By John Blake, CNN
President Barack Obama was sharing a pulpit one day with a conservative Christian leader when a revealing exchange took place.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, a conservative Christian who has taken public stands against abortion and same-sex marriage, had joined Obama for an AIDS summit. They were speaking before a conservative megachurch filled with white evangelicals.
When Brownback rose to speak, he joked that he had joined Obama earlier at an NAACP meeting where Obama was treated like Elvis and he was virtually ignored. Turning to Obama, a smiling Brownback said, “Welcome to my house!”
The audience exploded with laughter and applause. Obama rose, walked before the congregation and then declared:
“There is one thing I have to say, Sam. This is my house, too. This is God’s house.”
Historians may remember Obama as the nation’s first black president, but he’s also a religious pioneer. He’s not only changed people’s perception of who can be president, some scholars and pastors say, but he’s also expanding the definition of who can be a Christian by challenging the religious right’s domination of the national stage.
When Obama invoked Jesus to support same-sex marriage, framed health care as a moral imperative to care for “the least of these,’’ and once urged people to read their Bible but just not literally, he was invoking another Christian tradition that once dominated American public life so much that it gave the nation its first megachurches, historians say.
“Barack Obama has referred to his faith more times than most presidents ever have, but for many it’s the wrong kind of faith,” says Jim Wallis, head of Sojourners, an evangelical activist group based in Washington that focuses on poverty and social justice issues.
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“It is not the faith of the religious right. It’s about things that they don’t talk about. It’s about how the Bible is full of God’s clear instruction to care for the poor.”
Some see a 'different' kind of Christian
Obama is a progressive Christian who blends the emotional fire of the African-American church, the ecumenical outlook of contemporary Protestantism, and the activism of the Social Gospel, a late 19th-century movement whose leaders faulted American churches for focusing too much on personal salvation while ignoring the conditions that led to pervasive poverty.
No other president has shared the hybrid faith that Obama displays, says Diana Butler Bass, a historian and author of “Christianity after Religion.”
“The kind of faith that Obama articulates is not the sort of Christianity that’s understood by the media or by a large swath of Christians in the U.S.,” says Bass, a progressive Christian. “He’s a different kind of Christian, and the media and the public awareness needs to reawaken to that fact.”
Some Christians, however, still see Obama as the “other.” He doesn’t act or talk like other Christians, says the Rev. Gary Cass, a conservative Christian president of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission.
“I just don’t see or hear in his accounts the kind of things that I’ve heard as a minister for over 25 years coming from the mouths of people who have genuinely converted to Christianity,” says Cass, pastor of Christ Church in San Diego.
Cass says he’s never heard Obama say he’s “born-again.” There’s no emotional conversion story to hang onto.
Obama talks about his faith and attends church, but Cass says that doesn’t mean he’s a Christian.
“Joining a church doesn’t mean you’re a Christian. “You can put me in the garage, but that doesn’t turn me into a car.”
The origins of Obama’s faith
The suspicion about Obama’s faith may seem odd at first because he’s written and spoken so much about his spiritual evolution in his two autobiographies, “Dreams of my Father” and “The Audacity of Hope.” Other books, like “The Faith of Obama” by Stephen Mansfield, also explore Obama’s beliefs.
The 1925 “Monkey” trial of John Scopes, a high school biology teacher who taught evolution, drove fundamentalists underground, some say.
Mansfield says Obama is the first president who wasn’t raised in a Christian home. Obama’s mother was an atheist and his grandparents were religious skeptics (Obama’s family has challenged the description of his mother as an atheist. Obama called her “the most spiritually awakened” person he’d ever known, and his sister called their mother an agnostic).
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Mansfield called Obama’s boyhood a “religious swirl. He was exposed to Catholicism, Islam, and strains of Hinduism and Buddhism while growing up in Indonesia during the 1960s.
