Let us pray? Supreme Court divided on God in government
November 6th, 2013
12:18 PM ET

Let us pray? Supreme Court divided on God in government

By Bill Mears and Daniel Burke, CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Should prayers to God open government meetings?

That's the controversial question a divided Supreme Court debated on Wednesday.

At oral arguments about whether public prayers at a New York town's board meetings are permissible, the high court took a broad look at the country's church-state history and even the Supreme Court's own traditions.

Two local women sued officials in Greece, New York, objecting that monthly Town Board public sessions have opened with invocations they say have been overwhelmingly Christian.

But the case's implications extend far beyond upstate New York and could have widespread consequences, according to constitutional scholars.

"This is going to affect communities across the country," said Charles C. Haynes, a senior scholar at the First Amendment Center.

The frequent court battles over public prayers, Ten Commandment memorials and holiday displays might strike some Americans as silly, but they touch on deep questions about national identity to reach back to the Founding Fathers, Haynes said.

"It's a long struggle in our country about self-definition and what our country was founded to be. That's why we keep circling back to these emotional and highly divisive questions."

At Wednesday's oral arguments, the court's conservative majority appeared to have the votes to allow the public prayers to continue in some form, but both sides expressed concerns about the level of judicial and government oversight over prayers presented by members of a particular faith.

"We are a very religiously diverse country," said Justice Samuel Alito, who worried about the town officials setting up binding guidelines. "All should be treated equally. So I can't see how you can compose a prayer that is acceptable to all these" religions.

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor worried about the effect on local citizens who choose not to stand and bow their heads when asked during a public prayer. "You think any of those people wouldn't feel coerced to stand?"

MORE ON CNN: Atheist gets her day at the Supreme Court

The high court began its public session Wednesday as it has for decades, with the marshal invoking a traditional statement that ends, "God save the United States and this honorable court."

The town outside Rochester began allowing prayers to start its meetings in 1999, after years of having a moment of silence.

Co-plaintiffs Linda Stephens and Susan Galloway challenged the revised policy, saying officials repeatedly ignored their requests to modify or eliminate the practice, or at least make it more inclusive.

"It's very divisive when you bring government into religion," Stephens said.

"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 hearing concerns from the two women and others, it sought diverse voices, including a Wiccan priestess, to offer invocations.

Officials said 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."

Congress and state legislatures regularly open their sessions with prayers.

One question before the Supreme Court is whether local government bodies are different, in that there might be more active involvement with local citizens, who may want to personally petition the town in zoning, tax, and other matters.

MORE ON CNN: Town prayers need less Jesus, more Krishna

Justice Elena Kagan explored the limits of permissible government action by using the Supreme Court as an example.

She asked whether the court could suddenly invite a Christian minister to invoke the following prayer, inside the ornate marbled courtroom: "We acknowledge the saving sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross." "Would that be permissible?" asked Kagan.

Attorney Thomas Hungar, attorney for the town of Greece, suggested courts were different, and that the national legislature had had similar prayers since the nation's founding.

"Whatever line might be drawn between nonlegislative bodies and legislative bodies," Hungar said, "it would be incongruous, if Congress could have legislative prayers and the states couldn't."

But the lawyer for the plaintiffs, supported by Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said unlike legislatures, Greece had no official policy on prayers.

"The policy should give guidelines to chaplains that say, 'Stay away from points in which believers are known to disagree,'" said Douglas Laycock, who represented the two women objecting to the prayers. "And we think the town should do what it can to ameliorate coercion. It should tell the clergy: 'Don't ask people to physically participate.' That's the most important thing."

But some justices on the high court expressed doubts about the extent to which lawmakers - and later courts - should advise various faiths about what to say, and parse what is sectarian or not.

"Give me an example of a prayer that is acceptable to all of the groups that I mentioned," said Alito, whose list included Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists.

When Laycock suggested something like, "The prayers to the almighty, prayers to the creator," Alito and others were unconvinced, saying polytheists might object.

"What about devil worshippers?" asked Justice Antonin Scalia, bringing laughter to the courtroom.

"Well, if devil worshippers believe the devil is the almighty, they might be OK with it," responded Laycock, smiling.

"Who was supposed to make these determinations? Is there supposed to be an officer of the town council that will review?" asked Chief Justice John Roberts. "Do prayers have to be reviewed for his approval in advance?"

Justice Anthony Kennedy, who may prove to be the swing vote in his petition, was especially vocal.

"It just seems to me that enforcing that standard involves the state very heavily in the censorship and the approval or disapproval of prayers," he said. "I'm serious about this. This involves government very heavily in religion."

He also suggested small towns deserve as much right to allow a brief prayer in public sessions as federal and state bodies.

"In a way it sounds quite elitist to say, 'Well, now, we can do this in Washington and Sacramento and Austin, Texas, but you people up there in Greece can't do that.'"

Several members of Congress were in attendance at the argument, including Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida.

"Every day before the Senate meets, the Senate chaplain comes out and gives a prayer, and that's important to us," Rubio told CNN just after arguments ended.

"It's part of our country's tradition; it's also our constitutional right, to be able to exercise that. And I thought it was important to defend that here today."

Nearly 120 members of Congress, mostly Republicans, along with 18 state attorneys general, have filed supporting legal briefs backing the city. The Obama administration is doing the same.

Stephens and Galloway, the two plaintiffs, said they have faced harassment from their community and even vandalism of their property.

"The pastors face the people (in the meetings), they don't face the town government, so it's like they're praying over us," Galloway told CNN after the argument.

"When they all stood and I sat, and I have a hundred eyes looking at me, and questioning what's going on, they think I'm being disrespectful. It does put a lot of pressure on you and it makes you very uncomfortable. It singles you out, and that shouldn't be in my town government, and it shouldn't be anywhere."

The high court has generally taken a case-by-case approach on determining just when the state intrudes unconstitutionally into religion, while generally allowing faith to be acknowledged in a limited basis in public forums.

"In God We Trust" remains on currency; the Pledge of Allegiance and oaths of office mention a divine creator; and menorah and crèche displays are permitted in local parks.

But the justices acknowledge the tricky line they must walk - politically, socially and legally - when deciding church-state cases.

"It's hard because the (Supreme) Court lays down these rules, and everybody thinks that the court is being hostile to religion, and people get unhappy and angry and agitated," said Kagan near the end of Wednesday's oral arguments.

"Part of what we are trying to do here is to maintain a multireligious society in a peaceful and harmonious way. And every time the court gets involved in things like this, it seems to make the problem worse rather than better."

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 • Church and state • Courts • Culture wars • Discrimination • Interfaith issues • Prayer • Religious liberty • Traditions

soundoff (1,319 Responses)
  1. Born@BModerated

    It looks like i got eddited earlier, so I will try to post again.

    THIS is why athiests have to pay attention to what the christians are doing. It infringes on my life whaen christian judges rule according to their faith instead of the law.
    Until a group of Muslim judges makes a ruling that abides by their religious laws, the christians will not get it.

    November 6, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Youtube - Neil DeGrasse Tyson rebukes Richard Dawkins

      And this would be the same group that gave corporations the right of free speech. This one's a done deal.

