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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. elle

    I don't think you have to be religious to be moral and champion the same virtues as George Bailey. To assign this to Christians or because of Christianity, or to any particular religion, is to deny the good moral character of many who do not share that particular faith. I think rather it is the teaching of the morals themselves and teaching humanity, whether that is done through religion or good old fashioned family role-modeling, then it is good for us all and our country. Perhaps it is our embracing of religious freedom and respect for individual choice when it comes to religion (or not to be religious) that has instilled in us the shared humanity and respect we all need to have for each other. Religion can bring together or tear people apart. I would rather focus on good and moral behavior as an example of what God and we all should aspire to, rather than religion.

    December 25, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • Chrism

      God created all people and wrote morality in their hearts. When Jesus gave the commandments to love one another He said this is not something far off but already in your heart. So the morality is there and indeed all people can practice it. The Christian realizes the source is God and that we need His grace.

      December 25, 2011 at 11:02 pm |
    • Sarah

      I agree. I don't believe in any religion but I feel it is important to live a good, moral life and to look out for others. There are plenty of people with and without religion that have been bad people.

      December 25, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • Tony

      Your point is well taken, that is, there are plenty of "good" non-Christians. But if you trace the point back a bit more, where does that goodness come from? I don't think it's because "it just makes more sense to the community to not murder each other." No one gets together to vote on an issue such as that - it just "is." Where does the "just is" come from? Everything in the universe, left to its own devices, will decay, tend toward chaos, not the other way around. Vases don't jump up off the floor from a thousand pieces and reassemble themselves. Burned buildings don't raise themselves back up. Everything tends toward chaos and decay. So why - without something to prevent it - the human being? So, again, where does this come from? To me, it can seem to only come from an example.

      December 25, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
    • Steven L. Bullington

      Tony,
      You are right God put his laws in the conscience of the human. He gives us the choice to do right or wrong, and when we do wrong we know it. Some of us don't care but we know the differance.
      There are so many good people out there who are doing exactly what God wants them to do except they have not accepted God and realized he is why they are doing it! Christ said give to Ceasar what is Ceasar's and to God what is Gods.
      I asked the Holy Spirit why if Gods gift of salvation is for everyone why hasen't everyone received it?
      I was told because few will ask!!!! If you are already doing good things from your heart , why not ask for the credit from God? Your salvation!

      December 25, 2011 at 11:36 pm |
    • JH

      Tony, I think it perfectly comes from social contract... I don't murder others precisely because I don't want be murdered myself. It doesn't take religious belief to understand what behaviors are necessary for a functioning society.

      December 26, 2011 at 12:22 am |
  2. Tom Jayson

    Are you kidding me? A robust Christian presence oversaw and encouraged the murder and enslavement of the indigenous peoples of the America. Concentration guards went home to their Christmas trees every night. Pope after Pope all through the middle age called for slaughters of Jews. Christianity has been the religion of the powerful and the corrupt since Constantine converted.

    December 25, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  3. Steven L. Bullington

    Hey The Phist,
    Just try putting a small Bible in your pillow case tonight. NO body has to know, then let me know tomorrow what kind of dreams you have. I think you will be amazed! Then we can talk about where you go from there.

    December 25, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • Get Real

      Apparently you don't know much about dreams. Sneak your Bible under the pillow of some remote Amazonian jungle tribesman who knows nothing about it and see what his dreams are...

      Ah, but knowing you, you would probably interpret his dream of a crocodile and a brazil nut as a reproduction of the serpent and the apple.

      December 25, 2011 at 11:03 pm |
  4. nolimits3333

    The Republicans are Mr. Potter, and Obama is George Bailey.

    December 25, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • Tracy

      Boy oh Boy, how I wish that were true...

      December 25, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
    • Chris

      Oh, it's true. It's true!

      December 25, 2011 at 11:05 pm |
  5. Sonnie

    Jesus is the reason for the Season, Happy Birthday Jesus, He is my Lord and Savior. And I and thankfull every day that the Good Lord helps keep me on the straight and narrow path to Heaven.

    December 25, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
    • There's no such thing as heaven.

      It's make-believe.
      Kinda messes up your plans, eh?

