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My Take: 5 things I learned editing the Belief Blog
December 31st, 2012
06:00 PM ET

My Take: 5 things I learned editing the Belief Blog

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) – Monday is my last day at CNN.com, so it's a good time to reflect on what I’ve learned as religion editor here these past three years.

The CNN Belief Blog will continue to go strong under the leadership of Eric Marrapodi, with whom I’ve been lucky to co-edit the blog since 2010. I’m off to National Geographic, where I’ll be director of digital news.

Five things I’ve learned as religion editor at CNN.com:

1.) The faith/meaning angles off breaking news can yield meaningful, important stories - even when it feels a little weird to do them. The recent Newtown school massacre offers a case in point: We wrote about people grappling with the question “Where was God?” in the tragedy’s aftermath on the same day the shooting happened. The approach might have been dismissed as “fluffy” in other newsrooms (and one college professor hung up on me when I explained what I was writing about), but exploring that question got to one of the most keenly felt sentiments among those in Newtown and among people watching the news from anywhere. Trying to make sense of seemingly senseless deaths and suffering is a fundamental human struggle. It helps explain why our piece quickly collected nearly 8,000 comments. People want to talk about belief, spirituality and the meaning of life - including when it appears that all hell has broken loose.

2.) The explosion of people with no religion will be a huge story in this century, and the news media have only begun to explore its many implications. CNN reporter Dan Merica has led the news media pack in reporting on what the growth of “religious nones” means for American politics and for the burgeoning movement of activist atheists, which represents only a small portion of those with no religion. There are countless other stories to be found among the tens of millions of religious “nones” - about making meaning, tradition and ethics in a post-religious existence. These stories won’t be provoked by press releases. If you’re a religious “none,” speak up. Let the news media know what we should be covering in your world.

3.) Religion reporting shouldn’t be an inside game. “We believe that understanding the role of faith in today’s world isn’t optional or nice to know,” we wrote in our inaugural Belief Blog post, in May 2010. “It’s need to know.” That was true again for many of 2012’s biggest stories, for which understanding forces of faith and faithlessness were crucial to understanding the nominees for president, reactions to July’s deadly Aurora, Colorado, shooting and Whitney Houston’s funeral. You don’t have to be religious to think religion stories matter; you just have to be curious about the way the world works. I believe that more now than I did when we launched the Belief Blog.

4.) The news media isn’t anti-religion. You hear that from some religious people, particularly those on the political right. Truth is, news organizations such as CNN are fascinated by religion because it yields stories brimming with meaning, controversy and powerful characters. But the religion beat can scare off reporters because it can be so daunting (if you’re a non-Mormon, try wrapping your mind around the Mormon practice of posthumous proxy baptism in time to meet a 5 o’clock deadline). And yet so many CNN Belief stories were born when CNNers across the organization asked basic questions such as, “Will the Catholic presidential candidates don ashes for an Ash Wednesday debate?” and “Why don’t we explain why some American Muslim women wear the hijab?” Many other religion stories came from CNNers who volunteered ideas from their own religious subcultures. CNN forces working against religion coverage? I never encountered any.

5.) In the world of digital journalism, your voice matters more than ever. With the proliferation of reader comments, social media and instantaneous metrics on what our audiences are clicking and how they’re responding, your choices and opinions are shaping our coverage more than ever. Some of our best content from the last year was more about conversations happening around the news than about the news itself. We choose to do certain stories and skip others partly based on whether you’re engaged in those stories or not. Use your power wisely.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Faith Now

soundoff (243 Responses)
  1. Seyedibar

    Is that guy in the photo having a whiz on those crosses?
    Respect.

    January 1, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  2. E 101

    What We Learned About Humanity in 2012
    http://www.livescience.com/25818-human-ancestors-evolution-2012.html

    January 1, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  3. kevobx

    The world rejected grace and truth. The gift of God is grace, mankind chose the pride of life, himself. God is love, do you love grace & truth (Christ) *Galatians 1:13 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, *Psalm 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. *Galatians 1:20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. *John 8:45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. *John 9:10 Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? *Isaiah 43:8 Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears.

