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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 • Faith Now • iReport

soundoff (15,081 Responses)
  1. Craig

    Craig
    a sinner, will always be found as a sinner. is Christ the minister of sin? certainly not. apologizing for the devil is like praying for him. you dont want to become an evasive deceptive type of arguing person its just dishonest. discernment is a spiritual gift. the gift of discerning spirits. being able to sense false teachers and prophets or demonic representations, vain assaults on the name and person of Jesus christ is the devils work the devil is the accuser of the bretheren, and the father of lies.

    January 22, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Hey Craig, why did you start your post with "Craig"? Is it because you and Andy are the same person, but you forgot which name you were posting under? BUSTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL

      January 22, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Craig

      no i cutted and pasted from below. I cheated. i am very sorry. sorry andy , they think i am you now. you can tell andy is smarter than me, and a bit more riled up. i try to just just lean on scripture, where i believe the power lies, in love and patience, and with a pure mind. not really willing to give in to my emotions.

      January 22, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • OTOH

      ReligionIsBS,

      I've done the same thing before... in my haste to get a response up, I've put the name of whomever I am responding to in the "Name" box. I'd give him a pass this time...

      January 22, 2013 at 5:07 pm |
    • OTOH

      p.s. NO pass on the content, however. It's bunk.

      January 22, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      THat makes sense. Ive sone that too. Copy and pasted and forgot to delete the name part. I was wrong. Look, an atheist admitting to a mistake! Try it sometime christians!

      January 22, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • OTOH

      ReligionIsBS,

      Ramen.

      January 22, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
  2. Andy

    I had nothing to do with what Christians did hundreds of years ago, but atheists just LOVE to rub my nose in that.
    It's an irrational thing for such "rational" people to do. So I guess it's only fair, then, that I can mention the Gulag, the Ukraine starvation (or Holdomor), and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, all of which happened under STATE ATHEISM.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulag
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_war_in_Afghanistan

    As you can see, atheism is such a wonderful thing.
    It's nice to see it being defended and glorified so vigorously.

    January 22, 2013 at 4:46 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      So you dont like being lumped in with what bad chrisitans did a long time ago, so you try to lump in all of todays atheists with what happened in the Soviet Union back in 1979? You are either a troll or are mentally handicapped.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • Craig

      they are trying to disqualify a faithful remnant of authenticity through the delusions of the wicked schemes of the devil. hence the term the accuser of the brethren. if you read the NT we read all about false teachers, false prophets, false doctrines. none of these catholic/ crusade / "christian presedent" will stand. this is a punch below the belt.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Andy

      I guess I am if you say am. Your words are like a magical incantation. Must be nice.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
    • Andy

      I guess I am if you say that I am. Your words are like a magical incantation. Must be nice.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm |
  3. ¿¿lol

    Did you know? There is no such thing as a "soul". Well . . . . , except for this type:

    January 22, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
  4. Andy

    They can't stand to be proven wrong, so they desperately start slinging mud when it looks like they are about to be.
    As alleged rational thinkers, they should know that mud-slinging is a fallacy of logic.
    I make them look stupid, so they call me stupid, even when I'm not.
    It's a case of "do unto others before they do unto you".
    It's the way they are that brings disdain upon them.

    January 22, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Athy

      Andy, after reading your comment it's hard not to call you stupid. There just isn't any other choice.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Sorry everyone, Andy is winning this argument. Just ask him!!!!!!!!

      Note how he is the only one defending his statements. No other christian is stepping anywhere near this clown!

      January 22, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Bet

      You mean like when you said the Red Cross was a christian organization?

