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June 15th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

My Take: How I constructed 'The American Bible'

Editor's Note: Stephen Prothero, a Boston University religion scholar and author of "The American Bible: How Our Words Unite, Divide, and Define a Nation," is a regular CNN Belief Blog contributor.

By Stephen Prothero, Special to CNN

Over the past year or so, I have been working on a book called "The American Bible." The hardest part was the table of contents.

“The American Bible” isn’t a new translation of the Christian Bible. It’s my term for the texts that function like scripture in American public life, the voices to which we are forever returning as we reflect together on what America is all about.

In some cases, we refer explicitly to these texts as “sacred” or “immortal.” At a campaign stop in Mesa, Arizona, in February, Mitt Romney implied that the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution might be “inspired by God.”

In all cases, however, we treat them like scripture, returning to their words as we ponder the meanings and ends of our country, and invoking their authority in debates over gay marriage and taxes. In other words, these are the speeches and songs, letters and novels that continue to stir commentary and controversy, the voices that bring us together into the collective conversation that I see as the rite of our republic.

But which voices to include in my book? Which texts have “we the people” embraced as scripture? And what are the key commentaries upon them? As I struggled to answer these questions, I knew I'd be criticized for the choices I made.

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When "Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know" appeared in 1987, author E.D. Hirsch was widely criticized for producing a list of “core knowledge” that was too conservative and too white. His 63-page list of people, places and events neglected knowledge that is central to the experiences of African-Americans, Latinos and women, many argued.

With Hirsch and his critics in mind, I began the quest for my canon by devising some defensible guidelines. I decided right away that the book should be descriptive rather than prescriptive. In other words, I would aim not to create a canon but to report upon one; I would include not the voices that inspire me but those that “we the people” have revered.

I then fixed on two criteria. First, I would look for texts that have generated conversation and controversy, books we value enough to fight about. Second, I would look for texts that speak to the meaning of “America” and “Americans,” telling us where our nation has been and where it should be going.

I also decided that I would include alongside my “biblical" books extensive commentary about each, tracking their "afterlives" over the course of U.S. history. In other words, my “American Bible” would look something like an “American Talmud,” with extensive commentaries tracking the conversations Americans had about the Declaration of Independence during the Civil War and about the Gettysburg Address during the civil rights movement.

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When Nathaniel Philbrick referred to "Moby-Dick" as “our American Bible,” he meant that Melville’s classic is a big book that carries inside it the “genetic code” of American life. In my view, however, "Moby-Dick" has not been as influential as either Harriet Beecher Stowe’s "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" or Mark Twain’s "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn," each of which has carried considerable weight in our national conversation about race. So I eliminated "Moby-Dick."

Other cuts were more difficult. I am a big fan of “Leaves of Grass,” Walt Whitman's love letter to democracy. But I thought that “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow ran even deeper into the American psyche, so "Leaves of Grass" had to go. Eventually, as the book ballooned beyond its limits, I had to let Longfellow's "Revere" gallop away, too. It just hadn’t provoked enough arguments.

Also slighted in "The American Bible" are more recent voices, since it is harder to generate a vast commentary tradition for a work from the 1990s or 2000s than for one published during the revolution or the Civil War. Still, I admit that most of the voices in this collection are those of dead white men. In fact, the only living author of an "American Bible" book is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial architect Maya Lin.

Nonetheless, women, native Americans, African-Americans and Muslims are among the authors of my “biblical” books, and voices of the commentators — from Frederick Douglass to Rosa Parks and Gloria Steinem to Alan Greenspan — are far more diverse.

"The American Bible" also ranges, in its primary and secondary texts, far and wide across the political spectrum. Radical historian Howard Zinn and consumer activist Ralph Nader are heard here. So are conservative activists and intellectuals such as William F. Buckley Jr., Robert Bork, Rush Limbaugh and Antonin Scalia.

When I finished constructing "The American Bible," I was delighted to see that there are lessons aplenty here concerning both what our forbears have said about our country and how they have said it. In a time when party passions threaten to divide the country, it is gratifying to recall the words our fellow Americans have used to try to unite it.

In his Farewell Address, Washington warns us against the "mischiefs of the spirit of party." In his First Inaugural, Jefferson says, "We are all Republicans; we are all Federalists." "We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies," says Lincoln. And closer to our own time, Kennedy reminds us that "civility is not a sign of weakness."

