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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. Brampt

    many religions arose from a desire for political power, prestige, and popular acceptance rather than a desire to please God, it is no surprise that religion is involved in such badness as child abuse, fraud, war, or terrorism. All too often, religion is a sham.

    Response to popular demand may move some to start a new religion. For instance, the Economist magazine reported on so-called megachurches in the United States. The article notes that these churches are growing because they are “based on the same principle as all successful businesses: putting the customer first.” Some feature “jazzed up services with videos, drama and contemporary music.” Certain religious leaders in these churches claim to teach their members to be “rich, healthy and trouble free.” Although such churches are criticized for being in the entertainment industry or in “the self-help trade,” notes the same source, “they are simply responding to demand.” The report concludes: “The merger between business and religion has been fabulously successful.”

    January 18, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      Yep. It's a business catering to the irredeemably gullible. Tell us something we didn't know.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • NEMO

      Yeah the merger happened a few thousand years ago, didn't the Economist get the memo?

      January 18, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • JP

      There are many Christians who think the "megachurch" business/religion merger is a sham as well. Go listen to what John Piper has to say about it, what he calls the "health, wealth, and prosperity gospel."

      January 21, 2013 at 3:24 pm |
    • Jeff Hullinger

      May I suggest providing hour son with a philosophy of life? Stoicism is a good one. William Irivine wrote a wonderful book in which he shapes a stocism for modern life based on ancient Roman philosophers. You don't need to believe in a god to live a good life.

      January 22, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  2. davelake

    I think I can safely state that everyone on this board does not believe that Ra-The Sn God is real. How do you know?–it is from a different time and a different culture. Commen sense simply tells us that is the case. However if you could travel back in time the believers would be adamant that Ra is real. You on the other hand could easily see it is a myth. Current religions for me are just as easy to see as myth as one looking back at Ra. Commen sense and logical thinking prevail. As an atheist I must admit not believing in religion was as easy as realizing Santa Clause was not real. You simply put the pieces together.

    January 18, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • Ninja Warrior

      Commen sense tells me that that commen is spelled common.

      January 21, 2013 at 3:53 pm |
  3. Jeff W

    I wish I were as brave as Ms. Mitchell. I'm a dad who's facing some tough decisions right now about what to say to my 4-year-old about God. I'm a former believer, but my wife, even though she has her doubts, isn't ready to give up on her faith. She wants to take our son to church and teach him about God, but I don't want to raise him believing in all that fear-based nonsense. But I live in a community where I would be utterly rejected if I shared my non-belief, so I feel inclined to go along with it. I just want my son to grow up with the peace I have knowing that God is just a fairy tale.

    January 18, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • snowboarder

      jeff, caution is the better part of valor.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • January

      I found out God is very real about 3 years ago. I have true serenity in my life. If your son chooses to believe, it may not be the worst thing.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • NEMO

      maybe you could teach him to find his own truth, it my take a lifetime, but you and your wife could start preparing him to make that choice for himself.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • Brampt

      Researchers have found that rather than being a harmful influence, religion can have a positive effect on a child’s development. In 2008 a report published in the journal Social Science Research* stated: “Religion has been shown to enhance the parent-child bond for both mothers and fathers.” This report also said: “Religion and spirituality appear to be an important part of many children’s lives and are vital to family relationships.”

      January 18, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • Brampt

      History proves that religion has the potential to fuel bigotry and hatred, therefore,CHILDREN need to be taught the truth about God.
      ex:How should we treat those who are different from us?
      ▪ What the Bible teaches: “God is not partial, but in every nation the man that fears him and works righteousness is acceptable to him.”—Acts 10:34, 35.
      Lesson: If God accepts people from all backgrounds, we should not discriminate against others just because their skin color or their facial features differ from ours.

      How should we treat family members?
      ▪ What the Bible teaches: “Children, be obedient to your parents in everything, for this is well-pleasing in the Lord.”—Colossians 3:20.
      Lesson: Obedient children prove not only that they love their parents but also that they want to please God.
      Why be honest and kind?
      ▪ What the Bible teaches: “Treat others as you want them to treat you.”—Matthew 7:12, “Contemporary English Version.”
      Lesson: We should be considerate of the feelings, thoughts, and needs of our family members and others in our community. When we show “fellow feeling,” others are more likely to treat us in a kind way.—1 Peter 3:8; Luke 6:38.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • Jeff W

      Brampt, here's a little context about me and my story: I grew up in the church and was a biblical studies major at a well-known Christian university, where I was a student leader. I've worked at major Christian organizations and have written a host of Bible studies. I know the Bible inside and out, and was as sincere a Christian as you could possibly be. But so many of my questions could not be answered by the Bible, and a few years ago I began to realize that the Bible is fatally flawed in countless ways. So now I reject it. (And quoting Scripture to me has no bearing on what I believe.) While I think religion can be benevolent in a lot of ways, I've also seen how destructive and harmful it can be, especially to children. I want my son to be free of that.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
    • Jeff W

      Also, Brampt, I've found that the Bible is actually a horrific book to teach children. It's a story about a vengeful, sadistic God who murdered millions of children throughout history. It's a book that advocates misogyny, polygamy, bigotry, fear, racism, slavery, ritual sacrifices, war, and a long list of other things we reject in modern-day society. It's a book, for goodness' sake, that tells the story of a God who killed 42 children for making fun of a man for being bald. For that and so many other reasons, the Bible is the opposite of the kind of guidebook I want to raise my children by.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
    • Brampt

      Jeff – Everyone has to decide what to do regarding there relationship with God. Im not surprised though that many questions were not answered to you at the so called "Christian University"! Being a University is not the secret to understand the scriptures. As a student of they bible you are, you must know that Jesus and the first century Christians were called "illiterate", and humble people of that time....The ones that had equivalent to University study's were the Pharisites, the Scribes, and the Greco-Roman Philosophers that werent able to understand Christs message , they rejected it.