      November 6, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I'm ruined. If I have to be exposed to any more atheist self-pity partied, why I'll just, I'll just, I'll, I will, well, I'll have a big crying jag and fall apart and whine and have a fit and get all mad and scream and kick and yell and act just like observer

      November 7, 2013 at 10:16 am |
  2. Brother Maynard

    "Nearly 120 members of Congress, mostly Republicans, along with 18 state attorneys general have filed supporting legal briefs backing the city. The Obama administration is doing the same."
    Looks like Obama can sink to the intelligence of Repub's when it comes to faith, religion and the separation of church and state.

    November 6, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      All of them pander to the slavering voter.

      Not one of them has a backbone.

      November 6, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
      • sly

        Oh, I'd disagree about that. President Obama took on Syria single-handedly – no support for his idea of using force. And it worked – forcing Russia and Syria into what promises to be a superior solution than using force.

        Any President that kills our #1 enemy of all time, and promotes the unpopular concept of gay rights and affordable health care for 50 million Americans who are prohibited coverage, has some cohones.

        November 6, 2013 at 4:52 pm |
        • CommonSensed

          Disagree. He had a chance to reverse all the bogus Bush-era executive orders, but kept them. He didn't close gitmo despite 2 terms. Most transparent government in history fail. I could go on.

          He's just like the rest.

          November 6, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
  3. Dyslexic doG

    and I'll post it again for those Christians who chose to ignore a FACT and want to keep regurgitating what other people in their cult say ...

    “The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
    ~1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by John Adams

    November 6, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • Sara

      And unanimously ratified by the US Senate. But those who don't want to hear will keep their fingers in their ears.

      November 6, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      It's a metaphor / you're taking it out of context / its a translation error.
      You must employ proper hermeneutics when reading government decrees.

      November 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
      • a reasonable atheist


        November 6, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
      • Sara

        Oops, yeah. They must have meant we weren't found ON but WITHIN the Christian religion.Although that gets kind of confusing with the rest of the treaty. Maybe they mean that the Muslims, too, are founded within the Christian religion. Hey, no conflict!

        November 6, 2013 at 4:20 pm |
        • Doc Vestibule

          All religions are formed within Christ.
          Including those that came before Christianity and/or directly reject Him.

          November 6, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        nice. 🙂

        November 6, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Live4Him

      @Dyslexic doG : The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.

      You obviously know almost nothing about this particular paragraph.

      First, it is only included in the American version of the treaty (and is therefore nullified).

      Second, it was contentious at the time, being included as means to an end. At the time of the ratification and it caused some consternation, it was doubtful that it was a part of the actual treaty, but the government included it to further the peace efforts.

      Third, when the treaty was broken a few years later and a new treaty was drawn up, it wasn't included.

      Therefore, it is reasonable that it was erroneously included in the treaty and does not represent the actual views of our government at that time. And every one of these fact that I presented are available if one were to research this issue – which you obviously did not.

      November 6, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        Love how you can rewrite history to suit your purpose, love how you can distort scientific knowledge to suit your purpose, you are right up their with W. L. Craig, deception and apologetics at its ugliest.

        November 6, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        typical Christian revisionist history.

        same as in the bible where the prophesies were written after the event so it would look like they came true.

        a religion based on lies and deceit and tailor made for gullible infants like you

        November 6, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
        • Roger that

          The accuracy is amazing when it's done that way.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
      • ME II

        While that part wasn't included in all versions, it was the version that was read to congress and signed. So your claim of it being unintentional is not accurate.

        November 6, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
      • Observer


        "Now be it known, That I John Adams, President of the United States of America, having seen and considered the said Treaty do, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, accept, ratify, and confirm the same, and every clause and article thereof. And to the End that the said Treaty may be observed, and performed with good Faith on the part of the United States, I have ordered the premises to be made public; And I do hereby enjoin and require all persons bearing office civil or military within the United States, and all other citizens or inhabitants thereof, faithfully to observe and fulfill the said Treaty and every clause and article thereof.

        It was passed UNANIMOUSLY by Congress, including many important forefathers.

        "You obviously know almost nothing about this particular paragraph."

        November 6, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
      • Sara

        Live4Him, You're hysterical. This is the exact wording of what was unanimously ratified. The only thing that would discount that is if those voting were misled about the content, which they were not. Had a majority objected, it would have been rewritten at the time. If you want to stick with your argument that they were all just a bunch of Machiavellian liars, go at it. It will be interesting to see how that plays out in future discussions.

        November 7, 2013 at 6:17 am |
      • Christians confuse mythology with reality

        Here we have a perfect example of christians twisting the truth to fit their deluded beliefs.

        November 7, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • fred

      That is a slight of hand to use the term Christian religion. Certainly it is not founded on a religion certain but, it is founded upon the principles, laws and authority of God. Take note that to this day since our founding no one can trample on the Word of God because God placed it in mans heart where no man can touch it without Gods approval. Atheists like Stalin and Mao realized this and in order to eliminate the law of God they had to kill believers.

      The Bible says not to give the things of God to dogs but since you are dyslexic I will share with you facts known to man. Atheists have never been elected as President of the United States because they do not have the things of God written on their heart (which includes Gods laws). 56 out of 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence asked for Gods approval and blessing, in writing, before signing the declaration. Obviously authority for the establishment of the United States of America rests with God.
      From the founders to the current Senate and House laws are put in place in fear and trembling of what God and believers find to be the right thing to do.
      Tell me again where actual authority rests.......yes, with God.

      November 6, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
      • ?

        Who the hell cares what your bible says except those that have been sucked in by the fantasy. No authority rests with a mythical being, let Thor strike me, no make it you, dead, if I am wrong.

        November 6, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
        • fred

          Apparently atheists and or the ACLU because they spend a lot of time attempting to take down Jesus. What they have not figured out is that Jesus is not on that cross.
          If God has no authority why all the nonsense and pulling the gay/abortion card everytime elections roll into town.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
        • ?

          Where the hell do you live? Never comes up were I live and vote.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
        • fred

          It comes up in every election in just about every state in America.

          November 6, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
        • ?

          You really are delusional unless you can provide proof it comes up every where, but that is your gig stating things without proof.

          November 6, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
        • fred

          Give me a break, are you seriously not aware of the politics in the U.S. and the dependency of playing the gay card or the abortion card to stir up the vote?

          November 6, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
        • Observer


          Yep. Just mention gays and Christian HYPOCRITES go crazy. Mention abortion and Christians go crazy fantasizing that the Bible actually mentions it.

          November 6, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
      • ME II

        "Take note that to this day since our founding no one can trample on the Word of God because God placed it in mans heart where no man can touch it without Gods approval."

        What are you talking about? Any one can "trample" on the Bible, or do you mean something else?

        November 6, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
        • fred

          ME II
          The Chosen Ones were tasked with bringing the written law forward which they did. Jesus fulfilled the law and now the Holy Spirit brings to our awareness the Word of God. The Bible is mans translation of the Word of God. When we read the Bible the truth is spoken into our hearts.
          In short I am speaking about Word of God not the hard copy.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
        • Jill

          fred, don't obfuscate the primary prenuptials with rasberries. Often, the pertinent cat presents fabled necessities in the parking chamfer. Realize your net precedent.Triangulate! Save the best for the alligators. Serpentine. Indigo chestnuts. Give voice to your negligible garage. Walk with found yellow in the fold. Perish your underwear in the crescent.

