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My Take: When Bedford Falls Becomes Pottersville
December 24th, 2011
03:00 AM ET

My Take: When Bedford Falls Becomes Pottersville

Editor's note: Larry Alex Taunton is the founder and executive director of the Fixed Point Foundation. This article is adapted from his book “The Grace Effect: How the Power of One Life Can Reverse the Corruption of Unbelief.”

By Larry Alex Taunton, Special to CNN

(CNN) - My favorite Christmas movie is, unquestionably, Frank Capra’s 1946 feel-good flick "It’s a Wonderful Life." Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed play George and Mary Bailey, a happy couple living a life of genteel poverty in the small American town of Bedford Falls.

George is a kind and generous man. He is active in his community and in the war effort. Most importantly, George is all that stands between the town’s mean old man, Mr. Potter, and the demise of all that is good in Bedford Falls.

As financial pressures crowd in on poor George, he begins to question his value to the community. So much so, that he wishes he had never been born. To demonstrate to George the folly of his wish, an angel is sent to give him a glimpse of what Bedford Falls would look like if that wish were granted. In Dickensian fashion, the angel takes him from one scene in that small town to another. The difference is stark. Indeed, Bedford Falls isn’t even Bedford Falls anymore, but a place called Pottersville. The town’s main street is a red-light district, crime is rampant, and life there is coarsened.

When George, in desperation, turns to the angel, seeking an explanation for these drastic changes, the angel says, “Why, George, it’s because you were never born!”

According to a recent poll conducted by The Hill, 69% of voters think America is in decline, and 83% say they are worried about the country’s future. And that has generated a lot of finger-pointing: Republicans blame President Obama; Obama blames Republicans; environmentalists blame industrialization; the “Occupy” people blame everybody who isn’t occupying something - most of us agree that there is a problem, but efforts to identify the source of it are incomplete, misguided or downright evil.

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

The problems of human society are the problems of human nature, wrote "Lord of the Flies" author William Golding. Indeed. This was the discovery of the monastics. Seeking to escape the evil of the world, they found instead a doctrine central to Christianity: that evil is innate to us all. History tells us that a given philosophy, creed or religion will either restrain our darker impulses or exacerbate them, but escape them we cannot. Not in this life, anyway.

So what will save us from ourselves and preserve human dignity and life in the societies we create? Democracy? Socialism? Stitching up the ozone?

These days, there is a lot of talk about religion - Christianity in particular - and its role in public life. Whether it is protesting Nativities, the debate over “In God We Trust” as our country’s motto or the controversy surrounding the public faith of Tim Tebow, a national discussion is taking place on what the present and future role of Christianity in America should be. The consensus among the secular elites seems to be that it is a bit like smoking: It is harmful, but if you must do it, do it in the designated areas only. Richard Dawkins, the Oxford scientist and atheist provocateur, calls Christianity a “mental virus” that should be eradicated.

The professor should be more careful in what he wishes for. Like many others, he grossly underestimates the degree to which his own moral and intellectual sensibilities have been informed by the Judeo-Christian worldview.

"It’s a Wonderful Life" is a fitting metaphor for a nation absent Christian belief. Jesus Christ said that his followers were to be like “salt”; that is, a people whose presence is felt for the good that they do. As a man or woman’s evil nature is gentled and restrained by the grace of God, there is a corresponding outward transformation of society. The data bears this out. According to the research of The Barna Group, Christians are the most charitable segment of the population by a substantial margin. Hence, any society that is liberally sprinkled with them has a greater concern for the poor, sick, orphaned and widowed - “the least of these,” as Jesus called them. (This is precisely what Nietzsche, and Hitler after him, hated about Christianity.)

