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NEW: Bishop Tobin Questions If Elorza is an Atheist

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


In a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon, the Bishop of the Providence Diocese wrote a blistering piece questioning of Democratic candidate Jorge Elorza's belief in God.

The entrance of the Bishop creates a new twist in the race. For a City with a vibrant Latino population that is a critical voting block, to have the leading Catholic in the state raise questions about Elorza's belief in God is a major hit to Elorza.

In addition, Buddy Cianci hosted a visit and endorsement from PC Basketball great Ray Flynn - he also served as Mayor of Boston and was the Ambassador to the Vatican.

READ Bishop Tobin's Post:

Question: is Jorge Elorza an Atheist? 

Is Jorge Elorza, currently a candidate for Mayor of the City of Providence, an atheist or not? The question emerged early in the mayoral campaign and has reappeared in recent newspaper coverage. The issue comes about as a result of an article he wrote a few years back for the University of Pittsburgh Law Review. Since the question arose, I’ve had the chance to read the article and I’ve come across the following quotes…

"Specifically, science has disconfirmed the claim that the theist God has the power to violate the laws of physics." And again, "In this section I argue that the disconfirmation of the theist God is not only hypothetically possible, but that it has already been achieved." 

When Mr. Elorza uses the term "theist God" I think he's referring to the kind of God most of us believe in, the God who's revealed in the Bible — a personal God, a God who can and has intervened in history, a God who cares about you and me every day. 

In another section Mr. Elorza turns to psychiatry to argue that many religious experiences can be explained by epilepsy and that many religious founders and leaders have had epilepsy which he refers to as a "sacred disease." This theory might come as a shock to many believers who have had personal religious experiences of their own. 

Now I should emphasize that being an atheist would neither recommend nor disqualify him from being Mayor of Providence. But I wonder if an atheist mayor would be in a position to respect the sincere convictions of believers (of all faiths) and to encourage and support the many contributions the faith community makes in our city and state. 

So, can anyone help determine: Is Jorge Elorza an atheist or not? It would be good to know before Election Day.


Related Slideshow: Cianci’s Coverage in the Providence Journal

 A look at recent coverage of former Mayor and Mayoral candidate Buddy Cianci's coverage in the Journal. 

Prev Next

Column - September 21

Taveras Adds Voice of Criticism

In an interview with the Providence Journal's Ed Fitzpatrick on Cianci, Providence Mayor Taveras said, "I'm not sure what city he was talking about. Facts are pesky things. Let's make sure, as we start looking at the old days, we realize just exactly what those old days involved."

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Politifact - September 21

Cianci's Claim About the Deficit Not on Money

Cianci's claims were ruled "half-true" in a September 21 Politifact.

"...the ad implies that things were rosy under Cianci and went downhill after he left. That ignores the future problems he caused by underfunding the pension system, the effects of the Great Recession, and the strides Taveras made to bring the city back from bankruptcy," wrote Alex Kuffner.

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Letter - September 22

Calling Cianci a Liar is Sensationalism

Paul J. Salesi wrote in a Letter to the Editor, "I find your September 17 editorial "Lying for votes" a case of the pot calling the kettle black. You accuse Vincent Cianci of lying when in fact he may have taken a statement out of context, something The Journal and the press in general do on a regular basis."

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Letter - September 23

Editorials on Cianci are Risky for Journal

In a Letter to the Editor, William G. Touret of Providence called out the Journal on its perceived bias.

"Enough already. We get it. The Journal's decades-old crusade against former Mayor Vincent Cianci will never end, even if the Journal's ill-will, the origin of which I can only imagine, risks the Journal's further alienating and losing its subscriber base," wrote Touret

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Article - September 23

Cianci Envisions Brighter Broad Street

John Hill reported that Cianci's plan to revitalize for Broad Street may be to snag minority votes.

"The city's heavily black and Latino south side is seen possibly up for grabs in the November election...but Cianci denied his plan's focus on Broad Street was a strategy to win votes there."

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Editorial - September 23

Clubbing with Cianci

The Providence Journal Editorial Board weighed in on the claim that Cianci asked Elorza for his support.

The Editorial Board wrote, "That seems doubtful, since the recommendation of an ex-felon who went to federal prison for running City Hall as a criminal enterprise would hardly elevate the reputation of a candidate running on a platform of serving the public interest."

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Letter - September 24

Cianci Went to Prison for a Very Good Reason

In a Letter to the Editor on September 24, Marvin Greenberg calls out the voters of Providence.

