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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. Frank

    Muslims would never allow such an attack on their faith, unlike Christians that allow our faith to be eroded. Richard Dawkins and other militant atheists would be dead in an Islamic country for the hate they spew out against the Creator,

    December 25, 2011 at 8:06 am |
    • Frank

      Just shows the voilence of god d mn religion.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:48 am |
  2. P

    This article paints a broad stroke of generalities about the good of Christianity for mankind. Yet, even societies where Christianity was/is not present, there was/is charity and kindness, love and understanding. Humans can be extrememly evil and/or selflessly noble. It is the collective mores and standards practiced by any given society, which can create either a good society, or an evil one.

    December 25, 2011 at 8:03 am |
  3. heliocracy

    I've noticed that it's a very common affliction among the religious, especially among Muslims and Christians, to believe that morality cannot exist unless it's rooted in their particular fairy tale. I've got news for you: It's not necessary to fool yourself into believing that a divine force will punish you unless you're a moral person. Morality can be based on simple respect for human (and other) life, and has its own rewards which are self-evident to anyone living in a social system. In fact, I would venture to say (as would philosophers like Socrates) that if you adopt a moral code in order to avoid punishment at the hands of your god if you don't, then you're not really a moral person at all, and I believe that's all too apparent in the behavior of many of today's Christians and Muslims alike. Christians should also take away from It's a Wonderful Life that Mr. Potter represents the conservative rich, and what happens to George demonstrates the radical, liberal idea that people are more important than money (yet the more "Christian" they are, the more likely it seems that they would vote for Mr. Potter and people like him).

    December 25, 2011 at 8:00 am |
    • Nikki

      Agree! Thank you!

      December 25, 2011 at 8:29 am |
  4. ADG

    Frankly, I'm deeply disturbed that such a large portion of our society needs an ancient book and the promise of immortality to prevent them from being terrible, immoral monsters. Is that really Mr. Taunton's argument – is that really the argument in support of Christianity – do you all need these explicit instructions and the threat of eternal consequence to avoid killing/raping/stealing from/cheating/harming each other? If Christians are more charitable and Christianity is the factor that motivates them to be so, are you only helping the needy because you're trying to buy your way into heaven? I'm sorry, but the argument "I'm a crazed animal, so the whole world needs Christianity because everyone is just as evil as me" is a terrible argument. My dog isn't a Christian, and she's much more benevolent than what Mr. Taunton believes non-Christian human "animals" to be. If you sincerely, truly believe that people need Christianity (let alone any religion) to prevent them from acting out in immoral, evil manners, then you should invest in some psychotherapy and really get to the root of the problem. Projecting your own immorality on others and leaning on an external crutch of belief is absolutely delusional. I'm pretty sure even Jesus supported being self-aware.

    December 25, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • The Beagle

      >> My dog isn't a Christian, and she's much more benevolent than what Mr. Taunton believes non-Christian human "animals" to be.

      I love it!

      December 25, 2011 at 8:21 am |
  5. J

    "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."

    *Writes article explicitly blaming all non-Christians for all of society's ills.*

    *Article is posted on the front page of CNN.com*

    December 25, 2011 at 7:07 am |
  6. Patricksday

    Selfishness and GREED and worrying about what others think about you, like they really care about you. How much money is enough in one lifetime??

    December 25, 2011 at 6:38 am |
    • THE BIBLE IS GARBAGE

      CONTRARY TO THE MANTRA OF BROKE CHRISTIANS, MONEY CAN IN FACT BUY HAPPINESS.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:59 am |
  7. Barry

    My children were raised by atheists, and they are kind, compassionate people, always eager to help those less off than themselves. They are good, moral upstanding citizens, nothing like the hypocrites that pass as christians today.

    December 25, 2011 at 6:33 am |
    • amused123

      ...says the person who kids either left on their own volition or were forcibly taken away.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:18 am |
  8. Todd

    What a load of Baloney that Christianity is needed and it informs the morality in society even for Atheists. I offer as evidence Confucius who in (about) 580 BC (that's before Christ) advised, without belief in one all powerful God that: The core of Confucianism is humanism,[2] the belief that human beings are teachable, improvable and perfectible through personal and communal endeavor especially including self-cultivation and self-creation. Confucianism focuses on the cultivation of virtue and maintenance of ethics, the most basic of which is an obligation of altruism and humaneness for other individuals within a community, and the upholding of righteousness and the moral disposition to do good.
    What America needs to return to both the moral and economic high ground is a superior education. Republicans have and continue to systematically impoverish and destroy public education. One reason that California became one of the most powerful economic engine in the world was because of its excellent education system that use to include almost free college education for those students that through their high school grades and SAT/ACT scores merited entrance to college. If our governments: local, State and Federal would spend the money to recover a merit based education system the US will again rise and the essential middle class will recover. Religion in all its forms is the greatest evil in the world as it co-opts education, disparages science and encourages violence and bigotry.