My table of contents appears below. How have I done? What did I miss? What should I have cut? It's your book. Let me know.

Genesis

The Exodus Story

John Winthrop, “A Model of Christian Charity” (1630)

Thomas Paine, "Common Sense" (1776)

The Declaration of Independence (1776)

Noah Webster, "The Blue-Back Speller" (1783)

Law

The Constitution (1787)

Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

Roe v. Wade (1973)

Chronicles

Harriet Beecher Stowe, "Uncle Tom’s Cabin" (1852)

Mark Twain, "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" (1884)

Ayn Rand, "Atlas Shrugged" (1957)

Psalms

Francis Scott Key, “The Star-Spangled Banner” (1814)

Irving Berlin, “God Bless America” (1938)

Woody Guthrie, “This Land Is Your Land” (1940)

Proverbs

Benjamin Franklin, “Remember that time is money” (1748)

Benjamin Franklin, “God helps those who help themselves” (1758)

Patrick Henry, “Give me liberty or give me death” (1775)

Abigail Adams, “Remember the ladies” (1776)

Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I a woman?” (1851)

Abraham Lincoln, “With malice toward none, with charity for all” (1865)

Chief Joseph, “I will fight no more forever” (1877)

Calvin Coolidge, “The business of America is business” (1925)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “I pledge you, I pledge myself, to a new deal for the American people” (1932)

John F. Kennedy “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country” (1961)

Ronald Reagan, “Evil empire” (1983)

Prophets

Henry David Thoreau, “Civil Disobedience” (1849)

Dwight Eisenhower, Farewell Address (1961)

Martin Luther King Jr., “I Have a Dream” (1963)

Malcolm X, "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" (1965)

Lamentations

Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address (1863)

Maya Lin, Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1982)

Gospels

Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address (1801)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address (1933)

Ronald Reagan, “The Speech” (1964)

Acts

The Pledge of Allegiance (1892, 1954)

Epistles

George Washington, Farewell Address (1796)

Thomas Jefferson, “Letter to the Danbury Baptists” (1802)

Martin Luther King Jr., “Letter from Birmingham Jail” (1963)

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Stephen Prothero.

- CNN Belief Blog contributor

Filed under: Bible • Books • Church and state • Culture wars • History • Leaders • Opinion • Politics • United States

soundoff (741 Responses)
  1. tonny2

    all this fake beleive when are they going to end , go to http://www.islamicsign.blogspot.com you will see miracle that pass miracle

    June 22, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  2. Bob

    Christians are obviously much better people than atheists...other than wishing everlasting torture on other human beings who don't take part in their delusion...and the Crusades...and the Armenian Genocide...and...well... the millions of people they've murdered over the years...and...well...how they are...

    June 22, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
  3. M

    Sick pup this dude is. Must be hearin voice

    June 22, 2012 at 6:54 pm |
  4. isaac

    Mr. Stephen Prothero,

    The United States of America is undergirded in part by Plato's Republic. Republic contains deadly counter arguments to democracy. If we want to live in a democratic state, it is important to know what the flaws of democracy are, and how to deal with them, that is, how to do what is best for our society, which is a large part of Republic.
    Any "american bible" should probably be wholly based on creating a moral compass for our citizens, and not so much on nationalism, since "american" values find their much of their footing in Greek philosophy, specifically that of Republic.

    June 22, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  5. Hello

    Every bible needs 2 other books read with it.

    "The War with the Jews" and "Caesar's Messiah"....
    HINT.. when the bible was first printed it included in the same volume a copy of the War with the Jews.

    Find out why from CM...

    June 22, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  6. Dave

    It's your time. Spend it as you like. Seems like a waste of time to me. But only my opinon.

    June 22, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  7. Top_News

    There is only one Bible and it contains the words and testimonies of Jesus Christ – not Stephen Prothero. Oh, I'm sure I'll get some backlash for saying that but that's my opinion and I'm sure everyone else will have theirs.

    June 22, 2012 at 6:47 am |
  8. Chris

    I don't understand why all you nonbelievers try to discourage those that do. Are your lives so unfulfilled that you feel the need to bring others down. Try to find happiness from within, without bringing down others beliefs.

