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Can 'true Catholics' support same-sex marriage?
Ex-priest Jim Smith, opponent of Minnesota's ballot to ban same-sex marriages, says these are difficult days to be Catholic.
June 20th, 2012
09:35 AM ET

Can 'true Catholics' support same-sex marriage?

By Chris Welch, CNN

Minneapolis (CNN) - Jim Smith is a former Roman Catholic priest who left his post with the church 10 years ago. He's an ex-priest for several reasons, he says, but one of his main concerns was the church's stance against same-sex marriage and other LGBT issues.

But Smith remains a Catholic - though he says being a Catholic who actively campaigns for legalized same-sex marriages can be difficult these days.

"I'd much rather this wasn't happening," Smith says of the division that the issue has created among Minnesota  Catholics. "But it does provide some real opportunities because it challenges us to talk to each other, Catholics talking to other Catholics."

Minnesota has become the newest epicenter in the same-sex marriage fight. This November, voters will decide whether they want an amendment added to the state's constitution that would ban marriage between members of the same sex.

Smith will be voting "no." And he has helped spearhead efforts in the state to persuade other Catholics to do the same.

A group he helped form,  Catholics for Marriage Equality-Minnesota, aims "to encourage Catholics to consider the profound sacredness of same-gender relationships and to defeat this marriage amendment," Smith says.

Vatican edicts against same-sex marriage often give Catholic same-sex marriage supporters the impression they're in the minority.

Related story: Same-sex marriage by the numbers 

But a recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) suggests 59% of American Catholics support rights allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry. One reason behind that statistic - says PRRI CEO Robert P. Jones - is because U.S. Catholics "overwhelmingly reject the idea that sexual orientation can be changed." A PRRI poll bears that out – with 69% of Catholics nationwide saying a person's sexual orientation cannot be changed.

In the Midwest alone, Catholics are evenly divided on the issue of same-sex marriage -– with 46% in favor, 47% against.

Opinion: GOP support for same-sex marriage growing

Related story: Both sides re-energized for upcoming same-sex marriage fight

Like Jim Smith, Michelle LaFrance is a Catholic who has also taken the bold step against the church in support of marriage equality.

"I remember thinking 'wow, maybe I shouldn't [remain a Catholic],' " LaFrance said. Ultimately they've remained with the Catholic faith, citing its many positive aspects including going to church. It's an important weekly ritual for LaFrance, her husband and their three kids.

"The Catholic Church, despite the media [attention] it typically gets, does a lot of great things, a lot of great social justice," LaFrance said. She noted the church "feeds the poor, houses the homeless, takes care of the abused."

The LaFrance family belongs to the Church of St. Margaret Mary in the Minneapolis suburb of Golden Valley, a congregation which LaFrance describes as fairly progressive. She says the majority of her fellow parishioners agree with her stance on same-sex marriage.

But when LaFrance hears the archdiocese telling people how they should think about it, she can't help but sometimes feel like less of a Catholic.

"I don't think anybody - whatever their religious denomination - whole-heartedly follows every single rule down to the letter."

Related story: U.S. history of same-sex marriage

On the other side of the debate stands Dave Deavel.

Although he agrees with LaFrance to an extent, he says he believes there are certain pillars of the Catholic faith that people should follow. One of those is the church stance that marriage should remain between one man and one woman.

"The whole point of what the church teaches is to form people's consciences," Deavel says.

For Deavel, his wife and their five children, attending church is so important they strive to go multiple times a week.

He's active with Minnesota for Marriage, which supports of the same-sex-marriage ban, and has written various blog posts on the topic for the Minnesota Catholic Conference.

Asked whether he believes a person can be "less of a Catholic" for disagreeing with the church, Deavel says the Vatican "doesn't really have a certain category for 'less of a Catholic.' "

"But they certainly don't represent what the church teaches," he said. "Is it a spiritual problem? I think yes."

Opinion: The secret gay agenda

In a written statement the MCC said groups such as Catholics for Marriage Equality "do not have any right to call their organizations 'Catholic.'"

In the past, the conference has issued statements accusing Catholics for Marriage Equality of trying "to confuse Catholics and the public about authentic church teaching" on marriage.

"Catholics for Marriage Equality MN attempts to convince Catholics that they can be in good standing with the church and oppose church teaching about human sexuality and marriage, which centers on the complementarity of the sexes and the mutual self-gift of loving spouses in marital union," said an MCC statement.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis declined CNN's request for an interview, but it agreed with sentiments expressed by the Minnesota Catholic Conference.

Does church doctrine make it impossible for same-sex marriage supporters to be true Catholics?

"There is no judgment intended about an individual's 'Catholicity' or 'Catholic-ness,' " says MCC spokeswoman Jessica Zittlow.

Minnesota's November ballot proposal to ban same-sex marriage isn't an amendment against LGBT individuals, say the MCC and the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese. Instead, they say it should strictly be viewed as an amendment supporting traditional marriage.

For ex-priest Jim Smith, grappling with the issue has been difficult - a personal struggle that extends to the heart of his faith.

