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January 8th, 2013
07:00 AM ET

My take: 'Atheist' isn’t a dirty word, congresswoman

Editor’s note: Chris Stedman is the author of "Faitheist: How an Atheist Found Common Ground with the Religious" and the assistant humanist chaplain at Harvard. You can follow him on Twitter at @ChrisDStedman.

By Chris Stedman, Special to CNN

(CNN)—This year, Congress welcomed the first Buddhist senator and first Hindu elected to either chamber of Congress, and the Pew Forum noted that this “gradual increase in religious diversity … mirrors trends in the country as a whole.”

But Pew also noted one glaring deficiency: Religious “nones” were largely left outside the halls of Congress, despite one in five Americans now saying they don’t affiliate with a religion.

There is, however, one newly elected “none” — but she seems to think "atheist" is a dirty word.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Arizona, was sworn in a few days ago without a Bible, and she is the first member of Congress to openly describe her religious affiliation as “none.” Although 10 other members don’t specify a religious affiliation — up from six members in the previous Congress — Sinema is the only to officially declare “none.”

This has gotten Sinema a fair amount of attention from the media. Many identified her as an atheist during her congressional campaign, and after she won, sources touted her as a nontheist. Even this past weekend, Politico declared in a headline: “Non-believers on rise in Congress.”

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

But there’s a slight issue: Sinema doesn’t actually appears to be a nonbeliever. In response to news stories identifying her as an atheist, her campaign released this statement shortly after her victory: “(Rep. Sinema) believes the terms non-theist, atheist or non-believer are not befitting of her life’s work or personal character.”

As a nontheist, atheist and nonbeliever (take your pick), I find this statement deeply problematic.

It is perfectly fine, of course, if Sinema isn’t a nontheist, and it is understandable that she would want to clarify misinformation about her personal beliefs. But to say that these terms are “not befitting of her life’s work or personal character” is offensive because it implies there is something unbefitting about the lives and characters of atheists or nonbelievers.

Christmas exposes atheist divide on dealing with religion

Try substituting a religious group of your choice in place of atheist if you don’t agree: “[Rep. Sinema] believes the term Muslim is not befitting of her life’s work or personal character.” Does that sound right? It shouldn’t.

Of course, many do view Muslims as unfit for political office. In that respect, political opponents have regularly misidentified President Obama as a Muslim. Many have defended the president from such attacks by noting that Obama is a Christian.

But former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell rightly pointed out the pernicious underlying message such a defense sends:

The correct answer is: He is not a Muslim; he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, ‘What if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country?’ The answer is ‘No, that’s not America.’ Is there something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?

Just as Muslim is used as a political smear, politicians seem to avoid "atheist."

This is probably because the American electorate views both Muslims and atheists more unfavorably than they do other groups: According to a Gallup poll released in June, only 58% of Americans would vote for a “generally well-qualified” Muslim candidate, and only 54% would vote for an atheist. (This is the first time that number has been above 50% for an atheist candidate.)  By contrast, 91% would vote for a Jewish candidate, 94% for a Catholic and 80% for a Mormon.

There seems to be a greater general tolerance for, or blindness to, comments that marginalize or diminish atheists than those aimed at other groups.

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

Prominent individuals like Powell rightfully decry anti-Muslim fear-mongering in politics, but few speak out against those who wield accusations of atheism as a political weapon.

Whether people don’t see it or simply aren’t bothered isn’t clear, but it remains a problem.

I respect Sinema’s right to self-identify as she chooses, and I don’t wish to speculate about her religious beliefs. But while I celebrate that she is comfortable enough to openly identify as bisexual, I find her response to being labeled an atheist troubling.

Why not instead say that she’s not an atheist, but so what if she was?

The 113th Congress is rich with diversity. As an interfaith activist, I am glad to see the religious composition of Congress more closely reflect the diversity of America. As a queer person, I’m glad that LGBT Americans are seeing greater representation in Washington.

But as a proud atheist and humanist, I’m disheartened that the only member of Congress who openly identifies as nonreligious has forcefully distanced herself from atheism in a way that puts down those of us who do not believe in God.

We are Americans of good character, too.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Chris Stedman.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Politics

soundoff (3,637 Responses)
  1. Ricky

    Only fools believe in God because some other fools wrote it on a book (My own Psalm 14-23-4)

    If a God wanted us to follow her/his religion, wouldn't she/he just say so? (Also Me Psalm 14-23-5)

    How about a short appearance to everyone every other generation and say, "hey guys, don't need to argue and kill each other, this dude over here has the real Book, so just follow it or I'll put you in the naughty list" (More of me Psalm 14-23-6)

    What is all the mystery? (Me again Psalm 14-23-7)

    January 9, 2013 at 1:48 am |
    • CastledKing

      Just for the record, I would not read your book.

