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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. Michael

    whether or not there is a god – in whatever definition one uses

    the fact is that any existence is inconsequential in our lifetime- which is the real truth.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Faith

      To us all,

      18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the[c] Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.

      20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things.[d] 21 I have not written to you because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

      22 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

      Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that[a] Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  2. GC

    To those that don't want to believe, thats fine. What I don't understand is how people can claim that God and everything else that has to do with God are all imaginary. That is absolutely RIDICULOUS. Just because you don't have your "physical' proof doesn't mean that something doesn't exist. You should respect peoples beliefs and not call them imaginary because you ultimately don't know and you darn sure weren't there whenever we were created (in whatever manner that happend). Humans think theey know everything. Too full of ourselves and it's sad. For some, God is all they have to hang onto and you disrerspect that.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Tea Clown

      Cool. Are you having lunch today with the Easter Bunny and the Mad Hatter too?

      January 19, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • Tea Clown

      btw – which "god" is that? Buddha, Zeus, Confucius, Jehovah, Allah, etc? It gets so confusing in our free and diverse country.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • GC

      It's whatever God you want it to be, the point is that you shouldn't step on what other peoel believe in. Calling them names and making jokes about it is immature. If believing in something keeps those people living the right way, then so be it. Who am I to judge? WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE?

      January 19, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • phils

      Your argument applies to santa claus and the tooth fairy as well. the burden of proof is on those making the claim that something you can't perceive exists.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • BajaDelMar

      Obviously from your post it's not "fine". You are so narcissistic and it angers you that others would have the audacity to disagree with YOUR BELIEFS. This happens a lot with xians.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • TANK!!!!

      That also leaves the door wide open for unicorns, bigfoot, the yeti, chupacabra, a-nus-probing anthropomorphic aliens, banshees, vampires, elves, gnomes, fairies, pixies, goblins, dragons, werewolves, and the greatest myth of them all: a thinking religious person.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • Hal Anderson

      I think the point of the article is that this should go both ways. The religious should respect the non-religious and other religions equally. In a perfect world, religion would be like football: you love your team, you don't like the other one – although you accept the fact that people might like them – and you understand that there are people in the world who just don't care for the game. Respect flows both ways.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • phils

      who am i to judge? I don't care if you believe in god or not.
      but when a right wing christian tells me i'm going to hell because I don't believe, I feel judged.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • Tea Clown

      LOL – Judgmental, self righteous "Christians" blogging about judging others. Ha ha ha...

      Sacrilegious.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • GC

      Look, all im saying is that if someone chooses to believe in something you can't step on it. Just like if you don't believe in a God I would never step on that. Im not making a case for God, I'm just saying resepct should be shown to those that do believe in one. Some people believe ghosts exist, some dont. Some claim to have seen them, I havent. However I can't tell you what you saw or what you didnt see bc I don't know.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • GC

      Thank you Hal, that's all im trying to say. I respect your beliefs and you respect mine. Some folk get into the name calling though. It does go both ways.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • Tea Clown

      GC – you're simply full of yourself a religious form of team spirit. btw – My GOD is bigger than your god.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • BajaDelMar

      Said the pot to the kettle. LOL The xian majority in this country make fun of atheists and agnostics all the time. You might want to try stepping into reality.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • Canadian

      Beliefs, no matter how passionate and important to a person they may be, do not automatically deserve any respect. I can passionately believe that all people taller than 5'8 are stupid – would you respect my belief? What would you say if I asked you to respect my beliefs no matter how irrational they are? KKK members passionately believe that black people are not equal or not even "real" humans. Should we respect their beliefs?

      January 19, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • GC

      And those "Christians" that make fun of and judge others are absolutely out of line. I was taught that God is the only one who can judge. You are very right, i've been in churches and hung out with people that call themselves "Christian" but do those things. Always pointing the finger at everyone else. I was taught that all men have wrong inside of them and that one person is not better than the next. If i could apologize for them I would, but I would like you to know that it is WRONG of them. My bible teaches me to respect ALL. These folk of today have screwed this thing up. Forcing their way on people and damning folk to hell...RIDICULOUS. What authority do they have??

