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Battlefield chaplain’s war unfolded on many fronts
Army chaplain Darren Turner, left, wound up quitting the Army for a spell after returning home from Iraq.
May 26th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Battlefield chaplain’s war unfolded on many fronts

Editor’s note: CNN.com writer Moni Basu is author of “Chaplain Turner's War,” published by Agate Digital.

By Moni Basu, CNN

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) - Darren Turner insisted on going to war, even though the Army usually reserves desk jobs at home for new chaplains like him.

Turner was young and green, enthusiastic about taking God to the battlefield. The Army captain had learned that people in pain are often wide-open to inviting God into their lives.

Jesus always ran to crises. Turner was going to do the same.

He’d enrolled in seminary in 2004 at Regent University in Virginia, founded by evangelist Pat Robertson. And early in his spiritual journey, he was inspired by Christian writer John Eldredge, who suggests that American men have abandoned the stuff of heroic dreams, aided by a Christianity that tells them to be "nice guys."

God, says Eldredge, designed men to be daring, even dangerous.

Turner arrived in Iraq in May 2007 with the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment amid a raging insurgency. His soldiers faced an invisible but lethal enemy in booby-trapped houses and roads laced with massive bombs.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Chaplain Turner’s war would unfold on many fronts. He would be a soldier on the battlefield. A counselor behind closed doors. He was a friend, even a father, to his men.

And when his 15-month tour was over, Turner returned home to face all the problems he had counseled his soldiers about: anger, depression, stress and – most important for him – preserving relationships with loved ones.

Nearly 4,500 American troops died in the Iraq war. More than 30,000 more were physically wounded. Countless others live with scars that can't be seen, like post-traumatic stress syndrome and traumatic brain injury. Many have struggled with regaining their lives at home.

Darren Turner counsels a soldier inside a sleeping container at Patrol Base Hawkes, southeast of Baghdad.

Turner had recognized the needs his soldiers would have after witnessing the horrors of combat, after losing friends.

In Iraq, he had comforted and advised soldiers at Forward Operating Base Falcon, in southeastern Baghdad, and in the combat outposts around the villages of Arab Jabour.

Preparing clergy for war: How chaplains train for combat

At Falcon, the Army provided a morale phone that allowed soldiers to make free 15-minute calls home. But Turner knew it wasn't enough. He carried a cell phone in the left shoulder pocket of his uniform and whipped it out whenever a soldier signaled domestic distress at home.

"Call her," he would say. "Call her now and tell her you love her."

When they returned to Georgia in the summer of 2008, Turner told his soldiers that their families would be their cushion. He knew his men were suffering; that the ghosts of Iraq would haunt them, maybe for the rest of their lives.

What he did not know then was that he would not himself be immune to the same threats. He neglected to heed his own advice and his life floundered.

I’d spent many weeks with Turner in Iraq for a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but I didn't know about his troubles until I drove up to meet him and his wife, Heather, earlier this year at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

An exhausted Darren Turner catches a nap at his desk inside his tent at Forward Operating Base Falcon near Baghdad.

On that rainy February day, Turner told me that he’d come back from Iraq and felt like the bomb defuser in the movie "The Hurt Locker," who goes into a grocery store and is overwhelmed by the mesmerizing variety of cereals.

Remembering the fallen: Learn about casualties

It was a lot to process after having few choices in Iraq. Reverse culture shock.

"I wanted everything in there but I wasn't sure what to buy," Turner said.

He also detected a lack of public concern for the men and women fighting overseas. Off post, people went about their lives without a real understanding of the sacrifices made by American service members.

At first the anger boiled inside. But then it began to surface. He took it out on Heather. It was a release so that he could keep his work as normal as possible.

Little things like arranging the dishwasher became big fights with Heather. Big things like Heather’s life plans became small issues that Turner mocked or discounted because they did not fit his own plans.

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"I came home angry," Turner told me. "Even my attitude, which I thought I was in control of, was walling me in. I didn't realize it until my wife told me, 'You're no longer welcome in our house.'"

During the deployment in Iraq, Turner had pined for Heather and his three young children, Elie, Sam and Meribeth. Now, he was losing them.

"The thing I was angry at was the very thing I was longing for during my deployment - my family," he said.

Heather said her husband was disengaged, impatient. She wanted them to seek counseling but Turner refused, insisting that she was the one who had issues.

Just a few months after his return from Iraq, Darren and Heather Turner separated.

“I was very selfish and tried to control my surroundings, which crushed those closest to me,” Turner said.

Turner eventually realized how much he had hurt his wife, he said. How he had stepped away from God's calling by failing those he cared about most.

After finishing Airborne School, he quit the Army in August 2009, believing the military would demand too much time away from his family at a critical juncture in their lives.

He took a job in sales at a Home Depot not far from his house in Dacula, Georgia. He struggled to mend his marriage and reconnect with his faith.

Four months later, Turner and his wife reconciled. He chose to return to the Army as a chaplain, he said, "a renewed man both in marriage and profession."

He and Heather found their calling. God, he said, gave them a special connection with soldiers and their families. They know they will stay busy for a while.

The U.S. mission in Iraq ended on December 18, 2011, as the last American soldiers climbed into hulking trucks and armored vehicles at Camp Adder, the southernmost base in Iraq.

The war, however, is sure to continue on a second front - in America's cities and homes. And in the offices of counselors and chaplains like Darren Turner.

Turner reminisces about Iraq often, and when I saw him at Fort Campbell, he told me he wrestled with mixed feelings on the day America's military presence ended. He hopes that, in the end, the war will have been worth the blood that was spilled.