    January 1, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      My god can kick your gods ass.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Jane Teague-Urbach

      quoting a book written by humans...in fact SELECTIVELY quoting that book AT people is precisely why you are losing people- it's not because they are rejecting truth or god..they are rejecting your sanctimonious arrogance.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Jane Teague-Urbach

      Are you the person in this link?
      http://www.geni.com/people/Jane-Teague-Urbach/342323078010013683

      If so, I recommend that you don't use your real name as your handle.

      January 1, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
  4. kevobx

    Ask any so called Christian, where is The Word of God? (Revelation 19:13) Ask any religious person in their religion, where is the word of the Lord? Mankind is dumb, and liars are not in the book of life.

    January 1, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Actually, religion and those who aspire to it are dumb. Humankind will be just fine without your myths and fairy tales.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  5. H. E. Baber

    Granted the media aren't anti-religion. They do however virtually identify Christianity with Evangelicalism, even though Evangelicals represent no more than 1/3 of Christians in the US, and fewer worldwide. What sets my teeth on edge in particular is their use of "pastor" as a generic term for clergy.

    The brute fact of the matter is that journalists, like my (academic) tribe, are overwhelming secular and regard religious believers as a members of an alien culture. Most have probably never knowingly met one socially: many of us keep a low profile because in our social and professional worlds if people discover you're a religious believer they look at you funny.

    I've seen a number of pieces in which journalists, trying their best to be fair, and even sympathetic, showcase Evangelicals perceived to be liberal like Jim Wallis or note that younger Evangelicals are pulling out of Cuoture Wars. But always it's about Evangelicals as the paradigm religious folk–conservative Evangelicals vs. liberal Evangelicals, the older generation giving way to a rising generation of–Evangelicals.

    Could you please get it: we aren't all Evangelical. And most of us don't like Evangelicals, liberal or conservative, young or old, and don't want to be associated with them.

    January 1, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • Gary B

      Well. According to my evangelical friend, if you are not evangelical then you are going to hell. Happy burning!

      January 1, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Just call me Lucifer

      Just love how you zealots split hairs about your made up gods and dogma. If your god is so perfect why is there room for interpretation of his supposed word?

      January 1, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  6. BlauSternSchwarzSchlonge

    I cannot tell you all how interesting and important this blog is to me and i read it every day. I love the different angles, and the depth you just don't get in the normal news cycle. Thank you.

    January 1, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  7. Colin

    Good luck Dan. Welcom aboard Eric. I look forward to locking horns with my theist friends on the belief blog in 2013.

    January 1, 2013 at 7:01 am |
  8. Frank Rizzo

    Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable and the purpose of existence is to love and serve God. Muslims also believe that Islam is the complete and universal version of a primordial faith that was revealed at many times and places before, including through Abraham, Moses and Jesus, whom they consider prophets.They maintain that the previous messages and revelations have been partially misinterpreted or altered over time, but consider the Arabic Qur'an to be both the unaltered and the final revelation of God. Religious concepts and practices include the five pillars of Islam, which are basic concepts and obligatory acts of worship, and following Islamic law, which touches on virtually every aspect of life and society, providing guidance on multifarious topics from banking and welfare, to warfare and the environment.

    Most Muslims are of two denominations, Sunni (75–90%)[8], or Shia (10–20%).[9] About 13% of Muslims live in Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority country, 25% in South Asia, 20% in the Middle East, and 15% in Sub-saharan Africa. Sizable minorities are also found in China, Russia, and the Americas. Converts and immigrant communities are found in almost every part of the world (see Islam by country). With about 1.57 billion followers or 23% of earth's population, Islam is the second-largest and one of the fastest-growing religions in the world....Ameen..........