      January 19, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • humanbean

      That respect goes both ways. I should be able to express the fact that I don't believe in god without the reaction from people that's similar to if I would have told them I'm a devil worshiper. In the end it's really none of your concern anyway. If your god is who you believe that he is, isn't it up to him to judge me in the end? Not you? Your god told you to love people, not judge them.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • johnsullivanmusic

      For some, reason is all they can hang onto but Religion strips them of that ability. Faith, the belief in things that have no proof, is a sign of human weakness. If applied to any other area of life, faith would be seen as, not a good thing.

      January 21, 2013 at 12:31 pm |
  3. Religion Is Dangerous For Children And Other Living Creatures

    Fact: The vast majority of religious people are brainwashed as children. Instead of allowing them to seek God and find the truth of God for themselves, their choice is taken away by indoctrinating them as children. That's why so many struggle with it as they get older, when they finally reach an age where their brains are developed and they start to question all the BS surrounding their religion. In cultures where religion is law, they aren't allowed to question anything, and will even be tortured, ostrasized, stoned, beaten to death for questioning. Without children to indoctrinate, their religion would go the way of the dodo. It's about time we recognized the TRUTH about religion. Does God want people who were brainwashed as children and don't really understand what their being taught or people who honestly seek him out and find them in their own hearts

    Christians will never be able to keep their religion personal... it is all about converting others or labeling them (JUDGING) as sinners/demons/Satan-spawn...etc.

    The REAL TRUTH: Religion = being right, even when you're wrong. Religion = CONTROL and POWER over other people, particularly innocent children!

    January 19, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Correctlycenter

      Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao and many of the barbaric Roman Emperors would agree with you. Christ and His followers were a problem for their murderous and barberous dictatorships in which they wanted to be god...

      January 21, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
  4. Faith

    SM, you speak of religion and I speak of relationship.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • sam stone

      relationship?

      what does he look like?
      what does he sound like?

      January 19, 2013 at 9:52 am |
    • Pete

      Manti is that you?

      January 21, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
  5. matt

    Yet we wonder why bad things in school happen such as school shootings? Parents, especially mothers like Deborah Mitchell, who do raise their children without religion will mostly end up being bad, even killers, since these children do not know of any repurcussions or fear of damnation in the present and after life.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • Mxh

      Where do you get that from? A much lower percentage of atheists are criminals, granted there isn't much data on it.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Tea Clown

      LOL – Our prisons are full of gun totin', bible thumpin' Christians.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Pete

      " Parents, especially mothers like Deborah Mitchell, who do raise their children without religion will mostly end up being bad, even killers, since these children do not know of any repurcussions or fear of damnation in the present and after life."

      That's why atheists tend to stay in their marriages more than xtians. You don't need a god to be moral and just. That's a lie xtians tell themselves so their ego's can feel justified believing in their myth.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • Huh?

      Religious people find it very annoying that people don't need God to be good, as science has now incontestably proved.

      For millennia, we've been brainwashed into believing that we needed the Almighty to redeem us from an essentially corrupt nature. Left to our own devices, people would quickly devolve into beasts, more violent, tactless, aggressive, and selfish, than we already are.

      Today, we know that this isn't true. With the discovery of mirror neurons by Italian neuroscientist Giaccomo Rizzolatti in the 1990s, we now have physiological proof of why - and how - our species became hard-wired for goodness. Mirror neurons are miraculous cells in the brain whose sole purpose is to harmonize us with our environments. By reflecting the outside world inward, we actually become each other - a little bit; neurologically changed by what is happening around us. Mirror neurons are the reason that we have empathy and can feel each other's pain. It is because of mirror neurons that you blush when you see someone else humiliated, flinch when someone else is struck, and can't resist the urge to laugh when seeing a group struck with the giggles. (Indeed, people who test for "contagious yawning" tend to be more empathic.) These tiny mirrors are the key to most things noble and good inside us.

      It is through mirror neurons - not God - that we redeem ourselves, achieve salvation, and are "reborn" in virtuous ways once co-opted by religions. Evolution knew what she was doing. A group of successful cooperators has a much higher chance of thriving than a population of selfish liars. In spite of what we read in the headlines, the ratio of bad to good deeds done on any given day across our planet holds at close to zero any day of the year. Although we are ethical works-in-progress, the vast majority of us are naturally positive creatures - meaning not harmful to our environments - most of the time in most of the ways that matter. And God has nothing to do with it.