      God favors the humble, not the haughty. (James 4:6) He hides the truth from “wise and intellectual ones”—worldly-wise and learned ones who in their pride and self-reliance feel no need for his help. (1 Corinthians 1:19-21) But he reveals the truth to “babes”—those who come to him with sincere hearts, showing childlike humility. (Matthew 18:1-4; 1 Corinthians 1:26-28) God’s Son, Jesus, saw such responses firsthand. Many proud, highly educated religious leaders did not get the sense of Jesus’ message, but humble fishermen did. (Matthew 4:18-22; 23:1-5; Acts 4:13) At the same time, some wealthy and educated ones who showed genuine humility became Jesus’ followers.—Luke 19:1, 2, 8; Acts 22:1-3.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:01 am |
    • Brampt

      Jeff – In your view what the bible teach is horrific. Tell me, what does this world have to teach??

      January 19, 2013 at 12:05 am |
    • brad

      @ Brampt, yeah because you scare the crap out of the kid making him think he is going to hell and be tortured for eternity unless he does what he is told.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:30 am |
    • Brampt

      Brad- Yes God will have to eliminate evil from humanity. Not in hell though. The idea of a fiery hell was introduced in the apostate church in the third century, in Constantine time, a theory based on Greek philosophy. For ex, when Adam sinned, God didnt say he was going to hell, instead God told him that he "would return to the soil, were he was formed" which means he would die. Dying is the opposit of life, he just stopped existing.

      January 19, 2013 at 7:50 am |
    • dinaanid

      I told my kids that some people believe this and some people believe that, and you can take your time and make up your own minds as to what you will believe. It was pretty funny hearing a 5 year old and a 7 year old argue creationism vs evolution, but they got to think it out for themselves.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • Linda

      Dear Feff, I came from a religeous family, and came to feel that their was no God, and when I had my sons, did not want to raise them, teaching them things that I did not believe were true.
      But, I was severely criticized by family, and neighbors, as you will most likely also be, for, "Not doing the right thing, being an unfit Mother, raising my children to be Devil Worshippers like myself."
      I was told that, I, "should raise them religeously, and have them baptized, have them go through all of the teachings of the church, etc. until they were adults and could choose for themselves, and I still have a relative who keeps trying to entice my daughter into moving in with her, so that she can "save her"."
      I read once that admitting that you were a "non-believer", was much like "coming out as a Gay", and for me, it has been.
      The amount of hatred and hate toward me has been hard to believe.
      What I always have taught my children is basically a "History of Religeon" so that they could learn that they are all kinds of different religeous beliefs all over the world, and what each is based on, the histories of those religeons, what the followers believe, etc.
      And, I have taught them, that, "I did not believe, and why."
      I have presented it all as simply "beliefs".
      None of us has any proof either way, and it would be much better if both sides could accept that, but it is unlikely that that will ever happen, as religeon is never taught as a "belief", but as a "fact'.
      I did what I felt was right, and my kids turned out fine, and I survived.
      But it was not at all easy, and continues to not be.
      But, I felt that in order to respect myself, I had to live my life truthfully, and be honest with my children.
      The only thing that made things easier for me, is that my spouse also did not believe.
      Things will be tough for you, as your wife is religeous, so you have no support from her.
      It will be hard for the two of you, to "agree to disagree".
      Good Luck.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
    • Sue

      The really sad part is that you live in a community where you'll be "rejected" for your beliefs. Perhaps you can find a more rational community. I urge you to stand by your beliefs, as hard as it may be. By doing the tough stuff, you're paving the way to a better world, free of religious persecution. Try to find others who have opened their eyes. Use the internet if you have to. There are millions of us, growing in number every year, and we are all with you.

      January 19, 2013 at 2:54 pm |
    • inWYLD

      The really sad part is that you live in a community where you'll be rejected. Perhaps you can find a more rational community. I urge you to stand by your beliefs and seek out other realists for support. There are millions of us out here, growing in number every year. The hard work we do now will pave the way to a better world.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • God is Love

      This is heartbreaking to see and hear. You all have a responsibility as parents to train your kids to love God, but instead you are teaching lies to them. Our God is not dead he is not a fairy tale. For the people asking why a Loving God would cause death destruction and all of that... you are confused. God does not cause it. evil people do. God allows things to happen to make good from it. Men. the reason your wives are trying to hold on to their faith is because you are the key. You are supposed to lead them by example. This ladies words are venomous and incorrect. She wasn't lying to her kids when she talked about God... she lies when she tells them he doesn't exists. Wake up people! There is a God and his will, will be done whether you chose to believe in him or not. He is love, but how can we question our creator? He is all knowing! We think we know what is best for us but we are foolishly confused. I am praying for all of you who believe the lies this woman writes.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • Jeff W

      Thanks to you freethinkers for your encouraging words! I appreciate your taking the time to respond. Some day the facts will win out, and the world will be much better off without religion.. I just hope it happens in my child's lifetime.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • rafael

      Your relationship with your child is about your relationship with your child and nothing else. Put yourself 20 years down the road. Do you want your child to see you as a father who taught him about a world consistent with his own beliefs, or a father who bowed under pressure from the community to teach him things that you thought weren't true? Let your wife teach him according to her own beliefs, and make sure you aren't critical of one another. We have no religion in our house (nor do we have television or an excess of toys). Our children are playful, imaginative, clear-thinking, and empathetic. Any community that would reject you for being the father that you are isn't going to do you any good anyway when it really matters. There are plenty of humanists in the world with whom to find community.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:40 pm |
    • annabanana

      @dinaanid. I can't believe it! I did the exact same thing! I have never met anyone who raised their children this way. Almost word for word.......Some people think this, some people think that.... They also were very young when they came inside after playing with the neighbor children and told me they heard a story about Adam and Eve. They were concerned about their little friend believing fairy tales were real!

      January 20, 2013 at 1:29 am |
    • Ryan

      There are many kinds of churches out there, and some of them, like Universal Unitarian churches, make it their explicit goal to avoid foisting dogma on people and rather focus on helping people to find their own answers to those tough questions you mention and to do good in this world for others. Some even welcome in non-believers, asserting that it is the act of asking and the genuineness of the attempt to live a good life that takes precedent over a consensus of opinion on the answers. You and your wife might both feel more comfortable in similar communities. As a non-believer, I felt that I was respected and I genuinely enjoyed and learned from the sermon and community service work. On the educational website TED, you can also look up a talk by Alain de Botton called "Atheism 2.0." For me, that had quite useful insights.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:59 am |
    • Cindy

      Be strong Jeff and don't be afraid to raise your children to be freethinkers. I recommend a good book on this "Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief" by Dale McGowan.
      You are making the choice between telling your children what to think and inviting them to observe the world and think for themselves. By all means, read the bible, read mythology, read the koran together. Observe the world and talk about fairness and justice, about kindness, equality, and humanity. Talk about it, at whatever level makes sense for the age of your child. Encourage them to question, to reason, to draw their own conclusions about the world and their place in it. This is a GIFT that you can give your children, far far more precious than the indoctrination and fear that is sown by so many religious people.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Greg

      Tell your wife that the bible prohibits her from teaching you son anything about god. “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” (1 Timothy 2:12)

      January 21, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Jeff W

      Haha, Greg, that is pretty funny! And thanks again to you guys for your great suggestions. You are wonderful human beings.

