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. bostontola

    An August 15, 1789 entry in Madison’s papers indicates he intended for the establishment clause to prevent the government imposition of religious beliefs on individuals. The entry says: “Mr. Madison said he apprehended the meaning of the words to be, that Congress should not establish a religion, and enforce the legal observation of it by law, nor compel men to worship God in any manner contrary to their conscience....”

    "I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their "legislature" should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and State." Thomas Jefferson.

    November 2, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Doris


      "Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together."

      "The Civil Govt, tho' bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, possesses the requisite stability and performs its functions with complete success, Whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the Priesthood, & the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the Church from the State."

      Madison as president vetoed two bills that he believed would violate the separation of church and state. He also came to oppose the long-established practice of employing chaplains at public expense in the House of Representatives and Senate on the grounds that it violated the separation of church and state and the principles of religious freedom. (See Library of Congress – James Madison Papers – Detached memorandum, ca. 1823.)

      November 2, 2013 at 11:33 am |
      • bostontola

        From http://www.archives.gov:

        Q. Who was called the "Father of the Consti tution"?
        A. James Madison, of Virginia, because in point of erudition and actual contributions to the formation of the Consti tution he was preeminent.

        Madison is also considered the father of the 1st Amendment. I'd pay more attention to that than most other's with an opinion.

        November 2, 2013 at 11:49 am |
        • Doris

          Madison submitted 19 amendments to the Const-tution which were trimmed down to 12 by the senate. The states ratified 10 of the 12 fairly quickly which of course became known as the Bill of Rights. One of the two from the twelve that the states did not ratify right away eventually was ratified (1992) and became our most recent Amendment (#27).

          November 2, 2013 at 11:56 am |
        • bostontola

          There is a strong argument that our Const itutional Democracy wouldn't have survived without his leadership.

          November 2, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
        • Doris

          I think that's a valid argument. Some go as far as saying it should be "Madison, D.C." Evidently he started off as quite the little hothead in terms of securing voting power for Virginia and Washington was supposedly able to calm him down to compromise.

          November 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      The flaw I see in the establishment clause lies in how it does not protect religious minorities, including people of no religion, from the effects of the free exercise of religion by a majority or relative majority. A Christian Party could organize and seek to enforce not their religion, but perhaps all of the elements of morality dictated by their religion.

      November 2, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
      • Doris

        Do you think, Tom, that court decisions pertaining to the establishment clause, that mostly seem to extend its application, have been a logical answer to such a flaw?

        November 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
      • bostontola

        People always seek to impress their morality into law, that is the political process. While your theoretical concern is interesting, it hasn't manifested yet. I would speculate that it won't either. The trend of religions seem to be fractionation into sects as people seek power. That is the foundational weakness of religious systems with strict hierarchies. Even the Catholic Church in the US is different than other places. Their power is diminishing in educated countries, not strengthening. The fundamental difference between the US governmental system and the various religious systems is our architecture separates power, religions concentrate power. Religious power structures are throwbacks to Monarchial systems, they are quite inferior and will fail eventually in my opinion.

        November 2, 2013 at 12:25 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Unfortunately religious groups are quite active now even if they are declining. A large social change, brought about by a severe economic collapse, for example, could make them attractive as centers of security and, consequently, political power.

          November 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
        • bostontola

          Agreed. I hope educated people stay active in their political selections.

          November 2, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        I think the courts have been effective to an extent, but they are criticised for "legislating from the bench" when they are effective. Conservative administrations seek to restrain them by appointing people that they deem strict constructionists – people they hope will not extend the application of things like the establishment clause.

        November 2, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
        • lol??

          You just luv yer neigbor's stuff as yer own.

          November 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  2. Dean

    How many of you people remember the school shootings and mass murders that happened in 1956 when we had prayers in school and before most public events. You know, before we removed God from our public lives.

    November 2, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • midwest rail

      When contemporary evangelical Christians make the assertion of "removing God", what they really mean is that their version of God and prayer are no longer favored above all others. They lead the world in turning people off from Christianity.

      November 2, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • Doris

      I didn't do the math, but it certainly seems like the numbers from the linked page below are not inconsistent with population growth.