      December 25, 2011 at 9:55 pm |
    • RealityCheker

      Only 1.6% of Americans consider themselves atheists. A review of the posts on here by atheists proves why they continue to be a fleaspeck of irrelevance.

      December 25, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • just sayin

      In order for atheists to register that 1.6% they have to include agnostics and indifferent in their numbers. It is a national disgrace and borders on fraud to give an "atheist" the time of day.

      December 25, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • HIPunch

      ?? You guys mind sharing where you got those stats?

      December 25, 2011 at 10:11 pm |
    • Katie K

      Hate to burst your bubble, but the winter solstice is "the reason"for the season, not "jesus". Seriously, look it up.

      December 25, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
    • just sayin

      yeah i mind. Refer you to the time of day part.

      December 25, 2011 at 10:23 pm |
    • HIPunch

      Of course you mind, because those stats are fraudulent and you know it. More make believe from the Xtians.

      December 25, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Thinking

      Christians, to their brilliant credit, have used former 'pagan' holidays and converted them into times of Christian celebration. The former pagans, instead of flocking to pagan ceremonies, are helped to understand Christian truth and practice by 'pirating' their former celebration times. This is one of the masterpieces of the way Christianity takes and uses indigenous culture as a vehicle for dispersion of the Gospel. The Hajj in Islam is the same thing. However, Muslims have been less successful in using local cultures, and more successful in replacing them with Islamic culture and religion in some ways. You have misunderstood this as a fault. It is one of the masterpieces of the social and religious system know as Christianity!

      December 25, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • Chrism

      Amen, Jesus is my Lord and Savior too. Merry Christas!

      December 25, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
  6. Robyn Harris

    What a surprise.
    Evangelical Christian PR firm "The Barna Group" discovers Christians are the "Best at Everything".
    Rather like Donald Trump discovering he is the "Best at Everything".

    Perhaps while you are patting yourself so vigourously on the back for your saintliness,
    you could take a minute to examine the Crusades, Witch Trials, Collaboration with Nazis,
    repression and supression of science, freedom, expression, and 1,500 years of persecution,
    torture, war, and evil carried out indescriminately against believers and non-believers alike
    in the name of the "Prince of Peace". Who never asked that we build a huge world-wide series
    of impersonal impervious Church bureaucracies in his name, only that we live together and care for each other.

    Jesus would be ashamed of the blasphemy the Christian Religions conduct in his name,
    and he would be the first to drive its moneychangers from the temple.

    December 25, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
    • Steven L. Bullington

      Sir, You are exactly right. Jesus does not approve of our churches going after the $$$ to build bigger and fancier churches.
      Christ only wants us to believe in him so that we can receive his gift of salvation.
      He would like for us to attend a church if it is right with his teachings but that is not necessary to receive his gift.
      The christian religion has become way too complicated today.
      Simply put, read the Bible, beleive what it tells you, Confess your sins to God. Ask him to come into your life in private and let Jesus do the rest. It,s that simple! Expect many miracles.

      December 25, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
    • The Phist

      Steven,

      One can expect miracles, but none will ever happen. You see, the bible is a book of fables and fairy tales. It is not factual. The creation myth is a fairy tale. If you actually read it, you'll find it is a terribly written conglomeration of books written by people who knew nothing about science. It is contradictory and just plain moronic in nature. The fact that people still believe in it even though it has been proven time and again to kill itself if just absolutely mind-blowing.

      December 25, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • RealityCheker

      "Jesus asked ..... only that we live together and care for each other."

      You left out the other 98% of what Jesus taught.... mainly the whole part about worshipping God. But you're opposed to that, so you left it out.

      December 25, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
    • Bill

      Your diatribe blaming Christians for the Crusades etc. misses the point, not only of the article but of Christianity. The author of the article is saying the presence of Christianity BLUNTS the inherent evil of human nature, it does NOT in this life ELIMINATE it. We are talking Pottersville becoming Bedford Falls not Pottersville becoming Heaven on earth. First, not everyone who claims to be a Christian is one. Judas was one of those. Second not everyone who is a Christian acts like one 100% of the time Peter was one of those. But I have seen hundreds of lives changed by Christ, drunks and drug users turned in to useful honest citizens. I have not ONCE seen an Atheist become a better man for it, and a good many like Hitler and Stalin destroyed the lives of thousands while proclaiming their so called "Godless truth".

