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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. Jon

    The fool hath said in his heart, "There is no God."

    January 23, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • sam

      WOW, that is so totally original! NO ONE posted that on this article until you came along! Holy shit, now we can go on with our lives!

      January 23, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Jon
      "The fool hath said in his heart, "There is no God.""

      A quite old and sometimes effective tactic – declaring that those who do not believe your story are 'fools'. Nobody wants to be considered 'dumb' for not seeing the Emperor's new clothes, or a 'bas.tard' for not seeing the Sultan's new turban, or a 'cuckold' for not being able to see the Miller's gold thumb.

      Even Joseph Smith used it when he gathered his 'witnesses' to his golden plates. He told them that only those with 'true faith' would be able to 'see' them.

      The ancient, primitive Hebrews who originated those Bible stories were quite adept at manipulative mind-games.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • EvidenceBased4

      He's right though, a wise person should say it out loud.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
    • hmmm..funny

      Translation of what Jon Said: Shut the hell up!!! yer ruining my Gravy Train!

      January 23, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      The fool has said in his heart "I will believe anyting, even if there isnt any evidence to support it"

      I like that version better, it actually makes sense

      January 23, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
  2. Jaime

    Thank you. I am a wimp. I have questioned God's existence for as long as I can remember. I even raised my son to be an atheist. But I chickened out for myself, always claiming to be an agnostic. Your writing has given me hope that I did the right thing for my son. I'm pretty sure he will always be an atheist (I have offered to convert him many times and he declines). Recently I started reading more books about God and religion and I'm ready to join my son as an atheist. I know it will be hard, but it makes me feel so much better knowing that I'm not alone in this situation and hopeful that one day we can all be respected for our beliefs instead of looked down on.

    January 23, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • micky

      what book did you read?

      January 23, 2013 at 3:51 pm |
  3. PHI RHO TAU

    Chad.
    Captain Henry Morgan
    We demand you investigate his holiness the FSM. HE created the earth in five days, tell us what HE accomplished on each day, do the research We do not deny the existance of your god living in his fairytale book, why do you deny mine? The burden of proor is on you, isn't that how your mind works?

    January 23, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  4. mr. bauldswyrthe

    it's funny to me that people need to think there is an afterlife. it's not at all terrifying to think that this is our only life and once it's gone, it's gone for good. how so? because living in the here and now is more real, more alive, and more important than lazily coasting through life and egotistically thinking that you deserve an afterlife. sorry, but if you live a solid, good life now, then you are satisfied.

    January 23, 2013 at 2:30 pm |
    • hmmm..funny

      ...but if you can get alot of people to work their asses off on your behalf, if you can get them to except less...to watch a select few grab up everything- so much the better, just tell them theres this glorious place that ll be swell ...and the Rich wont get in *wink* *wink*.

      Religion is disgusting, dishonest and vile....but whats the risk for these churches? its not like anyones coming back and calling BS on them....

      January 23, 2013 at 2:47 pm |
  5. Michael

    Associating the origin of the universe with humans in particular, or worse, humans who imagine collectively a source of unquestioned relationship or privilege beyond other organisms with such a source, is at the least arrogant, and has led to extreme violence in the pursuit of social dominance.

    Before the imaginary creation of a single source of creative power fueling such ingrouping and suicidal focus, our species appears to have related to other life in a way which allowed learning from every visible portion of our environment, including observation and assessment of those other species. Such observation allowed such cultures to use innate sensory recognition to respect and revere other life to a far greater extent than that which is now common.

    That abandoned reverence (usurped by the invention of monotheism) seems to have been associated with greater ecological understanding; such understanding cannot well exist with pretension to immortality of the self. It is extremely probable that the time and/or usefulness of this distortion – organized monotheism – has passed.

    January 23, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • austin

      you arent as tricky as you think. but have a great day i can tell you are smart and also believe monotheism is invented. but the authority and life in Christ is through the living testimony of the Holy Spirit, written on the tablet of the heart.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • Maria

      You said so well. Thank you.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
  6. Saddend

    I can appreciate that many people have found something that helps bring them a sense of peace and they just want to share that with their fellow man/woman. The fact that people like you care enough to attempt to share gives me hope. I also feel that my agnostic beliefs give me a sense of peace. I also feel compelled to share my beliefs with others however I feel a little apprehensive about doing it for a few reasons. One reason is that I get a little creeped-out and sometimes afraid when others have shared their beliefs with me and I don't want to come across that way myself. Another thing is that at the core of my beliefs is the idea that anything is possible and nobody knows for sure. I guess that is what faith is, believing without knowing. Since I really don't know for sure if my beliefs will work for someone else I keep them to myself because I would hate to lead someone down the wrong path.