      November 2, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • Human-being

      You mean 1956 when we put God into pledge of allegiance and on our coins?

      November 2, 2013 at 11:24 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by Dean is proximal to the Non Causa Pro Causa fallacy.


      November 2, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Please see....


      November 2, 2013 at 11:30 am |
    • ivan

      Jesus said praying in public is for hypocrites

      November 2, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • Observer


      How many assault weapons were out in the public then?

      November 2, 2013 at 11:53 am |
      • tallulah13

        I think Dean was hoping that no one actually made that connection.

        November 2, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • ironman59

      Would that also be the same timeframe that religion added "gawd" to a secular pledge of alliegience? Maybe the same time southern states started adding "stars & bars" to their flag to show their k-l-a-m leanings? Your revisionist view of history is absurd. Religion does not belong in secular government. We The People are taking our government back from your religion – get use to it.

      November 2, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
      • lol??

        Sassy steak. Strike that. Sassy hot dog from Frankfurt.

        November 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm |
    • Lenny Pincus

      It is startling that you think removing teacher-conducted prayer from the classroom is a crucial reason for school assaults and ignore the gun flood. Are you blind?

      November 2, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Your god is pretty weak if laws keep him out of buildings.

      November 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      You mean God is, what? Sulking? So people aren't supernaturally protected as they were in the 1950s?

      November 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • tallulah13

      The most destructive attack on a school in this country came in 1927. Forty-five people were killed when a former school board member bombed the new school in Bath, Michigan. He was upset because his farm was foreclosed, in part because of the taxes raised to pay for the new school.

      November 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Can you show conclusive cause and effect? Don't think so. Can't you show that your god is/was actually listening and has changed its behavior because of prayer or the lack thereof? Don't think so. Can you show that some other god isn't messing with your god? Don't think so. Are you just a blithering delusional believer idiot po'd because your unwarranted special status is disappearing? Think so!

      November 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • Stevelb1

      Actually the homicide rate in the US is the same now as it was in the 1950's. Not sure the pray in school theory holds water.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  3. Religious Guy

    Be very fair....allow all prayers and service – Christians, Muslims, Hindu, Buddhists, Sikhs, Wiccan, Atheism, etc etc. Let each religion get 30 mins of prayer/service. Only after that should any meeting be conducted. I uess it would be couple of hours of prayers. Atheist leader can give service of Atheism where the speaker can speak about Atheism. Allow all.

    November 2, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • lol??

      Actually the kids should be separated by s*e*x*. All that familiarity inbred contempt.

      November 2, 2013 at 11:02 am |
      • DaVide

        Not going to happen, Monk.

        November 2, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Charm Quark

      I once was part of a delegation to the Legislature of Ontario, Canada and was surprised that they rotated prayers from all of the main religions practiced in the state. So one day you may hear a Hindu and Christian prayer and the next an Aboriginal and Muslim prayer, I thought it was cool.

      November 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm |
      • tallulah13

        If you're going to pray, then everyone should be included, but frankly I just see it as religious posturing. I'm a firm believer of people doing their jobs and leaving the religious stuff at home.

        November 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
        • bob

          Amen brotha

          November 2, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • CharlesP

      I wonder what would happen if I read a page from one of Dawkins's books, let's say The God Delusion, at a public meeting, and called for people to "amen" what I read?

      November 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • JustStop

      And then they would be fighting over who headlines. Religion = mental plague.

      November 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • GODisDEAD

      Really? Go back to the age of believing the world is flat like the rest of the bible authors.

      November 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
  4. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    An appropriate collection for this blog post:

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise. Prayer makes you fat.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer messes up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid stuff.
    Prayer has been shown to have no discernible effect towards what was prayed for.
    Prayer wastes time.

    November 2, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Ted

      Awesome list with some great lines. Hope you don't mind if I borrow it.

      November 2, 2013 at 11:22 am |
  5. jboh

    If you ever read anything about American history, you would know that freedom of religion was to protect Christians from other Christians. TEA/GOP is run by Dominionists who believe they are "anointed" by God to take dominion over USA to create a Christian republic based on old testament law. That means a Christian taliban w/Christian sharia laws. I'm sorry TEA/GOP, but that is anti-American.