      January 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Saraswati

      How about you join a Unitarian church and then take your son there on alternate Sundays?

      January 21, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  4. Bill P

    The first mistake that Deborah Mitchell made was that she used her own understanding to define God. (This was born out in the previous article.) Upon doing that, her second mistake, really built upon the first, was that she declared that He was “not logical”. Perhaps her concept and thus understanding of God was not logical. Otherwise, to hundreds of millions of people, He makes perfect sense and is logical. There will be derisive responses from the usual suspects I expect, it really does not matter, because faith is not something derived from a sequence of experiments carried out with test tubes, voltmeters, cyclotrons, and microscopes. No one can or has ever “measured” or “inspected” God. And, as far as I can tell from what the Lord says in the Bible, that is exactly how He likes it. "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:6). Whoa! Basically, He is saying, “get off the ‘prove God scientifically path’ and get back on the path that I want you on.” Look, don’t make her out to be a victim. She is not interested in understanding or seeking God. That is her choice. And, she will regret it. Hopefully, before the “silver cord is loosed”, she comes to a different understanding. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

    January 18, 2013 at 10:52 pm |
    • paramedic

      Whats the point of telling everyone this? We who don't believe don't care about your prophecies. Believe what you want, keep your judgements to yourself.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • chris

      who are you to tell her or anyone that she is right or wrong? who died and made you the be-all, end-all or what is right or wrong?! i agree with her, as do millions of others. i DO respect your right to practice your religion and have your beliefs, but you do NOT have the right to determine if i am right or wrong. what if i'm right and you're wrong?

      January 18, 2013 at 10:59 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Yup. Faith is capricious granted to some and not others, by your capritious god. Make a LOT of sense. Really.
      "No one shall come to me, unless the Father draw him". Even Jebus said that. Paul siad it was a virtue granted by the spirit. So, there's really nothing to do. If you're gullible to buy the BS, you have it, if not, too bad.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • Gir

      @ Bill P

      How much w-eed did you smoke to have your cognitive abilities reduced to nil?

      January 18, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • Ken

      Dont listen to fools below God rules

      January 18, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • snowboarder

      bill, there are literally as many interpretations of scripture as there are readers.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      Ah yes, blind faith.

      The beloved human trait of Nigerian e-mail scammers and Hitler alike.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • davelake

      I respectfully state over your comment

      " And, she will regret it." that you look closely what you are saying and what your god stands for. Open your mind and realize what you are saying.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • Bill P

      @chris: I don't judge anyone. God's Word does that. I just share it.
      @realbuckyball: is a person “predestined to believe or not” because he had no choice OR he does have a choice and God simply knew what would be the outcome. Biblical scholars wrestle with that. Certainly. Best not to get hung up on that concept. Are you going to stand on your own understanding of the purpose of life or consider what Jesus said, "I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly." (John 10:10). For the very fact that you have encountered these discussions may be your opportunity to consider where you stand relative to eternity.
      @davelake: I chose those words very carefully. She will regret for eternity if she rejects Jesus. Plain and simple.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:13 pm |
    • redzoa

      From Bill P – "And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)

      Well...
      http://www.jhuger.com/kissing-hanks-butt

      January 18, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • Bill P

      @snowboarder: Your point on interpretation is well taken. “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation.” (2 Peter 1:20). In other words, the Word of God stands by itself and it was not the prophets whose interpretations and biases directed the words, but it was by the inspiration of God. How we choose to understand His word can create the diversity – but only interpretation, not the intent. God gave us His word for a reason. It is like a “user’s manual” and it is precisely what is needed for everyone. “Earnestly seeking Him” is exactly that: being of a mind and heart to know the truth. Otherwise, look around, and you will conclude that life, without a concise and true understanding of God, has no consistent meaning and is chaos.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:35 pm |
    • snowboarder

      bill, the only difference between a prophet and a mental patient is simply the gullibility of those who surround them.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • zezzledog

      This is similar to telling people what is funny and what isn't or arguing over the best sports team. Quote the bible all you want and live within your own pleroma. If another form of literature were used to prove itself you would be just as skeptical as us nonbelievers.

      January 19, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • mique

      You will do fine right where you are.

      January 21, 2013 at 5:46 am |
    • Dio

      If you listen to fools...
      The mob rules..

      January 23, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
    • Kalia

      Bill P., What if you died and discovered that Islam is the right religion, and you went to hell for blasphemy? (I'm not Muslim) What if you died and there just wasn't anything, then what? " 5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten." Eccl. 9:5 KJV Ecclesiastes is the most sensible book in the Bible

      January 23, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • Kalia

      Bill P., Living in a multicultural country, let us agree to disagree. Deborah is giving her children a choice, and giving you the
      choice of what works best for you. By telling her she will "regret" her choice, you show disrespect and contempt for her choice with your intimidating statement. My parents were freethinkers who tried to love and educate me. I spurned that love to spend the prime years of my life with a Bible Believing Church. Before they died, I was able to apologize for my disrespect and thank them for their love. Dad and I had great time getting to be friends while I cared for him during his last 5 years with Alzheimer's. If he and I and the rest of our my family spend eternity in hell (sheol or death). then we will just love each other
      and live with it.
      I'm not an atheist, but find proof that human conciousness exists in any form after death, is fairly slim. In other stellar systems there are doubless civilizations whose age, wisdom, and abilities would apprear supernatural should they ever
      visit us. All ancient cultures have tales of flaming ships or chariots of fire with fearsome abilities. See the Wheels of Ezekiel 1 and the Vimanas of the Hindu scriptures. There may be more going on than we know; a little humility goes a long way. Cheers, and apologies for rude language of some commenters.

