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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. Charm Quark

    Affiliating the town with Christianity, there is the problem, are those that do not want to be ruled by Christian leaders being discriminated against. In a multi religious, with a supposedly secular government, what signal are we sending to the minorities.

    November 4, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • lol??

      Are they under severe financial stress like many other cities?? If they're afraid of angry PUblic Servants that thought the party could never end maybe they should call in FEMA with their 7,000 personal protection devices known as AR 15's.

      November 4, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
      • lol??

        Make that DHS with the weapons.

        November 4, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
  2. Phteven

    If the Christian religion offends you here's an idea...stop reading the bible. It will minimize the amount of time you spend on it. If you must use that time focused on Christianity use it to "put up with" the occasional public prayer. Then avoid it like everybody else.

    I bet minute per minute you'll have less time donated to that religion over all than you do right now.

    November 4, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      too bad it's not that easy.
      ignore christianity by not reading the bible?
      how do we ignore christian law makers trying to make biblical dogma into law?

      and why should we "put up with" having prayers forced down our throats?
      pray at home, pray at church, pray at a park
      but you don't get to pray at work in a gov't building

      November 4, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
      • Phteven

        If you can handle arguing with them on here all the time you really can't use the justification that you want to avoid what they have to say.

        November 4, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          i want to avoid having to sit through their religious rituals, yes. i don't want to sit through prayers, if that's what you mean. should i have to? just as they have every right to avoid an atheist speech on why god is a silly concept, i don't want to sit through their bible passages. a gov't meeting isn't the time for theological debate, is it?

          if they want to have a debate, pick a forum and i'm all up for it - but they don't want a debate, they want to promote christianity.

          November 4, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          you've confused your right to freedom of speech with being able to force someone to listen to you whether they like it or not.

          November 4, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
      • Phteven

        Let me add to that I've put up with a lot of intolerant stuff directed at me..directly at me from a lot of sources over the years. You have to ask yourself what cost is freedom. If my buddy can loose a body part overseas so that people can talk I can put up with a few things I don't want to hear sometimes.

        November 4, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          i have sympathy for your friend, but he has nothing to do with this debate. if your buddy was over there fighting for american ideals, then he was fighting to make it so no one's religion is pushed on others.

          you're not asking the christians to "put up with" anything - you're asking everyone else to put up with christian ritual and prayer. why should we? how about instead you conduct gov't business when in a gov't meeting in a gov't building?

          why is it so much to ask people not to force their religion on others? pray at home, in a church or a park - but not at your gov't job on gov't time.

          November 4, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • One one

      Actually, the solution may not be less religious ceremony but more religious ceremony.

      Therefore, I propose, before all government business meetings we have a burnt offering to god since, according to the bible, god likes the smell of burning flesh. I think god would very much prefer this to a common prayer and be much more inclined to grant the wishes of the meeting participants. The bible provides ample evidence of the importance of burnt offerings. I figure a lamb would do.

      It's not wise to get cheap with god.

      November 4, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
      • Bootyfunk

        Zeus shall smite all who do not pay proper homage to the Storm God!

        November 4, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      If all it took to stop dealing with Christianity was not reading the Bible I would be a happy man....as is I cannot leave the house without having to deal with it.

      November 4, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • Bobbie Jo Justice

      stop reading the babble, er bible? I wish that was all it took.

      You christians place the bible in every hotel room, hold signs up on street corners, have churches on nearly every corner, insist your imaginary "God" be on money and in the pledge of allegiance, and you knock on the doors of strangers to spread the good word .....but hey, please tell me again about the "gay agenda".

      November 4, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
      • Bootyfunk

        hahaha.
        10+

        November 4, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
      • Cleetus Allreetus Alrightus

        10++++

        November 5, 2013 at 9:21 am |
      • Sara

        9.5

        Excellent points, .5 off for use of "babble"

        November 5, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  3. lol??

    Jeff Rome NY sayz,
    "Where is the government doing that? They're not. No hypothetical here. No one is doing that, because of people who actually understand the Consti*tution. Unlike the stupid council of Greece, NY.
    The government has NEVER meddled in church affairs, unlike the religions.
    Government should stay out of religion, AND RELIGION SHOULD MOST DEFINITELY STAY OUT OF THE GOVERNMENT"

    I suggest you bone up on LBJ about how and why he got the tax code changed. It applies to all churches, too, not just the tax exempt. .

    November 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm |
    • Jeff Rome NY

      I suggest you learn how to follow a thread. Taking my posts out of context shows how intellectually dishonest you are. I was talking about gay marriage, and you know it, o lying sot.
      And NONE of this has to do with religion or God. Stay focused, O child left behind.
      301.7; 301.83

      And it's SAYS. Substituting 'z' for 's' makes you look silly as hell.

      November 4, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
      • lol??

        Ok worm, what's yer CONtext??

        November 4, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
  4. Reality # 2

    Only for the newbies:

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

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

    November 4, 2013 at 4:56 pm |
    • james

      who decides what is good? which charities? look to the creator and just talk to him and yes, put down those beads, they are just for counting not to be counted on and Mecca? what a joke, soup kitchens? another joke but cows? what a creation though not to be worshipped just milked, not eaten.

      November 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Paul

      "... it is simply the result of the variability/randomness of Nature"

      How did you come to that conclusion?

      November 4, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        I agree with your criticism, Paul. There's no way to know for sure that it's just random coincidence even though there's nothing to say that it isn't just that; however, you're right, there's as much evidence for that theory than there is for your god: none.

        November 4, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
  5. ReligionIsBS

    Why doesnt god just kill the devil?

    The same reason a superhero nevers kills his villian, becuase then there would be no story, and no reason for you to keep paying.

    November 4, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • lol??

      And leave some people fatherless??

      November 4, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
      • Jeff Rome NY

        301.83

        November 4, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
      • Bootyfunk

        you mean fairy tale-less?

        November 4, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      Father Edward Schillebeeckx, the famous contemporary theologian, had a different take on hell. He reasons that God does not tolerate imperfection in his spiritual realm. Therefore, any soul dying in mortal sin will simply disappear since hell the imperfect state does not exist. No Hell, no Satan.

      November 4, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • Even wierder

      Why was the devil even made to begin with?

      November 4, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
      • james

        do you really want to know? go to jw.org and learn what the Bible really teaches. decide for yourself who to serve and how much responsibility you really want for the opportunity of eternal life on a paradise earth.

        November 4, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
        • Bobbie Jo Justice

          the devil was made because the christian god needed a being to blame for when the christian god was being an a**hole.

          November 4, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
      • Cleetus Allreetus Alrightus

        Pure mythology...... nothing more.... it's such a shame when otherwise intelligent people confuse mythology with reality.

        November 5, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  6. ReligionIsBS

    What do you call an all powerfull being that cannot defeat his enemy – the christian god

    November 4, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Russ

      @ ReligionisBS: if you're going to mock people for what they believe, it helps to accurately depict what they believe.
      Read Rev.20:10 in regard to your above comment.