      December 28, 2011 at 12:46 am |
    • Not So, Daddy-O

      Bill, if Christianity "blunts the inherent evil of human nature," then why are the religious parts of this country higher in crime than more secular parts? Why are the European secular democracies, with their much-higher rates of atheism, so much lower in major crime than Christian countries (including America)? Why are atheists virtually absent from the prison population, whereas Christians are overrepresented? Why is it that the more religious people are in America, the more they support torture?

      The truth is that, far from improving morality, religion actually seems to impede it!

      But I am talking about facts and science, which is of course what people like you hate.

      December 28, 2011 at 12:59 am |
    • tallulah13

      Bill, Hitler wasn't an atheist. He grew up christian, became something of a pagan, but he was very much against atheism because he used religion to control people. Besides, Hitler could would have been just another nut with a bad mustache if he hadn't had the support of the very christian citizens of Germany who gave him power. Please keep that in mind when considering the millions of jews, gypsies and gays slaughtered.

      December 28, 2011 at 1:00 am |
    • believers will believe anything

      Will you idiots ever get it right? Hitler was not atheist – every nazi soldier had a belt buckle that said "God is with us." Stalin did not kill because he was an atheist; he killed because he Communism cannot stand any rivals, and he personally was paranoid of anyone that might be able to build a power base of any sort against him. Very Very VERY few of his victims were killed because of religious reasons.

      The ignorance of religious people is just stunning. Do any of you actually bother to find out the slightest shred of factual information before you speak? You all repeat the same bullshit propaganda. Get a brain, then get some books.

      December 28, 2011 at 1:20 am |
  7. Steven L. Bullington

    Hey fellow bloggers, if any of you try the Bible in the pillow case tonight and if this blog is still up and running tomorrow ?
    Let us all know about your dreams .

    December 25, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
    • HIPunch

      I slept with a bible in my pillow case once.. only because I lacked a gun or a baseball bat and it was a hardback. I was a bit fearful for my life at that point, so instead of cracking open a bible, I decided I would crack SOMEONE with a bible. 😀

      December 25, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I sleep with my inhaler under my pillow, because I've been known to have asthma attacks in the middle of the night. But what the heck. I'm game. (Even though it is a few days to late.) If I can find my dollar store bible, I'll shove it under my pillow. Of course, I'm a really restless sleeper, so who knows where it will be when I wake up.

      December 28, 2011 at 1:03 am |
  8. slayerwulfe

    The only interesting point is in choosing sides that neither Christian or Atheist is able to prove or disprove the existence of God.
    What is the basis of your choice,and in making comments against each other you become what you are speaking against.
    I follow no religion and I do not pray to any God but I have read the books. The term Bible scholar is like an oxymoron to me because Jesus is not the founder of what is the accepted version(s) of Christianity which now numbers more than 38000.
    To all that are Christians or want to be the proof is in what Jesus said about Peter as being the foundation of his church. And a letter Paul wrote to Peter and his response to it. The only difference, as far as Peter is concerned, between a Jew and a Christian is Christians accept Jesus as the Messiah, no other difference between the two. Look at what this thing has turned into that Jesus is now God and is your anti christ somehow involved.

    December 25, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  9. Skeptic

    Christianity? Funny, I thought America's national religion was consumerism.

    December 25, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  10. 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 4:28 pm |
    • TR6

      @George:” More hate from atheists. Nothing new here”

      More Christians ducking the point of the post and responding to things not said. Nothing hew here

      December 25, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
  11. TR6

    @George:” They will never get respect from Christians”

    I believe I speak for a vast majority of atheists when I say that atheists want the respect of Christians just as much as they want the companionship of a rabid dog.

    You want to see modern Christian respect in action? Google “Srebrenica genocide”

    December 25, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • George

      More hate from atheists. Nothing new here.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • doug flynn

      Also google VATICAN RATLINE

      December 25, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • TR6

      @George:” More hate from atheists. Nothing new here”

      More Christians du-cking the point of the post and responding to things not said. Nothing new here.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  12. George

    God made America great. We are already sliding into the moral sewer in this country. God is starting to turn his favor from us. We have lost standing internationally, our economy is in the dump, and we are beset with natural disasters. We definitely need to get America back to God. We need to pass laws that support traditional family values. We need God to look kindly upon us, or we will end up like the Roman Empire in the dust bin of history. Please consider this when you vote next time and vote for conservative Christians.