    November 2, 2013 at 10:37 am |
  6. Levi Johnson

    the christian taliban at its best. nothing more sinister then the "poor persecuted majority". as they force feed their christ on others, they claim to be "impartial" and not endorsing any religion in particular?. funny how some see a parallel with cursing here. i'm yet to see a professional "curser" leading a room full of cursing followers. talk about twisted logic....or a complete lack of logic. what ever it takes to insert a little jesus into everyone right guys?? is there ambiguity in the statement "separation of church and state"??......short answer.....NO!. keep your jesus to yourself and enjoy.

    November 2, 2013 at 10:06 am |
  7. bananas

    DM is banned for life cause she got busted. Hopefully this dump will follow suit. That phony is a dcuzbag

    November 2, 2013 at 9:42 am |
  8. Anonymous

    Pretty funny this town in particular was having wiccan high priestesses performing an "invocation" which is summoning spirits (invocation is not the same as prayer, especially when applied to wicca.)

    I'd say it's better to have no public prayers than to be having witches summoning spirits and praying to idols.

    So in a funny way the Atheists are actually the ones supporting God here, even if they don't realize it lol.

    November 2, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • bostontola

      You're welcome!

      November 2, 2013 at 9:29 am |
      • Anonymous

        Lol hey we make a great team when we work together.

        November 2, 2013 at 9:41 am |
    • lol??

      Everybody is a servant in one way or another and will be judged accordingly.

      One way or another I'm gonna find ya
      I'm gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha
      One way or another I'm gonna win ya
      I'm gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha
      One way or another I'm gonna see ya
      I'm gonna meetcha meetcha meetcha meetcha
      One day, maybe next week
      I'm gonna meetcha, I'm gonna meetcha, I'll meetcha
      I will drive past your house
      And if the lights are all down
      I'll see who's around

      November 2, 2013 at 9:40 am |
      • Anonymous

        Some Blondie, nice! Rock on.

        November 2, 2013 at 9:43 am |
        • lol??

          Reminds me of "Basic Instinct" which I saw for the very first time last weekend.

          November 2, 2013 at 10:07 am |
  9. observer

    block your critics

    November 2, 2013 at 8:53 am |
  10. dutchtown

    Wasn't it so, that In the beginning of our government you couldn't even run for office unless you were Christian?

    November 2, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • lol??

      Don't know about that but run FROM a DHS officer and get mowed down by their AR15's.

      November 2, 2013 at 8:48 am |
      • ?

        Hearsay, I presume, because you are still here, unfortunately. I do suppose your round the trolling does show some stamina.

        November 2, 2013 at 9:10 am |
        • ?

          round the clock

          November 2, 2013 at 9:12 am |
        • lol??

          "...............While the Obama administration calls for a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, the Department of Homeland Security is seeking to acquire 7,000 “personal defense weapons” — also known as “assault weapons” when owned by civilians........."

          Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jan/27/homeland-security-seeking-7000-assault-weapons-per/#ixzz2jUfhpz7J
          Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

          November 2, 2013 at 9:15 am |
        • Science Works

          Just like religion lol??, two faced !

          lol?? running out of green bananas ?

          What does weapons have to do with prayer ?

          November 2, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Charm Quark

      No, sorry. Some of the founding fathers were Deists that did not believe in a god that interfered with human affairs, a none Christian god, although Thomas Jefferson was quite accepting of the teachings of Jesus Christ minus the miracles and magic. Many went on to become successful politicians.

      November 2, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • skytag

      Article 9 of the U.S. Contitution states:

      "but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

      November 2, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • Topher

      It's kind of a fallacy to say all those guys were Christians. But what they did do/believe in was based on Christian principles.

      November 2, 2013 at 10:01 am |
      • Charm Quark

        The ten commandments were Jewish tradition long before JC came around. Our country could be said to be based on moral principles of the time, after all slavery in America was alive and well at the time.

        November 2, 2013 at 10:08 am |
        • Charm Quark

          My beliefs/religion (Baptist) are exactly what I want them to be, the absolute Truth, and therefore I can never be wrong.
          Now do not deny it, you prove it every day when you post.

          November 2, 2013 at 10:13 am |
        • Topher

          And where does morality come from?