      We call you stupid because you are stupid.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • Andy

      I had nothing to do with what Christians did hundreds of years ago, but atheists just LOVE to rub my nose in that.
      It's an irrational thing for such "rational" people to do. So I guess it's only fair, then, that I can mention the Gulag, the Ukraine starvation (or Holdomor), and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, all of which happened under STATE ATHEISM.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulag
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holodomor
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_war_in_Afghanistan

      As you can see, atheism is such a wonderful thing.
      It's nice to see it being defended and glorified so vigorously.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      "I had nothing to do with what Christians did hundreds of years ago, but atheists just LOVE to rub my nose in that." Andy

      In his very next sentence, he tries to blame todays atheists with what the Soviet Union did in 1979!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      People, you just cant fake this kind of stupid.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • Bet

      Today's christians aren't any more tolerant or loving than the ones who oppressed nonbelievers last week, last month, last year, or in the last two thousand years.

      http://www.godlovesuganda.com/film/story/

      January 22, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  5. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    “When the Rapture comes and God bodily transports all of the good, kind, charitable, compassionate, tolerant, humble, loving Christians, I'm sure the world will miss both of them.” – Doc V.

    January 22, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
  6. Andy

    It's funny to watch apologists for atheism try to cover-up its past.
    They are like Holocaust deniers.

    January 22, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      W T F are you talking about? When has any atheist apologized for their belief?

      January 22, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Im an atheist and I fully apologized to the world for the crusades, the witch burnings, the inquisitions, the priest abuse scandals and the dumbing down of society, but when I did that, I was still a christians, because those are things that christians should be apologizing for. Now that Im an atheist, Id like to know what you think I should be apologizing for.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Richard,

      It's a different meaning of "apologize".

      Apologetics (from Greek ἀπολογία, "speaking in defense") is the discipline of defending a position (often religious) through the systematic use of information. Early Christian writers (c. 120–220) who defended their faith against critics and recommended their faith to outsiders were called apologists.

      And yes, even atheists speak in defense of their positions.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • Craig

      a sinner, will always be found as a sinner. is Christ the minister of sin? certainly not. apologizing for the devil is like praying for him. you dont want to become an evasive deceptive type of arguing person its just dishonest. discernment is a spiritual gift. the gift of discerning spirits. being able to sense false teachers and prophets or demonic representations, vain assaults on the name and person of Jesus christ is the devils work the devil is the accuser of the bretheren, and the father of lies.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:42 pm |
    • OTOH

      Craig:
      "discernment is a spiritual gift. the gift of discerning spirits. being able to sense false teachers and prophets or demonic representations,"

      Heh... he (Satan) is the MASTER DECEIVER, though, right? Are you SURE that you haven't been hoodwinked? MASTER DECEIVER, mind you...

      January 22, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • Craig

      well i am really hesitant to admit this but i believe, especially since i witnessed bush get alot of church votes, that if i do get involved in politics, that i will have been hoodwinked. I stick to my church and bible. and that is where my loyalty lies. not in a secular, unstable, bilderberg bicameral.

      January 22, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
  7. Reality

    Only for the new members of this blog:

    For all the kids and parents out there, one more time:

    As good students, you have read the reiterations of the "fems" (flaws, errors, muck and stench) of religion. Therefore the seeds have been planted in rich soil. Go therefore and preach the truth to all nations, reiterating as you go amongst the lost, bred, born and brainwashed souls of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as Rational Thinking makes its triumphant return all because of you!!!!

    As a former Catholic, I and as some others have also noted, can yell out, FREE AT LAST!!

    January 22, 2013 at 4:23 pm |
  8. Andy

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Dunant

    It's a peculiar thing when someone calls you ridiculous when you are right.
    It's ridiculous to call someone ridiculous for being right.
    My rightness is a threat to them, so they sling mud at it.
    When an atheist calls me ridiculous, it's a case of the pot calling the kettle black.
    Now I don't take it so hard when they call me something in an IPSE DIXIT sort of way, because they could be wrong.
    They are not the final judges
    It doesn't mean anything.

    January 22, 2013 at 4:18 pm |
    • Craig

      But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Thats your proof that you are right and god exists? LOL!!!!!!!!

      January 22, 2013 at 4:33 pm |
  9. truth be told

    Atheist have brought lies, mass murder and incredible suffering on mankind. The filth that is defined as atheism has no place in this world or the next.