      January 9, 2013 at 2:02 am |
    • Hello

      The religious myths and their dogma books are created for one specific purpose as political tools.

      Read Caesar's Messiah by Joseph Atwill on how the christian myth was created, by whom and why.
      Not only does Joe's discovery take down the Christian myth but Islam as well, because in the Koran it
      sites the christian mythic characters...so since the christian myth is a fake/lie then so is the Muslim one.
      That's what happens when you base YOUR myth and its dogma on one myth not realizing the one you site is also a fake.
      The same goes for the Morman myth..
      A real deity would not write a dogma book siting other myths that are known fakes.. At least you would expect an all knowing supernatural being to be at least smart enough to know the difference.. but of course these myths were created by ignorant mere humans who have their real agenda to use mythological supernatural junk to control others to make the myth salesmen rich and powerful.
      Read the book. Yertle the Turtle by Dr Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel- check Wikipedia) to see now when the lager group believes in one individual – myth– happens.. and what happens when the larger group realizes.. that the one is not all that smart or good for the group.
      Others are caught up in the "story" of the one so he can get what he wants for himself and all the others suffer to make that WANT happen for the one.. Then when the group realizes that that WANT of the one they live to support is not REAL or good for the group... and then the all go out and find what is good them as individuals and not sacrifice their lives for the WANT and control of ONE.. aka the GOD and its myth.

      January 9, 2013 at 3:21 am |
  2. Wanderer

    I know for sure nobody knows God. I don’t know why many people keep believing other people who don’t know God.

    January 9, 2013 at 1:36 am |
    • Hello

      When someone says " I do not believe in GOD" I question if they understand what atheism is.. There is a lot more to atheism than not believing in a specific deity. To me.. As an atheist I say... I do not believe in the supernatural. as my non-belief is not limited to the christian etc definition of a god.. being a MALE. When you say "I do not believe in god".. you are limiting yourself to what is defined as a monotheistic "one god character" However when an atheist states I do not believe in the supernatural that includes all definitions of a supernatural being and whatever traits or behaviors s/h/it is claimed to be or do. I do not limit my non-belief to a Desert myth rooted deity. Sumerian, Egyptian, Jewish, Christian, Muslim.. etc.
      Atheism it not about not believing in a male supernatural being only "the GOD"... It includes anything supernatural not just the definition of a monotheist MALE god as defined by monotheists in their myth.
      It is like saying "I do not believe on the EASTER Bunny .. which narrows your non-belief to a fictional character that is a animal that colors hard boiled eggs and hides them every year in the spring.. or I do not believe in Santa Claus .. another fictional character who brings toys to children every Dec 25th, There by singling out each character as an individual . But instead I say "I do not believe in fictional characters" Rabbits do not color eggs and hide them in the spring, and Santa Claus does not deliver toys every year on Dec 25th.
      However... I am not anti celebration either. I celebrate the spring equinox and and the winter Solstice.. as wonderful Natural events of our planet (the changing seasons based on our changing tilt of the earth as it travels around the sun). The fictional characters can be a part of those celebrations as they are REALLY accepted as not being real.. except for children until they are told or realize otherwise. Just as we all go out and celebrate Halloween, yet we know the characters we dress up our kids and ourselves an just wonderful fun. I do not think there are many, who at least now believe there are witches who fly on broom sticks every Oct 31st. But that does not mean we can not, as culture enjoy the experience of celebrating Halloween ..Just as we do not believe there is a Cupid either. All these fictional characters and the myths they represent are no different than the mythical characters in religions/myths that have a defined GOD-Male being as it main character/ruler in their dogma.
      To an Atheist, god/s, goddess/s. Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, witches, etc are all the same... supernatural characters humanity has created.. for whatever reason.. They are all imaginary characters.. We can enjoy their stories, but in reality we know they are ALL not real.
      Check out the web sites The Domain of Man, Caesar's Messiah, Joseph Campbell – The Masks of the Gods, James Frazer- The Golden Bough, and other mythological web sites. for info on the gods humanity has created.

      If you believe that one supernatural character is true, then you must believe they are all true, because the all come from the same place.. human imagination. If one is not true then they are all not true... That's what Atheist is. realizing that none of they are true. not just one..THE GOD...

