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How the Bible was used to justify slavery, abolitionism
April 12th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

How the Bible was used to justify slavery, abolitionism

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - How did churchgoing, Bible-worshiping Christians justify holding slaves? It’s a question I’ve long had as a Civil War buff and that has new resonance on Tuesday, which marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War.

I’ve read books about politics and generals during the war. But I hadn't read much about the religious dimension to the Civil War until I came across a recent USA Today column.

Henry G. Brinton, a pastor at Fairfax Presbyterian Church in Virginia, writes that the Bible was used a weapon by both the North and the South. Brinton says some contemporary Americans are making the same mistake their Civil War ancestors did by twisting the Bible to support their own battle cries.

Brinton, author of “Balancing Acts: Obligation, Liberation and Contemporary Christian Conflicts,” says both the Union and the Confederacy invoked the Bible to justify their positions on slavery.

Slaveholders justified the practice by citing the Bible, Brinton says.

They asked who could question the Word of God when it said, "slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling" (Ephesians 6:5), or "tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect" (Titus 2:9).

Christian opponents of slavery elevated biblical principles of justice and equality above individual passages that approved exclusion, Brinton says.

He wonders if a new biblical approach is needed today, as people grapple with polarizing issues like gay marriage.

Opponents of gay marriage, Brinton notes, follow a literal approach to the Bible when they cite Old Testament passages that declare, "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22).

He wonders if gay marriage foes are making the same mistake as defenders of slavery:

But perhaps reproduction is no longer the goal of every person and every marriage. Many couples choose not to have children, or marry late in life when they are unable to produce children. The New Testament values of faithfulness, love, sacrifice and promise-based commitment can be practiced by heterosexual couples without children — and by same-sex couples as well. Discussions of gay marriage can focus as much on scriptural equality as on the ability to reproduce.

At the same time, Brinton says liberal Christians may be making their own mistakes with their approach to the Bible:

Liberals also use Scripture for their purposes, citing commandments such as "thou shalt not kill" (Exodus 20:13) whenever a war breaks out or the death penalty is being debated. But the commandment is actually a prohibition against murder, arising out of blood feuds and vengeance killings between ancient clans and families. A literal reading of this verse does not give us the moral and political guidance we need today.

Brinton says Abraham Lincoln offered the most constructive religious perspective during the Civil War. "My concern is not whether God is on our side," he said. "My greatest concern is to be on God's side."

What do you think? Is it fair to invoke the Bible for political causes?

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Bible • Christianity • Culture wars • History

soundoff (449 Responses)
  1. GMK

    As it was then, so it is today. Some things never change.

    April 13, 2011 at 5:00 am |
  2. We must change before we destroy ourselves.

    ALL religion is BS. It has done nothing but destroy true human evolution in mind, body, and energy matrix(spirit).

    Its time for these psychopathic, narcissistic wishy-washy crazies to WAKE UP, and break from the creation programming fully.

    Changing it's words around doesn't mean a thing. The world is slowly dying because of this virus that began spreading many centuries ago. Why are you all killing yourselves for the sake of an extraterrestrial species who keeps on (while not even being here) manipulating the psycho-social, chemical, biological, and electro-magnectic human consciousness into oblivion.

    If humanity truly wants peace and harmony(for ALL colors and types of human beings) then we will just do it, it needs no religion, no economy, no government, no prayers, no media. Just respect, love, peace, unity, happiness, progression, skill of true knowledge, ethical logic of theory and practice, will, self-thought, generally and equally, and living with and respecting nature and the sun and the cosmos. Cause without the earth we would not exist, without the sun we would not exist.

    We do not need a "Guardian(s) Of Deception" What we all need is true "intelligence", a humble and peaceful yet advanced society. And the first step is to fully reveal the the truth about the past and present(ending all coverups) so that we can have a future at all.

    April 13, 2011 at 4:01 am |
    • Frespech

      You truly have no grasp on human nature-there is a fountain of youth and the paradise you seek but not at the hands of mankind.