“In our household, the Bible, the Koran and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology,” Obama said in Mansfield’s book. “On Easter or Christmas Day, my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites.”
Obama became a Christian while he was a community organizer in Chicago. He joined a predominantly black United Church of Christ. The UCC became the first mainline Protestant denomination to officially support same-sex marriage in 2005.
Obama’s faith showed many of the elements of a liberal Protestant church: an emphasis on the separation of church and state, religious tolerance and the refusal to embrace a literal reading of the Bible.
In a 2006 speech before a Sojourners meeting, Obama talked about his approach to the Bible:
“Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application?”
When many people think of Obama’s religious experience in Chicago, though, they cite his exposure to the angry sermons of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and “black liberation theology,” a movement that emerged in the late 1960s and blended the Social Gospel with the black power movement.
Bass, the church historian, says another black pastor shaped Obama’s theology more: the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
He attended liberal Protestant seminaries where he learned about the Social Gospel’s concern for the entire person, soul and body.
Obama has reached out to evangelical leaders like Rick Warren, seen here praying at Obama’s inauguration, but many still doubt his faith.
King once wrote that “any religion that professes to be concerned about the souls of men and is not concerned about the slums that damn them, the economic conditions that strangle them …is a spiritually moribund religion awaiting burial.”
But King and the black church also fused the Social Gospel with an emotional fervor missing from white Protestant churches, Bass says. Other presidents like Franklin Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson were influenced by the Social Gospel, but they weren’t shaped by the black church.
“This is the first time we’re hearing the Social Gospel from the perspective of the black church from the Oval Office. It makes it warmer, more emotive, more communal," Bass says. "There is less fear of linking the Social Gospel with the stories of the Bible, especially the stories of Exodus and Jesus’ healings.”
The emphasis on community uplift - not individual attainment - may strike some Americans as socialist. But the emphasis on community is part of King’s “Beloved Community,” Bass says.
King once wrote that all people are caught up in an “inescapable network of mutuality… I can never be what I ought to be until you are allowed to be what you ought to be.”
“When I listen to Obama, I don’t hear communism, I hear the Beloved Community,” Bass says. “But a lot of white Americans don’t hear that because they never sat in those churches and heard it over and over again. It’s the whole theology that motivated MLK and the civil rights movement.”
Obama is not a Christian, some think
For some, Obama’s actions in the Oval Office seem to contradict Christianity.
Jesus was nonviolent. Obama has ramped up drone attacks in Afghanistan that have not only removed terrorists, but killed civilians.
The Bible talks about the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. Obama invoked Jesus when he came out in support of same-sex marriage. “The thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule," Obama told ABC News during his announcement.
Jesus talked about helping the poor. But he never said anything about creating a massive health care law that taxed the rich to help the poor, some Christians argue.
But Wallis of Sojourners says Obama’s push for health care was a supreme example of Christian faith.
A situation where 50 million Americans don’t have health insurance is “a fundamental Christian problem,” Wallis says.
“Health is such a Gospel issue. Jesus was involved in healing all the time, and to have some people excluded from health care because they lack wealth is a fundamental Christian contradiction.”
Wallis has been one of the most persistent defenders of Obama’s faith. But no matter how much Scripture he and others cite, doubts about Obama’s faith have followed him throughout his political career.
Focus on the Family founder James Dobson once said that Obama distorted the traditional understanding of the Bible “to fit his own world, his own confused theology.” The Rev. Franklin Graham, the son of Billy Graham, publicly questioned Obama’s faith, then later apologized.
Conservative Christian books and websites are filled with stories of Obama allegedly trying to suppress the nation’s Christian heritage.
The Rev. Steven Andrew, author of “Making a Strong Nation,” says Obama is trying to change the national motto from “In God we Trust” to “Out of Many, One,” and he’s ordered the Pentagon to remove biblical verses from its daily report.