    January 1, 2013 at 3:28 am |
    • The Truth

      Brittany Spears has Platinum albums and millions of fans, that must mean she's suuuuper talented...

      January 1, 2013 at 3:39 am |
  9. Colin

    I am an atheist and a regular commenter here. The rapid rise of atheism and its functional equivalent, the “nones” is a positive thing for the country. It reinforces that young people are becoming more worldly and not blindly accepting what their parents have told them they must believe.

    We are now in the 21st Century. We have almost complete control over the planet’s life and its resources and our future is inextricably tied into how we manage those resources. We also, unfortunately, have the ability to kill each other by the tens of millions.

    I mean, look, let’s cut the bullsh.it. There are no Native American, Hindu, Muslim or Christian gods watching over us, willing to swoop in at the eleventh hour and bail us out if we look like messing things up. This will remain stubbornly so no matter how many churches, mosques or temples we supplicate ourselves to non-existent gods in.

    We’re on our own. We live in a narrow soap bubble of a global biosphere about seven miles wide, below which there is molten rock and above which there is the cold vacuum of outer space. We already know of at least five mass extinctions that have decimated the dominant species on the planet. If we slowly bake ourselves or poison ourselves here, or launch devastating wars, we have nowhere else to go.

    Throwing off the retarding effects of our religious supersti.tions and accepting our limitations as individuals and responsibilities as a species is a major step toward confronting our problems in a rational manner.

    I only hope 2013 will continue the trend and move us further toward the tipping point where those who still believe in gods, ghosts or goblins are in the minority and lose their ability to influence public and social policy.

    December 31, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • TLDR

      I am a Christian. And new here. I wasn't raised in a Christian community, I began to believe in God a few years ago.

      I belong to a community that does good things for this world. We believe that we are the hands that carry out God's work.

      Our community is just like any other community: doctors, lawyers, teachers, unemployed, house wives, social workers, government officials, etc.

      I was surprised to see how much good comes from a church. We respond to natural disasters and provide aid, especially to rural populations that often get overlooked.

      We also have a global outreach and help people in developing counties, like Africa. We helped build a water well in one community, and eye disease has gone down. Education is up. And they are sharing these blessing with other communities.

      We have a food bank for people in need. Our pastors visit the elderly in the hospital, many who would not receive visitors.

      We help everyone, and don't care about how or what they believe in.

      Sometimes, when somebody knows they are going to die, they like to talk to a pastor, or rabbi, or Native-American spiritual leader. It is comforting.

      There is a spiritual side to human beings. Our religion addresses that for us.

      We are not on our own. God is with us. We know this. He helps us. I was at a "bottom" in my life, and couldn't see any way out. I was hopeless. I got help. Both from Christians and non-believers, but because of this help I became a Christian.

      I appreciate your reading, and do respect other people's beliefs. Good luck.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Fantastic writing, Colin.

      Keep up the good work in helping other, TLDR.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      Well said, Colin! I hereby nominate you to be our Ambassador to the United Nations. Good speech.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      @TLDR
      Your statement appears to be sincere, yet sincerity is of dubious worth if the words themselves are fraught with error.

      Emotional stress is a handle by which others can manipulate you.
      Everyone who has joined a cult did so because they were in the throes of emotional stress, blinded by emotion, blinded to what is rational and real, and this allows others to lead you around by the nose extremely easily.

      You sought comfort in the company of others because we, as primates, do this thing.
      We seek the illusion of security that we find in being part of a group.

      Your compassion for others is also a trait of primates. No religion is needed to care for others.

      Most religions only help people within the group.
      If you reach out beyond your group, but still insist on proselytizing, that is no virtue.

      We rely upon our government to provide aid of alll sorts equally to all Americans and many others.
      That is because small groups like religious groups do not have the resources of a nation.

      That is why we have Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps, and other helpful programs.
      They give help EQUALLY in the most efficient and resourceful manner to all citizens (or at least they are supposed to work that way).
      If you seek to destroy our government forms of aid simply because you think you're doing such a great job, then you would be making a great many mistakes in your thinking.