The inner conflict between what Smith believes is right and his love for the church has pushed him to consider leaving the Catholic religion altogether.

In the end, Smith vows he will stay. "It's in my bones."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 2012 Election • Catholic Church • Christianity • Faith • Minnesota • Politics • Polls • Same-sex marriage

soundoff (2,849 Responses)
  1. Kevin

    I think most Catholics don't follow the rules as laid out by the Vatican, it is there more as a symbol of the past for them, much like the Queen in England.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  2. spooledup

    Who cares about gay marriage except CNN. CNN must have a lot of phags at the management level.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Superstar

      Actually, as a fighter for equal rights in America, I care about gay rights and gay marriage. I'm sorry that no one wants to marry you, and I pity anyone who does, but that doesn't mean you have to shout slurs about people.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Marvin

      Marriage is not a right, its a privilege. Just like Driving.

      Both require a license.

      So its about equal privileges NOT equal rights. Don't even try to compare to Civil rights movement as those DON'T require a license.

      June 20, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
  3. JohnnyC

    EVERY DAY NOW AN ANTI-CATHOLIC ARTICLE ON CNN. WE KNOW WHAT YOU ARE AND WHO YOU WORK FOR.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Aristocles

      Agreed. CNN is anti-Catholic. The liberal executives cannot understand how the Catholic church is still around, still growing, and still has over 1.1 billion adherents. Those executives have made it a goal of theirs to undermine the Catholic faith, a faith that they wish was dead decades ago.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Veritas

      CNN are dredging up anything that will take people's attention away from the fact that THEY are Obama's campaign managers so they need to take the focus off HIM and put up smokescreens to hide the fact that the budget is in a downward spiral.

      They desperately don't want people to know that –
      [1] USA has unfunded liabilities os $120 TRILLION
      [2] ALL federal income /revenue from both SS and Income taxes only comes to $2.4 Trillion a year
      [3] USA has 100% debt to GDP ratio and it's rising 10% a year with $1.2 Trillion deficits
      [4] 60% of Public debt matures in less than 3 years
      [5] Obamacare has ADDED $340 Billion to the deficit
      [6] Big banks; Businesses; and mega donors have DUMPED Obama because ALL of the above points mean that they know that VERY soon the US dollar is going to lose its status as the world's reserve currency.

      THAT is why the Catholic Church is an "Easy" smokescreen, CNN owners are a bunch of Atheists. Do you really believe their POLL is anything but a pile of B.S? Pffft!

      June 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
    • DeTamble

      Then go to fox.
      We wont miss you.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
  4. Thecentrist11

    I think a lot more people are atheists than admit it.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • The Knight of God

      that or agnostic

      June 20, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
  5. daveinla

    Nope.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
  6. Andy

    Inner conflict? LMAO CNN.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  7. Josh

    "Can true Catholics back gay marriage?"

    Hay, they seem to have no problems at all with divorce.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  8. JokerJones

    Doesn't the Pope talk directly to GAWD? GAWD talks to the Pope, the pope talks to the cardinals, the cardinals talk to everyone else, obey, or be excommunicated, seems pretty simple. If you don't like what the Pope says don't blame him he is only the messenger. Time to get a new GAWD, or messenger that hears things differently.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Josh

      "Doesn't the Pope talk directly to GAWD?"

      Only if GAWD makes an appointment first.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • Foghorn Leghorn

      If you talk to God you are praying.
      If God talks to you, you are crazy.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  9. CNN

    We are not a news outlet, we just exist to spew anti-conservatism and make people doubt their own beliefs. We are SO tolerant.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Superstar

      Are they less, as equal, or more tolerant than the Catholics who say being gay is wrong?

      June 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • THE OTHER CNN

      We just post stories on both sides of any subject.
      Feel free to find another News service.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  10. Burbank

    "True Catholics" are pathetic brainwashed tools. Open your eyes to the truth, you have been controlled, manipulated and lied to by the Vatican for millenia! – From an ex-Catholic for very good reasons!

    June 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • greennnnnn

      I concur. I left the church at 16. I knew they were mucked up when I was 12.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Veritas

      Nothing to brag about being an ex-Catholic. Being ex-Catholic simply means you sold your birthright for a mess of potage!

      You swapped the worship of God for worship of Self.

      Jesus said that only the faithful will be gathered ; the weeds will be destroyed.Looks like you weeded YOURSELF out. That is sad. You threw away the gold and now all you've got is the dross.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • k

      It's truly unfortunate that you had such a negative experience with the Church. Mine has been quite different. But don't forget that the Catholic Church (like all human endeavors) is carried out by finite, fallible people. Recognize that you'll never find a perfectly run human organization (so leaving the Church for another church doesn't remedy that). But you should ask yourself the bigger question. Does the Church annunciate the Deposit of Faith correctly? Do you believe in the sacraments? Do you agree with the fundamental tenants of faith? If so, then I would encourage you to consider coming home. If you truly don't believe, then that's disappointing. Because there are an abundance of reasons to believe ...and your catechesis (growing up) was neglected.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  11. citizenUSA