    January 23, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Share with others by publishing on a blog or share with your friends and family?

      January 23, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Saddend

      I keep my beliefs to myself. My wife has different beliefs than I do. She is in the worm food camp. My daughter goes to church every Sunday. My sons are still developing their beliefs. I do not encourage any of them towards any specific direction. I do not blog about my beliefs either.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:43 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      I share my atheist beliefs with people on forums like these, and when they choose to discuss it, only as long as they choose to discuss it. I don't ever push, and I don't ever bring the topic up or press it. If someone wants to believe an angel had them sleeping in on 9/11, I'm not going to contradict them. If they want to discuss it, thinking of their best friend who did not sleep in, and was an atheist – then I will discuss – but only where they want to go.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      You don't know if your wifes beliefs will work for your daughter, nor if the church will work for your daughter either. There's nothing wrong with your beliefs, and they work for you – don't be ashamed of them. Tell your daughter what you believe, and that she can believe as she chooses. Don't hide, and don't push – the middle ground is the way to go.

      Another example – I help people out sometimes – most recently, a bit of money for someone who genuinely (not a scammer) could not fill their car at the gas station. We talked for a long while, she was sadly thankful (she needed help so badly) – and I never said a word about religion – nor did she. Had she blessed me, I wouldn't have said a word of religion – it's her way of wishing me well. But – had she presumed me Christian – then I'd have merely corrected that – but no more. Find your middle ground – no shame for your beliefs, but not pushing them on others.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  7. ReligionIsBS

    Can any christian answer this?

    What kind of pathetic god can only get less than 1/3rd of it creation to beleive in it?

    (Since Christianity only represents less than 1/3rd of the world population, and take into account all the different denominations of christianity, who cant all be following the correct way.)

    January 23, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • hmmm..funny

      LMAO!

      January 23, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      No christians are going to take a crack at this one?

      January 23, 2013 at 2:45 pm |
    • Albert Camus

      RiBS- what makes you think that God has tried?
      What background do you have to call anything pathetic than yourself?

      January 23, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • Eric

      Your creator has given you free will to decide to accept or deny Him. Your flesh and the world will tell you God is not real and he does not exist, but your spirit tells you otherwise. I encourage you to read the book of John from the New Testament in the KJV of the Biblle. Read it with an open mind and see if what your spirit tells you. Read it during a quiet time of the day, early in the morning or late at night when you are alone. Read a chapter at a time. When you finish, sit for five minutes or so and listen to what your spirit says. Other good Bible books for an unbeliever are 1John and Romans. Sometimes those that are the greatest doubters can become God's greatest disciples!

      January 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      "RiBS- what makes you think that God has tried" – Umm, the bible. Ever read it? Jesus explains that he wants us to believe in him. "Those that will believe that will not perish." Thats the entire freaking point of your ridicuolous religion! And you dont even know it!.

      "What background do you have to call anything pathetic than yourself" – Ive read the bible and understand the point of chrisitanity, that jeebus wants us to believe in him. You, for some reason, have not even read the bible, or just dont understand it. Still laughing at the first question.

      January 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • hmmm..funny

      The Catholic is strong with this one....

      January 23, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Albert Camus

      "Umm, the bible. Ever read it? Jesus explains..."

      Sorry chief...talking about the God of Abraham here. You should take the time and be specific when you go off on a rant that you think is clever.

      Zing~

      "Thats the entire freaking point of your ridicuolous religion! And you dont even know it!."

      Your delusions are strong. I would suggest that you quit trying to guess at what you do not know.

      January 23, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Eric, you evaded the question. Why cant your pathetic god get at least 1/3rd of his creation to believe, when he obiously wants us to. He even told us that?

      WHy do you as.sume that I havent read those passages? Ive read the entire bible, some parts numerous times. I encourage you to read the entire bible, by yourself, without some snake oil salesman trying to decode it for you. Then write down all of the ridiculous things you find.

      Also, please answer the question.

      January 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      LOL! Best ridiculous post of the day goes to Albert, who seems to think im a captain of some sorts. I asked christians a question, then some christians answer it, and he tells me I should be recieving answers from jews! You win the prize Al! Feel free to steer the ship for a while!

      January 23, 2013 at 3:07 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Seriously Al, since I directed the question towrds christians and you answered, and didnt mention anything about the god of the old testament, how exactly did you think I was going to know what you were talking about?

      "Sorry chief...talking about the God of Abraham here. You should take the time and be specific when you go off on a rant that you think is clever."

      LOL. The irony is almost too ironic. You have to be a troll. Im calling bs.

