November 23rd, 2013
07:13 AM ET

How Catholic was John F. Kennedy?

By Daniel Burke, Belief Blog Co-editor

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(CNN) - When John F. Kennedy was a boy, his mother counseled her children on Good Fridays to pray for a peaceful death.

Young Jack joked that he’d rather pray for two pet dogs.

If you’re looking for the CliffsNotes version of Kennedy’s Catholicism, that anecdote touches on the key themes: the pious Irish mother, the light-hearted irreverence, the ever-present prospect of death.

But there’s much more to the story.

In the words of one biographer, Kennedy was Mr. Saturday Night but also Mr. Sunday Morning, rarely missing a Mass.

He was famously unfaithful to his wife but fiercely loyal to his church, even when it threatened his quest for the presidency.

One scholar suggests that Kennedy was becoming more religious as the Cold War wore on. Another says that Kennedy’s public displays of piety were little more than political lip service.

As the country marks the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s death - and it was far from peaceful, as we all know - almost every aspect of his life is again under the media microscope. But for all the ballyhoo about Kennedy being the first and only Catholic president, the topic of his faith remains largely untouched.

We’ve been told that he was venerated by many who shared his religion and vilified by many who didn’t. We know that his family shared sacraments with popes and confidences with cardinals. And we’ve heard about Kennedy breaking more than a few Commandments.

We also know that Catholics, particularly Irish Catholics, revere Kennedy, hanging his portrait in their parlors next to images of the Sacred Heart, naming their schools and children after him.

But the halo around Kennedy’s head has dimmed in recent decades as revelations about his marital infidelities and carefully concealed health problems have come to light.

“Being the first of any group to get to the White House is worth taking seriously and showing respect for,” said the Rev. John Langan, a Jesuit priest and ethicist at Georgetown University. “But there is bound to be a very ambivalent reaction to Kennedy at this point in our history.”

That still doesn’t tell us much about what kind of Catholic Kennedy was, to the extent that we can ever know.

“It’s hard to look into the soul of a person, especially a person who’s been dead for 50 years, and judge their religion and belief in God,” said Thomas Maier, author of “The Kennedys: America’s Emerald Kings.”

No doubt Maier is right. But Kennedy's Catholic faith remains central to questions about his character and his legacy. And even if we reserve final judgment for the Almighty, we can still probe history for clues about how religion inspired and guided his short and star-crossed life.

The Irish Catholic ideal

When Kennedy was 13 and attending a Catholic school for the only time in his life, a visiting missionary spoke to the students about his work in India.

Afterward, Kennedy eagerly informed his parents that “it was one of the most interesting talks I’ve ever heard,” according to the Robert Dallek biography “An Unfinished Life.

The Catholic missionary inspired two aims that day that would drive Kennedy for the rest of his life, according to Ted Sorensen, one of his closest advisers: the desire to enjoy the world, and the desire to improve it.

Few historians argue that Kennedy’s reputation as a womanizer isn’t well-warranted. But even tough-minded idealists such as Eleanor Roosevelt, who once regarded Kennedy as cocky and callow, eventually saw him in another light.

“My final judgment is that here is a man who wants to leave a record (perhaps for ambitious personal reasons, as people say), but I rather think because he is really interested in helping the people of his own country and mankind in general,” Roosevelt said after meeting Kennedy in 1960.

Kennedy put his personal mission another way: “Those to whom much is given, much is required.” That phrase echoes Luke’s Gospel, which, like many parts of the Bible, he learned from his mother, Rose.

Joseph Kennedy, the family patriarch, was often away making his millions and insisted that his children attend top private (and secular) schools such as Harvard. That left the nine Kennedy children’s religious education to Rose, a devout Catholic.

“At the time, it was the Irish Catholic ideal,” Langan said, “a big and active family where the father was successful in business and politics and the mother was the spiritual center, the person who held it all together.”

In other ways, the Kennedys were anything but typical Irish Catholics, said Kean University historian Terry Golway. They were lucratively rich. They mingled with Boston Brahmins. They went to Harvard, not Holy Cross.

“Some people saw them as a faux Catholic,” Golway said, “too big for their britches.”

But few historians doubt Rose Kennedy’s devout attachment to Catholicism.

She attended the country’s top Catholic schools, and she supervised her family like the nuns who ran those schools, according to biographer Barbara A. Perry.

Rose neither spared the rod nor tolerated emotional outbursts. Any bumps and bruises were to be “offered up to God,” the matriarch insisted, no complaining allowed.

“She was terribly religious,” John Kennedy said as an adult. “She was a little removed.”

Still, many say the stoicism Rose Kennedy instilled helped her son deal with the debilitating health issues that plagued his short life. Other historians theorize that Kennedy's poor health - he was twice given last rites before recovering - played a role in his wanton womanizing.

“His continual, almost heroic sexual performance,” wrote Catholic scholar Garry Wills, was a “cackling at the gods of disability that plagued him.”

Well before her son's playboy days, Rose neatly noted her children’s medical histories and church milestones such as baptism, confirmation and first Holy Communion on small index cards.

She left rosaries on their beds, tested their knowledge of the Catholic Catechism and oversaw their prayers for hints of apostasy.