    You mean god never saw this coming? Not part of the grand plan? Another reason to trade religion for humanity.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  12. PJ

    Well, "True Catholics" CERTAINLY support Child Molestation!!! If you support an organization that engages in consistent conduct you are as guilty as the one who commits the crime- ALL ACCORDING TO CATHOLIC BELIEF!!!! If you are a practising Catholic YOU. SUPPORT. CHILD. MOLESTATION. GOD will see NO difference between you and the Priest who did it. Withdrawl your support or DEMAND the Church reform. That mean Pope Benedict the Boy Bonker – OUT! GONE! BYE! Tool of SATAN!!! Otherwise you all go to Hell Forever.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Mass Debater

      They should have been handing any priest with even a whiff of abuse scandal over to the police and helped the prosecuters in any way they could instead of spending $600,000,000 of parishioners money to keep the kids and their parents quiet.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • KGB

      That's a clown statement bro.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • Veritas

      If ALL Catholics [a minority group] support abusing priests, who form a 0.7% minority of ALL abusers – then by your own admission the rest of the huge American majority support the other 99.3% of non-Catholic abusers.

      That makes America the biggest Pedophile ring in the history of the world. AND you're obviously covering up for Pedos as well [As witnessed in the decades of abuse in the Sandusky case!

      So JP – Congratulations, you just shovelled 50 kilos of Bull manure into a 20 kilo sack. Stupid Bigot.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • no

      and you're a clown for saying bro.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
    • Jesus Christ Superstar

      I agree with PJ 100%.

      I was born in America. I cannot afford to move out of the country, so I stay in America, even if I do not support what America does.

      The Catholic Church IS a choice. If the leaders want to touch little boys, and you say you are a follower of this church, then according to the transitive property, you too support touching little boys. If you don't think touching little boys is ok, then you shouldn't be a catholic. I'm sorry if reality hurts. Get a helmet.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • Marvin

      If you want to group them up fine. Then lets give equal treatment in that regard. True Americans believe in invasion of a country for oil. True Americans believe in wars. True Americans lie to get the presidency.

      June 20, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  13. Carlos

    Folks, dont confuse the message with the messengers. The message is of LOVE! The interpretative version that contains so much hate comes from the messengers. Christ gave us just one commandment Love God with all your heart and your neighbor as youserlf. Dont you folks find odd that the only two groups he condemmed were demons and the religious establishement (pharisees)?

    June 20, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • m

      since your god does not exist, all your words are worthless and empty of reasons to listen to you
      love is an emotion
      love is not a god
      if you worship an emotion it can be used against you and others
      there is no god and no reason to believe in one

      June 20, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • The Knight of God

      Carlos... you didn't read about the other parts eh? Don't give people one side of the story man...

      Rev 21:8
      But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the se xually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars —they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

      June 20, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Nutty Knight, look up the word "sadist". Your picture is there!

      June 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • The Knight of God

      You call me a sadist, I call you unrealistic lol I rather be real with someone than paint a picture of gum drops and candy and thinking that barney is gonna love and take us all away to a happy land far far away

      June 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Knight of god, you seem to be confusing Jesus with the Church (and John the revelator). That was exactly what carlos warned against.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • The Knight of God

      The Body of Christ is called the Church. A body of believers create a church not a building. We are to obey Him and we know what He commands through His Word. Do you not believe that?

      June 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  14. myweightinwords

    A question for all about belief. Is belief a choice? Or is it dependent upon personal experiences and knowledge?

    Can you chose to believe something that you know to be false? Can you choose to stop believing something you've been convinced of as true?

    June 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • m

      you should read up on brainwashing

      June 20, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • J.W

      I think that you believe based on your knowledge and experience. People who have had good experiences with God and with the church will continue to believe, whereas those with negative experience will stop believing more than likely. If you really believe something is true, you cannot convince yourself it is not. The only thing you can do is live as if it were not true. If I see a pen on the table, I cannot convince myself it is not there, but I can choose to leave it there and not write with it.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • zacharye

      Good question! I think belief is a choice, but for people that might have experienced a little too much religious indoctrination (brain washing) it would probably be harder to shake a long held belief

      June 20, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • m

      j.w, you are woefully ignorant
      read up on brainwashing
      educate yourself
      no one is going to do it for you

      June 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      J.W,

      I think as you do that belief is the culmination of experience and knowledge. I once believed the Bible was the infallible word of God. As I studied I found things that made me question that belief. I WANTED to continue to believe, but the experience made it impossible to do so.

      It is a stumbling block in talking to some believers (regardless of what they believe in), because they seem to be saying that if we would just choose to believe (in whatever it is they want us to believe), then we would believe...which is circular and not conducive to having a conversation about the what and why of what they believe.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      @zacharye,

      "Good question! I think belief is a choice, but for people that might have experienced a little too much religious indoctrination (brain washing) it would probably be harder to shake a long held belief"

      I'm curious about your answer. How does one choose to believe? Say I tell you that ice is hot. I believe that it is true. You know the ice is cold. How can you chose to believe that it is, in fact, hot?