      April 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
  3. Bigbored

    I hate blogs, they breed ignorance and intolerance. People should stay away and go read a book instead of falling for internet trolls arguments.

    April 13, 2011 at 2:00 am |
    • frink

      This is a message board. It is NOT a blog. It is however a place where all can come and show their ignorance as you did.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
  4. Hardpill

    Hey,
    NO bal1s blake u realize it was Christianity that abolished slavery and not any other worldview. So how about growin up and stop spewin ur venom.

    "But I hadn't read much about the religious dimension to the Civil War until I came across a recent USA Today column."

    How about you read some history before posting crap?

    April 13, 2011 at 1:24 am |
  5. Hardpill

    Sorry ppl u aint God and U wont get ur precious suggestions ammended into the bible. so keepem for urself. You either believe or not. No suggestions asked for. and Dont worry Christianity will prevail you n i may not. Coz it has seen more smarter, powerful, armed mobs than you. take heart and have a gud sleep

    April 13, 2011 at 1:20 am |
  6. eschdawg

    if you want to read one of the oldest (from the 300's) versions of the New Testament go to codexsinaiticusDOTorg...but it's all Greek to me.

    April 13, 2011 at 1:16 am |
  7. harvest

    Anybody read the Old Testament and can say that God is a kind and gentle God? Read about the golden calf incident. Lot's wife? There's a gold mine of horror stories in there.

    April 13, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • HeavenSent

      harvest, Jesus has many facets to Him. What you wrote is punishment for bad behavior. I suppose you are another non-believer that wishes chaos ruled supreme so you can get away with all your sins. Sin means to break the law.

      Amen.

      April 13, 2011 at 3:25 am |
    • mkub

      I don't know heavensent, the entire book of Job is absolutely not a punishment for bad behavior. Personally I think it's a beautiful book that, to me, illustrates that maybe God didn't set this world up on a simple punishment/reward system. It's probably slightly more complicated than we as humans can comprehend.

      April 13, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • Frespech

      I would suggest that it is fruitless to describe God by man's standards. God was not created in our image. He is a jealous God demanding exclusive devotion and he is the abundance of dynamic energy.

      April 14, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  8. mkub

    The reason why the Bible and other religious works have lasted as long as they have is because they are purposefully obscure. I don't mean this as a negative, their ambiguity is what allows them to be applied throughout history. Same reason Shakespeare or any other classic literature has resonated throughout the ages. Personally I was raised Catholic and have no beef with the Church or its mythology, but I also have an interest in all world religions. And if you actually open your eyes and break down every religion into 2-3 major points, they will all be the same. Love your neighbor- do not steal, kill, harm aka treat others as you want to be treated aka karma. Love [God, Allah, whatever]. The rest is all mumbo-jumbo mythology just like the Greeks and Romans. Great for getting the point across, but it's not my belief that every person must interpret every word literally. The irony is that it is people's literal interpretation of religious texts that causes them to go against the main principle of the texts as a whole- they begin to judge and harm others.

    April 13, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • HeavenSent

      mkub, as if your statement isn't a judgment.

      Try humbling yourself next time you read Jesus' truth. Maybe, you'll have eyes to see and ears to hear His wisdom.

      Amen.

      April 13, 2011 at 3:22 am |
    • mkub

      My statement really isn't judgemental. I know plenty of religious people in various faiths (I live in a large city so it is very diverse). I do have open eyes and I do try my best to be humble, that is exactly how I can see the value and moral of many religious texts and not just one. I have no problem at all with people who subscribe to one faith, just as long as they don't look down upon people of other faiths. Maybe it's just because I'm a product of the WWJD days (what would Jesus do?), but I've always been under the impression that only God can judge us and we are not to judge each other.