    January 22, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "truth be told", but your repeated assertions regarding atheism are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your repeated unfounded assertions may represent truths is: "CHRONIC TOTAL FAIL". Perhaps the following book can help you cope with the problem of repeating unfounded assertions:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      January 22, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Craig

      2 tim ich you have learned 3:14-15 But you must continue in the things which have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus

      we live in a day where knowledge has increased, and wisdom has decreased.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Your education fails you. "Christians have brought lies, mass murder and incredible suffering on mankind. The filth that is defined as christianity has no place in this world." Is a MUCH more accurate description of the last 2000 years.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:25 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Craig,

      Your Bible has several admonishments against those who think themselves to be wise - and yet you seem to think yourself wise to believe them...

      It's turtles all the way down...

      January 22, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
    • Craig

      And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts; crying out "Abba, Father" iTherefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ Jesus.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:35 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Craig", but "God", "Spirit", "His Son", "Father", and "Christ" are all elements of mythology, therefore your assertions are unfounded. In addition, "Craig", I am unfamiliar with "iTherefore". Could this be a soon-to-be-released product by Apple upon which one can store songs by "Abba"?

      January 22, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • Craig

      Hal,you use fantastic punctuation. Your entries are flawless. Clean, tidy, with outstanding use of italex. where did you find out how to do that? are you cutting and pasting? i thought that was against the rules?

      January 22, 2013 at 5:00 pm |
  10. Andy

    What are these contributions?
    Cathedrals with stained-glass and Christmas songs are quite beautiful.
    What beautiful architecture, art, and music have atheists ever made.?
    If it were noteworthy, I would surely know about it already.
    Christian hospitals do a lot of good healing wounds...I'm sure they would even heal the wounds of an atheist.
    Where are the atheist hospitals?
    Where are the atheist homeless shelters and food banks?
    What is the atheist equivalent of the Red Cross or Salvation Army?

    January 22, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • WhenCowsAttack

      That you don't even know that the red cross is a secular organization renders the rest of your statement unworthy of answer.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:01 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Wow, I dont have the time to go over all of these, but you are going to get your behind handed to you with those rediculous statements.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
    • Andy

      At this point, I could say that two plus two equals four and you would tell me how ridiculous it is.
      It's not ridiculous to me.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      Atheist hospitals, charities, etc., are any non-religious ones.
      http://freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Secular_charities

      In fact, if you step out of the bubble you live in, you may realize that people in other countries have hospitals too. Many countries, like Ja.pan where I live have ONLY secular hospitals and charities. Considering Ja.panese live longer than Americans, could it be that secular healthcare is superior to religious?

      January 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Actually, this is just too funny to pass up.

      "What beautiful architecture, art, and music have atheists ever made.?" Temples are beautiful, does that mean jesus isnt real? And are you seriously stating that there are no artists that were atheists? HAHAHAHA. From Frank Zappa to Brad Pitt, just google atheist artists and see how many come up, THOUSANDS!

      "If it were noteworthy, I would surely know about it already." No, it sounds like you havent heard of pretty much anything noteworthy in pop culture over the past 50 years.

      "Where are the atheist hospitals?" Most hospitals are secular

      "Where are the atheist homeless shelters and food banks" Use google, they are all over. I donate my time to the Center for Inquiry, there's probably a branch in your town. You'd almost have to try to not know who they are.

      "What is the atheist equivalent of the Red Cross or Salvation Army?" The atheist equivalent to the Red Cross is the Red Cross!!!!!! LOL. Also, Doctors without Boarders and UNICEF are secular organizations.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      two plus two does equal four. Its the other drivel that you posted that makes me laugh at you. you are so brainwashed, you just think that atheists are going to disagree with you no matter what. That is not the case, we only disagree with your nonsense, and I cannot fathom an adult posting something as rediculous as your original post.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:13 pm |
    • Athy

      Andy, you're wrong on so many counts I don't even where to start. You're a lost cause.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:19 pm |
    • Saraswati

      The internet has this cool site called Google. You can type things in there like "famous atheists" and "famous atheist architects" and see just what an embarrassment you're making of yourself. But if you actually bothered to read anything not published by your local church you'd already be aware that atheists are currently over-represented in every field you've named.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:45 pm |
  11. ReligionIsBS

    I think the age old question of "can god make a rock so heavy that even he cant lift it" should be replaced with "can god create an article on the internet, where atheists dont make him look like a completely useless, non-existant representation of evil?"