      November 4, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
      • Brother Maynard

        Rev 20:10
        "Then the devil who had betrayed them will again be thown into the Lake of Fire burning with sulphur where the Creature and False Prophet are, and they weill be tormented day and night forever and ever."
        I just love a god that throws his creation into a lake of fire to suffer for eternity - NOT

        November 5, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  7. Live4Him

    @Bootyfunk : [The Big Bang]'s a complex subject not easily explain in a few sentences.

    Translations, I don't understand it either so let me turn to a website that seems to understand it to explain it to you.

    Question #1: Where did the singularity come from? [unknown]
    Question #2: What triggered it to explode? [unknown]
    Question #3: What caused the matter in the micro (i.e. planets, stars, galaxies, etc) to be non-uniform, while the matter in the macro (dispersion of stellar objects) to be uniform? [unknown]

    Three strikes, you're out!

    November 4, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
    • Well Duh

      Where did God come from? A: He was always there. Fail.

      November 4, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
      • Live4Him

        @Well Duh : Where did God come from? A: He was always there. Fail.

        You've presupposed that he had a beginning. This is the logic fallacy called circular reasoning. Without empirical evidence that he had a beginning, your argument is flawed.

        November 4, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
        • ReligionIsBS

          Why are you presupposing that the universe had a begining?

          The universe has to have a begining but god doesnt? Why? Dont ask me that – live4him

          November 4, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
        • Well Duh

          "You've presupposed that he had a beginning. This is the logic fallacy called circular reasoning. Without empirical evidence that he had a beginning, your argument is flawed."

          I've presupposed nothing, just gave the standard xtian response.

          Do explain all the attributes of your God. What is God made of? Where did He gain his knowledge? How did it gain emotions? Did your God use raw materials to create the known universe, or created it from absolutely nothing? How did your God create the universe?

          You seem to think that because science can't answer difficult questions about the universe, that you can just point to your magic man and claim He said abracadabra without any further explanation. You have nothing. Nothing but a magician and abracadabra. Pathetic.

          November 4, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          Lie4him
          You have pre-supposed that there is a god. That is the worst fail of all.

          November 4, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          "Where did God come from? A: He was always there."

          Special pleading is a form of spurious argument where a position in a dispute introduces favourable details or excludes unfavourable details by alleging a need to apply additional considerations without proper criticism of these considerations. Essentially, this involves someone attempting to cite something as an exception to a generally accepted rule, principle, etc. without justifying the exception.

          Example: Taking the position that rverything that exists has a cause. And at the same time arguing God exists but does not have a cause.

          Fail

          November 4, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
        • Lie4Him

          I have to Lie4Him, that is all that makes sense if you believe in the myth, lying is the only way out. I lie for jesus and am going to be saved, screw the rest of you.

          November 4, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
        • EnjaySea

          If your god always existed, then so did the universe that contained him, which would mean that universes can also exist without having a beginning, or a creator.

          Either way, your god is out of a job.

          November 4, 2013 at 5:11 pm |
        • HAHAHA

          As Forest's mom said stupid is as stupid does. L4H you qualify.

          November 4, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Therefore GOD!
      Put that in your heathen pipes and smoke it, atheists.

      November 4, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
      • Cleetus Allreetus Alrightus

        I don't know therefore chipmunk!

        November 5, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • K-switch

      L4H, tell me more about your theories about the speed of light outside the solar system.

      November 4, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        The Earth was formed in a time-dilation bubble so that God could give His most favoured Creation the attention it deserved.
        The light we see from other suns is, relativistically speaking, millions or billions of years old, but thanks to God's chronoton singularity, The Earth is only 10,000 years old.
        Noah's ark was a TARDIS.
        Moses' staff was a sonic screwdriver.
        Jesus was a Time Lord.
        Satan is a Dalek.

        November 4, 2013 at 4:30 pm |
        • Cleetus Allreetus Alrightus

          "Moses' staff was a sonic screwdriver."............. HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!! LOL!

          November 5, 2013 at 9:32 am |
      • Live4Him

        http://arxiv.org/ftp/physics/papers/0611/0611294.pdf

        Quote: Based on the Schwarzschild solution of the Einstein’s equation of gravitational field, it is proved that the speed of light would change and the isotropy of light’s speed would be violated in gravitational field with spherical symmetry.

        Are we in a gravitational field on Earth? Yes. The Solar System? Yes. The Galaxy? Yes.

        November 4, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
        • Well Duh

          So you and a handful of others think that you have out smarted the 10's of thousands of scientists with PhD's and lifetimes of study in regards to speed of light in the universe? Please let me know when you collect your noble prize.

          November 4, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
        • ReligionIsBS

          at 4:03, Live4Him berates Bootyfunk for linking to a website instead of explaining it himself.

          at 4:43, Live4Him links to a website because he cant explain something himself.

          You cant make this kind of stupid up.

          November 4, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
        • ?

          Lie4Him
          Totally agree with Religious BS, you are the ultimate garbage Christian hypocrite.

          November 4, 2013 at 4:59 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      I dont know, therefore god – Live4Him

      November 4, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • lol??

      Light is not the only example of an electromagnetic wave. It depends upon the impedance of the medium.

      November 4, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        I suggest you would find that frequency is a bigger factor than impedance.

        November 4, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      No intelligent comment on the subject article, so go off on a tangent about creation of the universe. Total BS, Lie4Him.

      November 4, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      Once again:

      o Think infinity and recycling with the Big Bang expansion followed by the shrinking reversal called the Gib Gnab and recycling back to the Big Bang repeating the process on and on forever. Human life and Earth are simply a minute part of this cha-otic, sto-cha-stic, expanding, shrinking process disappearing in five billion years with the burn out of the Sun and maybe returning in another five billion years with different life forms but still subject to the va-ga-ries of its local star.

      November 4, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • CharlesP

      Before the advent of modern science, the actual cause of almost everything was unknown, but people like you would have argued that it was God. About 200 years of discovery has limited the number of unknowns to a few and you still want to bet on God being the answer? I don't think that my offering you any amount of good luck would help you any with that one.

      November 4, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
      • lol??

        Whatever happened to that old saw, "The more we know, the more we know that we don't know. Give us more moolah."??

        November 4, 2013 at 5:23 pm |
        • Maddy

          Works for churches, doesn't it? Focus. You're all over the place again with your comments.

          November 4, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • EnjaySea

      Listing unknowns does not suggest an answer, it just enumerates what we don't know yet.

      Critical thinkers don't automatically insert "god" as the answer to any unknown question. We're just fine waiting for the real answer, but thanks anyway.

      November 4, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • Sara

      Live4Him, you seem to be under the false impression that scientists claim to have all the answers. I have yet to meet anyone who makes that claim.

      November 5, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • Rascal262

      Scientist: "These are some very good questions, let's find out..."
      Theist: "God did it. Let's watch American Idol."

      November 5, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  8. lol??

    ""Fear" AND "not"
    occurs in 144 verses in the KJV, including 63 exact phrases shown first. "

    Christians being normal human beings, have some natural fears that must be overcome by faith. All the psychobabble found in the DSM V has been rendered obsolete by PET scans. That should put some money suckin' medical costs where they belong.

