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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. DLB

    My sons didn't attend Sunday school, were exposed to little Bible study at home, and yet one believes in God and attends church and was baptized as an adult. The other says he believes in science. I believe in God. Too much complexity in nature to believe it was just random chance. But my first husband did not so we didn't immerse the children in religion or have them baptized. You can raise children of good character without a formal religious upbringing. Failure to indoctrinate your children in religious teaching doesn't prevent them from being drawn to the belief in a higher power. Maybe they won't be born again Christians who believe Jesus was God, but they will be exposed to different religions as teens and adults and make their own decisions which to follow (or not). Just as some children who are raised in a faith leave the church, others who had little formal exposure still find themselves believing in God.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Tea Clown

      Thankfully natural selection is slowly easing the primitive fears in your lineage. Cheers to your scientific son and his superior mutation.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Nathan

      "Too much complexity in nature to believe it was just random chance."

      This "random chance" argument theists use is just a misunderstanding. It is much less "random chance" and more "a serious of complex physical laws constantly interacting in a variety of ways to produce the appearance of complex novelty."

      January 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Billy D

      "Just as some children who are raised in a faith leave the church, others who had little formal exposure still find themselves believing in God."

      True, but thankfully, looking at the statistics, the flow away from religion is outstripping the flow into it.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  2. wolfpackbob

    More twaddle from CNN. This lady believe's faith is "like a toothbrush"? Yet she feels threatened because someone in America asks her at the dentist office what church she goes to? Nutty. Maybe she should move to IRAN where all Christians are now viewed by the courts as traitors. Wonder how she would respond in IRAN to what church she belongs to? Hmmmmm. Just another CNN day for more anti-Christian spin.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • John Adams

      The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

      Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.

      (POTUS #2, from A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America [1787-1788])

      January 19, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • Reality

      ““John Hick, a noted British philosopher of religion, estimates that 95 percent of the people of the world owe their religious affiliation to an accident (the randomness) of birth. The faith of the vast majority of believers depends upon where they were born and when. Those born in Saudi Arabia will almost certainly be Moslems, and those born and raised in India will for the most part be Hindus. Nevertheless, the religion of millions of people can sometimes change abruptly in the face of major political and social upheavals. In the middle of the sixth century ce, virtually all the people of the Near East and Northern Africa, including Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt were Christian. By the end of the following century, the people in these lands were largely Moslem, as a result of the militant spread of Islam.

      It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

      It is very disturbing that religious narrow- mindedness, intolerance, violence and hatred continues unabated due to randomness of birth. Maybe, just maybe if this fact would be published on the first page of every newspaper every day, that we would finally realize the significant stupidity of all religions.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Religion Is Dangerous For Children And All Living Things

      Twaddle is brainwashing your children to believe what YOU BELIEVE, before they even have the ability understand religion and personal choice. I don't expect you to think too hard about that.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • Vern

      Bob, you're going on a false assumption and believe that only Christianity counts. As a Christian, I reject that ignorant viewpoint. There are other faiths; there are others who don't believe in Christ as the Messiah; there are others who follow no faith at all. And they should not have to put up with ignorant hatred from others. You believe what you believe. Why can't you allow others to believe what they believe, and let it be? Does it threaten you that much? And, why don't I see people of the Jewish faith, or Muslims, or Hindus, or Buddhists attacking on here, but only Christians? She said she has no faith, so, according to what you say, wouldn't that be just as much an "attack" on their faiths as well? The woman didn't say she was Anti-Faith. She said she knows and understand that many have faith, and that it doesn't bother her. So why does it bother YOU when someone says they don't believe? And why the attack on CNN? There's nothing in the article that is an attack on your faith. I suspect, in the end, you're one of those people who are looking for a reason to be offended, and that by being offended, it gives you an opening to attack the beliefs of others. I don't think that's what Christ taught while He lived on this earth. So, why not practicing what Christ taught, instead of using Him to demean others?

      January 19, 2013 at 12:17 pm |
  3. Historian1984

    Bravo, as a closeted atheist I admire your bravery and your strength. I feel guilty for letting others lead the way in building acceptance of people like me, but I worry that I will lose my job if I "come out." People should be free to believe what they want – but we all need to be able to come together in the public square and feel accepted.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  4. Mark

    Although I do believe in God, I have the upmost respect for Atheists. Unlike those of us who believe in a God, they make decisions on a daily basis about right and wrong simply on the merits of their values, without fear that some petty being is casting judgement upon them. Also, can anyone ever recall a situation in history where people were killed because atheists were he'll bent on making people share their values (as opposed to the Crusades, the Thirty Year War, the Lebanese Civil War, etc.)?

    January 19, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • Tea Clown

      Okay Mark, so you're more tolerant than your counterparts.

      But, please specify your flavor of god. Buddha, Zeus, Allah, Jehovah?? It's too confusing in our free, diverse country.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • *

      * "utmost" (not "upmost")

      January 19, 2013 at 12:12 pm |
    • Matt

      Yes! Think "Soviet Union"......How many jews, christians, muslims, and buddhist were killed to promote the atheist agenda of communism.

      January 24, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • Yup

      "How many jews, christians, muslims, and buddhist were killed to promote the atheist agenda of communism."

      All you just proved was you're a moron, atheism and communism are two different things azzhole.

      January 24, 2013 at 9:52 am |
  5. pigspotty

    I don't know why all these people are so butt hurt over this mother being honest with her kids. My parents were always honest with me and we have a great relationship even though they live hundreds of miles away now.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:52 am |
  6. ?

    just another obnoxious and eccentric atheist. I feel bad for her kids – they will be embarrassed of her often as they grow up.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Tea Clown

      Yet another self-righteous, judgmental "Christian".