    December 25, 2011 at 6:22 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Funny,... it would be easy to accept the Religion and Faith is against science when most parochial school students test even or higher than students from public schools.

      ...Or do you think us all to be Amish Christians ? 🙂

      December 25, 2011 at 7:14 am |
    • Someone

      @Mark – Actually, the emphasis that the religious right places on trying to get creation taught in the schools is why this viewpoint persists. Religion and science can coexist – Galileo was apparently initially supported, or at least tolerated, by the Jesuits according to Wikipedia – but now we have certain religious types dictating what is "correct" and "incorrect" in the name of ideological purity.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:02 am |
    • Nikki

      Thank you!

      December 25, 2011 at 8:32 am |
  9. Terrie

    I loved Christmas – the songs, the movies, the holiday cheer. Yes, I loved Christmas, but oddly enough, I always hated, "It's a Wonderful Life". It never captured my attention or my imagination. As much as I enjoy Jimmy Stewart movies, and I really do – Who can watch a B/W 1940s movie for three hours without a few song and dance routines? But I have seen a few scenes, enough to know –NO! Turn the TV channel if it ever comes on. I admit; I’ve see a few scenes, but I’ve never watched the entire movie. Probably because it irritated me. George wanted to travel; I get that, but he sacrificed his dreams; I don't get that. That kind of sacrifice is just not natural. Note the use of the past tense verbs: loved and hated. Since becoming a Christian, 11-years ago, I’ve undergone a transformation in more ways than one. While there is no way I can hate Christmas – I do now loathe the uber-extreme-makeover kind of commercialization going on in our society right now, AND I really like this movie.
    George wanted to go away and see the world; I get that. And he learned that because of his choice to stay home and care for the family business, the people of the town are saved from a decrepit and debauched lifestyle. He married, had children, was cranky sometimes because of his deferred/lost dreams, but in the end his good humor is restored, and he recognizes the good in humanity. And I get that too.

    December 25, 2011 at 5:21 am |
  10. LouieD

    What the author is really saying is that he does not believe in the concept of simple, unprovoked human decency. Everyone is inherently evil unless they're Christians. Then, and only then, can they know how to perform good deeds and act within the bounds of decency and compassion. Which, of course, is pure horse poop.

    By promoting such an absurd viewpoint, Taunton is probably alienating more would-be Christians than attracting them. You see, decent folks tend to be repulsed by arrogance.

    December 25, 2011 at 4:42 am |
    • Joey

      The author correctly states that the data bears out this assumption.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:51 am |
    • Kafir

      Joey,

      And yet he ignores the DOJ data showing how there are more christians in prison PER CAPITA than outside of prison. I noticed you ignored that too, since you didn't address anything I wrote, just feigned shock and appallment. Par for the course?

      December 25, 2011 at 5:40 am |
    • Suz

      Louie, what the author is really saying is that is EVERYONE inherently evil. Christians included. It is not saying that non-Christians can't behave in ways that are moral or right, etc., but that, broadly speaking, "a given philosophy, creed or religion will either restrain our darker impulses or exacerbate them." He's crediting Christianity (again, broadly speaking) for keeping those darker forces at bay.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:39 am |
    • Someone

      @SUz – So Jews, Buddists, Hindus, and everyone else are.....what? Christianity is teh ONLY eligion that teaches morality? The last line of his discourse –

      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.

      In other words – Christianity is the only way to a decent nation. Total and utter hogwash.....