Rose regularly took the children on walks to the local parish or the zoo, where she would show them the lions and explain how they once devoured faithful Christians. It was an effective, if morbid, method to hold the children’s interest, Perry notes in her book “Rose Kennedy: The Life and Times of a Political Matriarch."

As the Kennedy kids grew up, Rose pinned questions about priests’ sermons and Holy Days on the family blackboard, expecting the children to discuss them at dinner, according to Perry.

The matriarch continued preaching the faith well into her children's adulthood, advising them that praying the rosary was as good a way to relieve stress as any drink or pill, and a good bit better for their figure.

And Rose wrote to Jacqueline Kennedy to “remind Jack about his Easter duty” to attend the sacrament of confession. “I’m sure that the church is quite near” to their home in Washington, she nagged.

Teasing and testing

Surrounded by his mother’s intense piety, Jack Kennedy couldn’t help but tease and test her.

He interrupted her Bible stories to ask odd questions such as what happened to the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday? Who took care of the ass after the crucifixion?

Later, Kennedy’s questions grew more probing.

Traveling through the Middle East as an adolescent, he visited Jerusalem, where Christians believe Christ ascended into heaven and Muslims believe the same about Mohammed.

Upon his return to the United States, Kennedy promptly asked a priest, “Mohammed has a big following and Christ has a big following, and why do you think we should believe in Christ any more than Mohammed?”

Get this boy some religious instruction, before he becomes an atheist, the priest told Kennedy’s parents, according to Dallek’s biography.

Later, Kennedy teasingly threatened to teach a Bible class - then a strictly Protestant practice - when his parents pressured him to dump his married girlfriend, Inga Arvad.

“Don’t good works come under our obligations to the Catholic Church?” he needled his mother and father.

“We’re not a completely ritualistic, formalistic, hierarchical structure in which the Word, the truth, must only come down from the very top - a structure that allows for no individual interpretation - or are we?”

Kennedy even ribbed Rose and Joe while fighting in the Solomon Islands during World War II. He told them he had dutifully attended Easter Mass at a native hut, even as enemy aircraft circled overhead. And his parents would be pleased to know a priest had devoted all his energies to Kennedy’s salvation.

“I’m stringing along with him,” Kennedy wrote, “but I’m not giving over too easy as I want him to work a bit - so he’ll appreciate it more when he finally has me in the front row every morning screaming hallelujah.”

The lion’s den

Joking aside, Kennedy took his faith seriously, according to several biographers, especially when it became a political issue.

In 1947, when Kennedy was a representative from Massachusetts, Congress held a hearing on public funding for parochial schools. He exploded when a Freemason testified that Catholics owe their loyalties to their church, not their country.

“I am not a legal subject of the Pope,” Kennedy countered. “There is an old saying in Boston that we get our religion from Rome and our politics from home.”

The congressional contretemps was just a prelude to the prejudice Kennedy endured during his 1960 presidential run.

Protestant leaders - from backwoods evangelists and radio preachers to prominent pastors such as Billy Graham and Norman Vincent Peale - warned the country would go to hell with a Catholic in the Oval Office.

“I’m getting tired of these people who think I want to replace the gold at Fort Knox with a supply of holy water,” Kennedy complained.

Against some advisers’ counsel, the candidate decided to directly confront the anti-Catholic bias with a televised speech to a group of Protestant ministers in Houston in 1960. It was like Daniel walking into the lion’s den, a journalist said at the time.

In the now famous speech, Kennedy said he believed that America’s separation of church and state is “absolute” and that a presidential candidate’s religious beliefs are “his own private affair.”

“I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me,” Kennedy said.

The Protestant ministers pressed Kennedy on those pledges in a question and answer session that followed, according to Dallek, but the candidate’s calm reassurances seemed to win many of them over.

“He responded with such poise and restraint that the ministers stood and applauded at the close of the meeting, and some came forward to shake his hand and wish him well in the campaign.”

A ‘little less convinced’

As president, Kennedy continued to say his daily prayers, morning and night, his sister Eunice told historians. But “that doesn’t mean he was terribly religious,” she said.

“He was always a little less convinced” than the rest of the Kennedy clan, Eunice continued, especially his brother Robert Kennedy, who took after Rose.

Still, Eunice said John always hustled off to Mass on Sundays, even while traveling. Maier, the Kennedy biographer who called him Mr. Saturday Night and Mr. Sunday Morning, said The New York Times’ index of the president’s travels show him faithfully attending Mass once a week, wherever he happened to be.

“The popular perception is that he wasn’t all that religious,” Maier said, “but by today’s standards he would be called a traditional Catholic.”

Dallek said he believes Kennedy attended religious rituals more out of duty than desire. “This is the faith he was reared in, and something his parents expected him to do,” the historian said.

“As president it was kind of mandatory to go to church, to show that he was a man of good Christian faith. But was it something that informed his daily life and decisions as president? I don’t think so.”

Others, however, see echoes of Kennedy’s Catholic upbringing in his most famous speech, the 1961 inaugural address. In it, the new president urged Americans to “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

“The words chosen seem to spring from a sacramental background,” the Rev. Daniel Coughlin, first Catholic chaplain in the U.S. House of Representatives, wrote in a recent blog post.