    June 21, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Gee, I'd love to. I'd be happy to do so when believers stop attempting to remove my Consti tutionally guaranteed rights. Let me know when that happens, dear.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Christ

      Hi Chris,
      Are you such a backwards christian that you actually just brought others down by telling them that they live an unfulfilled life and that they are unhappy because they do not believe the same thing as you? That's not very christian, so dont proselytize until you learn how to act kindly; you violate people's dignity and respect for themselves on purpose, just to highlight the fact that they do not believe in the bible because its not founded in logical argument, because you believe your own opinion, and the opinion of those before you, without question.
      Read the book again, you've missed a very basic point. Turn the other cheek.
      Also, I'm not turning my cheek to your ignorance, because you are contradicting yourself while attacking others' way of life, whereas others are trying to have a logical argument with you.
      – Your savior.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  9. Arvoasitis

    Some of the writings of Aldo Leopold, environmentalist and conservationist would surely be apropos.

    June 21, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  10. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    I don' t know how the emancipation proclamation could be omitted.

    June 21, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
  11. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    It's too bad that there's no reliable evidence Patrick Henry actually said "Give me liberty or give me death" in 1775.

    It certainly sounds impressive. I can't remember what someone said yesterday let alone waiting 17 years to write it down.

    June 21, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  12. andrew

    A Bible written for 'messed-up' America, would be a 'messed-up' Bible of Biblical proportions. Since we've come to despise each other based on one's politics, we'd need a minimum of TWO Bibles, which would be polar opposites on how one gets into heaven. The independents would need their own Bible too, as would the very rich, the very poor, and the gays.
    And so, we'd wind up with this STACK of Bibles, which the atheists might use to set afire and hurl at the Tea Party partiers, who'd be in their tent complaining about why they weren't allowed to have a Bible for themselves.

    June 21, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  13. Ariel

    PARTAKING IN A MIRACLE

    On June 3nd I received a message in my email box that read, ‘I have chosen you’. When I opened the email and read it my thoughts were upon what God was speaking into my heart. Opening the door for Him to bring that forth meant closing the door to her understanding of the words ‘I have chosen you’ laid out in her email. The response I received back after replying to her email clearly stated she was not willing to close that door for believing in her heart that God opened it through something He spoke unto her when she read one of the letters posted on my website http://www.theresurrection.ca.

    Knowing God had called me to pray for this lady who had liver cancer; I emailed her again. I gave her my phone number and asked her to please set aside trying to fulfil what she heard from God, and to allow Him to bring forth in her life what He had set in my heart.

    The following day (June 4th) I received a phone call from her. She lives on the Ivory Coast. Her dialect, shortness of breath, and persistent coughing made it difficult for me to hear and understand what she was saying. Before I was able to communicate with her, the phone went dead. When she called back, I asked her to send me an email with her phone number and told her that I would call her as soon as I received it. When it showed up in my email a few minutes later I returned her call. It was quite evident that she was anxious to speak with me. Seeing her state of anxiety I asked her to relax, that I needed for her to calm down, and told her that if we got cut of I would call her right back.

    When we spoke, it was very clear that she thought I didn’t appreciate what she was trying to accomplish. There was something she wanted to do for me, and believed in her heart that God had asked her to do it, and desperately wanted to do it before going in for surgery on Friday June 8th. After listening to her, I told that there was a difference between what God asked her to do and His instruction to me, and that I needed to be obedient unto God, and to seek Him in prayer to fulfil in her life what He had set in my heart. I could tell she was moved by that through her response. The moment she surrendered doing what she felt God asked her to do, and began seeking God to fulfil what He had set in my heart, God’s Spirit entered into her, and through allowing me to feel His presence upon her He guided me in prayer for her.

    I didn’t tell her what God had set upon my heart when I read her email. God had called me to seek Him to bring forth what He had set upon my heart. Stella needed to see God fulfil what He had set in my heart; my call was to seek Him to bring that forth, and through His Spirit in the midst of the situation I was able to testify of Christ through asking God to open Stella’s understanding of His Son by giving her peace and strength. The feeling I got through her emails and through speaking with her was that she felt she wouldn’t survive the surgery; that is not what I felt.

    Later that day God spoke unto me through a Scripture that I emailed to Stella. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint, Isaiah 40:31.

