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Godless mom strikes a chord with parents
A CNN iReport essay on raising kids without God draws record-breaking number of comments.
January 18th, 2013
06:32 PM ET

Godless mom strikes a chord with parents

By Daphne Sashin, CNN

Deborah Mitchell remembers the time, when her boys were younger, and another mom asked her about her religious beliefs.

Mitchell was raised Catholic but moved away from religion in her early 20s. She told the other mother that she didn’t go to church and didn’t even really believe in God.

Then, she says, the recruiting started.

“She used to call my house and tell me she was praying for me. She’d leave me messages and leave cards in my mailbox with scripture,” Mitchell says. “I do realize that she meant well, but at the same time, I know my views were seen as wrong. I needed to be ‘saved.’”

Mitchell, a mother of two teenagers in Texas who feels “immersed in Christianity,” started a blog about raising her children without religion because she felt frustrated and marginalized. She didn’t want to feel so alone, she says.

This week, she gained a whole new audience and the reassurance that she's not alone. Her essay on CNN iReport, “Why I Raise My Children Without God,” drew 650,000 page views, the second highest for an iReport, and the most comments of any submission on the citizen journalism platform.

It starts:

When my son was around 3 years old, he used to ask me a lot of questions about heaven. Where is it? How do people walk without a body? How will I find you? You know the questions that kids ask.

For over a year, I lied to him and made up stories that I didn’t believe about heaven. Like most parents, I love my child so much that I didn’t want him to be scared. I wanted him to feel safe and loved and full of hope. But the trade-off was that I would have to make stuff up, and I would have to brainwash him into believing stories that didn’t make sense, stories that I didn’t believe either.

Mitchell posted the essay detailing her seven reasons for raising her children without God on CNN iReport because she felt there wasn’t anyone else speaking for women or moms like her. As she sees it, children should learn to do the right things because they will feel better about themselves, not because God is watching. She asks questions like: If there was a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God, why would he allow murders, child abuse and torture?

Lots of people disagreed with her. Tons. They flagged her iReport as inappropriate and criticized CNN for linking to her essay on the CNN.com homepage. But there were plenty of others who wrote thoughtful rebuttals, respectfully disagreeing with Mitchell while not foisting their own beliefs on her. Take, for instance, a Methodist dad, who said faith can be hard to nail down, but “not to avail ourselves of the power of something we don't completely understand is silly.”

Others said Mitchell presented a simplistic view of religion.

“Presentations such as these seem to ignore a substantial percentage of believers - well-educated, compassionate, liberal folk, Christian and non-Christian alike - who, I feel, are able to worship without being blind to the realities of the world, or without lying to their children about their understanding of these complexities,” wrote commenter RMooradian. “I'll be raising my children with God, but I understand those who cannot!”

But Mitchell’s essay also struck a chord with hundreds of like-minded parents raising children in a world where lack of belief puts them in the minority, often even in their own family.

“Thank you for writing this. I agree with everything you say, but I’m not brave enough to tell everyone I know this is how I feel,” a woman who called herself an “agnostic mommy of two in Alabama” posted in the comments. “Thank you for your bravery and letting me know I’m not alone.”

It’s a growing group. One in five Americans is not affiliated with any religion, and that number has grown by 25% in the past five years, according to a survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Of that group, 88% said they were not looking for religion, although 68% of the unaffiliated said they believe in God. 

Brittany Branyon, an American graduate student and substitute teacher living in Germany, was also compelled to express her thanks to Mitchell. Branyon was raised Southern Baptist in Georgia and Alabama. In high school, when she began to question the theory of creation and befriended gay and lesbian students, she says her mother tried to perform an exorcism.

“She opened all the windows and doors in the house, brought me to the door, held my shoulders and shook me while screaming, ‘Satan, get out of this child!’, ‘Satan, leave this child alone!’.”

After moving away from the South, she and her husband “became more comfortable in our secular ways,” but still take criticism from family members. They are now expecting their first child.

“Though we are elated to welcome our child into the world, we can’t help but dread the religious uproar that is to come from our families,” she wrote in an e-mail.

Such an uproar is familiar to Carol Phillips, a stay-at-home mother in northern Virginia. When she gave birth to her first child, she said her family was shocked that the baby wasn’t baptized. She said her mother-in-law cried and told her the little girl’s soul would not go to heaven.

Then there are the comments from strangers. Last year, Phillips said she and her daughter were at a birthday party when a tornado warning sounded.