      Spirituality does but God doesn't. Evolutionary psychologists tell us that our brains are hard-wired with a five-toned moral organ that focuses on a quintet of ethical values - one of which is purity, or sacredness. In a world that can sometimes be disgusting, we evolved an upper tier of emotional longing - the aspiration for purity - to keep us balanced in this satyricon of carnal delights (where animality beckons and frequently wins). Our need for sacredness is part of our ancient survival apparatus, and manifests in what we call faith, the need to connect with that sacred dimension. This has been the primary purpose of religion, of course - to congregate people for the Greater Good - but God has been, in fact, the divine carrot. The important part was communion, a context in which to transcend ourselves, if only for an hour on Sundays. Without this ability "to turn off the Me and turn on the We," moral psychologist Jonathan Haidt tells us, our species would still be wandering around as groups of nomads, unable to create a civilization.

      Aside from mirror neurons, there's oxytocin, the molecule of connection (also known as the molecule of love). It's fascinating to learn that the vagus nerve produces more oxytocin when we witness virtuous behavior in others that makes us want to be better people ourselves. We are wired by nature to be elevated at the sight of other people's goodness, mirror neurons and oxytocin conspiring to improve the species. Miraculous though it is, this natural human phenomenon has nothing to do with theology.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • josh

      you sound like an idiot. if u think you have to believe in god to be good, you are the stupid one. i dont believe in god and im not bad. i work every day.i support my family. i do all good. what a damn idiot you are

      January 19, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Ashley

      If you take the prision population 98% believe in a "god" where 2% are athiest. Now take the scientific community which movs us forward 89% are athiest. Not beliving in god does not take away your morality and knowlege of what is right and wrong. You do what is right because you are a good person not because of a fear you will be in hell for eternity. I am a proud athiest and I don't lie cheat or steal. Have no criminal record. I don't do bad things for fear of what a god will do to me but because when I look in the mirror I want to like the person I see!

      January 19, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • Robert

      Its sad that you feel you need a religion or a God who will punish you, in order to do go to your fellow human being. That is illogical, rediculous. within this religious way of living is an inability to do good just because its best, not out of fear fr some eternal damnation. slavery is doing for others out of fear. love is doing something out of wanting to promote love. Im sorry you need a devil and a god to do that... you must be a rather immoral man without those ideas?

      January 19, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      matt, you aren't even sensible. If someone needs a bully and the threat of punishment to keep him from going berserk, he has no morals at all except those motivated by fear of reprisal.

      Is the idea of hell the only thing that keeps you from murdering someone you dislike? I don't need to be threatened with hell to keep from injuring others. I doubt many people do.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Jimbo Jones

      So the only reason you don't go out and kill people is because you are afraid of the repercussions? It's not because you believe murder is wrong, it's just because you don't want to get in trouble.

      Well, if that is the case I am sure glad there is religion to keep people like you in line.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • Steven

      That has to be the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Look around the world, 99% of all murders are based on religious principles–FACT!!

      January 19, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • cuzIsaidso

      People who think like you are the reason the rest of us have a problem with religion. My parents raised 3 atheist children who have been law-abiding taxpaying citizens and we've passed those traits along to our children. I wonder how much of the taxes I've paid have gone to keeping Christians in prison.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • phils

      @matt. nice claim with nothing to back it up. try doing some research to back it up, you won't find anything.

      look at europe, low belief in god, low crime. why is that?

      January 19, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • humanbean

      17% of people identify themselves with absolutely no religion in this country, yet only 1% of the prison population are non believers. As usual, your opinion doesn't add up with the math and the facts. In the end, you're just another bigot.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • johnsullivanmusic

      Are you "good"just because you believe in a God? If so, then in my opinion you are evil. If you don't kill only because of the fear of hell, you deserve hell. Don't you have morality without having to "check your book?" Maybe you should trash all of your irrational beliefs, throw your Bible away, quit going to church and listen for that still small voice in your mind that says, "killing BAD!"