“That’s the most serious thing someone can do to a nation, trying to separate a nation from God,” he says. “He seems to be trying to change the Christian laws our Founding Fathers made.”
Andrew says Obama is actually an enemy of Christianity. In his book, Andrew argues that the Founding Fathers were Christians who created a “covenant Christian nation” and calls for a “national repentance.”
“I think he’s an anti-Christ,” Andrew says. Cass, of the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission, says Obama’s emphasis on helping the poor through social justice isn’t Christianity.
Christians who talk about “social justice” are often practicing “warmed-over Marxism,” Cass says.
“Do I believe in caring for the poor and oppressed? Yes. But you don’t do it along the lines of communistic redistributing.”
Obama’s support of same-sex marriage and abortion rights also disqualifies him from being a Christian, Cass says.
“It’s the most pro-abortion administration in the history of America. On every social issue – the sanctity of life and of marriage between men and women – Obama is on the wrong side of every moral issue,” he says.
He says a progressive Christian is a contradiction.
“No Christian says I believe in Jesus Christ and I reject the Bible,” Cass says. “These progressives who say they’re Christians are liars. They’re using Christianity as a guise to advance their own agenda.”
Cass says he doesn’t know what Obama believes.
“He’s conflicted,” Cass says. “He has Muslim sympathies from his upbringing."
How progressive Christianity lost the public square
There was a time when Obama’s brand of Christianity would have been understood by millions of Americans, historians say.
Obama along with first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha leave church after attending a Sunday prayer service.
The Social Gospel and progressive Protestantism dominated the American religious square from the end of the 19th century up to the 1960s. At times, the traditions blended together so seamlessly that it was hard to tell the difference.
The Social Gospel rose out of the excesses of the Gilded Age in the 1880s, when urban poverty spread across America as immigrants crammed into filthy slums to work long hours in unsafe conditions.
Walter Rauschenbusch, a Baptist pastor in a New York slum, urged the church to take “social sins” as seriously as they took individual vices. Churches began feeding the poor and fighting against other social ills.
“The notion that religious people should be about feeding the poor and helping the homeless is a carryover of the Social Gospel,” says Charles Kammer, a religion professor at Wooster College in Ohio. The Social Gospel was adopted by many Protestant churches in the late 19th and early 20th century, says Bass, the church historian. Some of the Social Gospel churches grew popular because they provided the poor with everything from English classes to sewing instructions and basketball leagues.
“The first American megachurches were liberal, Social Gospel urban churches,” Bass says.
The Social Gospel, though, sparked a backlash from a group of pastors during World War I. They were called fundamentalists. They published a pamphlet listing the “fundamentals of the faith:” Biblical inerrancy, the virgin birth, Adam and Eve.
But the fundamentalists lost the battle for public opinion during the “Scopes Monkey Trial” in 1925. John Scopes, a high school science teacher, was tried for violating a Tennessee law that prohibited the teaching of evolution.
Though Scopes lost, fundamentalist Christians were mocked in the press as “anti-intellectual rubes,” and a number of states suspended pending legislation that would have made teaching evolution illegal, says David Felten, author of “Living the Questions: The Wisdom of Progressive Christianity.”
The trial drove fundamentalists underground where they created a subculture, their own media networks, seminaries and megachurches, he says.
That subculture thrives today, Felten says, and has infiltrated the political arena. It has created an “alternative intellectual universe” that denies science, rational thought – and any beliefs that violate their definition of being a Christian, Felten says.
“They have millions of adherents who believe in a literal six day creation and a literal Adam and Eve – so it’s not a stretch to believe that President Obama is a Kenyan-born secret Muslim bent on destroying the country,” Felten says.
Progressive Christians eventually lost the messaging wars to this fundamentalist subculture, Bass says. Their nuanced view of faith couldn’t compete with the “spiritual triumphalism” of conservatives.
“If you get up and say we’re right and we have the truth, then you have a powerful public message,” she says. “They have a theological advantage in the public discourse. It’s comforting to have things clear, to have things black and white.”