“We were all in the basement keeping safe. A little girl was saying baby Jesus will keep us safe. My daughter asked who Jesus was. The rest of the time was spent hearing ‘I'll pray for you sweetie, we can take you to church with us if you want,’” Phillips told CNN.

Commenting on Mitchell’s iReport, Phillips said, “To live out loud and to speak freely about my beliefs brings many clucking tongues. I would think it’s easier to come out as gay than atheist.”

Mitchell said she spent years studying the history of religion and does believe it has “an important place in our community.” She has told her children that she’ll be fine if they decide to join a church when they are older.

She ended her essay:

I understand why people need God. I understand why people need heaven. It is terrifying to think that we are all alone in this universe, that one day we—along with the children we love so much—will cease to exist. The idea of God and an afterlife gives many of us structure, community and hope.

I do not want religion to go away. I only want religion to be kept at home or in church where it belongs. It’s a personal effect, like a toothbrush or a pair of shoes. It’s not something to be used or worn by strangers. I want my children to be free not to believe and to know that our schools and our government will make decisions based on what is logical, just and fair—not on what they believe an imaginary God wants.

After her post ran on CNN, Mitchell said she was encouraged by the number of people who agreed with her, or who disagreed but wanted to have a respectful discussion.

“I’m not saying that everybody should think how I do. I’m saying the people that do should have a place in our society and have acceptance and respect,” she said. “I just want to have children grow up and be able to not be afraid to say ‘I don’t believe that,’ or ‘I’m not part of that.’” 

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Christianity • iReport

soundoff (15,081 Responses)
  1. Correctlycenter

    Raising your kids in a godless world= abortion, drinking, drugs, defiance, rebellion, kids having kids, time in juvenile detention centers, kids in control in the home instead of the parents, suicide, dropping out of school, depression. Thanks godless moms!

    January 21, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • Madtown

      You're right, none of that happens in a church community!! Oh wait.....no, it all happens in the church community. Nevermind.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • Don't be ignorant

      I had god/sunday school/church shoved down my throat as a kid. Even went to private religious schools. Still ended up doing most of the stuff you blame godless moms for: abortion, drugs, drinking etc etc. I'm betting all the poor little kids molested by ministers would say the same thing. Open your eyes.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • Dan

      Because threatening them with an imaginary place call hell is so much better. I can see it did wonders for you.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What utter balderdash. The only person I know that ever had an abortion was a Mennonite. The only one of my close friends who ever got pregnant out of wedlock as a teenager was the daughter of two fundie idiots who were insti tutionalized for mental illness a few years later.

      You're so full of sh!t it's a wonder you are able to breathe.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Ummm – the more religion in the community, the more all of these things are present. Every statistic says that religion does NOT help with any of those factors – more teen pregnancy, more crime, etc, the more religion there is in an area. Sorry.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:55 pm |
  2. RobGR

    Freedom of religion or freedom from religion, it's your choice and that is why America is so great.

    Practice whatever you want in your own home as long as it does not harm others.

    The end.

    January 21, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • Dan

      What a beautiful world that would be if we didn't have to hear this absurd religious nonsense ever again.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      Dan... You are deceived. Without God, this world would tear itself apart in short order...

      January 21, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      JTF, you are not qualified to judge whether someone else is "deceived." You aren't qualified to judge cherry pies at a community fair.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
  3. virginia

    Reason exasparated asked emotion to stop crying" i am trying to think so I can come up with the answer to have you stop crying".

    January 21, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
  4. It is Called

    The RCC is not good for children

    The exhibits offer a glimpse at some 30,000 pages to be made public as part of a record-setting $660 million settlement. The archdiocese agreed to give the files to more than 500 victims of priest abuse in 2007, but a lawyer for about 30 of the priests fought to keep records sealed. A judge recently ordered the church to release them without blacking out the names of church higher-ups.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-201_162-57565046/files-show-l.a-archdiocese-manipulation-in-abuse-cases

    January 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
  5. Susan StoHelit

    I do believe to each their own – but I find it so ironic when SOME believers think that atheists are looking for the easy path. It's not the easy path. There's dealing with being a minority, and having to deal with the hard truth, rather than pretty lies, while it'd be nice to believe in a special all powerful being saving me from everything threatening, keeping me alive after death – it's just not true, and it's just far better to live in the real world for me.