      June 20, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      @m,

      "you should read up on brainwashing">

      I'm not talking about extreme cases. I'm talking about your average person. How have you come to believe what you believe...and I don't mean just about god or religion, but about the world at large, about the people around you.

      Do you believe people are inherently good or evil? Or something else entirely?
      Do you believe in reincarnation? That meditation helps keep you healthy? That you should eat your veggies and drink your milk?

      Why? How? Did you arbitrarily choose to believe? Or has the journey of your life slowly formed that belief?

      June 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • derp

      "Say I tell you that ice is hot. I believe that it is true. You know the ice is cold. How can you chose to believe that it is, in fact, hot?"

      If you have never touched ice, there is no way of knowing whether or not it is actually hot or cold.

      Religion works, because nobody is ever capable of "touching the ice":

      You are told what to believe. You either chose to believe it, or chose not to. There is a very real difference between hot and cold and you know this from real life experience with both hot and cold. Religion never, ever gives you a real life reason to believe or not believe. You just pick one.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • J.W

      I am sure that m is just some troll.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I disagree. I simply cannot force myself to suspend my disbelief. There's no "choice" involved. I can no more believe in some supreme being than I can in the Easter Bunny or in leprechauns.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • fred

      m
      .@m
      I am with J.W on this one.
      I was not brainwashed and came to know God by a sudden personal experience that completely changed my life. After my conversion I did not see the past, present or future in the same light or through the same lens as before.
      When the atheists of this site began preaching their beliefs it did shake my faith many times. I needed to go back to the basics of how do I know God is real. Now, I would not have gone back to the basics if my belief was not firmly rooted and possibly run with what sounded like logical skeptical claims.
      Bottom line our brain is wired to make rational sense of our world. Even drug addicts rationalize their behavior and belief right or wrong. There is a general disposition of the soul that belongs with God and a general disposition of a soul that rejects God. You know when you’re in the wrong place and where you belong. There are some souls on this site fighting to hold onto their atheism at the cost of rejecting all evidence to the contrary and there are believers holding onto their faith for the wrong reasons as well. But boy do we hold on!

      June 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      derp,

      So you don't believe that ANYTHING of any experiential value comes from religion?

      Perhaps, it is more a matter of perception and the way we each individually interpret the experience? For example, there are three of us who went through the same religious evolution up to a particular point. We studied side by side, we prayed together, we went to worship services together. We experienced the same losses, the same joys, the same crisis of faith.

      All three of us came out of it with different beliefs. For one, he ended up believing that god did not exist, but that there was value in spiritual living, and he became a Buddhist. Another continued to believe as she had, though she found a church that better expressed that belief in a loving manner. As for me, well, I walked away from all belief for a while, but my experiences with the spiritual drew me back. My beliefs today are complicated, and based on the things I have felt and experienced in my journey to this point.

      I begrudge no one what they believe, I am simply endlessly fascinated by the reasons why.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • k

      Religious belief requires both reason and faith. You should use your reason as far as it will take you (we are finite beings, after all, so it won't tell us all there is to know about God). And there are a number of "reason based" arguments for God; consider the argument of contingency as an example. But at some point, you have to let God speak to you and then you have to decide if you believe or not. I heard a good analogy. It's like falling in love. You can do all the research on a woman you want (google her, go on linkedin.com, etc.). This research tells you a lot about there and may promote your interest in her. But, ultimately, you have to speak with her ... and decide if she's for real or not. In this sense, one "falls" in love (it's surrendering, in a sense). So it should involve reason but also one needs a willingness to get to know Him.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • derp

      "So you don't believe that ANYTHING of any experiential value comes from religion?"

      That was not the point I was making. You compared believing in a particular religious myth, with believing an ice cube is cold or hot.

      We know ice cubes are cold because they are real. We have a real world sense of hot and cold. We also know that broken glass is sharp. We know this because we have been cut by it.

      Religion is not real in the same sense that ice cubes or broken glass are. You can chose to believe it, but there is no way of proving or disproving it. There never has and there never will be unless god himself parts the skies and yells, "Hey I'm up here. (When that happens I will renounce my atheism).

      I personally see no experiential value in religion. I was raised catholic. I never believed any of it, and I gained absolutely nothing from it.

      You may have gained some value from religion. Our experiences were obviously different.

      However, comparing belief in any of the hundreds of different supernatural religious myths to ice cubes is not an legitimate comparison.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
    • m-reply

      @M,
      If you want to successful brainwashing and dogma, look up the Theory of Evolution. So many holes yet so many believe in it as fact. Various scientist who support evolution can't even agree how the proteins needed for life started. Just in that one point, any scenario they conceive, the protein would be destroyed before it could come together to form any chemical needed for life.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • JDToronto

      Brainwashing is, in fact, the way most of us come to our religion or faith. In my case, I thought for 50 years that I'd been born greeneyed, female and Roman Catholic. For the 14 years since I realized only two parts of that equation were, in fact, "true", I've accepted that it was my parents and their parents who "made" me Catholic; there was no inherent, inalienable essence to my brand of Christianity. And when I came to that liberating realization, I didn't "fall away" from Roman Catholicism – I jumped, far and clear. With that realization, I also jumped from theism, deism and all other magical explanations for why we're on earth. My predecessors are not Adam & Eve and the apostles, they are bacteria, ferns and (more recently) primates, none of whom have to rely on scripture to know why we're here and how we should behave. I am a good person; I give to charity; I help others; I contemplate life - and I live in a benign, uncaring universe. God is not part of that equation.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      K

      "Religious belief requires both reason and faith."