      January 21, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
  6. Doug Lynn

    It continues to amaze me that people decide God does not exist because He does not work the way they think He should. Taking their concept of God to its logical conclusion, God must eliminate all serious pain and suffering, and people should be able to do whatever feels good at the moment with no significant negative consequences. To them, God should be more consistent and understandable, like 2 plus 2 always equals 4.

    God, according to the Bible, did not create everything for our pleasure. We are not the center of the universe. He is. The very idea that God created everything to bring glory to himself repulses people. Why do people think they are significant apart from God's purpose? God is incomprehensible but people do not want a God that they cannot understand, so they decide He does not exist.

    I know I am sinner. There is no doubt in my mind. None. I know I hurt myself and other people with my selfish choices, and yet I fail to do what I know is right all too often. My hope in is the grace of God. He gave me the faith to believe and I am shocked that so many people do not see the truth that is so obvious to me after studying God's Word for decades and applying it to the world around me.

    For me, this life is an opportunity to briefly glorify God before my judgment and be granted an eternity in Heaven that I do not deserve. Call me delusional. I do not care, because I have a peace, a contentment that non-believers cannot possibly comprehend. It is an incomprehensible gift of God that none can boast about.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • Pete

      "I do not care, because I have a peace, a contentment that non-believers cannot possibly comprehend."

      I have peace, joy and love in my life that you can't comprehend. Why do xitians have to lie all the time. We can have the same peace without a god but your fear and ego keeps you from acknowledging it, so you have to lie.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why would an omniscient, omnipotent being need puny humans to "glorify" him? What would be the point? If that's all the universe is for your god–just a source of praise–then why even bother to create it and then punish those who don't see any reason to believe in a creature that does nothing at all?

      January 19, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Religion Is Dangerous For Children And Other Living Creatures

      You described a megalomaniac. Yes, yes... God has no responsibility for anything, huh? Even though 'He' created evil, he gave us the ability to be tempted, he unleashed Satan upon us, he screwed up once already and had to start all over again. Ridiculous. What loving, peaceful God would want to be 'worshipped', would want us to grovel at his feet. You describe a petulant conquerer, a God who ordered children to be murdered because of 'original sin', a jealous, tempermental being who would throw us in Hell for questioning his mysteriously degenerate ethics and morality that supposedly 'we can't understand'.

      BS, I tell you, sir. BS, BS, BS, BS. You claim to know the truth, and it's nothing but LIES.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • David

      What a vain, insecure God you believe in! A pathetic wretch like that should not be worshiped, but opposed.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • cuzIsaidso

      Even if we assume God exists, what tangible evidence do you have to support your version of God? Your personal beliefs and whatever is written in your holy book don't count. Offer us verifiable evidence that can stand up to the kind of scrutiny you use when you judge everything in this universe outside of your own religious beliefs.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • johnsullivanmusic

      Delusion can be comforting.

      January 21, 2013 at 12:38 pm |
  7. Bobbie

    Excellent action on the part of this woman, whether you believe or not, in a GOD as ident iced by your holy book, or version of the Bible, is a deeply personal choice. Most who have concluded that there is no God have a religious background and have spent many hours studying religion, before concluding that it is not true. I believe one should be accepted just as most religious people are, by others and not pressured to believe.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • Lemaitre

      So you've come on here to persuade us that your method is better. And how are you different?

      January 19, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  8. snarkjeg

    For decades, I was very active in my church and took bible classes. But I was always struck by how confident christians were in their views of god and what god wanted from them. I could never understand how other religions could be just as confident about their views, which could be almost opposite. Religious extremists, of all faiths, are absolutely sure that they are doing the will of god and trying to save the world from evil. None of them see themselves as evil, not even the 9/11 terrorists. They were willing to die for god just like the early christian martyrs. Why didn't god make himself crystal clear to everyone in exactly the same way so there would be no misunderstandings. I finally decided that either god was incompetent, a psychopath who enjoys setting us up to fight, or he is a human creation, I find it easiest to live with the last explanation.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:21 am |
  9. Fred Smith

    Only 1 in 10 children live with both father and mother. Theres your problem.

    dailymail. co . uk/news/article-2253421/1-3-US-children-live-father-according-census-number-parent-households-decreases-1-2-million.html

    January 19, 2013 at 9:20 am |
  10. Tammy

    For those who are "agnostic", get real, you're still a glorified "atheists" who tries to skirt your responsiblity to God. You don't want to take responsibility for your soul, and you want other's to think "there's still hope in that one". You either believe and accept or you don't, period. That being said, God is your final judger, He has written in your book of life..... I as a Christian, will pray for ALL atheists and for the people whom lives you impact.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • AC

      please do not pray for me, please....