      Helping people does not require religion. It only requires that you want to help others.
      Your religion is not the cause of your helpfulness and I resent that you appear to be implying that it is the cause.

      It is not and never will be.

      We are human, primates with some clever bits mutated and grown onto the top of our limbic system.
      We do things because of how our brains work, not because of some Freudian fantasy in outer space.
      Pay your taxes. That is how we all help one another outside of whatever group we want to identify with.
      Your prayers do nothing but make you feel like you did something real. It is delusional and I wish you would stop it.

      December 31, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
    • Tina

      Colin,
      The bible speaks of a time when the great harlot, better known as Babylon the Great (the world empire of false religion) will be destroyed. (Rev. 17:1–22:21) “Babylon the Great,” the world empire of false religion, is a disgusting segment of Satan’s wicked world. The 11th vision portrays her as a “great harlot”—an immoral woman—“sitting upon a scarlet-colored wild beast.” She is to be completely destroyed by “the ten horns” of the very beast that is carrying her. (Rev. 17:1, 3, 5, 16) Likening the harlot to a “great city,” the subsequent vision announces her fall and issues an urgent call to God’s people to “get out of her.” The demise of the great city is mourned by many. There is rejoicing in heaven, however, because of “the marriage of the Lamb.” (Rev. 18:4, 9, 10, 15-19; 19:7) In the 13th vision, the rider of “a white horse” goes to war with the nations. He brings Satan’s wicked world to its end.—Rev. 19:11-16.
      For more information go to jw.org

      December 31, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • TLDR

      Rational Humanist

      I never said some of the things your are accusing me of. What I said is true. We are helping people. I know that there are people from all different belief backgrounds make a difference in this world. Believe me, we employ and benefit from their services, too.

      I understand how taxes work and social programs. But sometimes they don't do enough. The biggest aid that I've noticed in my community for the homeless is a shelter that happens to be funded and operated by Christians. They don't receive tax money. They run on donations. They lose money helping people.

      You say you resent what I am implying? Let it go. Resentment is poison.

      I was made in the image of God. Prayer does help me. I wish you well and hope you can tolerate my serenity I've gained in Jesus Christ.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • TLDR

      > If you seek to destroy our government forms of aid simply because you think you're doing such a great job, then you would be making a great many mistakes in your thinking.

      And that is ridiculous. Wow. That is no where even close to my thinking.

      December 31, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Alpa Chino

      No such thing as satan, Tina. There you go! Problem solved. Happy new year.

      January 1, 2013 at 12:04 am |
    • Sarcasm

      That wasn't snooty or arrogant at all.

      January 1, 2013 at 12:04 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      @TLDR
      What does one say to an insane person who says magic is real? Shall I humor you and hope you don't shoot up a school?
      You should be barred from owning guns or sharp-edged objects. You imagine things and say they are real. Get help.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:21 am |
    • TLDR

      Yea, you don't know me at all. When you make those comments you hurt yourself more than me.

      It is clearly resentment motivated and that kind of motivation is always self destructive.

      According to you paying taxes is all you think we need to do to help our fellow man.

      And we should all do more than just pay taxes to help out in this world. Just paying taxes is not charity. There are plenty of secular organizations that are doing good that you could join and help others in this world.

      Come on 'Rational Humanist', lets do more than "just pay our taxes."

      January 1, 2013 at 2:12 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      @TLDR
      Nowhere have I said or implied that paying taxes is all we can do or should do.
      You are being silly.
      If you want to help people far away, do you want 500 people all getting in their cars to go help or would you rather have 500 National Guard soldiers already on the spot providing the help, and who actually share vehicles to get there?
      When evaluating possible methods of assisting people, you should try to be objective about it, or else you are likely to be drawn away from the best possible course or methods in seeking your goals.