But Christian influence goes well beyond benevolence: Our laws, art, literature and institutions find meaning in a rich Christian heritage. In his new book "Civilization: The West and the Rest," Harvard historian Niall Ferguson argues that the decline of the West can, in part, be attributed to the decline of a robust Christian presence in Western culture. Ferguson’s point is largely an economic one, but the inference that Christianity has served to strengthen the fabric of life in the West as we have known it is unmistakable. T.S. Eliot made a similar observation: “If Christianity goes, the whole of our culture goes.”

That is just another way of saying that the difference between a nation with meaningful Christian influence and a nation without it is the difference between Bedford Falls and Pottersville.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Larry Alex Taunton.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Christmas • Church and state

soundoff (3,025 Responses)
  1. Michael

    Wow! It is so ironic that you chest pounding atheists who are so superior intellectually and morally act like intolerant children if anyone that has a pro religious message appears on the news wire.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • David

      You seem to have a serious issue when someone post something the directly challenges your belief system. I have seen you post a single argument to refute our assertions. Do you really think belief in God has made you smarter and given you an accurate view of our world and the human condition?

      December 24, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • David

      Opps, Change have to haven't. Apparently atheism hasn't helped my proof reading...

      December 24, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • liz

      You obviously have never read the comments from Christians when someone writes and article that in any way discusses doubts in the superiority of Christianity.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  2. Stuart Mitchell

    This article is exactly the thing Steven Pinker discuses in "The Angels of our Better Nature". The Zietgiest of human nature and society is moving in a positive way, not degrading due to the increasing lack of religiosity. Wars and violence are declining and it is not due to increased religiosity. The most violent areas of the world (those with the highest murder rates) are precisely the most religious places. The less religious a place is the safer, and more prosperous a place is (see Sweden, Norway, Finland, and The Netherlands). The most religious areas of the United States have the highest murder rates and the least religious areas the lowest rates.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • up1652

      Wrong. Try Detroit and China.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Stuart Mitchell

      St. Louis, Atlanta, Birmingham, and Orlando rank ahead of Detroit in murder rates. http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2011/02/16/the-11-most-dangerous-cities
      China's homicide rates are considerably lower than the US rate.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_intentional_homicide_rate

      December 24, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Stuart Mitchell

      "Crime rates continue to decline" – FBI
      http://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2011/may/crimes_052311/crime_052311

      December 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  3. John Tighe

    How much did the writer pay to get this on the site?

    December 24, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  4. John Tighe

    Being religious doesn't mean you'll be a good person. The GOP candidate most like Mr. Potter in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life" is Mitt Romney. Although Mr. Romney is viewed as a religious man, he's been responsible for turning many Bedford Falls into Pottersvilles all over this country.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • up1652

      It's like anything else. If you truly attempt to live like Jesus you will be different. Simply saying you believe for whatever purpose doesn't change anything.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  5. Tony

    God junk. LOL!

    December 24, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • becool

      Christianity is not just s relgion; it's a power of life that inspires people to move ahead! I am telling you guys (those who deny it) if Christianity will go the west will fall into a vacuum and spiritual emptyness which will be filled by nonsense or by the other evil violence relgion and please have a look at what happens in England.... You shmoose you lose!

      December 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  6. Tyler

    Yes, we should live our lives according to a Hollywood movie. I prefer rationalism and logic, instead of virus control thought

    December 24, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  7. David

    I stopped reading when you said we are inherently evil. Shows how little you know how much religion as stunted you intellectual and emotional development. I'm an ardent atheist and very much like ole George. I believe the world would be a little worse off if I had never been born.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • a wild guess

      change worse to better and we are all with you 100%

      December 24, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Dodney Rangerfield

      200,000 sperm and that's the one that gets through

      December 24, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Michael

      I find your tolerance to other beliefs quite refreshing. Using terms like "...stunted you intellectual and emotional development" really demonstrates that you are quite intolerant and you may have a flawed belief that your non-belief path is the best and only way to exist. Isn't your train of though the same as a radical Christian or Muslim who believe everyone else is "stunted intellectually and emotionally"