      January 19, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Bob

      How did God write about Christians, when the term did not come into use for centuries after the New Testament, never mind the old. The religious book of many other religions call their supermen , God, but they also do not suggest that he is Christian.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • UncleM

      don't bother praying. Nobody is listening. Haven't you figured that out yet?

      January 19, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Mike

      nor me...pray for yourself, you need it

      January 19, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • SImran

      I am often amused by the need of some to write god with a capital G. Is god a proper noun or a common noun?

      January 19, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • phils

      @tammy there is not soul, sorry. you are your brain. if you damage your frontal lobe and you may lose the ability to have emotions including love. your impulse control and your sense of morality may go right out the window. you may lose your ability to reason. all depends on the extent of the damage.

      so what is this soul supposed to do again?

      January 19, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • slipperman

      Tammy is correct. Agnostic = not knowing (from the root word "gnosis" or knowledge). I think even most Christians will admit that they don't know that there is a god. Therefore, pretty much everyone on Earth is Agnostic. This term has been misused for a very long time by people who didn't believe in god, yet were too frightened by the stigma attached to the term "Atheist".

      Us non-believers should all finally accept and own the fact that the correct label for where we stand is indeed "Atheist". It simply means that we don't BELIEVE in a god-being who rules the universe and all creation. Thank you for helping to point this out Tammy. Since the fastest growing group of Americans in particular, are those with no religious affiliation, just imagine the exponential increase in the numbers of non-believers after we clear up this little problem of semantics.

      Careful Tammy, in a a few years, you just may have to take your religion underground, the way it started.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • sam stone

      you condescending cvnt.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • sam stone

      while we are at it, gnosticism has to do with knowledge, theism has to do with faith. get off your knees and pick up a dictionary

      January 19, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  11. shinden58

    A well written article. Glad to see others that are not into imaginary friends in the sky. Hopefully we will hear from more people like here that that are telling it like it is.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:16 am |
  12. LDC

    I have never seen a ghost
    Witnessed a UFO
    Talked to a god
    Nor shook hands with any devil

    Of the four...I believe only the second one to be possible.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • The DuDe.

      Same here!!! cool

      January 19, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • Peter

      Well said!

      January 19, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • Matt

      But I'm guessing you celebrate Christmas and Easter? Santa and the Easter Bunny with the kids? Won't believe in God, but you will benefit off his holiday's. So are you a true non-believer?

      January 19, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • LDC

      Yes Matt I celebrate ALL holidays....but not for traditional reasons. I enjoy giving gifts simply for the pleasure of giving. I put no meaning behind it. On the gift tag it simply says.......Love Dad(Grandpa). Nothing more..nothing less. I. am true non believer. I raised all my children to live free and make their own choices. They are all normal well adjusted adults that I am very proud of. Some chose religion..some chose atheism. I love them unconditionally.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  13. Justdad

    Science cults: all matter on the universe came from a single point in the universethat always existed. Religion: all matter came from a single source that created the universe and provided the structure in which we exist. Science cult: life has no meaning then you die. Religion: your life has meaning and you should help others. Science cult: energy cannot be created it just changes state.. religion:when people die their personal energy(soul) changes state to join their creator.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • Sensible

      i wouldn't call science a cult. i'd consider it, in terms of a religious debate, a system of learning, knowledge, and fact verification

      January 19, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • Mxh

      One has hard evidence (sort of, your science is a bit off), the other is no different from the myth of the hundreds of other religions in the world.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • snarkjeg

      not all religions fit your description. There are almost has many religious points of view as there are historical cultures.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • Tea Clown

      As Bill Engvall would say, "There's your sign!"