      April 13, 2011 at 8:59 am |
  9. SSampson

    The Bible should be used as a source of historic events and beliefs – That being said it is a small sample of the writings of the day and some of the 'events' were taken from oral tradition... As such it should not be considered as 100% acurate, but rather as a potential framework... It was NOT written by some supreme being. It was written by man based on their understanding and beleifs at that time... It was assembled into a book from numerous writings based on the political needs of the church (broad term – 'The Church')

    Religious beliefs have NO place in politics. Religion when uncorrupted may have a benefit for some who need a purpose in life, and that is OK. They can certainly use these beliefs to guide their vote, but it should stop there. There is no use or purpose for religion in governance. A government, to be responsible democracy, must be free of devisive policies which only serve to break us apart instead of bring us together by eliminating differences....

    A theocracy is NOT a democracy.

    April 13, 2011 at 12:39 am |
    • HeavenSent

      SSampson. I know differently. I worked for anti-social personalities that had no morals nor ethics to stop them from destroying my career as an excuse to advance theirs. If they believed in what Jesus' taught, none of this beyond horrific nightmare would have occurred. Therefore, until you walk in my shoes or anyone's shoes that have/had to deal with the separation of church and state baloney as an excuse to violate another, then you can write.

      Amen.

      April 13, 2011 at 3:18 am |
    • I_get _it

      @HeavenSent,

      Ah, preaching on the job, were you?

      April 13, 2011 at 3:29 am |
    • Jason

      " I know differently. I worked for anti-social personalities that had no morals nor ethics to stop them from destroying my career as an excuse to advance theirs."

      You probably can't take responsibility for your poor behavior and keep blaming others. I have a couple of old kooks where I work and all they do is complain bringing the whole place down with their constant negativity. You deserved to be fired or forced to quit. It's why you are on here doing the same thing, well guess what YOUR FIRED. People like you are completely nuts and should be committed to the mental ward.

      April 13, 2011 at 11:10 am |
  10. Daveusa99

    It was 150 years ago? Who cares anyway? Get over it already and move on. Does it really matter if the bible was used this way or not, what is the difference? It is sickening to hear about this nonsense and slavery all the time and racism. Has anyone noticed that there are no slaves now? The idiots in the south still think the war is going on and the minorities still say they need to get what's theirs because of slavery, enough already. The war is over and you had 150 years to get back on your feet and make money, stop with all the nonsense.

    April 13, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • mkub

      So I take it your not a fan of history, eh? You probably shouldn't have clicked on this article then. "Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it." (Edmund Burke).

      In regards to slavery being old news, blah blah, I can bet there are plenty of things in your experience that have old roots. Are you Christina? Man, Jesus lived 2000 years ago! Get over it already! Celebrate St. Patrick's Day? He lived 1600 years ago! Celebrate American independence? That was over 230 yrs ago! Get over it! Point is, slavery is and always will be a part of black American culture. The question is, why does it make You so uncomfortable? I'm white, and I don't have a problem discussing slavery and race relations in America today...

      April 13, 2011 at 1:37 am |
  11. whaddup

    the problem wasn't religion or the Bible, it was evil white people perverting what was written in the Bible to justify their actions.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:53 pm |
  12. Keith Burnette

    The amazing thing is that the Bible, God, or anyone in the Bible referenced, never condoned slavery. It was simply stated as a fact of life in the time people were living, and was referenced as such. Also, slavery in Biblical times was not the same as in America and some other lands. There were rules that were meant to be followed, voluntary servitude, spouses and children were free not born slaves, forgiveness of debts, treatment of servants, etc. It was actually more like indentured servitude and it wasn't lifelong.

    The North and South both incorrectly defined the Bible for their own propaganda purposes. They were trying to win a war while also trying to win the hearts and minds or people as well.

    Final analysis though, slavery existed in all times because humankind keeps thinking they have the right to control others for their own personal gain. Don't blame the Bible, or God, for it.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • CarrieCNN

      Well Jesus never once condemned the practice, don't you think that was his duty? Maybe he could have said..."hey guys, don't have slaves" and God could have put an end to it completely, but didn't. So I think they might have had some responsibility.

      1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT, Luke 12:47-48 NLT, Exodus 21:20-21 NAB and my favorite (I know this is the Old Testament before Jesus came around, but this is still God's word) Exodus 21:7-11 NLT

      Wow, thanks for that God!