          And remember, never pass up an opportunity to watch an elephant paint Mozart.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
        • ME II

          "In short I am speaking about Word of God not the hard copy."

          Ah, I see. The Celestial Teapot cannot be broken. Fair enough.

          November 6, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
        • fred

          ME II
          No, not if you are leaning towards Russell's teapot.
          The Bible uses the word "I will write my laws on their heart" in a different way. The religious types of the Old Testament added hundreds of laws and ceremonies on top of Gods law. Worse yet they applied it outwardly (actions) and ignored the intent. Written in the heart would be where I love my enemy not because the law says so but because it is who I am (i.e. I am taking on the characteristics and nature of Jesus).
          The law in my state may allow abortion but God says I knew you before I knit your bones together in the womb. Because of this I support and provide aid so a women has the option to choose life.
          Paul said it best when he said the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, hope, forgiveness and against such things there are no laws (i.e. man made laws)

          November 6, 2013 at 7:07 pm |
      • Dyslexic doG

        infantile slave mind

        November 6, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
        • fred

          .nettirw sa hturt eht ees tonnac uoy ekil skooL

          November 6, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
        • Observer

          The truth is that God supports slavery, discrimination against women and the handicapped, and believes everyone should beat their children with rods.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
        • Observer


          Yes, the founders and lawmakers since day one were mostly Christian and those that were not were Deists. All the laws on our books were filtered through a God based mindset. If we were run by atheists our laws would reflect a godless mindset.

          Nonsense. Otherwise we'd still have slavery and women couldn't vote.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
        • fred

          From "day one" referred to the beginning of our laws in the U.S.
          Again, God does not approve slavery or disrespect of women. You continually confuse laws and customs that are historical reference pertaining to a given people and time with God. Jesus was the full glory of God and as such a clear example in a form we can relate to. Jesus showed great love and respect to women and men equally. I am no longer sure if you actually believe what you say or if you just like to spin dirt like Bob to see if anyone will bite.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
        • Observer


          "Again, God does not approve slavery or disrespect of women"

          The Bible tells believers HOW to buy slaves, WHEN to buy slaves, WHEN to buy slaves and how badly you can BEAT them.

          Please read a Bible SOMEDAY.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
        • Observer

          typo: second "WHEN" should be "WHERE".

          November 6, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
        • Ted

          No, fred your god merely tells you precisely how to beat your slaves, even to their deaths if it so happens.

          Nice try, but we have read your one book too.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
        • ?

          Stop, stop, stop all the dancing, some of the good old boys that founded the country were slave owners and treated the women slaves like wh0res, but I am sure jesus approved as any good Christian would. The way you guys interpret history is truly amazing.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
        • fred

          Anyone who is the slightest bit honest understands that God is not telling you and I to buy and beat slaves. As a Christian I am a slave and God is my Master. I am told I cannot have two masters and my Master will discipline me. I am valuable to my Master who has my best interests at heart. Now, we do not speak in these terms today yet the idea is clear to all generations of believers. It is not clear to you because you are not of God so you twist the truth just as the Serpent did in the Garden of Eden. It is possible that a few innocent believers may bite on your deceitfulness and that will come back on you. Even if there is no God your negative intentional hateful thoughts serve to take you down more so than God whom you attack.

          November 6, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
        • Observer


          "Anyone who is the slightest bit honest understands that God is not telling you and I to buy and beat slaves."

          (Lev. 25:44-46) “Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them YOU MAY BUY SLAVES.
          You MAY ALSO BUY some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country,
          and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them
          slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.”

          Please actually READ A BIBLE SOMEDAY. You continually embarass yourself with your lack of knowledge of what the Bible says.

          November 6, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
        • fred

          That is false as the verse you suggest consists of a few words out of a vast section on civil law that applied to the Hebrew only. The corner stone of those laws is not to treat slaves as you were treated in Egypt.
          Now, many civil and tort laws in our country assign a cost for damages caused others. Would you twist those laws to say the State approves of the tort? Would you say the laws of Iran apply to Colorado?

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

          Crime: break the arms and legs of your elderly female slave, but she doesn't die "in a day or so"

          Punishment according to the Bible: NONE

          November 6, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
        • ?

          Do you deny history. Some of the founding fathers were not only slave owners, but were fornicating with them, do you deny this?

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

          What gives you the audacity to come on here day after day and lie about history and the bible without backing up your comments without some facts? The bible is not a source of any kind of truth, it is an proven man made myth, so lets get some reliable truth/fact.

          November 6, 2013 at 6:29 pm |
        • Well Duh

          "I am valuable to my Master who has my best interests at heart."

          How are you a value to your Master?

          November 6, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
        • fred

          Well Duh
          I am valuable because of the nature of God not by anything I have to offer. God is the creator and gives life. The process of creation was taking a formless void and creating the wonders we see and know, wonders that seem to be without end. The Bible speaks about that nature in terms of love.

          November 6, 2013 at 7:14 pm |
        • Well Duh


          Still at a loss as to how that is any value to your Master.

          November 6, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
        • fred

          The founding fathers may have owned slaves and many twisted the words of the Bible to justify the African Slave Trade which is a far cry from the slaves better termed bond servants of the Bible. The African Slave Trade was not approved or justified by God and was a sin from a biblical standpoint and just plain wrong from a secular view.

          November 6, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
        • Observer


          "The African Slave Trade was not approved or justified by God and was a sin from a biblical standpoint and just plain wrong from a secular view."

          The Bible never mentioned Africa so your EXCUSE is a joke.

          It was Hebrew SLAVES and SLAVES from nearby areas that the Bible SUPPORTED. Read it someday.

          November 6, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
        • fred

          Well Duh
          ok, I really do not know how I could be of any value to God. I read the Bible and I see talk about God loving and being love so out of that nature God created man to share in that love and joy. Reading deeper I see that with Noah God protects and brings Noah to higher ground, protects and delivers the Hebrew from slavery in Egypt then Jesus dies for us on the cross to save us and redeem our souls for eternal life. The story is about God bringing out a group of people whose heart desire is to love and worship God. Unlike Adam and Eve we do not desire the things that are not of God because we have been there done that for so many generations only to find Gods love is where it's at. Once we realize this we overflow with love and a desire for God because of all God has done for us. God does not need us but we need God so we can be Christ like in our way.

          November 6, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
        • Well Duh

          "ok, I really do not know how I could be of any value to God."

          Ok, so we are no value to God.

          "I read the Bible and I see talk about God loving and being love so out of that nature God created man to share in that love and joy. "

          Unless we don't care to share in that love, then we deserve to be punished.

          "Jesus dies for us on the cross to save us and redeem our souls for eternal life."

          I thought Jesus wasn't dead, I'm confused.

          "God does not need us but we need God so we can be Christ like in our way."

          Got it, we are of no value to God, and He does not need us.