      December 25, 2011 at 7:13 am |
    • Stephen L

      No, Louis, mankind is created in the image of the Father. Adam and Eve chose to separate themselves from God by their disobedience. Our nature is selfish, all of us, Christ-followers and non-believers alike.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:59 am |
  11. nepawoods

    What is wrong with America is that so many Americans are so ignorant of history to believe this tripe. You can't find a single moral value – not one – held by Christians, that doesn't predate Christianity, and that isn't held by other peoples independent of the influence of Christianity. The ten commandments predate Christianity, and similar values predate the ten commandments. New testament values – the "Golden Rule" – were expressed by Confucius and others centuries before Christ. And as others have pointed out, "Pottersville" has everything to do with bankers with no sense of social responsibility, precisely like the "1%" that the Occupy movement find fault with, and that the Christian conservative right defend. America in no way depends on Christianity for its good. I'm a Christian, but I don't believe Christianity requires believing in ridiculous lies, or being ignorant of historical and cultural truth. The premises of this article are just plain factually false, and an attempt to falsely depict atheists, and non-Christians in general, as lacking good moral values.

    December 25, 2011 at 4:37 am |
    • Joey

      Kindly provide justification of your statement that the premises of the article are false. The author provides data that they are valid. Your response is merely an uneducated opinion-piece.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:53 am |
    • J

      Well, it's true that Christians give more to charities –including secular charities - than others do. So calling his statements "lies" is a little strong, no?

      December 25, 2011 at 5:04 am |
    • nepawoods

      What data? He cites one statistic, about Christians being more charitable, and that comes from the Barna Group, an evangelical organization which 1) counts contributions to ones church as charity, and worse, 2) makes a distinction between Christians (true Christians) and "notional Christians" (their word), which they define as people who believe they are Christian, but are not, because they are not "born again", according to their own interpretation of scripture. They further recognize that, according to scripture, all who are "born again" are permanently and radically changed. Therefore, if you're not, for instance, charitable, you must not be "born again", and then are not a true Christian. This severely skews their statistics.

      Again, the Ten Commandments predate Christianity – that's not opinion. Jesus' "Golden Rule" was spoken by Confucius around 500 BC – that's not opinion. The claim that Christianity is the source of moral values is unsubstantiated.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:04 am |
    • Terrie

      The main issue is as a Christian, what is it that you believe? Do you believe that the Bible is true? If so, then it predates everything on this planet; therefore, the principles that you say predate Christianity are found in the Old Testament of the Bible, which, of course, predates Confucius. And, of course, you know that it is in the Old Testament that God handed down the Ten Commandments to Moses. Keep in mind 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scriptures is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” So, again, what is it that you believe?

      December 25, 2011 at 5:42 am |
    • Barry

      Hear, hear.

      December 25, 2011 at 6:30 am |
    • James

      @Terrie – Christians didn't write "the Old Testament" as you call it. They co-opted (stole) it from Judaism (which well pre-dates Christianity). You will likely say that Christianity "perfects" Judaism by adding in a messiah. Judaism has never needed "perfecting" it exists fully well on its own. Christianity is like someone adding a new scene to Macbeth and calling it a new work. It's not. Jesus, by the way, was a practicing and observant Jew, not a "Christian."

      December 25, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • Concerned

      @Joey

      You want some examples? Ok, how about the Greeks, or Phoenicians, or Egyptians, or ancient Chinese, or the native America people of those times, or the Myans, or...

      Each of those cultures, like ours, has it's violent and cruel baggage. But as HUMAN SOCIETIES, they thrived an flourished for a long, long time. That doesn't happen if everyone is "inherently evil" or doesn't tolerate or HELP the sick, elderly, infirm or doesn't provide SOME form fo social program for it's citizens without money (power) or good health or even family.
      Sure, many such people will be ignored and fall by the wayside, and die. Ever see a homeless guy in modern day "Christian America"? No, of course not. It's a dirty Liberal plot to confuse you. And CERTAINLY, there were no homeless people in "the good old days" when Christianity had a firmer grip on (white) America, right?
      /sarcasm

      The basic phrase "Christian values" is a non-starter; the definition will vary from person to person, culture to culture, sect to sect. If you fall back on things like "charity" and "good will" as your claims, those things were, and ARE part of human societies before your beloved Jesus (supposedly) walked the Earth, and in cultures that reject him since.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  12. Bryan Moffitt

    This is the best article ever written on the pages of CNN. "The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Larry Alex Taunton." This is a very humorous statement in quotations because the editor realizes this may not be what people want to hear. I really like the point about the current state of our country is not a Republican problem or a Democrat problem, but a problem of "We The People". So what can we do about how the world is today? Open your Bible, the solutions are all there. "We The People" need to read our instruction manual again.

