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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. Alex

    Should Greece be offering up prayers to Zeus, Athena et al?

    November 1, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Greed, the country? No! Greek citizens? They're free to engage in whatever silliness and with whatever alleged god they like.

      November 1, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
  2. Another Voice

    I can see no good way to determine whose religious voice gets heard at a government gathering. If you go by who volunteers, you are almost certainly getting someone that is proselytizing, hence the volunteerism. If you have a government employee choose someone out of a preselected list the government, in the person of that employee, is choosing and there is no way to prevent them choosing a specific religion, denomination or belief set.

    I have heard things in public prayer (supposedly Christian) that I found quite offensive and against my understanding of Christianity. When I want prayer, I will go to my own church. When I go to my government offices, I want government work done without someone trying to tell me my beliefs are wrong.

    November 1, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • Scholar

      Right on. The business of government is government, not religion.

      November 1, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • Brian

      I don't get it, How would they be telling you your beliefs are wrong, merely cause someone else is praying? I find that a stretch and conspiritist...chill dude. as I said before...and as the story goes, just don't listen to it if you don't like it

      November 22, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  3. Apple's Assistant

    pigeons shouldn't eat bananas
    yuk what a mess
    here and there and everywhere
    surely they must smell their own gas

    November 1, 2013 at 10:09 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      I will need to see you in my office please.

      November 1, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
  4. bananas

    D.M. Murdock makes a clear argument and she presents specific evidence for solar deities, and their worship traditions, as a foundation for Christianity and The Jesus Myth. from a "reviewer"

    jesus is a myth according to this birdbrain and solar deities r real. who here agrees?

    November 1, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
    • Whaaaa?

      Is that the whole review?

      November 1, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Do you agree that the sun is real and tha Jesus is dead? I think those are things you can count on. Of course the sun does not love you and Jesus isn't around to love you, so if you need that sort of thing you're out of luck.

      November 1, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
    • Evening reader

      I don't know who D. M. Murdock is, but I don't believe "solar deities" are any more viable than "solar pixies" or "solar bunnies".

      November 1, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
      • bananas

        Evening reader, r u new?

        "My Sun god is a better god that all the other sun gods. There is just too much hate in the established religions." another "reviewer"

        "The bible is full of esoteric meanings and Sun Worship is at the core of the Christian beliefs that have been hidden from us but is revealed to us by Archarya in this book. The book is small but is packed with a lot of information, I highly recommend this book for anyone seeking the truth about the Jesus myth." guess who?

        to be honest, i knew no one here had heard of this nut. no one has, except herself and a few others she longs to be like.

        November 1, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      She's half right: jesus most likely is a myth but most likely there are no solar deities.

      November 1, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • Whaaaa?

      Most likely the part of the review referenced was taken out of context.

      November 1, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
  5. Hitchens delivers one of his best hammer blows

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJ2LehsA1dk&w=640&h=360]

    November 1, 2013 at 9:32 pm |
    • Lee McBride

      For all of his sound and fury, Christopher Hitchens ultimately died a very dour and unhappy man. In reality, the only hammer blow he delivered was to smash whatever opportunity he had to truly understand that he was on the path to destruction. (Proverbs 14:12) He knows that now.

      November 2, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
      • Bruce McClure

        Actually he died quite content in his understanding of things. No regrets, if you can believe some of his last interviews.

        November 2, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
        • rh

          Atheism doesn't make one happy any more than any other religion makes one happy. But I have found although most Christians I meet are good decent people, the few people I have met who have been truly evil, putting others down for their own purposes, have had Bibles on their desks at work.

          November 3, 2013 at 2:27 am |
      • Gaven

        One thing is clear, Lee: You don't know a damn thing about Christopher Hitchens.

        Please, stop talking about the man as though you do. It is a riotous insult to those of us that have cherished him, read his books, studied his prose, and gained enlightenment from his missives.

        November 3, 2013 at 3:43 am |
    • Ted

      I'm grateful that I got to share the Earth with Hitch. His arguments were, and still are, impenetrable.