          November 6, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
        • Christians confuse mythology with reality

          @fred, " Anyone who is the slightest bit honest understands that God is not telling you and I to buy and beat slaves."

          This means that, again........

          November 7, 2013 at 9:46 am |
        • Joey

          I don't know how you can read the bible and not think god was o.k. with slavery. If you didn't want slavery he would have said don't own slaves instead of giving rules for how and where to buy them from, and rules on how to punish them. It is quite laughable that fred tries to deny this fact.

          November 7, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
        • fred

          The Bible is a story about God redeeming a chosen people for eternal life. Thou shalt or shalt not own a slave is not the key to eternal life. The key is your attitude towards God an your fellow man. If you would abuse or mistreat anyone (slaves included) you are not filled with the love of God. In these same sections where atheists love to mine verses out of context God says remember I am the God who freed you from the oppressive slavery of Egypt do not oppress others in the same way, rather be one who loosens the chains of bondage and oppression.
          Joey, stop repeating the sound bites of darkness and look to goodness. You could be part of what is right rather than what ends with the same death an animal without awareness of life with meaning and purpose greater than self.

          November 7, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
      • Roger that

        "it is founded upon the principles, laws and authority of God."

        What the hell does that mean? Which god? Certainly not the Bible god.

        November 6, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
        • fred

          Yes, the founders and lawmakers since day one were mostly Christian and those that were not were Deists. All the laws on our books were filtered through a God based mindset. If we were run by atheists our laws would reflect a godless mindset.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
        • Science Works

          Establishment Clause :

          Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . . .

          So it must mean god(s) too fred !

          November 6, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
        • fred

          Science Works
          I see that as Gods way of protecting us from the false religions and atheists that would force their godlessness on the masses if they could. Christianity is protected from even Obamacare forced abortion and forced gay marriage in churches across the land.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
        • Science Works

          Here is a better one for you fred no god(s) required.

          morals do not come from religion or the bible.

          Scientists Solve Major Piece in the Origin of Biological Complexity

          Nov. 6, 2013 —


          November 6, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
        • Ted

          fred, godlessness isn't "forced". It's simply reality. No intervention and no god required.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
        • Roger that

          Fred, that couldn't be any further from the truth. This country does not follow the laws of the Bible because our culture has deemed most of them immoral. Your religion changes all the time to conform with the current culture. If it didn't, it would survive.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
        • Roger that

          wouldn't survive.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
        • Science Works

          The scary part fred is you do have someone on your side , Scalia he believes the devil is real.

          November 6, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
        • fred

          "fred, godlessness isn't "forced". It's simply reality. No intervention and no god required."
          =>All recorded history shows man worshiping. The evidence points to worship as a human trait not godlessness. Godlessness is imposed it is not the reality we live in nor have we ever existed in a Godless world (real or imagined) as humans. The difference between Apes and man is the ability to worship God.

          November 6, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
        • fred

          Roger that
          Certainly they do. Our laws center around protecting the nation, the individual and their worship of God. All three are the focus of our laws.

          November 6, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
        • fred

          The Devil is real as most still fall for the same deception that worked in the garden

          November 6, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
        • Ted

          fred, your statement is false, and blatantly so. None of those worshiped gods can be shown to exist.

          More significantly, why do you think that your particular sky fairy, the Christian one apparently, exists, whereas you think that the others do not? You are already an atheist to most gods. You just haven't progressed far enough to leave your crazy Christian god fable behind, and I somewhat pity you for that dependency of yours.

          November 6, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
        • fred

          It is a dependency on God that is a main thread of the Bible. That dependency is central to trusting and loving God. Don't pity me because without my intentionally reinforcing that dependency I would quickly slide back to being agnostic.
          You are correct in that the gods worshiped historically are often man made and myth. The God of Abraham likewise is not subject to proof of existence nor is the deity of Jesus outside of testimony. What is known is mankind has always worshiped God or gods in all recorded history. I am not sure how that is a lie

          November 6, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
        • Science Works

          Well fred you are way out there with Scalia I see believing the devil is real.

          What does the DEVIL look like and where does it hang out ?

          November 7, 2013 at 5:45 am |
        • fred

          Science Works
          Science can only show you that which can be measured and quantified using accepted scientific methods. These methods are limited to what man can understand outside the presence of God. If you want to know what the devil looks like you need to know that your reality is locked in the deception of the devil. Let us go back to Genesis. The serpent was not scary or evil looking as Eve engaged it in thought or perhaps verbal communication. The serpent convinced Eve to doubt God and question the Word of God. The tree of knowledge of good and evil stirred Eves desire when the serpent displayed how pleasing good and evil was to the eye and how it opened wisdom to be like God. There she was with the serpent, full of desire with a thirst for good and evil outside of the presence of God. This is where you are today and perhaps for much of your life. More and more people have now been outside the presence of God for so long they really cannot remember what life was like when God was with His people. This is why you cannot see God or anything outside of the deception you believe is reality. It is not. You have a limited view of reality that consists of the serpent, you and the knowledge of good and evil. The deception of your reality is that you think good and evil are simply moral constructs acquired by social evolution without substance or power. This is why you cannot see the devil or God as real and existing. You are blinded by the oldest trick in the book.
          The devil can look very beautiful but is a wolf in sheep's clothing. The devil is who you believe in when you say there is no God, God is liar, God is killer, God is myth etc. You walk in the presence of the devil and each time the love of God is displayed you deny it.

          November 7, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
        • Science Works


          Nice try, BUT they have the sperm and egg figured out. NO DEVIL REQUIRED !!!

          November 8, 2013 at 6:02 am |
      • thinkb4speaking

        "56 out of 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence asked for Gods approval and blessing, in writing, before signing the declaration." – you mean Supreme Judge automatically means the Christian god?

        November 6, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
        • fred

          Jesus was God so Christian God = God. The Supreme Judge of the World was reference to the Creator the absolute authority. There is only one God one way and one truth that gives life.

          November 6, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
        • Ted

          So, fred, why can't your wonderful all-capable all-powerful one god even get his story across uniformly?

          There are thousands of Christian sub-cults and other religious cults, with contradictory claims about "god".

          November 6, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
        • thinkb4speaking


          So even the FF who were Unitarians and Deists thought Supreme Judge meant the Christian god, and not just some unknown force?

          November 6, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
        • fred

          Everyone of us unique just like everyone else so you would expect we all see things through our totality. The wonder of creation is before us and we define that creation and are defined by it as we move through it. It would be impossible for two people to see the same God. I do not have a clue what you see or where your awareness of our existence begins or ends. Your awareness may be limited by philosophical naturalism or include the full spectrum God set in motion.
          We limit ourselves generally to the ways of the World while Jesus said I am the way the truth and the life. At this point in my journey I am absorbed in the discovery of the way Jesus claimed was the truth and the life. It is a shame that some people choose not to experience the way which exposed the prevailing false religions and opened up the view of a Kingdom that is not of this world.

          November 6, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
        • fred

          The story is simple and clear but few choose the narrow road because we really do not want to give up what we love and trust.

          November 6, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
        • Well Duh

          "It would be impossible for two people to see the same God."