      Anybody who argues that science is a cult has already lost. LMAO

      January 19, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  14. vlaughlin

    Belief Blog, I think you are missing an important viewpoint here: that of contemporary Paganism. Many of us feel marginalized in our own families, and so we share that with atheists. However, many people still think we worship demons and other such beings, when in reality we do not. I, as one of many modern Pagans, would appreciate it if you, the Belief Blog, would showcase more Pagan viewpoints.

    Many blessings,
    Victoria

    January 19, 2013 at 9:14 am |
  15. Megan

    Hats off to the woman who wrote the article. I classify myself as spiritually agnostic at best and it I always found it exceedingly frustrating that, even being born in a Northern state that boarders Canada (generally speaking, most would stereotype such a location as being more open-minded or relaxed about religion; more tolerant), there was constant attacking and harassment from those of more traditional leanings.

    It is difficult to not be a bitter Atheist in a world where one cannot walk down the street without having leaflets and pamphlets from this church or that religious doctrine. It's hard to still be respectful when you're waiting at a bus stop and a fellow (who is being as friendly as he knows how, so you don't really have any reason to be a prude about it... except that it's 6AM and you haven't had your coffee yet, but I digress...) from whatever-church/religion-you-want-to-insert-here strikes up a conversation with you...

    And won't stop talking long enough to tell him, "Thanks, I appreciate the gesture, but I'm not interested," and to please go away so I don't miss the bus. Inevitably, you almost do, because he'll TALK to you all the way onto the bus, and sometimes keep at it from the window.

    Honestly, these types should stop and reflect a little: what if, for a moment they dared to imagine it, what if someone who was Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist or Taoist or Unitarian or (heaven forbid) even Wiccan/Pagan decided to do that to them or their children on a daily basis? How would they feel if they were being told that their views were wrong and that, if they didn't get on board with whatever this person was saying, they would suffer consequences – severe ones at that.

    How would anyone react to such a situation? This is where the trouble lies, in my opinion, because very few people out there wouldn't feel resentful, attacked, harassed, etc. al. if they were the ones on the receiving end; so why do they continue to do onto others that which they would not like have done onto themselves?

    If we could get these extremists (and make no mistake, these are cases of extremism; most people, religious or not, just want to live their lives as they choose and don't want to meddle in the lives of others as much as possible) to just CHILL OUT and relax, they may find that their flocks will increase because, frankly, it is THIS behavior, this recruitist rationale that they have, that is what is driving more and more people away from the religion that they support.

    But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Peter

      You are not wrong!

      January 19, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • JWaldorf

      I came to my senses in my mid twenties and have lived in total bliss with my status as an atheist!!! Way to go Ms. Mitchell.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • End Religion

      This "extremist" is actually doing what he's supposed to do. He's been instructed by his god to proselytize. It is only because 99% of Christians don't do anything their god commands that we get any reprieve from that nonsense. They've moderated their religion to "fit in" with society (and possibly to help keep the number of christians fed to lions at a minimum), even though that means disregarding the commands of their supposedly inerrant god. It is just hypocrisy on top of hypocrisy. While I cannot stand it for the same reasons as you, I do have a special place in my heart for those people since they are "more godly" than the vast amount of other nutters. The sum total of all this ridiculousness is that religion can't die fast enough. It is a twisted shell game of nonsensical false piety.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • Education is my religion

      When I read Ms. Mitchell's ireport, I saw my exact thoughts. A thoughtful, well written piece echoing many of my views and clearly those of many others. However, Megan makes a point that is hard to escape. As a woman raised as a Catholic I went through a stage of agnosticism before finally accepting that there is no god. I still struggle with the sense of betrayal for the perpetuation of this lie and how much of my life was wasted on it and cannot help but feel bitter resentment as people feel they have the right try to "fix" me for not agreeing with their beliefs. I am judged by others who assume that I am flawed. I dedicate my life to the care of my patients, volunteer, pay taxes and aside from the rare speeding ticket, am a law abiding citizen. Critical thinking does not make me nor anyone else evil, but to accept the unacceptable and deny the obvious would kill my soul as surely as the hellfire I was threatened with when I " believed".

      January 19, 2013 at 11:24 am |
  16. visitor

    One neighbor, a very dear woman who is very religious, kept visiting another dying neighbor in the hospital to try to save her soul. Another friend kept getting harassed by his religious brothers to accept Jesus before death. He did finally, and I am convinced he did it to shut his brothers up so he could die in peace. At the funeral, they thought an appropriate eulogy was to tell the story of their harassment and "win".