    December 25, 2011 at 4:20 am |
    • atroy

      I think our country is just fine....not to say it is without problems but the biggest problems found in our country today are centered around greed...just like the greed exemplified by the ever popular "prosperity ministries". I think it's difficult, and probably somewhat embarrassing for people of faith to accept that the vast majority of greedy CEO money grabbers also count themselves as people of faith.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:26 am |
    • Joey

      @atroy It is these that Jesus would have called hypocrites, and would have taken a stick to them in His Father's temple. The absence of true faith and understanding of Christian principles is lamentable inside and outside many of the churches.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:05 am |
    • CT

      I guess to a brainwashed "Christian" this is a great article because it reaffirms your own beliefs. Some day, maybe you will start using the brain you were born with and think for yourself instead of just swallowing whatever BS your church feeds you. It's very sad that you need a book of fairy tales written by men claiming to speak for God in order to know how to live your life but that is to be expected by those who refuse to use their own brains and think for themselves.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:16 am |
    • Terrie

      @CT Seriously? Really? Christians are brainwashed is your argument?
      I thank my God for saving me, for allowing me to choose at all times to renew my mind, and for teaching me HIS word to help me in this life and eternity to come. And I pray one day soon, you too, will come to know Jesus Christ as your Savior.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:52 am |
    • Baffled

      I just love that the OP has never seen the disclaimer on an editorial before. This isn't unique to the article above...every editorial on CNN (and in every newspaper everywhere) has this disclaimer.

      December 25, 2011 at 7:47 am |
  13. Ryan

    Here is it. Christianity is taken out of schools, so our children are not taught morals as the Bible teaches. Chrisitanity is not allowed in public because, oh heaven forbid, it may offend someone. Atheists claim no religion so they, technically, can not say anything under freedom of religion, because if they do then wouldn't that make them hypocritical? The government has allowed gay marriages, has allowed many things the Bible teaches against to happen and look at what has happened to our country. Money is the root of all evil. Occupy wall street is supposedly against big corporations yet every single one of them want to be rich themselves. People say they are struggling financially yet Black Friday comes around and what happens? Everyone who is claiming financial difficulty runs out to grab that new television, new Xbox, whatever and then go home and cry about being broke and unemployed. Talk about greed and hypocrisy. I am in the military and make very little yet I am extremely happy. I am a Christian and know what lies ahead of me. I have a wonderful family and don't need thousands of dollars. I am doing something for my country (which is more than I can say for a lot of the people in the country who want the country to GIVE to them instead of doing something for THEIR country, uh hum, JFK's famous speech,) and I know I am doing it for God and my family. Don't like it? Tough. This country is nothing more than an egotistical, give me-give me, I don't care for anyone or anything, welfare state. It is the people that has made this country what it is today, along with the govenment. Blame yourselves America, not just the government. You wanted welfare and you got it and now the government is in YOUR lives more than ever and you have to live with it because you wanted it and not God.

    December 25, 2011 at 3:57 am |
    • atroy

      Why do so many Christians, like yourself have such a negative outlook on this country and on people in general. If I were a believer I would have to say that I would pray for you. But since I'm not I would at least suggest that you read the teachings of Christ a little more in depth because, even as an atheist, I find a lot of Jesus' teachings to help people like yourself be more compassionate and understanding of humanity.
      Thank you for serving our country...which by the way...I believe is better than it has ever been and getting better by the day despite people on the political extremes of right and left trying to tear it down.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:18 am |
    • CT

      So are you saying that only YOUR religion teaches morals? Were there no good people around before the Bible (and the printing press) came along? If this article and your opinion were correct, then humans would have had no morals at all and killed themselves out long before Jesus came along.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:19 am |
    • Kafir

      Ryan,

      1) Christians are allowed in schools 😉 , and they can pray in school (individually) whenever they want.
      2) Morality is taught in Ethics and philosophy classes. Sadly, not everyone makes it to college. (amirite?)
      3) Christianity is not allowed (to be government ENDORSED) in public. There, fixed it.
      4) Freedom of religion does not cover what one can or cannot say. That's Freedom of Speech. 😉
      5) Gay marriage has been alive and well for over a decade in some countries. So far, they're still standing.
      6) Have you spoken with EVERY participant in the Occupy Movement? Can you vouch for ALL of them wanting to be rich? I'll laugh if you try to back this one up.
      7) Is EVERYONE who claims financial difficulty a participant in Black Friday? Again, more laughter.
      8) You protect this country for god? I thought it was people that needed protection.
      9) The problems with this country are mainly caused by an uneducated population. It's always been that way, and likely will continue to be so.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:34 am |
  14. Temp Name

    CNN, I am honestly disgusted that there is an article like this on your site. This man is basically blaming non-Christians and non-Believers for the state of things. If someone were to write an article heaping the blame on Christians would you put it up?