      January 9, 2013 at 2:42 am |
  3. CastledKing

    I would rather have read more about where the congresswoman stands politically, then religiously.

    You can't change someones beliefs, so why spend time doting on the subject when there are other tangible concerns and arguments that need attention and resolution.

    January 9, 2013 at 1:35 am |
  4. Doc Ock

    I don't vote for anyone based on their race, religion, non-religion or gender; I vote for where they stand on the issues that affect me, my family and my community. I care about equality, clean air and water, fairness in taxation, medical care, access to education, jobs, safe streets and schools.....what God or no god that a politician chooses to believe is irrelevant in the job they do. If you had a serious Brain issue that required life or death surgery you'ld probably want the best neurosurgeon that you could possibly get and probably wouldn't care if the surgeon was a gay, female, Buddhist from France...just as long as she was the best possible surgeon.

    January 9, 2013 at 1:35 am |
    • Yeah

      That sounds good, but they never actually say where they really stand. Look at all the Republicans who just voted to raise taxes after swearing they wouldn't.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:41 am |
    • Doc Ock

      Absolutely they do not keep all their promises; however I try and focus on the issues and see where the guy who will represent my community stands; their political record, what they did professionally before politics, do they have a degree, what in, have they ever been involved in volunteering or a charity. I will vote for the candidate based on those things. I don't care where or what church they go to or don't go to. I hate when religion is part of an election as it allows candidates to attack each other on religious grounds instead of having to discuss actual issues.

      January 9, 2013 at 2:17 am |
  5. Helen

    Religion seems to be the root of all evil as can be seen from actions in history and they carry on even today. Just read all these comments. Causes too much anger in people. Just not worth it. I don't identify with a religion for this reason. I don't think anyone can honestly say that God exist or that he doesn't exist. Don't think our mental capacity can handle that question just yet so no use in trying to answer what we can't understand.

    January 9, 2013 at 1:34 am |
    • Answer

      Frankly I think we, humans, can. If a god showed up with all their glory and does their thing. Boom shacka lacka – no disagreements.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:39 am |
    • lol??

      Madam, ever wear a headcovering? I can sell you a real nice Easter Bonnet with a whole salad bar on it. Reasonable. BTW, it's suitable for parades.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:47 am |
  6. RustyHinges8

    I understand the misunderstanding of this article, and I believe the author may have wanted to say that Rep Sinema admits her religious preference is “none”….a non-believer…an atheist. Due to all of the media attention, she is merely stating that she should be seen through her “life’s work or personal character” instead of the media making the big issue, her lack of religion.

    January 9, 2013 at 1:33 am |
  7. Dawn

    I am an atheist but I usually refer to myself as a humanist. The problem with telling people that you're an atheist is that it has a negative connotation (I don't believe in a god). What I like about humanism is there's a set of values that is attached to that association. While I don't believe in god and an afterlife I do believe in a social construct. We all have to get along somehow. If you want to believe in god that's fine. I can respect that. But please don't disrespect the fact that I don't.

    January 9, 2013 at 1:32 am |
    • Answer

      Every atheist is a humanist.

      It's just that the religious people love to pigeon hole one label onto the word atheists to convince people that "they're evil people". It's really what they want to do. If you can't stand an antagonizing opponent who beats you up constantly with reason and logic.. you resort to vilifying them.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:36 am |
    • Athy

      Dawn. We have to change the negative connotation of atheism. For me, it's positive. I look at believers as being hobbled by their nonsense beliefs and atheists as being the more enlightened of my friends. That's what we should aim for.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:43 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Respect the person, not the belief

      January 9, 2013 at 1:44 am |
    • Hello

      as the Happy Heretic Judith Hayes said in her book. Finding good in the bible is like looking for pearls in a pile of chitz.
      The so called moral codes that are embedded in the christian myth or the Muslim one too for that matter came from ancient philosophers discoveries/ statements long before those mythic books were created. Those moral codes those myths claims to the the teachings of their god/prophets are plagiarized ideas from the Greek and other philosophers from a much earlier time,. They are written / included in the Jewish, christian, Muslim myth dogma books giving the reader the assumption that these are new or original concepts by the deity/s... when in fact all those ideas we call moral codes had been written before and defined long before those supernatural myths were created/ written.
      the Christian and Islam myths are nothing be plagiarized moral codes with supernatural tales tossed in to support the deity they want to control the believers in.

      Pearls ( moral codes) buried in mounds of chitz ( mythic dogma)... and passed off as original material from an imaginary deity.
      All it takes to know this it to research the writings of the earlier philosophers to discover the truth.
      There is nothing new... in those pearls... they have been a part of humanity long before the GODs were created.