The result today is that the Protestant tradition that shapes much of Obama’s Christianity is fading from public view.
The share of Protestant Christians in the United States has dropped below 50% of the population, according to a recent survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.
White mainline Protestants make up only 15% of the nation’s population, the survey revealed. The study also found that the fastest growing "religious group" in the country is people who are not affiliated with any religion.
Another generation of Christians, though, may bring a new version of progressive Christianity back.
The lines between younger conservative Christians and progressives are blurring, says Marcia Pally, author of “The New Evangelicals: Expanding the Vision of the Common Good.”
Pally spent six years traveling across America to interview evangelicals. She says her research revealed that more than 60% of young evangelicals support more governmental programs to aid the needy, as well as more emphasis on economic justice and environmental protection issues.
“What’s interesting is that these values, associated with Obama and the black Protestant tradition are now also the values of a growing number of white evangelicals,” she says.
Her perspective suggests that Obama’s faith may be treated by history in two ways:
He could be seen as the last embodiment of a progressive version of Christianity that went obsolete.
Or he could be seen as a leader who helped resurrect a dying brand of Christianity for a new generation.
Christians have been sleeping for so long. God created a plan to wake us up. Their is only one true God that watch over us both day and night. He is still in control. WAKE UP!
Please, go back to sleep.
All christians are the wrong kind. Just take a moment and consider Jesus' Core Message:
"Hello, my name is Jesus. I love you deeply. I have loved you since you were conceived in the womb and I will love you for all eternity. I died for you on the cross because I love you so much. I long to have a loving personal relationship with you. I will answer all of your prayers through my love. But if you do not get down on your knees and worship me, and if you do not EAT MY BODY and DRINK MY BLOOD, then I WILL INCINERATE YOU WITH UNIMAGINABLY TORTUOUS PAIN IN THE FIRES OF HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY BWAH HA HA HA HA HA!"
Yes, this is the central message of Christianity. See John 6:53-54 and Mark 16:16.
Think about this message. We have a being who, according to the Standard Model of God, embodies love. Yet, if you do not get down on your knees and worship him, you will be physically tortured for all eternity. What sort of love is that?
The utter silliness and contradiction of Jesus' core message should make it obvious to you: God is imaginary.
I disagree – The central message of Christianity in my opinion is in Luke 23:43:
"And he said to him, 'Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
Jesus was speaking to one of the men condemned with him – the Bible doesn't say much about them but there is little doubt that he was a criminal and deserved to die under Roman law. But in those last moments of his wretched life, he had compassion for the man next to him who was innocent, and he believed. He only asked Jesus for a crumb of recognition, but He promised him eternal life, because he believed.
Anyone who would condemn Christianity because of its perversion at the hands of men should read those verses carefully. To me, that is the essence of faith.
So, brad4nyc, you agree with the murderous maurauders of islamic beliefs and their "right" to destroy mankind for not acknowledging THEIR horrific precepts? You can live your life of criminality quite legally by moving to the middle east–go ahead, the United States of America will certainly not miss you.
For once a CNN article was well-written and thoughtful, at least in my opinion. Having grown up in a religion that some people would call a cult (as some people refer to Romney's faith) and becoming a "progressive" Christian as an adult I can relate to some of Obama's philosophical leanings. While it is very true that religion and state must be separate, it is important for us voters to understand the factors that will help determine our President's course in office. Ultimately, outside of ideology and party, we need a person who will respond to crises in a manner that is best for our Nation, and those responses are governed in part by his or her personal moral code. No one can honestly claim to be absolute in their faith – we are all imperfect, and shape ourselves around what we have been taught, from secular humanism to fundamentalist Christianity to Buddhism. The article explained much of what has shaped our President, and I would be very interested to read a similar article about Romney (if one hasn't already been written).