      December 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • David

      My aren't we a pleasant bunch. It appears religion hasn't helped you two much either. Rather than be so derogatory, can you add something constructive? Neither of you know me but I'm certain you'd find me to be descent and caring very much like George.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • David

      Micheal, I'm tolerant when beliefs I don't agree with do not effect me. Unfortunately religion truly does make people stop looking for questions and answers to the reality we all live in. When that happens you get the likes of Mr. Taunton who state atheism is sending our country to hell. If he had developed a more open and imaginative intellect he's realize there is so much more to life than believing in fairy-tales and that basing one's existence on some imaginary being is really quite childish. People think our country is going to hell when in fact we are simply trying to grow up.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  8. Jon

    The assumption that religion is the source of our moral fiber is just that: an assumption. The data simply does not back it up. Some of the least moral nations and people have been religious. Some of the most moral nations and people have been religious. A similar argument could be made for the few nations in Earth's history that have not been particularly religious, although the sample size here is far too small to draw any conclusions. Your premise is BS, I'm afraid to say.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
  9. R

    Movie was no doubt good. I do not think its message is non-believers are wrong.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  10. Deni

    Being moral, just, fair, and responsible are not values owned by any faith, religion, race, or ethnicity. They are learned and as we get older, they are decisions and commitments. Too many people have died and suffered needlessly in the name of a religion or deity. Respect for the earth and its inhabitants should be natural unless you are a sociopath. Extremists are extremists no matter what they call themselves or what religious pride they hide behind.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Michael

      Morals are learned when you get older? How about Morals that are learned by children in homes that follow a religious doctrine? If you think religion is a root of evil, try checking out the streets of St. Louis, Chicago, and Detroit. You can play a brutal game of "knockout king" or fight for tennis shoes with a good of young adults who do not follow any religion or find the need to follow to a higher moral good .

      December 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Al

      Right, Michael- because that obviously has EVERYTHING to do with religion and NOTHING at all to do with abject poverty...

      December 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  11. Vera Waitress

    What's shocking is that in the Christian's mind, there's no difference between "Clarence," the imagined ghost who visits George Bailey, and the Christian perception of god, a man who wears a white robe and floats in the sky and watches us. One is complete fiction, and the other is, well, complete fiction.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Eric G

      That does bring up a good question.....

      If god wears a robe and floats in the sky, do you think he wears underware? If not, do believers who look up to the sky for him see his god junk?

      December 24, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • just sayin

      eric no spell check?

      December 24, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • just helping out

      eric is so taken with his own brilliance that he doesn't need proper spelling.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • just sayin

      all righty then

      December 24, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Al

      https://encrypted-tbn1.google.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTSZ3Rpd9F-FWMHe2rcoY5p3fNi8pxFcool1J7xxaIvLCPEwqL7

      December 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  12. Barry

    Hmmmm if "It's a Wonderful Life" reflects a country without religion then I would suppose that "The Handmaid's Tale" reflects a country with religion. I have to tell you The handmaid's Tale is way scarier.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • liz

      I have no doubt there are people who sees the main character in a Handmaid's tale as an evil woman who should just do what she is told.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  13. SDCinNS

    Well written and the points are well taken. But as you can tell from the numerous comments, the West is well along the path to God-hating – and I expect we will not change our course.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • ZackdaAnon

      So the relative peace in China that had existed before Christian influence was just a stroke of luck? OBVIOUSLY they needed Christian art and culture to become more generous, hospitable, and overall just be better people? Is this what you're saying? Clarify please.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Oodoodanoo

      Do you hate Zeus? No? Because he's not real?

      Now you understand "God-haters".