      April 13, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • CarrieCNN

      For those too busy to look it up:

      When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

      April 13, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • mkub

      Uhhhh okay, wait a minute guys, how do you think Jesus felt about his ancestors, the Jews, being slaves of the Egyptians? It was all fair game? I mean come on CarrieCNN, according to your argument ("God could have stopped it if he didn't like it"), there should be nothing bad happening in the world right? God could have stopped 9/11 if he didn't want it to happen, that's what you're saying right? I mean I thought this was a religion101 lesson- that bad things happen to good people and that God doesn't directly intercede because of the free will of man? Kinda how God didn't stop Eve from eating the forbidden fruit in the first place?

      April 13, 2011 at 1:17 am |
  13. cyberCMDR

    Man is a tool user, and he will use whatever tool is available to achieve his ends. The tool can be a hammer, an atomic bomb, an idea, or a religion. Throughout the ages, kings wielded religious authority to keep the people in line and justify their rule. After Iran's last elections led to protests, the government announced that those who were protesting were "going against the will of Allah." I would classify many Western "industrial sized" churches and televangelist shows as businesses, aimed to leverage the faith of the people to generate wealth and prestige for the church leaders. While religion can inspire, it can also be (and too often is) twisted to manipulate. Each of us must decide what to believe in life, but blind belief is dangerous because the religious authority can have an agenda.

    April 12, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      cybercommanderNOT. You speak of man made situations that have absolutely nothing to do with Jesus' truth. The only way you can know Jesus is to read the letter (the Bible) He wrote to all of us. Comprehend what He wrote. Apply His truth to your life. Other than that, man/woman does not save souls. Only Jesus can save souls.

      Amen.

      April 13, 2011 at 3:03 am |
    • frink

      @ heavens tard

      Jesus didnt write ANY of the bible. Have you bothered to read it?

      April 13, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Frespech

      Very well spoken.

      April 14, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  14. jason

    Let's stop making strawmen and find out for ourselves what the Bible actually says, and what those peope were really doing. ~ people die for lack of knowledge

    April 12, 2011 at 10:59 pm |
    • Bioartchick

      See then, if we allow people to make up whatever they want to and then claim that it is immune from criticism because it is religious, then ANYTHING GOES. There are in fact right and wrong answers to real questions, and whether or not to take the Bible literally should be a no brainer for anyone with any basic education.

      You ARE indeed correct about people dying out of a lack of knowledge. Disregarding literal interpretations of holy books is the skeptical position, and needs not prove anything, for that burden of proof is on those who make a claim, those who say the Bible is infallible truth. (And no, the argument that "The Bible is true and God exists because God says so through the Bible" DOES NOT WORK.)

      April 13, 2011 at 1:50 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Bioartchick, first, the Bible is the most fascinating read in the world. Too bad you don't have eyes to see, nor ears to hear His truth. Second, the only folks that don't work is you non-believers as you hover around chaos in your lives believing you won't be found out. You stand for nothing. All built on sand. No foundations. Seeds that were thrown on rocks. Scorched by the sun.

      Amen.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:59 am |
  15. PRISM 1234

    Yeah, devil himself knows the Bible, and has mult'itude of schemes how to acc'omplish what he wants by using it. This practice goes back to the deception in the Garden of Eden. So, his servants will do the same. There are those who in ignorance do wrong, or justify wrong things, BUT when the Holy Spirit of God shows them the truth, it's THEN that it will come out what they are really made out of! No one who is of God keeps doing wrong, justifying it, after the Holy Spirit shows it to them! ....If they do, THEY ARE NOT OF GOD.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:52 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Amen PRISM.

      To the non-believers, it's easy to continuing sinning. It takes courage, patience, determination/focus, honesty, and the ability to shelf one's ego (humble) to live a Christian life to mention just a few of His righteous qualities.