    December 25, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • TR6

      @George:” God made America great”

      Check out the constltution. There is no mention of the Christian god, Jesus, or the bible

      December 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • George

      Check out the pledge of allegiance. No doubt you will bring up that it was added in the 50's, but it still is there. And "In God We Trust" is on our money. Must really burn you.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • nepawoods

      "God made America great" ... And if God's will is that America no longer be so great, do you contest it? And then why dd he change his mind? This was NEVER a Christian nation, despite all the current claims otherwise. Read the writings of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Thomas Paine ... none too favorable toward Christianity.

      Mexico is 95% Christian, few countries are higher, and look how they're fairing. There's a Christian nation, why not go there?

      December 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • doug flynn

      GEORGIE-The reason why America is sliding into the sewer is because GOD is too busy helping Tim Tebow score touchdowns!LMAO

      December 25, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • TR6

      @George:” No doubt you will bring up that it was added in the 50's, but it still is there. And "In God We Trust" is on our money. Must really burn you.”

      The fact that Christians managed to take advantage of the communist hysteria that took America in the ‘50s neither burns me or surprises me. Christians are very good at trying to profit from adversity, just look at Pat Robertson’s statements after 9/11

      December 25, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
    • George

      nepawoods

      Why not go to Mexico? Because America is my home. I want to make her strong and put her back on a course to God. And whether you like it or not, there's going to be a wave of conservative Christians voted into office in the next election. The Christian majority is tired of the gutter morals of atheists and liberals.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • doug flynn

      So if the Christians don't win the White House in 2012 will they blow it up like they do to Womens' healthcare facilities?Also, why doesn't Christian presidential hopeful (lol) MICHELLE BACHMANN admit that her husband is gay already?We all know that Christians will believe pretty much anything i.e. That we are all direct descendants of two people that btw were unmarried and had out-of-wedlock children ,Cain and Abel and that Cain went on to KILL Abel. Are you going to dispute that?

      December 25, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
    • nepawoods

      George: "Why not go to Mexico? Because America is my home." ... Jesus said "This world is but a bridge; cross over it, but build no house upon it". If God isn't favoring America today, why call it your home? Where is your allegiance, to a nation God doesn't favor?

      December 25, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • George

      @nepawoods

      Because it is the duty of all Christians to help get America back to God. We are fighting for the soul of America. Why should we allow people to burn in hell if we can do something about it?

      December 25, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • tallulah13

      George, your right to worship in the church you chose was given to you by a Const'itution that separates church and state. That separation guarantees that if believers of a certain faith come into power, they cannot persecute those who don't believe the same way they do. This separation protects us all. It is very selfish, and anti-American of you to try to force your religion on people who don't share your belief. You say you are loyal to the United States, but you are not.

      December 25, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • F16wpnsUSAF

      @George "Because it is the duty of all Christians to help get America back to God. We are fighting for the soul of America. Why should we allow people to burn in hell if we can do something about it?"

      You didn't answer his question. Also, if you honestly believe that last line then I can't take anything you say with any credibility. It ultimately becomes analogic to arguing with a child over why he thinks Coke is better than Pepsi and if you don't agree, you'll burn in hell.

      December 25, 2011 at 10:12 pm |
    • doug flynn

      GEORGE – Your comment about saving American souls is a shining example of your religious self-righteousness. Worry about your own soul and let each individual do the same. We don't need you to tell us liberals what to do .We have our own minds -that's why we're Liberals.

      December 25, 2011 at 11:40 pm |
  13. Everyman

    I just want to know something. When a priest is raping a young boy is he doing that because it's God's will or it's the right thing to do? I mean, if being Christian means being good, then raping young boys is good?

    December 25, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
    • Sonnie

      The answer silly is it is neigher the right thing to do and it sure is not God will,To molest any one much less a defencless boy by a person that is evil and posses as a man of God and is not. All have sinned and come short of the Glory of God, but when he died on the cross that man put him on, He gave us a gift of eternal life if we choose to accept him in is Glory, You can take it or leave it, Its is free, already paid for by his dieing for us.