          Is that in the Bible?

          November 6, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
        • fred

          Well Duh
          The Bible does not give a real visual of God. The Bible says if you see God you die, even Moses only caught a bit of God's light while hidden behind his hand. Isaiah and the rest speak in term of God was like the image of X or had the appearance of the appearance of X. Jesus is only referenced as muddled features (i.e. non descript) or as having the radiance of God the Glory of God etc. yet fully man.

          November 6, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
        • Well Duh

          "The Bible says if you see God you die"

          So none of these are to be taken literally?

          (Gen. 17:1) – “Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, "I am God Almighty ; Walk before Me, and be blameless;

          (Gen. 18:1) Now the LORD appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, while he was sitting at the tent door in the heat of the day.”

          (Exodus 6:2-3) – “God spoke further to Moses and said to him, "I am the LORD; 3and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, LORD, I did not make Myself known to them.”

          (Exodus 24:9-11) – “Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. 11Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank.”

          (Num. 12:6-8) – “He said, "Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. 7"Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; 8With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses ?"

          (Acts 7:2), "And he [Stephen] said, 'Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran...'"

          November 6, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
        • fred

          Not sure what the FF actually thought but they knew what a Supreme Judge of Word was intended to be and mean in the Declaration.

          November 6, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
        • fred

          Well Duh
          So none of these are to be taken literally?

          =>I am no match for the theologians that still argue about these appearances. In every case they make assumptions about what was actually seen or who (Angel, Jesus, the Holy Spirit). Jesus said no one has seen the Father but the son so we can eliminate the Father from the picture. I default to my own experience where when I say I have experienced God or see God or walk with God it is the sense of a presence not a visual sighting.

          =>Thanks for bringing that to my attention, I will take a close look at the verses you provided as now I am not sure how to phrase what I have not "seen".

          November 6, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
        • Christians confuse mythology with reality

          @well duh........ you are taking those statements out of context..... wait for it.... LOL

          November 7, 2013 at 9:51 am |
      • HotAirAce

        fred, let me summarize the basic situation with respect to you, your god and your beliefs:

        – you cannot proof the existence of your or any god. In fact, you don't have any actual evidence for any god.

        – you cannot prove your holy book is in fact the word of any god. Ignoring the fact that you can't prove there is even just one god who might have a word worth listening to, you have to explicitly ignore the fact that The Babble as we know it was the creation of a bunch of mere mortal men, picking and choosing from numerous unproven stories.

        – you cannot prove that the dead desert dweller named jesus and allegedly the savior of the world actually said any of the things attributed to him.

        – you cannot prove that the person called jesus was divine or actually performed any of the miracles he is alleged to have performed.

        Given the four strikes above, why should we believe anything you or any other believer says? What actually distinguishes your beliefs from astrology?

        In closing, atheists don't claim to know everything. We're merely pretty certainly believers do not.

        November 6, 2013 at 9:39 pm |
        • fintastic

          @HotAirAce.... "In closing, atheists don't claim to know everything. We're merely pretty certainly believers do not."

          Well said!

          November 7, 2013 at 9:53 am |
        • fred


          "- you cannot proof the existence of your or any god. In fact, you don't have any actual evidence for any god."
          =>You and I are on the page here as we both know that scientific method is limited by matter and energy that can be measured and quantified objectively. This is why you and I both must look outside of science to answer the question of why we exist and the origin of life. Last I heard no one can know what they do not know and we are both at the same boundary of present knowledge. Purpose of existence and origin of life are only explained by belief and faith.

          "- you cannot prove your holy book is in fact the word of any god."
          =>I can prove it is the only Holy Book that gets things right. All other Holy Books are clearly designed around a man made god where as the God of Bible is a living God and that can be proven.

          "The Babble as we know it was the creation of a bunch of mere mortal men"
          =>ah but these mortal men changed the direction of mankind and kept the focus on the creator not the creation. The Bible is the inspired Word of God as these mortal men could best explain it.

          "-you cannot prove that the dead desert dweller named jesus and allegedly the savior of the world actually said any of the things attributed to him."
          =>In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God. It was the light of men. Yes, I can prove the Words of Jesus was and is the light of men. I need look no further than the contrast between the militant atheists on this site (godless) and a few believers that actually exhibit love and hope in a promise of redemption. The contrast is light and dark.

          "- you cannot prove that the person called jesus was divine"
          =>yes, I can, only one of Divine nature could change existence as we know it, only a Divine nature could alter reality, only a Divine nature could transform lives 2,000 years after death and resurrection, only a Divine nature could impart the Holy Spirit that is evident in believers lives today just as Jesus said He would do.

          " or actually performed any of the miracles he is alleged to have performed."
          =>exactly how would you propose proof that Jesus walked on water when only a few apostles were on the boat? We have their eye witness testimony but last I heard you do not accept eye witness testimony.

          "why should we believe anything you or any other believer says?"
          =>You cannot and I do not expect you to. Without some eye opening event in your life it should appear as foolishness to you. Even if Jesus walked across the water in front of you your first thought would be how did he do that not HotAirAce down on his knees in worship. You need the Holy Spirit to do a miracle in you before you can see your purpose onto God.

          In closing, atheists don't claim to know everything. We're merely pretty certainly believers do not.

          November 7, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          A summary of fred's reply:

          Blah blah blah. I can prove everything I believe but I don't actually have any actual evidence so please believe my mumbo jumbo. Blah blah blah. You have to believe to believe. Blah blah blah.

          November 7, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
  4. Dyslexic doG

    “The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
    ~1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by John Adams

    November 6, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
  5. Apple Bush

    Christians, some of you are tolerable but fuck you anyway.
    You are deluded and part of the mass hysteria of Jesus.
    You have no proof, no common sense, no argument of merit.
    In short, you suck and your droning on about mythological creatures is infantile.
    You don’t know anything. Neither do I.
    Why can’t you admit that you don’t know and live in the moment?
    Why can’t you allow the rest of us to enjoy freedom in this free country?
    Your time is short.
    Don’t stop being nice people, but please stop being idiots.

    Your Pal,
    Apple Bush

    November 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • Gol

      Wow..someone took a flying leap off the edge of rationality.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
      • Charm Quark

        Apple Bush is far more rational than most of the religious freaks that troll this site. Did you know that AB is rewriting the whole bible taking out all the supernatural BS, aka Tommy Jefferson? It will probably be just a couple of dozens pages long, an easy read on your commute.

        November 6, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
        • Wondering

          For what purpose? Isn't that like re-writing LOTR without wizards and hobbits?

          November 6, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          For the same reason, Tommy J made his own new testament, take out the good teachings of jesus, without all the mumbo jumbo and present what could be considered realistic. The whole bible without the nonsense is really a very small tome. For example the movie The Ten Commandments could be whittled down to a few minutes absent the BS.

          November 6, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Sorry did not directly answer your question on Tolkien. People have not erected temples to the LOTR and do not get hustled into giving their hard earned money into people hustling that fiction for dollars. The fiction of the Christ has been proven very profitable for so many hustlers.

          November 6, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
        • Guest

          You guys need to discover video games and beer.