    It's not the easy path – the easy path is the one that says you never die, and your loved ones don't die, and there's a big all powerful daddy looking out for you. But to each their own – I don't care if you want to believe it – just don't force me to follow your beliefs – no writing religion into law, into schools, no funding your religion with my taxes, no discrimination. It shouldn't be that hard – but it is.

    January 21, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
    • bygracethroughfaith

      the thing is, an atheist wants God to be fake. and that is sad to explain truth to someone who hates it. its like an alcoholic who is not ready to stop drinking themself to death.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Madtown

      that is sad to explain truth
      ----–
      Why is your preferred version of religion "truth", and others not?

      January 21, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      @bygracethroughfaith

      Listen, until you can prove your claim that there is a God, keep you mouth closed, as it makes you sound ridiculous.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • AntiReligous

      This is why atheists are forming community. We were created for community. This is were we thrive.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • bygracethroughfaith

      i am personally responsible before God, when the subject comes up, to proclaim the truth. I would be a coward to hold my friends hand as he jumps off a cliff. its an important responsibility especially in a world full of the athiest evolution deception. i am called to suffer for the sake of the gospel.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • Jeff

      Uhh bygrace you have that backwards its religion that is a drug and crutch, if it was real and you believe it why do you fear death or morn the passing of a loved one. If i knew after death we would be teleported to paradise i wouldnt be sad or fear death.

      Of course to make this teleportation work you need a priest, last rights, few candles and lots of brainless people sanding around praying

      January 21, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @bygracethroughfaith,

      "the thing is, an atheist wants God to be fake"

      Actually I would love for their to be a really cool nice powerful god. Maybe even several...or to believe that I am part of god. This just doesn't line up, however, and in particular the Christian god doesn't meet these criteria. The concept contradicts both itself and modern science, and some of us aren't able to wear the blinders that would be required to swallow something that just doesn't make sense. And in addition, the scientific errors, particularly in psychology, create dangerous misunderstandings in our world.

      This isn't to say there is no god concept that could be consistent. Without evidence, I still might not buy into even a consistent version (if I ever saw one). So I don't care if others believe in god if it makes them happy. But if they believe in a version inconsistent with logic and science, I will argue against those characteristics that are likely to cause believers to believe or act in ways that hurt society.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      I know a great many atheists who were devout believers once, religion a major support in their lives. They wanted religion to be true, were sad when they realized their doubts could not be answered, desperate to believe, turned to the Bible, to pastors, to church – and believed less and less – and finally had to face the truth – they did not believe there was any God.

      Atheists are not people who did not wish to believe – we're varied – and most of us once believed, some of us were once strong believers. Not me – I never did believe, and when I gave religion a chance, it still made no sense – but I have friends who once would have been vocal and pushy on the other side of this discussion, certain that they were saving souls.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • Gawd

      grace, you don't even get it. We don't want god to be fake. Your imaginary friend IS fake.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • tethys

      It's weird when people say "I'm an Atheist" and Christians automatically respond, "Why do you hate God?" I don't. I don't believe in it. I also do not believe in flying pink elephants. Do I hate those too?

      January 21, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Bygrace – atheists have lost their marriages, their kids, their jobs, their careers (many ministers and pastors have realized later they did not believe) as they realized they did not believe, and they could not believe, and they could not pretend. It would be so much easier for them to have pretended, so much easier for them to have just gone back to being Christian.

      Atheism isn't the easy path – people follow it because they believe it to be true. If you believe there to be a god – you of course have to live your life with that knowledge – how can you not? But if you believe there is none, to live otherwise is also ridiculous, to waste your one life, to waste this world, to waste relationships with others, helping others, condemning and judging others, based on a second life that isn't real, a judging god that isn't real.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
    • One one

      @susan, I am like you. I never did believe. (My parents are non-believers). When I was in high school, I hung out with a group for a while that was into religion. I tried to believe to be part of the group. It just didn't work. I couldn't buy into it.

      Now as a mature adult, the whole proposition seems completely absurd.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
  6. Tonya

    I cannot imagine living this life without knowing God. I am a daughter of my Heavenly Father who loves me, and I love Him. I will stand as a witness at all times, and in all things, and in all places as I strive to live the values of faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice & accountability, good works, integrity, and virtue. I believe as we come to accept and act upon these values we will be prepared to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation. I believe in God, the eternal Father, in His son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost and I will continue to teach my children about a loving Father in Heaven who hears and answers their prayers and who wants nothing more than for them to be happy in this life and to be able to return to live with Him again.