    Psychopaths are naturally fearless and confuse the mobs lookin' fer leadership. For a funny twist on this procedure search "James Fallon" on youtube.

    November 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • Jeff Rome NY

      Naturally, you would be in denial regarding the DSM 5, as your malady is contained within extreme borderline personality disorder is something you want to keep secret, but is plain for all to see via your disjointed, rambling posts. Nice try, but you fail.

      November 4, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
      • lol??

        Scientists must be some very special people, shaman like, with their LUV fer truth and proofs. They tell us mankind is pushin' almost a half million years old and yet how old is the bicycle?? Special, sure!!

        November 4, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
        • Jeff Rome NY

          Is a bicycle mentioned in the Bible OR DSM 5?

          November 4, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • G to the T

      KJV? Really? You're going to quote from the worst translation we have to date?

      November 5, 2013 at 11:02 am |
  9. John P. Thiel

    To say that anyone of any faith may offer to perform this prayer is not sufficient. A moment of silence, unproctored by the representative of any religion, would sufficiently guarantee the rights of everyone.

    For example, I'm Buddhist. I don't worship or even believe in a deity or savior. My formal practice is chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo and reciting portions of the Lotus Sutra. As much as I would love to lead a group of strangers in chanting even just three times, it would be horribly inappropriate. I couldn't lead a prayer for an audience with mixed beliefs, and so the current practice mentioned in this case not only excludes me, but anyone else whose religious practice is not as it is in Judeo-Christian religions–where they just make it up as they go along and address their god. I imagine Muslims, who do believe in a god, would have the same problem because they also have a similar formal practice of recitation. The current format really only accommodates Christians and Jews.

    And similar to atheists, I too am uncomfortable with having to identify myself by either not bowing my head or leaving the room for a moment. Why should I? It's the prayer which is inappropriate, not me.

    But a moment of silence would be a proper thing to do. It's formal; it gives everyone a moment to reflect or pray if they wish, and it's not proctored or lead by the government, so it's legal.

    November 4, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • seriously?

      So we should start every class in school with a moment of silence? Start each work day with one?
      Why not just remove it completely since it is wholly unneccesary?
      you are trying to find a compromise to something that does not belong in the first place. Try going to your boss and tell them you want a company wide moment of silence every day...the wasted time adds up, and is inappropriate for the business of running a governemt.

      November 4, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
      • John P. Thiel

        As a side note, I did encounter a problem when a company I was working for went through a merger and change in leadership. They hired someone to come in an basically teach us how to work. His comments at meetings all but explicitly said the expectation was that we would be Christian and act Christian–in the office!

        When layoffs started, the Buddhist and the Jew were the first to go. Everyone else is still there.

        November 4, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
      • John P. Thiel

        Dammit! My other reply didn't appear.

        Oh well, put simply, I completely agree with you. But if they only alternative to government endorsed prayer is a moment of silence, then I could accept a moment of silence so long as no one finishes it with "amen" or the like.

        By the way, before I became a Nichiren Buddhist, I was fiercely Atheist–I suppose you could say I still am, but I am religious so I don't know if that allows me to claim Atheism just because I don't believe in 'Theism.'

        Bottom Line is, I rather see absolutely no religion implied or recognized in any government function than to see even a select few be favored. And I think it's unreasonable to say that means I'm advocating Atheism or against religion.

        November 4, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
        • John P. Thiel

          Until government functions are free of religion, as I hope and believe they will be, I will hope to see my faith recognized and included if only to alter the perception of what 'religion' means in the US today.

          November 4, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
        • Live4Him

          @John P. Thiel : I rather see absolutely no religion implied

          How do you propose to do that? Everyone alive has a religion (i.e. a set of beliefs), so to enforce no religion means that only the dead are allowed (and I guess animals). So, should every government function only be attended by cats and dogs (or those in caskets)? Seems silly to me.

          November 4, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
        • John P. Thiel

          Misquoting me wont strengthen your argument. Everyone can see what I wrote as opposed to how you quoted it.

          And as for your reply, if you 'believe' that's true then you apparently have no education to fall back on. Not everyone is religious. As a Buddhist, the foundation of my faith is not belief. Faith and belief are two entirely different things.

          Belief is what you think even in the absence of evidence, and normal people will accept the evidence as fact when they encounter it and it contradicts those beliefs. If I believe Twinkies are healthier to eat than spinach, that doesn't make it true, and when someone confronts that belief with evidence that in fact Twinkies are particularly unhealthy to eat my innate human wisdom should allow me to accept that as fact.

          Faith is absolute trust, conviction, and determination. If I believe in you, that doesn't mean I trust you; but if I have faith in you, then I trust you absolutely.

          You need to learn to think for yourself rather than accepting everything you're told by ministers at face value–otherwise, could you please make change for this paper napkin on which I wrote the words and numbers "$100 US Dollars" ?

          November 4, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
        • Jeff Rome NY

          A common tactic by this poster, John. You'll get used to it if you frequent these boards enough.

          November 4, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  10. Rascal262

    Just say they have to give equal time to Islamic prayers - then they'll be falling all over themselves trying to shutdown any convocations.

    November 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • Joey

      I would prefer that if every time someone prays to Jesus someone else gets to pray to Satan.

      November 4, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
      • Phteven

        Don't they get to now?

        November 4, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • yoozyerbrain

      Right on Rascal, hit the hypocrites where they live!

      November 4, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
      • lol??

        There go the refugees!!

        November 4, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And a break for Rastafarian prayers at 4:20.

      November 4, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
      • Joey

        If that ever happens I will no longer be an atheist.

        November 4, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
      • John P. Thiel

        I really wish there was a 'like' button on this thread.

        November 4, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Yep, that is exactly what happened with school vochers when the CHristians realized those vochers would be available to Muslim schools, ect.

      November 4, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
      • yoozyerbrain

        Pastafarianism is a legally recognized religion in Kansas. Wasn't hard, just duplicate the ridiculous rituals of the accepted supersti tions and the judge had to admit they were all crazy, so why not Pastafarianism?

        November 4, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          You want religious discrimination?
          After a 4 year custody battle in which her religious beliefs were used against her, Rachel Bevilacqua finally regained custody of her son – but only if she keeps any and all material pertaining to her religion out of her home and away from her child.
          http://boingboing.net/2009/10/09/judge-orders-woman-t-1.html

          November 4, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
        • yoozyerbrain

          Doc Vest-
          Thanks for the link! Imagine thinking the Church of the SubGenius is more nefarious than the Abrahamic Death Cults!

          What a weird world these superst itionistas create for us...

          November 4, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
        • lol??

          Pastafarianism?? You sure about that?? Methinks you've been hanging out with the FSM too much.

          November 4, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
  11. lol??

    What deed do the A&A's want to commit that could be stopped by the salt?? It appears ya got it all covered already with the Diverse Beast in charge of everything.