Another war, the one in Afghanistan, is far from over, with casualties mounting every month. Today, Turner counsels soldiers serving there. His words, honed from experience, are more specific now.

Get Skype, he says.

Perhaps it's not what a soldier expects to hear from a man of God. It’s certainly not the stuff of Sunday sermons.

But it's practical advice that Turner knows will go a long way toward filling the emotional vacuum. He believes distance from one’s own family can trigger a breakdown, especially when a soldier is coping with injuries and combat stress.

"Being away from your family for that long is way more difficult than I anticipated," Turner said.

Skype, he discovered, is the next best thing to being at home. You can't feel someone or smell them but you can see and hear.

"That's two of the senses," he said. "That's exponential."

Turner’s pastoral passion is still driven by the force that first drew him to the chaplaincy: Jesus.

Everyone has faith in something, Turner said. His own conviction is that Jesus answers longings in the human heart and provides perspective. Beyond immediate emergencies, the larger story is one of hope.

“He's been there on the other side, and came back to tell us,” Turner said. “That's the biggest event in human history, something that maintains hope, even in battle. When soldiers get that, it changes everything.”

Turner said he may not have been God’s perfect messenger, but that his selfish choices do not negate God’s love.

Turner is thankful for that. And that he can carry on with his calling.

- Moni Basu

Filed under: Christianity • Military

soundoff (2,230 Responses)
  1. popseal

    This chaplain will be a better chaplain now that he has the experience. "Physician, heal thy self" is the first rule of ministry. The second rule is to have low expectations about how people will respond to you. The third rule is to fully realize just how completely lost the world around you is. "If the world hates me," Jesus said, "It will hate you too". We ministers are called to demonstrate a life that only comes from Christ in us.

    May 27, 2012 at 7:05 am |
  2. Jake

    God has a great sense of humor, he created turds like you to prove it.

    May 27, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • Praying is imaginary talking inside your head.

      So far you are in the lead, Jake, for the lamest posts on this page. Congratulations!

      May 27, 2012 at 7:14 am |
    • Praying is imaginary talking inside your head.

      Let me take that back. I'm the biggest moron on this website.

      You betcha fella!

      May 27, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • Prayers are imaginary talking inside your head.

      I have a name-stealing stalker. Is this some regular thing here at CNN?

      May 27, 2012 at 7:42 am |
  3. Stacy

    I'm never disappointed by the some of our atheist–not believing in a Creator–yet, ever consumed by an urge to address Him. Actually, I suspect many are Christians stirring the pot of persecution....stirring the hearts of folk to consider what they believe.
    By the way, great story.

    May 27, 2012 at 7:02 am |
  4. Frank

    "The Army captain had learned that people in pain are often wide-open to inviting God into their lives."

    ie., People in pain and extreme stress and under PTSD are more vulnerable to accepting your brain washing or anything else just to feel better.

    May 27, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • Jake

      Thanks Frank, now STFU.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:05 am |
    • Howie76

      Exactly! They exploit people at their lowest moments all in the name of god. But this guy telling his story is all about him getting more attention. I bet he was controling before this.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:09 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Fear creates "true believers." Reason creates skeptics.

      May 27, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Nilam

      Matt and I have desired to have atohner child since we were married... we would always pray "Lord give us a child"... then add a small "if it's your will", which really meant.. I'm just saying that to make me SOUND like I care, but really - I want a child no matter what you have in store. After 10 miscarriages, a very humbleing experience... our prayer has changed to "We want a child – but if this is not your plan for you to fill this void somehow - then take the desire away"... We can get so caught up in what WE want and forget what GOD wants... knowing that God will never withhold anything good from us (of course forgot the verse, but I WILL find it for you) has reminded me that only HE knows what is good & right for our lives.

      October 7, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  5. Robert Young

    As a Christian, I get so weary of other Christians who 'know' exactly what God is doing, wants, has plans for, etc, etc, etc. Once we dump the idea that we simple humans can even marginally have an idea what God is up to (the God that created life itself and arranged the Sun in position...and the way everything fits...??)..we can possibly be the one who 'knows' what God is doing? C'mon! Really? The only thing I know for sure is that God is about love and all we can do is have faith in God and love each other. Nothing wrong with that. There are no atheists in a airplane going down......but Christians, give it a rest. Be confident, love, forgive, be empathetic, just drop the know it all.

    May 27, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • Ann

      There are plenty of atheists in a crashing plane or on a battlefield. If, in a moment of terror, someone cries out, "oh, my god!" it's really no different than if they cried out, "oh, sh!t" – you don't really think they're praying to feces, do you?

      May 27, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Ann, lol hilarious, lol.

      May 27, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  6. Canadian Jack

    God never authorized any religious literature. Men did. Find God in Nature. You will certainly find God when a bird soars upward on wind currents. When dolphins and whales leap for joy. God programmed everything. God could not approve of the sibling rivalry created by different religions. Religion is divisive. The more you rely on the words in the good book the more you fail to understand the truth which relies on your soul not your mind. Only the unfettered mind experiences the All Mighty.

    May 27, 2012 at 6:51 am |
    • Jake

      Retard...

      May 27, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • Hitchens

      Exodus 20:1 And God spoke all these words :

      May 27, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • Mackenzie

      No truer words spoken. God is not in the church itself, but in the land it sets on, the wind that blows in through the window, and the sun that shown upon the roof top every day. God is in the world around us.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:02 am |
    • Canadian Jack

      I'm actually quite an idiot. I have no life. That's why I have to wake up early Sunday morning and spew my bigotry. Because nobody else will listen to my nonsense.