      December 25, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
  14. Ladybug

    I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Potter attended church regularly and George Bailey was an Atheist.

    December 25, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • nepawoods

      They're fictional characters, so it's silly to debate, but I picture Bailey being observant on Sundays, and Potter not, but that's not why they are what they are. The important point is that Potter is like unto the 1% that the Occupy movement detests, concerned about profit with no concern for others ... and that today, this 1%, what characterizes them, has complete support of the Christian conservative right. It's not a Christian way of being, though they may well go through the motions. I'm reminded of "The Godfather", where Pacino's character is attending a baptism at a church, while several enemies are being slaughtered at his command. The 1% are little different.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
    • Ladybug

      Nepawoods The point I was trying to make is that being a Christian does not mean you have the morals of a saint. As well as being an atheist does not make you corrupt and void of any character.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  15. doug flynn

    If Jesus stood with the poor,why is it the the Catholic holy father(POPE) needs a mega-mansion and his own city? Christian hypocrisy at it's best.

    December 25, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  16. Reality

    How much money would the following save the US taxpayers thereby making next year's Xmas a bit more affordable ?:

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:

    There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror like 9/11

    One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:

    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!
    The Mormon empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion.

    Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:

    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!

    December 25, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
    • George

      You have no facts to back up any of your assertions about Gabriel, Jesus, Abraham or Moses. I've seen what you've posted earlier – all opinion pieces. No facts whatsoever. And I don't believe you have facts to back up any of your statements on tax money either.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
    • TR6

      @George:” No facts whatsoever. And I don't believe you have facts to back up any of your statements on tax money”

      You win. Never have I seen such f self serving hypocrisy and so little personal integrity as this where George condemns a post for lack of facts. Mr. belief himself, demanding evidence. Such moral decay and intellectual dishonesty is breath taking; but coming from a Christian, not entirely surprising

      December 25, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • .........

      hit report abuse on all reality garbage

      December 25, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Reality

      origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 NY Times review and important enough to reiterate.

      New Torah For Modern Minds

      “Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions - the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years - have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity - until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine doc-ument.

      The notion that the Bible is not literally true "is more or less settled and understood among most Conservative rabbis," observed David Wolpe, a rabbi at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles and a contributor to "Etz Hayim." But some congregants, he said, "may not like the stark airing of it." Last Passover, in a sermon to 2,200 congregants at his synagogue, Rabbi Wolpe frankly said that "virtually every modern archaeologist" agrees "that the way the Bible describes the Exodus is not the way that it happened, if it happened at all." The rabbi offered what he called a "LITANY OF DISILLUSION”' about the narrative, including contradictions, improbabilities, chronological lapses and the absence of corroborating evidence. In fact, he said, archaeologists digging in the Sinai have "found no trace of the tribes of Israel - not one shard of pottery."

      December 26, 2011 at 12:09 am |
  17. Reality

    The Fixed Point Foundation, another red neck Christian "non-profit" with another rip-off, overpaid founder ($125,00/yr) i.e. the author of this article. (ref. guidestar.org)

    December 25, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
    • George

      It is a perfectly good Christian foundation. You have no reason to bad mouth it.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  18. rn0901

    Thanks Mr. Taunton for your article. I am an individual who finds it interesting to read about other beliefs and viewpoints. I am glad that CNN attempts to provide articles on various religions. As the reader, I did not feel forced to agree/disagree with the author; nor was I insulted by his slant on christianity. I am amazed how so many people are extremely rude in their comments when they do not agree with another's ideas. Yes, we have the right to express our opinion, but I feel many individuals have lost the ability to have civil discourse.