      December 24, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • up1652

      Never takes long for the angry atheists to appear. You notice though they never make the same critical statements about islam or hinduism.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • SPLAT!~

      I don't believe in God, therefore I hate him? I don't believe in Santa, does that mean I hate him too?~

      December 24, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Alex

      For a lot of us, it has nothing to do with hating God or Christianity at all- it's about a smug and condescending author who just oozes unfounded moral superiority based on stupid claims which he fails to back up with fact or, for that matter, common sense.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • up1652

      Relative peace in China ? really ! They will still run over a child in an auto and never even stop. Before Christianity they were a feudal empire essentially slaves to whoever held power.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Oodoodanoo

      @up1652 If a Muslim or a Hindu shows up and makes unfounded claims about the superiority of his or her religion, the atheists will refute them, too.

      If you've ever read comments that are critical of Islam, for example, don't assume that the poster is one of your Christian soldiers. It might be someone who thinks ALL of you are wrong.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Tyler

      @ up1652 – Fundamental Islam and Judaism in the same boat as Christians. Happy? How about Hindi as well. And why not Buddhism and whatever they dream up at the North Pole

      December 24, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Oh, do grow up. Not believing in god is not the same thing as "hating" god. It's rather silly to hate something that doesn't exist, don't you think?

      December 24, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • SDCinNS

      The author of the article quotes well published Harvard professors and other research in articulating his point – and people still claim his points are "unsubstantiated". I guess we'll call anything "unsubstantiated" that we don't agree with? His point however is irrefutable – advances in science and medicine and social welfare have always come from predominantly Christian nations – and often by believing Christians themselves. Pascal, Newton, Kepler, Descartes, Boyle, Faraday, Mendel, Pasteur etc etc were all string Christians. The list is like a textbook of famous scientists/doctors. Why is this so? There are many reasons. But the largest is the fact that while the other scientists of their day thought the universe was random, these men believed it had been created by a wise God – who must have His wisdom somehow embedded in His creation – it by studying it they could discover principles and "laws" – that creation would not be random. And for this – I am thankful – their contributions have been measureless.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Do you have any proof that scientists made their discoveries primarily because they were Christians? Do cite it.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  14. Leonore H. Dvorkin

    How absurd to call basic, humanist, moral principles "Christian." Such things as honesty, compassion, generosity, tolerance, temperance, diligence, self-control, and so on were praised by many authors long before the Bible was ever written. That's because they are values that any halfway intelligent person can see that we all need in order to get along with each other in civilized societies. As my atheist husband and I proved when raising our atheist son, those values can most certainly be taught to children with no reference whatsoever to the mind-weakening mythology of religion. As far as I can see, what religion mainly does is separate people into hostile and often even warring camps. (And in case you're wondering: I was once religious, a Roman Catholic, and thus a member of one of the sickest, most progress-impeding, and most arrogant cults ever developed, one which I was very glad to escape when I grew up and learned to think for myself.) It is my firm hope that human beings can eventually evolve beyond all that nonsense and simply learn to be better people, focusing on what we as human beings have in common, rather than the things that separate us.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Shelia Barnsworth

      Thank you ! Religion/Christianity has no monopoly on morality, and anyone who has ever taken an Anthropology course knows what the origins are morality are. Correlation, ("Christian culture"), does not imply causation, (of a morally superior culture). The author cites Niall Ferguson, who is worried most of all about his testosterone laced concept that the Chinese are coming to take our lunch. He REQUIRES the US to be "on top", or the "West is in Decline". What we need are some women leaders who can move away from the junior high mentalities of these stupid juvenile men, who are so worried about who is on top.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • up1652

      You are wrong. Decent and moral behaviour was not the norm in the ancient world as one can see by looking at the Roman collisium. People fought to the death for the amusement of others. The only reason the Huns became civilized was through one Pope who converted a leader of the warring tribe. Kindness,forgiveness,mercy are indeed the hallmarks of the Christians. It is true many have done great damage in the name of Christ but that doe not make them Christian. Churches all over the world have hundreds of charities benefiting the poor and downtrodden. What are you atheists doing ?