    January 21, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      Tonya, keep the faith, and don't let nothing deter you. Not even these crazy and completely wacked atheists on this forum...

      January 21, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • bygracethroughfaith

      you have been intrused with the gospel of truth, redemption, and peace. you have found favor with God for a reason. shine beloved!

      January 21, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Madtown

      I cannot imagine living this life without knowing God
      -----
      Can you describe this "knowing"? What does it mean to you? What do you feel you know? Personally, I don't think there's much of anything we can know about God, along the lines of details that I could know about you, or my family or friends. Maybe you're using a different definition of the word Know.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Jeff

      "loving Father in Heaven who hears and answers their prayers"

      Like which ones i heard there where lots of people praying in last hurricane that died, there are people praying right now about to be killed and they will die. Praying works as often as flipping a coin heads up of couse if you understood this you woudnt be posting what you did. now go light a candle hang up your talisman's and hope the horned red devil dont come in your house. maybe wear a robe and light a few candles because that woks and makes sense. it helps the magic of praying float up in the air to the old man hanging out in the sky.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      i can't imagine living in a self-contradicting reality...
      it just blows my mind when i try to think about it

      January 21, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      PLease just don't!!!! Learn something from this article, don't subject your offspring to the brainwashing you received. We need thinking people in this country, not sheep. Do you believe that a bat is a bird, like the bible tells you? Give your kids a chance at a happy life, an education in reason, logic, and science. So sad that your offspring will be a victim as you still are.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • One one

      Do you realize that everything you said exists and that you believe are simply creations of man' s imagination and exist only in your mind ?

      January 21, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • kent

      tonya = sheeple. tell your kids to follow god, and have them tell their kids, and so on, and so on.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • BeCivil

      Hi Tonya, Good post! My goals, morals, integrity and love of home and family sound IDENTICAL to yours! I simply don’t believe and that doesn't diminish my personal strength & happiness.

      JustTheFacts: You could learn a lot from Tonya. You say you are a Christian yet your words make it look like you are simply here to insult others. Aren't you supposed to be a fisher of men? If you ARE trying to fish – you're using stink bait. Maybe you could take a seminar so you will understand that you are putting an ugly, unappealing face on religion.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • TonyaIsNuts

      You're nuts if you think parents are bad just because they do not share your beliefs. All good parents raise their children to be productive citizens. People like you leave the parenting to god. Maybe that's why we have so many street gangs....

      January 21, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
  7. rr

    If this woman wants to burn in hell for eternity then let her. It is a shame that her children are lost because of their mother's ignorance.

    January 21, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      If this stuff is true, then people can learn it as adults – not merely impressionable children who can be made to believe anything.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      rr... I agree. If a parent is not teaching their children about God, then they are a bad parent. If your parents before you didn't teach you about God, then they were bad parents. Break the cycle. Because lives depend on it. Even yours...

      January 21, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • RobGR

      Why would she burn in hell when it's only something YOU believe in?

      Hell and Satan are Christian and Jewish deities.

      But you continue to judge her in our land that proclaims freedom of religion, because that's what you do, sit in judgement. But what makes you god? You do in your own mind.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • Dan

      It's people like you that really turn me off to religion. Did your parents have to threaten you with hell to get you to behave? You must have had awful parents. I feel bad for you.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • Gawd

      The person who believes that everything was created a few thousand years ago by an invisible guy in the sky, people created from magical ribs, talking snakes, etc. is calling someone ignorant. LOL.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Madtown

      If a parent is not teaching their children about God
      ---–
      Which version should they teach, though? There are so many, each culture has their own derivative. I'm not even suggesting God doesn't exist, I believe he does. But, since all major world religions are created by man, and have equal relevance, which flavor should be taught? Better just make it all of them, so you don't make a mistake.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Ed

      It is YOU who will boil forever in the Spaghetti Pot of Pain being whipped by His Noodly Apendage if YOU do not repent and confess that the Flying Spaghetti Minster is the one true Lord and Saviour.!!! Repent! REPENT!!!!!

      January 21, 2013 at 7:45 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      Susan StoHelit… It is a commandment from God that parents should bring their children up in the ways of the Lord. Any parent who fails to do that is a bad parent...