    January 22, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  12. Thoth

    People are still wound up about this? It shows quite well how the religious, who often complain of being persecuted, are willing to attack a woman who expressed a different view. There are many of us out here who raise our kids without God; often not because we don't understand, or need to be shown the "truth", but because we grew up with illogical nonsense crammed down our throats and don't want the same for our children. Today's religions will be tomorrow's myths.

    January 22, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • EJ

      Her report simply reveals the hypocrisy of those who claim to be Christians, and yet are not. I am ashamed that some would scream at their child while attempting to exorcise them. Ignorance leads to all sorts of misunderstandings.

      People do not need God because we do not want to be all alone. We need God because He completes us spiritually. I love God because He loved me when I was unlovable, when I was full of sin. I need God because I can't possibly enter heaven under my own power and actions.

      There are many who claim to be Christians. There are far fewer who actually know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Many make an appearance every Sunday morning, far fewer actually even try to live every day serving Jesus and others.

      I hope this mother can find some solace in her actions. I hope that she is able to raise her children to be respectful of all people, to love all people even if they can't love all of their actions.

      January 22, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      " I love God because He loved me when I was unlovable"

      What would make you think that ANYTHING that you ever did would make you unlovable? Oh, the church. Guess what, they were wrong. Anyone is capable of being loved, no matter how bad they are. You dont think some people loved Hitler? Are you worse than Hitler? The church has you sold on their dogma.

      January 22, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
    • dale

      ej we need some calm people who can explain things well like that. thank you.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "EJ", but "God", "Christ", "Savior" and "Lord" are 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 unfounded assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      January 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  13. dale

    And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lust of the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, mad us alive together with Christ.......for by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God that noone should boast.

    January 22, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Just a John

      dale
      After that load of crap, ripped from some Watchtower, no doubt, no more Mr. Niceguy. You want everyone to toe your line of thinking even though 5 biollion people reject your idea of god. Your fanaticism is no more plausible than those that would fly an airplane into buildings, HALLELUJAH and pass the plate, quite insane.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:41 pm |
  14. WhenCowsAttack

    I was raised a Southern Baptist. Obviously this is a very conservative sect of Christianity, and the preacher in our little church was very fond of the book of Revelation, vivid descriptions and movies of Satan/demons/He-ll, and condemning all those horrid things young people like such as rock and roll. I remember having nightmares about Hell and demons when I was a little girl. I was terrified of the dark, of Satan, in fact saw Satan in almost everything due of course to my indoctrination, though my mind kept telling me that boogeymen and demons aren't real.

    Stopped attending that church in my early teens and started attending a non denominational one. By that time I was already skeptical of religion and certainly of the things I had learned in my prior church. Here's the thing-I was frightened because of my own skepticism. I remembered the lessons (which continued into the new church) that if you doubted, it was because Satan was working in your life and trying to draw you away from God so he could take your soul- you all know the spiel. Anyway, I continued to go to church, I quietly invited Jesus Christ into my heart as Lord and Savior. I conferred with my pastor and my prayer group and we all asked Jesus to come into my heart while I cried down on my knees with every SHRED of sincerity and humility in my heart. And guess what happened? Nothing. I continued on this route for a few years, praying, studying the Bible, fellowship with others in the church, and then at some point it dawned on me that...

    That it was all B.S. No God, no Satan, no Heaven, no He-ll. I fully realized that I had been brainwashed, and that I had lived in fear for years, thinking that something inside me was broken, watching those around me lift their arms to God while they sang hymns and trying so hard to feel what they were feeling, all over lies I was told as a child. All that time wasted, all that childhood terror. All those horrible nightmares about demons, which by the way I still have on occasion- the evils of religion have carried into my adulthood.