          November 6, 2013 at 4:03 pm |
        • Charm Quark

          Gin and tonic, malaria is making a comeback, and Senate or house committees, always a hoot.

          November 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Guest

      If I were a school teacher I'd be less worried about the kid talking to his invisible friend than I would be about the bully who wanted to beat him up.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
      • religion; a way to control the weak minded

        LOL since the majority is christian in this country, I would venture to guess its most likely the other way around.....being bullied for not believing.

        November 6, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
        • Guest

          There are two of us here in this house typing to you, neither religious and neither of us have ever had an issue.

          November 6, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG


      November 6, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  6. Randy

    Sotomeyer wondered if those who didn't bow their heads would feel coerced to stand? She must be kidding. Those who are against public prayer think they have the moral high ground and the press and the left make them heroes. The coercion is on those who want to stand, who want to bow their heads, and who want to pray in public. This is false victimhood at its highest level.

    November 6, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      That's great Randy. I'll sit in disapproval while the town council stands and prays and pledges and does all that crap. Then we'll see how well-disposed they are towards my petition.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • Maddy

      Randy, prayer does not belong at government functions. Period.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Let's pretend . . .

      You are on the town council and staunchly support a prayer to open each meeting. You notice that one attendee does not participate in your cult's ritual. Later, this person stands up to make a request a perfectly valid request of the council. Convince us that you, and the rest of council, will treat this person fairly.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • QS

      The fundamental point you seem to miss is that prayer in public to begin with is the problem – there are places for praying in groups to the same thing....they're called churches.

      And trying to pretend that religion is somehow suddenly the victim of its own tactics because the people religion has bullied for time immemorial have finally had enough, is simply false logic and a desperate attempt at making religion appear less intolerant and more benevolent than it really is.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  7. tallulah13

    When I was an atheist, I got sick of being told what to believe and say all the time. Now that I'm agnostic, I believe in christ

    November 6, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • fyi

      In case any new visitors are not aware: there is an insane/inane person who frequents these blogs who poses as the regular, established screen names of certain posters with whom he disagrees or whom he doesn't like.

      It's best to ignore him, since your replies probably will be removed along with his.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
      • Maddy

        Such an obvious troll, also.

        November 6, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  8. enough already...


    November 6, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
  9. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Religious tolerance inclusive of non-theism may never happen. But one day religious ideation will not be the compulsion that it is now with so many people. There won't be religion, except among a few hobbyists who want to dabble in it, the way a few people are into flint knapping and atlatl marksmanship.

    November 6, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  10. NickZadick the Idiot


    November 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
  11. Apple Bush


    He could smell her from his position, directly downwind of the Santa Ana’s, the putrid air-born tendril of urine and body odor makes a formidable weapon. Her socks, slung over the tops of her borrowed Converse flaps. Here teeth only a reminder of public service announcements. The hair was everywhere. Not untidy exactly, just….everywhere. Like a blanket over her. She had a pleasing form though. Hard not to look twice. So hard in fact, many had made her their project. Each had failed. For her the addiction was her destiny and would lead to her death. But not today.

    Joe Skinner rarely looked up when he was walking in L.A. Nobody on these streets needed directions or knew where any stars lived. This was Korea Town, the crossroads where Heaven and Hell conduct their business. It was different now. The riots broke the peace and historians were quick to point out that Korea Town was marginalized during the Rodney King Riots of 1992 and it was happening again. Neighborly “hellos” became tense and less friendly. If you want someone to get your back, stay in your part of town. And don’t bother calling 911.

    Joe called 911. The voice on the other end of his “iMate” spoke in hushed tones. Joe laughed. He knew they would have to follow up on any call. If Ryerson shows up, He’s dead. Joe still had friends everywhere in the eight block neighborhood of K-Town. He walked without being disturbed, but only because he understood protocol. K-Town in 2033 was not only unsafe, it was anarchy and there were untouchables.

    That is when he saw it. A photograph. Hard to see in the wet gutter, but the man in the image was beautiful. Long flowing hair that wasn’t messy but practically covered his whole upper section. Skinner reached for it. It sizzled in his fingers and glowed. This was Jesus and he was come unto the Earth to save humans at long last.

    Joe on the other hand really wanted to get baked before work and needed a paper and Jesus was handy. It was wet but they had one of those electric 2025 hand dryers in the rest room of the filling station he stood next to. He blazed, and soon saw Jesus once again. This time Jesus stood before him saying, “I brought unto you a miracle and this is how you betray your lack of awe to the sight of me?

    Joe thought a moment and finally looked at Jesus and said, “You crazy fuck, here, toke up bro!” The party lasted long into the night. Jesus got tore up and the moral of the story is that Marijuana should be legal in the United States.

    November 6, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  12. Lee

    "I don't know what to say y'all.
    God is real. He did come from the middle east 6,000 thousand years ago when he exposed himself to a group of nomadic Israelites wandering the largest sandbox country in the world.
    He then obviously impregnated a virgin, allowed his son to pop his mother's hymen (ew) and then technically committed suicide/murder by allowing God to allow himself to be murdered by a angry Jewish mob, even though he knew he resurrection powers.
    This was all done in God's name so upper middle class white people in 2013 America could feel guilty enough to give money to old men so they can abuse little boys, but also feel complacent enough to actually believe that upon death they will live forever.

    And so it is, y'all!" – the supreme court justices of 2013

    November 6, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
    • Born@BModerated

      You win.
      I'll convert now.


      November 6, 2013 at 4:53 pm |
    • Abe

      They should open every session with that prayer.

      November 6, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
  13. Apple Bush

    The sound is neither audible nor plausible

    The cause is unobtainable and impossible

    The reality is ridiculous yet true

    The end, worse than the beginning

    The beginning is the end

    November 6, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      A little help for the Christians:

      If you carry on as you are and succeed, our way of life is doomed. The end, the worst possible scenario, will be our new reality.

      Please stop.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
      • Guest

        You and they are both victims of monsters that exist only in your own heads.

        November 6, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
  14. Just a Guy

    Why is it most all you nonbelievers / atheists post mostly angry and sarcastic comments – you ridicule and mock what you do not understand, hate those that do believe and and scorn those that believe this country was founded on Christian principles. The majority of this country believe in the Creator and you can't deal with it, can you?

    November 6, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Colin

      No, we just think it is a childish belief that is dying (which it is) and are doing whatever we can to accelerate its demise.

      November 6, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
      • Just a Guy

        I think you just like to stir the pot.......

        November 6, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
      • Alan

        There are some atheist countries you guys can go to if a nation of God's brings you problem...

        November 6, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Have you taken possession of the United States in the name of God? How will you ever make it stick?

          November 6, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
        • Maddy

          The US is a secular nation. Are you aware of that?

          November 6, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • I wonder

      "this country was founded on Christian principles. "

      What ***exclusively*** Christian principles would those be...?

      November 6, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
      • Just a Guy

        go back to school ....

        November 6, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
        • Madtown

          Predictable. Didn't think you could answer the question.

          November 6, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
        • I wonder

          Madtown, I'm not too surprised at his answer either.