If I had to guess, I'd say Obama is agnostic in his heart of hearts. He believes there is a higher power but doesn't know what that is. I think there's a small chance he's atheist. Personally, I find these traits in a President very, very appealing. What's sad is that the US will probably elect a Scientologist before an atheist.
Romney wears magic underwear and believes that he'll own his own planet after he dies, is he the 'right' kind of Christian?
That's not what Obama believes...at least Romney wears underwear.
You guys are rediculous. How many of you act like "Christians" in your daily lives. You surely make Christians look bad on the internet, I'm guessing that it's much the same in your own personal lives. All I see from you people is greed, self righteousness, and the willingness to pass judgement on others even when your own faith tells you that you have no power or right to judge anyone. Religion is causing stagnation in terms of progress for the world; instead of coming together to progress and develop necessary technologies for the future, the entire world is enveloped in a holy war between the three major religions. Time to drop childish things and grow up.
Why does it hurt you so bad then??
The Bible says look at the Fruit of the tree ! Mr. Obama has tried to help the Sick and the Old and the Poor .
mr. romney has been accused of Tax Evasion and wanting to help ONLY the rich . Most Christians do not
even think mr. romney is a Christian ! You have conservative Leaders who claim they are Christian like
but woud´nt know Jesus if they tripped over him . Take for instance John Hagee of San Antone one of
those "Pulpit Pimps" that owns a Ranch with a GUN RANGE or the Rep. Kentucky senator who just had
an affair and told the woman to have an abortion ! Mr. Obama doesn´t wear his religion on his shoulders
and he realizes that all Americans are not Christians and that he must be a President to all .
Anyone who spends excess money having a car elevator built for one of their houses is not following Christ's call.
I wish it were true that "all Americans are not Christians" but regrettably it is only the case that "not all Americans are Christians".
Stupidest thing I have ever read, period.
But, thanks to you, now it's only #2.
As an Atheist (impartial) I would have to call Romney the wrong kind of Christian. Obama's vies about taking care of the poor and elderly are more similar to the Jesus story than Romney Ryan who are more like Ayn Rand. (Who by the way is the wrong kind of Atheist.)
Really, Mack? Since when did Jesus ever preach that the elders must be denied adequate and appropriate medical care so they would die quickly? Since when did Jesus ever preach that the mentally ill or mentally retarded people should be denied medical care? Since when did Jesus ever preach that brain injured people and newborns should be denied medical treatment because they will not become "viable" adults for the future work force? That's what his so-called health care reform actually does-I read that damnable piece of garbage, but obviously you haven't and therefore are a proponent of the worst law that promotes mass genocide. obama is no friend of mankind, periond; however, he is in league with the anti-Christ and the enemies of this great Nation of ours. obama makes Benedict Arnold look almost like a saint.
You may want to start by asking a few of us who have finally put a lot of pieces together....and making a lot of common sense by blending both sides of our brain.......and adding that lovely PSY element (no..not Gangnam Style)......If you want to see an Anti-Christ..........Look no further than the one man back in Europe....who sits in what is practically a castle....with a vast catacomb of mysteries beneath it......his name has changed over the years as new officials have been elected by men to take his place........He is no king of any one country......but, is an "elected official".....given full authority to give the members of his faith instructions he deems as good or bad........No one man is perfect......(goodness knows I'm not for posting this probably).......and, it's not saying that the "Anti-Christ" is "Satan incarnate".....but, it is my wish for him and everyone on this floating Ovular sphere we call "home" will think a bit more with their heart.....and try harder to look beyond the printed words, and look through the images on the walls to find the inner meanings....and discover a Good God will Good Love still exists and always will.....and will always be waiting for you if you only believe....
People who believe the fantasy of the anti-Christ are just as dangerous as people who believe the fantasy of Satan — but nowhere NEAR as dangerous as those who believe the fantasy of God. As it happens, the categories frequently overlap.
Eric – I agree with you!