      Ephesians 6:4 – And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • JC

      And there we have it. The ultimate turn off from religion. The no-minds who attempt to promote their fairy tale beliefs through threats of fire and damnation. Thank you. A hundred new athiests a day thanks to people like you.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      Dan... Did your parents not threaten to tan your behind or punish you if you didn't do your homework or complete your chores? If they didn't, then they were bad parents, and that is the problem with you today. Hell and the lake are only the ultimate representation of that. It's where full grown adults go when they willingly disobey the commandments of God...

      January 21, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • JC

      How hilarious. Supporting your claim by citing a bible verse. Let me guess. The bible is good and right because the bible says its good and right. LMAO

      January 21, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So only parents who beat their kids are good parents? Explains much about your views of god, dumbfvck.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:54 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      JC... No one is "begging" you to be saved. If you don't want what we've got then you can "cheerfully" continue on to hell. Just don't expect to go to heaven...

      January 21, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      JC, are you really that stupid? Do you think heaven exists? I doubt the poster you addressed does. What use are you?

      January 21, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • jjo

      You are embarrassing yourself as you seem to be the ignorant one here. Why lie to kids about christian version of god and make them subject to abuse which is done in name of church by retards who themselves don't believe in goodness and god.

      January 21, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • BS=BeliefSystem

      The prime directive for those of sensible, private, non obtrusive faith should be not to be fishers of men and missionaries of the faithless for their god, but rather to work on the worst zealots of their congregations and teach them how to be ambassadors their saviors would be proud of. You American Taliban aren't doing your churches any public relations favors, that's for sure. Live like your Christ, for Christ's sake!

      January 21, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
  8. AntiReligous

    I wonder how long it will take before CNN shuts down these comments.

    January 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • monstermd

      What's the fun in that? Who wants to have a rational conversation in which people agree to disagree? It's a lot more fun to bash others who have a different belief than you while gloating in one's on false since of superior knowledge.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
  9. Susan StoHelit

    If they go to hell, trust me, they'll deserve it...

    OK, for what offense would it be deserved that you be tortured for an hour. Let's say a blowtorch applied to your fingers. Hmmmmmm....... since we're a civilized country – none. Even for murder, we wouldn't do that. But this supposed loving god – it's eternal torture with eternal fire everywhere, for a mere thought crime of failing to believe, failing to pick the right religion out of a great many choices.

    And you wonder why people don't believe, in this supposedly loving, insanely vicious god.

    January 21, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • sam

      Ignore JTF. He seems to be a real peach of a sociopath.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • bygracethroughfaith

      i understand how you feel. hell was created for the fallen angels. for everyone who lives after christ, we have all been justified. it is insane to reject redemption.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      sam – it's not JTF – this is a core part of the Christian religion – believe or burn in Hell. Not all Christians, but a substantial majority do believe in it. He's being direct in how he says it, but it is part of the religion, as much as they often like to look the other way.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Dan

      That's a nice way to spin it grace? Where is this imaginary place called hell? That's right. It does not exist.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • Dan

      That's a nice way to spin it grace. Where is this imaginary place called hell. That's right. It does not exist.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:39 pm |
    • John

      Aince Hell did not appear in the Bible until well after King David (in Isaih), what happened to those before the king? If it was there from the dawn of Adam, why not talk about it in those thousands of years prior?

      January 21, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  10. coca-kola

    do you people really believe that we just jumped out of some slime pit some 4.5 billion years ago? then we developed from a single self replicating cell, and lo, here we are. that takes a lot of faith, and quite frankly, i will not rest my eternity on such a stupid belief. however the historical evidence for the words and works of Jesus of Nazareth are very compelling and convincing to those who see and hear, however, more are concerned with their lusts than they are with the truth.

    January 21, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • Wow are you dumb

      Please do not reproduce.

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

      January 21, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • Dan

      Everything around you is screaming evolution but you can't hear it with your head up your butt. The bible is a made-up book. What don't you understand about that?

      January 21, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Evolution is not a belief, it is a scientific fact. Do you read anything other than the Bible?

      January 21, 2013 at 7:36 pm |
    • USDude

      Coca-kola – continue to "fight the good fight"! Great posts!

      January 21, 2013 at 7:37 pm |
    • coca-kola

      to; wow you are dumb, your to very late i have whole lot of children

      January 21, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      You're oversimplifying – but yep. Just like a baby develops from a mere single cell splitting into two – that is how life began. It's amazing, and it's true.