      January 24, 2013 at 2:10 am |
  5. Steve M.

    Wow, I'm starting to lose taste in CNN. Why do they keep giving this kind of garbage steam? I mean, I understand people have their own sides of the story... that's what writing books is for. People are writing these kind of "I survived" books each and every day. The world is plagued with "reality shows" or "reality tales" that differ with others views. However, last I checked, this is CNN, I'm sure one of those N's used to stand for NEWS... you know, that stuff that's supposed to be unbiased and non-slanted? Yet, lately, every time I come to CNN, I keep seeing more and more stuff hosted and posted on CNN and PUSHED by CNN that thumbs its nose at those who choose to believe in faith. I'm not trying to take anything away from those that have had bad experiences... I'm just the opposite... as I said in another comment on something similar posted on CNN... I was raised in an abusive home, mother was a drug-addict and drug-dealer, my father was a raging-alcoholic and workaholic... neither of them ever even realized I was making honor-roll until my junior year in High School... but they more than noticed me when they wanted to beat the living crap out of me, the whole whiling acting like my sister, who was failing out of school, lying, cheating, getting pregnant at the age of 15, etc, was the "blessed child". I always grew up a person of science... and due to personal reasons such as tormenting survivor's guilt that felt like it was literally eating me alive from the inside out, I came to find faith at the age of 28 in a Baptist Church. Yet, I keep feeling like every time I look at CNN, there's another, "look, this is why religion and faith are BAD" story. Different strokes for different folks, different reasons for different seasons. Now, can we PLEASE get back to unbiased and non-slanted journalism... or can I expect CNN to be the next MTV!? >_<

    @Sentient Sam: And where exactly do you think the Golden Rule comes from? Hrmmmmm???

    @paramedic: I'm not offended at all that you don't share the same views, maybe where people are getting offended is at the fact you call their beliefs "fairy tales" which is quite insulting and disrespectful. Or would it be okay with you if I were to call your mom and dad a farce? Just wondering. Q:)

    January 18, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      You eat CNN ?

      January 18, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • chubby rain

      From wiki on the golden rule:

      "As a concept, the Golden Rule has a history that long predates the term "Golden Rule", or "Golden law", as it was called from the 1670s.[1][6] As a concept of "the ethic of reciprocity," it has its roots in a wide range of world cultures, and is a standard way that different cultures use to resolve conflicts.[1][5] It has a long history, and a great number of prominent religious figures and philosophers have restated its reciprocal, "two-way" nature in various ways (not limited to the above forms).[1]

      Rushworth Kidder discusses the early contributions of Confucius (551–479 BCE) (See a version in Confucianism below). Kidder notes that this concept's framework appears prominently in many religions, including "Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zoroastrianism, and the rest of the world's major religions".[7] According to Greg M. Epstein, " 'do unto others' ... is a concept that essentially no religion misses entirely."[8] Simon Blackburn also states that the Golden Rule can be "found in some form in almost every ethical tradition".[9] In his commentary to the Torah verse (Hebrew: "ואהבת לרעך כמוך" ca.1300 BCE):

      You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against your kinsfolk. Love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
      —Leviticus 19:18[10], the "Great Commandment""

      January 18, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • NEMO

      So you want CNN to only cover your side of the story and not of those whom you disagree with? Sounds pretty slanted to me.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:03 pm |
    • paramedic

      Steve we agree that CNN is garbage!

      January 18, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • MyLifeMyWay

      The golden rule = Confucius (551–479 BCE).

      January 18, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • Jeff W

      Actually, Steve, if you look at the archive of all the faith reports and columns on CNN's Belief Blog for the last year, you'll find they present religion in a very positive light 9 times out of 10. I'd say that's more than fair.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • Steve M.

      @Nemo: I guess you don't understand what unbiased means, nor do you understand what unbiased journalism is supposed to be. Nowhere did I ever suggest they do any such thing as cover "religious views"; but there's a difference between saying, "today in the news, an accident happened over here, there were this many injured, and this was the cause" along with, "war continues on, bloodshed is ongoing, there's rioting in the streets"... and then what CNN seems to be doing, "we're going to put some gust behind this person who thinks religion is wrong, that God is a fairy tale and illogical... and we're going to endorse them 100%".

      January 18, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • Steve M.

      @Jeff W: I don't really read the Belief Blog, perhaps I should check it out. What I'm having a problem with, is the fact I come to the top page of CNN, cnn.com to check out the latest headlines. And in the past 24-48 hours, this is the 2nd or 3rd top/new headline leading to articles looking down upon those of religious faith, and going out of their way to mock the logic of faith, as well as insinuate the "fairy tale nature", etc.

      PS – I don't even think I recall there ever being a top/new headline on the main cnn.com ever giving credence to religious faith, supporting religious views, or embracing the pros found from having faith. *shrugs*

      January 18, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • NEMO

      religion is a bias subject, any report about religion is going to be biased. I guess you don't understand that.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:33 pm |
    • noneOfYourBusiness

      You are what is wrong with religious freedom in this country. You are uninformed, but take no pause to state some information as fact, when indeed it is not. Very few stories are posted in support of atheists, and the second a few do you play the persecution card. Doesn't your god talk of honesty? What of humility? What of hypocrisy? What ever happened to, ‘Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.' You have your homes, your churches, and your private schools, so leave me (and mine) alone. Are we not allowed fellowship of fellow heathens? Apparently not. I would be willing to bet that you are proud to make attempts at forcing your religious beliefs on a person like myself through the passage of laws. For christ sake, yield onto Caesar what is Caesar’s. I remind you that you share this country…SHARE. Does you god teach you anything about that?
      I applauded her opinion piece. I found some peace in a well written, like minded person. I am an atheist father of an eight year old son. He has never known a X-mas, easter,…etc. We don’t do these things in my home, but none of my believing neighbors have ever had me cover my lawn in anti-religious decorations, had me knock on their door on a weekend morning to talk of about the gifts of science, or seen me handing out pamphlets on the word of non-belief. Let me have my choice, and don’t take my non-belief as an invitation to try earn numinous brownie points with your deity.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • rfarrell

      Most every philosophy and religion in the earth's history has a version of what we now call the Golden Rule. Like everything else in Christianity (virgin birth, resurrection, Christmas, father-son thing) The Golden Rule was co-opted from other religions.