      Sorry.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • Truthz

      ...when dolphins and whales leap for joy... lol

      May 27, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • Paul Beach

      Nature proves His existence and power, but He reveals Himself through His Word. I, for one, want to know Him, not just prove He is real.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:26 am |
    • Mackenzie

      Jack, you are not an idiot. You, like meany, realize that worship of all forms is not under the roof of some building surrounded by people, but in the awesome power of the world around them. No matter who you worship, their power is felt in the world as a whole.

      Jake: the definition of retard is Occurring or developing later than desired or expected; delayed. Considering the first teachings of the bible and all other religious teaching happened outside in the sight of that is a wonder in itself, I think Canadian Jack makes more sense than your rather "retarded" view on where some one should worship. God/Goddess is not in a building, it is in the world we wake to every day. To wake up is it's own leap of faith and a gift.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:54 am |
    • Mackenzie

      Truthz: A dolphin and a whale do leap for joy. Every day they survive a beaching, an attack, or a sunset at sea is a reason alone to leap for joy. :-)

      May 27, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • GodFreeNow

      Nature is as much proof of god as it is fairies and leprechauns.

      Mackinze, Atheists DO recognize the awesome power of the world and universe around us. We just don't pretend an invisible super ghost in the sky "programmed" it as there is no evidence to support it. Instead we appreciate life on its face value without the need to 1up life by adding mystical beings and lollypop gardens.

      May 27, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  7. Howie76

    Pastors like to preach real life stories to show how they understand the world and word of god. So now he has a real life story. The reality is he had control issues before and will continue to have them. This story is just away for him to get attention to say look what god did for me. I do not diminish his service to our country. What I do question is why he goes over seas to get young people when they are vulnerable to convert to his religion because they are in a very stressful environment. Just another way to manipulate the people.

    May 27, 2012 at 6:50 am |
  8. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    May 27, 2012 at 6:47 am |
    • Praying is imaginary talking inside your head.

      See my post below as to why you are completely wrong.

      May 27, 2012 at 6:56 am |
    • Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer changes things
      Completely proven

      May 27, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • Praying is imaginary talking inside your head.

      Yes, prayers are completely proven to be imaginary talking inside your head.
      Have you any special words for us from your imaginary god?

      Or does he make a barking noise and pee on the floor? Are you dyslexic?

      May 27, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • Praying is imaginary talking inside your head.

      I oughta know. You oughta hear some of the voices telling me to do things inside my head.

      It makes my pea sized brain want to explode.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • Hitchens

      You ought to know. Truth is you don't know.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:19 am |
    • Prayers are imaginary talking inside your head.

      I see my name-stealing stalker has been busy. This is how a Christian reacts to my words. Enjoy, CNN.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  9. Bruce Linquist

    God doesn't need us he chooses to use us to learn to love like He does. Christ followers are not perfect but God is not looking for perfect people. The disciples were far from perfect yet with a willing and surrendered heart God used them for his glory. That process is often painful becasue we are called to join with those in pain. Yet in that pain there is a real connection to the condition of humanity and from that connection God's love and healing flows. I know this journey and it is worth more than all the gold of the world.

    May 27, 2012 at 6:05 am |
    • Mirosal

      You do NOT need any "god" or any "holy texts" to teach how to love. But, no greater things have ever been created to teach hatred and bigotry.

      May 27, 2012 at 6:09 am |
    • Hitchens

      God is love. What you identify as love is no more than self serving lust.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • Mirosal

      So.. anyone who does not follow YOUR "god" is incapable of love? Is that your point?

      May 27, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • Hitchens

      You do not even know what love is.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:16 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Hitchens: Your definition of love is based off of something that CAN'T be proven to exist. You do not get to say who knows the meaning of the word. If you're going to judge people due to their belief or lack there of, then it is you has the true meaning of the word mixed up. We do not need your imaginary friend for love, it is an emotion that all humans feel and your arrogance is not love but hatred. Imaginary friends (ie; your god) are for children and schizophrenics...which of these are you? Btw: This is the 21st century...it is time to reside within it or find a cave and enjoy your miserable existence in it.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:24 am |
    • Mirosal

      Even Forrest Gump knew what love is. Just because I think your "holy texts" are anything but, does not mean I am incapable of love. But you, who hold those texts in such high regard, cartainly know how to judge and hate. That's why your buy-bull is worthless.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • Hitchens

      Neither of you know what love is. You are challenging everything in sight and ignoring the reality. You do not know what love is.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:34 am |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Love is a human emotion. Your god is an anthropomorpic projection. Neuro-physiologists know that emotions are seated in the ( http://curiosity.discovery.com/question/where-emotions-in-brain ) amygdala in human brains, and other primates. God does NOT love. THAT process requires time, and brain cells. If god loves, she cannot be the creator of her prerequiste brain cells and time. Sorry. Time to grow up. There is no Santy Claus.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:36 am |
    • Ann

      Wow, hitchens. I thought I loved my 6-year-old grandson, but I guess it must just be "self-serving lust" since I'm not religious. Thanks for clearing that up.

      PS – I also love my dog, so I guess I'm really a freak.

      May 27, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  10. Bob Ramos

    This is a great story. It proves that even clergy are human beings. I hope he and his family get nothing but the best. They deserve it.

    May 27, 2012 at 5:37 am |
  11. vulpecula

    @Mark from Middle River
    your klan and new black panther analogy sucks, as they are both wrong. were as in the gods vs. no gods debate, one side must be right. And I've been confident of my position sense about 1978.

