe in God in one form or another have mortal souls, because they do not believe in God, They cannot have a soul! therefore they are only marginal human beings!!!

    November 3, 2013 at 12:44 am |
    • Observer

      Ron,

      Calling them "marginal human beings" is amazingly ignorant. The Bible doesn't even say such nonsense. Grow up.

      November 3, 2013 at 12:47 am |
    • berryrat

      So I guess if a 3-month old baby dies, he/she is out of luck. If you only knew how cooky you sound.

      November 3, 2013 at 12:58 am |
    • Bruce McClure

      Can you provide some evidence of ths "soul" to which you refer? I have never seen one.

      November 3, 2013 at 10:32 am |
  17. Junk

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

    November 3, 2013 at 12:43 am |
    • Bruce McClure

      Spot on. The "rules" from the last chapter only apply to us favored folks; with foreigners, anything goes.

      November 3, 2013 at 10:33 am |
  18. reasoning skills

    some folks here who would fail a citizenship test. Here in the USA It's called "separation of church and state". That means no prayer, no talk of supernatural beings, no cosmic imaginary land when your trying to create REAL LAWS, for REAL PEOPLE. A town hall meeting is still community government. If you want to pray, go to a church, but don't try to turn a place of government into a church. If you want religion in government, go to the MIDDLE EAST. They specialize in this. It's worked real well for them apparently. They are only constantly fighting political wars over religion, but never mind, that's what the "people" want.

    November 3, 2013 at 12:41 am |
  19. carl weathers

    Seriously atheists: get some coping skills. Are you that insecure you have to sanitize everything you have contact with so as to not be "offended"?!!! Grow up and cope.

    November 3, 2013 at 12:37 am |
    • Apple Bush

      Seriously carl: get some adult skills. Are you that insecure you have to Christianize everything you have contact with so as to not be "offended"?!!! Grow up and share like big kids.

      November 3, 2013 at 12:39 am |
      • lol??

        Salt free is unhealthy.

        November 3, 2013 at 12:41 am |
    • northpowell

      I have no quarrel with an individual's personal beliefs as long as they don't interfere with mine or the infrastructure that governs me. Prayers in any publicly sponsored function or event will inherently negate the existence of other beliefs systems or lack thereof which goes against the very freedoms that theist state are being threatened.

      The day you decide to pray in our schools (or other public venues) is the day I may decide to revive the educational process in your church. Be careful what you set in motion, you're support is becoming increasingly inconsequential.

      November 3, 2013 at 12:54 am |
    • Tia

      Why can't all the religious nuts do the same? Can't you pray to your God in your own home or in your church and stop inflicting your beliefs on everyone else? Or can your imaginary being give you bonus points for dragging it into a public place?

      It is the religious nuts like yourself that need some coping skills since you can't manage to do anything without having to beg your imaginary friend to protect you and be with you and comfort you and guide you.

      November 3, 2013 at 1:16 am |
  20. Junk

    Lets all start a bible quote fest. Im first:

    Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

    November 3, 2013 at 12:36 am |
    • lol??

      You're infested and it didn't work??

      November 3, 2013 at 12:40 am |
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About this blog

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