          November 2, 2013 at 10:15 am |
        • Topher

          Charm Quark

          "My beliefs/religion (Baptist) are exactly what I want them to be, the absolute Truth, and therefore I can never be wrong."

          You keep posting this as if I said it, which makes you completely untrustworthy. First, what I want to be true has nothing to do with it. The question is simply what is true? Second, of course I can be wrong. But God NEVER is, so I'll base my life on him, not fallible man's thoughts.

          November 2, 2013 at 10:18 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Another dumb question as an answer, look it up yourself for a change. Morality predates your bible, though a young earth believing person as yourself would fail to understand that. You simply must reject all other knowledge to believe in the bible as you do, another Topherism.

          November 2, 2013 at 10:23 am |
        • Topher

          Ridiculous. What knowledge do I reject?

          November 2, 2013 at 10:59 am |
        • Charm Quark

          HAHAHA, you are breaking me up. Almost all scientific knowledge but I think you know that.

          November 2, 2013 at 11:53 am |
        • sam stone.

          gopher: you reject the knowledge that predetermination and free will are incompatible. now, coward, go home and get your fvcking shinebox

          November 2, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
      • lol??

        Topher, I missed out on replying to your "Reformation" comment the other day. I can't buy it because I believe the RCC was a fraud from its inception. And I do believe there are some Christians in that org and would do well to get out.

        November 2, 2013 at 10:21 am |
        • Topher


          I'm sorry, what is it that you don't buy? What was it that we were talking about?

          November 2, 2013 at 10:23 am |
        • Charm Quark

          When I do not have a clue on how to respond, I simply ask questions to avoid having to answer. I do this most of the time.

          November 2, 2013 at 10:37 am |
        • lol??

          By celebrating Reformation Day one is giving legitimacy to theologians that don't deserve it, the ones they protested against. Plus Luther was a monk and where did that gnostic idea come from??

          November 2, 2013 at 10:43 am |
      • Science Works

        Not from the bible topher.

        November 2, 2013 at 10:21 am |
      • Charm Quark

        If I were quoting I would say so and use " " marks. I infer Topherism's from your many posts that you are the harbinger of truth, by saying that you reject all others that believe they know a truth different from yours. I wonder if you are capable of understanding that premise.

        November 2, 2013 at 10:52 am |
        • Topher

          There's no such thing as a "different truth." Something is either true, or it isn't.

          November 2, 2013 at 10:57 am |
        • Charm Quark

          What I cannot understand, I simply reject.
          I was pretty sure that you would reject that premise, thanks for confirming.

          November 2, 2013 at 11:02 am |
        • Topher

          You continue to speak in generalizations instead of making a clear point. Me thinks you don't have one and just want to complain.

          November 2, 2013 at 11:06 am |
        • Charm Quark

          Okay. Here is one close to your. The RCC state that they are the largest Christian sect in the world and most people agree with them. You on the other hand maintain in your much smaller sect that catholics are not Christians. Now both statements cannot be the TRUTH it depends on the view of the beholder. Do you understand, what is true to you maybe false to me, you are usurping the right to determine what truth is, I deny you the right to tell me what is true.

          November 2, 2013 at 11:17 am |
        • Charm Quark

          close to your heart.

          November 2, 2013 at 11:19 am |
        • midwest rail

          ^^^^ waits patiently for the tap dancing to begin.

          November 2, 2013 at 11:23 am |
        • Charm Quark

          At this point I fully expect our Topher to duck my comment, but he may surprise me.

          November 2, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • Bruce McClure

      Pretty much still the case in Texas...

      November 2, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
  11. Bringing God back...

    "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,"

    That is a wise advise, most of us don't like to hear people cussing, but we can't stop what comes out of a persons mouth, we have to *bleep* the cuss words mentally. Yes, if we can put up with cussing you can put up with PRAYERS.

    While at it , along with prayers lets also make sure the ten commandments are back! There are too many nut jobs that are running around loose with guns and having lost hope in this world.

    Let's bring God back!!! 🙂

    November 2, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • saggyroy

      What do you mean lets bring god back. By a conservative estimate 90% of the earths population believes religion or in a god. You guys seems to be in charge. How's that working?