    November 4, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • yoozyerbrain

      Diverse Beast? Thanks for the un-American anti-American supersti tious clap trap lol.

      We walk in the light of 21st century reason and we reject dark age supersti tions if we're good, true Americans. Otherwise, our master is the corrupt priest and the undemoctatic organizations they su ckle off of. Isn't that your master lol and LOA? Go to Iran, they already have the form of govt you desire.

      November 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
      • lol??

        There's an original attack. NOT!

        November 4, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
        • yoozyerbrain

          I noticed that you didn't answer my question...

          November 4, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
      • Thought of the Day

        'Go to Iran'-- Right God, wrong Prophet, same idea.

        November 4, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
        • lol??

          The Big Mo was a scripture mingler with a big imagination, enough to write his own.

          November 4, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
        • yoozyerbrain

          No lol, the big mo has all the legitimacy of the big jes, the big yah, and the man in the moon except the big mo has one thing going for him jes doesn't have; ie there are third hand accounts that he actually existed. Your fairy tales do not hold up to modern scrutiny and instead of learning about them you want to destroy the Central Scrutinizers.

          November 4, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
        • Thought of the Day

          Right, not like the writings of Jesus.

          November 4, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          NEWS FLASH:
          The New Testament is a sequel.
          It's kind of like the old zombie movies.
          Consider the Old Testament as the 1st Night of the Living Dead.
          There then came various sequels, Dawn of the Dead, Return of the Living Dead, Night of Living Dead II, each based (at least loosely) on the original, but still different.
          Now there are countless variations on zombies – sequels to sequels, remakes, re-interpretations, parodies, and crackpot extremists that are preparing for the inevitable zompocalypse.
          It is all quite parallel with the spreading and splitting of the Abrahamic religions.
          Try and remember that the Easter Zombie isn't original.

          November 4, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
        • Write? Wrong.

          Thought of the Day
          "Right, not like the writings of Jesus"

          Jesus was apparently functionally illiterate. He did not write a single word. The hearsay written *about* his supernatural feats is quite unverified.

          November 4, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
        • Write? Wrong.

          and, fyi, Mohammad and Joseph Smith were functionally illiterate also...

          November 4, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
        • Thought of the Day

          subtle sarcasm.

          November 4, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
  12. yoozyerbrain

    Bill Nye explains that we are hurting our kids and country with teaching Creationism. Keep superst ition out of the US govt and schools!

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

    November 4, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • lol??

      The ones you let live?? Yer supposed to leave them an inheritance not a pile of debt, silly.

      November 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
      • this idiot ^^^^

        is ALWAYS off topic. I can just imagine it assigning levels of "socie" to various canned goods as it stands in the grocery store.

        November 4, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
  13. yoozyerbrain

    Teaching Creationism is Child Abuse

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTedvV6oZjo

    November 4, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
    • Lawrence of Arabia

      This coming from the guy who says that to understand his theories, you've got to throw out common sense...

      November 4, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
      • yoozyerbrain

        Excuse me, are you hammering at the credentials of a Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics who is trying to keep America from falling further behind the world in it's education standard?

        Lawrence, you anti-American, what are your credentials? Why should we listen to you? What've you ever done? At least this guy is out there in public trying to help. Spew some supersti tious clap trap at us LofA, so we can be enlightened by your sublime genius...

        November 4, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
        • sam stone

          come on, yooz, larry must be right because he really BELIEVES it....and, of course, god picked him out all special and such

          November 4, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
      • ME II

        @Lawrence of Arabia,
        I'm not sure how, or if, this was used, specifically but sometimes "common" sense does not work in understanding complex ideas.

        November 4, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
      • sam stone.

        you speak of the bible as if it is the word of god and you speak of throwing out common sense? what a chump

        November 4, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
        • sam stone

          let's see...a spirit knocks up a virgin to give birth to himself to sacrifice himself to himself because a talking serpent coninced a rib woman to eat a piece of fruit, thereby condemning all mankind

          right, common sense

          November 4, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
        • Sara

          The hyperbole comes from three issues. First, you claim they have no evidence. If god talks to them (as an example) they have evidence. Second, you called them liars (original post). This assumes they are being intentional. Third, you assume they are wrong by calling them liars, you have no claim against all god beliefs (only specific ones).

          November 5, 2013 at 7:42 am |
        • Sara

          The hyperbole comes from three issues. First, you claim they have no evidence. If god talks to them (as an example) they have evidence. Second, you called them liars (original post). This assumes they are being intentional. Third, you assume they are wrong by calling them liars, you have no persuasive evidence against ALL god beliefs (only specific ones).

          November 5, 2013 at 7:43 am |
      • HotAirAce

        Larry, Opposite View nor any other believer has ever produced any actual (factual, independent, objective, verifiable, repeatable) evidence for their beliefs that stands any chance of meeting the standards of the scientific method or judicial rules of evidence. The best they can do is to erect a set of assumptions or conditions as to why their god cannot be detected, without ever substantiating a basis for their assumptions and conditions. In other words, they pile bullsh!t on top of bullsh!t just as chronic liars pile lie on top of lie. Given zero evidence, there is no difference between their beliefs and lies. None!

        We don't know" is a far superior answer to "some god did it.". I'm still waiting for a single scholarly article published in a reputable scientific journal (which excludes The Discovery Inst!tute) that successfully concludes with "some god did it."

        Anyone that believes The Babble is literally true should be examined for mentall illness.

        November 4, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
        • Sara

          Most of them argue that god can be detected, but that he/she/it is only detectable at an individual level.

          November 4, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          I think they argue that evidence for their god is all around for anyone to see but their god itself exists beyond our ability to detect via physical measurement.

          November 4, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
        • Sara

          Yeah, that too. I think given that they do thinking they are "detecting" it's just a little harsh to say

          "Given zero evidence, there is no difference between their beliefs and lies. None!"

          Given the OED definition of a lie as an intentionally false statement, it clearly isn't intentionally false in most cases, and the lack of evidence doesn't make it false. I don't think the hyperbole helps.

          November 5, 2013 at 6:54 am |
        • HotAirAce

          If a scientist was to search for something for many years without success but continued to claim with 100% certainty that it exists, eventually someone would tell the scientist he is crazy or a liar. Believers have been searching for thousands of years for hundreds if not thousands of gods and have no actual evidence for even a single one but continue to claim with 100% certainty that their god(s) exist, often to the exclusion of all other alleged gods, again with 100% certainty. Where's the hyperbole?

          November 5, 2013 at 7:37 am |
        • Sara

          The hyperbole comes from three issues. First, you claim they have no evidence. If god talks to them (as an example) they have evidence. Second, you called them liars (original post). This assumes they are being intentional. Third, you assume they are wrong by calling them liars, you have no persuasive evidence against ALL god beliefs (only specific ones).

          November 5, 2013 at 7:44 am |
        • HotAirAce

          Claiming to hear voices is not evidence – at best it is an unproven experience.

          Claiming to know something with 100% certainty despite having no evidence is lying about the credibility of the claim. If there really is actual evidence for any god, all any believer has to do is quit with the mumbo-jumbo and produce the evidence.

