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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. bostontola

    Given all the religions, and all the sects of those religions, I would think religious people would want their Government to stay out of the religion business. Your religion may have a plurality today, but tomorrow it may be another minority. Keeping Government secular protects all religions and sects. Secular Government doesn't mean atheist Government. It simply means the Government has no religion or sect as special.

    November 6, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
  2. Dyslexic doG

    it's utter mind-numbing nonsense that someone could die and somehow absorb every bad thought and bad deed that everyone had ever done or would ever do. Believing in a daddy figure in the sky is crazy enough but believing that this crucified bronze age zealot died for your sins just because a bunch of his followers took his body and claimed a miracle ... well, it's utter mind-numbing nonsense

    November 6, 2013 at 10:21 pm |
    • lol??

      Quit hangin' out on the belief blogs and you won't be so mind numb. See how easy that is??

      November 7, 2013 at 12:32 am |
  3. Blessed are the Cheesemakers

    Every day before the Senate meets, the Senate Witch Doctor comes out and sacrifices a chicken, 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 consti.tutional right, to be able to exercise that. And I thought it was important to defend that here today."

    Coming from Mark Rubio the Catholic...ummm Mormon....no Catholic again...now Voo Doo High Preist

    November 6, 2013 at 10:01 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Two chickens, actually. one white and one black. There's also something about a plush hat, cigars, and a libation of whiskey.

      November 6, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
      • Tom, Tom, the Other One

        Sorry, it has to be rum. Google Baron Saturday if you want to follow this practice.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          That is Fundamental Voo Doo....I am refering to Reformed Missouri Synod Voo Doo.

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

        Oh, oooh.............Tyson's uprising and a Whiskey rebellion all rolled up in a gob mob!! Nice job.

        November 7, 2013 at 12:35 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      Numbers 28:27 `You shall offer a burnt offering for a soothing aroma to the LORD: two young bulls, one ram, seven male lambs one year old

      November 6, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Cluckles the Boneless Chicken's disastrous attempt at weightlifting

      Oh you filthy heathen unbelievers! The Greaat And Terrible God of Gods, the Great Revenger of Poultry Atrocities, FOGHORN LEGHORN shall smite thee most smite-ily, as ye who deserveth smitey smiting for your dark and nefarious sacrifices of chickens! Only Colonel Sanders shall suffer a worse fate than thee! Let none forget the Foster Farms concentration camps!

      DEATH TO THE FASCIST HUMANS WHO PREY UPON THE LIFE OF THE POULTRY!!!

      November 6, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
  4. Colin

    They did an experiment with sick people in Australia. 5 groups of 500 people with different ailments of different severities were isolated. The six groups were split into 6 as follows

    A. For the first group of 500 sick people, Christian volunteers prayed to God that their condition would improve.
    B. For the second group of 500 sick people, Muslim volunteers prayed to Allah that their condition would improve.
    C. For the second group of 500 sick people, Australian Aboriginals performed traditional ceremonies to their ancestral spirits that their condition would improve.
    D. For the fourth group, Hindu volunteers prayed for their recovery.
    E. The fifth group was a control group.

    Similarly, researchers in the USA traced the social development of three major issues in recent history for which millions and millions of Christians have prayed in an effort to effect the outcome:

    A. Abortion
    B. Gay rights and gay marriage
    C. School prayer

    In the first experiment, none of the five groups did any better than the other four. Improvements were randomly distributed across all groups. In other words, Christian prayers work no better than doing nothing, or to praying to Allah, Brahma or some Aboriginal ancestor spirits.

    In the second, the Christians continued to lose and continue to lose to this day. Despite millions and millions of prayers, the anti-Christian position continues to make strides.

    Finally, I would invite any Christian who still, despite ALL evidence to the contrary, believes that when they pray, a being that created the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, reads their minds and will intervene to alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to answer them, to consider the following.

    Line up every amputee in the World. There must be a few million. Pray to the Christian god that just one of them grows a new arm or leg and see what happens. We know the result. You could line up millions of Christians to pray their heart out for decades and not one limb would re-grow.