      Besides, anyone on the spot can try to lend a hand if they are in a position to do so.

      As I said before, religion is not needed to help people. Delusion only helps those who cannot handle reality.
      Compassion gives us the motivation to help others.

      If you need something written down because you are too simple-minded to figure out things on your own, then you are
      vulnerable that way and your efforts, including your time and money, can be swindled away from you quite easily.

      Maybe you are someone who guards against that. If so, that's great.

      But your religion is not a pre-requisite for compassion and never will be.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:21 am |
    • TLDR

      > "Pay your taxes. That is how we all help one another outside of whatever group we want to identify with."

      - 'rationalist' humanist

      > "But your religion is not a pre-requisite for compassion and never will be."

      I never said or implied it was. You did. You are implying a lot that is just not true.

      None of this matches up with the mission statement of my church. At all.

      I quite understand compassion.

      Like I don't think it is "compassionate" to throw around an insult like "shooting up a school" weeks after one of the most tragic school shooting in American history.

      Very disgraceful statement.

      January 1, 2013 at 2:40 am |
    • The Truth

      "But sometimes they don't do enough." So fund more of them... "The biggest aid that I've noticed in my community for the homeless is a shelter that happens to be funded and operated by Christians." Great but what does being Christian have to do with helping people? You can help people and not be Christian so i'm not seeing the correlation. " They don't receive tax money." But they are tax exempt so do not pay property taxes or money they make off selling services such as weddings, baptisms and confirmations and yes "They run on donations." However, this was the most eye opening statement you make "They lose money helping people." I did not know that giving aid to the less fortunate was ever supposed to be a money making scheme so pointing out that they "lose" money doing it seem's tacky at best.

      Here are the facts: It does not take any God or religion to give to those in need. It is wonderful that some religions do, but from all the gilt and pomp I have seen in most of organized religion today I would say they spend far more on perpetuating their own existence then on those in need.

      January 1, 2013 at 3:17 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      @TLDR
      If you feel you have a "mission statement" that is written with some sort of ultimate authority, then you are an idiot.

      If you think your church's "mission statement" justifies proselytizing in any way, then you would be wrong.
      I'm not against you and your fellow church members (your building is not walking around helping people) trying to help people in your local community, but only as long as you don't discriminate against people who don't share your religion.

      Having a place where help is given only to those who you can coerce into some religious activity, is both disgusting and reprehensible. I'm not saying that's what you've got going on, but many others do that and your arguments also pertain to them also.

      If you were to help people in your community by working through a civil organization and not a religious one, you would be following both the spirit and the letter of the law. Otherwise, there is a possibility of legal liability for your religious organization if you infringe or seek to coerce any of the people you seek to help.

      Just sayin'. You seem to be thinking I'm accusing you of many things or you prefer to act as if you think that is what's happening, yet anyone who reads my posts can see I use qualifiers like "if", or "could" or "can", "maybe", etc.
      So quit acting like a wounded primadonna. Your religion is currently being used for treason against the US Gov't and many people follow your religion.

      If you or your church is avoiding such violations, then I am glad, yet in the end religion is just delusion, so it will have to go.
      Just sayin.

      January 1, 2013 at 3:37 am |
    • TLDR

      > Rational Humanist
      You've lost me after I've pondered your "school shooting" comment. I don't tolerate hate speech. Ignored and dismissing your babble.

      I've got serenity in my life – you were almost interfering with that.

      "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda

      January 1, 2013 at 3:51 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      @TLDR
      May you have a New Year filled with honest facts and a rational mind of your own to handle them with.
      That doesn't sound too bad, does it?

      I want you to be rational.

      Is that a crime? No.

      January 1, 2013 at 4:02 am |
    • TLDR

      truth

      I was responding to that post of RH. So I was being a little defensive – because he had very anti-Christian stance. I was trying to portray them with a little positive light. And also try to demonstrate the sacrifices we make (losing money, he didn't seem to grab the concept that the government and our taxes may not be helping enough).