“In fact, the whole speech was framed by his belief in a living and ever-present God both at its beginning and in the end,” Coughlin wrote.

Two months later, in a move that may have harkened back to meeting the Catholic missionary, Kennedy founded the Peace Corps.

A monk predicts the assassination 

Regardless of how faithful Kennedy was, Irish Catholicism is as much a culture as a set of religious rules and rituals, said Peter Quinn, author of “Looking for Jimmy: A Search for Irish America.

Kennedy’s gift for gab and love of language; his fierce loyalty and clannishness; his temper and his wit; his concern for the poor and sense of the tragedy of life - he lost a beloved brother and sister at a young age - all are hallmarks of Irish Catholicism, Quinn said.

“The church was the building block of Irish identity, and Kennedy was imbued in that culture.”

Golway agrees. “There was a chip on his shoulder, a sense of being embattled and having to fight for everything. That’s a very Irish-Catholic thing.”

Other historians believe Kennedy was becoming more religious, in the traditional sense, as the threat of nuclear war loomed over his presidency.

“He never talked about his religion, never,” said James W. Douglass, author of “JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why it Matters.” “But at great personal risk, he was turning from war toward peacemaking.”

Kennedy would not have been the first president to “get religion” in the Oval Office.

Lincoln, an unorthodox believer, once said that “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go.”

Historians say Kennedy kept a note on his desk paraphrasing another quote from Lincoln, “I know that there is a God and I see a storm coming. ... If he has a place for me, I am ready.”

If Lincoln’s storm was the Civil War, Kennedy’s was the Cold War.

As Douglass notes, some Catholics had little confidence that Kennedy, the youngest elected president in American history, had the wisdom and humanity to carry the country through the existential threat.

“Maybe Kennedy will break through into that some day by miracle,” Thomas Merton, the American Trappist monk and author, wrote to a friend.

“But such people are before long marked out for assassination.”

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Belief • Catholic Church • Christianity • Church and state • Leaders • Mass • Politics • Prejudice

soundoff (1,019 Responses)
  1. yoozyerbrain

    I find it sad that we DEMAND our political leaders be supersti tious. Wouldn't we be better off if they were all either atheistic or at least agnostic so they could represent what really makes this country strong- and it isn't superst ition!

    Supersti tion is what evil people use to control the weak-minded or under-educated.

    November 25, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • Sara

      Do you see the politicians using these supersti.ttions? It seems to me they are more of an inconvenience than anything. Having to keep up a facade of religiosity isn't easy. In a sense the relatively powerless are regulating the behavior of the powerful with religion.

      November 25, 2013 at 11:49 pm |
    • Heavensent

      Me too. I weep over it every nite. It is almost as horrible as having my children exposed to the poison of our currency, in god we trust. O lord, help me! Those delusional maniacs! They think something created the universe. Someone other than the stooges!

      November 26, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • lol??

      Leaders are for mobs. Public Servants obey the Masters. How can the Beast be called the united states when the state gubmints lost their representation with the passage of the 17th amendment?? No statesman need apply. The jobs are gone.

      November 26, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
  2. Bender Bending Rodriguez

    Why was JFK considered such a good president? Why does everyone gives him a pass on the bay of pigs?

    November 25, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Probably the same reason people give Reagan a pass for Iran/Contra, ect.

      November 25, 2013 at 11:26 pm |
      • Lawrence of Arabia

        And the same reason Obama gets a pass on increasing government control, his failed stimulus, and son of stimulus, health care, and for blaming past administrations for his mistakes...

        November 26, 2013 at 7:35 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia


          November 26, 2013 at 7:42 am |
        • Science Works

          L of A do not forget Bush

          You know his FAIRY told him to DO IT !

          November 26, 2013 at 7:46 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Reagan was quickly lapsing into senility during his 2nd term and Dubya couldn't string together a coherent sentence.
          I think it's pretty obvious that Bush Sr. was running the Republican circus for a good quarter century.
          You can blame Obama all you like for his "failed" economic stimuli, but it was Trickle-Down Reaganomics that enabled the runaway, conscionceless corporatism that has given the world this enormous wealth gap and that has allowed businesses to rise to the power levels of independent nations.
          Christianity isn't America's religion, capitalism is.

          November 26, 2013 at 8:17 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Meh... If there's one thing that all politicians have in common is that they all have a nack for letting most people down. Oh, well, they're human, whaddya expect?

          November 26, 2013 at 8:50 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          Off topic Lawrence, the question has to do with why we tend to view Presidents more favorably as time moves on. It is not a partisan issue.

          November 26, 2013 at 8:53 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Off topic Lawrence, the question has to do with why we tend to view Presidents more favorably as time moves on. It is not a partisan issue.
          Off topic? Like when has that ever stopped someone on this blog before?

          But actually it isn't off topic. The posts tended towards showing the forgiveness of grave issues surrounding our presidents, and I was merely attempting to show that the tendancy exists on both sides of the isle.