    Parents of my daughter's friends kept inviting my daughter to church. I was totally fine with it. We aren't religious, we aren't anti-religious, we just don't care and why not get new ideas? All church did was solidify her atheism. It takes strength to be the only open atheist kid in an area surrounded by super churches. I was proud of her, and also worried, because it is isolating and some of her friends decided taking potshots at her atheism was appropriate. Also, an open atheist inspires other kids to question their religious teachings. Boy, do religious parents hate that.

    Being religion-free has its drawbacks. Churches offer great social benefits in terms of giving and receiving and caring for each other. It would be great if somehow those of us who are not religious would create those same types of organizations.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • geenabeana

      I feel the same way and was just thinking the same thing. Non-believers need a place in society and need to be accepted just as much as everyone else. We are not allowed to discriminate against people because of their religion but it seems we are allowed to discriminate against those with no religion. It is very isolating. If we had ways to come together as a group, I'm almost positive it would be (wrongly) considered a cult of some kind. I hope one day there is a way to do this. With people like the author of this post opening up the dialogue, perhaps one day there will be organized meetings of the mind where we can just celebrate the beauty of life and help each other out when we need it, without all of the religious strings!

      January 19, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • snarkjeg

      There are many ways to get the comfort of community. Try volunteering for a charitable organization in your town. You'll meet people with similar values and you get to contribute to make the world a better place, without spending tons of money on beautiful huge churches.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • visitor

      snarkjeg – I have volunteered. But it really isn't the same thing as a church community.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • visitor

      geenabeana I think part of what a church offers is the ritual. Rituals bind communities and let's face it most rituals are tied to religions. So you are right, if there was some sort of mechanism for ritual without the religious baggage that would really help atheists and agnostics.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:45 am |
  17. Tired of One Way Street

    I too am weary of discussions regarding religion and spirituality with devoutly religious people. Why is it that it is acceptable for devout persons to attempt to change my atheistic views, while the mere concept of my attempt to do the change their views is unacceptable? The convenience of participating in a majority viewpoint (in this case Christianity) does not give you the right to foist pity upon those who do not blindly agree. We are simply exercising individuality. Either God (of any religion) gave humans intelligence, thereby accepting the consequence of analytic thought, or there is no such preordained design, and therefore no God.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • andrew

      this. precisely this.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:18 am |
  18. The DuDe.

    Well is true..Respect the way some one think and stop saying the if we don't believe in God or Jesus we'll go to hell..That's one of many reason i hate religion and what comes with it...And the Bible is a good and sad book story for that era or time.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:09 am |
  19. Mike

    It's nice to see I'm not alone and better yet that others have the courage to come out like she did. I am glad to see so many thoughtful responses here amidst the more-typical evangelical reactions (from both believers and non-believers). Let us hope that in the future, should that 25% of non-religious grow into a majority, that we set an example and show compassion, understanding, tolerance and acceptance of differing views.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • BajaDelMar

      There's a long way to go. Try putting up a pro-agnostic/atheist billboard message anywhere in the country, even in big cities, and see how fast the "respectful" xians band together and use coercion to have it taken down. It's obvious that true freedom of speech does not exist in this country when simply disagreeing with these holier than thou religious phonies opens yourself up to their wrath.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Gir

      Proselytizing from a point of disbelief makes no sense. And many of those billboards are downright confrontational.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • BajaDelMar

      @ Gir What a hypocrite you are. As long as the messages agree with your viewpoint that's all that matters, huh??? You are the true epitome of narrow-minded.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:02 am |
  20. are122

    When someone throws any composites of the universe in a vacuum and they alone determine the physics of their existence and interactions I may question the existence of God. There are nuts who are religious and there are nuts that are not religious. Religion does not pervert people, people pervert religion. As more and more pull away from God things do not seem to be getting better.

    January 19, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • Sensible

      well what is better? once you define better, you have to think what other factors are there other than the percentage of religious americans, have led to influence that definition?

      January 19, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • humanbean

      Religion does "pervert" people because religion is a fallible human creation.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:08 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.