      November 2, 2013 at 8:34 am |
      • lol??

        Salt can't lead dead meat. 'Sides, that's not the calling.

        November 2, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • truthprevails1

      Which prayers would you like in place that represent everyone of every belief/disbelief equally or does no-one else matter in your small chriustian brain? Which 10 Commandments should be posted-the biblical ones where the first 4 demand idolatry of a vindictive god or how about the Humanist 10 commandments or maybe both should be posted to give somewhat equal representation?
      You reside in a Secular country, deal with it!

      November 2, 2013 at 8:49 am |
      • lol??

        Socies are alwayz makin' refugees, the ones they let live.

        November 2, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • ?

      Would that be the same god that tells some of his nutter believers to not take their children for medical treatment but depend only on prayer? Be specific, belief in god, which god, the trashy one that can make believers do some awfully ugly and stupid things.

      November 2, 2013 at 8:51 am |
    • skytag

      I've never seen someone compare public prayer to cursing before. Interesting. But for the record, public profanity is against the law in most places as I understand it.

      November 2, 2013 at 9:04 am |
      • lol??

        Mat 15:11 Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man.

        November 2, 2013 at 9:11 am |
      • CoolCMo

        Actually, in every case where public profanity rules have been challenged they have been struck down as violating the !st Amendment guarantees of free speech. That being said, some of municipalities have tried to skirt the 1st Amendment issues by classify the use of profanity in public as an "assault.' Nonsensical, I know, and unlikely to withstand the selfsame challenge. Also, there are still many places with public profanity laws on the books and which are selectively enforced by the police as a coercive tool. None of these cases would withstand a court challenged and most are dismissed when included with other charges. For a lot of police departments, the fines associated with public profanity citations represent a substantial income stream with very little overhead. Law enforcement uses these laws because they know that most, if not all, of the people who are charged with the offense lack the resources, education, and will pursue a challenge to the law itself and not just the charge under the law.

        November 2, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Andy

      So I suppose that if each meeting was opened with a prayer to Allah your only response would be to not listen, then?

      November 2, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • Topher

      You make a fair point about people running around with guns. Atheists, you continue to remind me how your side is winning, Christianity is slowly going away and some of you are continuously talking about how it will be a good thing. But look what's going on in the world lately. When people don't believe there's a higher authority, society takes a turn for the worse.

      November 2, 2013 at 10:05 am |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        I know, right. Just look at the anarchy and mayhem in the Netherlands and Sweden where most people don't believe in god. It's appalling.

        November 2, 2013 at 11:57 am |
      • Commenter

        "When people don't believe there's a higher authority, society takes a turn for the worse."

        It'd be hard to find more fervent believers in a higher authority than Muslims. How's that working out in those societies?

        November 2, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • jboh

      I think "Gods own party" is all in favor of nut jobs running around w/guns. If more people followed "what would Jesus do?" the world would be better for it. Unfortunately, those who feel the need to prove how Christian they are, are the least Christlike. I attended a Baptist friends funeral(I'm not Baptist), and the outright hateful crap the pastor was spewing was disgusting.

      November 2, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  12. Larry38363

    Doesn't look to me that prayer in Congress has done much good. They're still a bunch of idiot crooks.

    November 2, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • lol??

      Takes an act of God to remove a senator. Twasn't always so. Look who elects em. Killer kommie mommies and her kids that she let live, the gang bangers.

      November 2, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • CoolCMo

      The Congress is full of idiot crooks BECAUSE of prayer... or more accurately because of the idiots who pray.

      November 2, 2013 at 9:18 am |
  13. skytag

    If individuals in meetings want to say personal prayers to their imaginary friends they are welcome to do so, but prayers as an official part of government meetings are simply inappropriate.

    November 2, 2013 at 7:44 am |
    • lol??

      Secret "..........government meetings are simply inappropriate........"


      November 2, 2013 at 7:59 am |
  14. 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 2, 2013 at 6:55 am |
    • CoolCMo

      "thinking beings in the Universe" - Therein lies the problem. Once the praying starts, the thinking stops.

      November 2, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  15. AvdBerg

    God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth (John 9:31). What does it mean to be a sinner?