      December 24, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • TRH

      Well-said....and very necessary. I'm so tired of the "non-believers have no moral compass" crap that my blood pressure goes up when I even think of that pathetic Christian argument.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • tallulah13

      @up1652

      You forgot about the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre in 1572, when Catholics attacked Protestants and thousands were slaughtered - because of religion.

      You forgot to mention the thousands that were murdered - many burned alive - because "good" christians believed them to be witches.

      Many vikings were converted at the point of a sword by their own leaders, and those who refused to give up their gods were killed. The leaders had converted to christianity because that was the only way they could get any trade deals from the wealthy Byzantines. The christianization of the viking culture was done for profit, not because of belief.

      Indigenous people by the millions died of diseases brought to the New World by Spanish invaders, and those who survived were enslaved and converted.

      My point is that people do horrible things to other people. Religion is not an effective deterrent.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  15. Alex

    My take on this wholly arrogant, condescending, and ignorant article:

    -George Bailey (of It's a Wonderful Life) IS, in fact, Jesus Christ. This seems to be the unwritten conclusion if we follow Mr. Taunton's logic a couple steps further.
    -'Western civilization,' for lack of a better term, either did NOT exist before the rise of Christianity, or else every single influence from past and outside ...cultures was somehow eradicated. Definitely no influence from... oh, what were those silly people called... oh, the (ancient) Romans and Greeks (among others).
    -Richard Dawkins, while apparently fully capable of studying complicated things at Oxford, is NOT capable of recognizing Judeo-Christian influence on daily and classical culture. (Does Mr. Taunton know that atheists on the whole tend to know more about the technical aspects of major religions than adherents to those religions?)
    -And finally, there is a direct correlation between 'religious-ness' and quality of society. This must be why countries which traditionally have the most non-believers ALSO, conveniently, tend to have among the world's highest quality of life: look at Scandinavia. Denmark has also been the HAPPIEST overall country in the world for at least the past couple of years.

    So in conclusion, I'm off to go do morally degenerate things because, you know... atheist. And Mr. Taunton- I don't know if anyone's told you- but the US is actually uncharacteristically religious still for its level of wealth and education- so PLEASE stop feeling so threatened by the 1.6% of American atheists; or even the further 6.3% who just don't know.
    And CNN- really? Come on, don't insult us all by posting such a horribly considered article just because the author drew a witty and wholly irrelevant parallel to a popular Christmas movie.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • ZackdaAnon

      I agree, I'm not following this articles logic all that well. What evidence did the writer bring to the table? Growing atheism=lawless wild west America? The idea of Christians being a working, inclusive community is a relatively modern thing. You can be Christian, you can be Atheist, you be Jewish, you can practice the Islamic faith, you can practice Shintoism, you can be a Sikh, but all it really boils down to is whether you choose to be a good person and contribute to this world. Religion is not the defining factor here.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Concerned

      Well said. This article is pure one-sided, and entirely unfounded NONSENSE.

      So religious belief brings about a loving, peaceful society, huh?
      So, after about a thousand years of human stagnation where the Christian Church ruled supreme,
      (a period we now call THE DARK AGES), we get the Spanish Inquisitions, Cortez raping South America for gold in the name of Christ and Spain, Salem witch trials, Nazi Germany & The Holocaust, 9/11 and all the deaths since, on BOTH sides, just to name a few.

      I'd like to see what this author would have to say about a movie where a non-religious lawyer or activist or whatever saves a corrupt town (like "Pottersville"). IT'S A MOVIE, by the way....sheesh

      December 24, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  16. Carlos

    This column has nothing to do with "It's a wonderful life".

    December 24, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
  17. Oodoodanoo

    It's a Wonderful Life: A rich man in real estate steals and gets away with it. He makes the victims pay for his crimes. A bank is bailed out by the community.