      January 9, 2013 at 3:39 am |
  8. bitXbit

    Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1a)

    January 9, 2013 at 1:31 am |
    • Observer

      "I create evil" – God

      January 9, 2013 at 1:32 am |
    • John Boy

      Circular logic: the Bible says the Bible is right.

      I have yet to meet a Christian who can debate without the use of fallacies

      January 9, 2013 at 1:32 am |
    • EvidenceBased4

      Thinking people say it out loud.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:32 am |
    • Xaq

      Quoting scripture to convince me that your point of view is correct is like proving the existence of Superman by showing me a comic book. I can write down all kinds of cryptic sounding crap, but that doesn't make it any more true in 2000 years than it is right now.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:38 am |
    • Dsculpin

      The only good god is a dead god.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:40 am |
    • Yeah

      Only dumbshits think that hearts can talk.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:42 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      bitXbit,

      Nice Cult logic

      January 9, 2013 at 1:45 am |
    • Ricky

      Only fools believe in God because some other fools wrote it on a book (My own Psalm 14-23-4)

      If a God wanted us to follow her/his religion, wouldn't she/he just say so? (Also Me Psalm 14-23-5)

      How about a short appearance to everyone every other generation and say, "hey guys, don't need to argue and kill each other, this dude over here has the real Book, so just follow it or I'll put you in the naughty list" (More of me Psalm 14-23-6)

      What is all the mystery? (Me again Psalm 14-23-7)

      January 9, 2013 at 1:47 am |
    • tallulah13

      Of course that's what the bible says. The bible is the carefully edited handbook constructed by men who profited from the belief in christ and god. Only a fool falls for that sort of blatant propaganda.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:49 am |
    • Jason

      Says the fool who blindly follows some 6 to 2 thousand year old folktales most of which are created by a bunch of sheep herders.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:53 am |
    • bitXbit

      Laws of Logic could not exist without a God. If we are just chemicals reacting together, then there would be no need for logic. Because my chemicals could say the Bible is true because it says it is true, and your chemicals would not need to care about an abstract concept of logic, if everything is just physical matter. The fact that you care shows there is a God.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:55 am |
    • tallulah13

      Human empathy allows us to live in societies. Living in societies has allowed humans to survive and thrive. It has nothing to do with any god. In fact, religion has proven to be a catalyst for strife and violence.

      January 9, 2013 at 2:06 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "Laws of Logic could not exist without a God"

      This is just nonsense. If god created logic than you are asserting an illogical god at some later point "created" logic. If you say logic always existed than your god is not necessary for logic to exist. Your argument is insipid. My guess is someone told you this and you just accepted the claim....funny how that works.

      January 9, 2013 at 2:12 am |
    • Hello

      that statement is just a way of protecting the belief in the GOD.. it has nothing to do with being foolish.. in fact the opposite is true..

      only a fool would believe in a GOD.

      Read Caesar's Messiah by Joseph Atwill on more of these reverse statements in the bible.

      There are many examples of what the bible says is really the reverse is true. Its part of the jokes in the Bible.

      Like God created man in his image.. when in fact the opposite is true.. Man created their gods in their image.

      January 9, 2013 at 3:45 am |
  9. Lala K

    Atheism is just as hard-nosed as any organized religion. What's wrong with Spiritual But Not Religious? And what's wrong with being agnostic and saying I just don't know?

    January 9, 2013 at 1:24 am |
    • Athy

      What's wrong with saying the world is just what it looks like; no superstitious nonsense required.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:27 am |
    • hal 9001

      I agree, "Lala K". Mankind should let X = X.

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmLjVD2VAws&w=640&h=390]

      January 9, 2013 at 1:32 am |
    • EvidenceBased4

      Because "spiritual" requires the same belief in invisible powers that religion does. There is no evidence for anything supernatural.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:35 am |
    • Ricky

      There is nothing wrong, it is your right to do so. But if you prefer to say that you are an Atheist, there should not be an issue with that either. I used to call myself an atheist because I don't have proof either way, but I don't mind being called an Atheist because for me the changes of there being a deity of any kind overseeing our lives are close to none. I would be more inclined to think that there were unicorns, and dragons at some time in history, or that aliens posed as Gods, than to think that there is a real deity.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:35 am |
    • small 'c' christian

      +1, Lala

      January 9, 2013 at 1:36 am |
    • Florist

      I agree, Lala. Saying that this description doesn't match her personality is the last thing form offensive. She simply means that it doesn't match her personality. And no, writer, it doesn't change it when you put Muslim in there in place of nontheist. It's exactly the same. And I say this as someone who is most assuredly an atheist.