          November 6, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
        • thinkb4speaking

          "go back to school" is your answer? Try answering the tough questions instead of evading them when you have no real answer to provide, or stop posting inane comments like "this country was founded on Christian principles."

          November 6, 2013 at 4:39 pm |
    • bostontola

      "The majority of this country believe in the Creator and you can't deal with it, can you?"

      There was a time when the vast majority of people believed that the sun went around the earth, not so hard to deal with. The majority comes around eventually.

      November 6, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Truth

      There is a difference in believing in a Creator and the Christian Trinity.

      November 6, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Alan

      Thank you. I like this country being one of God's.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
      • Madtown

        Right, we're "one of God's". He must prefer us over those other countries that are different than we are. We are so special. We are the best, God loves us the most. Sure, those other countries are populated with human beings that God also made, but he loves us more than them.

        November 6, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
      • Doc Vestibule

        Countries with a high percentage of nonbelievers are among the freest, most stable, best-educated, and healthiest nations on earth. When nations are ranked according to a human-development index, which measures such factors as life expectancy, literacy rates, and educational attainment, the five highest-ranked countries - Norway, Sweden, Australia, Canada, and the Netherlands - all have high degrees of nonbelief. Of the fifty countires at the bottom of the index, all are intensly religious. The nations with the highest homicide rates tend to be more religious; those with the greatest levels of gender equality are the least religious.

        November 6, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
      • CommonSensed

        Allah thanks you.

        November 6, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Charm Quark

      Not at all, not at all. You can believe any nonsense you like, bless you, we love you all. Just keep whatever superst!tions you may have out of government business. You are welcome to mumble over your beads, roll in the aisles, speak in tongues and give your money to the hustlers that make a good living off of the scam. PS: I have some magic water from a secret holy place that will cure everything from cancer to STDs to acne. Contact me at......$$$$...

      November 6, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • enough already...

      maybe you should start reading comments from religious people hating on gays on youtube videos....just a place to start to see what is wrong with religion and believing in god.......watch the video "it gets better" the kid killed himself because he could no longer take the bullying...and being told he was going to go to hell because of his lifestyle.........nice job religious friends!!! spread that love! THIS is what's wrong with religion.....

      November 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • QS

      You're absolutely right!

      I can't deal with people believing in something that can't be proven and then using that belief to belittle, demonize and persecute others who happen to not subscribe to the same delusion.

      I can't deal with people who think morality and religion are synonymous.

      I can't deal with fanatics who believe this country was founded as a Christian nation only because they want their beliefs to be the law of the land.

      I can't deal with zealots who think they are obligated to "save" me by explaining to me all the ways in which their "god" doesn't like me.

      I can't deal with the religious arrogance and self-righteousness that leads people like you to think so much better of themselves than they are deserving of simply because they think believing something somebody else told them to believe makes them a good person.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • Lee

      "The majority of this country believe in the Creator and you can't deal with it, can you?"
      This is a blanket statement and simply not true. When the world was more simple and science less conclusive, religion made more sense. But when religion can be easily abused by not-so-smart white men, you really start to see it as man-made and not at all divine.
      You literally believe the same stories people believes 500 years ago. When they also thought the world was flat. And thunder was angels bowling, etc...it's just a bunch of baloney and just because you don't understand science doesn't mean religion must be true.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • stanky weed patch


      November 6, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
    • CommonSensed

      So you could also say that this country was also founded on Islamic principles.

      Additionally, just because your are in the majority it's not CHRISTIAN of you to say deal with it. And, just because you are in the majority now – if you set up our government to follow the principles of the religion that's in power then you are asking for a theocracy.

      Look at what's happening in the Netherlands where muslims are trying to create power blocks to insert sharia law into their government.

      Be careful what you wish for.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      “The Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.”
      ~1797 Treaty of Tripoli signed by John Adams

      November 6, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
  15. DannyC

    Last April, a Secular Humanist named Han Hills provided the opening invoation for the Wilmington, NC Town Council Meeting. It was short and sweet and didn't mention a deity in any way. Here's what he said:

    "As the council gathers here to make laws affecting the people of Wilmington I ask you to lift your heads, to open your eyes and open your hearts. Our most serious duty is to look to the community we share, the examples we make, and the legacies we leave. That should be our greatest, most courageous and noble intention. Let this be our most constant success. Thank you."

    November 6, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Truth

      Very fitting, it's inclusive and places the outcome on the group rather than God being for or against. Thank you for sharing.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Ernest T Bass

      Then he was tar and feathered and run out of town on a rail...

      just kidding,,,,

      November 6, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  16. Greg

    Please prove that George Washington actually chopped down a cherry tree. Please prove that the war of 1812 actually happened. Please prove that the Declaration of Independence was actually signed by those who say they signed it.

    Just because it's written in a book does not mean it's true! How do you know ANYTHING that was written or said (that you did not read or hear yourself) is true??? It's called FAITH, and Atheists have none.

    There are literally millions of things that we deal with every day that you can't PROVE are true and can't PROVE are not going to happen, but you hope they do or don't.

    November 6, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Colin

      Oh, well, you've convinced me that there is an invisible, all knowing, immortal being monitoring my life for the purposes of eternal punishment or reward. Thanks for pointing that out, I don't know why I was skeptical.

      November 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
      • Greg

        You are welcome, Colin. I am glad I could help out.

        November 6, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
        • Colin

          Why do you think it is a bad thing not to have faith, but to require a foundation and reason to believe something?

          November 6, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Rochester

      Evidence comes in many forms, some more convincing than others, some more worthy of skepticism, and the only real proofs you will find are those in mathematics. Other fields of study are not so absolute, and any scientist worth his salt will readily admit all knowledge is tentative, subject to revision and update when new information contradicts what we "know". Religion is rigid. Adherents claim absolute knowledge upon scant evidence, writings by ancient and simple-minded men, many after having been orally passed down for thousands of years, probably told around the campfire in a time when the universe was a complete mystery and folks were trying to explain the difficulties of survival and death. I can't put much stock in what they thought was true.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "Faith in your partner, your fellow men, your friends, is very important, because without it there's no mutual component to your relationship, and relationships are important. So faith plays an important role, but faith in people you don't know, faith in religious or political leaders or even people on stages, people who are popular in the public eye, you shouldn't have faith in those people. You should listen to what they have to say and use it. It might give you some ideas on how to view the world, but ultimately you have to base your views on evidence. Evidence comes from your own eyes and ears."

      – Dr. Greg Graffin

      November 6, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • QS

      The biggest misconception, or outright lie, that religious people seem to believe about Atheists – we have no faith.

      Simply because we have no faith in what you believe in doesn't mean we lack faith altogether. Simple logic and reasoning would have told you this.

      I as an Atheist, for example, have faith that my species will eventually evolve and grow out of the childish need to believe in gods and magic in order to feel less frightened of death.

      My faith in that is strong, despite people like you thinking the only way a person can be "good" is to not only have faith....but to have faith only in what you say they should.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Sara

      As Rochester is pointing out, evidence is contextual and the theories tentative. People mean different things by faith, so I won't use that word until we have to. What we do is look for best fit theories, and the theory that George Washington existed is one of the best fit theories, though others (such as that we are being manipulated by evil demons into believing this) arguably also fit well, but are of less immediate use.

