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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. pay your taxes, leaches

    based on christian and muslim history,, their behavior stinks. Who knows what the future terrors these groups will have.

    They can keep their god but go back into caves with him.

    November 6, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • lol??

      Where did you come up with cave condos?? Your rent will be the real estate taxes as usual. Property rights, HA.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  2. sly

    People seriously think there is some fat white man sitting in the clouds? I've flown a bunch, and I guarantee there ain't no big fat white man sitting in the clouds.

    Seriously – some magical big guy looks down on us all the time? He sits there sewing tiny wings on tiny insects?

    Seriously – do you believe in ghosts and goblins also? Trolls? Unicorns? Santa Claus?

    Man ... not sure what kinda drugs many of y'all were taking when growing up ... but some magical fat white man? Wow!

    November 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • Ficken Falschung

      Trolls are real we see them on the CNN boards everyday.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  3. I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

    they will beg god to off them and they won't be able to die

    November 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      You must really like me. I'm flattered.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  4. Hmmm

    Better stop using any money then as it's clearly only for Christians with "In God we trust" being printed on each bill.

    November 6, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • ME II

      @Hmmm,
      Ummm, why do Christians use money at all?

      November 6, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Anybody with any respect for secularism would support the removal of 'In Yahweh We Trust' from our currency.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • thinkb4speaking

      What if I only have case that was minted prior to 1954, can I use it?

      November 6, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
      • thinkb4speaking

        sorry, "cash"

        November 6, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
      • Elliott Carlin

        I would–it has a lot more purchasing power than the Bush-Obama bucks they are pumping into the system every month.

        November 6, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      It only takes a good pen (nice big fat Sharpie is best) to correct the bullsh!t on US currency, then we're good to go.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
      • edwardst35

        Suck on the pen and maybe it has poisonous ink in it and then we all will be happy.

        November 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Fuck You! But I do wish you a long miserable life.

          November 6, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
      • PachinoCappachino

        Defacing U.S. currency is against the law....I love how folks are supposed to be tolerant towards everyone but a few vocal elitist people want to change things because only their opinions and belief systems are valid. Put the issue to a vote..if you lose then you lost. Over end of story. No whining, no appealing just deal with it.

        November 6, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
        • Please.

          Do some research... defacing US currency is only illegal if it's for fraudulent purposes.

          November 6, 2013 at 12:32 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          A vote only encourages the majority to oppress the minority. Let the court system do its job. Oh, it already has and the christians lost round one. Waaaa!

          November 6, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
        • thinkb4speaking

          "... but a few vocal elitist people want to change things because only their opinions and belief systems are valid."
          You just described how "In God We Trust' ended up on our currency in the first place, but I do not recall any vote having taken place.

          November 6, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Katie

      Something that was legislated by a paranoid Congress during the height of the fear of Communism in this country in the middle of the 20th century. Prior to that everything thought e pluribus unum (out of many, one) was the perfect statement to be placed on the money of a country founded on freedom of, for, and from religion.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  5. AverageJoe76

    Sorry, I thought this was a good point. So I'm playing it twice:

    OH.... and here's the kicker; God kills scores of people in the Bible for little stuff in comparison to what Adam and Eve did (they kinda kickstart the entire 'man's a sinner' era) so why not just destroy TWO people, redesign the Garden of Eden to not have a Tree of Naughty and Nice within the boarders, and create another 'Adam' - y'know... start all over and do it better?

    Kinda what he does LATER with an entire world via flood....

    my fault..... I somebody left the door open, and common sense crept in. "Shooo! Common sense! Shooo! Shooo!"

    November 6, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Elliott Carlin

      way to go Joe...I'll bite.

      You have a fairly simplistic view of the whole account, but being that you are 'average joe', it stands to reason. If you had perfection in every way, then it would seem deviation from that would be torment enough. Now pain in child-bearing, now working for bread from the sweat of your brow....thorns in the ground. It is all part of the curse. Murders, perversions, etc etc all stem from that. Perhaps you'd like to be known as the person who did something that now enslaves all mankind? not me.