      January 9, 2013 at 2:02 am |
  10. Liam LIC

    I do not know why Rep. Sinema prefers not to use the words atheist, non-theist or non-believer. However, each of those words is defined by the absence of a god or the absence of belief. If one has never experienced god or belief, to define oneself by the absence of god or belief may be irrelevant. I have never spoken French, yet I define myself as an English-speaker not as a non-French speaker.

    Let us allow Rep. Sinema to define herself as befits her.

    January 9, 2013 at 1:23 am |
  11. Harlequinn

    Maybe she simply had an issue with the label. Perhaps she holds complex beliefs about the nature of goodness, spirituality, humanity and our relationship to the universe that do not qualify as "non-theist, atheist or non-believer". Not everyone who does not follow an Abrahamic/Judeo-Christian belief structure or any other organized religion identifies with atheism, or even agnosticism.

    For some people, all that matters is that they are here and now and live their lives based on that fact and not get caught up in speculation about how they may or may not have gotten here. Any offense taken at the choice of words seems to be a product of the author's interpretation of what was said and not what was actually said.

    January 9, 2013 at 1:23 am |
    • John

      Agnosticism is Atheism. Quit trying to redefine the word please.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:37 am |
    • small 'c' christian

      John- Get your head out of wherever it is and look it up. Agnostism is not the same as atheism. The definitions are available to anyone with a computer. Eerily enough, my spidey sense tells me that you have access to one Why not look it up? (Hint- try something like the Oxford Dictionary online rather than a church-sponsored site).

      January 9, 2013 at 2:54 am |
    • Hello

      An agnostic is an atheist waiting to accept the fact that the supernatural is not REAL.

      January 9, 2013 at 3:49 am |
    • small 'c' christian

      ..or not.

      January 9, 2013 at 4:10 am |
  12. Wanderer

    Sacred, Secular, Religion, Atheist, Holy, Mundane, God, and Satan are just words. Without saying these words, how do we know what or who they are?

    January 9, 2013 at 1:21 am |
    • Answer

      Opinions.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:22 am |
    • Nathan Wentzlaff

      Okay Neo, shouldn't have taken the red pill...haha

      January 9, 2013 at 1:23 am |
    • Wanderer

      @Nathan Wentzlaff
      Okay Neo, shouldn't have taken the red pill...haha

      You still don’t know what you have taking, do you?

      January 9, 2013 at 1:30 am |
    • Hello

      Perfect answer... ANSWER.

      January 9, 2013 at 3:51 am |
  13. Richard the Lionheart

    What are you so proud of as an atheist? The cowardly act of not acknowledging you one and only God and Creator? And what do you want for this a trophy? On judgement day you will receive what you deserve.

    January 9, 2013 at 1:18 am |
    • Answer

      When is the date?

      Go on give everyone a good dose of fear to sway them. Go on whack job.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:20 am |
    • Brilliant

      If you are unable to deal with reality without the use of illusion, then by all means, keep believing in your illusion. The stronger amongst us can deal with the real world as it is, without the delusional relinterpretation of it.

      Why did you choose to be abusing? Violated the 9th commandment.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:21 am |
    • Athy

      Bring it. It's all BS.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:21 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Richard the Lionheart", but "God", "Creator" and "judgement day" are all elements of mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      January 9, 2013 at 1:25 am |
    • Observer

      Richard the Lionheart

      "The cowardly act of not acknowledging you one and only God"

      WRONG. With the majority of Americans being believers, it is the opposite of "cowardly" to say someone is atheist.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:29 am |
    • Xaq

      Which takes more bravery, following along with the vast majority of your culture as they say and do things that don't make sense, or trusting your own ability to reason?

      January 9, 2013 at 1:29 am |
    • EvidenceBased4

      Ironic to see the one clinging to a security blanket, calling a coward the one brave enough to let go of it.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:37 am |
    • impartial oberver

      Ricardito: Do you really "believe" in something you cannot demonstrate nor prove? Don't you have the basic, minimal common sense to realize that you are a chump for buying in to a racket based on naive, child-like fairytales?

      It says alot that most Americans are "believers" in one religion or another. If all were smart enough to place REASON beyond FAITH, ours would be a better, more benign world. I walk alone, one of the barely 15% of Americans who believe in REALITY and are not afarid to say: I DON"T KNOW (yet).