    All those that call themselves Christians are not necessarily followers of Jesus Christ, but rather followers of an image of a false god and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24).

    For a better understanding of the above article and the history of 'Christianity', we invite you to read the articles 'Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You?', 'What is Sin?' and 'The Decline and Fall of a Divided Nation (Matthew 12:25)' listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    All the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9, and what mankind must do to be reunited with the true and living God.

    November 2, 2013 at 6:28 am |
    • ZippiDooDA

      I went to this site. It promotes Satan and Witches and everything demon and evil.

      November 2, 2013 at 7:25 am |
      • saggyroy

        The god of the OT seems pretty evil to me.

        November 2, 2013 at 7:50 am |
        • lol??

          Same God as found in the NT.

          November 2, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • skytag

      "the true and living God"

      Meaning your god and not anyone else's, even though we all know there is no evidence any of them exists.

      Realizing there is no god is not being deceived, it's facing up to reality.

      November 2, 2013 at 7:34 am |
  16. bananas

    Thank god we live in a nation with a christian biased government. Athies r needed in mother Russia. They lost the battle over there

    November 2, 2013 at 5:49 am |
    • truthprevails1

      Smoking cheap crack again? Your imaginary friend has no part of a Secular government and Atheists are increasing daily-the only way to prevent this is to stop people from getting educations and using the internet. Just suck it up, christianity like many other belief systems before it will soon be the vast minority and the world will be a better place.

      November 2, 2013 at 6:07 am |
      • Scott

        May god have mercy on your poor misguided soul.

        November 2, 2013 at 8:12 am |
        • truthprevails1

          Which god and what is a soul (provide verifiable evidence for this)?

          November 2, 2013 at 8:44 am |
      • Anonymous

        "Your imaginary friend has no part of a Secular government "

        LOL! The whole point of Secularism is that everyone can have an imaginary friend. Think you might be confused with atheist totalitarian communism.

        November 2, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Science Works

      bananas sounds like you are still a funky green color or are you a bruised banana?

      November 2, 2013 at 6:31 am |
    • Gordon

      Really now? I guess you haven't noticed the rise of the Russian Orthodox Church since the fall of the Soviet Union? Or is it that they aren't "real christians" to you?

      November 2, 2013 at 9:07 am |
      • CoolCMo

        They are not... the only brand of "true christians" in his world are best represented by the lunatics of the Westboro Baptist Church.

        November 2, 2013 at 9:24 am |
        • lol??

          You be speakin' 'bout law makers, law defenders, law interpreters, and law disputers. That's a clump of attorneys.

          November 2, 2013 at 9:34 am |
  17. observer

    I want to thank D.M. Murdock, aka Acharya S, for her profound and deeply brave commitment to this complex issue.

    dying here dodo

    November 2, 2013 at 3:45 am |
    • Sean Lynch

      A banana by any other name would be a banana.

      November 2, 2013 at 3:52 am |
  18. bananas

    And he shall reign forever and ever

    November 2, 2013 at 3:28 am |
  19. bananas

    O honey.

    November 2, 2013 at 3:26 am |
  20. Sean Lynch

    Religious expression of prayer doesn't belong in a public government forum.
    In this regard an invocation of deity is seen as government action in requesting divine intervention, support, etc
    According to the Establishment Clause test applied in Edwards v. Aguillard
    The government's action must have a legitimate secular purpose;
    The government's action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion; and
    The government's action must not result in an "excessive entanglement" of the government and religion..
    As someone else said; skip the prayer and get to work.

    November 2, 2013 at 1:42 am |
    • lol??

      Paul never got a church license by incorporating. No bowing down to the beast for him.

      November 2, 2013 at 3:03 am |
      • Sean Lynch

        r u bananas?
        Nice to see ya!
        Good to see we survived another day, eh?

        November 2, 2013 at 3:12 am |
        • bananas

          Ain't no hollow back girl!

          November 2, 2013 at 3:27 am |
        • Sean Lynch

          Well good to see you anyway, not sure what hollow back girl is though.
          bananas you are 😉

          November 2, 2013 at 3:29 am |
    • bananas

      Poor baby! Lol

      November 2, 2013 at 3:29 am |
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About this blog

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