    The following morning she called me, June 5th. She said she read the Scripture I sent her, and that God had spoken unto her through it, and asked me if I would pray for her. Feeling God’s presence upon her, I asked Him to guide me, and then sought Him for her by asking Him to reveal His Son unto her by giving her divine peace and strength; this was my supplication every time I prayed over the phone for her. She called me later that same day towards evening time. She was deeply moved by the experience she was having with God, as was I. She wanted to know if I would pray for her again. After I prayed, she told me that she was having a problem with her email; that she was unable to log on to it. Seeing her frustration, I felt it was best not to deal with it at that time, and told her I felt she needed to get some rest, that I wanted her to focus on what God was going, and that I would call her in the morning and help her with her email, and that if we couldn’t figure it out I would lead her through setting up a new account. She was content with that, and then we said goodnight.

    The following morning we resolved the issue, and then we spent some time before God in prayer. She spoke about an appointment she had with her doctor at the hospital that day, at which point I asked her for the name of the hospital and for her doctor’s name along with the phone number to the hospital. After giving me that information I asked her to inform her doctor that I would be calling him after her surgery on Friday, and to send me an email when she got home from her appointment.

    She called me around 5 pm; her breathing very heavy, I knew something was wrong. After telling me that she was still at the hospital, and that her doctor wouldn’t allow her to home, I asked her if there was any way I could speak with her doctor. It was evident that he was nearby because I heard her calling for him. Seconds later I heard her asking him if he could speak with me. When he came on the phone I introduced myself, and then asked him to give me an update on Stella. I didn’t have a good understanding of her condition until then. He told me that she was much weaker from when he last saw her which was Monday June 4th, and that he was keeping her in the hospital hoping with medication she would be strong enough to for her surgery that he had scheduled for Friday June 8th. After speaking with him, I spoke with Stella, and before saying goodbye we spent some time before God in prayer. I told her that I would keep in touch with her doctor, and asked her to give him permission to speak with me.

    When I called the hospital the following day the news wasn’t good. Stella had slipped into a comma throughout the night, and the doctor had to cancel her surgery. It was a difficult day for me, and I spent most of in prayer seeking God to fulfil in her life what He set in my heart.

    When I called the hospital the following day I received the same news; I spent that day and evening in prayer before God. When I called the hospital the following day her doctor informed that her condition was very serious and that she was not responding to the medication her had given her. .

    Sunday June 10th I received a call from her doctor. He wanted to know if I could help by sending money so he could purchase blood and medications for her. There is a shortage of blood on the Ivory Coast. People are dying every day because of it, and the hospitals are purchasing blood from neighbouring countries to help save lives. Many people die because the hospitals don’t have the funds to purchase the blood needed to save lives, most of those dying are young children. You can read about this tragic situation by going to Google and typing in the following ‘is there a shortage of blood in Cote D’Ivoire’.

    The following day after sending the money the doctor requested, he called me to inform me that he had purchased the blood and medications Stella needed, and that she was responding to the medication. He also told me that I saved her life, and thanked me for my help. My response was that I was happy that I could help out, and that I had nothing to do with saving her life, that God was watching over her and that I deeply appreciated his calls keeping me informed of her condition.

    On June 12th I received another call from Stella’s doctor. He sounded quite cheerful on the phone; he said the person with him had something they wanted to say to me. Stella’s first words to me were ‘thank you for what you have done. I owe you my life’. Troubled by that, I told her that she owed her life unto God, that all I done was follow His instruction. The following day I spoke with both Stella and her doctor; she was improving.

    On June 14th I received a call from her doctor informing me he had rescheduled her surgery for June 15th. That night, I bowed before God, and asked Him to bring all the cancer in Stella’s body into one place, so when the doctors removed the tumor in her body all the cancer that had spread throughout her body would be in that tumor. I knew from having spoken with her doctor that the cancer had spread throughout her body. Her doctor also told me that if Stella survived the surgery, it would be an act of God, and that the risk of not doing the surgery was equally as life threatening.

    When I spoke with her doctor on June 14th I told him that I believed God was going to raise Stella up, and that she was going to bring forth a testimony of His Son for her people. After speaking with her that day, I wrote her a letter, and emailed it to the hospital requesting it be given to her in the morning before going into surgery. The letter described the difference between natural love and spiritual love and how thankful I was that God had blessed my life through bringing her into it.