      January 23, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • hmmm..funny

      Standard religious responce: You didnt read it right!....you didnt read in the original greek, latin, old english language...
      You have a child's understanding of the bible!

      January 23, 2013 at 3:13 pm |
    • Albert Camus

      @RiBS- If you are a true atheist...wouldn't you welcome all discussions?

      LOL...I guess the pop culture reference of "chief" eludes you. That's ok.

      But since you seem to be a Selective Atheist, you have ignored that God does not want people to believe he exists. No where (Torah, Tanakh or the NT) does it ever say that God requires ppl to know of his existence. God wants ppl to believe in him and what he stands for. Not for his sake but for the sake of humanity.

      January 23, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • elhigh

      Free will, it raises its ugly head somewhere around Genesis 3:6. If you take the Bible literally (don't, it hurts your head) Mankind was walking around for a page and a half before he screwed himself by making decisions for himself. And God was rightly annoyed.

      January 23, 2013 at 3:16 pm |
    • Albert Camus

      "You have to be a troll. Im calling bs."

      You may call whatever you like...obviously you feel your words are of some importance..to someone..somewhere...for some reason. But getting past your ad hominems...your original question isn't very neutral now was it? But of course it wasn't suppose to be. You wanted to throw a judgement out on a topic you couldn't comprehend.

      January 23, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • hmmm..funny

      ...oh thank you Albert, forgot that onne... God is true because it says it here in ma bible, The bible is true cause God says its true!...see? look here in the good book...he says it right thar!

      January 23, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • Albert Camus

      hmmm..funny- "God is true because it says it here in ma bible,"

      Hmmm...are you ok? I do not believe I said such a thing. You can apologize when you feel free to.

      "The bible is true cause God says its true!...see? look here in the good book...he says it right thar"

      Didn't say that either. You should seek some mental help or sleep off whatever you are on.

      January 23, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • hmmm..funny

      I never said you said that...your overall atti tude made me remember the Circular logic argument... and what do i have to apologize for? im not the one supporting an outright lie.....you however ....:)))

      January 23, 2013 at 3:35 pm |
    • Albert Camus

      hmmm..funny- "I never said you said that..."

      Oh..so you had a delusion. Ok.

      "your overall atti tude made me remember the Circular logic argument..."

      I'm certain that many words that have to do with certain subjects make you imagine all sorts of things.

      and what do i have to apologize for?"

      Nothing...your ignorance isn't your fault.

      "im not the one supporting an outright lie.....you however ....:)))"

      More delusions on your part. Unless you care to point out a lie I have told.

      January 23, 2013 at 3:47 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      "@RiBS- If you are a true atheist...wouldn't you welcome all discussions?"

      A true atheist? Sorry, but there isnt an atheist creed that we all follow. But yes, I do welcome most discussions. However, you have to be discussing the topic at hand. We were talking aboiut christians, and you came in and started talking about the OT god, without informing anyone. You were having your own seperate discussion, which doesnt supprise me.

      January 23, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • hmmm..funny

      @albert

      LEARN TO READ, or do you always twist peoples' words ... i said you support a lie.... talking to you feels like im talking to TruthBeTold or Chad....

      anyway you said: But since you seem to be a Selective Atheist, you have ignored that God does not want people to believe he exists. No where (Torah, Tanakh or the NT) does it ever say that God requires ppl to know of his existence. God wants ppl to believe in him and what he stands for. Not for his sake but for the sake of humanity.

      Which if im not mistaken, is utterly false...... with psalm 14:1 and rev 21:8 clearly spelling out God's oppinion of unbelievers.

      Play all the word games you want, the fact is you are supporting a scam...and do so knowingly.

      January 23, 2013 at 4:11 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      ITs quite evident that Albert has never read the bible once, or has ever even gone to church once. But yet he still supports it for some reason. A christian claiming that god doesnt want us to beleive in him!. Comedic Gold!

      January 23, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Albert Camus

      hmmm..funny-"or do you always twist peoples' words"

      I twist no words. I merely respond to what is put on here. Limited as those words are.

      "i said you support a lie...."

      And in no way you meant that I believed a lie? Please, don't lie so.
      But we'll @ssume you actually mean what you said here. How did I support a lie by telling the truth?

      "talking to you feels like im talking to TruthBeTold or Chad...."

      Odd...that was what I was just thinking about you.

      "Which if im not mistaken, is utterly false...... with psalm 14:1 and rev 21:8 clearly spelling out God's oppinion of unbelievers."

      You are mistaken. Those verses do not say that God requires ppl to know he exists. As Rev, says..all ppl will know he exists but he does not require it for himself. I think you and your partner RiBS seem to be confused over knowledge of existence and faith of the believer. No where does God require recognition of his existence from ppl. But to be follower, ppl need to recognize certain aspects of their own lives and what God did for them.