      Amen.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:52 am |
  16. hella crazy

    you all are stupid why don't we focus on the disasters plauging the world's people. We would rather listen to each other's opinion on stupid bull disowning the bible. Why don't we put our energy to changing something instead of whining about it. God is great but what about the people that believe in there own god. Maybe their god is the same as my god. In fact he might be him.
    All we care about is how right we are. Oh look I'm fashionable because I listen to propaganda and don't believe in anything besides me. I know we all want the bible to be right. You have to rely on facts and you can't get straight facts if you rely on someone else to do it for you. That's why you question everything because you only relied on your teacher to give you all that you needed to hear. God only reveals himself to those who want to find him not someone who has to much pride. God is love.
    So nobody talk s*** about God or the bible

    April 12, 2011 at 10:45 pm |
    • Jesusfreakazoid

      Had you read the Bible, you would disown it as well. The god of the Bible is anything but a god of love.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:01 pm |
    • hella crazy

      i have read it and it only talks about sinners like you lolllllll

      April 12, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Thank you hella crazy for writing that fact first. As for freakazoid, you hate what Jesus' teaches because you know Christians have your sinful number that you refuse to give up. You own your bad behavior that you can't pawn on someone else.

      Amen.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:48 am |
  17. Christian Adeline

    I hope Europeans and Americans would remember they'd have been completely primitive, meaningless barbarians if they didn't have the Bible in their possession. All their lofty, noble, victorious ideologies are in the Bible. They don't acknowledge it because they are illiterate regarding the whole Bible texts and their own history.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • CarrieCNN

      As you approach a town to attack it, first offer its people terms for peace. If they accept your terms and open the gates to you, then all the people inside will serve you in forced labor. But if they refuse to make peace and prepare to fight, you must attack the town. When the LORD your God hands it over to you, kill every man in the town. But you may keep for yourselves all the women, children, livestock, and other plunder. You may enjoy the spoils of your enemies that the LORD your God has given you. Deuteronomy 20:10-14

      If a man is caught in the act of raping a young woman who is not engaged, he must pay fifty pieces of silver to her father. Then he must marry the young woman because he violated her, and he will never be allowed to divorce her. Deuteronomy 22:28-29 NLT

      If within the city a man comes upon a maiden who is betrothed, and has relations with her, you shall bring them both out of the gate of the city and there stone them to death: the girl because she did not cry out for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbors wife. Deuteronomy 22:23-24 NAB

      Thus says the Lord: 'I will bring evil upon you out of your own house. I will take your wives [plural] while you live to see it, and will give them to your neighbor. He shall lie with your wives in broad daylight. You have done this deed in secret, but I will bring it about in the presence of all Israel, and with the sun looking down.'
      Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the Lord." Nathan answered David: "The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die. But since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you must surely die." [The child dies seven days later.] 2 Samuel 12:11-14 NAB

      "If a man lies with a male as with a women, both of them shall be put to death for their abominable deed; they have forfeited their lives." (Leviticus 20:13 NAB)

      Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death. (Exodus 21:15 NAB)

      If a man commits adultery with another man's wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10 NLT)

      But if this charge is true (that she wasn't a virgin on her wedding night), and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her fathers house and there her townsman shall stone her to death, because she committed a crime against Israel by her unchasteness in her father's house. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NAB)

      Work six days only, but the seventh day must be a day of total rest. I repeat: Because the LORD considers it a holy day, anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death.' (Exodus 31:12-15 NLT)

      April 13, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • Momof2

      Humans wrote the Bible.. So I guess you think more of humans than you thought. 🙂

      April 13, 2011 at 12:57 am |
    • mkub

      @ Christian Adeline: Huh? Ever heard of the Dark Ages? We lost thousands of years in literature and education because Christians burned everything as heretical. Imagine where we'd be now if that Hadn't happened. I have no hard feelings toward Christianity- history is history. But let's be realistic here......

      April 13, 2011 at 1:06 am |
    • HeavenSent

      CarrieCNN, what? Oh. Ah. A. The. Them. Those. Makes perfect sense? No.

      That's what most of you non-believers do to make your ridiculous point. Choose one scripture without including the surrounding scriptures so everyone can read the subject, action, outcome(s) that Jesus' is teaching.

      Amen.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:42 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @HeavenSent
      You believe that the biblical statements exhorting people to commit murder, ra.pe and genocide need to be put in context?
      Is genocide not immoral regardless of context?