      Now, lets ask you a question--where does our morality come from? Please don't say society or the individual. C. Dick Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss, both noted atheists, take very kind views toward pedophilia and incest. Do you really want a society like that? I'll take the last 2000 years of Western Civilization any day.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
      • Steven

        Our morality comes from everywhere we can be influenced. Not just the Holy Babble.

        November 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
      • AverageJoe76

        Sounds like you're saying that God had to follow a specific plan because of all the spin-off that's 'needed' after original sin took hold. And correct me if I'm wrong, everything WAS perfect before original sin, so the 'deviation' was breaking the rule that kept original sin at bay. So your tie-in to enslaving mankind... I'm utterly confused by that. And if God couldn't make provisions to keep the world from original sin, Iit would seem that he has a gap in power. Which isn't the God I normally imagine when we speak on this topic.

        November 6, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  6. Alex

    As much as atheists would like, they can't prove God doesn't exist, so quit trying. If you don't want to believe, you don't have to. Just because you're insecure, doesn't mean you have to try to bring others down with you. It's better to believe in God and be wrong than not believe in him and be wrong.

    November 6, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Pascal's wager is, well, quaint.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:58 am |
      • Sara

        Isn't the silliness of Pascal's wager something explained to college freshman over beers? How are there still adults out there who don't get something this simple?

        November 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Maddy

      And you can't prove he does. Stalemate.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:58 am |
      • Chip

        Exactly, so why can't we as a "civilized" country just let each other practice our own faiths and quit whining when they overlap?

        November 6, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
        • Maddy

          I agree. Also, keep prayer out of government functions.

          November 6, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Well Duh

      You better submit to Allah or you're going to hell.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • AverageJoe76

      You should believe in ALL the gods then. You don't want to miss the correct one, by mistake.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Jake

      You incorrectly imply that belief is a choice. It is not. I couldn't believe in god even if I did agree with your logic (aka Pascal's wager), because I just don't believe it. There's too much evidence showing that the bible is completely inaccurate and besides, the concept of a god doesn't leave me with any fewer questions around how the universe came to be.

      There is also the idea that since I don't believe in god, through no fault or choice of my own, even if there is a god he would likely prefer that I be true to what I believe rather than spend my life pretending to believe in something I don't. I'm confident that living a life of dishonesty would be much worse in the eyes of a god than living a honest life as an atheist.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Mike

      What if there's a God but he punishes people for believing in him because he's a sociopath? In that case wouldn't it be better to disbelieve in God and be wrong?

      November 6, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • WilltheFree

      It is also better to believe in Zeus than to not to. You don't have to believe in him, but that's your insecurity speaking.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I'm sure there are atheists devoted to proving that gods, or perhaps your God, do not exist. There are also atheists that, rather than believing that gods do not exist, have no beliefs concerning gods. To such people it's really up to you to bring up your God with sufficient evidence for it to merit consideration. Have you ever succeeded in doing that? Compelling someone to take up the question of the nonexistence of your God?

      November 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • sybaris

      Belief is not truth, if it were there would be only one religion, one god.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • x1plus1x

      It's better to believe in Zeus and be wrong than not believe in him and be wrong.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • thinkb4speaking

      "As much as atheists would like, they can't prove God doesn't exist, so quit trying" – How does one prove a negative?

      "t's better to believe in God and be wrong than not believe in him and be wrong." – Please, Pascal's Wager is getting old. If that is your reason for belief in a god, then it is a very flimsy one.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • edwardst35

      They apparently believe in and some practice Wicca which is also a form of religion of sorts.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Sara

      Believe in the wrong god and you might really be pis.sing someone off.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • Xela

      As much as Christians would like, they can't prove Zeus doesn't exist, so quit trying. If you don't want to believe, you don't have to. Just because you're insecure, doesn't mean you have to try to bring others down with you. It's better to believe in Zeus and be wrong than not believe in him and be wrong.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
  7. Dez

    Get a place of worship! Sheesh! I don't care what folks do in the privacy of their own homes or places of worship but they don't need to be all in people's faces with it. Public displays of religion is real tacky and needs to stay behind closed doors. Gross!