    Prayer will fail. It will fail 100% of the time – always and forever, for the simple and obvious reason that there is no god there listening to you. It only ever “works” when the outcome was entirely possible anyway, like a cancer going into remission or a person recovering from a serious, but curable illness.

    The ability of the simple-minded Christian to rely on these purely explicable fact to delude themselves into thinking a creator of the Universe exists and interacts with them is quite spectacular.

    November 6, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      If they realized en masse the foolishness of what they believe and do, that would be a sort of miracle. One worth praying for. And they do know how to pray.

      November 6, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
    • Dyslexic doG

      "For 27 years I prayed every day of my life for God to heal my son's mental illness," Pastor Rick Warren said.

      Need any more proof that prayer doesn't work?

      November 6, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • J.W

      I would argue that actually as far as abortion Christian groups are winning. There have been more restrictions put on abortion within the past decade.

      November 6, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
      • Colin

        Oh bullsh.it. That's like a football team that lost 50-0 claiming "the tide was turning" because they got a couple of first downs in the last quarter. 40 years since Roe v. Wade. millions and millions of babys aborted. Thousands every week. Your sky-fairy has been totally absent on the issue. Countless millions of unanswered prayers.

        November 6, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
      • J.W

        Ok my comment for some reason won't post even though there are no restricted words in it.

        November 6, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        You might want to ask the anti-abortion folks in Texas, led by that brilliant believer Rick Perry, about their recent attempts to pretty much eliminate abortion in Texas – they're not very happy these days.

        Seems like an opportune time to remind everyone that believers account for 70+% of the 1,000,000+ abortions performed in the USA each year. I still wonder why the believer cult's and their alleged gods can't control their members.

        November 6, 2013 at 11:28 pm |
        • Anne

          Taking out religion of it, abortion is the killing of a human being, ask a doctor about it, Google an ultrasound, a 3 months pregnancy for i.e and you will see a BABY. Perry limited the abortion to a maximum of 20 months pregnancy, that is almost 5 months pregnancy. Because you can't hear the complaints of the baby it doesn't mean it's not a killing.

          November 7, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
      • J.W

        Why do you think abortion is such a positive thing? Just because Christians don't want it?

        November 6, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
        • Roger that

          A higher percentage of Christians get abortions than non Christians. Maybe Christians are privately praying to keep abortion legal.

          November 7, 2013 at 2:46 am |
        • Anne

          No Roger, it is only because of the majority of this country is Christian, you like it or not.

          November 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
        • Joey

          Who says abortion is a good thing. I think most people would agree that we should work to limit the number of abortions, however, it is not a decision that you should get to make for anyone else.

          November 7, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
        • Real Deal

          Anne
          "No Roger, it is only because of the majority of this country is Christian,"

          Do you understand what "percentage" means?

          – 37% of women obtaining abortions identify as Protestant and 28% as Catholic. = 65%
          – 27% identify as "none" (religious affiliation)
          – 7% identify as "other" (religious affiliation)

          http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html#6

          November 7, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
      • J.W

        It'll get done in Texas eventually. It's just a matter of time.

        November 6, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        Prayers are futile. The following however is not.

        The reality of se-x, abortion, contraception and STD/HIV control: – from an agnostic guy who enjoys intelligent se-x-

        Note: Some words hyphenated to defeat an obvious word filter. ...

        The Brutal Effects of Stupidity:

        : The failures of the widely used birth "control" methods i.e. the Pill (8.7% actual failure rate) and male con-dom (17.4% actual failure rate) have led to the large rate of abortions and S-TDs in the USA. Men and women must either recognize their responsibilities by using the Pill or co-ndoms properly and/or use safer methods in order to reduce the epidemics of abortion and S-TDs.- Failure rate statistics provided by the Gut-tmacher Inst-itute. Unfortunately they do not give the statistics for doubling up i.e. using a combination of the Pill and a condom.

        Added information before making your next move:

        "Se-xually transmitted diseases (STDs) remain a major public health challenge in the United States. While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain S-TDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24.1 In addition to the physical and psy-ch-ological consequences of S-TDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs as-sociated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars."