      A few years ago, a devout Christian woman named Deanna Laney killed her two children because God told her the world was about to end and she had to "get her house in order."
      She had what she considered to be bona fide signs from God to kill her children. Her attorney plead insanity for her – insanity that was specifically tied to her religious beliefs, arguing that those beliefs prevented her from properly understanding reality.

      In your opinion, was that woman insane when God spoke to her?
      If so, were the people in the Bible who received orders from God to kill children also insane?

      April 13, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  18. Christian Adeline

    Mankind abuses and corrupts everything good in existence for one's own end. It was very nice "Christian" Europeans and Americans had a Bible to fuss about. The rest of the world had no Bible at all we did was useless, meaningless massacre and atrocities until Christian missionaries came and freed our slaves establishing meaning and human rights. Thanks.

    April 12, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Bioartchick

      In as much as human beings have the tendency to be destructive, we also have a strong capacity to be altruistic, loving and cooperative. It all depends on what predispositions you choose to uncover first.

      People keep saying things like, "If there is nothing beyond ourselves, how would you know right from wrong?" THERE IS PLENTY BEYOND HUMANITY. We do not live in a bubble! We interact with each other and the world, and there are very real truths about cause and effect that cannot be ignored or wished away. I don't know where people get off thinking WE are the end all be all, that the universe was created for us in mind. Personal experience should tell you this is not the case!

      April 13, 2011 at 1:40 am |
  19. Rosemary Peppercorn

    Nothing has changed. Now the bible is used to justify hatred of gays.

    April 12, 2011 at 9:33 pm |
    • Chiron

      haha.. that's really corny mrs Papper Corn.. You are really blinded by what you want to believe. On what do you peg what is right or wrong? On what do you base your moral standards? What is natural or unnatural? Who decides what right?
      Is it about getting caught?

      April 12, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Rosemary, actually Jesus, as well as Christians who follow His truth love everyone and want you to make it to eternity. However, we do not condone your sinful nature or the hating of Jesus and His truth. You own your beliefs. Stop putting your laziness and your refusal to give up your sinful nature on us. How convenient and typical of non-believers not wanting to or taking responsibility for your life. It's always the blame game with you non-believers. No Christian is refusing you His truth written in the Bible. You do this all on your own.

      Amen.

      April 13, 2011 at 6:33 am |
  20. CappinA

    The Bible has also been used to defeat slavery, racism, and injustice of all kinds. It is man's belief in a higher power, in some sense of right that is beyond himself, that motivates these actions that bring about change. If there is nothing beyond ourselves, then why bother with idealistic notions of justice and equality? I believe that the insistence on these values that pervades mankind is a clear indicator of the existence of God. We orient to our lives toward his plan like magnets. Our free will and ability to choose has lead some with sufficient power to turn away from this orientation and instead exploit the lives of others, justifying himself by adapting the source to his own orientation. But this ability of mankind to subvert the pervasive truth does not undermine the legitimacy of the deeper truth, which exists within man and beyond him.

    April 12, 2011 at 9:30 pm |
    • Jesusfreakazoid

      You're kidding right? It's our escape from Christianity that has allowed positive changes to occur in our society. Most people are moral because it's the right thing to do not because of the fear of burning in hell or being rewarded in heaven. If we followed the Bible then we would probably still be burning people at the stake. That's a nice fantasy world you live in there Cappin.

      April 12, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • steve

      @jesusfreakazoid. The promotion of non-religious morals has done nothing but harm. For example, try telling the 6 million Jews that died at the hands of an insane atheist that non religious morals are right. Or the millions of citizens living a hopeless life under an atheist communist government that non religious morals are right. In reality your argument is false at its premise. You say that it is the "right thing to do". Were do you think right and wrong came from? The Bible provides the world with what it needs, a real code of moral values and ethics. I hope you can see my point that right and wrong came from religion. You say that we would be burning people at the stake if we stayed with the Bible. I would contend that we would all be dead by now and humanity destroyed if Jesus hadn't come down to save us all. We would probably be eating each other because we don't know the "right thing" to do.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:45 pm |
    • Just Charles

      @Steve – The problem with what you said regarding the Jews, I beg to differ.