    I guess life does imitate art.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Amanda

      I accidently hit report Abuse instead of reply.... SO sorry. I agree with your statement to an extent. We have been making the comparison in our family since it all started. The only problem is that it was not a bank they bailed out, it was a savings and loan which is much more similar to today's Credit Union to a corporate bank. I also wouldnt call it a bail out since it was the people occupying the S&L not the government, won by stepping up to help out their neighbors and send Mr. Potter packing. Also, in the movie, Mr. Potter didnt steal the money Uncle Billy lost it in his drunken stupor.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Amanda

      I accidently hit report Abuse instead of reply.... SO sorry. I agree with your statement to an extent. We have been making the comparison in our family since it all started. The only problem is that it was not a bank they bailed out, it was a savings and loan which is much more similar to today's Credit Union than a corporate bank. I also wouldnt call it a bail out since it was the people occupying the S&L, not the government, won by stepping up to help out their neighbors and send Mr. Potter packing. Also, in the movie, Mr. Potter didnt steal the money Uncle Billy lost it in his drunken stupor.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  18. Greg

    Wow, CNN is promoting hate speech (against all non-Christians).

    December 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  19. Jr

    why do atheist push their view in every article about religion oh wait it only happens when it's christianity they would never dare say it about anyone else way to represent your prejudicial views i can't have my beliefs but i have to listen to you moan about mine?

    December 24, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • Oodoodanoo

      You and I have the right to say whatever we want. We don't have the right to be taken seriously.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Eric G

      I would take you more seriously if you used the occasional punctuation.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • krivka

      Atheists don't "push their view". If a person chooses to believe in a supernatural being that can read minds and grant wishes (when it feels like it) and demand to be worshipped then you can believe it, but you should also be taking your medications and the taxpayer shouldn't foot the bill.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Jr

      God doesn't grant wishes he helps you and guides you when you pray its a conversation not a wish list. so you think just because i talk to God i need medication? you just proven my point how atheist are jerks. as a missionary to other countries i've never seen a atheist lift a finger for his fellow man all i ever see them do is raise money to prove there is no God instead of help one another

      December 24, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Jr: You have never seen a atheist lift a finger for his fellow man because you are not looking, or you are blinded by your own pride.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Jr

      @ eric G i have looked, have you ever done anything to help people in the 3rd world or even in your community? if you have thats great and you would be the first i have ever talked to if you haven't you just proved my point

      December 24, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Concerned

      Jr,
      Consider this:
      Talking with someone who isn't there is delusion if you think they actually are.
      Thanks to Bluetooth devices, we've all had this experience: we see someone apparently talking to themselves,
      having a conversation with no one, and we begin to think they're mentally ill, until we notice that Bluetooth thing in their ear.

      THEN we know they're just on the phone.
      What's your excuse?

      Listen. We're not trying to be "jerks", as you put it. But non-believers have had to put up with genuinly ridiculous behavior, which can fairly be called insane behavior, (ever see a believer speaking in "tounges"??) for untold generations.
      And then you get all upset when we call you on it, like a woman with big breasts wearing a low cut blouse getting all bent when a man stares. You're asking for it!!

      December 24, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Concerned

      Jr!!
      You just typed to Eric:
      "i have looked, have you ever done anything to help people in the 3rd world or even in your community? if you have thats great and you would be the first i have ever talked to if you haven't you just proved my point"

      Are you that blind?? Apparently! Non-Christians and atheists do TONS of stuff for charity and community!
      And about "proving you point"... um, no. You're the one looking like a jerk here. Sorry but you are.

      December 24, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Jr

      @concerned i didn't try to sound like a jerk but at the same time the way you are speaking you come off as a jerk as well. i know other non-christians have organizations to help but name one atheist group that helps communities or people in the 3rd world you say its a delusion talking to God and you have your opinion i have lived like this for 6yrs and because of God i've gotten to travel around the world help people. i grew up with nothing and because i have faith i've done seen miracles that to you can't happen. try talking to God its not gonna hurt you one bit

      December 24, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Jr: Please visit http://www.autismspeaks.org. We welcome your donation in this season of giving.