      I wasn't necessarily referring strictly to religious belief. We believe many things that have nothing to do with religion.

      " You should use your reason as far as it will take you (we are finite beings, after all, so it won't tell us all there is to know about God). And there are a number of "reason based" arguments for God; consider the argument of contingency as an example. But at some point, you have to let God speak to you and then you have to decide if you believe or not."

      But so many of us have done this, and come to different conclusions. How do you explain this?

      "I heard a good analogy. It's like falling in love. You can do all the research on a woman you want (google her, go on linkedin.com, etc.). This research tells you a lot about there and may promote your interest in her. But, ultimately, you have to speak with her ... and decide if she's for real or not. In this sense, one "falls" in love (it's surrendering, in a sense). So it should involve reason but also one needs a willingness to get to know Him."

      And if your research indicates that she is not a person you care to spend time with, you walk away, right? Or if you go on that first date and you discover that no matter how good she looks on paper, she chews with her mouth open, talks about her ex too much and smells of patchouli?

      So your argument then is that belief is a combination of choice and experience? Is that what I'm getting from your statement?

      June 20, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      derp,

      That was not the point I was making. You compared believing in a particular religious myth, with believing an ice cube is cold or hot."

      Actually, no. I didn't. I named no specific belief. I was talking about belief in general...about the ways and reasons we as human beings believe. I was simply using something we could all relate to in order to express a point.

      "We know ice cubes are cold because they are real. We have a real world sense of hot and cold. We also know that broken glass is sharp. We know this because we have been cut by it.

      That was the reason I picked that particular analogy. See I have been told by people of specific faiths that I could CHOOSE to believe something that my experience had proven to me to be false. For me, that experience is as real and undeniable as the reality of that ice cube.

      Religion is not real in the same sense that ice cubes or broken glass are. You can chose to believe it, but there is no way of proving or disproving it. There never has and there never will be unless god himself parts the skies and yells, "Hey I'm up here. (When that happens I will renounce my atheism).

      But here you assume a few things: 1) that all religion is the same, 2) that people who DO experience something spiritual are lying or choosing to believe something that isn't real. I make no claim that what I believe is true for anyone other than me. It is based on my life, on the experiences I have had, secular, Christian, Pagan (not to mention while searching through many religions to figure out where I belonged). However, those experiences are very real to me. As real as that ice cube. I don't expect them to change any one's mind and mostly I won't even tell others what exactly they are, as they are deeply personal.

      "However, comparing belief in any of the hundreds of different supernatural religious myths to ice cubes is not an legitimate comparison.">

      The analogy was valid, your understanding of it was based on a false assumption. The comparison was not to any supernatural belief necessarily. It was simply an analogy regarding why I believe that belief is experiential, not chosen.

      June 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      JDToronto,

      So you would side with belief being based on experience and knowledge, rather than choice?

      June 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • JDToronto

      A circular argument. Based upon my knowledge and experience, I "choose" to disbelieve.

      June 20, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        So the, you could "choose" to still believe, even knowing what you know and experiencing everything you have experienced?

        I know that I can not choose to believe what I once did before I experienced the things that led me to the beliefs I now have.

        June 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • JDToronto

      1. Is belief a choice? YES
      2. Or is it dependent upon personal experiences and knowledge? YES (not mutually exclusive)
      3. Can you chose (choose) to believe something that you know to be false? YES (the Catholic argument, as presented to me by a very erudite cleric only partly tongue-in-cheek is “we may be wrong, but what if we’re right?”
      4. Can you choose to stop believing something you've been convinced of as true? YES (thank godness)

      June 20, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • k

      My Weight in Words:

      You said, "I wasn't necessarily referring strictly to religious belief. We believe many things that have nothing to do with religion." True enough. You didn't. Given the subject matter of the article (which sparked this discussion), I interpreted that as "religious belief." My apologies.

      To your comment, "But so many of us have done this, and come to different conclusions. How do you explain this?" I certainly don't doubt that people can, in good faith, reach different conclusions. To this I would say two things. First, reason is a worthwhile/important starting point but not an end. You need both reason and faith (my opinion). Second, you need to be careful when relying on reason alone. Our (finite) minds can come to incorrect conclusions. Here's an analogy. In 1905, Einstein wrote his first paper on special relativity. This predicts that mass increases and length shrinks as you approach the speed of light. Many thought it was unreasonable and non-physical. Why? Because they were thinking of the physical world as we experience it ... which is nowhere near the speed of light. So of course they didn't "get it". My point? Relying on reason along isn't going to bring you to the realization that God exists and that He loves us.

