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A rough decade for American congregations
A new survey shows a decline in worship service attendance in the United States.
September 20th, 2011
04:43 PM ET

A rough decade for American congregations

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - A new decade-long survey of American congregations shows religious health and vitality are weaker than they were 10 years ago.  While the survey showed that many congregations are adopting new technologies and innovative worship, there were steep drops in financial health and attendance at weekly worship services.

The Hartford Institute for Religion Research released the study's findings Saturday in a report titled "A Decade of Change in American Congregations, 2000 – 2010" authored by David A. Roozen.

In the measured decade, churches, temples and synagogues told surveyors that congregations that were innovative and contemporary showed the highest amount of "high spiritual vitality."

Forty-seven percent of congregations that said their worship experience was "innovative and contemporary" reported high spiritual vitality, versus 17% that said their congregations were "neither innovative nor contemporary."

The vast majority of congregations implemented electronic communications in the past decade.  Recently, many have turned to social networking as well, with 41% using Facebook to communicate with congregants.

Congregations are also having hard times financially, the survey found.  In 2000, 31% of survey participants reported excellent financial health.  In 2010, that number plummeted to just 14%.

The recession, Roozen writes in the report, "affected nearly every kind of congregation equally – large and small; north, south, east and west; financially healthy or struggling before the recession. One bit of good news was that one in 10 congregations reported that by the time of the survey, they had already begun to recover."

Roozen writes that a variety of factors led to the decline, but overall, there are fewer Americans in the pews, and "... more than 1 in 4 American congregations had fewer than 50 in worship in 2010, and just under half had fewer than 100. Overall, median weekend worship attendance of your typical congregation dropped from 130 to 108 during the decade, according to the FACT surveys."

FACT refers to Faith Communities Today, a multifaith coalition that researches congregational life.

While megachurches - congregations with more than 2,000 members - continued to grow in popularity, they still represent only a fraction of American congregations, at one-half of 1%.  "And while it appears to be true they are attracting an ever bigger slice of the religious attender pie, it is a bigger slice of a shrinking pie," Roozen wrote.

The decline hit across religious and denominational lines, sparing no one, Roozen wrote. He said that "no single category or kind of congregation ... was exempt from the decadal downsizing of worship attendance."

The data came from Faith Communities Today surveys and represents 11,077 congregations and 120 denominations of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions, the institute said.  Most often, the surveys were completed by the congregation's leader, and the institute estimates the margin of error to be plus or minus 4 percentage points.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Church

soundoff (2,018 Responses)
  1. John C

    Wait a minute! If there's no Jezus, then who killed the dinosaurs?

    September 20, 2011 at 10:25 pm |
    • Kyle

      hitler did it. Right before he was rejected from art school.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
  2. chico martins

    Grace and peace in the name of Jesus Christ.Brothers and sister,be honest with you all,the only one to free a soul is Jesus,and is not other way to free the man.I hope everone be save,but is many-many how does want the true.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      terrific

      more of this eruo trash

      September 20, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  3. John C

    "When the priest in the pulpit asks for money, I seem to hear a rustle of souls fleeing." - Spanish novelist Jose Maria Gironella. Well, sure–all those child-raping settlements cost big bucks.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
  4. MikeB

    The vanity of self has divided us and made us strangers to our own souls.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • Jack O'Tack

      Prove a soul exists in the first place and maybe that quote would make some sense.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
  5. Divune

    Where science ends, religion begins

    September 20, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • Jack O'Tack

      Science is a method of investigation. Religion is a method of avoiding investigation because it's a lie.
      Where one ends, another does not necessarily begin.
      Stupid bumper sticker trash talk.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      religion begins for who? poor people?

      people are poor because theyre too dumb to get good jobs so what do they do? they pray to the sky and beg for money and canned string beans instead of getting educated

      stop being poor

      then you can be free of believing in mythological fairy tale beings that kill

      September 20, 2011 at 10:36 pm |
    • Real Deal

      Divune: "Where science ends, religion begins."

      For many... where science ends, fantasy begins - because they simply cannot stand to say, "I don't know".