    Anyway, some of you are going to tell me that I was *still* doing it wrong- to you I say fvck off. You are still going to believe you are right, and that is fine, but consider this- if your god is actually real, he created me quite literally without the ability to truly believe or have faith, and therefore made me, a kind, loving and decent human being, a loyal wife and a mother, for the specific purpose of condemning me to he-ll.

    Fortunately, the god of the bible does not exist. It was quite a relief to realize that. The truth did set me free, and I am finally at peace.

    January 22, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      My experience was very similar. And I liked how you added that you knew that some believers would just say that you were doing it wrong. And since they cant just say that to you, Im almost positive no beleiver will even reply to this. Or at least make any sense if they do. They have nothing, because you just put them in their place. Kudos to you!

      January 22, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      You're far from the only person who has had this experience – and has been too honest with themselves to lie to themselves and fake the experience, and fortunately you had enough intelligence to finally realize the whole thing was BS, that if that much trying doesn't find it – it's not there to find. Religion depends on you being willing to always think the worst of yourself, and everyone in the world, so you always feel like you're a piece of crap unless god picks you up.

      Glad to hear you escaped that living nightmare, here's hoping someday the remaining nightmares go away – but at least those you can wake up from.

      January 22, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      It's a beautiful story and similar to my own. I think it's important that christians hear these stories over and over again—not only as a beacon of hope, but also to remind them that christianity is not salvation for us. We've been through it and have already emerged from that prison as free people. For all of the people that I feel deep sorry and pain for who are still lost in the dream, it is encouraging and inspiring to hear of one who was able to see the light of truth. Peace.

      January 22, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • WhenCowsAttack

      Thank you both, and it is so nice to be able to communicate with others who have had the same experiences. After I realized, I was silent for years. The few times I brought it up to those I was close to I was treated differently.

      I believe we are entering a new era though, one in which we don't have to keep silent about our views and experiences.

      And, like Christians who feel they must spread the word, I too feel that I must spread the word, because I have firsthad experience of the psychological and lasting damage that religion can instill in a child.

      January 22, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Colin

      When Cows Attack – reposting for you. Maybe you will see parallels. I put this together about 2 years ago and post it periodically.

      Ten Ways You Know you are an Atheist.

      1. You were likely brought up a theist (probably a Jew or Christian if you live in the USA) and had to do your own thinking to rise above the beliefs that still occupy the mind of the believer. This usually involved being smart and working hard at school and college so as to get a good, accurate view of the natural Universe and overcoming significant social pressure to dumb yourself down and conform. In short, you had the guts to ask the hard questions and the brains to spot the weak answers. The more you came to understand the Universe, the less reason there was to believe in a god and the more you came to understand human nature, the more you understood why billions of us still do.

      2. While rejecting the supernatural elements of the Bible, you nevertheless retain a large amount of the morality taught today by mainstream Christianity. To the extent you reject Christian morality, it is where it is mean spirited – such as in the way it seeks to curtail freedoms or oppose the rights of $exual minorities. In most other respects, your basic moral outlook is indistinguishable from that of the liberal Christian – you just don’t need the mother of all carrots and sticks hanging over your head in order to act in a manner that you consider moral.

      3. You know a great deal more about the Bible than most believers. This is because you took the time to read it yourself and did not rely on the primary-color simple stories you learned in Sunday school. You have also probably done some research into the historical Jesus and have a good handle on where he REALLY fit in to the broader picture of the Middle East at the time. Needless to say, his miracles and other magic powers soon started to look pretty unlikely.

      4. Your knowledge of basic science and history is much stronger than that of your average believer. You likely have a basic working knowledge of physics, astronomy, evolutionary biology and cosmology and a good idea of the history of life on this planet. This acc.umulated knowledge puts you in a position to judge the claims of the Bible in a critical light and they are almost always found wanting. To the theist, this makes you “elitist” and ‘arrogant”.

      5. You relish your role as a religious minority in the USA, as this gives you an impetus to fight and you understand how others with unpopular, but doubtlessly correct views have felt throughout history. There is something altogether satisfying to you about having a deep conviction you are right and being viewed with disdain for your views by the errant majority. You feel a quiet confidence that future generations will look back on you as a member of a class of trailblazers, as religious supersti.tions go into inevitable decline in popularity.