Every person's religion is between them and our God. Barack Obama doesn't consider himself the Judge of anyone's religion. He doesn't tell people how to live their personal lives and he doesn't push religious beliefs on anyone. It is each person's right to believe in the religion of their choice and live by the rules of their choice. We make laws in our country to protect people's personal rights in regard to their lives and religion. If your choice of religion does not believe in the laws that have been passed you do not have to follow them. But people who believe differently can make their own choice in the laws they wish to follow – and no one or a religious organization has a right to tell anyone what laws they wish to follow. Sins that people commit will be paid for by each individual that commits the sin. There is no place in the Bible that gives a church, minister, priest or rabbi the authority to forgive sins. In fact down through the ages and in the days of the Inquisition churches and the men involved in religion have committed the worst sins on this earth. Men will do well to take care of their own religious beliefs and allow all men the same privilege. I find Barack Obama to be a better man in regard to his belief in God than any other politician or religious leader we have on earth today. Only God will be his JUDGE.
GOD's Laws have no expiration date.
GOD offers grace and mercy for repentful sinners...Jesus is not a free pass to live a sinful immoral life that is not in the will of GOD Almighty...GOD sees the heart and mind of every individual...Obama might be able to fool the masses but he will never fool the GOD of all things created...
You are pretty arrogant to presume you know what God will see in someone else's heart and how He will judge them.
This is of course, your opinion. But while you pontificate, I see him as everything I can respect. Romney? No way. And W? Crooked as a dog's hind leg. But good Christians, I guess.
Tara, Barack Obama doesn't try to fool anyone – he lives his religion and belief as it should be between him and our God and he knows the rules and lives by them and lets others do the same. Churches make laws to try and control the masses to make more money for their churches and that was not in the laws of God and Jesus Christ. I know people that claim to be christian's but constantly spout bigoted hatred day after day. I know for a fact Barack Obama doesn't this and cares for all people no matter their religion or nationality, he treats all people the same – even his enemies! That's what the Good Book tells us to do.
We HAVE to keep Romney and these religious zealots OUT of the Whitehouse, and OUT of our va-gi-gis!!!
I am so disappointed in CNN's last few weeks of broadcasting. You criticize FOX News, but you are a close 2nd to supporting the Republican candidate. Attaching a candidates religion so close to the election is disgraceful! I guess Romney figured out a way to buy your support.
Can this NOT be written about anyone at all? The issue is does one in the white house use government power to undermine religious right and freedom not matter what HIS leaning. It is a slippery line between telling someone you must be 'such and such' and instead altering the teachings. The interesting thing is that the ten commandments were certainly followed by Jesus and I do not understand how one can be a Christian supporting killing at any stage of life- waxing or waning, etc. The vast set of law we have is simply Christians justification for not upholding the ten in large part. Differnet kind of Christian-LOL...which Christian is not in some way different? This is not news...this is PR piece.
As someone who thinks all religion is silly, I can objectively look at both Obama and the extreme right and say that by far, Obama's beliefs and policy's are far more in line with the actual teachings of Jesus than the hypocritical, ignorant nonsense put forth by the conservative right. It's like they don't even read the book they claim to live by. They pick and choose the oldest, most outdated, obscure passages that focus or bigotry and hatred and proclaim them to be the gospel of life, yet they somehow can ignore the vast majority of the book that proclaims love and charity for all.
If Jesus had one overwhelming theme its that greed and selfishness are bad and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The modern right is about as un-christ like as you could possibly be.
I am a born-again Christian. It is a pity to see how construed the so called American Conservative Christianity is. Every possible way they use their faith for political gain, pretending they are the sole voice for true Christianity. There are millions of honest Christians in the world true to the Word of God for whom their faith is not about money, power, and politics. It is high time that the so called American Conservative Christians realize that their tainted Christian perspective has hindered millions of thinking people form following Christ.