      Fantasy and daydreaming can be pleasant and even useful when brainstorming for answers - but to live there is ineffective, and even dangerous.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  6. Lester

    Hopefully, this trend will continue. With respect to people of genuine faith, the truth is that its all a big made up fairly tale that is inherently deceptive at best, and detructive at worst. Religion is a scam for people to acquire wealth and power while avoiding having to pay taxes or do anything constructive.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  7. Follower

    Christians should reinstate the Crusades. During this time everyone was under one religion.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • Kyle

      One religion? So... there were no Buddhists, Muslims or anything else floating around in this big turd bowl we call home at that time, right?

      September 20, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Answer

      Good luck – honestly – not really.

      If you really believe in your own words you may as well join in the army right now and train yourself up and fight.

      The other side has guns too – if you haven't forgotten? I hope truthfully that you will die in vain. I do know you will try your hardest! As it stands you can only blubber on with your resentment of all other religions except your own.

      I hope in getting yourself killed, that it will teach you, or earn yourself a place beside your imaginary friend. So go off now and sponsor in your nearest local war. Let it be a quick death to you.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Kritz

      Is it any wonder that sensible people just shake their heads in sadness when they hear such ignorance from their fellow citizens?

      September 20, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
    • 1benza

      Not working real well for Islam, they have jihads going on and overall publicity is extremely negative; but everyone in the region is under one faith and it is increasing exponentially...

      September 20, 2011 at 11:06 pm |
  8. chewie

    Kyle; I think your signals are misfiring. God loves you anyway.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • Kyle

      There is no god. The end.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Pope Benedict

      What's God??

      September 20, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • THINKKKKK

      Amen

      September 20, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      chewie... i bet you believe in god because you don't have much money and you struggle to get by

      September 20, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
  9. when

    Mr. Burns, that is so sad. Your story really touched me. Even if you can't go to church, God knows your heart. I hope you get some people in your life to fellowship with and I'll keep you in my prayers. YES BO! I know exactly what you're talking about and it was the first thing I thought of when reading this news story. PRAISE THE LORD indeed! Hey Sid. Two things: I would never set a date. I have no way of knowing the day or hour. And...I did not predict anything. The prophesies are God's. Take it up with Him. Cheers!

    September 20, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  10. Brian

    "financial "...........................................

    That word comes up a lot when you discuss religion in this country.

    September 20, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • chewie

      Financials come up a lot when you talk about anything. School, Church, Houseing, cars, food, clothing, and just about anything else. Whats new.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      chewie

      its because god cant get a job so the church demands money from all the poor peasants that go to church

      September 20, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  11. lucianne

    Tready, dear, no one is against God – just the perversion of the Eternal Being that some of you twisted "Christians" have replaced Him with.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • Dave in Portland

      I like that statement. You summed it up well. I am agnostic and I believe there is probably something out there greater than we pitiful humans can possibly comprehend. However, I have NO belief in any faith fabricated by man (which in my book is all of them).

      September 21, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
  12. PY

    By "true church"you mean the one you are a member to?What if other people disagree with this?And what if they are right and not you?How can you tell the difference?

    September 20, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  13. Matthew

    I knew CNN would write something negative about Christianity... I hate when media is owned by Jewish people because they always write negative about Christianity and good about the Jewish and Israeli people

    September 20, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • Jonathan

      What are you talking about? This articles deals with all major congregations in America. I hate when people try to find nonexistent truths beneath the stories.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • kme

      "...I hate when people try to find nonexistent truths beneath the stories."

      Was that supposed to be a criticism of the poster or of religion generally 😉

      September 20, 2011 at 10:05 pm |
    • fox in stile

      Oooh, nice catch, kme.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Ah, you did catch me there. I was referring to the poster, not the article itself.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Kyle

      What's positive about christianity? Have you read the bible?

      September 20, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • Answer

      Matthew came here for his daily, consumerism piece of spirituality and was disappointed ... I feel so sad for him..
      Do not despair Matthew your religion will die out. Have faith now – it's a long road of disappointment after all. You already knew that thought.

      You can keep on scouring every day til you drop dead from spiritual deprivation. That's always a good thing to see in ones such as yourself. It's so nice.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • tharris19

      @Matthew. Son, you are drinking the kool aid while it's hot and before it's stirred.

      September 22, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  14. Richardbutt

    YAY, OUR SPECIES IS WAKING UP AND REALIZING RELIGION IS ALL MADE UP!