      6. You are likely more environmentally aware than your theist friends and colleagues and unlikely to fall for claims of industry and wind-bag politicians concerning the impact of man’s activities on the environment. You could no more act in an environmentally irresponsible manner because “god will keep us safe” than you could jump off a ship, believing King Neptune will keep you safe.

      7. You generally have a live and let live atti.tude, but will fiercely defend against any attempts by theists to thrust their views on you or your children, directly or through control of school boards, the legislature or the executive. While you are prepared to debate and argue passionately with the theist on an intellectual level, you would never wish them harm or ill will. You know you are likely to be smugly told you will “burn in hell for all eternity” for your healthy skepticism. This highlights what you despise about religion, as you would not wish a bad sunburn on another, simply because they have a different religious view to you. You have never heard of an evolutionary biologist strapping a bomb to himself and running into a church yelling “Darwin-u akbar, Darwin-u akbar”.

      8. You likely know more about other religions than your average theist. This makes you less fearful of them and enables you to see parallels. You realize that, if you were born in India, you would have been brought up with a totally different religion. You realize that every culture that has ever existed has had its own god(s) and they always favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams and prejudices. They cannot all exist and you see the error all faiths make of thinking only theirs exist(s). This “rising above” the regional nature of all religions was probably instrumental in your achieving atheism.

      9. You likely have a deep, genuine appreciation of the fathomless beauty and unbelievable complexity of our Universe, from the 4 nucleotides that orchestrate every aspect of you, through to the distant quasars, without having to think it was all made for you. You likely get more out of being the irrelevant ant staring up at the cosmos than you do in having to pretend that it was all made to turn in majestic black-and-white pirouette about you.

      10. While you have a survival instinct, you cannot fear death in the way the theist does. You know that the whole final judgment story, where you may be sent to hell if you fail, is Dark Ages nonsense meant to keep the Church’s authority. You also know that you were dead for 13,720,000,000 years before you were born. It is impossible for you to fear death, for the simple reason that you know the capacity to feel pain, or to regret or fear itself dies. You will not even know you are dead. Fear of death is as meaningless to you as is the fear of a vacuum, the fear of not being born. You feel a lot more secure, and indeed a deep comfort, in this knowledge, than you would in trying to yoke yourself to some quasi-hope from Bronze Age Palestine that every part of your intellect tells you is untenable.

      January 22, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • OTOH

      WhenCowsAttack,

      Brava! Thank you so much for posting your story. Well done.

      ------------------------

      ReligionIsBS,
      " Im almost positive no beleiver will even reply to this."

      Yeah, there was a poster like that on here just yesterday:

      "(sigh)
      I dare each of you who say that God doesn't exist to just pray one time (just once) & ask God to show you if he truly does exist, to show you who he is and see what happens. Just test it to see. I would like to hear about the results."

      A couple of people answered him/her with their stories - with zero feedback from @(sigh).

      January 22, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • WhenCowsAttack

      Yes, thank you Colin, I have seen that and found it quite awesome! I'm a frequent reader, just not a frequent commentator.

      Thanks all for the support and kind words! I didn't expect all of that, it's quite a nice feeling.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      WhenCowsAttack,

      I have a similar story to my life too, but I doubt that I could write it as well as you did. Excellent, and thank you.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • LinCA

      @WhenCowsAttack

      Very well written. Thank you for sharing your story. If only more people would share them, and more people would read them.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:58 pm |
    • Bet

      I'll add my thanks as well. Many of us have come from strict religious backgrounds, so it's nice to know that others have gone through the same experiences.

      Have a happy healthy life!

      January 22, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
  15. Science

    Where’s Fred Flintstone when you need him?
    Evolution at its best.
    A professor of genetics at Harvard’s Medical School believes he’s capable of bringing the long-extinct Neanderthal back to life - all he’s lacking is the right mother.