      November 3, 2013 at 10:19 am |
  6. jarhead333

    Christian or not, keeping people from public prayer is a civil rights violation.

    November 1, 2013 at 9:31 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Why?

      November 1, 2013 at 9:33 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      no one is keeping them from public prayer - they're being kept from gov't prayers.

      go to a park and pray - but you don't get to do it in a gov't meeting.

      November 1, 2013 at 9:34 pm |
      • Paul

        Sounds like a terrific idea...I thought you Americans had all this figured out...Separation of Church and State

        November 1, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
        • jarhead333

          There is no such thing as the separation of church and state. If you extend the freedoms to those outside the "Christian church" you must also extend the same freedoms to the Christian church.

          November 1, 2013 at 10:08 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          jarhead, In the same way you wouldn't want muslim prayers to always open meetings you attend, non-believers don't want to hear teh christian equivalent. It is separation of church and state. You don't see it as an issue because it's your religion – how would you feel if it were another religions prayers imposed on your life.

          November 1, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
        • Doris

          jar: "There is no such thing as the separation of church and state. "

          Of course it's an expression representing statements by both Jefferson and Madison. It, of course, represents their ideals intended for the Consti-tution and are, for the most part, realized in the 1st Amendment with its Establishment Clause.

          November 1, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
        • jarhead333

          @Doris
          Funny thing is, when Christians bring up the fact that the country was founded on Christianity, the same people are quoted about no being Christians.

          November 1, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
        •  Doris

          jar: "when Christians bring up the fact that the country was founded on Christianity...."

          Since your statement is not factual, why not?

          November 2, 2013 at 12:02 am |
      • jarhead333

        @ Doris, How about:
        "Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man"- Thomas Jefferson
        Just for starters.

        November 2, 2013 at 12:19 am |
        • Lee McBride

          And yet: Henry S. Randall, the only biographer permitted to interview Jefferson’s immediate family, recorded that Jefferson "attended church with as much regularity as most of the members of the congregation – sometimes going alone on horse- back, when his family remained at home", and that he also "contributed freely to the erection of Christian churches, gave money to Bible societies and other religious objects, and was a liberal and regular contributor to the support of the clergy. Letters of his are extant which show him urging, with respectful delicacy, the acceptance of extra and unsolicited contributions, on the pastor of his parish, on occasions of extra expense to the latter, such as the building of a house.

          November 2, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
        • G to the T

          You're surprised that a politician private life may have different from how he appeared to the public? Shocking!

          November 5, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • jarhead333

      If it was a gathering of any other group, I bet the feelings on this board would be different.

      November 1, 2013 at 9:35 pm |
    • Observer

      jarhead333,

      Same for letting atheists presenting sayings in public meetings proclaiming "God is dead", right?

      November 1, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
    • jarhead333

      If anyone has read my posts, they understand that I am for freedom, regardless of belief, or lack there of. I just find it hypocritical because these were Christians, it is all of a sudden not a civil rights violation.

      November 1, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • jarhead333

      The definition of Civil Rights:
      The rights of citizens to social and political freedom and equality.
      Someone tell me how getting bent about public prayer is not a violation.

      November 1, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Where is equality when I have to stand around while you solemnly intone something that identifies you and your fellows as something that I am excluded from, something of special moral bearing.

        November 1, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
        • Plastic

          You choose to be excluded from their beliefs, it's not like you are excluded from the meeting! Grow up, life isn't like softball where everyone gets a trophy to make them feel good.

          November 3, 2013 at 4:04 am |
        • Ted

          Non'ers don't choose to be excluded. I can't speak for everyone, but my brain doesn't allow such nonsense and I simply can't believe. It's not a choice.

          November 3, 2013 at 10:24 am |
      • HotAirAce

        What part of the const!tution or civil laws gives anyone the right to practice their religion anywhere they like, anyway they like?

        November 1, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
        • Scholar

          Individuals have freedom of religion.
          Government has no freedom of religion but an obligation under the legal doctrine of separation of church and state to ignore religion.
          Government officials who are acting as government officials and not as private individuals have no freedom of religion.
          An individual who is elected to public office does not have the ability to carry his freedom of religion into his government office.