    November 6, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      They can pray in parks and stuff to their heart's content, that doesn't bother me. I always let out a giggle when I see street preachers. Still though, it is tacky.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:58 am |
  8. I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

    There's a fake me hovering about the place. Be vigilant.

    November 6, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Well Duh

      Will the real I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that please stand up.

      Ah, raise your hand?

      Ah, forget it.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Mark

      Oh, we know, Dave. "Faith" strikes again.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  9. sly

    Allah is God. The only God.

    Praise Allah – He will deliver your lost Christian souls to Heaven, to meet the Great God Allah.

    November 6, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Rob

      Krack Killz Brane Sells

      November 6, 2013 at 11:57 am |
      • HotAirAce

        Rob Ford, is that you?

        November 6, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Tucker Jones

      I believe saying God Allah is a bit redundant. Literally saying God God

      November 6, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  10. That other guy

    Greece, NY is definitely not a Christian town. Trust me, i neighbor it.

    November 6, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Katie

      What does that have to do with anything? No town is 'Christian' – that would basically mean everyone in it follows the same religion and all its laws and policies are based on Christian laws only.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:54 am |
      • Maddy

        Which is precisely the problem that is before the SC.

        November 6, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
        • Please.

          Hardly. Please go back and read again...

          November 6, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Is Greece NY where all the good christians from surrounding towns go on play after dark? I've been to three mormon weddings and in every case one or more of the shamans wanted to know where the after party was, and not so they could shut it down. . .

      November 6, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Well Duh

      I think Greece, NY should pay homage to all the Greek gods before public meetings.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:58 am |
  11. Doris

    How is it that the issue of separation of church and state became so important that it needed to be addressed in the very 1st amendment to the Consti-tution?

    Oh yeah, that's right, fundy Xtians were feuding with one another in many places at the time.

    "Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth." -Thomas Jefferson

    November 6, 2013 at 11:46 am |
  12. Guy

    Well at least religion doesn't dictate policy

    November 6, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Charm Quark

      Not for the lack of trying. If the SCOTUS gets a little more Evangelical Christian watch for an attack on Roe vs Wade.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm |
  13. Anon

    i'd like to see how that group of people would react if an atheist came up during that 'open house for prayers' and gave a short speech about why they didn't believe before every meeting.
    I bet any money the opening prayers would be canceled then right quick and in a hurry,

    November 6, 2013 at 11:44 am |
  14. humtake

    Athiests have quickly become the whiniest group of people. I'm not a religious person, but I can't stand hearing them whine and cry all day about things OTHER people do. These people aren't oppressing them or enslaving them. They are bowing their heads, closing eyes, and talking. Whether or not there is anything listening to them is speculation, but having to whine and cry about them doing this all the time is annoying. I'm much more willing to have the occasional JW knock on my door every few months than I am to having to listen to Athiests whine whine whine...

    November 6, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Billy

      "and talking"

      there's the problem. If it were a moment of silence that would be another thing – and in the end a waste of time, which it all is anyway, right?

      November 6, 2013 at 11:49 am |
      • Jason

        Yeah, damn, that must severely hurt you waiting a few moments while they pray. And it's not a waste of time to them so why don't you just be respectful and tolerant of others beliefs and shut it.

        November 6, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
        • Richard Cranium

          Because it is inappropriate. Why don't people come prepared to do the business of government, pray BEFORE the meeting so we can get started.

          Why do you think it is appropriate to waste everyone's time with beliefs? Do you have a moment of silence at your workplace, or before a class? Of Course not, because it is not church. Neither is government. It is inappropriate to think your religion belings as part of any official process.