      "Play all the word games you want, the fact is you are supporting a scam...and do so knowingly."

      You are a liar.

      January 23, 2013 at 4:27 pm |
    • Albert Camus

      "ITs quite evident that Albert has never read the bible once, or has ever even gone to church once. But yet he still supports it for some reason. A christian claiming that god doesnt want us to beleive in him!. Comedic Gold!"

      RiBS doesn't understand and he lashes out with ad hominems and does it proudly. Very sad.

      How many lies can you tell in a day? Where have I once said I supported the Bible? Does hmmm..funny support the Bible when they cite from it?
      I'm a christian? Care to point out where I said that?

      This is fun..keep them coming Chad...I mean RiBS.

      January 23, 2013 at 4:31 pm |
    • hmmm..funny

      I think he may be employed by a church in some way...has something on the line with people not believing the crap.

      what he fails to realize is that many here are either former members or were forced to go by their parents (me) and know the stories as well as a believer does.

      January 23, 2013 at 4:32 pm |
    • Albert Camus

      "I think he may be employed by a church in some way...has something on the line with people not believing the crap."

      2 major errors here:
      1. You tried to think
      2. I have not asked one person to believe anything.

      "what he fails to realize is that many here are either former members or were forced to go by their parents (me) and know the stories as well as a believer does."

      No...he doesn't fail to realize what type of ppl are on here. I am sorry that your experiences as a youth did not agree with you however.

      January 23, 2013 at 4:36 pm |
    • hmmm..funny

      @ Albert.....

      ahhh...what? ... you might want to go over you last post buddy :) makes no sense at all.

      January 23, 2013 at 4:37 pm |
    • hmmm..funny

      err second to last post...am on a slow connection..sorry

      January 23, 2013 at 4:38 pm |
    • Albert Camus

      "am on a slow connection..sorry"

      NP, we've all been there.

      January 23, 2013 at 4:40 pm |
    • Albert Camus

      If you are referring to the one I think you are..it was aimed toward RIBS and not at you.

      January 23, 2013 at 4:43 pm |
    • hmmm..funny

      You are mistaken. Those verses do not say that God requires ppl to know he exists. As Rev, says..all ppl will know he exists but he does not require it for himself. I think you and your partner RiBS seem to be confused over knowledge of existence and faith of the believer. No where does God require recognition of his existence from ppl. But to be follower, ppl need to recognize certain aspects of their own lives and what God did for them.

      So we are dealing with The Holy Bible – The New Albert edition? because those two passages are pretty clear.... what you are say make zero sense give that the whole Bible/religion thing is so we sin ridden pieces of filth can be Saved....(john 10:9) or is that wrong too?

      January 23, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • hmmm..funny

      I think we are dealing with differing definition of 'requires'
      in RiB's original post, hes essentially pointing out that 2/3s of the planet dont believe in the christian god...and much of it is due to nothing more than being born in the wrong region.

      what kind of God, who runs it all, operate like that? you d think a being with a galaxy sized ego and paranoia to match would want the whole globe under his thumb.

      January 23, 2013 at 5:03 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      "what you are say make zero sense give that the whole Bible/religion thing is so we sin ridden pieces of filth can be Saved....(john 10:9) or is that wrong too?"

      Let's pause for a moment and look at RIBS original meaning vs what the intent of God from the NT. Being "saved" and acknowleding the existence of God are not the same thing. It seems that RIBS think God's purpose is for the world to know of his existence and that isn't the purpose. The purpose is to get ppl saved.
      Let's be honest about humanity shall we? If the skies broke loose in fire and majesty...angles proclaimed the existence of God....would that really get anyone saved? Do you really think that ppl like RIBS or Reality would suddenly fall to their knees and give themselves over to God? Probably not but they would def say God existed.

      "what kind of God, who runs it all, operate like that? you d think a being with a galaxy sized ego and paranoia to match would want the whole globe under his thumb."

      If we are focused on God from the NT...no..I don't see him wanting the globe under his thumb as you put it. If one considers that humanity left God of their own free will...then coming back to God through their own free will would be required. Merely believing God exists would not do this.

      January 23, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Uncouth Swain

      Most atheists are atheists because they follow the evidence and reason logically regardless of how uncomfortable it may be to do so. It would have been much, much, much easier for me to maintain my "belief" but my integrity was too important, and I reached a day when I could no longer lie to myself and to my loved ones. So yes, if there was evidence that logically pointed to a god the atheists would follow that logic. Of course, they might question the morals of that god according to their understanding of logic, but they would believe according to their reasoning.