      Or, are you just trying to make yourself feel better by trying to trash others?

      December 24, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Jr

      i already donated to the american diabetes association and cancer research but when i get paid i'll look into autism since i don't know much about it thank you for the link. i'm not trying to trash on atheist its just most atheist i know and have grown up around are jerks that don't care about anyone but themselves and live to insult christians. so its my bad to speak down on you guys

      December 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Jr:

      Bill Gates and Warren Buffet: Two non-believers who donate MILLIONS to charity.

      Pat Tillman: An atheist who chose to join the Army after 9/11 instead of signing a contract worth millions of dollars to play professional football. His decision of service over money cost him his life. Would you have the moral courage to make that choice?

      These are just the names I think even you would recognize. Personally, I know atheists who happily give what they can to help others. I am one of them.

      Your words are ignorant and hateful. Christians like you are EXACTLY the reason why this article is utter nonsense.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Concerned

      Jr,
      I'm glad you're doing something to help others. Truly, I am.
      I wouldn't try to take away from the impact of what you're doing,
      but I will criticize your motives. You see, followers of redemptive faiths like Christianity
      believe that even though they have free will to choose a "good" or "evil" lifestyle,
      ultimately everything they do is to seek eternal reward or avoid eternal punishment.
      That has the effect of making none of your choices truly your own .
      You've abdicated all personal responsibility in your actions whether they are "good" or "bad".
      And then, you and others like you believe have been charged to spread this nonsense to those you help.
      NOW I have a problem with it.

      If I'm wrong, and you and your organization build houses for "3rd world" people, as you put it,
      WITHOUT uttering a single Jesus reference or waving Christian symbols like the cross everywhere,
      and you're doing it solely out of personal charity, then my hat's off to you. I salute you and respect you.

      If, however, you're trumpeting your god as the reason you're there,
      look how good and helpful and wonderful we are and you should believe like we do,
      "have you heard the good word of Jesus?" escaped your lips ONCE,
      THEN you are nothing but an ambassador of your personal agenda.
      That's not charity. It's like buying votes in politics.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Jr: Appology accepted. There are jerks on both sides of the issue, so I share your pain.

      Autism Speaks is a great organization on a national level. I am currently working with a local charity called The Hope For Autism Foundation of Michigan. We are building transitional housing for young adults with Autism.

      Please direct me to a international charity that you reccomend, I would like to make a donation.

      December 24, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Jr

      @tallulah13 i know gates but he was raised catholic and the reason he gives is in memory of his mom who was a giver and buffet never really heard why he has given but i do know most is for education in low income areas but the way things are in cetain locations throwing money wont fix it you need people that have that calling in their lives and have the dedication to see change.

      how are my words ignorant all i've done is question their beliefs of not believing. i've met christians that are true hypocrites so please do not compare me to the so called christians that make my beliefs look horrible we are not all like that

      December 24, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Jr

      @eric G i know some people in michigan i can ask if their churches want to raise money to doante to your cause or they can individually donate. i'll spread the word at my church here in TX and see how else i can help

      December 24, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • Jr

      @concerned i understand when i am overseas if we are asked about our faith we do talk about it and if not we show our love for God by actions and good deeds not seeking to push our view or belief the church in the U.S is so messed up it has really been polluted by scandals and so called christians that give what true christians are a bad name. if you ever get to go to under develope countries go to a church service and you'll see this genuine closeness of what christianity should be

      December 24, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
  20. Kellie in Fort Worth

    The ironic thing? George Bailey was the 99%. And Mr. Taunton is wrong if he thinks Bedford Falls was good because of Christianity – it was good because the people were good, and that has nothing to do with religion or faith. We are no more innately evil than dogs are innately cats. That's the kind of thinking that got Catholics their "Original Sin" and unbaptized babies in purgatory. Secular doesn't equal evil any more than Christian equals "good". Just ask a Muslim.

    December 24, 2011 at 1:16 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.