          November 1, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
        • jarhead333

          If that were the case, then there would be no protests on the steps of Congress or state capitols.

          November 1, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • jarhead333

      @Tom Tom
      While I stand around?... Um, I was not there. Would you say the same thing about any other group? I think many of you dislike Christians so much that you are blind. If it was any other group, you would not have a problem with it.
      @HotAir
      How about the freedom to assemble, or the freedom of religion?

      November 1, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Most recently? At a school board meeting I did indeed have to stand around during the pledge to your flag, jarhead333, the pledge to the state flag, and a prayer. I stood there with other non-theists, hindus and people of other religions while the core group, the people who mattered, it seems, went through their rituals and knew us as the outsiders.

        November 1, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
        • Jared L. Loughner

          i no u did tom. i want to write them. where did it take place?

          November 1, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
        • jarhead333

          My state flag? Are you talking about the United States? Are you from another country? Also, you never answered my question. I understand that you hate Christians, but how would you feel if this article pertained to any other group?

          November 1, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          I don't hate Christians, jarhead333. I'm not fond of people given over to tribalism and religion that act in groups in ways that are harmful to individuals and society.

          November 1, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
        • Jared L. Loughner

          tom, didn't u c my request?

          i want to write them. where did it take place?

          November 1, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          PISD, Brazoria County, TX

          November 1, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
      • jarhead333

        Yet my question was not answered. How would you feel if it was any other group? How do Christians effect your daily life?

        November 1, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Any other group? Someone mentioned Muslims already. Members of a particular social organization perhaps? I thought I covered it well enough when I said I was not fond of tribalism and religion in general. Christians don't effect my daily life. I do that. Perhaps you mean how do they affect my daily life? Please don't mistake my point: I don't want Christianity or any religion to affect my life at all, jarhead333.

          November 1, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
        • jarhead333

          @Tom
          "religion that act in groups in ways that are harmful to individuals and society." How is Christianity harmful to others? You believe, or you do not. You also said, " hindus and people of other religions while the core group, the people who mattered." That is insinuating that you do not believe that Christians matter, why is that?

          November 1, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          The core group, the ones that mattered were those who prayed. The rest of us, the ones who did not recognize or, in some cases, even understand what they were about stood on the outside.

          On a happier note, the religious stalwarts were mostly voted off the board in the next elections as the demographics of the area changed dramatically.

          November 1, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
        • jarhead333

          So how does Christianity "affect" you?

          November 1, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      The Supreme Court has been consistent in ruling that the state cannot restrict what people believe but can restrict how those beliefs are practiced. For example, laws banning polygamy and other practices claimed to be part of some cult's beliefs have been upheld. Restrictions on where and when people can practice their religion are not necessarily a violation of anyone's civil rights, just as restrictions about yelling "Fire!" are not a violation of anyone's freedom of expression rights.

      November 1, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
  7. Apple Bush

    I am only one cry in the long journey to the edge of the beginning of your journey.

    Many cries may visit and be your friends.

    Some have had a really hard time of it so just avoid the really bad ones.

    November 1, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
  8. Apple Bush

    Religious cults like Christianity are forms of group or "mass" hysteria. These people believe there is a vengeful god that will feed them to a devil if they don't love him. Hysteria doesn't affect everyone and for that I am very happy.

    November 1, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • Which God?

      I'm a Christian and I don't believe in that God either.

      November 3, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  9. Apple Bush

    I saw a sunset and it was perfect.
    Why do you ask me to see another?
    For in waiting for the next sunset, I will endure much suffering!

    Perfection exists in the suffering too.
    Be thankful for the pain.

    Did I not thank you by loving you?

    November 1, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
  10. marcwinger.com

    If it comes to other faiths, other than Christianity, being asked to be included in some sort of prayer before any government thing, then perhaps it's time for no prayers from anyone. Christianity is the tradition.
    It's not as if a civic session is "holy" to anyone in any way. Give it a rest. Let there be separation to keep heathens & rabid atheists happy.