      You mention, "And if your research indicates that she is not a person you care to spend time with, you walk away, right? Or if you go on that first date and you discover that no matter how good she looks on paper, she chews with her mouth open, talks about her ex too much and smells of patchouli?" This is good. It's like you met some of my previous dates! To answer you: yes. But if you meet God ... really meet the creator of the universe, the one how willed us into existence out of love, etc. ... I don't think your experience would be negative. If anything, I think it is overwhelming (in a good way).

      Lastly, you write: "So your argument then is that belief is a combination of choice and experience? Is that what I'm getting from your statement?" In a word, YES!

      Good luck out there.

      June 20, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        K,

        I do like to go back to basics sometimes, drop the assumptions and start with something simple, which I was hoping to do here, thus addressing belief in general, rather than a specific belief.

        Quite honestly the idea of belief (in anything) and how man comes to believe things is a fascinating study. My own faith journey has been fairly intense, has traversed through several different "brands" of Christianity, Buddhism, Druidry, along with studying Islam, Hinduism and various and sundry others...before I found my way to a path that made sense to me, one I could both consider with reason and logic, and believe in.

        My experience has led me to believe that true Divinity is not held inside of books or religions, rituals or ceremonies, buildings of stone or glass...though glimpses of it can be found there. That which is Divine is so much more than any of these things...of course, this is my belief, based on a lot of years and a lot of experiences.

        May your path be light, your heart full and your life joyous.

        June 20, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
  15. misshattie

    Anyone who takes the Bible literally is brain-dead, but most religious wackos cherry-pick what they want and don't want to believe. Religion is the cause of most suffering and ignorance in this world, but their will come a time when people rise above the bronze-age sheepherders and learn to love each other and this beautiful planet we live on. As long as our souls are toxic with patriarchal fairy tales, corruption will continue to rise and there will be little peace on earth.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Do y©u not watch what is really going on on this 'beautiful planet'? Pe©ple are murd€rd, r@ped, and @bused every single day. And the vast majority has nothing to do with r€ligion. Claims are made that most wars of the past were fought over religi©n but that is not true. Do a little research and see for y©urself. Most of the laws we citiz€ns abide by and that keep order are bibl€ based. Whether your Christi@n or atheist does not change the fact that all benefit from the mor@l and ethic@l principles of the bibl€. Do y©u honestly believe this w©rld would be one big happy place without religi©n? Y©ur only fooling y©urself. Man doman@tes man to his injury by n@ture. FACT!

      June 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  16. JohnQuest

    The Knight of God, quick question, do you believe in God or Religion (Christianity) they are not the same?

    I submit to you that you believe in the Religion and not necessarily God.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • The Knight of God

      I don't have loyalty to a religion, but to God above. That means I will obey what He commands (John 14:15). One must understand the difference between a relationship with Christ is and a religion of christianity is.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:47 pm |
  17. GERRIE

    I don't c how it would be difficult for the catholic churches to embrace gays. Most of the gay men are like that because what happen to them in the catholic churches. And it is so prominant that your priest and bishop are gay themselve what a bunch of hippocrites..Sin is Sin in the eyes of God. People has this stinking thinking about themselves. It ok to fornicate or to commit adultry or even to lie and steal, but it not ok to be gay. Only God has the authority to forgive us for our sins and not the priest nor the bishop nor the pope. They all came from a corruptable seed the only one that came from a uncorruptable seed is Jesus. Man is noearthly good and not heavenly bound, because of our sins....We all sin and fall short of the glory of God

    June 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      Do you have references for your assumptions here?

      I know a good number of gay men, probably at least a hundred. I know none who are gay because of something that happened to them in a Catholic church.

      I know a fair number of Catholic priests, (considering that I have never been Catholic) probably ten that are still alive. None of them are gay. And, none of them (to my knowledge) ever molested a child.

      Now, I realize that my personal experience is little more than anecdotal evidence, but it easily disproves your theories regarding why gay men are gay, and your assumption that most Catholic priests are gay.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      It's sin for all that you mentioned. Which means, all that fit in those categories have to start getting closer to God, read His letter He sent to all (the Bible) and get through your sinful ways so you can reside with Him for eternity.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:29 pm |
    • zacharye

      Heavensent
      Orrrr not. 🙂

      June 20, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Ugh!!! My finger still smells like a goat's rectum.

      Amen

      June 20, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
    • J.W

      Wow I am not even sure I know 100 people much less 100 gay men.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:05 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Gerrie, you may be clinically depressed. See a doctor.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      J.W, I live in the SF Bay Area and I am active in several civic organizations, including SF Pride. 100 is probably a conservative estimate of gay men I know and can put a name to.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • derp

      "Wow I am not even sure I know 100 people much less 100 gay men"

      Well, if you don't know 100 people, you probably don't know 100 gay men.

      Math isn't all that complicated.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • Fire And Brimstone

      His letter He sent to all (the Bible)..........