          November 6, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
        • religion; a way to control the weak minded

          because my tax dollars do not go toward your time to pray to a man made god.

          November 6, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • CueBallSTL

      Then you wouldn't mind if every time you walked into your bank, they would say "We need to praise Allah before we conduct business together"?

      November 6, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Psuede

      Strange that this same atheist you say is whining about herself is also sticking up for her Jewish friend. Did you even read the article?

      November 6, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Douglas

      Stop proselytizing and shoving your fairy tales down our collective throats and we'll stop whining. Fair enough?

      November 6, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • HotAirAce

      So asking the government to respect the const!tution is now officially whining. That ought to shut a few people up!

      November 6, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      humtake
      How about at the start of your church services we begin with this...

      "welcome everyone to (insert church name here), before we get started there is a zoning issue we need to discuss"

      Not appropriate to bring govt business to your church, it is not appropriate to bring your church to govt business.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • ME II

      @humtake,
      I don't care if "others" pray, but I don't want to be subjected to it by my own government.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Jason

      Very well said. Case in point look at the people that have replied. I heard a guy say once I'd rather be Christian just for the fact that I'd rather be wrong then turning into one of these whining d-bag atheist.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm |
    • SurelyUjest

      As a non-Christian living in a mostly Christian communiity I still hear Christians whine all the time that they are being persecuted and tested like Job. Atheists are no more whinny than Jews, Christians, Muslims etc...when they get their collective dandur up.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:15 pm |
  15. Bonnie

    This woman could wait outside the door until prayer is finished ! Why are the others rights being taken away so this woman can have rights? I will never ever understand that. I believe in prayer in public places but that's been going by the wayside for decades. My rights are violated when the courts rule on these issues against me. These people get to have rights at the expense of mine ??? Can somebody help me out here? It really is that simple you know.

    November 6, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • sarahcathleen2006

      I can ask you the same question. Why are her rights being taken away just so they can have theirs. Is the prayers necessary?

      November 6, 2013 at 11:44 am |
      • MommaDee

        Are these prayers really necessary? I guess that depends on how successful you'd like your nation to be. And why are the atheists still accepting money that says "One Nation Under God" right on it? Seems like they should avoid our money and our government in general, really. This nation was founded on God, and you can bet your boots it will stay that way by my and grandma's prayers.

        November 6, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
        • Sara

          "And why are the atheists still accepting money that says "One Nation Under God" right on it? Seems like they should avoid our money and our government in general, really."

          Really, so you think an atheist small business owner should choose poverty over using money with a statement on it with which he doesn't agree? Would you also like Christians to refuse medical help at the ER if it turns out their surgeon is an outspoken atheist? Way to make up other people's ethics to suit your needs.

          November 6, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • ME II

      @Bonnie,
      "Why are the others rights being taken away so this woman can have rights?"

      Their rights wouldn't be taken away. The individuals can pray all they want, but the government can't endorse a religion. No one has the right to government support of their religion over any others, i.e. equal treatment or none at all.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • thinkb4speaking

      What rights of yours are being violated if public prayer is removed from Greece's town hall meetings?

      November 6, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Bonnie
      You do not have the right to practice your religion in inappropriate places.
      If you take a moment of silence everyday at your workplace, your boss would fire you for inappropriate use of company time.
      Government business is conducted at these meetings, why do you think practicing your religion is appropriate at a business meeting?

      November 6, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  16. nashmortis1

    The thing that I like the most about the article is just how christian the people are that vandalize her home and property. Very christian of them. Very christian.

    November 6, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • James

      I'm seeing quite the opposite these days. It's the Christians who mocked, vandalized, and treated with intolerant behavior by these supposed 'tolerant intellectual elite'

      November 6, 2013 at 11:48 am |
      • Sara

        "See" whatever you want, but with a 1:4 atheist/agnostic to protestant hate crime ratio

        http://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/hc2009/victims.html

        in a 1:10 population ratio country (Pew) we have the figures to see who is disproportionately attacked. Christians just aren't used to criticism and so have thin skins.