      We don't believe because your god doesn't make sense; if he were to make sense to us, we'd believe.

      January 23, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Moby Schtick- "We don't believe because your god doesn't make sense; if he were to make sense to us, we'd believe."

      1) I never stated what my beliefs are.
      2) I would not require for anyone to believe the way I do about anything.

      I have never had a problem with what ppl want to believe in. I do have a problem with ppl that want to take what they believe in and push it onto others when their logic is faulty at times. That goes for those of faith or even of non-faith.

      Take atheism....if one does not believe in God or any gods....fine. It doesn't bother me much at all. But to declare that there is no God simply because one doesn't believe or that their view of "logic" doesn't allow it....then that is wrong. Basically put, for finite beings with limited capacities to state as a "fact" that a being that is suppose to be limitless, inifinite and beyond linear time does not exist is to laugh.
      Simply stating that one does not believe in God due to the lack of available evidence is enough, beyond that is error.

      January 23, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • hmmm..funny

      @ Uncouth Swain

      As Moby said: God does no make sense.

      Not from a common sense side....looking at the world, its pretty obvious that no otherworldly power is looking out for anyone...there are people in prison because they tried to let prayer heal their child's illness and it killed the kid.... Millions of children die in horriffic ways....

      Not from a logical side: the time lines are all wrong, the stories are borrowed and most churches based on the desert god do not follow even the 'moderate' philosophy accorded to Jesus. ... alot of do as we say, not as we do going on....at what point do we stop ignoring the 'few bad apples' and start holding churches respocible for the dogma they teach?

      Not from a scientific side: im not a scientist... but this is the heavy weight punch right here..... science has mountains of evidence countering religious claims.

      January 23, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      @hmmm..funny- as stated before..you are more than welcome to believe as you see fit. If God does not make sense to you...that's your call. It's your life.

      January 23, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Uncouth Swain

      I don't "declare" that there is no god. I am a nonbeliever (agnostic atheist). My position is that as long as god is invisible and undetectable we should do him the honor of not believing in him, and that we have a duty to disbelieve in and deride the stupid, hateful, and childish gods portrayed by the bible and the koran.

      January 23, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Uncouth

      "If one considers that humanity left God of their own free will...then coming back to God through their own free will would be required. Merely believing God exists would not do this."

      Please verify my understanding. You're saying that humanity as a group left god of it's own free will (the free will of the species?) and that we go back through individual free will?

      January 23, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Uncouth Swain

      Moby Schtick- "I don't "declare" that there is no god. I am a nonbeliever (agnostic atheist). My position is that as long as god is invisible and undetectable we should do him the honor of not believing in him, and that we have a duty to disbelieve in and deride the stupid, hateful, and childish gods portrayed by the bible and the koran."

      You are more than welcome to believe as you will.

      Saraswati- "Please verify my understanding. You're saying that humanity as a group left god of it's own free will (the free will of the species?) and that we go back through individual free will?"

      If one believes in the Torah, it was The Fall that resulted in the current state of mankind. It was a choice done by free will (though I would say done in ignorance). Unless I missed it, in the NT one cannot just trip and run into salvation. The believer must accept certain things beyond the notion "God exists".

      January 23, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
  8. georules

    I believe God made me evolve as an atheist.

    January 23, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Velveeta Crucifix

      If God has self esteem issues and doesn't believe in himself, does that make him an atheist?

      January 23, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      I've said that before. If I assume there is a rational god, and he created me with an intelligent and skeptical brain, the ability to reason and see – then gave us zero evidence that he is here, nothing conclusive, nothing even close, nothing verifiable – all I can conclude is that if there is a god, he wants me to be an atheist.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
    • Maria

      Super LOL:)

      January 23, 2013 at 3:12 pm |
  9. PI RHO TAU

    Chad.
    Our fraternity knows that the FSM is as real as any other god and we claim HE is the only one true God, why would you deny this? We demand that you provide evidence that he is not real, do the research and study. We will be giving you quizzes as to how much you have learned. Using your standard of not making an arguement from ignorance, although you are quite adept at it.