          I did not say they were wrong, in that I did not claim here there are no gods. I believe the probability of there being any gods, especially one that takes a personal interest in us, is virtually zero, but I must allow for the remote possibility that somewhere in the universe there might be a being that matches The Babble's alleged god.

          November 5, 2013 at 8:00 am |
        • Sara

          "Claiming to hear voices is not evidence – at best it is an unproven experience."

          Claiming to hear voices isn't evidence, but hearing them is...though arguably not good evidence. I think you have a misunderstanding about the nature of evidence.

          "Claiming to know something with 100% certainty despite having no evidence is lying about the credibility of the claim."

          First, your original post said nothing about 100% certainty; you added that later. Some have it, some don't. Second, a feeling of certainty is subjective, if they have it, they haveit. They may be wrong, but these terms evolved as language tools to describe human feelings and only later did epistemology develop arguments about it. But OK, lets say you want to use some definition of knowledge like tracked truth and do the same for certainty. You would still have to show an intentional dishonesty to make the person a liar. If a berson believes they hold a true tracked belief and says so, but are wrong, they are not a liar.

          "I did not say they were wrong, in that I did not claim here there are no gods. I believe the probability of there being any gods, especially one that takes a personal interest in us, is virtually zero, but I must allow for the remote possibility that somewhere in the universe there might be a being that matches The Babble's alleged god."

          OK, I will assume you believe only that they are telling intentional falsehoods regarding their level of certainty or the quality of their evidence. So you mean that they don't feel certain and want to pretend they do? Or do you mean they know their evidence is crappy byt are pretending it isn't? I really can't see how in most cases ether of those could be true.

          November 5, 2013 at 8:13 am |
        • Sara

          HotAir,

          "Claiming to hear voices is not evidence – at best it is an unproven experience."

          Just curious, if you ran through a cold building and one room was hot would you accept that as evidence that the heat was on in that room? That there was an undetected fire? That you were having hotflashes or some other medical condition? Because in reality that heat would be evidence for all three.

          November 5, 2013 at 8:16 am |
        • HotAirAce

          I hesitate to label all believers. I'm sure there are some in the world who sincerely believe and don't give much thought to the actual truthfulness of their beliefs. This might even cover the vast majority of believers who simply follow whatever their parents or tribe indoctrinated them in since birth. But the context here is the more rabid believer on this forum that maintains there claims no matter what. In my opinion, they are mentally ill, liars or both.

          With respect to your cold room question, there are methods to distinguish actual environmental changes and physiological symptoms, that regularly lead to the actual cause of what was observed, detected or experienced. Most often this means that some characteristic is measured and can be measured repeatedly, without resorting to "some god did it."

          November 5, 2013 at 8:36 am |
        • Sara

          HotAirAce,

          I certainly agree that many are delusional and a few even liars, but I think we need to be careful with the difference between "Believers are liars" and "Believers are a diverse group containing some delusional folks and a few liars". Lying is intentional so people are aware when they are doing it and telling people they are liars when they know they aren't.is likely to be counter-productive.

          The warm room example was meant as a stand-alone case. You had o ne run throungh the house and can't go back to do measurements. Image it was randomly hit by a falling satellite after you ran through.

          November 5, 2013 at 9:03 am |
        • HotAirAce

          Then my best answer is "I don't know."

          November 5, 2013 at 9:18 am |
        • Sara

          Right, you don't know. But if it were important for some reason to find out your evidence would be logged in favor of all of the above theories. But you still wouldn't know, and might not even believe.

          November 5, 2013 at 9:24 am |
        • Sara

          I think this is a non-trivial issue because humans tend to discount those with conflicting beliefs in just these ways: crazy, greedy, liars, power hungry. It is as important to many atheists to believe that Christians don't have evidence as it is for many Christians to believe that all atheists hate god. But neither is true.

          November 5, 2013 at 9:27 am |
        • HotAirAce

          From Meriam-Webster:

          Full Definition of EVIDENCE

          1
          a : an outward sign : indication
          b : something that furnishes proof : testimony; specifically : something legally submitted to a tribunal to ascertain the truth of a matter
          2
          : one who bears witness; especially : one who voluntarily confesses a crime and testifies for the prosecution against his accomplices

          Believers are good at bearing witness but terrible at furnishing proof. When people bear witness to a crime, including when they confess, the justice system has standards intended to ensure there is proof.

          Go ahead, stretch the definition of evidence, or focus on the word testimony, to mean "whatever someone declares with sincerity" (my paraphrase of what I think you and believers want it to mean) but that does not make it so. When atheists talk about evidence, we don't mean testimony. We mean actual evidence that would stand up under the scientific method or in a court of law. If no such evidence is provide, we remain skeptic.

          "We don't know" is a way more credible answer than "some god did it" especially given zero actual evidence for any god – other than the bleatings of charlatan shamans and their sheep, of course.

          November 5, 2013 at 11:25 am |
        • Sara

          No, that's not how I define the term at all. Read Carnap, Achinstein and a few of the core theorists. Remember, there is no proof in science, only theories strung up around evidence.

          November 5, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          So where is the evidence (actual evidence, not mumbo jumbo and wishful thinking) upon which the theory (*not* used in the scientific sense!) is supposedly strung?

          November 5, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
        • Sara

          It depends on your theory of evidence, and there certainly are competing models, but the objective models don't work because if you claim evidence only is what actually matches the truth conditions you assume that there is some meaningful sense in which we actually know the truth, which we cannot in an absolute sense. Evidence will always be contextualized, at least as we as humans will use the word. What counts as evidence will depend on the observer.

          November 5, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Not according to the scientific method or the judicial system's rules of evidence.

          November 5, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Evidence that theists may have that they hope justifies belief in God brings up something Edmund Gettier pointed out a while back: Think of a pond, part of which is observable, the rest of which is not. On the part that is observable, there are utterly convincing duck decoys. On the part that cannot be observed, there are real ducks. A person seeing the decoys might believe, and be justified in doing so, that there are ducks on the pond. Moreover, since there are real ducks on the pond, that would be justified true belief. Hearing God and feeling God's presence might be sufficient evidence for this kind of faulty justified belief. Not sufficient for someone to claim to know God even if God does exist.

          November 5, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
        • Sara

          The scientific method says nothing about what is or isn't evidence, only what should be used in the practice of science as a field. Most religious folks aren't claiming their evidence from experience reaches those standards (some are, but most are not).

          November 5, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Again you seem to accept subjective descriptions of experiences as evidence. I do not, hence believe most sincerely that believers do not have any actual evidence as that is my experience, therefore my evidence. According to your (low) standard for evidence, my evidence is every bit as valued as a believers.

          November 5, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
        • Sara

          If you experienced a flash of insight of the whole universe and it contained no god, yes. If you just didn't experience a god, no. Either way all these bit of evidence fit as well of better with delusional theories anyway.