          Actually it's kind of a good sign in that it seems as though many people tend to see the best in others.

          November 26, 2013 at 9:04 am |
        • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

          I don't think it has much to do with forgivness. It has more to do with forgetfullness. I dought there are many people right now who know what Iran/Contra is, and even less who know anything about the Bay of Pigs.

          November 26, 2013 at 9:12 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          I dought there are many people right now who know what Iran/Contra is, and even less who know anything about the Bay of Pigs.
          Sure there are! Kids these days are GREAT at looking things up online, and everybody knows that everything they read online is 100% accurate!

          November 26, 2013 at 9:17 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          Iran Contra couldn't have been all that important.
          After all, the president himself repeated more than 100 times over eight hours of testimony that he didn't recall anything about it.;
          Now let us offer a prayer to Saint Reagan of Gipper, Patron Saint of plausible deniability and afternoon naps.

          November 26, 2013 at 9:22 am |
        • Lawrence of Arabia

          Wasn't Conta a video game on Nintendo? I'm sure we had that one...

          November 26, 2013 at 9:56 am |
        • Doc Vestibule

          It was an awesome NES game.
          The cheat code is perhaps the most famous one in all of gamedom – Konami still plants little Easter Eggs you can unlock in their games using it.
          Up up, down down, left right, left right, B A, B A, Select.
          Uncle Ronnie must've used it to get 30 saves against impeachment.

          November 26, 2013 at 10:00 am |
        • Heavensent

          Point being, how christian of u! Agreed. So.

          November 26, 2013 at 10:56 am |
        • lol??

          Talk about socie fantasy. We be fweee and clear. We be a fwee people. Looks like some kinda scientology to a socie scientist?? Nah, they're corrupt, too.

          November 26, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
    • Jesse Christ

      Bay of Pigs Invasion was planned during the Eisenhower Administration. When the CIA told Kennedy, he wanted no part of it. Study History.

      November 27, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
  3. Joe Nichols

    In Catholic Liberal Circles the joke of JFK was"Damn it, now I have to go to Sunday Mass" after his nomination.
    As to his morals, long ago I thought it was better to have a rogue for president who did the right thing for domestic and foreign policies, serving social justice,. Than a straight arrow who as president didn't do diddly for the people.

    November 25, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Reality # 2

      But before his assassination, JFK's PR personnel had us all believing he was the "straight arrow of the century". Some still suffer from that delusion. And maybe if he were not chasing skirts, he could have spent more time keeping an eye on the Russians and prevented the Cuban missile crises. Ditto for Clinton in preventing 9/11 by eliminating OBL early in the game.

      November 25, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
      • lol??

        The straight man is the butt of the joke, like the Masters are to the PUblic Servants.

        November 25, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
        • @lol??

          You think of pubes and gay people too much. Sumptin we should know??

          November 25, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
      • Sara

        The real danger is whether any of these guys gets blackmailed.

        November 25, 2013 at 11:51 pm |
    • Max

      Your partisan hatred is showing.
      How very Christian of you.

      Reality, you are a joke. As if you could do better than ANY elected president could. Shut up.

      November 25, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
      • Reality # 2

        I voted for JFK based on him being a straight arrow Catholic.

        As far as being POTUS, bring it on !!!

        November 25, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
        • So if

          you voted back in the 60's that makes you an old fart ?

          November 25, 2013 at 6:07 pm |
        • Akira

          An atheist won't be elected in your lifetime, Reality.
          You must have changed your mind somewhere along the line, judging from your posts.

          @So if, assuming that Reality was 18 in 1960, he'd be 68.
          Draw your own conclusions.

          November 25, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
        • fyi


          The voting age in 1960 was 21. It wasn't lowered to 18 until 1971 with the 26th Amendment.

          November 25, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
        • Reality # 2

          Old fart indeed and proud of such great flatulent blasts. Beans rule the world !!! 🙂

          November 25, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
  4. JW

    Bible questions answered:

    Is God a trinity?

    What is the origin of the myth?
    “The impression could arise that the Trinitarian dogma is in the last analysis a late 4th-century invention. In a sense, this is true . . . The formulation ‘one God in three Persons’ was not solidly established, certainly not fully assimilated into Christian life and its profession of faith, prior to the end of the 4th century.”—New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967), Volume 14, page 299.

    “The Council of Nicaea met on May 20, 325 [C.E.]. Constantine himself presided, actively guiding the discussions, and personally proposed . . . the crucial formula expressing the relation of Christ to God in the creed issued by the council, ‘of one substance with the Father.’ . . . Overawed by the emperor, the bishops, with two exceptions only, signed the creed, many of them much against their inclination.”—Encyclopædia Britannica (1970), Volume 6, page 386.

    What does the Bible say?
    “Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at God’s right hand. ‘Look! I can see heaven thrown open,’ he said, ‘and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God.’”—Acts 7:55, 56, The New Jerusalem Bible.