      Religion played a great role in formation of the Nazi party and Hitler's atrocities. Nazi belt buckles were inscribe with the words 'Got mit uns' – God With Us.

      Much of Nazi Religious doctrine was grounded in the Jesuit branch of Christianity. You might do a Google search for a more detailed analysis.

      April 12, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
    • Just Charles

      Sorry – Stumbled over my German – the phrase was "Gott Mit Uns"....

      April 13, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • CarrieCNN

      @steve – Hitler was a Christian. I find it hilarious when other Christians try to claim him as atheist. He also happened to be a psychopath, maybe that's what's important here. Anyway, in today's day and age the most atheistic countries in the world are simply the most peaceful. Holy books are filled with hate mongering and misogyny, it's seen through all religions. The Global Peace Index places countries such as Sweden, Denmark and Norway as THE MOST peaceful and they are also the most atheistic. Explain that?

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdtwTeBPYQA&w=640&h=390]

      April 13, 2011 at 12:34 am |
    • Momof2

      I think your statements tells more about your sense of right and wrong than anything else. I know another Christian who said without her faith she would murder anyone she wanted. I never knew there were really people who needed guidance on morals. I have more faith in humanity's ability to do the right thing, not to say everyone does.

      April 13, 2011 at 12:53 am |
    • steve

      @ CarrieCNN You are completely wrong when you say Hitler was a Christian. He was baptized as Roman Catholic but seized Religious relations after he left home. Think about it, I mean how could someone be a Christian and consider himself the Fuhrer? Hitler was a Darwinist, he used this idea to convince Germans that he needed to "purify" the human race. He propelled people into believing they were doing the right thing by killing off the Jews and "lesser" races. Hitler manipulated people to follow through with his horrid plans. If you really don't think Hitler was an atheist then someone will sell you the Brooklyn Bridge in a minute.

      Also, about your argument that the most peaceful nations are Atheist. This may be true. And your point is? Atheism and peacefulness have no relation. These are all established countries that have long been neutral.

      @Just Charles- That may be true but to be honest that doesn't mean anything. No offense but If I was the Antichrist and I could sway weak minded religious people into following me by putting "In God we trust," on anything then I would do it. This "In God we trust," means nothing at all. It was simply propaganda to promote the Nazi regime's mission.

      @Momof2- . Interesting personal anecdote and hopefully it isn't true haha. But, I think you misunderstood my argument. The teachings of Jesus Christ, Moses, Muhammad, etc. are the basis of many of our morales and values. Think about it in real terms, if you grew up without hearing "Treat others how you would want to be treated," or "Help others in need when ever you can." Etc. Then you would have no morales and values. You would not know how to treat people until you learned later in life. And almost all of those values and morales have a religious basis. One last example, If you have ever been called a good Samaritan then you should Google it and read up on the origins of it... you may find it interesting.

      Lastly Momof2, I would appreciate it if you did not resort to Ad Hominem attacks on my morales and values. I am confident that I am a good person and do not need someone to question my character over the internet.

      On last note to all... I honestly hope that you read my arguments carefully and understand my points. The facts of the matter are that Religion is the basis of almost all morale laws we have today and you should thank god everyday for putting those teachers on Earth.

      April 13, 2011 at 1:52 am |
    • Glenn

      Steve, laws against killing people, stealing thing, etc., have been in civilizations long before Christianity and not always used in a religious context. Look up Hammurabi. You don't need religion to tell you to act ethically. These things are self evident to most people. Even the most 'godless' tribes in the remote corners of the world usually prohibit killings and other ethical vices. Those rules make for cohesive and prosperous societies and so those rules flourish.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:05 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Freakazoid, you learned morals from the Christian influences in your life. People aren't born with morals. They are taught. Whether you want to acknowledge or admit this fact or not. My concern with all you non-believers is not having a breaking capability in your life scheme. Oh, you'll have morals when it suits you. Then you don't need/have to have morals when the situation isn't going your way But, what do I know? My life was destroyed by non-believers that cared less what they did/do to me or anyone. They go on with their empty void existence called (cough) their life.