    January 23, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  10. Jim Murphy

    If their is an all controlling God he/she is a mean SOB with whom I want nothing to do with

    January 23, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  11. Michael

    It is a sad day when zealots working under what the bible classifies as satanic influence feel they have the righteousness in their own souls to cast such judgment on their fellow men. If you believe in god, and are a truly devote and learned Christian, you should understand that faith is not a popularity contest. God does not want people to feel forced into belief, god doesn't need that. Never has, never will. Forcing religion/the "values" of Christianity on anyone is directly against multiple passages of the Old and New Testament, it is specifically what Paul refers to in his ratings, and it is the worst kind of Heresy. Mitchell is blessed, not because she believes in god, but that she believes in herself, in her family, and in HER VALUES so strongly that she refuses to accept the Televangulistic hogwash that has plagued the minds of many who consider themselves "religious". Religious isn't BEING right, it is DOING right. Constant ostracism, excommunication and hazing of any kind are not righteous actions. Search your own soul before you cast such judgment on the souls of others. If you can't see the courage in her posts, and in the Contemporary Atheists of our time you lack the appropriate conviction to speak for the Church of Christianity, and you do wrong to yourself, your community, and especially your savior if you believe that god is in anyway in support of your actions. God is love, understanding, courage and patience, it sounds like many of the "atheists" out there are more spiritually sound then many of these "Christian fanatics". God doesn't want fans, God deserves faith. Not believing God could allow such horrible actions, and teaching your family to do right in spite of this idea, is far more so a sign of Faith then any conversion.

    January 23, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • austin

      Be stead fast in the truth. all scripture is profitable for reproof and correction. be a light in a dark world. bring up your children in the way of the Lord , you wont be morally acceptable before God even if you try either will I. but buddy, if you know how to act like a Christian, if you are, then put all of your statement out there with scripture to back that up. because you just became an opinionated coward. if you lose your saltiness you will tossed out. if you are lukewarm you will be spit out.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Saddend

      Well said!

      January 23, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • austin

      it is not my judgment to proclaim that the bible specifically speaks of no man being righteouss and that there is salvation through faith and the baptism of the Holy Spirit. we are all in a desperate condition. thats what God said not me. this forum is for me about defending the truth. not judging anyone. people here are abusing the messiah. proclaiming athiesm. that isnt a good hobby. reacting to this world with truth is my duty.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Michael

      Religion isn't about being right, it is about doing right. Judge me all you wish Austin, I know "who-is-like-god" and it most certainly isn't the man who judges.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • austin

      Michel, write your favorite gospel verses for people. Im not the judge. no one is condemned. we are all justified through through the blood of Jesus, not good works. salvation through faith in the name and blood, resurrection of Jesus. is that judging you?

      January 23, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
    • Michael (1)

      I don't post scriptures as I am not ordained; technically you commit blasphemy and heresy in your broken posts of the scriptures. I won't cast judgments such as calling anyone (especially a fellow believer) an "Opinionated coward" no matter how much they may or may not disagree with how I worship. You demand proof of faith, you demand so much of your common man without offering even the simplest of respect, courtesy or compassion that the savior proclaimed. You speak like the trial of sands, do you need me to quote such scripture for your faith to be confirmed? You have no idea my lineage, you have no idea of who I am but a name and my admiration of the courage to speak against the crowds, yet you judge then claim not to judge, you sin when you claim to be righteous. You must understand how such actions can be seen as detrimental to the faith, to the savior, and to the church...

      January 23, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  12. austin

    they atoned for sin with the blood of animals, to represent the lamb of God to come . the entire old testament is a foreshadow, from Adam, noah, abraham, to moses in 14000bc, all the was through the minor prophets, they all knew a savior would come. Entire bible is prophetic divine statement. their atonement as instructed by God was through sin offerings, blood of unblemished animals. by the way the angels fell and were given dominion on earth and the did the whole deceptive mimicry thing to pollute the truth and impersonate the true Godly way.

    January 23, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Thats gods plan? Blood, murder and death? You worship a maniac. But dont worry, he probably doesnt even exist.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • hmmm..funny

      there no probably about it... he does NOT exist;.... the Jewish Gods (Yahweh was their original war god...and his priests won a power struggle) didnt even exist 3500 years ago...and since this whole issue is based on their God, the whole notion is false.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • austin

      covenenant with Adam, Noah, Abraham, ...............................................you know the rest. the devil was kicked out of heaven , knowing the creator redeemer (Johns gospel) the devil brought false religion to the descendants of cain who killed his brother.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Check

      austin,

      There is not a shred of verified evidence that ANY of those things actually happened.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Aaron

      Hi Austin...I know you will more than likely not understand or agree with this but you are exceedingly brainwashed. You have willingly done this to your self. Any possibility of original thought coming out of your mouth is highly unlikely. I have heard it said that one knows their religion is a success when they realize they don't need it anymore. I hope your spiritual path will someday lead you to freedom..

      January 23, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  13. nosstyn

    ok for one, you don't have to have GOD in your life to raise your kids and second shame on those who think that churches and religous beliefs are all that.....most of the ppl who do harm to others are religious and go to church so don't give me that bs...my kids never went to church and they are great adults...God did not intend for there to be churches or ppl making money off them. He is in your heart and if you don't believe that is fine too.