    Larry, is this the only time in US history where things have been bad? What was the ratio of Christians v. Other during the Great Depression? the Civil War?

    December 25, 2011 at 3:53 am |
    • Bryan Moffitt

      The author is spot on. This is the best article ever written on CNN.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:09 am |
    • CT

      Any article written in the Belief blog is going to be written solely to make all the good little Christians feel better about themselves. Facts have no place in CNN's Belief blog section.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:20 am |
    • Concerned

      Bryan Moffitt, you are officially the king idiot of the day. Here's your tinfoil hat, I've checked it for holes, and even drew a cross on it with my Sharpie for you. Wear it with Christian pride.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  15. Kafir

    I'm having to do a double-take on this article, because frankly, I find myself taken aback that CNN would publish something (on their front page no less) so blatantly asinine and offensive to what is becoming such a large segment of America, and I don't just mean atheists and agnostics, but also Jews, Muslims, Pagans, Hindus, Buddhists, and countless other religions that pepper the American landscape.

    And before you respond that he's only addressing "unbelief", just keep reading where he attempts to prop up his argument by attributing CHRISTIANITY as the beacon of morality and progress in the country, leaving out other faiths. Clearly he's batting for Jesus' team, and shamelessly.

    Maybe I should remind Mr. Tauntaun that according to the Department of Justice, there's a higher proportion of Christians than any other religious group (or non-religious) in prison than in the general population, and Southern Baptists specifically are among the highest percentage of people to get divorces. Maybe I should also remind him that higher 'quality of life' indexes are reported amongst the most secular societies in the west, namely Scandinavia (where theists are quickly dwindling), The Netherlands, and even Germany. These countries also enjoy a far lower incidence of violent crime than the United States.

    Furthermore, if Mr. Tauntaun believes that 'unbelief' has caused the financial upheaval that we currently see, then it should be reflected in the percentage of unbelievers we find in the US. But currently that sits around 20% of Americans. Sorry bub, but your argument was DOA before you began to type. Secondly, prosperity gospel is alive and well in this country, just ask your fellow right wing money bags where they go to church. If anything, Pottersville is an example of that sort of unbridled thirst for greenbacks that such a prosperity gospel outlook would lead to, taken to its proper end.

    Once again, I must really shake my head at CNN for publishing such inane bigotry. Imagine if instead of 'unbelief' he lamented 'jesus as prophet' belief (Jews and Muslims) or 'Mary worshipping' (a tasteless swipe at Catholics), I'm pretty sure this article wouldn't be pulled, it simply WOULDN'T GET PUBLISHED.

    I'm going to save this article so that 20 years from now I can look back and see how silly things were "back in the day" with mainstream bigotry.

    December 25, 2011 at 3:45 am |
    • Joey

      Oh my goodness, gasps and then fainting. An opinion piece in the religious blogs section of cnn on the highest feast-day of the most popular religion (by huge percentages) in the land mildly praising the virtues of Christianity. Crawl back in your hole please, thank you.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:58 am |
    • Kafir

      Joey,

      There's a reason you don't see CNN posting opinion pieces written by and promoting white supremacists, regardless of whether they have their own holiday or not. The very fact that you haven't yet equated the intolerance in this piece to something the KKK might spew out, is simply a sign of how much further you have to go.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:22 am |
    • Larold

      Well said.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
  16. Voig Nederlander

    I'm trying REALLY hard, with the resurgence of the ultra-conservative right, to imagine how in the world he figures this country is in any way "absent" Christian belief. We have Christian belief coming out our ears. And things are worse than ever. Coincidence?