      Thanks for nit-picking a comment I made to someone else. And taking them out of context.

      I've been very clear that there is good secular help in this world, too.

      Please tell you are doing something, besides criticizing me, that makes this world better. Like real action. Not just holding reasonable beliefs. You are, right?

      January 1, 2013 at 4:08 am |
    • TLDR

      Disclaimer: I know other groups do good in this world. I know you don't have to be Christian to do good and make the world better. I never said that, but delusional people keep thinking I'm implying that. It is not my reality at all.

      also:
      Argle Bargle, Tom Tom, Rational Humanist

      -> banned for hate speech

      And my world is better for it.

      January 1, 2013 at 4:13 am |
    • TLDR

      >money they make off selling services such as weddings, baptisms and confirmations

      It is a homeless shelter. They don't hold weddings or baptisms or confirmations at a homeless shelter.

      http://www.denverrescuemission.org/

      I really don't know much about them, but I do know people that have gotten help there. It is pretty much the only reasonable option when you are homeless in winter.

      And like I said before – THEY HAPPEN TO BE CHRISTIAN – I did not say or mean to imply that only Christians can and are doing this.

      January 1, 2013 at 4:28 am |
    • End Religion

      More nutters who can't handle conversations filled with facts... lol

      January 1, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • facts?

      +++++ It reinforces that young people are becoming more worldly and not blindly accepting what their parents have told them they must believe.

      Most people who join a religion are not blindly accepting what their parents have told them to believe. That is a biased staetment. not factual. Your whole premise falls apart after that. I'm an atheist. I am married to a Christian. He did not blinldy accept anything. he is smart. he is not a nutter.
      Please don't give 'nones' a bad name by spreading your 'opinions' like facts. It makes us look stupid.

      January 1, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Natty Dread

      @TLDR- I am not a Christian (in the usual sense). I am a Rasta man. But I say to you-don't let them bother you! (and I see they haven't). You makin a lot of sense.Please don't ever lose that! Jus the fact that you accept that there are other, viable paths to God, Truth, what have you, puts you far along the true path. It's a lot further than many other professed "Christians" so hold onto that. Many lose it after a while.

      January 1, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      @TLDR
      You think I've been banned for hate speech? LOLOLOLOL

      Look, you poor fool, I stopped posting because I was partying. You know, New Year's Eve? Hello?
      What makes you think they ban anyone here? Just because you pressed the "report abuse" button? LOLOLOL

      You are so pathetic.

      January 1, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
  10. Reality

    The Big Five Influentual Religions – The 2012 summary Gilgoff forgot to mention:

    1.- Judaism (rigin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482 )

    “New Torah For Modern Minds

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

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

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

    2A. Christianity, The RCC part -Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    earlychristianwritings.com/

    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    2B Christianity – Protestantism ., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    3. Islam Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

    This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

    And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

    Current crises:

    The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

    4. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

    The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

    Current problems:

    The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

    5. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

    "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

    Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

    Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

    Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

    December 31, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      YES! THankyou!!!!

      Can you tell me how to copy and paste and print so I can show this to my mom/. she is making me go to church and next weekend we are supposed to help the homless. LAME! BUT You are so cool!

      December 31, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
    • Rational Humanist

      Have a happy New Year!

      December 31, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Reality

      Only for the reading-challenged:

      Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

      • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

      • As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

      • There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

      • There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

      • There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

      • Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

      • Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

      Added details available upon written request

      January 1, 2013 at 9:17 am |
  11. JJ

    If I might add just a bit of criticism....you've got to lighten up on the word filter. I mean, seriously, I can't type const-i-tution because it contains the most horrible 3 letter word in all of the English language. This is beyond ridiculous. People are all the time wondering what happend to their post. You're not that prudish are you!

    December 31, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • The Truth

      They are very scared of the "Boob" Mouse...