    November 1, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      I don't know about being a rabid atheist, but that sounds good to me.

      November 1, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
    • cbtx67

      How about Mathew 6:6? in your own bible? Why is it not okay to follow your own rules, but we have to follow yours?

      November 2, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
      • marcwinger.com

        Sorry, I'm not a practicing christian but, as I said the tradition in this country is christian.

        November 2, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
      • Rett

        Read verse 5 .....Jesus was not condemning public prayer, he prayed in public on occasion....he was condemning praying to be seen by others. It is possible to pray in public for another motive besides being seen by other people.

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

    The devil is like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.

    The trolling atheist will claim that verse proves the bible lies. She will say if he is a lion, he can't be like a shining light.

    Her prowess as a debater depends on which part of her fragmented personality she's using. She is always locked into a furious war of words over nothing

    November 1, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  12. Sean Lynch

    Christ reigns from his throne and he judges the nations according to their righteousness

    November 1, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      Ok, but you'll have to prove that.

      November 1, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
      • edward

        Because I have seen it with my own eyes

        November 1, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
      • edward

        prove to me you had a great grandfather you cant

        November 1, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
        • Kemo

          Actually, you can.

          November 1, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
        • a reasonable atheist

          I had four of them, and the proof is trivial.

          November 1, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
      • Kaylee J

        This is just my opinion but I think he's just speaking his opinion. You can't prove that the Yankees are awesome. Either you like the Yankees or you don't. Same thing here.

        November 1, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
        • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

          Not exactly, what he has indicated is a "claim," whereas what you have indicated is indeed an opinion.

          November 1, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • bostontola

      So righteous people in a bad nation are impacted?

      November 1, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        Genesis 18:24 Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

        November 1, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
        • bostontola

          Exactly, god wouldn't if there was but 1 righteous man. That's why the OP is BS.

          November 1, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
  13. bostontola

    Which of the following statements with no specific background should come with evidence?

    Your spouse is cheating on you.
    Your spouse is not cheating on you.
    You are a liar.
    Your aren't a liar.
    There are aliens on earth.
    There aren't aliens on earth.
    Zeus is real and must be worshiped.
    Zeus is not real, no need to worship him.

    November 1, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • bostontola

      Answer: Odd numbered statements.

      Another example:
      Your god exists.
      Your god doesn't exist.

      November 1, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • Paul

      They all require evidence. Try familiarizing yourself with basic Aristolean logic.

      November 1, 2013 at 9:53 pm |
      • bostontola

        1. Aristolean?
        2. Aristotelian logic has nothing to do with my question. It wasn't a logical question, it was a moral question.
        3. If you make a claim with steep claims require evidence.

        November 1, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
  14. Apple Bush

    When I was very young, I didn’t the vocabulary to attach words to the feelings and beliefs forming in my mind. I remember at one time truly believing that the whole world was simply a dream I was having. It was all absurd. That was reality for me, but over time it became tedious to believe that nothing is real. It is however, far more likely that you are all my creations than the creation of gods.

    Everyone a god.

    November 1, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • meli kalikimaka

      God made man, man made gods just like you did.

      November 1, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • edward

      You are proof there is a Satan as he is your father. As Satan does not want people to acknowledge the true living God that made even you

      November 1, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        I think everyone would acknowledge it if you would just provide the proof. Great claims require great evidence.

        November 1, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      In order to believe as you do I would have to have a different type of delusion that I do not possess. You are free to believe what you wish, but I have never experienced a god or devil. I therefore do not believe they exist.

      November 1, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
      • Kaylee J

        That's fair Apple, and I don't care what you believe or don't.

        November 1, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
  15. Bob

    Since we've got edward quote-dumping on us from his Christian book of horrors AKA the bible, let's take a look at some of the fine guidance purportedly from his "god" that's really in there:

    Numbers 31:17-18
    17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
    18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

    Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

    Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

    Leviticus 25
    44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
    45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
    46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

    Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

    Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

    And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

    So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

    Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
    Be free of Christianity and other supersttions.
    http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

    November 1, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • Paul

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyLpygp4eSE&w=420&h=315]

      November 1, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
      • Observer

        Paul,

        No need to watch. The answer is definitely YES.