    December 25, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • Foster

      Once I hired a fishing guide while on vacation. After we were launched and away from shore he started asking questions about my beliefs. He said he was a Christian. It was obvious that he was hoping to have a fellow believer or if not someone he could possible convert. I told him I am an athiest. He replied "the higher the intellect the harder it is to accept god". I thought it was interesting that he missed the irony in his statement. Basically religion is for the unintellegent.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
    • George

      @Foster

      I guess you've forgotten all the Christian scholars for the last 2000 years. In fact, what has become modern colleges and universities began in the Middle Ages with Christians. Indeed, more recently, even liberal schools like Harvard and Yale were founded by Christians. I find your comment utterly disgusting.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
    • TR6

      @George:” In fact, what has become modern colleges and universities began in the Middle Ages with Christians”

      Of course back then scholarship involved things like arguing how many angels could dance on the head of a pin and bible memorization

      December 25, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  19. Kim

    This country would be sooo much better off if the Christians would practice thier faith in private, quietly. Christanity is evil and the source of harrowing discrimination in our country when it's publicly practiced. My take on it is that Christians are so superficial in thier beliefs they have to punish anyone who is not of their faith. Jesus as never a Christian, he was Jewish who practiced and preached Judiasm. Christanity is a made up religion by men who wanted power. In other words, a cult.

    December 25, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Brian

      I can only imagine what your thesis in college was: "Barbie, fact or myth?

      December 25, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Khw

      Kim, for you to comment on what Christianity is and who Jesus really was...etc, etc. I just have a simple question. Have you ever read the bible? Read it and then you can make "intelligent" comments. Jesus yes was a jew but his followers were called "christians". Why were they called "Christians"? Because they followed JESUS CHRIST. You can find all this out in a book called Acts 11:26 (the bible)
      Religion is not Christianity. True Christianity is a follower of Jesus Christ. Thats where you get the name and it was not "christians" who came up with that as well.
      To many people try to make all these comments at least do some research before.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
    • TR6

      @Khw:” Have you ever read the bible? Read it and then you can make "intelligent" comments.”

      I have read the bible. Here for example is an intelligent and heartwarming passage where god has commanded Moses to slaughter some of his own people.

      And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbor. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.

      Exodus 32:26-27

      December 25, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • George

      @TR6

      You failed to mention why God gave such a commandment. You are quoting out of context.

      December 25, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • F16wpnsUSAF

      @George:

      What makes you think God wrote any commandments? They're somewhat mundane and flawed commandments to be written by such an unfallible diety. Much more believeable that Moses wrote them because of the issues at the time and used Gods wrath as a means to enforce them. Or the flawed transition to Exodus and Deuteronomy or any biblical text for that matter to include the Nicean Crede of 325 Anno Domini.
      I was a Roman Catholic for the first 25 years of my life and while I interest myself with the history of all faiths (not just Christianity) to include the principles of theology, the belief is lost and I have no other better analogy other than the Santa Claus claim.
      I used to believe in Santa, nothing you said or showed me could deter that belief but ultimately, I grew up.

      December 26, 2011 at 3:58 am |
  20. topekabill

    Without Christians this country cannot stand, it was founded on christian principles and the lack thereof is causing the problems of today. Absent Christian teaching we will require a dictatorship to hold government together. I feel sorry for you atheists who hate God so much. You are burning a bridge with the only one who can help you. You need to examine the basis for your hatred and honestly re-evaluate the information available to you and use the brain God gave to you to discern the truth.

    December 25, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • tony

      I feel feel sorry for "US Christians" who have such a perverted view of society and community, that they encourage concience-free, solely profit growth motivated, corporations to rule their government, their private lives and their morals. The "eye of the needle" has been replaced for them by the dubious "Jesus carried a purse".

      December 25, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • agnosticeasterner

      @topekabill: You should read-up on history more. Most of the founding fathers were Deists, not Christians. Most of the morality you speak of is present in other religions. The Athenians had a democracy for 100s of years before the time of Christ. Most Christian states have been dictatorships or monarchies or empires - think the Roman Empire, Byzantine Empire, Europe, Russia ... Democracy has been the exception not the norm - and has nothing ant all to do with Christianity. As to how atheists "hate God so much", I'm quite sure its impossible to hate something if you don't believe it exists 🙂

      December 25, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
    • JH

      > atheists who hate God

      Yes, just like we hate the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny too.

      December 25, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
    • George

      Then why are atheists on here every day spewing hate and bigotry? They don't even give it a rest on Christmas. Even if they don't believe, they could show some respect. They will never get respect from Christians because they are so in-your-face with their hate and bigotry.

      December 25, 2011 at 4:12 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.