      God did not write this.
      God did not send this.
      Men "assembled" this from so many different sources, centuries and lanquages
      that it is an "incoherant" mess.

      This book has been mistranslated and edited so many times.

      Heaven sent who uses the book to back up his beliefs,
      also cherry picks what parts to believe.
      Being able to "quote" scripture gets you no free pass.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • cold up north

      you must be an Idiot to make such a coment that gay men got that way from abuse really . pull your head out will you

      June 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  18. gerald

    This guy is really twisted. Gay marriage is an abomination, not sacred.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • John

      "Gay marriage is an abomination"

      Some argue that since homosexual behavior is "unnatural" it is contrary to the order of creation. Behind this pronouncement are stereotypical definitions of masculinity and femininity that reflect rigid gender categories of patriarchal society. There is nothing unnatural about any shared love, even between two of the same gender, if that experience calls both partners to a fuller state of being. Contemporary research is uncovering new facts that are producing a rising conviction that homosexuality, far from being a sickness, sin, perversion or unnatural act, is a healthy, natural and affirming form of human sexuality for some people. Findings indicate that homosexuality is a given fact in the nature of a significant portion of people, and that it is unchangeable.

      Our prejudice rejects people or things outside our understanding. But the God of creation speaks and declares, "I have looked out on everything I have made and `behold it (is) very good'." . The word (Genesis 1:31) of God in Christ says that we are loved, valued, redeemed, and counted as precious no matter how we might be valued by a prejudiced world.

      There are few biblical references to homosexuality. The first, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, is often quoted to prove that the Bible condemns homosexuality. But the real sin of Sodom was the unwillingness of the city's men to observe the laws of hospitality. The intention was to insult the stranger by forcing him to take the female role in the sex act. The biblical narrative approves Lot's offer of his virgin daughters to satisfy the sexual demands of the mob. How many would say, "This is the word of the Lord"? When the Bible is quoted literally, it might be well for the one quoting to read the text in its entirety.

      Leviticus, in the Hebrew Scriptures, condemns homosexual behaviour, at least for males. Yet, "abomination", the word Leviticus uses to describe homosexuality, is the same word used to describe a menstruating woman. Paul is the most quoted source in the battle to condemn homosexuality ( 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 and Romans 1: 26-27). But homosexual activity was regarded by Paul as a punishment visited upon idolaters by God because of their unfaithfulness. Homosexuality was not the sin but the punishment.

      1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul gave a list of those who would not inherit the Kingdom of God. That list included the immoral, idolaters, adulterers, sexual perverts, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and robbers. Sexual perverts is a translation of two words; it is possible that the juxtaposition of malakos, the soft, effeminate word, with arsenokoitus, or male prostitute, was meant to refer to the passive and active males in a homosexual liaison.

      Thus, it appears that Paul would not approve of homosexual behavior. But was Paul's opinion about homosexuality accurate, or was it limited by the lack of scientific knowledge in his day and infected by prejudice born of ignorance? An examination of some of Paul's other assumptions and conclusions will help answer this question. Who today would share Paul's anti-Semitic attitude, his belief that the authority of the state was not to be challenged, or that all women ought to be veiled? In these attitudes Paul's thinking has been challenged and transcended even by the church! Is Paul's commentary on homosexuality more absolute than some of his other antiquated, culturally conditioned ideas?

      Three other references in the New Testament (in Timothy, Jude and 2 Peter) appear to be limited to condemnation of male sex slaves in the first instance, and to showing examples (Sodom and Gomorrah) of God's destruction of unbelievers and heretics (in Jude and 2 Peter respectively).

      That is all that Scripture has to say about homosexuality. Even if one is a biblical literalist, these references do not build an ironclad case for condemnation. If one is not a biblical literalist there is no case at all, nothing but prejudice born of ignorance, that attacks people whose only crime is to be born with an unchangeable sexual predisposition toward those of their own sex.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
    • kevin

      I believe you are the abomination Gerald

      June 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      John, cut the baloney of sugar coating scriptures. The only thing twisting or throwing out scriptures, is blocking Jesus' truth that is a must for dealing with in order for the sinner to move through the fire and is still standing. The Bible is God's truth scribed by Holy men inspired by the Holy Spirit (or Ghost, depending on the age of the reader). God is the author. Therefore, assuming you are smarter, more educated, enlightened (cough, joke here) doesn't mean a thing to Jesus. It just means His truth isn't being worked on and through so you can be the best that He wants all of us to be. Don't like His truth? It's His ballpark and the ONLY game in town.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
    • TC

      How can marriage be sacred for one adult couple, and not for another, simply because of an innate trait that doesn't harm a soul?

      June 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • Sally

      I never saw the 11th commandment "Thou shalt not be gay". Yet, religous conservative christians continue to create a hierarchy of sin....

      June 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I enjoy carnal relations with greased badgers. It only hurst a little when hey bite.

      Amen.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • Doodlebug2222

      Live and let live unless they are breaking the law by being violent, abusive or etc...