    December 25, 2011 at 3:08 am |
    • electroguy

      I respond to you with this:
      If there is no repentant behavior, there is no governor to control the speed and the speed increases until the system either breaks down or reaches the point where it can go no further without breaking down. If faith is not enough, if belief is not enough, if religion is not enough, then we are already damned and our lack of faith has removed our only hope.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:23 am |
    • Joey

      Many Christians (myself included) would find that there is an absence of belief, as well as a total misunderstanding of Christian principles ESPECIALLY among those who most prominently carry its banner (the neocon evangelicals). I did not read this article as having a slant against non-Christians.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:02 am |
    • Kafir

      Joey,

      Again, a sign of how much further you have to go.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:24 am |
  17. Anonymous Poster

    It is articles like this that makes me wish I could leave this country. All the Christians could say in the United States as it continues to "degrade." If Christians really believe that non-Christians are the problem and are promoting the degradation of the United States then I for one do not feel welcome. I will take my degrees and go educate people and conduct research in another country while some ignorant Christians help promote inequality among people for simply not believing in their holy text and that individual's personal interpretation.

    Secular individuals are charitable and not in the sake of doing so based on some God is judging their morality. Morality doesn't come from God, it comes from the innate sense of what is right and wrong. Secularists donate because they genuinely want to do right. They see an injustice or someone in need that could use some help, and they are in the position to help so they do it. So how does promote a Potterville type of situation, exactly?

    If some Christians had their way, women wouldn't have the right to vote, have jobs, and the LGBT community will never ever have their basic rights that is allowed to others.

    This is a foolish, and poorly thought out, article. Not to mention it's offensive, but I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

    December 25, 2011 at 3:06 am |
    • David

      Anonymous Poster, your real struggle tonight is against something other than Christians - it is against the gnawing doubt deep down in your heart that you are not as good as you say. This doubt is not something to resist; it is a precious gift. Any true Christian must acknowledge it in himself. No false Christian ever does. Romans 3:10. There is hope for you.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:19 am |
    • Kafir

      David,

      If such arrogance is a cornerstone of your religion, then it shouldn't be hard for you to see why people run like the wind from your dogma. Can we say "socially inept"?

      December 25, 2011 at 5:45 am |
    • Terrie

      @Anonymoust Poster "It is articles like this that makes me wish I could leave this country."It's a free country, why can't you leave?

      December 25, 2011 at 5:59 am |
  18. THE BIBLE IS GARBAGE

    WHY DON'T YOU POST WHAT SURA 4:34 SAYS ABOUT HITTING YOUR WIFE? THAT'S WHAT ISLAM IS ALL ABOUT.

    December 25, 2011 at 3:05 am |
  19. THE BIBLE IS GARBAGE

    MONEY IS THE SOURCE OF HAPPINESS.

    December 25, 2011 at 3:01 am |
  20. It's a Wonderful Life in George Bailey's World

    I love "It's a Wonderful Life"......for me it's not about religion so much as it is about greed and the desire for power. Potterville is what America is like now....everyone wants $$ and will do anything to get it. Americans wanted the big house, the expensive car, the fancy clothes.....I'm hoping that America will shift back to George Bailey's World and put family and community first and foremost.

    December 25, 2011 at 2:49 am |
    • It's a Wonderful Life in George Bailey's World

      The Moral premise of this story can be stated like this:

      Selfish hording leads to a miserable life; but
      Sacrificial giving leads to a wonderful life.

      December 25, 2011 at 2:57 am |
    • David

      I think the climax demonstrates that the giving wasn't sacrificial at all; it was co-operative and self-enhancing. In George Bailey's case, what he selfishly thought had been a sacrifice (living in that crummy little town and in that drafty old house) was actually the modest cost of preserving and nurturing the things that he valued most - his family, his friends, his hometown. All that was sacrificed in the end was George's self-centered grandiose vision about what he had once wanted his life to be.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:06 am |
    • robert

      ur right about money greedy than early 1950 where was romance and passionate love and enjoy than money and more divorce ... i'm right ?

      December 25, 2011 at 3:46 am |
    • R.Williams

      When my grandparents were starting to raise families, the American Dream was the house with the picket fence, owning a car and having a measure of comfort and security for the future. They just came out of the Great Depression and WW2. Now it's 'he who dies with the most toys win'. George Bailey didn't have the biggest house, the best car, any of that. But he had family and friends. Potter had everything material and nothing spiritual. But how much do you want to bet Potter made shows of going to church and would have made Forbes' lists for money? It's not religion, it's how you treat people and are treated.

      December 25, 2011 at 12:04 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.