        See also: http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/26/opinion/bolan-se-xual-health/index.html?hpt=hp_t4

        And from:

        "Adolescents don’t think or-al se-x is something to worry about (even though is becoming a major cause of throat cancer)," said Bonnie Halpern-Felsher professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco. "They view it as a way to have intimacy without having 's-ex.'" (Maybe it should be called the Bill Clinton Syndrome !!)

        Obviously, political leaders in both parties, Planned Parenthood, parents, the "stupid part of the USA" and the educational system have failed miserably on many fronts.

        The most effective forms of contraception, ranked by "Perfect use":

        – (Abstinence, 0% failure rate)
        – (Masturbation, mono or mutual, 0% failure rate)

        Followed by:

        One-month injectable and Implant (both at 0.05 percent)
        Vasectomy and IUD (Mirena) (both at 0.1 percent)
        The Pill, Three-month injectable, and the Patch (all at 0.3 percent)
        Tubal sterilization (at 0.5 percent)
        IUD (Copper-T) (0.6 percent)
        Periodic abstinence (Post-ovulation) (1.0 percent)
        Periodic abstinence (Symptothermal) and Male condom (both at 2.0 percent)
        Periodic abstinence (Ovulation method) (3.0 percent)

        Every other method ranks below these, including Withdrawal (4.0), Female condom (5.0), Diaphragm (6.0), Periodic abstinence (calendar) (9.0), the Sponge (9.0-20.0, depending on whether the woman using it has had a child in the past), Cervical cap (9.0-26.0, with the same caveat as the Sponge), and Spermicides (18.0).

        November 6, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
  5. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    Imagine an atheist president and her difficulties filling court vacancies. It will be a long time before a politician will be honest about atheism.

    November 6, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  6. Fred

    It's not a matter of coercion. It's a matter of simple respect and politeness.

    November 6, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Maddy

      Then respect the first amendment and keep religion out of government.

      November 6, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
  7. Fred

    There is free speech on public property.

    November 6, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      There is order in public meetings called for the processes of government.

      November 6, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Maddy

      It's a matter of respecting the first amendment. I can plainly see you do not.

      November 6, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
  8. A. Reasoner

    The obvious answer is for governments to attend to the governmental business they are paid to and abandon the imposition of supernatural belief. Tradition is a poor excuse to continue a wrong whether it's slavery or preferential treatment of the religiously impaired. Even this many years after our founding, it is nearly impossible for a candidate to win an election unless he or she professes a belief to the currently favored mythical god. It's time to leave the dark ages.

    November 6, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • lol??

      Gonna get darker.

      November 6, 2013 at 8:17 pm |
      • Maddy

        Yes, because the middle ages was so much better.

        November 6, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  9. Fred

    His truth is marching on:

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8nSmiwC_V4&w=640&h=360]

    November 6, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Doris

      Looks like the sofa could be repaired.

      November 6, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
  10. 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 8:04 pm |
    • Fred

      To me they do.

      November 6, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
      • Maddy

        Your belief is fine. It just doesn't belong in the government.

        November 6, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
  11. Apple Bush

    The bible is part of the tradition of fairy tales that includes other religious texts, Norse mythology, the Iliad by Homer, Beowulf, Arthurian legends, LOTR, Harry Potter, Inheritance and hundreds of others. It is fiction and it is a different universe that has gods and devils and demons and trolls and elves and fairies / angels, etc. It's great!

    November 6, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  12. Fred

    The geezer justices cannot be experts in everything.
    There needs to be more specialization in the court system.

    November 6, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Christ, you actually said something mildly sensible.

      November 6, 2013 at 7:49 pm |
      • Fred

        Thanks!

        November 6, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • lol??

      They already turn down a zillion cases. How come there aren't more benches to clear up the backlog and the population increase??

      November 6, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
      • Maddy

        That's why they have the lower courts. Do you not know anything about how our country runs?

        November 6, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      They only need to be experts in one subject – the US const!tution.

      November 6, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
      • Maddy

        Exactly!

        November 6, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
  13. lol??

    "............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.".............."
    Really?? Save?? Check the public balance sheets. Yer upside down.
    A)Never heard of a gubmint in Hell.
    B)US isn't so united since they began fixin' the consti*tution.
    C)Honorable?? There's some mighty broad power exercised on a definition.