      For example, let's try Zoroastrianism:

      "That nature alone is good which refrains from doing another whatsoever is not good for itself. "
      Dadisten-I-dinik, 94,5

      January 20, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • summersky

      @Steve M

      Number of page views and comments is what lands you on the front page...if all the religious people had not come here to argue with this lady, it would have stayed buried in the Belief blog, and you would never have seen it.

      January 21, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • Ritz

      "Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself." – Confucius, Well Before Jesus

      January 21, 2013 at 2:33 pm |
  6. Christine

    I loved the article "Why I raise my children without God." I am a successful married woman with two small children. I am also an atheist and have many friends that are as well. I explain to my children that God is a myth created over time. There is no invisible man in the sky that grants wishes and that chooses your fate. My children know that this is their life and they are in control of their own destiny. They are nice and caring to others because it is the right thing to do, not because they will be rewarded in afterlife or punished in hell. We are living our life to the fullest because this is the only life you will have. So laugh, have fun, & enjoy the ride!

    January 18, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • Linda

      I agree. I am 64 yrs. old with two sons, now in their 40's who are wonderful people, and a teen daughter who is also a really nice person. I was accused by religeous people of being an unfit mother, and told that, I, "had no right to be teaching my children what I believed, and needed to raise them taking them to church and teaching tehm religeon until they were adults and could choose for themselves."
      I never taught my children what I believed.
      I always taught them that many different people believe many different things, and why they do.
      Not in a disrespectful way, but as a History of Religeon Class would, which I did take in college.
      In reality what all of us believe are "beliefs", and none of us have any proof.
      But, each side tends to treat what they believe as "fact", and I feel that, that is what is harmful.
      I have resented relatives of mine who always taught my children about God, as a "Truth", and a "Fact", when, I do not feel that it is either of those things.
      If anyone is happier because they believe, than that is fine with me.
      I just wish that they could accept that what they believe is a "belief", and not a "fact", and when talking to my children about what they believe, speak to them about it as such.
      It irks me when religeous people have sometimes said, "Atheists have NO proof that God doesn't exist!", so they therefore CANNOT say that, "God doesn't exist."
      Well, very few non-believers, like myself ever do say that.
      What we tend to say, is simply, "Based on what I have experienced in life, I do not feel that a God exists.", that is all.
      If we can accept that what we believe is a "belief", and not a "fact", then, why is it so hard for religeous people to simply accept that what they believe is a "belief", and not a "fact", and then both sides treat each other with respect?
      Disrespect like this is what causes wars. Sometimes wars of "words", but other times real wars.
      I want to be responsible for trying to creat peace, instead, if I can.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
  7. Mark

    Religion is for the delusional and mentally challenged.

    January 18, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • KyleE

      Amen! :P

      January 20, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
    • Ryan

      I'm a non-believer myself, but I think it would be dangerous to dismiss the beliefs of billions as delusional. Many of the world's greatest intellects were also deeply religious. I have, and I'd suspect that most of us have asked very similar questions to the ones that religion tries to answer; the fact that I have reached very different conclusions does not mean that I am right. In fact, I'd argue that, in order to be truly atheist, you have to seriously consider and accept the possibility of God before rejecting it on a personal level. Otherwise, it would be not that much unlike the faith that you deride.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:16 am |
    • Steelerfan

      Well said.

      January 21, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
  8. End Religion

    To the tune of "If I Only Had a Brain" from Wizard of Oz. Lyrics by "I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV"

    Scarecrow:
    Why, If I had a brain, I could …
    (singing)

    I could understand a theory,
    Of humans growin’ clearly,
    Without the mark of Cain.
    With the species all evolvin’
    And the planets all revolvin’,
    If I only had a brain

    I’d forget about ‘creation’
    And God over the nation,
    And flush them down the drain,

    Dorothy:
    With an intellect so charmin’,
    You could be another Darwin,
    If you only had a brain.

    Scarecrow:
    Oh I, could tell you how, primates evolve to men.
    I could tell you how the earth began and when,
    In thousand years, it’s more than ten!

    I would be an unbeliever,
    No “God I’m scared to see yer –
    Eternity in pain”
    With some science & some reason,
    I don’t really think it’s treason,
    If you use your fricking brain.

    January 18, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Very nice!

      January 18, 2013 at 10:46 pm |
    • John

      Most excellent lyrics! Thanks!

      January 18, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • onetreefalling

      I imagine you know that the guy in charge of the human genome project was a Christian (and still is). Some intelligent folks are believers; some aren't.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • snowboarder

      onetree, i imagine that there is a genetic predisposition to religious belief that enhances an individuals chance of adherence to any particular religion.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • Sam Yaza

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ohlp5z7hFQ&w=640&h=390]

      January 18, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
    • End Religion

      @1tree: there are some intelligent believers. I vividly recall being crushed for about a week when I found out Stephen King (the author) was a believer. It just didn't add up. That was 20 years ago though. I view the belief in god now as some sort of "veil of ignorance" – not stupidity but some sort of mechanism, defense, shield that keeps the fantasy alive inside and keeps reality at bay on the outside.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:26 am |
  9. hypatia

    dealing with the wannabe missionaries is a genuine source of fun. I usually say I only discuss religion with my intended sacrifice.

    January 18, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • snowboarder

      i always ask the LDS if they would like to discuss their s3x life and invite them in. so far i have had no takers and i am told that i am a handsome man.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • Ira Radnick

      heh heh, excellent. My response to door knockers that ask if I want to see a world of peace and no more wars is, "No, and if you understood your bible you wouldn't want that either. Your religious belief is all about the second coming, is it not? What happens before the 2nd coming? Wars, disease, pestilence, rampant death. So why would you want peace and no more wars if you truly wish to see the 2nd coming sooner than later? You should be praying for wars, death, destruction and plagues!" They leave right afterward, and I am no doubt branded an ungodly person, lost to any possibility of salvation. Oh, before engaging I do want that unless they are well versed in politics, religion or economics they ought to try to out-argue me on any of those subjects. For some reason these folks seem to thing the holy spirit will empower them to overcome the very evil person before them, and they commence at their own peril only to find the holy spirit is busy somewhere else. For me it is a form of low level blood sport.