      Do you refuse to believe in babies, because they develop the same way? It's just as crazy sounding.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:41 pm |
    • BS=BeliefSystem

      Why do I find that, on average, atheists and agnostics are more tolerant and are more prone to civil discourse than those of faith? Coca Kola states "more are concerned with their lusts than they are with the truth." As if the religious hold exclusive rights to moral behavior-leaving the rest of us unwashed heathens to our LUSTS. That right there is one of the most arrogant qualities of a certain sector of religious individuals. I tire of these semantics games and the willy-nilly tossing around of the word "truths". You folks of faith who think this way (not all of you, mind you) hold no monopoly on truth. It's not an absolute. DOWN WITH DOGMAS-UP WITH CATMAS (relative-meta beliefs) LONG LIVE BOB!

      January 21, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • coca-kola

      to: Susan StoHelit, the way God has designed it takes only 9 months. How long does yours take? be real. Evolution is a very STUPID theory. Only a fool believes that a banana, mosquito, a lizard and a man have a common ancestor. You can believe this nonsense, just dont call it scientific fact.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • USDude

      To Wow you are Dumb – really? Bill Nye as your source? I have Jesus Christ as my source. However, I do agree with Bill Nye at 0:50 – he quotes Carl Sagan as saying when you are in love, you want to tell the world. I want to tell the world about Jesus' love for everyone. Jesus can change your life – Carl Sagan and Bill Nye can't. Look up Ken Hamm if you want a scientific discussion about evolution vs. creationism.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • BS=BeliefSystem

      When you hold a belief, you cease to entertain other possibilities and shut yourself off from discourse. I can't fathom greater arrogance.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:50 pm |
    • Sarah Mall

      Oh yeah, it's my lust that gets in the way of truth, not my thirst for scientific, anthropological, and historical facts compiled into comprehensible data that gives us a tiny glimpse of the truths of our universe. Do you even know what TRUTH means: "That which is true or in accordance with fact or reality" Tell me how an invisible, omnipotent being in the sky follows that definition....

      January 21, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Ken Ham is not a valid source for a discussion of anything relating to science/

      January 21, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
    • JC

      Evolution is observable and provable. Scientists dont claim to know everything, but every theory that's been proposed is supported by facts. Where are yours, you rwnc.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:57 pm |
    • Areyoukidding

      Evolution is not a belief, it is based on evidence. Something that is non existent in the case of god/Jesus. Religion had a purpose in the days when we didn't know where the sun disappeared at night!. It is terrifying to think that so many people are so easily manipulated in believing in fantasies for the benefit of those who control them. Great business model though!

      January 21, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • USDude

      You science guys probably also believe in global warming. So let's see, you also believe that the earth has been around for billions and billions of years. So, by analyzing a trend of 200 years of temperature data (I'm being generous here), you come to the conclusion that the earth is on a death spiral of increased heat that must be stopped at all costs. Seems like your sample size is a little small in relative to the historical dataset you believe in... It's like saying that the Washington Wizards won two games in a row and you now predict that they will win the NBA championship. Not only that, you have the arrogance to assign causality to this trend.

      January 21, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And idiots like you deny that the earth is warming.

      Who has more evidence to support belief?

      January 21, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • USDude

      Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son – ok, I'm open to the idea that the earth might be warming – even though I find it hard to justify the certainty that some scientists state. The question is... are you open to the idea that there is a God even though it goes against your understanding of science? I didn't think so – who is the closed-minded one again?

      January 21, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
  11. Pip

    born again christian really means My life was so horrible i need a crutch called religion to make it one more day, and an idea of a dead man to have a personal relationship with because I feel unloved.

    January 21, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Nice generalization, albeit wrong. Many Christians, before accepting Christ (a) had and continue to have a good life and (b) were loved and felt loved and continue to feel loved. Would you concede you've perhaps painted with far too broad a brush?

      January 21, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
  12. Truth1117

    "I only want religion to be kept at home or in church where it belongs. It’s a personal effect, like a toothbrush or a pair of shoes. It’s not something to be used or worn by strangers."

    Nice. So because religion is hard to explain to your children, your solution is for everyone else to conform to your belief that people shouldn't be who they are in public...and that their beliefs are comparable to a toothbrush. How tolerant. lol. Go America.

    January 21, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • religion,,

      little kids will believe anything their delusional parents will tell them.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      look up "straw man"
      go ahead, then come back

      January 21, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Dana

      Don't pray in my school and I won't think in your church.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • sam

      It's not hard to explain. It's everywhere, even in things it doesn't belong in. Are you threatened by the idea of a world where you keep your personal things, including belief, to yourself?