        November 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
      • Maddy

        Bull. Your persecution complex is deep.

        November 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • Katie

      Christians are known for some very unChristian behaviors – they shun those who don't adhere to their idea of faith; they help spread innuendoes and lies through whisper campaigns and gossip; they pour obscene amounts of money into campaigns that would enact rules to deny other people basic humane treatment; they don't want to care for the children, the sick or the poor or the elderly; the justify their hatred and their persecution of others on Old Testament writings; they show contempt and even hatred toward other religions. Christians are some of the most intolerant, self-righteous people in this country.

      November 6, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
      • Michael

        Christians are people not unlike any other person. Some happen to believe in the tenants of their faith and others do not. Some work to adhere and live the christian life and others try and fail and some only care about being part of the tradition they were raised. To paint all christians in any stroke is to do the same to any group for any reason or rationalization. All people are racist, bigoted, and they stereotype and discriminate and one who deeply practices their christian faith understand this and accept it within themselves and seek to stamp it out. As can bee seen, there is no group within which all members are, or have been successful in doing this. It all boils down to human nature, Christian and non-Christian alike. With that said, there are some wonderful benefits the Christian faith has bestowed upon. With the good comes the bad and with the bad comes good. Just how it is I suppose.

        November 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  17. AverageJoe76

    Even if Jesus were real, I don't see how the conservative evangelicals follow people who Jesus would obviously detest. [my fault -he loves everyone – especially the ones he'll send to hades]

    Megachurch pastors. Corporations. Exploiting the cross as a symbol. Rush Limbaugh.

    Why is it that your average atheist is probably more informed about Christianity than christians?

    November 6, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • Jake

      Christians don't know much about their religion because they're afraid to look to closely and risk realizing how insane it is.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:43 am |
      • Bonnie

        True ignorance making a statement like that Jake the Fake.

        November 6, 2013 at 11:46 am |
        • Jake

          Ok, tell me then. What is your theory as to why so many Christians know so little about their religion?

          To me, it seems pretty clear that the more you look at it, the less likely you'll be able to believe it. Therefore, you end up being an atheist that knows more about Christianity than those who remain Christians. If you have a better theory, I'm all ears.

          November 6, 2013 at 11:49 am |
        • religion; a way to control the weak minded

          LOL only the truly ignorant and arrogant will claim absolutely that their god is the one true god with ZERO proof. Congrats and being willfully ignorant and arrogant.

          PS the bible was written be MEN not a god. Sorry 😦 <---sad face

          November 6, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Bonnie

      Jesus doesn't send anyone to Hades. That is your choice. He would rather you be part of the flock and go to Heaven.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:45 am |
      • AverageJoe76

        If he designed the thing, he creates the situation in which it has to work. Therefore, since God created Hades, he fully knew every situation into which someone would fall into it.

        OH.... and here's the kicker; God kills scores of people in the Bible for little stuff in comparison to what Adam and Eve did (they kinda kickstart the entire 'man's a sinner' era) so why not just destroy TWO people, redesign the Garden of Eden to not have a Tree of Naughty and Nice within the boarders, and create another 'Adam' --- y'know... start all over and do it better?

        Kinda what he does LATER with an entire world via flood....

        my fault..... I somebody left the door open, and common sense crept in. "Shooo! Common sense! Shooo! Shooo!"

        November 6, 2013 at 11:56 am |
      • Well Duh

        Stalin does not send anyone to the Gulag.
        It is those who have hardened their hearts against him who send themselves to the Gulag through their bourgoise atti/tudes and counter-revolutionary actions.
        This was not Stalin's plan at all. He truly wants everyone to go to the Worker's Paradise and it grieves him that so many harden their hearts against him.
        But he will not force anyone into the Worker's Paradise against their wishes. He respects their free will.
        If you don't want to go to the Gulag, just open your heart to the love of Stalin.