    May 27, 2012 at 4:54 am |
  12. Navin Johnson

    Because religion poisons people and as ethical people, as most atheists are, we don't like people being poisoned by anything.

    May 27, 2012 at 4:19 am |
    • Hitchens

      Like the atheist and ethical Joseph Stalin who murdered 24 million of his own people.

      May 27, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • Jake

      Stop drinking the idiot kool-aid.

      May 27, 2012 at 6:56 am |
    • Mirosal

      Hitchens, apparently you like to confuse politics with Atheism. I suggest you finish that 3rd year of 5th grade, then take a poli-sci course or two. Maybe a little world history as well. You don't understand about politics, paranoia, and power. They have nothing to do with Atheism.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Hitchens

      So mirosal, mass murder is ethical for atheists?

      May 27, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • Colin

      Hitchens, Communist leaders tended to be atheist, Hitler was a Christian, as was virtually every barbaric European king and leader in the last 1,000 years and Muslim, Hindu and agnostic leaders have committeed atrocities. So what?

      May 27, 2012 at 7:44 am |
    • Hitchens

      Hitler was an atheist who used anything to maintain his control over the German people including religion. This has been doc umented over and over, but for some reason your types keep coming back to the same discredited statements. Makes honest conversation with you an exercise in futility.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • Mirosal

      Hitchens, you need to learn how to read, so you can research Hitler's life. You also need to read his book. While you're at it, check out his speeches. He'll say many times how "god" has glorified the Reich, and that with "god" on their side they cannot lose. Hitler may have forsaken his Catholic upbringing, but he NEVER, EVER, dosavowed a belief in "god". As far as mass murder, it is never ethical. Look up Jim Jones, Pope Urban II, the early Caliphs of Islam, or better yet, read your Old Testament. Your "god" commanded and condoned mass murder and genocide, all in his name. Do you still want to talk about ethics in religion?

      May 27, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Hitchens, is this an effort on your part for some kind of ethical playoff game based on measuring stacks of bodies? If so, both sides lose.

      May 27, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  13. JM

    Darren, Thank you for the priceless resource you are to our military men and women and for the sacrifice you have made for your country. We have a resource that goes along with our book that may be useful to you as you work with couples impacted by military deployment. We address many of these issues in The Solution for Marriages (by Murphy & Dettman) and "Topics to Discuss When Mentoring Military Couples" to our FREE downloads for owners of our book. More at http://www.thesolutionformarriages.com/resources-downloads.html

    May 27, 2012 at 3:58 am |
  14. miltonfjohnson

    I mean absolutely no offense or harm to religious folk, although i'm sure plenty of vitriol will be spewed at me from them for this post. What bothers me most of "believers" is that they never seem to honestly ask the question, "What if I'm wrong?" So much fighting and hate is caused by so many "believers" who are convinced that they have the special golden ticket and that everyone else is damned or less-than. If people could just sincerely consider the possible fallibility of their belief systems, we could all get along so much better. And shoving your particular belief system down the throats of everyone around you isn't helpful either in a civil society.

    May 27, 2012 at 3:41 am |
    • vineyardequip

      I ask if I am wrong all the time. I read books from both sides of the fence. I think it is myth that believers don't doubt, and that believers help construct that myth. Personally, I think the reason that there is so much strife in America over believe and unbelief is because the most unhealthy people on both sides are the most vocal. They push the buttons of those who they disagree with, and normal people get fired up. I have made a choice that I will not talk negative to or about atheists or agnostics no matter how I am treated. I will only discuss matters of faith, ethics, and politics in a respective and honoring way. I want to see the way we as Americans treat people to change. I think that's what Jesus would want, and if you are an unbeliever, then that is the reasonable way to live. I invited others to join me. We need members of both sides to be empathic and kind. America should be a place where both sides are able to have health discussions, and agree to disagree.

      May 27, 2012 at 4:04 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”So much fighting and hate is caused by so many "believers" who are convinced that they have the special golden ticket and that everyone else is damned or less-than.”

      Yeah. Never been a fight for oil, gold, blood diamonds, land...etc etc.

      But I will remember the “convinced” part and ask that of every Atheist, if they are “convinced” there is no God.

      >>>”If people could just sincerely consider the possible fallibility of their belief systems, we could all get along so much better. “

      … You mean a Atheist opening up the possibility that their belief that there is no God might have a flaw?

      ...or are you just aiming this rant at one side of the issue?

      >>>”I have made a choice that I will not talk negative to or about atheists or agnostics no matter how I am treated.”

      Good luck, its a tough path VineYard. There will be ones that will come at you as if you were Rev Terry Jones or Pat Roberston.

      I like to think of it as this. Many, here do not want to meet someone in the middle ground of subjects like this. They want someone on the other side they can yell and scream at that holds an opposing view. It might be a teacher who is a Christian, or a Husband who is an Atheist. It might be the Grandfather who is Muslim or the brother who is an Atheist. Folks that they can not go full cannon fire on. Ones who the relationships outside matter more to them than endless arguments.

      So folks come in here. Target rich with folks that are as strong in their beliefs as them and they can let out all of that anger and rage. And at the end of the night they can just click an “X” on a tab or browser...and all is well.

      In that way, maybe the power to vent on the other sides ..might in some ways, be healthy.