    What did this vision reveal? Filled with God’s active force, Stephen saw Jesus “standing at God’s right hand.” Clearly, then, Jesus did not become God again after his resurrection to heaven but, rather, a distinct spiritual being. There is no mention of a third person next to God in this account. Despite attempts to find passages of Scripture to support the Trinity dogma, Dominican priest Marie-Émile Boismard wrote in his book À l’aube du christianisme—La naissance des dogmes (At the Dawn of Christianity—The Birth of Dogmas): “The statement that there are three persons in the one God . . . cannot be read anywhere in the New Testament.”

    The dogma that Constantine championed was intended to put an end to dissensions within the fourth-century Church. However, it actually raised another issue: Was Mary, the woman who bore Jesus, “the Mother of God”?

    November 25, 2013 at 4:55 pm |
    • Ben

      Yes! Jesus being on God's right hand makes him as much God as the VP being on the president's right hand makes him that president.

      November 25, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
      • JW

        I hope you being ironic! Does for example, Harpers position as Canada's prime minister, overpass the Queens authority as The head of state?

        November 25, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          A very special irony known as sarcasm.

          November 25, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
        • Ben

          But that's two separate jobs, with two separate ti tles. If the US government were set up like a Christian trinity the pres, the VP and the secretary of state would be three people all sharing the same body. Kings had their number one minister sitting on their right hand, but that guy wasn't also the King, right?

          November 25, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • bostontola

      Do you think it is valid to base your argument on a passage from the bible when the bible has multiple passages that could bear on a point?

      Why do people from one sect of a religion find it so easy to see the fallacy in other sects' "truths", but not their own?

      November 25, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
      • JW

        Ok, call us sect if you want... But what I want is you to tell me is how can Jesus be at the right hand of God and at the same time be a triune God?

        November 25, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
        • bostontola

          If JW is not a sect of Christianity, what is it?

          November 25, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
        • JW


          Define "sect" for me? Without looking at the dictionary?


          Before calling JWs a sect, explain to me Acts 7:55,56?

          November 25, 2013 at 5:26 pm |
        • bostontola

          I don't like semantic arguments, but I define Christianity as all the people that accept Jesus Christ as their savior. A sect of Christianity is a subset of those people who have a differentiated set of beliefs, rules, and interpretations that bind them together. Does JW fit that definition to you?

          November 25, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
        • JW

          I agree with you that JWs can be somewhat different from all the mainstream Christianity. But you cannot see things that way... You have to think and meditate if the teachings of the mainstream religions are based or not with what the bible says.
          So ask yourself: is my religion basing its teaching in the bible on in men's traditions? The trinity for example, is one of many men's tradition.

          November 25, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
        • Ben

          Why limit it to the trinity? Maybe the whole God is a fabrication, right? The Bible is just a collection of theology that some council declared to be scripture.

          November 25, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
        • JW

          Ben- even the 'we came from apes' type of thing could be fiction as well... Were you their? A Great man of faith you are Ben!
          How do you know oxygen exists? You can't see it.. What about gravity?...

          November 25, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
        • bostontola

          You are using the bible as your final arbiter, but so are the other sects (like Catholics). The bible has many passages that bear on the same point and the different passages have ambiguity to the human mind. The different sects interpret them slightly differently. You consider your "right", so do they. I agree that catholics have some dogma that does not originate in the bible, like the trinity. The trinity is one of many rationalizations by the various sects to square their beliefs with reality. Do you think JW's are immune from misinterpretations, or do they have super human intellects that can read into bible truths better than all other humans?

          November 25, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
        • bostontola

          How do we know oxygen and gravity exist? We test it. Oxygen and gravity have passed uncounted tests. Seriously?

          November 25, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          We don't know what gravity is, but we can detect it. It's well known what God is but we can't detect it.

          November 25, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
        • JW

          Boston- no, we are not inspired. We can and have made some mistakes in bible understandings in the past, as well as the apostols of Jesus. For example, when Jesus resurrected and apeared to his disciples the asked him: " are you establishing your kingdom this day", the Jesus told them that it didn't belong to them to know that time... Then he gave them instructions that they should worry in preaching to all nations. (Acts 1:6-8)

          Though JWs have it all right in terms of worship and knowing what is Gods will for humanity, and how as a true Christian organization should work. How was that possible? Well, meanwhile the others Christian organizations where busy trying to see how to gain position within the governments and trying to find ways to make more money, JWs where studying the bible diligently and where able to find out what type of worship pleases God and what things where myths... By our study of the bible we saw that, the trinity, hell, life after death, being involved in politics, where not right from Gods stand point.

          November 25, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
        • Commenter


          If your "God" exists and wrote or inspired that book, "he" did a very poor job of it. If omniscient, "he" would have known what a mess people have made of interpreting it... and to send great bunches of them to hell (or oblivion, as you preach) for not getting it exactly right is unbelievable.

          November 25, 2013 at 11:39 pm |
    • james

      JW; check out the blog on the bishop planning the exorcism on the gay marriage bill wednesday. have not seen you there and some of our brothers there are enjoying that show. for entertainment value it will suffice while the weather is bad. nothing here to take the place of the HH but after trying here for some time and seeing my words fall on deaf ears,(had a couple of good discussions but the clowns take over) I still enjoy a good show. hope you see this and I will look for you in the future.j

      November 26, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • myweightinwords

      The concept of a "trinity" or "triune god" is one of many that Christianity "borrowed" and perverted from other faiths.