    "I can create a Neanderthal baby, if I can find a willing woman," George Church told German newspaper Spiegel Online. The DNA of the Neanderthal, a long extinct relative of man, has been more or less rebuilt, a process called genetic sequencing.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/01/21/scientist-seeks-adventurous-woman-to-have-neanderthal-baby/#ixzz2Ijn2LGIi

    January 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • I wonder

      Let's nominate @Ann! I'm sure that there would be no genetic incompatibility factors there to interfere with fetal development.

      January 22, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
  16. Susan StoHelit

    Thanks for the inspiration Rebecca, for this – but I'll only direct it at those who use their religion as a weapon against others:

    You hostile, close minded believers can mock and ridicule all you want.
    That's okay.
    You'll be dead in a few decades.
    You and your wise-cracks will be proven wrong
    Life will go on for billions of years well after you are dead, .
    You'll be gone, having contributed little to the amazing world we're building for our children and the future, as you care only about a nonexistent heaven.
    You won't be able to play at a fake superiority
    Whose side should I choose: a moral atheist who lives for a few decades creating what they can, adding to this world and the lives of others, not out of fear of hell or promise of heaven, but merely to do the right thing, or a likely imaginary God who has shown that he is either incapable or uninterested in doing anything even as innocent children are subjected to the worst of tortures and death?
    The choice is obvious.

    January 22, 2013 at 3:22 pm |
    • the AnViL

      susan, you rock.

      January 22, 2013 at 3:28 pm |
    • Andy

      What are these contributions?
      Cathedrals with stained-glass and Christmas songs are quite beautiful.
      What beautiful architecture, art, and music have atheists ever made.?
      If it were noteworthy, I would surely know about it already.
      Christian hospitals do a lot of good healing wounds...I'm sure they would even heal the wounds of an atheist.
      Where are the atheist hospitals?
      Where are the atheist homeless shelters and food banks?
      What is the atheist equivalent of the Red Cross or Salvation Army?

      January 22, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Andy,

      "If it were noteworthy, I would surely know about it already."

      How would you know it? Atheists do not go around trumpeting their achievements as such... especially in olden times, when they would have been put to death.

      Do you know that The American Red Cross is a totally secular organization?
      Do you know that St. Jude's Childrens' Hospital is a totally secular organization?
      Do you know that most community food banks and shelters are totally secular organizations?

      January 22, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
    • ams

      What are these contributions?
      Cathedrals with stained-glass and Christmas songs are quite beautiful.
      What beautiful architecture, art, and music have atheists ever made.?
      Frank Lloyd Wright is pretty well respected.
      Atheists in music: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_atheists_in_music

      If it were noteworthy, I would surely know about it already.
      I guess not.

      Christian hospitals do a lot of good healing wounds...I'm sure they would even heal the wounds of an atheist.
      I'm sure a lot of atheists spend their lives in research labs developing medications that are used to treat theists. As an atheist and future physician (1 more year to go!) I will treat many theists and never, ever, would I think or demand that they follow my belief system for help. In fact, we try to hell patients abide by their religion. We advise Jahova Witnesses to carry cards with them, give them do their doc, and their local hospital so that there wishes are known. Religious wishes like no blood products are not only in the charting system, they are on the front page when you open a chart.

      Where are the atheist hospitals?
      NW, UIC, UC. And they get a ton of local, state, and federal dollars from atheists just like religious hospitals.

      Where are the atheist homeless shelters and food banks?
      There is a group called Atheists Helping the Homeless.

      What is the atheist equivalent of the Red Cross or Salvation Army?
      The Bill and Melinda Gates Fund. Which Warren Buffet had donated tens of billions to.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      It's noteworthy – it's noteworthy in all the differences between today – in the lack of slavery, serfdom, etc., and the modern lives we live, the longer lives we live. It's the difference from when women were property, when an animal had more rights to avoid being beaten than a child did. Every little difference between now and the dark ages – these are the things people have built, this is what we all leave behind, if we so choose.

      But if a stained glass cathedral, and a hospital that will allow a woman to die, rather than abort a miscarrying deceased fetus is your idea of progress, no wonder you can't see it.