    June 15th, day of surgery. When I called Stella that morning, she was reading my letter. After thanking me for sending it, she told me that she desperately wanted to see me, and then asked if I would email a picture of myself to the hospital so she could see my face before going into surgery. I told her that I would do it right away and that I would call her back when I sent it. After I set it, I called her doctor to tell him that I had emailed a picture of myself to the hospital and asked if he would give it Stella. He said he would do it immediately because he knew how desperate she was to see my face, and then thanked me for sending it.

    Shortly thereafter I called Stella; she was very excited to have received my picture. We had a very calm and relaxing conversation; she was peaceful that morning, but I could tell she didn’t believe she was going to survive her surgery. Hoping to ease her concerns I informed her that I had sent her doctor some additional money the night before in case blood was needed after her surgery, and that I wanted her to know because I didn’t want her to go into surgery worrying about not having the blood she required. (I was aware some would be required after her surgery from having spoken with her doctor who did not request that money because he didn’t think she was going to survive surgery.) Before saying goodbye to Stella that morning I told her that I believed her and I would someday meet, that I loved her, and that I wasn’t going to pray for her that morning because it was a day to praise God, and that I was going to spend that day praising Him for what He was about to do in her life that day. Before leaving the phone she told me that she loved me from the bottom of her heart; I thanked her, and told her that I would speak with her after her surgery when she was able to speak on the phone.

    At 1 pm her doctor called to inform me that she was going into surgery, and that he expected the surgery would take 4 1/2 to 5 hours. Around 4:30 pm he called me to tell me that Stella had her surgery, that she was okay, and that he would call me later. I bowed before God and thanked Him for the miracle Stella received that day, and for allowing me to be a witness to that miracle. Her doctor and I spoke again around 9 pm that evening. Seeing his amazement that she had survived the surgery I told about my prayer the night before. There was a quiver in his voice when he said these words ‘what you described to me is exactly what happened’. Before leaving the phone I prayed asking God to rain blessings upon that doctor and his family. The praise he was giving God while I prayed asking God to bless him and his family made a perfect ending to a perfect day. What an awesome God we serve, and if the shepherds in the field understood what it meant to pray and seek God for what He sets in their heart, and to allow God to fulfill what He sets in their heart, God’s sheep would be witnesses unto God, and Christ would be with man, and this world be a much different place than it is.

    I have spoken with Stella twice since her surgery and daily with her doctor. There is no medical insurance in her Country; she paid for her surgery prior to going into the hospital. Her doctor told me that she would be in the hospital for a month, and asked me if I could help him raise $ 3000.00 for her care, her food and the blood supplement pills she requires. When I took this need before God in prayer He spoke into my heart to use His website to raise this money required for Stella. The doctor, Stella and I each have a testimony of God that we gained though this incredible experience, but that’s not the Testimony you have just read. Hear ye what God’s Spirit is saying and seek Him in your lives for He is more than able to meet every need.

    Stella’s email is the first email I received since this website went on line. I look forward to hearing her testimony through witnessing what God is going to do for her people. Christ is the foundation upon which God’s House is built, and when we seek God to bring us into His image Christ is manifested in our lives.

    If you wish to donate to Stella’s need you can safely so by clicking on http://www.theresrrection.ca, and then clicking on enter, and that will lead you to the box that says, donate.

    In closing, may God’s Spirit rest upon all who read this Testimony, Amen.

    Ariel

    June 21, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • mb2010a

      The Nigerian hoax emails are everywhere...I get a least 5 or 6 every week. Just ignore them and don't ever give them any personal information.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
    • Chris

      TL;DR

      June 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • Thinker

      Hmmmm.... SPAM perhaps? Munchausen by internet? Or real?

      Considering the fact that you posted a book to a comment board having NOTHING AT ALL to do with your post, I would go with SPAM.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Hello

      you are one of the millions and millions who get those "poor me" scams... Many do get swindled.. like yourself.

      I hope you realize you just helped a criminal thief meet her daily quota..,

      One of the worst parts of the religious is they are so easy to scam.. you can feed them any sob or dogma laced story and bilk huge sums of cash from them.. they are such easy marks... They are no different than those psychic tricksters that use to flood late night TV...
      The reason so they are so use to being lied to they don't have the thinking skills to realize they are being scammed. It is has god talked in it .. they they will believe anything they are told.. so sad.. but it is funny too..

      Thats why the myth makers.. support each other.. ....they are all feeding at the same gullible table if losers.

      One you believe that there is any possibility of anything supernatural you are a ripe to be scammed.