      June 20, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
    • Jeannine

      "The Bible is God's truth scribed by Holy men inspired by the Holy Spirit (or Ghost, depending on the age of the reader). God is the author. Therefore, assuming you are smarter, more educated, enlightened (cough, joke here) doesn't mean a thing to Jesus. It just means His truth isn't being worked on and through so you can be the best that He wants all of us to be. Don't like His truth? It's His ballpark and the ONLY game in town."

      The Scriptures were written approximately 2000 or more years ago when there was no knowledge of constitutional homosexuality. The Scripture writers believed that all people were naturally heterosexual so that they viewed homosexuality activity as unnatural. Women today are pointing out that the inferiority of women expressed in the scriptures was a product of culture and the times in which the Bible was written; it should not be followed today, now that we are beginning to appreciate the natural and God-given equality of men and women.

      Similarly, as we know that homosexuality is just as natural and God-given as heterosexuality, we realize that the Biblical injunctions against homosexuality were conditioned by the attitudes and beliefs about this form of sexual expression which were held by people without benefit of centuries of scientific knowledge and understanding.

      It is unfair of us to expect or impose a twentieth century mentality and understanding about equality of genders, races and sexual orientations on the Biblical writers. We must be able to distinguish the eternal truths the Bible is meant to convey from the cultural forms and attitudes expressed there.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • 2011cnn2011

      so is hate

      June 20, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Marvin

      @ John,

      In the end: You either believe what the bible says or don't (regarding paul's writings). If you don't believe in the bible, then don't.

      Simple.

      But don't say you do and then say you disagree with it. Because if you disagree with the bible then HOW can you believe in it?

      June 20, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
  19. gerald

    The scriptures tell us "I will send you shepherds after my own heart who will give you knowledge and understanding" Jer 3:15. It says "trust not in your own understanding". Prov 3:5. Seems if what CNN says is true (and I highly doubt it) many Catholics have these two swapped. My guess is the poll they site is based on all who associate with the CC. Not just the ones who go to church on sunday. Those who do not go to Church are in grave sin and their judgement cannot be trusted.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Getreal

      Gerald the Ignorant. Your Jer 3:15 actually says " et dabo vobis pastores iuxta cor meum et pascent vos scientia et doctrina" and proverbs 3:5 is "habe fiduciam in Domino ex toto corde tuo et ne innitaris prudentiae tuae" If you don't read it in the original as the MEN who wrote it intended then you are subject to the interpretation of the translator. Have you gone to the trouble to study the language so you can read your precious book so you can interpret it for yourself. Of course not. The MEN who wrote it wanted to control you and all others so put these things in written form that only a few could understand. You call it scriptures... that only means that it was written down. Since I've written this down, it too is scripture. And so I write to you gerald, Bow to me now unworthy one and make sacrifices to me of gold and cheeseburgers. SO IT IS WRITTEN, SO LET IT BE DONE!!!

      June 20, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
    • Dave

      Really getreal? Thanks for the insight, I never knew the original text of the OT was written in Latin.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • Getreal

      Oh dear...so what I've written isn't true?....but it is scripture, so it must be true.......Thanks for helping me make my point.

      June 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Fire And Brimstone

      Jesus said "the way to god is through your heart.
      Jesus did not say the way to god is through the church, dont forget to fill the plate.

      You do not need a church to have god.
      Why do you have a pope ?
      The pope says he is the messenger between man and god.
      You need NO messenger between man and god.

      The Catholic Church is based on a lie.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  20. FedUpInSeattle

    As a former Catholic who supports Gay Marriage I don't believe the church should be forced to accept Gay Marriage. What I do think is that they should do is find a way to accept that Gays are as much part of our society as Liberals and Conservatives and they are not just going to disapear because you don't like their behavior. The church would be much better off not fighting economic and legal rights of Married couples that Gays want and need. Letting a life partner receive a life insurance policy or be with their partner in the hospital or make end of life decisions for their partner has nothing to do do with the bible. That is where seperation of church and state come in. But at the same time I don't think the Catholics should be shamed or forced to change their beliefs. If the Left beleives in gay marriage in the eyes of God, which I do believe some do, then start your own religion. Heavon knows that through the centuries many groups have created thier own to reflect their views of who God is. But having the Left leave the Catholics alone and stop harrassing them should come with an agreement that the Church stop being so hateful to Gays. Just everyone mind their own business.

    June 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • gerald

      FedUp – you should not be telling the Church what they should and shouldn't do.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      @gerald: You shouldn't be telling anyone else what he should and shouldn't do.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • myweightinwords

      In general, I agree...however, if a Church is in fact a body of people, and the laws and doctrines represent the common beliefs of that body of people, it would seem logical that those laws and doctrines would shift if the common beliefs of those people shift.

      Either that, or all those who have come to believe differently leave and that church will slowly die.

      June 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • Fire And Brimstone

      Mary Magdalene was a deciple.
      The Church felt threatened about a woman with so much influence over Jesus,
      they regulated her and her history to one of a "harlot".
      There is even a "book of Mary" but the church labeled it a forgery,
      because it showed Jesus and his teachings in a different light.
      Cant upset the cash cow.

      June 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.