      January 22, 2013 at 7:47 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      And yes – atheists don't need to label their contributions – we're not trying to proselytize with our charity – we're trying to help people. Thus, it's Doctors without Borders, not Atheist Doctors without Borders. The Red Cross, not the Atheist Cross. Countless hospitals – not named for our religion, because we don't have one, and it's built to save people. When I donate to charity, I don't do so through my church – I do so as myself. When I donate blood – it's not at a church run blood drive, but nor is it at an atheist one.

      So of course you don't see a big name contribution – because we're not looking for afterlife brownie points – as I often say – atheists are good, for nothing. Not out of fear of hell, nor in hopes of heaven – atheists are good people just because they believe they should be, not because we believe there's some big bad monster who will punish us.

      January 22, 2013 at 7:53 pm |
  17. Ann

    Yucking it up with your hackneyed, juvenile iconoclasm. How embarrassing.

    January 22, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • dnsbubba

      Is this really all you have? Just drive by postings, with no real content?

      January 22, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Nice level of bile, good sustainability, but really vacant on content.

      January 22, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Just a John

      We aim to entertain, are you sick of watching soaps, batteries dead on your vibe....

      January 22, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • Gerry

      Who's being hackneyed, Ann? Have you read your own posts? You really are projecting, aren't you?

      January 22, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • Honey Hush

      Ann
      Just a suggestion, but why not look up old Jimmy Swaggert, he still likes the occasional meeting with a pro and will pay top dollar. If you waste time on a blog you detest while you could make a good buck under Jimmy, who is the nutter?

      January 22, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  18. Ann

    My god, you people are insane.

    January 22, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Ya know what I love best? All these people filled with hatred posting here – they boost the ratings for articles like this. They encourage more of them. They pay CNN. Thank you Ann!

      January 22, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      and you are still a troll

      January 22, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • Gerry

      Which god would that be, Ann?

      January 22, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • I wonder

      Ann,

      And what is your diagnosis for people who believe 2,000-3,000 year-old fantasies and superst'itions of Middle Eastern Hebrew men?

      January 22, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Says the pot

      January 22, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Ann

      You said, "My god, you people are insane."
      Yeah. Can you believe that there are millions of adults who can't seem to shake their infantile beliefs in imaginary creatures?

      January 22, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • I wonder

      p.s. Abraham would be committed to the psych ward for the criminally insane today.

      January 22, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Tod

      Insane for not believing that the invisible guy is real?

      January 22, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
  19. Just a John

    dale
    Born Again sinner depending on THE LORD MY GOD AND JESUS CHRIST to bail me out and take me to heaven, untill then I can keep right on sinning and let jesus forgive me at the last minute. Dumb dale, just don't hurt too many people along the way or go meet jesus ASAP, thank you.

    January 22, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • Jesus? Meh. Couldn't hit a curveball.

      "just don't hurt too many people along the way or go meet jesus ASAP"

      Wait, you've actually MET him? Really? I wanna go!

      January 22, 2013 at 3:25 pm |
    • Just a John

      Meh
      Yes I have, he does the gardening and cleans the pool for less than minimum wage, you should be so lucky?

      January 22, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • dale

      you have a good sense of humor i can laugh with you, but i dont take advantage of grace and keep on sinning intentionally, i try to carry the gospel in purity, and i ask for the mind of Christ. I ask god to convict my conscience , and i pray for spiritual sight, and that i might hear the Spirit and my Angels. but i admit that my life is just like anyones it can be a struggle. the world has its temptations.

      January 22, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
    • Just a John

      dale
      I wish you the best, live your life as YOU see fit, no harm no foul; but please leave the rest of us live our lives as we see fit, with or without a belief in any god/gods. Probably the only way to peace throughout the world, let everyonr believe what they will without malice.

      January 22, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
  20. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    LET's Religiosity Law #1 – If Jesus came back today he would be shot in the head. That's what you do to put down zombies; otherwise they eat your brains.

    January 22, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • gager

      Zombies and Jesus are as real as the other.

      January 22, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.