S.E. Cupp and Whoopi Goldberg Battle It Out Over Religion on 'The View'

On August 6 the ladies of The View tackled the perpetually thorny hot topic of religion in the public square and moderator Whoopi Goldberg let slip her vehement disgust with religious Americans, but particularly it seems Christians, who pray in public over their food.

The discussion centered on a news item out of Georgia where a group of power-walkers were told by mall security that they were not allowed to bow their heads in group prayer, and “even saying grace at the food court wasn’t allowed.” The discussion quickly devolved into an argument between the two outspoken atheist at the table Whoopi Goldberg and guest host S.E. Cupp, complete with Goldberg clapping her hands in Cupp’s face and asking “Did you hear what I said?!” [See video below]

While CNN’s Sunny Hostin asserted that “the bottom line is, if it's a private institution then you do have the right to say not here,” Sherri Shepherd, who is an observant Christian, commented “this is a slippery slope, because then you’re going, if wearing my cross offends you, if wearing a t-shirt that says ‘Girlfriends should pray’ or ‘What would God do?’ It's a slippery slope.”

“I'm sorry. I don't necessarily want to trip over anyone who's praying. I want you to pray. I want you to pray whenever you are. But I don't want to know you're doing it,” Goldberg complained, adding that what really “pisses [her] off” is “when someone comes by and says, why aren't you praying over your food?” At that point, the conservative Crossfire panelist, who herself is an atheist, replied “You don't have the right to get pissed off if I'm praying in public. You don’t have that right. Sorry.”

While Goldberg claimed she had “said the same thing,” Cupp argued that her comment “I don’t want to trip over it, I don’t want to hear you praying” went too far beyond merely prohibiting proselytizing. Goldberg shot back that she did not mean that and “I said I did not want to see people praying in the mall, personally. I personally don't want to see it. I don't want to be asked when I'm sitting at dinner, ‘why aren't you praying, Whoopi?’”

The View hopeful for next season replied “I get, that but you might see people praying, you might see people praying in your life” before Goldberg shut down the discourse all together, yelling “ I just say how I feel. I didn’t say you had to listen!”

See transcript below:

ABC
The View
August 6, 2014
11:17 a.m. Eastern
4 minutes and 53 seconds


WHOOPI GOLDBERG: A woman at the Georgia mall with a fitness group. And they formed a prayer circle like they had done in the past, until a mall cop broke them up saying “prayer is against the mall policy” and the manager back him up adding that even saying grace at the food court isn’t allowed.

JENNY MCCARTHY: Isn’t there a separation of church and mall. By the way, I don’t really have a problem with it I think more prayer the better. But I don't think faith, you know, trumps private rights. You know, this is a personal business.

SHERRI SHEPHERD: I mean, how are you going to tell me I can’t pray over my food? First of all, when I go to the mall, I pray every time I use my credit card, ‘cause I don’t know it’s going to get denied. Jesus lord, let this thing go through.

MCCARTHY It's a privately owned business. I'm all for it. It's a privately owned business. Does faith trump that?

GOLDBERG: At the mall?

(Crosstalk)

S.E. CUPP: It’s private so they can make those rules, yeah.

GOLDBERG: Here's my question, I didn't know you did yoga at the mall.

SHEPHERD: The mall was big, so they would power-walk around the mall. They said they didn’t have it because they were afraid of other religious groups proselytizing–

CUPP: Which, let me just say, as an atheist I don't like to be proselytized, but I went to Catholic school. But I also don't see who a prayer circle is hurting. This makes no sense to me and frankly -- frankly, let me just finish. Frankly, religion, the freedom of religion clause in the First Amendment exists so you can worship in public without free of persecution. That's why America exist--

MCCARTHY: It's a private building you can have with whatever you want.

CUPP: In a private building, Sherri can't pray over her food? That’s ridiculous.

MCCARTHY: I have to read the statement. The mall, first and foremost has no issue-- hold on– the mall, first or foremost has no issues or objection, I have to read the statement, this is what they said, the mall, whatsoever with anyone of anyone of any religion denomination privately and quietly praying over their food or showing devotion to the religion of choice, provided that it doesn't impose itself on others or take away from the overall shopping experience. But the women asked the mall's security person, can I pray over my food? He said, no.

SUNNY HOSTIN: Let me put my legal hat on, since I spent a lot of time in law school. The bottom line is, if it's a private institution then you do have the right to say not here.

SHEPHERD: Then Sunny, and this is what I say, this is a slippery slope, because then you’re going, if wearing my cross offends you, if wearing a t-shirt that says “Girlfriends should pray” or “What would God do?” It's a slippery slope. The thing is, this is a private institution. We have another owner of a shop who says she gives 15 percent off because you pray over your food. Because she goes, I love the fact that you’re praying over my food, I love the spirituality.

HOSTIN: And that’s in North Carolina, and she has a right to do that.

MCCARTHY: No shirt, no shoes, no service.

GOLDBERG: I'm sorry. I don't necessarily want to trip over anyone who's praying. I want you to pray. I want you to pray whenever you are. But I don't want to know you're doing it. I don’t want to know because it's your private business. If you do it, everybody else gets the right to do it.


SHEPHERD: Would it make you mad if you’re having breakfast and lunch and somebody like (bows her head)--

GOLDBERG: I never get mad.

SHEPHERD: I don't take --

GOLDBERG: You know when I get mad, I’ll tell you when I get mad, when someone comes by and says, why aren't you praying over your food? And I say–

S.E. CUPP: But that’s different!

GOLDBERG: But that’s what pisses me off.

CUPP: You don't have the right to get pissed off if I'm praying in public. You don’t have that right. Sorry.

GOLDBERG: What are you talking about?

CUPP: You don’t have that right

GOLDBER: Did you hear what I said? I just said that. I just said the same thing.

CUPP: You don't want to trip over it, you don’t want to hear it.

GOLDBERG: Sherri tell her what I just said.

SHEPHERD: She's saying the same thing, when people come to her and go why aren't you praying? She's like--

GOLDBERG: That’s what I’m saying. You don't have the right to say to me, why aren't I praying over my food? That’s what pisses me off. If I’m sitting and someone walks past me and says “why aren’t you praying over your food?” That pisses me off.

CUPP: Of course but didn’t you say “I don’t want to trip over it, I don’t want to hear you praying.” Did you say that?

GOLDBERG: No!

CUPP: Oh, I misheard. I misheard! I invented it.

GOLDBERG: I said I did not want to see people praying in the mall, personally. I personally don't want to see it. I don't want to be asked when I'm sitting at dinner, why aren't you praying, Whoopi?

CUPP: I get that but you might see people praying, you might see people praying in your life.

GOLDBERG: What does that have to do--

CUPP: You might run across that.

GOLDBERG: I just say how I feel. I didn’t say you had to listen!
                           
SHEPHERD: Welcome to next season y’all! Next season!
 

Laura Flint
Laura Flint is a 2014 summer intern for the MRC's News Analysis Division.