          November 5, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
        • drturi

          Please Google "Halloween Suicide Girls Born Witches Dr. Turi" and have a blast! Pass it on if you like it! Check also – Google "Anarchy Coming To America? dr.turi"

          November 5, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          You seem to be confusing the possibility that some god exists with actual evidence. Even I admit there is a possibility that somewhere a god might exist. But there is no objective, factual, independent , verifiable or repeatable evidence that any god exists. All the testimony in the world absent actual evidence is just unfounded mumbo jumbo.

          November 5, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
        • Sara

          "You seem to be confusing the possibility that some god exists with actual evidence."

          No, I'm not. And I challenge you to find any 'evidence' that I am. What we are disagreeing on is what makes up evidence.

          "Even I admit there is a possibility that somewhere a god might exist."

          I would hope so unless you're an idiot which I don't believe you are. We are not debating this at this point.

          "But there is no objective, factual, independent , verifiable or repeatable evidence that any god exists."

          It seems to me that all those adjectives you just used are redundant with your definition of evidence. Go back to the warm room example. You cannot repeat or verify that example. Are you really saying that you have no evidence that the molecules in that room were moving more quickly and that to claim your sensation of warmth as evidence is "mumbo jumbo"?

          November 5, 2013 at 10:28 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Yes, I am. A one-shot observation, unsubstantiated by other or further data is not actual evidence. It might be significant enough to cause further investigation, but unless it is substantiated using an objective method or standard, it remains just that – a one-shot observation that might lead to evidence. And of course, at the risk of being extremely repet!tive, no so-called evidence offered by believers has come close to being actual evidence.

          November 5, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
        • Sara

          HOtAirAce,

          If your choices in the world are scientific evidence or mumbo jumbo with no room for any other evidence you must live a very strange life. Your own memories of most of what you did today for the most part aren't evidence by your standards, but just mumbo jumbo. If you work in medicine and someone tells you they saw auras with their headache, it's not evidence but mumbo jumbo. If you describe an event you witnessed in court there's a good chance it isn't even evidence but mumbo jumbo. I don't think you really appreciate the standards you've set for yourself. I'm not there with you so can't pick examples, but before you even move or type anything ask yourself what beliefs you are holding that allow you to take each move. Then ask why you belive them. Do you have 'reasons'? Are those evidence or mumbo jumbo? If evidence, how many of themmeetyour standard?

          November 6, 2013 at 6:01 am |
        • HotAirAce

          All of your examples can be investigated further, repeatedly, substantiated by additional questions and research, augmented by additional information, investigated by other people, etcetera. Nothing needs to taken on faith. In fact, my perceptions of what I thought I experienced (what I held as a fact or what you might call evidence) might be shown to be completely or partially in error by the actual evidence discovered by myself or others.

          What I use to convince myself of something is up to me – I can set a high rigouress requirement for some decisions or I can be completely frivolous and do things on a whim. When it comes to convincing others, I must meet other's usually higher standard. Except when it comes to religion, where mumbo jumbo gets a free pass.

          November 6, 2013 at 6:28 am |
        • Sara

          TTTOO,

          In your are, why are you calling the justified belief faulty? If seems that would be the case were god to exist but the voices aren't really his voice but something else. First, onto the main point, I would still call it evidence, but faulty. As mentioned earlier with no proofs in science we don't ever know objectively which evidence if non-faulty for a theory so an objective definition makes the word useless.

          But sticking to your example, I think it's only faulty if god exists but you are hearing voices some other way. There remains the possibility someone is, in fact, hearing god's voice.

          November 6, 2013 at 6:34 am |
        • Sara

          The warm room example can't be investigated further. Whether you, eating alone, first ate your beans or your potatoes can't be investigated further. Even what you yourself saw in a crime can't be investigated further. Yet believing them and calling your memory evidence is not mumbo jumbo. It may not be scientific evidence, but it is evidence. I'm going to sign off here because I'm afraid this is like talking to a religious zealot. You will believe what you want to believe because it makes you comfortable and I suspect you can accept the possibility that you are wrong no more than your average fundamentalist can accept the possibility that what they feel is not god. You need to believe in this distinction and I suspect you will continue to believe it calling these religious folks idiots while trusting your own memories and experience. Go for it...it likely doesn't matter in the end.

          November 6, 2013 at 6:42 am |
        • HotAirAce

          Let's see. . . I would have let the discussion end several times except for you responding with a question. I have fully admitted I might be wrong about gods. I have fully admitted my perceptions might be shown to be wrong. I agree that your warm room scenario may not allow additional investigation but then that is a contrived example. In the real world, that is not usually the case. In your example of being a sole witness to a crime, that does not preclude the existence of other evidence and rarely, if ever in a modern country, would the justice system take the unsubstantiated story of a single witness to convict someone. The order I ate various foods in, or similar every day activities, are not usually a significant issue so proving those sorts of things is not usually relevant or required in any meaningful way but if it was, such as if I died without apparent cause, there are methods that might be able to determine that.

          Finally, really, and I don't expect a response, is there any chance that you are equally wedded to your position? Good night/morning and have a nice life. Really!

          November 6, 2013 at 7:08 am |
    • truthprevails1

      I admire Lawrence Krauss and he should be easy for most to understand but LoA chooses to act like the child screaming "I can't hear you"....reality scares him.

      November 4, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
  14. Jake

    Let's get back to the point here: Whether you're religious or not, your religion doesn't belong in a public government meeting. I have never heard any argument that a religious prayer should be allowed in a public government meeting and no one seems to be debating this, so I guess I'll just assume it's obvious to everyone and this is a done deal. Yeah, no more religion in government!

    November 4, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Lawrence of Arabia

      Do you also believe then that the intent of the consti.tution is that the door swings both directions – no more government in the church's business? In other words, the government cannot force pastors to marry gay couples, or violate their beliefs, etc...

      November 4, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        @Lawrence
        Marriage equality is not about forcing particular religions to perform ceremonies that run counter to their ethos.
        Gay marriage has been legal in Canada for over a decade and not a single church has been forced, pressured or otherwise coerced into performing such a rite.
        Marriage is not exlusively the mandate of religion.
        That's why you can go to a court house and get a legally binding, perfectly valid marriage license with absolutely no shamans involved in the process.

        November 4, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Doc,
          I was speaking hypothetically on that specific issue. I cannot say whether there has or has not been any attempt to force pastors to wed same s.ex couples...
          But my point still stands, do you feel that the consti.tution guarentees the right of the government to stay out of the affairs of religion?

          November 4, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
        • yoozyerbrain

          How about, since religious organizations meddle in politics all the time, we remove their tax-exempt status and treat them like the political organizations they actually are?

          November 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
        • Jeff Rome NY

          Where is the government doing that? They're not. No hypothetical here. No one is doing that, because of people who actually understand the Constitution. Unlike the stupid council of Greece, NY.
          The government has NEVER meddled in church affairs, unlike the religions.
          Government should stay out of religion, AND RELIGION SHOULD MOST DEFINITELY STAY OUT OF THE GOVERNMENT.

          November 4, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
      • Science Works

        Remember boys, girls and LOA morals did not come from religions or the bible.