      The theory that George Washington is a myth is not a good fit. Neither is the theory that Jesus Was a myth. However, there appear to be untruths and mythical components about both of their lives. In Jesus' case the whole story is a poor fit with the concept of an alpowerful god, the idea of god paying himself for the sins of man, the concept of libertarian free will needed to justify things like eternal punishment. None of these meet the standards of consistency or scientific compatibility...we don't even need to get into the historical inaccuracies of the bible.

      Are we deluded by an evil demon into thinking we existed yesterday? Who knows...that we are not I tenatively take as a premise because assuming I am not deluded fits and works. You can call that faith. So sure, we all have some very basic premises as faith. But taking high order complex premises (such as infallibilty of the bible) that conflict with other evidence is not the solution as we see all around us in science, medicine and public policy.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
  17. Chadl

    I am practicing Christian. I am very strong in my faith and I read my bible every day. However, that being said, there is a time and place for everything. Although I am Christian there are Christian faiths that practice in things I don't agree with and they could even say something in a pray I may even feel is inappropriate. I take my beliefs seriously and therefor feel maybe if a moment of silence was requested for those who may be of other faiths or even Christian denominations or nothing at all could have the time to meditate would be more fitting. I should not be forced to pray with you if I don't agree with the prayer or even for that matter the person saying the prayer. If they want to pass the law fine if they don't I have no opinion except for my personal feelings and experience on the matter. Bottom line is I control me and if you decide to pray I don't have to pray with you and I can always say my own silent prayer

    November 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Johnsen Frederick

      Try this...

      ...think for a moment that maybe "God" is fiction made up by men (like Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse or Winnie the Pooh) and try opening your bible to ANY page and start reading...

      CRAZY STUFF HUH??!!!

      November 6, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
      • Marshall

        Try this – think for a moment that God DOES exist, and loves you. Then open your Bible and read it. If your heart is open, you will get the best feeling in the world, and that is confirmation that what you are reading is true.

        How do you know a man REALLY loves his wife? You say he does, but actually PROVE it please. You can't. It's all about the feeling he gets when he is with her. That is the proof of love.

        November 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
        • Madtown

          that is confirmation that what you are reading is true
          It's "true" because of the way it makes you feel? Compelling argument! As an aside, you can believe in God and not know the first thing about christianity. "God" is not synonymous with the christian version of God.

          November 6, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
        • a reasonable atheist

          I would not describe the feeling I get as "the best feeling in the world" when i read about the god character wantonly murdering people/creatures, demanding the murder of people/creatures, and endorsing slavery. Unless you equate "the best feeling in the world" with revulsion, then I could agree.

          November 6, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
        • QS

          Except, religion is like the man who says he loves his wife to the faces of his peers, and then beats her mercilessly behind closed doors.

          All you prove by saying you feel love is that you can feel emotions like other human beings. It is in no way indicative of the existence of a "god" or creator.

          November 6, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I wholeheartedly agree that one's faith, whatever it may or may not be, should be personal and private.
      Faith may guide the way you live, but you cannot expect it to influence others in the same way.

      November 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Rather than a moment of silence, which like public prayer is nothing more than theatrics for the faithful, you could simply pray before you go to a government sanctioned event. That way, you private religion won't be paid for by the public dollar, and your faith would seem more sincere.

      November 7, 2013 at 10:04 am |
  18. Smelt

    I think all of your gods are crazy. My God is the one true god and will kill or has killed all of your other gods. (Jesus was the easiest to slay after Osiris and Mythrias.)

    November 6, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Weeee

      All hail yer god

      November 6, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  19. Colin

    Is religion a good or bad thing for socient. Hmm, let's take a small test to find out.

    Q.1 The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings on the planet are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in an “afterlife” comes from the field of:

    (a) Bad science fiction;

    (b) Children’s fairytales;

    (c) Hallucinogenic psychology; or

    (d) Religion

    Q. 2 What is the only thing capable of making 40% of the country utterly stupid enough to think the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with one man, one woman and a talking snake:

    (a) a horrid disease

    (b) a failed education system

    (c) a successful Al Qaeda plot; or

    (d) Christianity?

    Q. 3 Please complete the following sentence. It is not uncommon in many parts of the World for a young man to strap a suicide vest to himself and blow himself up and members of a rival __________

    (i) corporation

    (ii) university

    (iii) research insti.tute; or

    (iv) church?

    Q. 4 It is only acceptable as an adult to believe Bronze Age mythology like talking snakes, the Red Sea splitting, mana falling from the sky, a man living in a whale's belly, a talking donkey, superhuman strength, a man rising from the dead and angels, ghosts, gods and demons in the field of:

    (a) history

    (b) literature

    (c) anthropology

    (d) religion

    Q.5 I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am being obstinate and closed minded due to my:

    (a) hetero$exuality

    (b) genetics

    (c) nationality; or

    (d) religion.

    Q6. I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am

    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;

    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly

    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or

    (d) your average Christian, Muslim or Jew who believes that prayers are answered

    Q7. Millions and millions of Catholics believe that bread and wine turns into the actual flesh and blood of a dead Jew from 2,000 years ago because:

    (a) there are obvious visible changes in the condiments after the Catholic priest does his hocus pocus;

    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence in the bread and wine;

    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this story; or

    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.

    Q.8 The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:

    (a) Architecture;

    (b) Philosophy;

    (c) Archeology; or

    (d) Religion

    Q.9 What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:

    (a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they MUST believe under threat of “burning in hell” or other of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;

    (b) Religion can make a statement, such as “God is comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;

    (c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas all religion is regional and a person’s religion, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than a matter of upbringing; or

    (d) All of the above.

    Q.10 If I am found wandering the streets flagellating myself, wading into a filth river, mutilating my child’s genitals or kneeling down in a church believing that a being is somehow reading my inner thoughts and prayers, I am likely driven by:

    (a) a deep psychiatric issue;

    (b) an irrational fear or phobia;

    (c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or

    (d) my religious belief.

    November 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Gol

      Q10) Who sleeps with monkies and slaps his momma around?
      a) Colin
      b) a maniac
      c) a crazy man who thinks questions with bias answers won't get noticed
      d) all of the above

      November 6, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  20. QS

    The true motto of this country is NOT "In God We Trust". It's "E Pluribus Unum" – from many, one.

    Take "under god" back out of the pledge.

    Remove "in god we trust" from our currency.

    End the practice of the 'inauguration invocation prayer' when inaugurating newly-elected Presidents.

    Tax religions and churches that take donated money and use it for political purposes.

    Get religion away from my rights!

    November 6, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      hear hear!!!

      November 6, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
    • Jacob R

      Well said!! 😉

      November 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Maddy


      November 6, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • Truth

      Look at you coming in here all logical and stating facts... Well said, thank you!

      November 6, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • ME II

      "The true motto of this country is NOT "In God We Trust". It's "E Pluribus Unum" – from many, one."

      It should be, in my opinion, but it's not.

      Otherwise, well said!

      November 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm |
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About this blog

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