        Read a Bible.

        November 1, 2013 at 9:54 pm |
      • redzoa

        [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MFmC6BD1B4&w=640&h=360]

        November 1, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      Joshua 6:21 And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.

      November 1, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Why can't we apply the word "crime" to the things people do according to God's will?

        November 1, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
  16. edward

    These atheist are very ignorant people . It takes a complete fool (Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." )to not believe in God when there is so much evidence for God. And if you ask me to show you the evidence it will not do any good because you still will not believe, because you have set it in your heart not to believe regardless of the facts. How ever you atheist do prove there is a devil because you are his children and he is your father. That is why you attack God. You do the work of your father the devil(.You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires.JN 8:44)

    November 1, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

      Hardly. I am a former Christian, so where is the proof?

      November 1, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
      • meli kalikimaka

        "former Christian"

        -What makes you believe you were a Christian when you claim to have been a former Christian?

        November 1, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
        • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

          The same way every other former Christian makes the claim.

          November 1, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
        • willi wonkawakamakatakashakashaka

          Say woot?

          November 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
        • meli kalikimaka

          Heard a lot about being "former Christians", but none able to articulate what made them believe they were Christians in the past.

          November 1, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
        • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

          That's very interesting. What you mean to say is that you've never heard a former Christian be able to articulate what that means to your satisfaction. That's ok, I've heard that before as well.

          November 1, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
        • Cpt. Obvious

          I am a former Christian, and by that I mean that I fully believed and everyone who knew me considered me to be completely "on fire" for god with all the associated "fruits of the spirit." But like others who say that they are former Christians, what I really claim is that there is no "holy spirit" to ever do any "indwelling," so really, there are no real Christians since there is no saving power and there is no holy spirit.

          November 1, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • Bob

      edward, since you are quote-dumping on us from your Christian book of horrors AKA the bible, let's take a look at some of the fine guidance purportedly from your "god" that's really in there:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other supersttions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      November 1, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • a reasonable atheist

      My dad's name is Jerry. He's a retired disaster planning consultant. I'm pretty sure he's not the lord of the underworld.

      November 1, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Bill Corey

      These Christians are very ignorant people . It takes a complete fool (Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart, "There is no Satan." )to not believe in Satan when there is so much evidence for Satan. And if you ask me to show you the evidence it will not do any good because you still will not believe, because you have set it in your heart not to believe regardless of the facts. How ever you Christians do prove there is a devil because you are his children and he is your father. That is why you attack Satan. You do the work of your father the god(.You belong to your father, the god, and you want to carry out your father's desires.JN 8:44)

      November 1, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
      • Happy Atheist

        The fool hath said in his heart, there are no leprechauns...

        Who's the fool now?...

        November 22, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  17. Apple Bush

    There are no gods. Easy to prove.

    November 1, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • edward

      prove it thou fool!

      November 1, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
      • edward

        There is only one God of Heaven and earth that is the God of the Bible And Israel and all human kind

        November 1, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
        • jacob

          don't listen to this imposter, love me instead!

          November 22, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
      • Observer

        edward,

        Speaking of fools, do you believe EVERY word of the Bible or are you just another HYPOCRITE who pick-and-chooses and IGNORES what he doesn't like?

        November 1, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • meli kalikimaka

      Prove it!

      November 1, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
      • edward

        you cant prove it to a fool

        November 1, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
      • edward

        If you say there is no God that makes you a fool and your lack of intelligence makes it impossible to explain anything to you, You will not understand. I could not tell you how to pour water into a glass which would confuse you as your Low IQ limits your understanding and logic. I probably lost you all ready.

        November 1, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
        • Observer

          edward,

          Sorry you missed the question. Give it a try.

          Speaking of fools, do you believe EVERY word of the Bible or are you just another HYPOCRITE who pick-and-chooses and IGNORES what he doesn't like?