      January 1, 2013 at 3:20 am |
  12. Moby Schtick

    You know the best move you guys could make? Hire me. Seriously. I could do wonders for this place.

    My current contract is up in five months or you can but it out, now. I'll be expecting your email.

    December 31, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • CNN

      If we need the viewpoint of an intolerant and hateful skeptic we'll contact you.

      Oh, wait, we've got 100s of them replying on here each day!

      Don't quit your day job, dude.

      December 31, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      CNN, I'm neither intolerant nor hateful, as you would know if you read my posts. And I'd say that the "intolerant and hateful" fall about evenly between the skeptics and the god believers. If you guys are going to jump to the wrong conclusions so readily, maybe I wouldn't be the right person for the job. :)

      December 31, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Romnesia

      Fake CNN. Spoken like a typical theist (on this forum at least).

      December 31, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  13. Rational Humanist

    Dan, if you are responsible for the horrible filter never being fixed, then good riddance.
    If the filter was out of your hands, then congratulations on your new job! :D

    National Geographic is a great organization. Much nicer and level-headed than CNN, I am sure.
    You'll be able to have a quiet cup of coffee without all the news-cycle madness. That'll be nice, eh?

    But the filter, Dan!
    The FILTER!

    You say nothing of the changes coming to this blog!
    Are we still stuck with bad management of this blog?

    Is it Eric who will float on top of the Belief Blog swamp, Lord of all he surveys now, or what?

    Oh, hell. Have a great New Year and I do hope you'll be happy in your new job.
    I'll bet you won't miss me all that much. But I hope I made you laugh now and then if nothing else.

    Bye, Dan. We hardly knew ye.

    December 31, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Hmmmm

      Dan might have derived most of his pleasure from watching many of us tlt fvck CNN's worthless cvntlicking filter...

      January 1, 2013 at 3:49 am |
    • Rational Humanist

      Yes, well, I wasn't going to go there, but thanks.

      Whoever is behind the filter surely knows that what they are doing is wrong and refuses to act like an adult, so whoever they are would probably ignore our justified condemnations as they have done in the past.

      If it was Dan, then we're well rid of him.
      If he thought it was funny, then he is no better than the one who keeps the filter in place.

      Going down the street while tripping everyone walking down the sidewalk is sort of like the filter in action.
      It's a mean-spirited and insane way of censoring random people whose only crime is ignorance of the filter.

      Thousands, even millions, of people were blocked from making comments in the past two years in just this blog alone.

      If losing that many visitors to the site means nothing to whoever is in charge of the filter, they should be fired and the filter destroyed for the worthless piece of cat crap it is.

      January 1, 2013 at 4:11 am |
  14. TheVocalAtheist

    The 5 things you should have learned:

    1. There is more proof that a God doesn't exist then there is proof that one does.

    2. Right Wing Religious Wing Nuts are dangerous individuals that are infiltrating our government and must be eliminated.

    3. Atheists, Skeptics and Secularists make way more sense than your average bear.

    4. The believers refuse to read about the theory of evolution and they dismiss science in general thus dismissing reality

    5. There was no God, there is no God and there will never be a God

    December 31, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • tin foil hat guy

      You have problems, my friend. Seek help immediately.

      December 31, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      I know God does not exist. And my parents keep making me go to church.This is OPPRESSION. I stand with TheVocalAtheist as one. We always demonstrate we are smarter than the average bare. yep. its true. PROVE IT WRONG. You can't. I CAN'T PROVE GOD DOES NOT EXIST. But that doesn't stop me from attacking anyone who believes he does exist. I'm worst than the Christians I claim to hate. BUT YOU CAN'T PROVE THAT.
      fare warning.
      YOU MUST NOT BELIEVE IN GOD, OR BE RDICULED BY ME AND ALL THE VOCAL ATHEISTS HERE.\
      if you don't like, leave. it is the internet.