      L'Chaim

      May 27, 2012 at 4:19 am |
    • fj

      God tells us that we must have faith in Jesus and repent in order to be forgiven of the sins we have committed, and in order to inherit eternal life. Otherwise He will punish us for not accepting His offer of complete acquittal. There it is in back and white. Since God is in charge and His Word is truth, it behooves us to believe Him, or pay the consequences. It is not a matter of just trying to get along it is a matter of literal life and death, eternally so. You may choose to ignore this or think it is just all imaginary fanaticims, but you will do so at your eternal peril. God is dead serious about what He says in His Word.

      May 27, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • Praying is imaginary talking inside your head.

      If your god existed and was serious, he would not send a bunch of idiots to slobber on my doorstep but would show up himself. He wouldn't send you to tell us his message, he'd do it himself.

      When I'm serious about getting a message through to somebody, I damn well make sure it gets there.
      Your god doesn't do this. Why? Because he doesn't exist. You are proof enough of that.

      May 27, 2012 at 6:52 am |
    • fj

      What one consider shoving down the throat, those in hell would gladly love to have the chance to hear again what would save them from their torments.
      Christians are attmepting to warn people vehemently so that you will not find yourself in a place that you wish they had shoved harder or screamed louder so that you could get the message before it was too late for you. Jesus offers complete forgiveness of all sins and comeplete acquittal, if you will believe in Him. That is the message. Believe it and you will live forever in a beautiful place. What is there to not like? Haet the message and consider it as something to be despised, and you will literally scream in pain forever, because you did not like this message "shoved down your throat.
      ".

      May 27, 2012 at 6:55 am |
    • Praying is imaginary talking inside your head.

      I think you are sublimating your desires to harm me. Go see a psychiatrist. Your violent hatred is not healthy.

      May 27, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • Praying is imaginary talking inside your head.

      I see a psychiatrist every week. But it's not doing any good. I'm still a bigoted moron who can't stop trying to impose my ignorance on the rest of the world.

      I have nothing better to do.

      Sorry.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:17 am |
    • Prayers are imaginary talking inside your head.

      My name-stealing stalker has been busy. Some Christians cannot handle the truth very well, this much seems clear...

      May 27, 2012 at 7:45 am |
    • Believer

      Jesus said to go be fishers of men. He didn't say it was the job of the Christian to harass and judge nonbelievers. Don't be so filled up with self righteousness and self importance that the story and truth of the original message get lost in your HUFF! YOU are NOT Jesus! People are allowed to believe and not believe. It isn't your job to HARASS nonbelievers.

      May 27, 2012 at 8:09 am |
  15. gupsphoo

    When religious soldiers get in trouble, they pray to God for help.
    When atheist soldiers get in trouble, they do whatever they can to come up with a solution to get out of trouble.

    May 27, 2012 at 3:39 am |
    • vulpecula

      Thankyou for acknowledging the Atheists in the Military. I'm a athiest and desert storm vet. Imagine my total shock when Bush Sr. said, "I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." in 1987. There ARE atheists in foxholes.

      May 27, 2012 at 3:52 am |
    • Joyce Cavin

      Let's have some respect for all the soldiers on the battlefield. Whether believer or nonbeliever, they deserve our respect. Please don't disparage praying soldiers or non praying soldiers. Many of those heroes are believers as well as thinking men. Thank you for considering my point kindly.

      May 27, 2012 at 5:36 am |
    • fj

      And when they find themselves in hell for their unbelief, what then? Will they be able to get out by using their brains? No. God is in control, and they will have given up their chance trhough their stubborn unbelief. They will be unable to free themselves from the consequences of their unbelief, no matter how hard they try to use their brains.

      May 27, 2012 at 6:47 am |
    • Jake

      Sure they do, moron...

      May 27, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      So fj, they will go to hell for being honest. Your god wants people who do not believe to lie to him, and themselves. Alrighty then.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:38 am |
    • Joyce Cavin

      FJ: We all takes our chances. Stay in your own lane.

      May 27, 2012 at 8:04 am |
    • Ann

      Vulpecula – thank you for your service.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:02 am |
  16. Spangler

    "Did ye not know that it is character which is judged and that love is never a sin?" HoeMowErectus 2:14

    May 27, 2012 at 3:16 am |
  17. GodFreeNow

    How does one reconcile, killing while believing thou shalt not kill and turn the other cheek. We can all agree there's nothing christlike about war.

    May 27, 2012 at 3:14 am |
    • Charlie

      Killing and murder are not the same.....only people trying to create a straw man argument take this approach with Christians – we should not go to war unless we believe we are doing so for others who cannnot defend themselves from evil or to put down evil that threatens innocent people. This does not mean other innocents will not be harmed but you cannot leave evil unchecked. In Luke Christ tells Peter the time will come to trade your cloak for a sword....we all know that killing and murder are not the same.

      May 27, 2012 at 4:09 am |
    • GodFreeNow

      @Charlie, Nice justification. What about love thy neighbor as thyself? Kind of hard to do that while at the same time killing them. What about turn the other cheek? The meek shall inherit the earth. A straw man argument would be saying that I in anyway equated murder with killing...

      May 27, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
  18. Praying is imaginary talking inside your head.

    Here's what happens inside the brain of someone praying:

    "I'm not sure if I'm thinking or if that is God is talking to me."

    But if they were able to consciously ask themselves this question instead of it being the underlying subconscious basis for what they imagine to be "praying", then they could face the question squarely and perhaps, if they weren't too brainwashed, even seek to answer this deadly serious question.

    If they value what they imagine to be their souls, then they would not swallow whole the pat answers they have been hypnotized to believe but would seek to determine if they were truly speaking to God or just their imagination writ large.