      January 9, 2013 at 1:38 am |
    • tallulah13

      Hey, Dick: There is no logical reason to believe in something for which there is no proof. You are not morally superior. You have simply chosen to believe in a specific mythology because it offers unsubstantiated promises of the rewards that you desire.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:44 am |
    • John

      As an Atheist, I, unlike you Mr Lionheart, Do not need a crutch to deal with my everyday life. If you wish to believe in an ancient religious belief, that is your problem. Just afford those of us that choose to exist in the here and now a little respect.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:46 am |
    • small 'c' christian

      Here's a radical thought. Some of the true atheists here are far braver than you are, Dick. They are not afraid to stand up for their (non)belief in the face of bullies such as you, that GOP_Go guy and some others. In a way, does that not make them at least a little similar to the Jesus you flount so loudly? Did he not stand up to the majority? The money-lenders? the scribes and pharesees, even Herod himself? Yet you condem them simply for being not the same as you, just as Caiaphas did all those years ago.

      Anyone else find that something of a coincidence?

      January 9, 2013 at 3:02 am |
    • Hello

      No..an atheist is person who realizes they are not being bamboozled by mythic krap.

      January 9, 2013 at 3:53 am |
    • Hello

      The Joy of Freedom
      Robert G. Ingersoll (1833 -1899)
      When I became convinced that the Universe is natural – that all the ghosts
      and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into
      every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of Freedom. The
      walls of my prison crumbled and fell. The dungeon was flooded with light
      and all the bolts, bars and the manacles became dust. I was no longer a
      servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide
      world – not even in infinite space.
      I was Free.

      January 9, 2013 at 4:02 am |
    • Hello

      Free to think, to express my thoughts
      Free to live to my own ideal
      Free to live for myself , and those I loved
      Free to use my faculties, all my senses
      Free to spread imagination's wings
      Free to investigate, to guess and dream, and hope
      Free to judge and determine for myself
      Free to reject all ign_orant and cruel creeds, all the "inspired" books that
      sav_ages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past .
      Free from popes and priests
      Free from all the " called " and the "set apart"
      Free from san_ctified mistakes and holy lies
      Free from the fear of eternal pain
      Free from the winged monsters of the night
      Free from devils, ghosts and gods

      January 9, 2013 at 4:09 am |
    • Hello

      For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the
      realms of my thought – no air, no space, where fancy could not spread
      her painted wings.
      No chains for my limbs
      No lash3s for my back
      No fires for my fl3sh

      January 9, 2013 at 4:23 am |
    • Hello

      To those who fell on the f!erce fields of war, to those who died in dung3ons with chains.
      To those who proudly m0unted scaff0ld's stairs
      To those whose bones were crush3d, whose fl3sh was scarred and torn

      January 9, 2013 at 4:29 am |
    • Hello

      To those by fire con_-sumed
      To all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and
      deeds have given freedom to the sons (and daughters ) of men (and women).
      And I vowed to grasp the torch that they held, and hold it high, that light might conquer darkness still.
      for more from Robert Ingersoll go to Secular web's Historical Library.

      January 9, 2013 at 4:33 am |
  14. donnylone

    Jesus christ is lord

    January 9, 2013 at 1:14 am |
    • Athy

      Man, that's profound bullshit. Thank you for your amazingly insightful comment. You've changed the world forever.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:18 am |
    • Nathan Wentzlaff

      Athy, While I understand your disposition. I don't think that arguing with vulgar language is going to prove you to "know" that this statement is not true. To deny this statement would mean that most of Western Culture would not exist because it is rooted firmly in Jesus' teachings.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:22 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "donnylone", but "Jesus christ", "Jesus is lord", "christ is lord" and "Jesus christ is lord" are elements of mythology, therefore your assertion is unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      January 9, 2013 at 1:23 am |
    • David

      Jesus save at CitiBank

      January 9, 2013 at 1:26 am |
    • Jah!

      Jack is Lord.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:28 am |
    • impartial oberver

      Donnylone: That is fiction, my friend. It;s very hard to truly respect the pursuit of "truth" in "fiction".
      What you believe in is nobody else's business, but you must understand that the moment you make that statement (Jesus, Lord) in public, you are subject to being held accountable for defending the veracity of your statement.