      Amen.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:33 am |
    • UH60L

      Actually, my morals were taught to me by my parents. We never went to church, and religion was never pushed on me. I knew what it was because I learned about it in social studies class (the way all children should learn about it...).

      I won't go into the details, but I'll just say this, I have live a more "christian" life than most of you so-called christians ever have or ever will. My kids have grown up without religion forced upon them, but with mroals and common sense taught to them all their lives. If they make the decision to become religious, they know that they will be welcome in my home, but that their religion stops at the front door. In the same light, I never go into anyone else's home and tell them to abandon their beliefs, just because I don't agree.

      That is the real probelm with most religion, it is intrusive. If all you religious people could learn to live and let live, the world would be a much better place.

      I, like most non-believers, would be open minded to the idea of religion, should any real proof ever show up, the same as I would be if an alien spacecraft landed in Washington DC tomorrow. Until such factual proof shows up, I'll stick with good old fashioned common sense.

      So, which group do you belong to? The "force fed from birth by your parents" group, or the "down on your luck, bad time in your life, at the end of your rope--when someone showed you the light and brought you to god (IE took advantage of you when you were down....)" group?

      April 13, 2011 at 3:21 am |
    • HeavenSent

      How convenient. UH60L can write about his parents but hasn't done research to go back through his family history to find out what his ancestors before him believed. Not to mention what his teachers, neighbors, friends etc. believed that influenced his life. Poof, out of thin air, he just acquired morals and ethics because he's too lazy to due his research and then when he does research and find out how much Jesus' teachings have influenced his and everyone's lives, he'll just deny Jesus' truth too.

      What else is new with you non-believers? Beside, Jesus already marked you as fools.

      Amen.

      April 13, 2011 at 6:21 am |
    • me

      There were morals and ethics way before Christianity was even established. Even if that was not the case, Christianity would be the least of all religions to even try to set our morals. A bunch of hypocritical, self-righteous beasts that used the Bible to justify the following: slavery during America's colonial times, the crusades, the killing and oppression of Pagans, Jews, Native Americans, and many other non-Christians.

      April 13, 2011 at 6:54 am |
    • Jesusfreakazoid

      @ HeavenSent

      Thankfully I nor most civil societies don't use the Bible as a source for morality. You should READ it for the first time and you will agree. Morals were around long before someone decided to put some of them into your book of myths. Do some research. The Bible is full of stories that were ancient Egyptian and Greek myths that have been rewritten for a new audience. It;s completely full of plagiarisms. More importantly though is that it is anything but moral. Seriously, read the dang book for the first time. Thanks to a lot of ongoing research, everyday more people see the Bible for what it really is. It is an interesting read, but it certainly should not be used as a guide for morality or life choices.

      If there were a god, I think it would pleased to know that I did not cave in and follow a book or a religion that is so immoral and full of hate. Take off the Bible blinders and look around for the first time. You will realize that it's not the non-believers that are the frightening ones. Hopefully religion becomes extinct before we do. Don't be a puppet. Think for yourself.

      April 13, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Tha_Truth

      After all is said and done, what do we see? Religion is a menace to society? Yes. Yet that's exactly what the man Jesus said would happen, "Wolf's in sheep clothing would move into the Christian congregation and would not treat the flock with tenderness (From the death of the last Apostle John–>Dark ages–>forth to this time) All the chaos is directing attention to the bad because there's so much of it. Yet, under all that turmoil, there's is something going-on that people are missing- those who would identify the mark of true Christianity, those who have already 'beat their swords into plowshares' who would not lift arms against their fellow man. It is happening now, but the majority of people won't see it, because they're too prideful to notice the narrow road that is leading the meek to the blessing from our creator of everlasting life. Yes, religion is bad. It Satan's tool to mislead earth's inhabitants.

      April 14, 2011 at 12:12 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.