      January 21, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • Truth1117

      Yep, and her poor children are about to learn that if you don't agree with someone, just tell them to keep their beliefs and opinions at home. Sad times we live in.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • Truth1117

      Sam, yes I am. Communism here we come!

      January 21, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • JJ

      Who says religion is hard to explain to children? One doesn't explain religion to children, their parents indoctrinate them and when the child asks questions they are made to feel they've done something wrong.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      I hope you have no contact with any young people. YES, you should shut your mouth. You have "freedom of religion" We have "freedom from religion" and YOU don't belong around anyone who is impressionable. I view it as a crime when the religiously deluded start sharing their "faith."

      January 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • Eric

      There are probably more brands of Christianity than there are clothes, so yeah, identifying with your religion in public is about as relevant in deciding what a person is really like by judging someone on whether they're wearing a ralph lauren or a brooks brothers polo. Your religion does not connect necessarily with any other aspects of your psyche (psychopaths can believe in God, and really nice people can be atheists, for example), ergo it's silly, divisive, and rude to bring up your religion in public.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • Truth1117

      What's with the insecurity? You're demanding that others don't live what they believe in public simply because it makes you a bit uncomfortable? You want everyone else to conform to the way you want them to act. Sorry, this is America.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • John

      A better explination is, even though you interpret your book to say convert the heathens, those that do not wish to believe or are not evangelical like their privacy.

      January 21, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
  13. chris

    and people wonder why teens and adults go on shooting rampages in this country....she said “I just want to have children grow up and be able to not be afraid to say ‘I don’t believe that,’ or ‘I’m not part of that.’” we are all free in this county so i dont get this part.

    January 21, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      We aren't free in that regard. People get fired for saying "I don't believe that". Little kids get beaten up, bullied. Adults get harassed. There are a ton of issues, court cases, items on record, where atheists, agnostics, people who dare say, "I don't believe that" about the majority religion, are discriminated against.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  14. Debbie

    I feel sorry for all you Godless people!!!

    January 21, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • religion,,

      wow! fear has its hold on you. I feel sorry for you.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why? Do you really think your life is so different from mine? In what way?

      January 21, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      No need – while it's hard dealing with being a minority, and having to deal with the hard truth, rather than pretty lies, while it'd be nice to believe in a special all powerful being saving me from everything threatening, keeping me alive after death – it's just not true, and it's just far better to live in the real world for me.

      To each their own though – if we can just get everyone to live and let live, it'll all work out.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • Dan

      I feel sorry for you. Keep up that false hope. I can tell that it is doing wonders for you.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      please, don't, it makes me feel sorry for you....

      January 21, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • Gawd

      To terrify children with the image of hell, to consider women an inferior creation—is that good for the world?

      January 21, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • JustinTime

      You should feel good for me then i believe in Zorlak THe God of Time and SPace, I have a close personal relationship with him
      and ANYONE who does not abide by his rules is going to the 7th pit of Darlor.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • RonFromNM

      And Debbie, we feel sorry for people like you who lack critical reasoning ability

      January 21, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      You are just a victim of the brainwashing that happened when you were young. I hope you have no contact with children.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:24 pm |
    • Dana

      Take your head out of the sand.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      Debbie, don't feel sorry for those fools. Because they don't feel sorry for you. Pray for them that they'll someday see the light, but don't feel sorry for them. If they go to hell, trust me, they'll deserve it...

      January 21, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • sam

      Yeah, Debbie. Pray more and post less.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      @JustTheFacts
      how factual... magnificent
      anyway, don't pray for me, please...

      January 21, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      @JustTheFacts

      Hell? It doesn't exist but in your mind.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • Gawd

      JustTheFiction, praying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it won't get you anywhere.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • mark

      I tell you all truly that unless you turn away from your self-serving ways you have no hope. The only hope is through Jesus...he is not a myth would have you believe.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • Jeff

      "I feel sorry for all you Godless people!!!"

      I feel sorry for people who think they are above others because they chose to believe in nonsense. Your pity is meaningless and your Pride is a sin in your own religion.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  15. bluejayrecovery

    Who are you to say there is no God ?

    January 21, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • religion,,

      who are you to say their is no tooth fairy?

      January 21, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • JustinTime

      Its called an adult with common sense

      January 21, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      absolutely nobody... happy now?