      Read Richard Dawkins " The God Delusion". He reasons-out the absurdity of believing in fairytales very nicely.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:29 am |
    • Athy

      Actually, Nathan, I have to apologize. Jesus is real. I know this to be true because I have a piece of toast with his image on it. It's for sale if you're interested.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:32 am |
    • Nathan Wentzlaff

      @Athy; I get the joke and its a funny one! However, if you study history there was clearly a man named Jesus who walked the earth about 4 BC- 30 AD. Do you question that he ever lived?

      January 9, 2013 at 1:44 am |
    • Jason

      What about Zeus/ Jupiter, Amun-Ra, Oden, Xenu, and Cthulhu?

      January 9, 2013 at 1:49 am |
    • Athy

      Acually, Nate, I agree that there probably was a Jesus (or someone who became Jesus through translation). Logically, it's difficult to imagine a religion like Christianity developing without some central figure "catalyzing" it, so to speak. But my beliefs stop at the supernatural border. To me all nature can be (or eventually will be) explained using plain old science and logic. Far more satisfactory than some magical hocus pocus (which remains unexplained).

      January 9, 2013 at 2:02 am |
    • small 'c' christian

      Athy, we disagree at times, but not this time. 100% for this one.

      January 9, 2013 at 3:17 am |
  15. Jerry

    I consider myself agnostic, which to my understanding means I don't claim to know. So to me an Athiest is the same as any religion that makes claim to a knowledge of life and it's end.

    January 9, 2013 at 1:14 am |
    • Nathan Wentzlaff

      Thank you for being honest Jerry. I would much rather talk to an honest atheist/agnostic than a self righteous "Christian". Many people think they know it all. I believe that there is a God and through faith in Christ we come into a loving relationship with the living God. See and that is what I believe. I believe this because I am a first hand witness (it happened to me directly without me trying God revealed himself to me – I was only listening to Christian Hip Hop at the time). Now I don't claim to know everything about the universe but I have strong beliefs about how and when. Many atheists claim to know the exact time, date, and method of everything there is to know. I agree with you that claiming to "KNOW" there is/is not a God is arrogant. To remove God though, you have to remove much of history, ethics, culture, and morality found throughout the Bible that has made what we consider good/bad. Treat others how you want to be treated is Jesus' statement.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:21 am |
    • Cocopuf4u

      So, as an atheist you must be worshipping yourself? You then must know everything? LOL

      January 9, 2013 at 1:25 am |
    • Answer

      @Cocopuf4u

      It's really the fact that it is you. You know less than anyone else. And it's called "education" for you – to play catch up.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:26 am |
    • small 'c' christian

      Hey CocoPuff. He said "agnostic", not atheist. They are different, you know.

      January 9, 2013 at 4:13 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Jerry: One defines knowledge, the other defines belief. Any honest christian is an Agnostic Theist-they don't know for sure but they believe there is a god. An Atheist strictly says that the evidence is not there to make believing in a god reasonable and if they're honest, they'll agree that they can't be sure. If either Atheist or Theist say that they are sure there isn't/is is a god then they're Gnostic.

      January 9, 2013 at 4:38 am |
  16. divinecovenant

    I think you miss one vital piece of evidence Mr. Stedman. That is that atheism is understood in vernacular to be those that not only do not believe in God, but ridicule those that do. Whether or nor you agree with this definition is irrelevant, but it's along the same lines as those atheists that identify all religious people as the Fundamentalists. Only this time, the shoe is on the other foot. One thing about religious people is that there are more than enough of us to drown out the Fundamentals. Sadly, there is not enough of you all to make enough noise to drown out the fundamentalist atheists.

    January 9, 2013 at 1:14 am |
  17. Corey

    I would agree that atheists have become about as bad as vegans with their "preachiness". I am atheist myself, but I really don't care what others worship, or if they hate me, or think me immoral. I really don't give a rats a**! I'm quite happy with my beliefs. :) or lack of beliefs! lol

    January 9, 2013 at 1:13 am |
    • Answer

      Well you don't care on certain topics. But overall I bet you care about the various laws.

      And when you involve yourself in your education of what these religious bigots want to do you'll do your bit.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:19 am |
    • Pushover1234

      And that is all good and well. Personally, I am agnostic. I have had a few close calls in life, that make me somewhat believe in a higher power kept me from getting killed. Not sure if it was the God of the Muslims, Christians and Jews, or Hindus and Buddhists. But I do get angry when the Atheists want to ban everything that says "GOD" on it. I feel these people are very insecure in their own belief of the absence of God, and feel they must enforce it upon others.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:20 am |
    • Brilliant

      Why did the god who kept you alive allow kindergarteners to be slaughtered? If he helped you, then he could have helped them, but didn't.