      January 19, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • cat0325

      As a Reformed Druid, I support the rights of ALL people to believe or not believe as they choose. I choose to teach my son about a variety of religions and let him make up his own mind as to what he believes later.

      As to the door knockers, my father came up with a great comeback to "Have you been born again?" – "No, in order to be born again you have to have lost faith at least once. I have never lost my faith (keeping his actual faith private since a lot of what I believe he also believes)" I also love to spout off "Preach not in the streets as the hypocrites do looking for outward reward for outward show of faith. But instead pray in the quiet of your closet so that you may be rewarded in private."

      January 19, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
  10. erin

    I'm so glad I live in a "god-less" part of the country. Plenty of people here in Mass. are religious, but they don't feel the need to tell you that you must be. That's the way our country was intended to be.

    January 18, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • snowboarder

      amen sister.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • Jeff W

      I'm moving to Massachusetts!

      January 18, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • Ira Radnick

      I;m nor moving to MA, guns laws are unreasonable. I far prefer VT, TX, UT, MT, AZ, FL... Politicians in those states apparently understand god does not save people, guns save people who have a backbone.

      January 19, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
  11. Penny

    Southern Baptist do not believe in exorcism, nor do they perform them. It also seems the person writing this assumed all Christian churches believe in the baptism of infants; they do not; the majority of Southern, Christian denominations do not baptize infants; the ones that do, do it to "dedicate" their child to Christ. very few Christian churches other than Catholic believe a child will go to Hell should they die un-baptized.
    While I believe the woman in this article is probably an atheist; I believe the rest of the author's "examples" are figments of the author's imagination; an imagination that is unfamiliar with the doctrine of Southern, Christian Churches.....
    Sell stupid elsewhere, Daphne; this Southern Christian is not buying this crock of ...
    My email is eveeve1@hotmail.com
    I welcome any challenge anyone has to offer; it is not hard to debate with a liar.

    January 18, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Really? Debating with a liar is not difficult? I imagine debating with you would be very hard, which disproves your theory.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      It's all a crok of sh1t cooked up because you cannot stand the idea, that when you die, you're dead. When your brain chemistry stops, your consciousness stops, just like it does when you are injured, or have an illness. Get over it. There is no Santy Claus.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • Patricia

      First having been a Southern Baptist living in the state of MS I can assure you plenty of members of that denomination do believe in exorcism and do exactly what was described in the article. Second the woman who mentioned her family's concern over her baby not being baptised never said all Christians believe in infant baptism, she just said her family does. Plenty of Christians do believe in it and this may be a shocker for you but Catholics are Christians! Last I would recommend working on your reading comprehension. The examples in the article came from several different people living in various places.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • Linda

      Calling anyone a "Liar" is proof to me, that you are completely unable to talk to anyone, who does not believe the same things that you do in any kind of a respectful way.
      I am pretty sure that if anyone were to tell you, that you were a "Liar" you would be enraged at them, but you seem to feel that it is perfectly alright for you to be nasty and disrespectful to others?
      Nice.
      You may "feel" that the things that this woman is saying happened to her, are not true, but, as I experienced almost exactly the same kind of treatment from religeous people around me, when I admitted that I did not believe and did not take my children to church, I tend to think that what she is saying is true.
      But, neither of us can know for sure, if what she is saying is true or not.
      To accuse someone of lying, just because you don't like what she is saying is disrespectful and nasty, and is a lot of exactly what she is saying in her letter has happened to her.
      So, in being nasty, you are pretty much "proving" that you, as a religeous person, are angered by her not being religeous and want to "retaliate" against her by saying nasty things about her, and calling her a "Liar".
      I think you have effectively proven her, and my point, that some religeous people are angered by non-believer and tend to treat them badly.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • KyleE

      Southern Baptist calling the author a liar.. Kettle meet pot. You guys ARE the TALIBAN of america.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
  12. paramedic

    I hate when people look down on me or act surprised when I tell them I do not believe in their fairy tales. Why can't people just accept others beliefs and not be offended that they don't hold the same views?

    I have a lot more christian values then many so called christians I know.

    January 18, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • snowboarder

      paramedic, i agree. tonight my wire and i were out at a local restaurant having dinner and drinks. this summer we were approached by a couple that immediately asked us the church we attended. when i mentioned that we were not members of an church or religion, they walked away and have since essentially pretended that we don't exist. tonight was no different.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • snowboarder

      wire – wife

      January 18, 2013 at 10:49 pm |
    • FZM

      Believe it or not, it's actually written into their religion. You are a "Heathen". I have tried my hand and heart at nearly every religion the world has to offer. Every last one smacks of naivete, deceit, bigotry, fear, and brainwashing. It's impossible for me to believe in the rationality of a "God" who would leave his prized creations alone with an agent of his worst enemy. Especially in light of the fact that, with no knowledge of good and evil, they were basically moral toddlers. And to not only condemn them to a life of torment and pain, but to condemn all of humanity is simply miles beneath the level of a "loving" parent, much less a "Divine Creator". And this is only the first of many issues I have with just Christianity. To make a long story short, I cherish my friends, whether religious or not, because I recognize their CHOICE to be good people, whether it is in fear of an imaginary friend or not, they still made the choice. If they are atheists too, that makes them all the more valuable, for they realize that we are who we choose to be, and they choose to be respectable, in the absense of coercion.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
    • Audrey

      Well said Paramedic. The same is true for those that believe. I hate when people look down on me for believing in God. It's a personal choice.

      January 19, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • Linda

      Agreed.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
    • Joe

      They can't stand that you are an unbeliever because they need you to believe to make them feel better and reinforce what they know deep down is delusional. Blind religious faith is just a big group-think humans play to make themselves feel better.

      January 23, 2013 at 12:35 pm |
  13. snowboarder

    jesus was, at best, a philosopher whos life was grossly embellished by his followers after his death and, at worst, entirely fictional.