      We are in the RAGING Age of Mythic Stupidity...

      As long as the masses are mythic controlled ...billions will be mythic puppets... tossing money to the myth masters...feeding on lies.

      June 22, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  14. Bill Deacon

    Victory at Sea

    June 21, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  15. Copper's Donut Shoppe

    When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord – Lev.1:9.
    The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

    June 21, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • jaun es de la Marque

      That's wha I would do in say the time in which the offering was standard..

      but today , everyone knows in the usa but certian idiots that the only pleasing sacrifice to God has already been accepted...and that was the blood/life of Jesus Christ... :)

      June 21, 2012 at 12:51 pm |
    • mb2010a

      The same thing happens when I sacrifice lambs and little children...

      June 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
    • Hello

      Maybe you should work on your bar-b-q skills more and invite them over for a cook out..

      as you noted... the original sacrifices or demand of the myth makers were food offerings.. because money had no value like
      FREE food to those who did not work but told you wild stories to get the food coming in.
      Later when gold and silver mining was in full swing precious metals replaced the food....
      The scam worked best when the flock were told the food/ metals were for the poor.. when in fact is was for the church pushers... only a very small portion was ever shared... and still is...

      The richest people in most countries are the myth pushers.... they get huge amounts of money just by wagging their tongues at the flock.. Whats worst is here in the US it is all tax free..

      Millions of hard working people send billions of their hard earned and TAXED money to people who do not work and pay no TAXES....it is the best scam on the planet...

      June 22, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  16. Canandcant

    Top Ten Signs You're a Christian
    10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.
    9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.
    8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.
    7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!
    6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.
    5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.
    4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs – though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."
    3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.
    2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.
    1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.

    June 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
    • 2LiveJew

      Golly, you pretty much eviscerated a whole lot of people here, and you prolly left some good material on the table: the whole Noah's Arc fantasy (and the less-publicized claims about Noah's age). I mean, where did all of that water come from? Were did it go? Were there any Tasmanian Devils and Kimodo Dragons on board? Hummingbirds and condors? And WHY in God's name didn't Noah slap those two mosquitoes?

      June 21, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • jaun es de la Marque

      your number 0ne may be true ... I haven't studied the origins of the bible...but one thing is also true I know a lot more about the God in the bible than all the athiests in the world combined ...I know him for the last 34 years so far... and the number one thing I know about his is that he is REAL as in really REAL ..:)
      I understand the frustration many non believers in this country have with my baby like Christians who seem never to really ever grow up..... blamd it on the serpents in the churches...

      June 21, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • jaun es de la Marque

      @2livejew the water came out of a rock ....or did you ever consider that? since in the desert they had plenty..

      also I've had water flow from my belly as Jesus suggested I should in John 7:37-39 ... it was rivers of living water...since this is literal and real to me I have never questioned God's existance since May 3, 1978.. :) nor have I questioned the resurrection since then... I have the evidence which most American Christians seek in their desire to please God through fear... it is the fountain of living waters God himself :) :)
      this is why it's alwasy hard for me not to laugh everyday... even in bad days ...even in anger I'm laughing because I know God is eternal and so am I :)

      June 21, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • jaun es de la Marque

      My success rate is much higher than that in your study...it is on an going event taking care of itself....

      God is constant and so am I by him... :)

      June 21, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
    • KRHODES

      1) I doubt it.
      2) How do you know the success rate for prayer?
      3) "While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics" And how do any of those convince one Christianity is not true, or that God does not exist?
      4) And how do you know who is right and who is wrong? Is everyone going to heaven?
      5) Who is looking for loopholes?
      The rest of your list is really not worth my time because you are merely appealing to emotion...you have said nothing that gives evidence that atheism is true and God does not exist. Number one sign one is an atheist.....lack of intelligence.

      June 21, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Hello

      so funny and true.. could not say it better than myself..

      We are all born natural Atheists..but as soon as most hear about the gods and their lies... they become true mythic drones.

      I welcome all born again Atheists.... welcome back to sanity and reality...

      flush the dogma and free your brain of dog brain pooooooooo.

      Imagine how much more time you will now have using your brain as you want and not be a programed mythic puppet.

      need a miracle.. get off you knees and learn how to solve problems the real way with thinking and science.

      no gods or excuses needed...

      Life is not a Supernatural Eternity test....

      June 22, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • Hello

      new Bumper sticker... I am not made of Dirt...