      That is the logical trap to your belief: it means that whatever helped you is profoundly unjust and cruel. However, what really happened was something happened, and you chose to interpret it a a supernatural event even though it was just normal coincidence at work.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:25 am |
    • Pushover1234

      There is quiet a difference driving 100 mph and getting ready to pass a school bus over a hill you cant see over, and something tells you to get back in your lane, and a car coming 60 mph in the opposite direction, from some maniac going and shooting up kids. Don't try to twist the two. Fate? Maybe. That's why I am agnostic, dufus.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:31 am |
    • Brilliant

      No, you are misinterpreting intuition for an external force. Of course you sensed that passing a bus at high speed on a blind hill was a very bad idea and responded. There is nothing supernatural in that. Why you chose to interpret that as a supernatural force is a bit odd, but it is just you.

      The same force that was able to get you to to change your bad behavior would have been able to put thooughts into the killers mind to stop him from shooting kindergarteners as well. That is the fatal flaw of every testimony of God saving someone – it slams him against the Problem of Evil, that he didn't act where he should have.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:39 am |
  18. Nathan Wentzlaff

    I think one of the biggest beliefs of atheism is the bad science called evolution that has permeated our entire culture. People believe that there is no judgement so they live how their flesh desires. Basically doing things that are destructive and do not last. I am not saying this of all atheist but there are plenty of infamous atheist who didn't believe that they would be judged by God. Adolf Hitler believed that he could progress evolution farther by destroying the lesser races...

    January 9, 2013 at 1:12 am |
    • Akira

      Adolf Hitler was a Christian, so I'm unsure of the point you're trying to make by bringing him up...

      January 9, 2013 at 1:19 am |
    • David

      Nat, Hitler was not an atheist. Look up "GOTT MIT UNS". = "God is with us" . It was written on the standard german ww2 uniform belt buckle. And Nat, the Catholic Church supported old Adolf.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:24 am |
    • Gadflie

      Bad science? Nathan, I strongly suspect that you wouldn't know good science if it bit you on the keister.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:26 am |
    • Nathan Wentzlaff

      Adolf Hitler twisted the Bible into a Neo-Nazi agenda to exterminate the Jews. Jesus was a Jew. No God-fearing Christian could even think of doing what he did. He believed in the evolution of species and murdered millions of people. Though shall not murder was not in his revised Ten Commandments. Now I would strongly encourage you to study many wolves in sheeps clothing that may have twisted Jesus into someone he was not.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:27 am |
    • Jah!

      Hitler paid his church taxes right up to the day he died.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:27 am |
    • Jason

      Basically, you're just saying that you're an uneducated m0r0n who doesn't know what evolution is talking about, that evolution is one of the most well supported scientific concepts, and that Hitler was a Christian.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:47 am |
    • tallulah13

      What Hitler did was the anti.thesis of evolution. It was more akin to breeding poodles - breeding individuals with "desirable" traits in order to created a specific type. That's about as far from evolution as it gets.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:55 am |
    • lol??

      tallulah13, no career wrecking accidental pregnancies? Everybody dreams about working for a tyrannical gubmint or it's sons, the corps.

      January 9, 2013 at 2:23 am |
  19. Pushover1234

    Anybody, no matter their religion, that comes onto a chatboard and critcizes spelling, grammer or punctuation, should just realize they are a complete loser. I am sorry, it is 1 am and my secretary went to bed hours ago.

    January 9, 2013 at 1:11 am |
    • Stefan

      hahaha....true for little mistakes, and for the fact that people just don't follow proper grammar when typing on the web. However, with some of the awful stuff it just shows the intelligence of the person who made the comment. Or lack there of.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:19 am |
    • Pushover1234

      I was never a wiz with a keyboard, and the lag stinks too. Both make for mistakes. But in chat rooms, I am not wasting time to reread everything I type. If this were my doctoral thesis, that is one thing, internet chat board?

      January 9, 2013 at 1:23 am |
    • lol??

      Stefan, ye ol' ending a sentence with a preposition is tuff to beat 'specially if one makes habitual propositions, or in your case, lackof there. No hard feelings of miscalculations made without intent or a verb? There's a frequent poster called lionly lamb that taught me thus with lee.

      January 9, 2013 at 2:04 am |
  20. envito

    Grammar check, please.

    But there’s a slight issue: Sinema doesn’t actually appears to be a nonbeliever.

    January 9, 2013 at 1:11 am |
    • Athy

      Try the reply function, enny.

      January 9, 2013 at 1:46 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.