          November 1, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      The Bible is proof that there is no Christian God.

      November 1, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
      • meli kalikimaka

        Where does the Bible say that there is no God?

        November 1, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          Well I am sure you know that, but it it is obviously used in that context.

          Let me ask you a question. Do you believe in the bible?

          November 1, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          sorry, meant "not" used in that context. Psalm 14:1

          November 1, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
        • meli kalikimaka

          You are the one that claimed that Bible is proof that God does not exist, where does the Bible say that there is no God?

          November 1, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
        • edward

          How can you prove there is no God. You know that what ever I say to prove there is a God you wont believe it any way because you have the fear of being proven wrong also you all ready made it up in your mind because of what others have told you or your own intellect gets in the way of rational reasoning. So you see it would waste my time as your mind is made up any way regardless of what I say. You know this is correct.

          November 1, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          Edward, you do not have proof of a god. There simply is none.

          But I CAN prove there is no god but I am afraid it will have unfortunate consequences.

          Every man a god.

          November 1, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
        • Observer

          edward,

          Sorry that you are AFRAID to answer questions. No surprise.

          God could take LESS THAN 5 SECONDS to announce his presence to the entire world at once. It would supposedly save BILLIONS of souls, but that's too much to ask of him.

          Get serious.

          November 1, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
        • ?

          God don't tweet. The pope tried but needed help from one of the boys, go figure.

          November 2, 2013 at 7:37 am |
      • Apple Bush

        The bible says there is no god in Psalms 14, but that is not the proof. That is not even what it means.

        I said the bible, I did not say something IN the bible.

        November 1, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
        • G to the T

          I think I see where you are coming from. My only revision might be "bibles" as there are just so many different ones out there...

          November 5, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  18. PeterVN

    That people still pray to any sky creature these days, in the face of substantial studies showing prayer to have zero effect on what was prayed for, reminds me of my favorite blog quote:

    "Religion is for the ignorant, the gullible, the cowardly, and the stupid, and for those who would profit from them."

    In this case, some of the ones who profit are the religious-bent councillors, who get to feel like their route/role/platform has been sanctioned by the prayer. That and the shamans/priests who sadly can still make a buck by sounding "holy", in their long-running con game in which they never have to deliver the goods.

    November 1, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • a reasonable atheist

      Utah is a wonderful example of the essence of your quote. Generations of wolves and sheep. The sheep thank the wolves for fleecing them because the wolves tell them that they need to be fleeced. It is too bad that there is no cure for psycopathy.

      November 1, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
  19. Apple Bush

    What makes this such a sad situation to read and comment on, is that this is a real story about something that shouldn't even be an issue. Their should be no religion in government. Easy enough, and our white Devil slave-master forefathers were wise in distinguishing between church and state.

    November 1, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  20. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    There is nothing to worship. So if you must pray, pray to nothing, saying nothing, expecting nothing in return.

    November 1, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
    • Paul

      "There is nothing to worship."

      What's your evidence for making such a claim?

      November 1, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
      • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

        Where is your evidence that there are no unicorns?

        November 1, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
        • Observer

          Youtube – Neil DeGrasse Tyson – The Perimeter of Ignorance

          "Where is your evidence that there are no unicorns?'

          If you are claiming something exists, then show us. It's your responsibility.

          Where's the unicorn?

          November 1, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
        • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

          Where is God?

          November 1, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Indeed. What is God made of?

          November 1, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
        • Observer

          Youtube – Neil DeGrasse Tyson – The Perimeter of Ignorance

          "Where is God?"

          If you claim he exists, it's up to you to provide a proveable answer.

          November 1, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
        • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson - The Perimeter of Ignorance

          Yes, indeed it is.

          November 1, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Moreover, Paul, I would guess that you are able to worship nothing.

        November 1, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
      • sam stone.

        What is your evidence to the contrary, Paul?

        November 1, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • Shadowflash1522

      That's a quote for the quote board 🙂

      November 4, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
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About this blog

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