    Prayers do not work beyond what can be done within the brain itself, and even then they do not work as advertised or to any great extent but only stay within the boundaries of what can be realistically accomplished, including psychosis if needed.

    To an outside observer, prayers can be tested on the spot and shown to be nothing more than someone talking to themselves as they imagine their god would answer, even subconsciously where needed, with all "results" being shown as delusion and having nothing to do with facts beyond using them for "half-truths" and things of that nature.

    Prayers do not work beyond a person's mental abilities. No beams of energy shoot from the eyes, no miracles occur to any bystander, nothing physical is changed outside the body. Inside the prayer's body, adrenalin can make the heart race, the mind excited, and even help with strenuous activity. But this can be done by someone without praying as well.
    Inside their mind, a delusional person can construct any fantasy, make-believe that any conversation is taking place...yet anyone who puts prayer to the test can see that no miracles occur, no dialogue is created beyond the hallucinatory, and no proof ever appears to show that the person praying is anything but fooling themselves.

    Yes, praying can make you feel better, but only if you can talk to yourself in such a way that this occurs.
    Otherwise praying might make you feel worse just as easily.
    Praying is just an internal dialogue that has crossed the line into delusion and schizophrenia.
    It does not heal, it does no miracles, it doesn't even raise the dead or create food out of thin air.
    Praying does not do anything outside your imagination. You can use it to hype yourself up to do something, or use it to calm yourself down, or other things like that, but there is no god there.
    We can test to see if your god is there.
    YOU can test to see if your god is there.

    If you do it honestly and as best you can, you will discover there is no god there. Praying is imaginary.

    May 27, 2012 at 3:06 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Wow, ...that's a lot for trying to convince us on the other side that Prayer does not work. Taking your word on it.

      ....yah, So when you define what is happening when someone prays... which are just your claims... how is all you said any different than when a Faithful makes the claim that a prayer was answered?

      Use "reason" to find the differance over just claimed observation. You post just bolsters the argument that Atheism is a Belief and a Faith.

      May 27, 2012 at 3:16 am |
    • Praying is imaginary talking inside your head.

      Let me just turn your attention to your own prayers, Mark. What sort of dialogue are you having with your imagination?

      YOU can test your own prayers. Yet it sounds as if you would refuse to do any such thing.
      Why is that? Why would you refuse to do some simple testing and examination of your own praying?

      Is it because you do not value your soul?
      Is your soul so cheap then, that you would hand it over to the smoothest-talking preacher or the most attractive verses in your holy texts without making the sort of effort that seems called for when we are talking about your soul?
      Do you value your soul less than money? Can you spot a slick sales talk?
      Do people consider you a sucker for any old story or bs?
      Do you enjoy getting ripped off on a regular basis?

      Or do you think about what people say to you and test and examine what they say? Why?

      Praying is you talking to yourself. Is this why you do not question it?

      Do you not question your own prayers because you already know, deep down, the answer and it has nothing to do with a real god but only that you trust your inner imaginary dialogue....because you are the one talking behind your imaginary god-puppet inside your head?

      Seriously, Mark, why do you not value your soul as much as I do? You have been sucked in and now you are firmly in the trap, a mental slave for the rest of your life – doomed to waste uncounted hours, tons of money, and personal resources and efforts on the behalf of a cult that has sucked you in like the greenest country boy still wet behind the ears and chewing on a piece of strawman.

      YOU can test your prayers.
      If you do, then you can go ahead and make fun of yourself for your methods instead of me and mine.
      Put your soul where your mouth is and do it for yourself and no one else. Test your prayers, seek your god.
      I bet you can't do it because you are so brainwashed. Cult members don't often escape the cults, you know.

      May 27, 2012 at 3:34 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”What sort of dialogue are you having with your imagination?”

      It would only be with my “imagination” if I were a Atheist. You are asking me to answer a question as if I were something that I am not. For a person of Faith, we hold as much that we are speaking to God as an Atheist declares that we are speaking to nothing. Unless you have a way to prove he or she is not there?

      >>>”Yet it sounds as if you would refuse to do any such thing. Why is that? Why would you refuse to do some simple testing and examination of your own praying?.”

      Wow, are you assuming something about someone you have not had a dialogue with? I can not remember seeing you around and I can not recall posting reponces to you before tonight but one post you feel safe and secure with a “Yet it sounds”.

      Sigh … Really kid?

      >>>”Praying is you talking to yourself. Is this why you do not question it? “

      You seem to be speaking again like you know me. What power is this you pocess. :)

      >>>”Seriously, Mark, why do you not value your soul as much as I do?”

      AWWWW...... I'm tellin' the rest of the Atheist that you believe I have a soul. They are going to take away your Atheist membership :) Maybe, some of these folks are telling the truth in that deep down some Atheist are just Faithful in conflict....

      ...with themselves.

      Seriously though dude or dudette. The testing of a pray, you really feel that is a decent argument? Any Atheist will declare that the prays not answered are proof there is no God or Gods. The prayers that are answered they will declare there is another reason why it was answered. The same as a person of Faith saying God or Gods said “yes” or he or she said “no”.

      Do you think that your argument of testing a prayer really would work on folks here in the Belief Blog? We are beyond your “testing”. You are still at learning how to say sir yes sir and most of us here, on both sides are already in Special Forces training.

      May 27, 2012 at 3:55 am |
    • HURLCO

      Funny thing about atheists. They expend a disproportionate amount of energy denying something they claim does not exist. Why?

      May 27, 2012 at 4:07 am |
    • Praying is imaginary talking inside your head.