    January 23, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • nosstyn

      Example:: Kwame Kilpatrick says he is very religious yet he stole and still is stealing, lies, committed adultery and I personally believe murder or plot to have a murder committed. OMG ppl wake the hell up.

      January 23, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      InB4 "yeah, but he wasnt a TRUE christian"

      January 23, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
  14. Jaye

    Excellent article. I totally agree – but sometimes it just isn't worth the backlash for me to even have the conversation.

    January 23, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  15. DeeKay

    And people wonder why our children are shooting each other!! It is because they are never exposed to the principles that kept our Country great...such as morals and the difference between right and wrong. Our children need to know that there is a God who loves you and died for you so that you could have everlasting life in Heaven. Shame on the motheres that don't teach their children this. And yes, I will pray for you as I pray for all of the lost in this world.

    January 23, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Your god has very little to do with morality.

      January 23, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Honey Hush

      DeeKay
      Pray for yourself that your delusion will be excorcised and that your mind will regain logic and reason. We all hope that you are not spending your wealth on the scam, that would be too stupid.

      January 23, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Jaye

      That's not entirely true. My children were all raised that way. All three of them are hardworking, caring adults who have never been in any trouble. By contrast – I believe that the twin towers were leveled in the name of religion.

      January 23, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Bet

      Oh, please. Children learn the difference between right and wrong just fine without bringing a god into it. You teach them that other children don't like to be hit, that it hurts them, that stealing from someone takes away that person's right of ownership, to treat others with kindness and compassion, etc., because that's the right thing to do, not because the boogyman god will hurt them if they are bad.

      Where did you get the idea that god is necessary for a person to be a good, active, supportive and tolerant member of the community?

      January 23, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      If you're teaching your kids the morality of the bible, I fear for this Country. The bible condones slavery, genocide and keeping woman silent. Not to mention hating just about everyoe that doesnt beleive what you do. Your religion is garbage. Moarls existed long before the bable.

      January 23, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Dick Brandlon

      The Founders made it very clear: "....NO law respecting the establishment of religion." That didn't mean a particular religion, It meant ALL religion. Belief in God (or god) is strictly a personal choice and those who choose not to believe, as well as those who do, should never try to impose their belief on somebody else. In other words, Butt Out!!

      January 23, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • DeeKay

      Religion is not about money (for the true believers). It is about raising children to become moral, caring adults. If you don't believe that the loss of religion in our society has changed our country, ask yourself why there are so many violent actions happening today. When the U.S. was younger and more people were raised as Christians, there were no school shootings, nor was there a need to be scared in our own homes. You have a right to your opinion, and I acknowledge that, but I don't believe anyone can say that the past wasn't safer and a lot of that had to do with religious teachings. As for the twin towers comment, true Christians are not terrorists. We don't strap bombs to ourselves and kill people, so that was a ridiculous comparison. Those that believe God is someone to be feared are lost. I don't fear Him, I love him.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Check

      DeeKay,

      Check out the percentages of prison populations of Christians vs. atheists/agnostics (and I mean 'percentages', since raw numbers will of course be off-kilter, since there are fewer non-believers in this country).

      January 23, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      When we allowed religion to reign supreme back in the day, there were school shootings. Its plain as day when you do a simple google search. So you are either lying or misinformed.

      You know what was different back when religion reigned supreme? Slavery. Jim Crow Laws. Segregation. Woman not being allowed to vote. Gay people persecuted. Pretty much not being allowed to do anything unless you were a white male. You want america to return to that? Take the blinders off, America has become a greater country with the decline of religion.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
    • Velveeta Crucifix

      How many people has religion killed since the beginning of human history? The last thing we need is more guns AND more religion.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
    • Question

      I'm curious to know the exact date that people are thinking of when the refer to the time when violence didn't exist and everyone was a good person.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • mia

      DeekKay: there have been school shootings as far back as the 1800s. It is not a new concept.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Bet

      true Christians are not terrorists. We don't strap bombs to ourselves and kill people, so that was a ridiculous comparison.

      No, evangelical christians try to get laws passed that make homoseduality a crime punishable by death.

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

      January 23, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      DeeKay.

      Why are some of the most godless countries the safest, happiest and prosperous? This country is one of the most fundamental christian counteries in the world so it should be safer right? Unless you are completely full of it.....which you are.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
    • Honey Hush

      DeeKay
      Violent acts in the USA, you are kidding. This country started by a war and has been almost constantly at war ever since then. The country is armed to the teeth with a gun for every man woman and child all under your religious morality. Revising history is part of the brainwashing of the christian religions. I suppose if all you ever read is bible babble you would not know any better. You may want to google religious scams and frauds; it is all about money and power, that is why christians split into so many different cults.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:19 pm |
    • RichG

      Huh! God is dead?