        November 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
      • Richard Cranium

        bonnie
        Odin wants you to die in glorious battle so you can join him in Valhalla....what is your point?

        November 6, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  18. sirhuxley

    Next case on the Docket?

    Removing the Tax Free Status of Christian Churches and repeal of the Faith Based initiative.

    Need more proof of the Christian Agenda?

    November 6, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Carl

      Go ahead...don't come crying when tragedy strikes though...

      November 6, 2013 at 11:38 am |
      • religion; a way to control the weak minded

        LOL because the church would have to pay taxes? are you a r3tard by chance? Or just a fear mongering POS?

        November 6, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Elliott Carlin

      I am a Christian and see this coming as well. But I don't see it as much as persecution as I do the governments desire to close down all charity-based organizations so that the government is the sole 'hand-out'. This is the pre-text for more taxing on those who produce and more dependency by those who don't.

      That isn't Christian...that sounds more like survival of the fittest-

      November 6, 2013 at 12:21 pm |
  19. 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.

    Some examples of the futility of praying: Lourdes and Fatima

    Even the RCC is very skeptical about the hallucinations at Lourdes and Fatima i.e. no requirement that RCs even need to believe in them.

    And you don't find it odd that the virgin only appears to the very impressionable and uneducated ??

    "Faith or pharmacy?

    http://student.bmj.com/issues/02/02/life/33.php

    It is interesting to compare the number of cures recognised before and after the establishment of the medical bureau in 1947. The ratio of cures to sick pilgrims before 1914 was 1:100. From 1914 to 1928 it was 1:700, but from 1928 to 1947 it was 1:1600. In all, 5000 cures were claimed before 1947. From 1947 to 1990, only 1000 cures were claimed and only 56 were recognised in that time, averaging 1.3 cures a year, against 57 a year before 1914.

    It can be inferred from this that medicine has transformed society and the faithful sick no longer came to Lourdes for a cure but rely on medicine. Since the 1960s we have seen a consistent decline in the number of possible cures claimed. The doctors working in the medical bureau have presented philosophical problems in serving both science and the church. As we make progress in medical knowledge, the area of the medically inexplicable grows smaller and deciding that treatments did not play a part in a cure is more difficult. Medical progress has, in a way, threatened the church for which miraculous healings were supreme in the worldly manifestation of faith. "

    November 6, 2013 at 11:35 am |
    • Robert Brown

      2 Kings 20

      King James Version (KJV)

      1 In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.

      2 Then he turned his face to the wall, and prayed unto the Lord, saying,

      3 I beseech thee, O Lord, remember now how I have walked before thee in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight. And Hezekiah wept sore.

      4 And it came to pass, afore Isaiah was gone out into the middle court, that the word of the Lord came to him, saying,

      5 Turn again, and tell Hezekiah the captain of my people, Thus saith the Lord, the God of David thy father, I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the Lord.

      6 And I will add unto thy days fifteen years; and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of Assyria; and I will defend this city for mine own sake, and for my servant David's sake.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:43 am |
      • sybaris

        Look everybody! Robert Brown whipped out some Bible verses!!

        It's so funny when Christards do that. It's like watching an 8 year old try to stab you with their invisible sword

        November 6, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Michael

      how do you know?

      November 6, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        The statistics speak for themselves.

        November 6, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  20. And Jesus said

    If you don't like how someone disrespects your one and only religion, the following of me, loot and vandalize their property and send them nasty notes threatening them harm.. it IS the Christ like way of doing things.

    November 6, 2013 at 11:33 am |
    • James

      No, that's the 'popular' way to dealing with those who are different. Christianity is no longer popular. We are quickly creating a very intolerant society under the banner of tolerance.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:50 am |
      • Maddy

        Untrue, and your defense of the intolerance shown to other religions and atheists is telling.

        November 6, 2013 at 12:11 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.