    September 20, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
    • Lewis

      Amen

      September 20, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • Jumper

      Just your screen name alone discourages belief in your credibility.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • robg8r

      Many religions are made up, but a true relationship with Jesus Christ is/can be real. True joy, freedom, love, and hope is only found in Christ. I hope that you find Him before it's too late. Peace!

      September 20, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • Tanner

      Couldn't agree more!

      September 20, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • DerWeissEngel

      robg8r – can you explain to me the difference between a "true" religion and a "made-up" one? Or should I take a guess – yours is true, and everyone else's is made up?

      September 20, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • fox in stile

      robg8r, "True love, meaning, hope *only* found in Jesus"? Meaning these are contingent on belief. I find the idea of compulsory love, and especially compulsory salvation, to be contradictions and not worth having.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
  15. Jason

    If there is no god, then is our consciousness and awareness simply chemical reactions? If so, do we not have free will since these would be mathematically predictable reactions in the brain? Is our consciousness "reincarnated" if the molecules that make up our brain were assembled again (by chance or man's technology)? If so, what happens if identical copies of our brain (including the consciousness) were replicated and two were in existence at the same time?

    September 20, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Jason

      You asked: ""what happens if identical copies of our brain (including the consciousness) were replicated and two were in existence at the same time?"

      If you could create the same experiences, education environment... Then you would probably have 2 people who were exactly alike. They would walk alike, talk alike...watch old Patty Duke Show re-runs.

      Do remember, the brain and your computer are a lot alike. Both will run differently depending on what you "feed" it.

      If you are bombarded with a religion since you were little, it will affect you the rest of your life. That's why the religious start on the children.

      Cheers!

      September 20, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • dg

      Thus far evidence points to there being no God or gods and that we are all swimming in a sea of quantum soup. I imagine that evolution would throw a few kinks in the ability to mathematically deduce all actions and reactions thus insuring free will but we are a very predictable species by nature. Your point still makes for weak evidence of the existance of God.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • NM

      Just because our brains use chemical processes, this does not make our behaviours predictable. On the smallest levels we do not know how or if a chemical or element will bond in our bodies. There are fundamental parts of physics that we still do not understand that play a role in our biochemistry, and it would be inane to assume that all human behaviour is predictable because of our biochemical make up. Our behaviour may be predictable if we all had the same exacte genetic makeup, same life experience, and all factors in our surrounding were stable. As to your other two questions... just no. We do not live in a fantasy world of reincarnation, or of time-space paradoxes (which I think you are getting at).

      September 20, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • fox in stile

      All these "scary" or "troubling" questions might make people *want* to believe otherwise, but still provide no evidence that there *is* an otherwise.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:10 pm |
    • Jason

      I don't think the context of my questions are being properly understood. Google John Searle. The questions point to something deep most are missing. I am referencing our actual awareness. Experiences, beliefs, and what happened to you as a child has nothing to do with your self-awareness and consciousness.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • Jason

      And I'm not necessarily referring to chemical reactions we or anyone else can predict. I'm talking about the chemical reactions in our brain bound by the laws of physics. Whether we can deduce it is irrelevant to the questions.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • Alex

      If there is no god, then is our consciousness and awareness simply chemical reactions?
      -Quite Possibly yes, we know we're made up of matter and nothing else so it would be hard to justify otherwise.

      If so, do we not have free will since these would be mathematically predictable reactions in the brain?
      -Can computers not make decisions without human interaction? What appears to be free will to you could be merely a complex series of conditions(possibly 1000s of conscience and sub-conscience conditions) that come to a single decision. Humans are rarely irrational to themselves unless under the influence or mentally ill, so human behavior would back that up.

      Is our consciousness "reincarnated" if the molecules that make up our brain were assembled again (by chance or man's technology)?
      -Ha, had a similar question in a college philosophy and AI class. My answer, it depends. If someone were to freeze time, and make an exact copy of you then unfreeze time then yes because the clone would up to that point have all the experiences and train of thought that you had. After that though you become two different beings experiencing different conditions the molecules that make you, make up your memory which is an ever changing state. Would you be similar? Yes, but not exact due to the complexity of what you call free will.