    January 18, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • RichS

      Every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

      January 18, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Athy

      Not mine.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      RichSh!t, you are so wrong my confused and bewildered friend. My knees will never bend to nonsense.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
    • snowboarder

      richs, there is no reason whatsoever to believe what you say to be true.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Ira Radnick

      RichS, I am very sorry to see you too babble senselessly, repeating those things you are taught to repeat with no real comprehension of what the hell is is going on. I, too, will never bow my knee or head to any alleged god pretender. And once I am dead and gone all I can say is dead is dead. Once I return to carbon cycle it is over for me, there is no life afterward to claim any prize for giving my money to some pretend being.

      January 19, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
  14. NEMO

    We have the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech, so in the end what parents choose to teach [ or not to teach ] their children is up to them. And like it or not their wishes MUST be respected. Or this stops being America.

    January 18, 2013 at 10:31 pm |
    • snowboarder

      those espousing preposterous claims do not necessitate repect.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • John

      Hey, Snowboarder, you have used up your allotment of big words. Your sentence is so preposterous, I will just say you misuse what you think is your vocabulary. 'Necessitate,' indeed!

      January 18, 2013 at 10:48 pm |
    • NEMO

      Hey Snowboarder just got spell check, let them have a little fun:)

      January 18, 2013 at 10:53 pm |
    • snowboarder

      john, i am sorry about your limited vocabulary. i suggest you work on it. education is the remedy for both ignorance and religion. my point is succinct.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
  15. penny

    Southern Baptist do not believe in exorcism, nor do they perform them. It also seems the person writing this assumed all Christian churches believe in the baptism of infants; they do not; the majority of Southern, Christian denominations do not baptize infants; the ones that do, do it to "dedicate" their child to Christ. very few Christian churches other than Catholic believe a child will go to Hell should they die un-baptized.
    While I believe the woman in this article is probably an atheist; I believe the rest of the author's "examples" are figments of the author's imagination; an imagination that is unfamiliar with the doctrine of Southern, Christian Churches.....
    Sell stupid elsewhere, Daphne; this Southern Christian is not buying this crock of ...
    My email is eveeve1@hotmail.com
    I welcome any challenge anyone has to offer; it is not hard to debate with a liar. It's very easy to trip them up.

    January 18, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Well sweetie. Your Jebus tole you not to be judgmental. Like you know sh1t. You know nothing about her, or how she wrote the article, and you imply you do. Liar.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • Joseph Schimming

      In Catholicism you do not have to be baptized to enter heaven. If you are destined for heaven but not Catholic you go to purgatory to be "purified" until you are ready to enter heaven.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • realbuckyball

      Joseph,
      I depends who you ask, and when you asked that question. They have changed their minds about that a lot.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      PennyPincher, you are so full of horse manure, you stink! I suppose you believe in unicorns and leprechauns, too. Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Tinker bell? How do you know which myth/magical being to believe in? And which is nonsense?

      January 18, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • Roger that

      Penny,

      Most of the atheists here have been there done that. I've got about 20 years experience in southern baptist churches and I'm not buying anything your selling. Try reading your Bible again for the first time. Do yourself a service by finally opening your eyes to reality. The Bible was written by men for men.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • Linda

      You are PROVING what she is saying, by being so disrespectful and angry toward her.
      I have experienced in my life almost exactly the same things that she has said that she did, so I tend to believe her.
      But, what she is saying is, that many religeous people become angry at her, because she does not believe what they do, and they are then, nasty toward her.
      And, you are doing exactly that.
      So, thankyou for helping to prove what she and I have said, that some, but not all, religeous people are angered by non-believers and then will say and do nasty things to them.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
    • Runtumblerun

      Actually, I was raised Southern Baptist and while I agree that infant baptisms were rare, I recall plenty of discussions about the need for exorcisms. I specifically remember one youth minister lamenting the fact that exorcisms had become less frequent because "the liberals" were preventing them. I guess what I'm saying is that there is great diversity in Southern Baptists and I don't think you can state that the authors are wrong based on your experiences alone. For example, the church I attended as a kid didn't allow speaking-in-tongues but another Baptist church across town did.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Ira Radnick

      Joseph, I am going to try to believe you are mocking the feeble minded, as you otherwise seem too smart to actually believe that horse pucky yourself.

      January 19, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • ScottA

      I grew up in a christian fundamentalist household (i.e. Southern Baptist) and we did and my family still does believe in exorcism. Today I'm a proud atheist.

      January 20, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  16. Joseph Schimming

    First, let me say I have no problem with religion, but it isn't for me or my son. We work on learning about all religions, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, but also less mainstream ones that are now considered myths, such as the Norse religion. To me they are all just a collection of stories with the same ultimate goal, instill values and to offer up reasons for acting in a good way. I have no problem explaining death to my son, I let him know it is the same as when he smashes a bug, its just nothingness. He has not ever seemed saddened by this and anyone who has met him always exclaims how happy he is. That I think is the best reward of parenting, whether you do it with our without religion, it is that your children are happy and good people.

    January 18, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
  17. NEMO

    some of the scientists were atheists, but that is not to say that is why they built the bomb. They were seeking knowledge. Accusing those who believe differently of acts those of your own belief have committed is ignorant.

    January 18, 2013 at 10:24 pm |
  18. Thomas Veil

    Imagine, if you will, a country where 90% of the citizens believe that the Enterprise is real, attend a Star Trek convention once a week out of a sense of obligation, and learn obscure details of things like Federation law and the Klingon language.

    That's what dedicated Christians come across like to those of us who don't believe, or are simply agnostic.

    The people who react negatively to Deborah Mitchell remind me of why I left religion mostly behind. It's full of people who "know" their belief system is right and want to "save" others who object to having their "saving" forced on them.

    Just leave us alone.

    Christians would also have a lot more credibility if they tried to look at the Bible critically instead of believing that every single thing in there is true, historically or metaphorically. We don't know that. We know that people who lived hundreds of years ago TOLD us they were true - but these same people have rejected other scripture. The fact is, we just don't know, and will probably never have any way of knowing. Yet people profess to know all sorts of details about Biblical times and what God "wants". Having been raised from childhood to believe this, they honestly see no difference between the religious eco-system they believe in, and fantasy universes like Star Trek's.

    The differences are fewer than you think. Star Trek may be a pure fantasy, while some things in the Bible MAY have happened...but again, we have no scientific way to prove that they did.