      Many pre-Christian traditions include trinities, 3 gods or goddesses with similar "areas of responsibility" or "jobs". Usually, they are three distinct entities, though some myths will give a different name to the "same" god at different points in their life or while performing certain aspects of their "job". They aren't three gods in one, the way Christianity has twisted it around.

      November 26, 2013 at 9:53 am |
      • james

        The Trinity teaches that God asked himself to go to earth to save mankind, Then he agreed with himself and volunteered himself to himself to offer himself, Then God impregnated a woman as himself with himself, God next prayed to himself and glorified himself repeatedly, God strengthened himself and talked to himself, Finally God forsook himself and sacrificed himself to prove his loyalty to himself, While dead he resurrected himself so he could exalt himself above himself, Then he sat at his own right hand and waited till he placed his enemies as a footstool, Finally with satan's forces defeated God would turn his Kingdom over to himself that all things would become everything to himself.

        November 26, 2013 at 10:15 am |
  5. bostontola

    It's interesting how human behavior can be so feudalistic even today. Various religious sects will criticize, snipe, and even enter into war with each other, until an outside threat is posed. Then they band together to fight off the common enemy. As an atheist, I'm glad I could help to be a force in the direction of uniting the religious. Of course religions are like nuclear fusion, atheism is not strong enough to keep it in control yet.

    November 25, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • lol??

      The Crips and Bloods know how to take over, alright. Blue states, red states. Thanks fer nuthin' Hegel.

      November 25, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • Sara

      n the other hand radical islam united atheists with more moderate religious sects against extremism (decreasing the power of fundamentalist Christianity), so you can get any manner of pairings.

      November 25, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
  6. Kate

    Here's important Prophecy about THE ILLUMINATION OF CONSCIENCE predicted by Virgin Mary in Garabandal in 1961. It will take place soon to save the world.


    To prove to all that God exists.
    To bring everyone back to Jesus and the way of the truth.
    To dilute the impact of sin and evil in the world through conversion.
    To help save us before the final day of judgement by giving us a chance to ask for forgiveness for the sins we have committed.
    To convert non-believers who would have no chance of redemption without this great act of mercy.
    To strengthen the faith of believers.


    Every one over the age of 7 will experience a private mystical encounter with Jesus Christ which will last anything up to 15 minutes
    It is a gift from God the Father to convert people back to the truth. It is how the Final Day of Judgement will unfold only this time you will not be condemned. Instead you will be given a chance to ask for forgiveness.
    Two comets will collide in the sky.
    People will believe it to be catastrophic worse than an earthquake But it is not – it is a sign that Jesus has come.
    The sky will turn red it will look like a fire & then you will see a large cross in the sky to prepare you first.
    Atheists will say it was a global illusion. Scientists will look for a logical explanation but there won’t be one.
    It will be spectacular and will not hurt us because it comes as an act of Love and Mercy from Jesus.
    Our sins will be shown to us and this will make us feel tremendous sorrow and shame when they are revealed to us. Others will be so sickened and shocked by the way in which their sins will be revealed that they will drop dead before they have a chance to ask for forgiveness.

    Everyone will see the state of their soul before God – the good they have done in their lives, the grief they have inflicted on others and all that which they failed to do.
    Many people will fall down and cry tears of relief. Tears of joy and happiness. Tears of wonder and love.
    For, at last, it will be possible to live a new life thereafter when we know the full truth.
    Jesus is now asking everyone to pray for those souls who will die of shock who may be in mortal sin. Everyone needs to prepare now. Jesus asks that all ask for the forgiveness of their sins in advance of The Warning.

    More info and Prophecies for all of us – http://www.thewarningsecondcoming.com

    November 25, 2013 at 3:26 pm |
    • Doris

      Goodness, let me make sure I've got clean underwear. 🙄

      November 25, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • Ben

      If ever the Virgin Mary were to appear to do something one has to determine which of the official "Ladies" is doing it.
      Was it Our Lady of Guadalup, Our Lady of Laus, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal, Our Lady of La Salette, Our Lady of Lourdes, Our Lady of Pontmain, Our Lady of Fátima, Our Lady of Knock, Our Lady of Beauraing, Our Lady of Banneux, Our Lady of Akita, or some other, new version?

      November 25, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • sam stone

      wow, there's a whole bunch of crazy there, kate

      November 25, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
  7. lol??

    So an A&A admits to an attraction to the ACTION?? Next thing ya know they'll want fish in a basket, for FREE!

    November 25, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Maddy

      What are you talking about??
      Do you suffer from dementia?

      November 25, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
  8. Just the Facts Ma'am...

    I like how the religious play the "No true Scotsman" game constantly, tearing each other down far more than any non-believer could or would. They all whine about the attacks from atheists but the attacks from each other are far more vicious and mean spirited. Throw a couple of Mormons in the ring with the Catholics and Protestants and you have a gladiator match that rivals ancient Rome...

    Why would anyone feel the need to delete my post? Did it hit that close to home?