      January 21, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • sam

      ::shrugs:: Who are you to say there is? Who is anyone, to say anything?

      January 21, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • Dan

      I don't need to prove that he does not exist. You need to prove that he does. I would not expect you to believe me if I sat here and made up all kinds of absurd nonsense.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • Billy

      which god are you talking about?

      January 21, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • THOR GOD OF THUNDER

      AYE, VERILY. DO NOT SPEAK SUCH WORDS, AS I AM REAL.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • JustTheFacts

      BlueJay,...And that is about all they CAN DO is just SAY there is no God, because they certainly can't prove it. They don't have a shred of evidence to back them up. And if you ask them to show you proof God doesn't exist, they'll only switch the subject or give you some long drawn out excuse as to why they can't do it. Bottom line: They haven't a shred of proof to support their claims or back them up. But they're hoping you're too ignorant to notice it...

      January 21, 2013 at 7:33 pm |
    • edyoucate

      JustTheFacts,...And that is about all they CAN DO is just SAY there is a God, because they certainly can't prove it. They don't have a shred of evidence to back them up. And if you ask them to show you proof God exists, they'll only switch the subject or give you some long drawn out excuse as to why they can't do it. Bottom line: They haven't a shred of proof to support their claims or back them up. But they're hoping you're too ignorant to notice it... (Unfortunately for you we are not too ignorant to notice. There is no proof of god.)

      January 21, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • kent

      who do i have to be? your god sucks. doesn't exist, and never did. i'm more moral than the junk you worship. the christian god story is a farce. this is the 21 century. we know a lot about what was considered gods in the bronze age. grow up you delusional moron. who are you to think you know better?

      January 21, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Areyoukidding

      JustTheFacts: the proof rest with the one who makes the Claims, no one has to prove that god does not exist, as no one has ever provided any evidence that he does. Somehow you believe that the lack of proof is proof in itself!! Astonishing piece of reasoning (or rather utter complete lack of it)

      January 21, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  16. Nietodarwin

    “I don't try to imagine a personal God; it suffices to stand in awe at the structure of the world, insofar as it allows our inadequate senses to appreciate it.”
    _ Albert Einstein

    “The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession.”
    _ Abraham Lincoln, Speeches and Writings, 1832-1858
    “We have a choice. We have two options as human beings. We have a choice between conversation and war. That's it. Conversation and violence. And faith is a conversation stopper.”
    _ Sam Harris

    January 21, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • Elementarymydearwatson

      Thank you for posting the Einstein quote. Too many Christians try to highjack his name and its good get his actual words out there.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:34 pm |
  17. religion,,

    psychologist will tell you, telling the largest and most unrealistic lie become believable. It's just humanity. Hitler knew that, as he learned it from religion.

    January 21, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • Nietodarwin

      "Secular schools can never be tolerated because such a school has no religious instruction and a general moral instruction without a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character training and religion must be derived from faith . . . We need believing people." (Adolf Hitler. April 26, 1933, from a speech made during negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordat of 1933.)
      “I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so [Adolph Hitler, to Gen. Gerhard Engel, 1941]
      -1. “The greatness of every mighty organization embodying an idea in this_world lies in the religious fanaticism and intolerance with which,_fanatically convinced of its own right, it intolerantly imposes its_will against all others.” [Adolf Hitler, "Mein Kampf" Vol. 1 Chapter 12]

      January 21, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
  18. religion,,

    the good thing is that good people do good deeds, atheists included. The bad thing is that religions steal the good works of others and claims it as their own.

    January 21, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • Areyoukidding

      Without religion, good people will still do good deeds and bad people bad deeds. However, It take religion for good people to do bad deeds

      January 21, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
  19. Gawd

    I'd take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.

    January 21, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • Mike

      Well put.

      January 21, 2013 at 7:29 pm |
  20. Religion is illogical...

    Christians constantly tell me I'm going to hell if I'm not born AGAIN... Pardon me for getting it right the first time.

    January 21, 2013 at 7:11 pm |
    • Dan

      “Being a humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.”

      – Kurt Vonnegut

      January 21, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • coca-kola

      It's not my pardon you need. You need pardon from the very one who said "you must be born again".

      January 21, 2013 at 7:21 pm |
    • Areyoukidding

      " I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christian are so unlike your Christ" – Mahatma Gandhi

      January 21, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
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About this blog

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