      January 23, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @DeeKay
      There are plenty of Christian Terrorist organizations.
      The IRA and the PLO.
      How about the Manmasi National Christian Army and the National Liberation Front of Tripura, who force Hindus to convert at gun point and are known to encourage the murder of Hindu children?
      How about The Army of God and other groups who kill doctors in the U.S. ?
      What about white supremacist Christian terrorist groups like the Aryan Nations, Aryan Republican Army, Phineas Priesthood, and The Covenant, The Sword, and the Arm of the Lord?

      The earliest recorded school shooting was the Pontiac's Rebellion massacre in 1764.
      Between 1900 and 1909, there were some 18 recorded school shootings.
      The 1930s saw no fewer than a dozen, the same in the 1940's.
      20 school massacres occured in the 1950's – the same number as the 2000's.

      When do you believe there were no school shootings?

      January 23, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • ReligionIsBS

      Boy, Deekay vanished quickly! kind of hard to defend a non-existant monster.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:25 pm |
    • ptcomic

      Which god are you referring to? There are many. Do you mean all of them, or just some of them, or just the one that your religion believes in? And why do you think people cannot have good morals just because they don't believe in god? I hope you are not referring to the morals espoused in the bible because a lot of people get killed for a lot of things. Surely you don't think that non-virgin girls should be stoned to death like the bible says in Deuteronomy. And why would you insist on praying for someone else? I thought one of the basic Christian religious tenets involves accepting god's will. Maybe god's will is for some people to not believe in her/him.

      January 23, 2013 at 7:08 pm |
  16. owlafaye

    A young child is quite impressionable for one good reason: Survival
    They are dependent on the parent telling them to "Look both ways before crossing the street" "Wash your hands" "Be polite" because, they are being protected and they look to the parent to steer them through the hazards of living until they attain an age where they can think things through for themselves.
    Taking advantage of this time in a child's life is abuse. There is no survival factor in telling them that demons will get them and they will go to hell.
    Religious programming from an early age is CHILD ABUSE.

    January 23, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • California Granny

      owlafaye,

      I agree. I just couldn't in good conscience tell my trusting children that those magical, delusional stories were facts.

      (they are now quite lovely, responsible adults)

      January 23, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • Saraswati

      owlafaye – Christians and muslims reproduce at a much higher rate than atheists, particlary fundamentalists. There are actually genetic theorists looking into whether this will promote wider spread of genes related to belief. It may not promote survival of the species at this point in time, but it does appear to promote (or at least correlate to) survival of the parents genes.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:27 pm |
  17. Bob

    Conversely, then Gays/Lesbians and Atheists should keep to themselves too. They have rights, but to flaunt them is wrong. The only reason it is easier to come out as Gay rather than an Athiest is the medis is so pro Gay and continues to promote it.

    January 23, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • Bet

      Gay men and women do not have the same rights in the USA as everyone else.

      January 23, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "They have rights, but to flaunt them is wrong. "

      Bob,

      Please explain how they are flaunting their rights?

      January 23, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Seriously?

      Yeah! Our country is so "pro-gay" that we would dare not give equal rights to citizens who pay equal taxes.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • Maggie

      Everyone has the right to "flaunt" – it's freedom of expression. A key difference that you've evidently dismissed is that gays don't habitually knock on their neighbors' doors and insist that they should BECOME gay.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
    • sam

      Bob likely thinks that gays simply existing is a flaunting of rights.

      January 23, 2013 at 2:41 pm |
  18. Sam White

    You know how it's the correct thing to respect other people's religions? I don't. My only bumper sticker reads: "Your god is imaginary and he sucks." Good for Deborah Mitchell for not caving in to the fantasy sheep. We're each responsible for our own condition. As much as people would like to blame a mythical deity for their pathetic little lives, it's their own hand that guides them. If you believe there's an invisible man in the sky who has a really good surveillance system in place, you deserve all the hardship that ensues. There will be no peace on earth until all religion is seen as the evil enslavement that it is.

    January 23, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
  19. bhigh

    My children came out as atheists before I did. I never really believed, but I went along to please my family. I took the kids to church, Sunday school, 1st Holy Communion, etc. When they started to refuse to go to church, I was relieved. Religion , god, Jesus, none of it ever really made sense to me. Now we're all happily born-again atheists, looking forward to the next Reason Rally!

    January 23, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
  20. David

    Thanks to the author of this article. She expresses what a lot of us think, but don't get around to expressing it.

    January 23, 2013 at 1:20 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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.