    November 25, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      A wise man once said if you want to know what's wrong with Catholacism ask a (fill in the blank) Bapist, Lutheran, Methadist, ect.....and vice versa.

      November 25, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
      • hermittalker

        PRIDE, ignorance and jealousy and ethnic rivalry, greed for power and land on the part of Kings and their cronies . It is so easy to correct the so-called "correct" Bible teaching of Protestant denominations but few are willing to listen. Stubborn is as stubborn does as Forrest;s Momma would say.

        November 26, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • lol??

      I replied the first time to your LUV. You toned it down to "like" this time.

      November 25, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
      • Maddy

        You reply in gibberish, which only you are fluent in.

        November 25, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
  9. Which God?

    Where did some of the posts go? I went to comment and they are gone.

    November 25, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Science Works

      Vic's JFK theory ?

      November 25, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
      • Doris

        Yeah – I was looking for that. And the link to Jackalope doesn't go anywhere. Maybe the elusive chupacabra has been through here.

        November 25, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
        • Science Works

          Doris yea or the ghost of Xmas past is on the scene earlier this year.

          Or Vic realized he made a fool out himself and deleted it maybe ?

          November 25, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
      • Vic

        Oh well, I get busy doing other things and my threads get deleted, good grief!

        November 25, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  10. lol??

    There's an old Buddhist sayin', "When the pupil is ready, the eye will get gouged out."

    November 25, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Doris

      I would have thought there were plenty enough, but after reading your posts, I understand why some say Piazza San Marco is missing a pigeon.

      November 25, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
      • Which God?

        Doris, don't you mean that the village is missing its idiot (and not looking for him)?

        November 25, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
        • Doris

          Brain limitation yes, but I was also thinking about the random output.

          November 25, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
        • Which God?

          Doris, I see his posts, and think of a random generator, or magic '8" ball giving him answers. I think he and LL have a lot in common, they share the same coo-coo clock as a relative: springs aren't wound too tight.

          November 25, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
        • Spot

          I think he and LL are the sane person, myself.

          November 25, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
        • Spot

          SAME person. Nowhere near sane.

          November 25, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
      • lol??

        Amazing how a mob coagulates. Crusty, eh??

        November 25, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
        • midwest rail

          If one person believes you are clinically insane, it is just an opinion. If most folks you encounter think you are clinically insane, see a therapist.

          November 25, 2013 at 2:58 pm |
        • lol??

          My stalker must have a thang for mob POWER, too.

          November 25, 2013 at 3:10 pm |
        • midwest rail

          " Stalker " is simply another word for which you deliberately twist the definition. Try again.

          November 25, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
        • Maddy

          Oh, poor persecuted you, lol.

          Try talking in something other than gibberish, and you might get a response other than "lol??=insane"

          November 25, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  11. Apple Bush

    Now Sammy, stop being a hypocrite. It is one thing to shoot your mouth off behind a computer, and in reality be scared of your own shadow in every day life

    November 25, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
  12. Fulton

    A good catholic is someone that,

    attends mass regularly,
    prays daily,
    reads the Bible every day,
    keeps the commandments and
    is charitable

    November 25, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • The Ten

      1.Do not worship any other god than the one true God.

      2.Do not make idols or images in the form of God.

      3.Do not treat God's name lightly or with disrespect. Because of God's importance, his name is always to be spoken of with honor.

      4.Dedicate or set aside a regular day each week for sabbath rest and worship of the Lord.

      5.Give honor to your father and mother by treating them with respect and obedience.

      6.Do not deliberately kill a fellow human being.

      7.Do not commit adultery.

      8.Do not steal.

      9.Do not tell a lie.

      10.Do not covet.

      November 25, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
      • K-switch

        So in response to #6, how many "accidents" have you had?

        November 25, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
      • Which God?

        @ The Ten: Tell that to the Muslims, they need to know that they don't worship the one true gaw-da

        November 25, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Reads the Bible every day? That's for the Protestants surely?

      November 25, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
  13. Ungodly Discipline

    There is a Catholic born every minute.

    November 25, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • Doris


      November 25, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • Alias

      I thought that quote was, "There is a fool born every minute"?

      Oh, I see. Nevermind.

      November 25, 2013 at 11:11 am |
  14. tony

    Fancy dress parties for the few at the poor's expense.

    November 25, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  15. AE

    I'm more Catholic than JFK and I'm Jewish.

    November 25, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • igaftr

      Considering he's been dead 50 years, that's not surprising.

      November 25, 2013 at 10:44 am |
    • Dave

      I'd save that for Oprah if I were you.

      November 25, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • Alias

      Jewish by race or just by religion?

      November 25, 2013 at 11:01 am |
      • AE

        I'm not really Jewish. Just a joke.

        November 25, 2013 at 11:14 am |
        • lol??

          Spiritual Jews are saved.

          Rom 2:29
          But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circu*mcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.

          November 25, 2013 at 11:19 am |
        • AE

          Doesn't God save anyone who asks for help?

          November 25, 2013 at 11:21 am |
        • lol??

          Hard to say what God does not do. What He does do is rather overwhelming as it is.

          November 25, 2013 at 11:26 am |
        • AE

          That is true.