      I but responded to your words.
      I have no idea what you do with my words, but it appears you view them as some sort of attack.

      I laid it all out for you, Mark. YOU do the testing. Your words say to me that you refuse to even consider doing such a thing.
      Was I wrong? Do you test the words of your religion? Do you check and examine your own mental processes at all?

      All the things you write do not provide a dialogue of respect between us. You insult me, call me "kid" (w-t-f?) and proceed to laugh arrogantly at my calm, polite, and reasonable words to you.

      If this is your version of "Special Forces" training, then I guess you are shooting for a section 8 and on your way to a discharge of some kind. Have fun with that. When you want to put your service record up against mine, just say the word.

      May 27, 2012 at 4:14 am |
    • vulpecula

      @HURLCO Because we are sick of the fundementalists trying to highjack our country. Because we are sick of living in fear of losing a job, losing a friend, or even losing a family member if we express our thoughts in the real world. We are sick of being one of the most discriminated against groups in this country. We are sick of seeing and hearing religious views pushed on use by people in powerful positions and we have decided to make ourselves heard.

      May 27, 2012 at 4:17 am |
    • Mirosal

      Because christians expend enormous amounts of energy telling us to repent, follow THEIR way (because they tell us it's the ONLY way), do as they want us to do, believe as they belive and what they tell us to believe .... "or else".

      May 27, 2012 at 4:18 am |
    • Over It

      HURLCO,

      Atheists do not believe that a god or gods exist. "God-ians", however, DO exist, and they wish to control the lives of everyone with their superst.itions and fantasies.

      May 27, 2012 at 4:30 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>”I but responded to your words.”

      Yep, you responded with line after line of assumptions of how I feel and view my Faith. It was not a response but more of you believing to know my response.

      >>>”I have no idea what you do with my words, but it appears you view them as some sort of attack.”

      Yeah, when folks make assumptions most who are the focus feel targeted.

      >>>”Was I wrong? Do you test the words of your religion?”

      Umm... you said:

      “Let me just turn your attention to your own prayers, Mark.”

      Did, you forget what aspect of Faith you wanted me to examine? You have jumped to the words of my specific Faith, which would be a discussion on the Bible. You are skipping around, try to focus on one aspect or just come out and ask me if I have pondered if my total Faith was wrong. Not sure, if you were trying to sneak that in or just move towards it. Maybe you thought you could nibble away at a foundation of Faith.

      Nice try...but seen that method before :)

      >>>”All the things you write do not provide a dialogue of respect between us. “

      I would refer you to your third paragraph at 3:34am. I did not take your words as mutual respect.

      Read my words and learn ….

      “Hey dude, I know you do not believe or have Faith but, I am sure your reasons that you became a Atheist are to you as worthy as my reasons for being a Person of Faith.”

      See... mutual respect is not one side declaring that the other side is a fool or sucker for their beliefs or non beliefs. If it is considered respect where you come from then I do feel sorry for you kid.

      >>>”You insult me, call me "kid" (w-t-f?) and proceed to laugh arrogantly “

      Hey, I am tired and I trust me, it is calling you a “kid” in not that much of a bad way. Apologies if you felt insulted.

      The arrogant laugh … that was just for show....60% show :) It was not a challenge of “service records” either. It was just trying to let you know that after over year of this Blog, folks have heard almost every comment, argument and tactic that one side or the other uses that they feel will shake the other side. Such as starting with asking someone to question prayers, then for some reason jumping to questioning the text of a religion, then eventually heading to questioning if there is a God or Gods. You think you are the first to go this path here? Do you think that you will be the last?

      How many people think themselves clever and feel that all that is needed is a small push and others will fall? The chances of converting, on the Belief Blog, of a person on either side is remote. It all comes down to... we all, on both sides, have heard the arguments. Nothing new.

      L'chaim,

      Last post... Church service in 5 hours. Peace.

      May 27, 2012 at 4:47 am |
    • Praying is imaginary talking inside your head.

      3rd paragraph? You look at that as being insulting?

      Let me just remind you that I had posted a comment. You did not have to reply. Nobody twisted your arm here.
      You could have just ignored my comment, but you did not do this.

      And in your replies you do not speak to what I have said except in the most superficial and shallow way.
      You say you are some sort of old hand at this, yet you speak like a teenager.
      You do not discuss things intelligently and you refuse to engage on hardly anything I have actually said.
      These are not the techniques of an old campaigner, these are the techniques of a tyro.

      You use the techniques of a young man full of himself who seeks to dominate emotionally what he cannot dominate using his intelligence.
      You think you have made some sort of victory out of your incompetence, but only people like you would agree with you.
      You have not refuted anything I have said.

      All you have done is essentially say that you imagine yourself to be some big wizard here, but in truth you are nothing but a callow youth who must examine his face in the mirror everyday in the hopes of seeing maturity there.
      You will be forever disappointed as long as you remain as incompetent as you are now. Your maturity will never arrive if you hate acting like an adult that much. Your ego is so easily bruised I suppose my mild words have now struck you down and you are waiting for an ambulance to take you to your special room at the ego hospital where they know you very well and stroke your ego until you feel better.

      But you remain a rude and immature poster.
      If you think this is what clever people do, you need to get out more and learn about the real world, not your introverted and narcissistic fantasy-world of religious delusion that strokes your poor sobbing ego.

      Grow up.

      May 27, 2012 at 6:12 am |
    • Jake

      There is a God and you are proof. He let you post your idiotic thoughts.

      May 27, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • Praying is imaginary talking inside your head.

      That is the lamest post I've seen all day. But the day is young!