      December 31, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • John D

      Considerng that 80%+ believe in God, you should at least consider the possibility that Atheism might be wrong. If there is a God, where will the Atheist spend eternity? Eternity is a long time to regret a bad decision in this little time we have on earth. On the other hand if there is no God, we all end up in the same place in the end .... nowhere

      .Belief in God is a win-win, a good life here and in eternity. Atheism MIGHT give a good life here, but if the 80% are right it's going to be a horrible eternity.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:42 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      John D, if you're not smart enough on your own to figure how brain-dead stupid Pascal's Wager is, then look up the many refutations on line. But the real fact of the matter is that it's irrelevant whether or not god exists because he's so invisible and undetectable. If there does happen to be a god, and he's a good god, and not some azzhole fvckwad who lets people suffer for all eternity in some torture pit, then he and I will be just fine. And if he's a terroristic cvnt, like the type to keep a place of eternal torture around, then you don't stand much of a chance anyway, regardless of how good you think you are at svcking his invisible d!ck here on earth.

      January 1, 2013 at 1:52 am |
    • The Truth

      "Considerng that 80%+ believe in God, you should at least consider the possibility that Atheism might be wrong." There was a time that more than 80% of people believed the world was flat, so I have considered the possibility and found it laughable.

      "If there is a God, where will the Atheist spend eternity?" How does the existence of a deity then somehow prove we have eternal souls? Ohhhh, you mean if there is "Your" God...

      "On the other hand if there is no God, we all end up in the same place in the end .... " Sooo, there's just two hands in this scenario then? Only two possibilities that could ever be true, the Christian God the way you view him, or no God at all. I know it's hard to have anything other than a narrow view when you peer at the world from inside your own ass, but try sticking your head out once and a while, you might actually learn something.

      January 1, 2013 at 3:30 am |
  15. spokanefavs

    Congrats on the new gig. You'll be missed!

    December 31, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  16. true story

    6)the sea anemones and tree frogs you see pictures of on the National Geographic site have higher IQs than CNN's target audience.

    December 31, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      I take offense to that. Me and my atheiest are the ones who post in here the most. that means that we are the target audience. and you can't prove that. just like my mom can't prove god but makes me go to church.

      December 31, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
    • The Truth

      " just like my mom can't prove god but makes me go to church." It's not God that makes your mom force you to go to Church, it's guilt. Thousands of years of it. All prepackaged for us by the Church and as children we are told we are wicked little sinners who must be "saved" by the strangely effeminate unmarried man at the church who seems to just love "encouraging" young men... my advice, scream, then RUN!!!!

      January 1, 2013 at 3:36 am |
  17. Happy New Year Everybody

    No Need for religions
    ORIGIN OF LIFE: Hypothesis Traces First Protocells Back to Emergence of Cell Membrane Bioenergetics
    Dec. 20, 2012 — A coherent pathway – which starts from no more than rocks, water and carbon dioxide and leads to the emergence of the strange bio-energetic properties of living cells – has been traced for the first time in a major hypothesis paper in Cell this week.

    December 31, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
  18. *frank*

    happy travels, Dan!

    December 31, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  19. 0G-No gods, ghosts, goblins or ghouls

    Too bad you didn't learn that the probability of there being any gods is virtually zero and therefore all religions are likely to be based on complete bullshit.

    December 31, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • kariagekun

      Nice try, apple fans.

      December 31, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • Skeptic Al

      I'm trolling the CNN board, too. So angry that Cnn recognizes the belief that God exists. And with respect. Holy moley!

      And they even recongnize the belief that God doesn't exist. And with respect, too.

      Do you think I could learn something from this?

      NOPE. BELIEF IN GOD IS DELUSIONAL. MY PARENTS MAKE ME GO TO CHURCH AND I'M mad ABOUT THIS.

      I will make the CNN Belief Board posters pay for this. Muwahahahahaha.

      December 31, 2012 at 8:57 pm |
  20. sam

    6) It's a super troll hangout.

    December 31, 2012 at 6:05 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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.