          November 25, 2013 at 11:30 am |
        • Jackalope

          If God doesn't save everyone who asks for help, wouldn't proselytizing in His name be useless?
          Wouldn't telling everyone to open their hearts and ask sincerely be a waste of total time?

          November 25, 2013 at 11:34 am |
        • AE

          It is amazing grace He gives.

          November 25, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
        • Vic

          I just thought of the following verse reading through this thread:

          Romans 10:13
          "13 for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”"

          Scripture Is From:

          New American Standard Bible (NASB)
          Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation


          November 25, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
        • Science Works

          Vic I saw this after reading the CURRENT news,added a little narrative added.

          A must read.

          And the state of Texas is the talking snake no ?

          Bill Nye: Debate Over Evolution In Texas Schools Is Jeopardizing Our Future

          Posted: 11/23/2013 5:01 pm EST | Updated: 11/23/2013 7:28 pm EST

          And another part of the problem is the RCC's biblical stand on procreation when they teach and supposedly understand evolution.

          Evolution should not be up for debate.

          November 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
        • Jackalope

          Thank you Vic. A concise answer, without useless platitudes, such as AE gave.

          November 25, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
        • AE

          Doesn't God save anyone who asks for help?

          November 25, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
        • Jackalope

          If God doesn’t save everyone who asks for help, wouldn’t proselytizing in His name be useless?
          Wouldn’t telling everyone to open their hearts and ask sincerely be a waste of total time?

          November 25, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
        • AE

          Right. God saves. He saves atheists, agnostics, Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, etc. everyday.

          November 25, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
      • Jackalope

        Thank you for answering, finally.
        Although the "no true Scotsman" crap is annoying as heck.
        Very arrogant.

        November 25, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
        • AE

          Oh, my first comment. I was just making fun of the headline.

          November 25, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
  16. Brother Maynard

    Do Catholics in heaven weep for the souls in hell ?

    November 25, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • igaftr

      There's no crying in heaven...it is a happy place.

      November 25, 2013 at 11:10 am |
      • In Santa we trust

        There's no crying in heaven – it doesn't exist.

        November 25, 2013 at 11:58 am |
        • igaftr

          A minor technicality....

          November 25, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
        • Horus

          No evidence

          November 26, 2013 at 2:39 am |
  17. lol??

    It's a real easy thing for churches to determine if they are part of "my church" (the Lord's). Stare and compare with Paul.

    Gal 1:9
    As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

    November 25, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • Doris

      How about fabric softener? Does he give some hints on what kind, how much, or the best time of day to use?

      November 25, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Paul

      What are YOU looking at? Take a hike, lol??.

      November 25, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • Paul

      Stop staring at me. It's creepy.

      November 25, 2013 at 11:06 am |
  18. Dyslexic doG

    I often think that religion is just an excuse for the part of human nature that makes many people unable to stop themselves judging others. The christian religion for example says that only their god can judge people but christian's lives are taken up with endlessly judging others and working out ways that these others are NOT doing the right thing according to their bronze age book and telling them that they are going to hell for these supposed errors but telling them that they will pray for the sinners in an effort to somehow feel superior to the ones they are judging.

    such infantile, bullying, self absorbed behavior

    November 25, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • lol??

      Aunt Sally or poor reading skills.

      1Cr 6:3
      Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

      November 25, 2013 at 9:57 am |
      • Science Works

        No Angels lol?? just ask the old pope that retired or read his book .

        November 25, 2013 at 10:02 am |
      • Doris

        You and Paul seem to have a lot in common lol?? Delusion and diarrhea. Does Paul speak about BMs or has he left you to your own devices? Could that be the cause of your general grumpiness?

        November 25, 2013 at 10:08 am |
        • lol??

          Paul was a type of fulfillment of Jesus' words when He was talking to His followers,

          "Jhn 16:12
          I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now."

          November 25, 2013 at 10:48 am |
        • Science Works

          No lol?? the question is how can the children judge xmas now the pope removed the angels ?

          November 25, 2013 at 10:53 am |
        • Science Works

          Come on lol?? is the question to judgmental ?

          November 25, 2013 at 11:08 am |
        • G to the T

          never ceases to amaze me how people will revere the words of man that never met jesus over the (alleged) words of jesus himself...

          November 26, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Ben

      Yes, it's another example of how religion actually divides people rather than uniting them.

      November 25, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • AE

      You might be right.

      But what is your excuse for your infantile, bullying, self absorbed behavior?

      November 25, 2013 at 10:47 am |
      • AE

        And somehow feeling superior to the ones you are judging?

        November 25, 2013 at 10:49 am |
      • Paul

        "I know you are, but what am I?"

        November 25, 2013 at 11:09 am |
        • AE

          "What you spot is what you got."

          November 25, 2013 at 11:14 am |
        • Spot

          I beg your pardon? Nuh uh.

          November 25, 2013 at 11:36 am |
        • AE

          "Whatever you see in other’s is but a direct reflection of something that is going on within ourselves."?

          November 25, 2013 at 11:38 am |
        • Spot

          "I call that projection, or paranoia. Take your choice."

          November 25, 2013 at 12:01 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.