        November 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        Yes Lawrence the gov't cannot force Churches or pastors to marry gay people or even recognize gay marriage as being valid. I will give you an example. The Catholic church does not recognize the divorce of their members unless they approve it. Just because the gov't abolishes the union of marriage in no way requires the Catholic Church to do the same. Gay marriage works the same way, it is a contract recognized by the gov't and is only enforcable by the gov't in the same way that every other marriage is by the gov't.

        November 4, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
        • lol??

          God joins, silly. Not gubmints or churches. Always a lurker usurper slinkin' around somewhere.

          November 4, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          And man should not be able to unjoin what god has joined right? So why don't you protest the gov't disolving marriages?

          November 4, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
      • Lawrence of Arabia

        Then we all agree that due to the recent govt. shutdown where the government told a priest that he was not allowed to carry out his duties (even voluntarily), the government was in violation of the consti.tution.

        November 4, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          There was no qualitative difference between a janitor and a priest when it came to telling government workers they were not to work, even voluntarily.

          November 4, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          But there IS a difference. One is clergy, one is not.

          November 4, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          During the shutdown, people considered to be employees of the Government were prohibited from performing their duties.
          Whether shamans, janitors, secretaries, mail clerks, architects, engineers or stone masons.
          Just becuase someone is part of another guild, that doesn't make them less of a government employee.

          November 4, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Ahh Lawrence, the priest was allowed to do his functions, he just was not allowed on gov't bases, nobody was stopping him from performing elsewhere hence no violation. Also that was a poor bait and switch, not to mention a bit dishonest.

          November 4, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
        • Jeff Rome NY

          Hey, Larry, he was scheduled to start work that day. He never started, so his pastoral duties were not infringed upon. Try a better argument.

          November 4, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        "the government cannot force pastors to marry gay couples, or violate their beliefs" LOL

        You do know that our government has never forced a pastor or a priest to gay marry anyone. No one is being forced to get gay married. The only force being used is that of the religious who have forced their State governments to ban gays from going down to the courthouse and pledging their love to one another as have other couples in every State since their founding.

        It's comments like Larrys that let us peek into the demented brains of believers who not only "believe" in invisible sky daddys but also believe that they are the ones being attacked, their the victims in all of this.

        November 4, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
      • Which God?

        LoA, there has not been any suggestion, by anyone that pastors, churches have to marry anyone that is agaist their doctrine. Some will some won't. The government won't decide, leaving to the churches and pastors. Nice try at throwing in a straw man argument. Government can step into religion if it becomes inherently divisive to the people the goverment is supposed to protect, especially if a religion advocates the overthrow of this country. You can bet they will step in. The consti.tution does NOT protect religion, just say it won't interfere with the practice thereof. Educate yourself.

        November 4, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
      • Just the Facts Ma'am...

        "Then we all agree that due to the recent govt. shutdown where the government told a priest that he was not allowed to carry out his duties (even voluntarily), the government was in violation of the consti.tution."

        Really? Really? This is your argument? A Pentagon priest not able to go into a government building during a furlow? That is your "unconstltutional example? You and your moronic position are a joke Larry, plain and simple.

        November 4, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
      • Thought of the Day

        ' no more government in the church's business?'
        That would insinuate that there is currently some government involvement in church business. Example please.

        November 4, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "That would insinuate that there is currently some government involvement in church business."

          Tax exempt status for Churches...

          And that's where government involvement in Church business ends. I'm all for getting rid of that little perk and then they can say they are totally free of government involvement.

          November 4, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
        • Thought of the Day

          Tax Exempt Status: Inclusion via exclusion?

          November 4, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "Inclusion via exclusion?" Making a special governmental classification for a group based soley on their adherence to some imagined God and giving that group some benefit that the rest of the citizens do not enjoy is being inclusive. It is bending over backwards for the backwards.

          November 4, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
      • Lawrence of Arabia

        So no one read my reply in that I was speaking hypothetically on the "gay marriage" issue. It would be any issue, the specifics don't matter...

        My point is simply that if we repsect the rules going in one direction, then it follows that those same rules go in the other direction. If you agree, then there's no issue.

        Unfortunatley, as certain issues get plucked out of scriptural context and become mainstream in the secular world, our government claims that these are now "secular" or "governmental" issues and churches can no longer speak on them for fear of being accused of propogating "hate speach."

        November 4, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          "It would be any issue, the specifics don't matter..."

          In law, the specifics do matter and they matter very much. You have been unable to provide any example of it going "the other way" as you put it, because there are no examples other than maybe when there was an uproar about the Mosque being built near ground zero or some local governments trying to ban the building of mosques in their area. Otherwise, religion has been given free reign to do as they please. If you are unable to see that you are either blind, dumb or deaf or a combination of the three.

          Secularists on the other hand, have many many examples of religion injecting itself into government, from the pledge, our money, placing hands on the bible in courts and in the Senate and House, sanctioned prayers at government meetings, attempts to inject religious moral views on abortion on everyone else religious or not, even the protection and funding of Israels military is an egregious example of religious opinions making public policy.

          So the long and short of your "hypothetical" argument is that we have tons of examples of religion overstepping its bounds and none of the government doing the same to religion, which is why you use the word "hypothetical" aka "doesn't actually exist, but who knows, maybe Unicorns ride comets around the universe for fun, that too is hypothetical..."

          November 4, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Lawrence, since specifics don't matter let me see if you would be ok with Polygamy for certian religious sects that approve it? And illicit drug use for religious ceremonies?

          November 4, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          What the hell are you talking about Larry, you are not making any sense, not unusual, but start over and articulate the point you have yet to define as yet. Try Larry.

          November 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
        • Jeff Rome NY

          Your reply was absurd; the government will never force a church to marry a gay couple because it doesn't force churches to marry str8 couples.

          Get it? Get that whole equality thing?

          November 4, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
      • Jake

        No, I don't agree with that. The church shouldn't get any special treatment from the government. They should be treated just like any other organization by the government. They shouldn't get special rules in the name of their religion.

        November 4, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
      • Sara

        lol...the US doesn't even require pastors to perform interracial marriages if the object. People say the stupidest things.

        November 5, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
  15. lol??

    The concept of diversity in FUSA has been hijacked by do-gooder mobs and applied it to the one race of man There's a whopper, alright. Daniel shows the Diverse Beast adopted the worst of the preceding kingdoms. Guaranteed slavery.

    November 4, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Jim

      Shut up. It's your Christian mob mentality that threatens the country more than any atheist ever could.

      November 4, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
      • lol??

        Spirit, dude. Body, soul and spirit. Triune, get it?? Little Late on yer threats with 400T of debt. Now there's a whopper of slavery!!

        November 4, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
        • yoozyerbrain

          Body = real. Spirit Soul = fantasy.

          And what does any of it have to do with govt debt? Nothing, it's the interjection of religious fundamentalists into American politics. You are Anti-American lol because you can't get a grip on a secular USA, so you'd rather see it Iranianized right? You S.U.C.K.