So what, he doesn't believe in Christianity or any other archaic belief! It is not important if someone doesn't believe in the fact that universe was created in 7 days. It is important if we are acting as responsible and sensible human beings (and yes, using our brain, not a 2000 years old book). I wish there would be a day when an atheist can become the president of the united states.
They can't publicly call him ni66er so they call him communist, socialist, muslim, etc., etc.
Another proof that Jesus and god are imaginary:
Notice how many gods you reject
There are literally thousands of religions being practiced today. Here are 20 of the most popular, along with an estimate of the number of followers:
Christianity: 2.1 billion
Islam: 1.3 billion
Hinduism: 900 million
Chinese traditional religion: 394 million
Buddhism: 376 million
African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million
Sikhism: 23 million
Juche: 19 million
Spiritism: 15 million
Judaism: 14 million
Baha'i: 7 million
Jainism: 4.2 million
Shinto: 4 million
Cao Dai: 4 million
Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million
Tenrikyo: 2 million
Neo-Paganism: 1 million
Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand
Rastafarianism: 600 thousand
Scientology: 500 thousand
[Source: Encyclopedia Britannica]
If you believe in God, you have chosen to reject Allah, Vishnu, Budda, Waheguru and all of the thousands of other gods that other people worship today. It is quite likely that you rejected these other gods without ever looking into their religions or reading their books. You simply absorbed the dominant faith in your home or in the society you grew up in.
In the same way, the followers of all these other religions have chosen to reject God. You think their gods are imaginary, and they think your God is imaginary.
In other words, each religious person on earth today arbitrarily rejects thousands of gods as imaginary, many of which he/she has never even heard of, and arbitrarily chooses to "believe" in one of them.
The following quote from Stephen F. Roberts sums up the situation very nicely:
"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
A rational person rejects all human gods equally, because all of them are equally imaginary. How do we know that they are imaginary? Simply imagine that one of them is real. If one of these thousands of gods were actually real, then his followers would be experiencing real, undeniable benefits. These benefits would be obvious to everyone. The followers of a true god would pray, and their prayers would be answered. The followers of a true god would therefore live longer, have fewer diseases, have lots more money, etc. There would be thousands of statistical markers surrounding the followers of a true god.
Everyone would notice all of these benefits, and they would gravitate toward this true god. And thus, over the course of several centuries, everyone would be aligned on the one true god. All the other false gods would have fallen by the wayside long ago, and there would be only one religion under the one true god.
When we look at our world today, we see nothing like that. There are two billion Christians AND there are more than one billion Muslims, and their religions are mutually exclusive. There are thousands of other religions. When you analyse any of them, they all show a remarkable similarity - there is zero evidence that any of these gods exist. That is how we know that they are all imaginary.
Find more proof that god is imaginary at http://www.godisimaginary.com
Terrific site. I hope a lot of kids make their way to this page and start to form their own opinions about all of these silly faiths and gods that get drilled into their minds for no other reason than their parents having had it done to them.
brad4nyv – How strange that you seen to know so much about religion, but do no know that Muslims believe in God – whom the call Allah, as their language is different. The believe there is only one God and Muhammad is his Prophet – they also believe Jesus Christ is also his Prophet – the majority of religions believe in the same "One God". The Hebrews/Jewish believe in God, but that Jesus Christ is not the Messiah, but they also believe he was a great Prophet. I'm sure that will all be straightened out for us by God – one day.
Is it your contention, brad, that the Universe and all that is in it simply created itself? And that man somehow miraculously existed, breathed the breath of life on his own and conquered imaginary animals? Perhaps you are imaginary–ever think about that? You assume that most folks never bothered to look into other precepts and you assume wrongly. People are not the fools you would like to believe–they are intelligent beings who have looked into those precepts and reject them. This Universe of ours, and all that is in it, did not simply come into being–but through a Higher Power. Too bad you cannot see the forest for the trees.
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.