Greenberg wrote, "I can't vote in Providence, but how can the intelligent people who can vote think that things will be different if they reelect Vincent Cianci?"

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Article - September 24

Police Union Gives Ex-Mayor Its Endorsement

Katie Mulvaney refered to Cianci's criminal record in a September 24 article on the Providence Police union endorsement.

"A twice convicted felon, Cianci previously served as Mayor of Providence from 1975 through 1984 and from 1991 to 2002," wrote Mulvaney.

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Article - September 24

Cianci's Convictions on the Minds of Undecided Voters

John Hill cited a recent Providence Journal/WPRI-12 poll on September 24.

Hill writes, "Vincent A. Cianci Jr.'s criminal record could be a problem for him among undecided voters as he tries for a second comeback to City Hall, the results of a Providence Journal/WPRI-12 poll indicate."

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Article - September 24

13-Year-Old Lawsuit Against Cianci Heard

On September 24, Richard Salit reported on a 13-year-old lawsuit against Cianci.

Salit wrote, "A state Supreme Court hearing on whether Vincent A. Cianci Jr. unlawfully ordered firefighters to participate in a 2001 gay-pride march gave the former Mayor an opportunity on Tuesday to tout his record of support for the gay community as he runs for his old seat."

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Editorial - September 24

Cianci's Half-Truths

The Editorial Board of the Providence Journal calls out Cianci on his "half-truths".

"The twice convicted felon running for mayor has no qualms about telling half-truths and outright lies in his quest for power," the Board wrote.

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Column - September 26

Candidate Elorza Must Say Why Cianci's Crimes Matter

Edward Fitzpatrick wrote in a September 26 column, "You know, if you've been convicted of two felonies, you might have a tough time getting a job running the Coolatta machine at Dunkin' Donuts."

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Editorial - September 26

The Mayoral Poll

In reaction to the latest poll results, the Providence Journal Editorial Board wrote, "People who love Providence and want to see it move beyond its corrupt past can be forgiven for feeling discouraged by this week's Providence Journal/WPRI poll. Nearly 30 percent of registered voters indicated that Vincent Cianci's two felony convictions-including four years in federal prison for running City Hall as a criminal enterprise-were 'not at all' important in determining their vote."

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Column - September 28

Come On Now, What's the Biggest Outrage Here? 

Is it the article -- or the headline?

Jim Donaldson compared Cianci and Ray Rice in a September 28 column -- and it appears the headline was changed from above to "When it comes to Rice and Cianci, it's time we get our priorities straight" -- a kinder, gentler offering, perhaps?

"While 38 percent of voters, and even the Providence police union, think it's OK for a two-time felon with a conviction for racketeering to run a city, the nation is outraged over the thought of Ray Rice running with a football," wrote Donaldson.

Prev Next

Opinion Piece - September

Rise Up Everyone, and Keep a Crook Out of City Hall 

Formal Journal reporter Brian C. Jones responded to the Providence police and firefighter unions endorsing Cianci.

"Should you call 911? Well, maybe. There is a crime in progress in the city of Providence: Vincent Cianci is running for mayor, and, as of last week, he was winning," Jones wrote.

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Letter - September 28

Cianci's Half-Baked Vision for Providence

Jim Galkin of Cranston challenges Cianci's vision for Providence.

Galkin wrote in a Letter to the Editor, "Perhaps it is a "vision" if it does not succeed and a plan if it does. Hey, I have a plan and a vision: Call magician Mat Franco (winner of "America's Got Talent") and make all these politicians disappear."

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Editorial - September 28

His Own Words

The Editorial Board of the Providence Journal suggested Cianci's biggest enemy is himself.

"There are many compelling arguments against letting Vincent Cianci, the twice-convicted felon running for Mayor of Providence anywhere near City Hall again. But it is fascinating that one of the strongest cases against his return has been made by one of his strongest supporters: Cianci himself."

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Article - September 28

Providence Teachers Union Back Cianci

C. Euguene Emery Jr.'s article makes mention of Cianci's criminal record.

"The vote came four days after the city's police union also voted to endorse Cianci, a two-time felon, to run for the city again," wrote Emery Jr.

Prev Next

Politifact - September 28

Cianci's Pension Funding Claim is Overdrawn

In the September 28th Politifact, it is ruled that Cianci's claim that, "In 2001 and '02...we had the pension system funded at {the} 100 percent level in that year, and we did for two years at that point", is "half-true".


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