      It's a scary thought so most people don't like to think about it, but there's a decent chance this life is what you got, so cherish it, as there may be nothing after it. IMO, primary reason why religion exists, to explain away that fearful thought and replace it with control.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • DerWeissEngel

      There is no free will and there is no supernatural.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • Kyle

      Studies have been conducted on other animals that indicate that they to a degree experience consciousness.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • Jason

      Alex, I think your answer is the best one I've read thus far. However, what if your "consciousness" was copied? What then? Think of the movie "The Prestige."

      Another question, what if there are other universes (multiverse)? Wouldn't that present the possibility of "reincarnation" if the "energy" that makes up your "consciousness" was assembled together at some point within the 10 dimensions of reality?

      September 20, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      That was one of the most convoluted pieces of pseudo-intellectual claptrap I have ever read.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • Jason

      sqeptiq – More intelligent than your comment

      September 20, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • DerWeissEngel

      @Jason – you're watching too much Star Trek.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • fox in stile

      "What if your consciousness was copied?"

      Then two of your consciousnesses would exist simultaneously. If the Self is nothing more than the result of combinations and permutations of reactions in the brain, this is not implausible.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • Physics Hermit

      Mass is dimensional energy in a "bound" state.
      Dimensional energy is subject to dimensional energy laws, most of which we don't know.
      The mass and energy within a person's skull is constantly being affected by other bits of mass and energy from throughout the whole universe.
      Our skulls provide very little shielding and our brain structure provides very little ability in terms of decision-making, so we don't have free will - we have the illusion of free-will. It is not under anyone's control, btw.

      For example, there is no god as described in any holy text going around and affecting anyone's mind.
      Gods like that have certain characteristics that rule them out as being real. They are utterly non-existent.
      The proof? All the real proof we have of everything in all of human history is firm evidence against the existence of a god with such characteristics. None of it shows any evidence of a god or even the suggestion of any outside "will"...

      The illusion of free-will is very close to what could be classified as free will, as the definitions start to blur when one speaks of self-awareness and perception.
      "Predestination" is a misleading term that religious people love to fling around in an irresponsible and irrational manner.

      Dimensional energy is everything. All dimensions are forms of dimensional energy.
      Our physics laws are incomplete, yet already show that there are no aberrations, no exceptions in physics as far as our knowledge goes. Even the unexplainable and extreme physics show no "conscious" intent.

      Our physicists are good but do not properly address dimensional energy as yet. We do not have a Grand Unified Theory yet.

      But the physical world is very predictable. The logical extrapolation of that is that our brains, where we able to control them, are also predictable in certain ways.

      Anyway, (long post sorry) at some point, the "direction" we call "will" is subject to the winds of "happenstance" in terms of end result. If we had a hyper-dimensional uber-computer with quantum x-ray vision, we could predict everything that happens to a single person including their thoughts. Free will is an illusion, but since there is no god, our "predestined thoughts" are subject to the events of this space-time continuum and thankfully not to the psychopathic distortions of a supernatural monster.
      Don't worry about gods, demons, or anything like that. Your craziness is normal.
      We are zapped by our environment and can do some zapping of our own.
      That does not make us gods and it does not make our environment a god. There are no patterns to anything beyond physical laws. We are essentially random mutations of a long line of mutated biochemical organisms.
      Our bodies are not under our control at the cellular level. We do not control our brains or our thoughts.
      But neither does anything else control these things. "Control" implies intent. There is no intent visible at any level of physics to suggest that a supernatural being is running the show. That's just ridiculous.
      To pretend there is a "will" in how the universe works is to ignore all of human knowledge.
      To say we have "will" that is under our control is ludicrous.
      We have "will", but we do not control it. It is not under anyone's or anything's control. There is no visible intent and no religion has any incontrovertible proof that they are anything but delusional belief-systems.
      Time for a cigarette.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:19 pm |
  16. JB

    Finally people are coming to their senses!

    September 20, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  17. Kyle

    Are people starting to realize that there is no god to answer their prayers?

    I hope these businesses and corporations (churches) go bankrupt.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • chewie

      Hey Kyle; I bet you are a nice guy but relax in the fact that God does answer prayers. Maybe not as fast as we want or in the exact manner we want , but he does answer prayers. I know!!!

      September 20, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • think for yourself

      Chewie, next time you need medical attention, don't go to the doctor. Just pray really hard, since apparently that is all you need. Let us know how that turns out for you.