    But we're supposed to accept religion purely on faith. And that is the ultimate cop-out. You can believe ANYTHING purely on faith. Linus had faith in the Great Pumpkin. Didn't make him real.

    January 18, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • Thinking Man

      I cannot agree with you more, Thomas! You have captured what I feel every time a family church-based function places me in a church service, where it seems to me they are speaking Klingon! I applaud the courage of Deborah Mitchell, as I am not so courageous–in those church services, I simply listen along, watching the mindless masses follow what they are told to do. I do not raise my children to believe in a god and all that goes along with it, but I know enough in a small community to not be too vocal about it, either. I'm not proud of it, but I do hope things will be better for my children.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • FrmerMrine

      Why can't you believe anything on faith? I'm not saying that YOU should, I'm just questioning the logic of your statement. You have expressed what would normally be called a conclusion, but you haven't presented any evidence for your claim. What is your basis for making this statement? The reason I ask is because it seems to me to be quite clear that a good many people actually do believe in something purely on faith and faith alone.

      Again, not saying that YOU should believe anything at all, but your statement, unproven as it is, seems to me to be no different than the acts of those evangelists who try to "convert" the "unbelievers".

      January 18, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Judy1064

      Well, I happen to be both a Christian and a Star Trek fan, and you are painting all Christians with the same broad brush. Although a Christian, I also believe in science, not creationism (total stupidity, that!). I also believe atheists have the right not to believe, and not to have other's beliefs shoved down their throats. Not all Christians are rude, backward and ignorant, although I have to admit a lot are. Too bad that seems to be the only kind you've ever met.

      By the way, what have you got against the Great Pumpkin, anyway? Dissing Charlie Brown and Star Trek was totally uncalled for...

      January 18, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
  19. Not The Momma

    I was raised in a religious family. Catholic to the core. As I grew, my family moved towards the traditional Latin Mass. I went to West Point, where I was told that if I did not attend church I would be punished. I continued on with my Army career, all the while my belief fading.

    When I was 10 years old I watched another child die at my feet because of a bad choice he made. When I was 13 years old my brother was killed in the Vietnam conflict because of a bad decision the President made (yes, a direct and immediately affecting choice, not a policy decision). When I was a young 2nd Lieutenant I was the summary court officer for a young private who was killed by friendly fire in the Sinai, killed by a bad decision made by one of his fellow soldiers. Not too long after that a very good friend's 4 year old daughter died of leukemia. A horrible lingering death. And it kept and keeps going.

    I have lost faith. I have come to the conclusion that there is not and cannot be a benevolent God. I have joined the Freedom From Religion Foundation (ffrf.org) as a Life Member. I firmly believe that if folks wish to believe in myths, they must be allowed to do so. But they must not be allowed to force their beliefs upon others, nor must they be allowed to indoctrinate our children.

    Good for you Deborah Mitchell.

    January 18, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • snowboarder

      as one veteran to another, thank you for your service to this country.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • davelake

      Good for you Not The Momma! Also-as another stated-Thanks for serving our country.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • Not The Momma

      Thank-you Snowboarder, and thank-you for your service.

      I still get chills down my spine every time I hear the Star Spangled Banner. I dearly love what this country stands for, and I now thoroughly understand what our founding fathers said in the Treaty of Tripoli, when they stated succinctly that the "Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion".

      We must allow for all beliefs, and more importantly for no beliefs.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • snowboarder

      momma, an intelligent individual understands that defending our ideals is greater than nationalism or religion. if only more people understood that fact.

      January 18, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • Linda

      Well put.
      My mother, who was extremely religeous always used to say to me, that, she, "could not understand, how I could look at all of the wonderful things in this world, and the perfection of a newborn child, etc., etc., and not believe."
      I always felt like she had "relgeous blinders" on, as I saw all of the horrible things in this world, and that, there were many children born, who were anything but perfect. Many sweet children, and good adults suffered horribly, blown to pieces or permanently damaged and having to live their lives that way, many of our soldiers who came home blind, and horribly burned and brain damaged from explosions. I used to feel like, how can anyone see all of the horrible things in this world and believe?
      But then the religeous people, would say, "Oh, that is God testing us, to see if we will stop believing in him if things are not wonderful."
      So, I guess that is their version of the, "Why Do Bad Things Happen To Good People?"
      I just ended up being a lot happier with the "Ant On The Sidewalk Theory", of that sometimes we are just in the wrong place, at the wrong time, and get stepped on, some bad things we bring on ourselves by choices that we make, but none ot what goes on ever came across to me, as having some "Divine Being" in control of things.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • voyagergirl

      I too, was raised Catholic and have spent years studying the faith. However, I don't understand the thinking of those who can't understand that a "benevolent God" would "allow" such tragedies as war, pestilence and children dying. I believe that God doesn't cause these things to happen and he "allows" it because we live on earth, and He didn't guarantee any of us a perfect life here on earth. But my issue is, I am attorney, who does criminal defense work. I am shocked at how many of my clients (who are juveniles) have no concept of morality because they were never instructed in it. I had one juvenile tell me that they'd never heard of the 10 Commandments, which I'd hoped they'd know so that I could explain the legal concept of "crime of moral turpitude" to them.

      January 21, 2013 at 11:24 am |
  20. snowboarder

    good men do good and evil men do evil, but for a good man to do evil requires religion.

    January 18, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • morrowcore

      because without religion there is no distinction between good and evil

      January 18, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • Sentient Sam

      I have heard it claimed that without religion, no one would be "moral" and would lie, cheat, steal and so on with abandon.
      But why isn't the Golden Rule sufficient to promote moral behavior? Not only that, but for about 70 years the USSR was officially atheist, and a great many of their citizens were not at all religious. But there is no evidence of a complete breakdown in morals in that era. No rampages of murder, or robbery, or whatever.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry "morrowcore" but your assertions regarding religion, good and evil are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your unfounded assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      January 18, 2013 at 10:33 pm |
    • snowboarder

      morrowcow wrote "because without religion there is no distinction between good and evil"

      that is plainly ridiculous. good, evil, immoral and moral have existed in every society throughout history entirely independent of any particular religion.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • NEMO

      Fear makes good men do evil things, because fear warps reason. So be aware of the religious minded telling you to be afraid of someone or something. They wish to warp your reason and intelligence.

      January 18, 2013 at 10:38 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.