          November 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
        • lol??

          Iran hates Bibles. The CIC does too. What are YOU complaining about. You got yer mob leader runnnin' things.

          November 4, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
        • yoozyerbrain

          So an anti-American racist fundamentalist christian attack on the president lol? The president that DIDN'T ruin the economy, allow the worst terrorist attack in history, lie us into wars etc, the one trying to get health care to the poor- oh that's right you hate the poor cuz they are all lazy-wwjd?...you and the rest of.the looney right has no credibility and I'm NOT a leftist. You are NOT an American.

          November 4, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  16. Bootyfunk

    Rebecca wrote:
    "On the contrary. A Christian can ask a good questions, and atheists are the ones who want to IGNORE them, sweeping them under the rug."

    such as?

    November 4, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Rebecca

      It would be impractical to go through hundreds of pages.
      I would need to charge you by the hour.

      November 4, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
      • Bootyfunk

        you're avoiding the question.
        you made a bold assertion.
        i'm not asking for every single example
        just one.

        so what is ONE question that atheists ignore and refuse to answer?

        protip: the time you took in your last post to avoid the answer could have been used to actually answer.

        November 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
      • Jake

        Just one example would be nice. Obviously, there aren't any – that's sort of the point of being an atheist. We're ok with questions that don't currently have an answer.

        November 4, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
      • ?

        Tricks are for an hour, good on you, Rebecca.

        November 4, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
      • Bootyfunk

        rebecca, you there?

        can you give one example?

        just one?

        i have to go pick my car up, but i'm sure my fellow non-believers will supply an answer for you to whatever query you put forth.

        November 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        Here is a good question that I have never gotten a reasonable answer to by a Christian Rebecca.

        Why would it be considered ethical for a god to reward and punish people based on belief?

        November 4, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • seriously?

      Rebecca is a troll...seriosly, no one could be that stupid. It is faith/ hharri. DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS.

      November 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  17. Rebecca

    Why does the Big Bang sound like magic?

    November 4, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      because you aren't well-versed on the subject.

      November 4, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
      • Rebecca

        Here's your chance to explain it to me, proving how well-versed you are.

        November 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          it's a complex subject not easily explain in a few sentences.
          if you want to discuss the subject, you should first learn something about it.
          go to this website and read, then come back and we can have a discussion:
          http://www.big-bang-theory.com/

          and here's a great video to help explain:
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLBoV_NYi_k

          November 4, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
        • Rebecca

          Thank you. I will take a few minutes to watch it.

          (Awaiting comment like "With a brain like yours, it's more like a few DAYS! hahahahahaha!)

          November 4, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
        • Just the Facts Ma'am...

          We have actual evidence leading us all the way back to the singularity that exploded into what we believe to be our known universe. However, we do not know what was there before. We also know that energy is neither destroyed nor created but just moved from one form to another which should lead one to conclude that all the energy in the universe may have always existed in some form, possibly the dark energy we are now just scratching the surface of. If this massive amount dark energy, possibly stored in between the very fabric of our reality, hit some tipping point where all the energy was focused on a single point, a single tear, a singularity if you will, creating what we now are able to observe and track back to its point of origin, it would answer all those questions of where did matter come from. The answer would be its always been here, it just didn't look like anything you might consider matter. No magic genie in a bottle, invisible sky daddy or grand creator deity is needed to explore and understand our wonderous universe.

          November 4, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
        • Bootyfunk

          "(Awaiting comment like "With a brain like yours, it's more like a few DAYS! hahahahahaha!)"
          +++ you're making another bad assumption that we think you're stupid. we don't. you sound like a reasonably intelligent person. it's not that we think you're stupid - we think you're brainwashed. it shows how powerful religoius brainwashing is. even intelligent people are not immune. btw, i don't mean this offensively. i'm giving you an honest rebuttal to your assumption that we think you have a lack of brain power.

          November 4, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Yeah, cool, just the facts, energy = the power of God. Amen.

          November 4, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          @Robert
          G=MC2?

          November 4, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          If energy = the power of god..... you are a Sun worshipper right?

          November 4, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
        • Science Works

          Robert

          The Atom bomb, how many electrons in a hydrogen atom ?

          Big Energy !

          November 4, 2013 at 4:34 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Isn't "magic" your answer to the origin of the universe?
      "Goddidit" is semantically equivalent to "abracadabra"

      November 4, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      'Magic'? Nah..... that's not 'magic'. It's just remarkable. Y'know what's really magic? Humans in communion with a super-being that created all of reality. Oh, and reality was created in just 6 days. Then the super-being got tired and rested on a 7th day. And threatened to kill people on the 7th day.

      Go figure.

      November 4, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  18. Rebecca

    It's illogical to conclude that I'm concluding that God did it when there could be another explanation.
    It's the either-or fallacy.
    See what I mean? All the time, supposedly logical people are making fallacies of logic in this blog,
    and yet they want to claim some kind of intellectual superiority. Sounds kind of hypocritical to me 🙂

    November 4, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • seriously?

      Beats trolling by forwarding false presumptions and fasle, illogical post trying to cause an emotional reaction.
      Too obviuos faith...far too obvious

      November 4, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • Jake

      I'm not sure if your post is illogical, but it's definitely incoherent.

      November 4, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • ME II

      @rebecca,
      Wasn't this your question?

      "Why isn't matter good enough proof of God's existence?"

      Isn't that sufficient to conclude that you think God did it?

      November 4, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
      • Rebecca

        It could be, but it's not.

        November 4, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
        • ME II

          huh?

          November 4, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      bad example.
      by your posts, it's obvious you are pushing the religious agenda.
      stop playing coy.
      you're not as slick or witty as you think.
      do you have a better example of a fallacy?

      November 4, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Are you not implying by your question that "god did it"? If you are not, explain the point of your question.

      November 4, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  19. lol??

    Luk 18:8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

    November 4, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      jesus ain't coming back. if he existed at all, he was just a man, not the son of an almighty sky deity. silly to think people can come back from the dead.

      have you been watching "The Walking Dead"?

      protip: it's a good show, but it's fiction.

      November 4, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • Jake

      Jake 11-4: Who cares what some ridiculous book of fiction says?

      November 4, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  20. lol??

    Adam and Eve had a great beginning. FUSA did , too.

    November 4, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      Sorry the original Eve should get little credit being rather stupid conversing with talking snakes/serpents and was thrown under the bus by Eve the Second, Noah's wife who was the mother of all people if you believe the flood story and then the Virgin Mary comes along and grabs a lot of dubious praise being that she had a couple of sons, tricky being a virgin with all the action she must of had.

      November 4, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
      • yoozyerbrain

        Ya'll are forgetting that Eve WASN'T the first woman. Lilith was the first woman and Adam didn't lilke her cuz she was into being equal, girl on top, and all of that. So Lillith was shunted aside for someone more, uh, pliable to the old men that wrote it all down...

        Darned anti-theists know the Babble better than the christyans...

        November 4, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Average Jo

      What does that bank have to do with religion?

      November 4, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.