      May 27, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • CantMYOB

      Of course prayers dont work if you dont have a soul, i think he is describing his own experience.. for those who possess a soul prayers are a way of communicating with something higher then ourselves.

      May 27, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  19. watash

    What happened to all the other posts?

    May 27, 2012 at 2:35 am |
    • vulpecula

      try clicking the "Previous", or page numbers below.

      May 27, 2012 at 2:39 am |
  20. vulpecula

    If you religious folks would just stop for a moment and think about all those other thousands and thousands of other religions and myths through out history, think about how absurd they are, and how you can so easily dismiss them, Then you'll undertstand just how absurd you religion looks to an atheist and why they are so dismissive of anything you say.

    "we are all atheists, I just beleave in one less god than you."

    May 27, 2012 at 2:23 am |
    • pale

      You know there is a God, but you suppress the truth.

      May 27, 2012 at 2:59 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"If you religious folks would just stop for a moment and think about all those other thousands and thousands of other religions and myths through out history,"

      Maybe there are those of us who just believe that there are many ways to God. Check out a Interfaith gathering. Not all of us are 700 Club types or Westburo Baptist.

      But do not worry still many on our side dismiss you when you say that there is no God chances are as easy as you do when we say there is. Right now, neither side can do anything accept for present their evidence and declare the others fault that they do not drop their beliefs and accept it.

      Once you understand that you are really no different ... Trust me, you will be ok. :)

      May 27, 2012 at 3:10 am |
    • vulpecula

      @pale God? there is no god or gods. There never has been. Not Jupiter, not Zues, not the hundreds of known names for a god of the sun, nor the hundreds of known names for a god of the moon, the oceans, the night, gods or war, gods of hunting, gods of death, gods of knowledge, gods of trickery, gods of fertility, gods of time, gods of thunder, lightening, rain, and weather, and the list goes on and on. I suppress the truth? No Pale, it is you that suppress the truth.

      May 27, 2012 at 3:25 am |
    • vulpecula

      @ Mark from Middle River, "But do not worry" and "trust me, you will be ok".

      If i'm worried about anything, it's how gullable some people are. And I'm doing quite "OK" for myself. So don't go projecting your worries on me.

      May 27, 2012 at 3:34 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"If i'm worried about anything, it's how gullable some people are."

      Yeah, I am worried about Atheist as well ... :)

      >>>"And I'm doing quite "OK"

      Yeah, you doing so OK that you are dismissing folks that are already pretty ok with "dismissing" you.

      Its like a Klan man saying tell a Black Panther Party man that he dismisses everything that he says, not accepting that the Panther guy is already dismissing every word and thing he stands for.

      I guess I would hope that while you and others similar to you might dismiss others views, lifestyles and even race, I would hope that you made a effort to at least "listen" and promote dialogue.

      May 27, 2012 at 4:04 am |
    • vulpecula

      @Mark from Middle River
      Promote dialogue? I can't hardly bring myself to talk about my views in public because of the discrimination I am hit with. I've tryed talking to some people, the the "christians" usual respond with something like "oh, well i'm not talking to you anymore" end of dialogue. end of friendship. As for lifestyles and races, that has nothing to do with athiesm. Atheism has no message. It's only a lack of belief in gods. For the record though, my perspective is we are all one race, the human race. And beleave it or not, we are all decendent from one woman. this is scientifically proven. I myself am very conservative natured, but very liberal minded. What I don't like is fundamentalists trying to impose their ideas on everyone. How about a country that allows alot of things, and the church or individual setting their own limits within those boundries instead of trying to impose their bounderies on everyone. I'm an Independent voter and have voted for both dems and repubs as I felt appropriate. Republicans are not likely to get any votes from me this next election cycle though. They have become way to rightwing in recent years. Which is a shame, because I always hope we would be able to find two or more great canadates to choose from in any election.

      May 27, 2012 at 4:45 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      ok... last last post :)

      >>>"Promote dialogue? I can't hardly bring myself to talk about my views in public because of the discrimination I am hit with. I've tryed talking to some people, the the "Christians" usual respond with something like "oh, well i'm not talking to you anymore" end of dialogue. end of friendship."

      Then you are judging that every single Christian you meet will display the same type of responces. That there are so many different denominations of just the Christian Faith alone sorta "reason" that all Christians do not act and share the same views? I am sorry you feel that way but it in the end it is pre judging folks, or just simply being prejudice.

      >>>"As for lifestyles and races, that has nothing to do with athiesm. "

      I was just using those as examples of different groups that get attacked in society. Folks, judge them on the actions of others in the group.

      May 27, 2012 at 4:57 am |
    • vulpecula

      @ Mark from Middle River
      you don't know me from adam. and if i've learned anything it's that in public, it's best to stay silent sometimes. That you would take this opportunity to attack me is no suprise though. You have no way of knowing what I judge or don't judge in my head. As for your remark about the Klan and New Black Panther Party, you said "Folks, judge them on the actions of others in the group.". It's not just actions of others in the group, it's their very idealogy. It's what they stand for. They both promote race violence.

      May 27, 2012 at 5:10 am |
    • Praying is imaginary talking inside your head.

      About the only thing Mark has written that is worth reading is him telling us he is going away. All the rest is worthless.

      May 27, 2012 at 6:16 am |
    • Mirosal

      And where is he going? To a monument to mythology.. I mean a church .. to worship and pray to something that doesn't exist, and to give money to someone who stands in front, telling others how HE thinks they should live, because that person couldn't get a real job.

      May 27, 2012 at 6:32 am |
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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.