      Prayer is nothing different than talking to yourself. You can make up any type of response you want to. If what you ask yourself for actually comes true, you bring it up as a prayer being answered. But in the vast majority of cases where it does not get "answered", you just attribute it to "god's will".

      September 20, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @chewie

      Jesus speaking:

      "If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." –Matthew 21:22 (NIV)

      "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." –Matthew 17:20 (NIV)

      "Ask and it will be given to you.... For everyone who asks receives." –Luke 11:9-10 (NIV)

      "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven." –Matthew 18:19 (NIV)

      James 5:15 – And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.

      Let's be honest. Don't be afraid to use critical thinking. Jesus said the above, about prayer. Is it true? Can you post back to me and claim what Jesus said is true?

      Why has there never been a doc_umented case of an amputated limb being restored? Do you think an amputee never prayed or had faith?

      Double blind experiments, have all shown that prayer has no effect on illness.

      Because people have believed the promises of the bible, they have withheld medical care for their children. They prayed instead. Evidently, god was not moved by their faith. Their children died. Modern medicine could have saved them. OOoopsie!

      Why aren't Jesus' words true? Can you think of any possibilities? If Jesus' words aren't true about prayer, then how can we depend on anything else Jesus said? Maybe if we could "test" the afterlife claims, they would be no more real than the claims about prayer.

      A fundie once told me, that god always answers prayers in one of three ways:
      1) God says, "yes". You get what you asked for immediately.
      2) God says, "to wait". You will get what you asked for at some future date.
      3) God says, "no". You will not get what you asked for.

      Hmmm.... But I can get the same success from the carton of milk I have sitting on the breakfast table.

      1) If I pray to my magic carton, some things will come true immediately, just by chance and coincidence.
      2) Some things will come true at some future date, for the same reasons.
      3) If I don't get what I want, then my magic carton said, "no".

      I think there is a problem, when there is no difference between praying to a god and praying to a milk carton.

      Having a prayer answered, appears to require only 3 things:
      1. Belief
      2. Faith
      3. And to be totally sure, you need others who agree with what you are asking for, to pray with you.

      Hmm...

      Remember the Gulf oil spill?
      Remember how a ton of people prayed for god to stop the gushing?
      I was spellbound! I watched the real time video of the oil spill. I expected to see it stop. It did not. Human technology eventually capped the well.

      Remember when Rick issued a proclamation, that for 72 hours, the citizens of Texas would all pray for rain. I thought, surely god would hear their prayers and open the windows of Heaven!
      The "days of prayer" ended Sunday, April 24, 2011. Texas is still experiencing exceptional drought.

      Studies have shown prayer does not work. Any miracles or answered prayers are the result of random chance, coincidence, selective observation or fraud. Believers tend to remember the perceived positive outcome of prayers and forget the failed. Because believers rely on faith, they are easily deceived by unscrupulous people.

      Christians MUST contest this. They must rent their clothes and Shout: "Do not put the lord your god to the test!" LOL!

      God, either does not care or does not exist. Personally, I'm checking the second box. LOL.

      Cheers!

      September 20, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • DerWeissEngel

      Pray in one hand and crap in the other. See which one fills up first.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • Kyle

      My comment won't post, but it's pretty much the same as what's already been said : )

      The bible promises one thing, and what do we get? NOTHING.

      Classic prophecy!

      September 20, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • Kyle

      David, I'd like to add one thing...

      You brought up not putting god to the test. Funny thing, in the bible, there are actual examples of people putting god to the test and it magically answers the demands of those who ask it to prove itself. It's funny to think that christians will quickly state "THOU SHALT NOT TEMPT THE LORD THY GOD." The bible clearly contradicts itself : )

      September 20, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • Real Deal

      chewie,

      I wished upon a star several times, and my wishes came true - that proves it works, right? I'm not an astronomer, so I have a hard time finding the same star each time, but it does seem as if some of them ignore me.