      June 22, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  17. Arvoasitis

    What? Nothing by James Michener. His novel, Hawaii, would seem to fit in nicely.
    The seems that the distinctive religion of Americans is patriotism.

    June 20, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
    • Arvoasitis

      On second thought, Michener's Hawaii is rather lengthy; it's an American bible in itself.
      Patriotism seems to be the true religion of most American's, and it has made the US an empire..

      June 20, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  18. Ronin

    What a bunch of American Christian Protestant /Evangelical Crap !!!!!..this is why I am an ATHEIST !

    June 20, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • jaun es de la Marque

      you are an athiest because you have never known God ... if you allow the actions of otehrs influience you regarding eternity then you have let them beat you .....not them but the wicked spirits usuing them... :(

      June 21, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Hello

      knowing a god is the same aas being mythic brain washed..

      READ
      Caesar's Messiah by Joseph Atwill.... get to know who the read god is and why the Romans created him from the Jewish myth.

      Best Sunday meeting on the planet... Revolution Radio's program... Pulling back the Curtain.. with Joseph Atwill..
      link on Caesar's Messiah's web site. starts at 8pm MT every Sunday.

      Joe's discovery will bring an end to the greatest lie ever sold..

      June 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  19. vulpecula

    "some atheists so disrespectful, rude, inconsiderate and quick to ridicule"

    That's like the pot calling the kettle black. I'm an atheist now, but was raised in a christian family and bought into the hype until I was about 14 years old and started questioning some things. I've heard more than enough religious sermons full of nasty hateful speech from leaders of serveral churches of various christian denominations. I've lost friends that literally told me that we were not friends anymore because I simple said I don't believe. I've kept my vews to myself at work out of fear of being fired if my veiws became public, And I've seen just as much hate from the beleivers on CNN boards as from the non-belivers. Funny you would neglect to mention them in your post too. But religious folk are great at seeing only what they want to see. I'm a very layed back person myself and I get along with most people. I'd say 90% of my friends are christians, but only because we don't talk about religion. I relize many belivers might think they are doing nonbelievers a good deed by informing us we are going to burn in hell, but from a non believers perspective, thats rediculous and boardering on insulting.

    June 20, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  20. da_soji1

    Why are some atheists so disrespectful, rude, inconsiderate and quick to ridicule?? I say some because I dont want to generalize, but what I mean is most atheists I have seen or had conversations with. Putting religion aside, I for one was raised much better than to treat people that way.

    June 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
    • JWT

      They are rude just because they are rude – it has nothing to do with being an atheist – in fact many of the religious on these boards are equally rude.

      June 20, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      Have you ever thought that it might be something that you are saying or the way your saying it? That plays a huge role in how people respond.

      June 20, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      DiSaji, I am a atheist who only wants the best for you. Mother Nature gave atheists all the brains while leaving Christians of all persuasions mere table scraps–single digit IQs, my dear friend. Not only that, she gave you no imagination. She did, however, go overboard with an outsized capacity for hate. I'm concerned for you and your compadres. I see a bleak future for you all.

      June 21, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • jaun es de la Marque

      @ Peteyroo

      incase my previous post to you did not come through I thopught I'd give you a clue ...since you are so smart please inform us how you plan to live any longer than many of the poor saps youu so readily condemn as useless dummies ??? :) :)

      June 21, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • Thinker

      Mostly because that majority of athiests never comment on these boards nor do they just come out and tell everyone they are athiest. I try to keep a civil tongue and be respectful when talking to others, but sometimes I can't resist goofing on a troll (athiest or not). IRL, only those close to me know I am an athiest simply because I see no reason to be confrontational about it. So long as someone isn't hurting me, I am willing to respect their beliefs. I would guess that most athiests are this way in public at least.

      One of the most interesting conversations I have had was with a Baptist going door to door spreading Christianity. We talked for an hour or so untill the gentleman he was with started dropping the 'You must repent and accept jesus or burn' stuff (as in threats and belligerence). The other man was obviously unhappy with his partner's tantrum as well.

      The internet does bring out a lot of very loud, obnoxious people of all persuasions though.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • Thinker

      Also Peteyroo, how bout using that brain you keep bragging about and reason out the probable responces to your comments and determine if they are the ones you want. If they are, then you are a troll. If they aren't you might want to try a different approach.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:49 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.