    Gen 12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

    November 6, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • Well Duh

      "US isn't so united since they began fixin' the consti*tution."

      Yeah, why the hell did they put an end to slavery; and women voting, the nerve of them b!tches.

      November 6, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
      • lol??

        60 million fathers have NO RIGHTS concerning their offspring with abortions. Looks very family unfriendly.

        November 6, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
        • lol??

          Make that HAD no rights. It continues.

          November 6, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
        • Well Duh

          And there has been far more maternal deaths than deaths by abortions. Why does God hate children?

          November 6, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
        • Maddy

          The poster child for ADD, lol??, has proven once again that s/he cannot focus on one subject....

          November 6, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
        • truthprevails1

          Yes lol?? does appear to have Adult Delusional Disorder...simple fix for that, lol?? needs the local asylum's help.

          November 7, 2013 at 5:21 am |
  14. Fred

    The Supreme Court is inefficient.

    November 6, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
  15. faith

    Ron, is that me?

    November 6, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
  16. Apple Bush

    Why I hate church by Apple Bush:

    1. It smells like old people
    2. The textures
    3. Hymns. The music is worse than Mariachi.
    4. The power point presentations
    5. Polyester suits.
    6. The creepy bath tub
    7. BORING
    8. The abuse of the children
    9. The abuse of me
    10. Football is on Sundays

    November 6, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Whoa, whoa, whoa. Let's not dis Mariachi music.

      November 6, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        Really? I can't stand that noise. I am a jazz man. I LOVE Latin jazz though.

        November 6, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          I like jazz too, free jazz specifically, but it's kinda stupid to completely ignore or write off an entire genre of music. I've heard good mariachi stuff.

          November 6, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          It makes me cringe.

          November 6, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
        • fintastic

          Do I hear a vote for rap?

          November 7, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • Fred

      Actually, some hymns are very powerful, and they will give you goosebumps. They use a lot of minor chords.

      November 6, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        I beg to differ.

        November 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
      • Fred

        You don't have to beg.
        Differ away!

        November 6, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
      • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

        Black Sabbath gives me goosebumps too.

        November 6, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Fred

      That stained glass is pretty.

      November 6, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
      • Apple Bush

        It is creepy.

        November 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
        • Reading

          Most of your reasoning has to do with suffering. Old age for example, abuse of course, polyester to do with a lack of money. It is upsetting to see people suffer. All we can as bystanders do is lend a hand if possible. It's scary when it hits home, when it might be us one day.

          One question. Bathtub?

          November 6, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
        • Apple Bush

          Some churches do the baptisms up on the "stage" behind the podium or whatever. Creepy.

          November 6, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
    • Piccolo

      Dude if Mariachi bands played at churches I'd be way more inclined to go. Those redundant boring songs get old fast. Why not incorporate some hip hop into the church instead of using ancient outdated organ music?

      November 7, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  17. lol??

    "...............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?"..............."

    Coercion?? Don't see that in gubmint since the pwoghwessives began fixin' things-NOT. The fix is in. The roadblocks are activated.

    November 6, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Fred

      I already feel coerced not to ask certain questions.

      November 6, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • Maddy

      I implore you: please get an education. What ever you are attempting to say comes out as abject gibberish.

      November 6, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
  18. Fred

    But seriously, folks....Without prayers to God, then government would be atheistic by default.

    November 6, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

      Nope.

      November 6, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
      • Fred

        Why nope?

        November 6, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
        • I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that

          😉

          November 6, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      The government is not a sentient being. It cannot pray or otherwise make representation to any alleged supernatural being.

      November 6, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Piccolo

      Wrong. They would be secular by default, which means they don't pander to any particular religion or religious group when going about their business.

      November 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
  19. Fred

    Someone requested Harry Potter quotes:

    "I'd like to get my basilisk into your chamber of secrets."

    November 6, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • G to the T

      There's a "slitherin" joke there but I'm too mature to make it...

      November 7, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
  20. Fred

    Hey, baby; I must be in the Room of Requirement, because I require YOU!

    November 6, 2013 at 7:21 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.