      September 20, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
  18. Abraxas

    Probably because the more educated people become, the more spiritual they become and lose interest in organized religion when they discover that they don't need anyone at all to intercede between them and their creator.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • chewie

      You could be right but it's nice to be in church around other people that also believe. We all can go straight thru Jesus to speak and pray to God , but I like my religious friends a lot. and enjoy time together.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:07 pm |
    • THE BROWN NOTE

      you have to go to church to have friends? man that sucks

      peasants flock to churches

      i guess thats the only place poor people feel safe even though the church always asks them for money

      the irony

      September 20, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
  19. Bo

    @Hummm,9:39 See my post at 9:32 and again I say praise the Lord for fulfilled prophecy, this has been told to us that this will happen! Praise the Lord!

    September 20, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • Kyle

      Your "lord" also said he'd return nearly 2,000 years ago. So, uh, about prophecy....

      September 20, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Bo

      Hey man! You seem to be knowledgeable about the bible. What's up with the two genealogies for Jesus, both for Joseph?
      I thought Jesus was fathered by god?

      Curious in Arizona

      September 20, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Tom

      @David Johnson ... one genealogy is for Mary. It wasn't customary in that day to write a genealogy which named women. Are you seeking the truth, or (like an atheist friend of mine) merely studying the Bible for "loopholes" ???

      September 21, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Tom

      I am always seeking truth. But, I find that the believer's truth and a reasonable person's truth are often not the same.

      I don't feel any need to go to extraordinary lengths (theological gymnastics) to keep the bible from being wrong.

      If the genealogy is for Mary, then why? Jewish tradition called for the Messiah to be related to David on the father's side. The mother did not matter. This virgin birth, seems to a problem here.

      Cheers!

      September 22, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  20. Sam

    They should rename this column Atheist Blog Instead of Belief Blog, because CNN nor Democrats believe in anything spiritual. I believe in Intellect and Spirituality, they are the two parts to a whole. Those who claim intelligence without believing in Spirituality, deceive themselves.

    September 20, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • Danny

      Right, except they have nothing to do with each other.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • Kritz

      Thanks, Sam for telling me authoritatively what I do and don't believe, and more helpfully, what I should and should not.

      Where would I be without your help?

      Actually, now that I think of it, I'd be better off. Please feel free to believe however many impossible things strike your fancy, but please also extend me the courtesy of not assuming your absolutes apply to me. They don't.

      September 20, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • kme

      Religion != Spirituality

      September 20, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Sam I understand what Intellect mean, please explain to me what you mean by Spirituality?

      September 20, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
    • Kyle

      I'm not a democrat, and I don't work for CNN. In fact, I hate the religion of liberalism. It's a cancerous disease. Not to say conservatism is any better. I find both to be revolting.

      So, what you're saying is that you think anyone who isn't spiritual is a mongrel idiot. You have to be intelligent AND spiritual to be "whole."

      That is rather insulting, don't you think? You know, to in so many words proclaim yourself to be "whole" and the rest of us who reject religion altogether, yoga, etc. are what, in the dark?

      I'll let you in on a little secret. It's all psychological. There is nothing spiritual about this world. There is nothing spiritual about humans. The need for people to believe in a deity evolved in humans over many years. In other words, the human brain evolved to the point where it was wired to rely on this. Some people may reject religion but cling hopelessly to this magical spirituality you speak of. However, it is also known as fear. You are afraid that this is all for nothing.

      And it is!

      That's the beauty of it. There's nothing to be afraid of. There is no need for religion, no need for spirituality. Some people are at peace because the electrical signals in their brains function normally. Others are in constant misery because of misfiring signals. The need for the area of the brain that makes people live in fear of a magical and invisible sky-hostess has long dwindled away. It is obsolete, and so is the need for spirituality. You are clinging onto a lost cause out of fear, and making the tragic attempt to insult others because of it. No better than a mormon in my book.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:04 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Sam

      There is no evidence that an actual Jesus ever existed.

      And if He did exist, He was not the Messiah.

      Cheers!

      September 20, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • cafreespirit

      I agree. Though I acknowledge the fact that some choose not to believe, I am sick and tired of the disrespect to those that do. I think this blog should be renamed to "Atheist Propaganda Forum."

      September 20, 2011 at 10:18 pm |
    • Kyle

      Thank god for atheist propaganda. I mean, after all, without this alleged god you speak of, us atheists wouldn't exist.

      Then christians would have to go out killing people of other religions as they've been so good at in the past.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:24 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      I suppose you have evidence of this to satisfy the intellectual half.

      September 20, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
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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.