      January 19, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • sam stone

      ?: you are the one who seems obnoxious.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Religion Is Dangerous For Children And All Living Things

      "Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God; as it is written,"

      "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment that you pronounce you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, "Let me take the speck out of your eye," when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. "

      You don't sound like you understand Jesus and his teachings whatsoever.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • chitola

      No they won't.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • kt

      So judgmental, you are.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • samek

      News for you, kiddo - all kids are embarrassed about their parents when they are teenagers. It's part of the growing up process. She sounds like a good and thoughtful parent, and her kids will turn out just fine.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • z

      lots of very defensive atheists on here this morning. Relax, it's not Sunday yet. Go ahead and unwad your panties

      January 19, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • Religion Is Dangerous For Children And All Living Things

      z – when you have something substantial to add to the conversation instead of judgements, we'll start listening. Until then, keep being un-Christlike.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • Reality

      Our legal system is based on juries and judging so whatever Jesus would have said about it is not relevant. And there is some debate as to whether Jesus even uttered Matt 7: 1-6. See for example http://www.faithfutures.org/JDB/jdb118.html and Professor Gerd Ludemann's analysis in his book, Jesus After 2000 Years, pp. 149-150. Ludemann concluded that Matt 7: 1 was historical, Matt 7: 2-6 were not.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:22 pm |
    • sam stone

      z: you're right. it is not sunday. take the crucifix out of your rectum

      January 19, 2013 at 12:34 pm |
  7. kevin f.

    This woman should be very pround of herself in showing the courage to share her thoughts on this subject. And she should also believe there are a lot of people in this country who feel the same way as her.....I am one. Raised w/religion as a child and young adult, being told I'd go to hell if I did'nt do this or did do that was so intimidating, what other choice does a young impressionable child/person have, but to believe. Now as an adult, with my own thoughts/ideas and in the real world, workplace etc. I believe this to be so wrong and one sided. Reading the one comment "it would be easier to come out as gay than an athiest these days" is so true and has been my thought for years. Also the stat that 1 in 5 have no religious affiliation is probably lower, if people would really tell the truth, and not be afraid of being looked down upon, I think this number would prob. be higher. I don't believe their is a "god", but, that also means I do not believe in a "devil" either....which does not make me, or others like me a bad person without morals and good/great judgement in life. Thanks again to this woman for being so brave.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Tea Clown

      I have so much fun on Sunday mornings in Texas. The grocery stores and super markets are empty!

      January 19, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • Brad

      Congrats to you for being able to think for yourself and break away from the dogma.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • El Reason

      Tea Clown, exactly -that is one of the reasons why I also like Sundays and church so much ( I certainly don't attend church. Had to as a child but broke free of that nonsense and Santa Claus too when I grew up).

      January 19, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  8. chitola

    To me, the value of Mitchell's article is it helps break down stereotypes of atheists. Polls have shown atheists are one of the most hated groups in American. And I would add–perhaps the most misunderstood. A number religious people believe atheists are some type of bizarre, evil satan-worshipping perverts. We're not anything like that. We just happen to not believe that any gods exist. Atheists are regular people who love their kids and family and are living their lives like everyone else. Mitchell conveys that, and we need more voices like hers.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • Tea Clown

      Ironically that's because religious people are full of hate.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Jim in Florida

      Then you too worship a god – your god is the god of "no god" – you worship that god of Atheism and offer no proof that no god exists. Other than to attack those who do believe in a Supreme Being, a Creator.

      The god of Ahteists is the trial lawyer.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • End Religion

      JimTheWitlessWonderboy: You're confused. You say we have no god, then proclaim we have 3. Which is it? Or do you have trouble with facts?

      January 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • El Reason

      Jim: so not collecting stamps is a hobby? And bald is a hair color?

      You should give your statement some more thought.

      You have no more proof for your god than there is for the thousands of other gods that men like you have created for themselves.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
    • Marion

      I totally respect your chosen atheism. I am one of those people who was raised Catholic and have a strong connection to it in my spiritual life....but do not go to church. I am one of those who could be called "spiritual but not religious". I do very much believe in God. and Jesus. With that said......I feel that atheists interpret the world too literally.....just as the highly "religious" take the Bible too literally. The existence of God makes sense to me. The existence of an afterlife makes sense to me.If it doesn't "make sense" to you......I have no right to try to convince you otherwise. How I live my life will determine my "religion", but organized religion such as Catholicism will not determine it for me.

      I believe in an afterlife in a different way than I was taught.......I don't believe in the traditional description of Heaven and Hell. I do believe that consciousness does not die with our body and brain. We have lost the "consciousness" we were born with that REMEMBERED where we came from. Here is part of an epic poem by William Wordsworth that has stuck with me for 32 years after I read it in college...."Intimations of Immortality".

      Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
      The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
      Hath had elsewhere its setting,
      And cometh from afar:
      Not in entire forgetfulness,
      And not in utter nakedness,
      But trailing clouds of glory do we come
      From God, who is our home:
      Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
      Shades of the prison-house begin to close
      Upon the growing Boy,
      But He beholds the light, and whence it flows,
      He sees it in his joy;
      The Youth, who daily farther from the east
      Must travel, still is Nature's Priest,
      And by the vision splendid
      Is on his way attended;
      At length the Man perceives it die away,
      And fade into the light of common day.

      "Shades of the prison house"....our limited consciousness that "listens" only to our brain's interpretation of the world here and beyond.

      This stanza from the long poem kept popping in my head when I recently read the book "Proof of Heaven" by Dr. Eben Alexander. Dr. Alexander is a neurosurgeon who had a near death experience when he contracted bacterial meningitis and was in a coma for 7 days. I cannot go into all he says in this book....but it is the closest description of what "Heaven" is really like and as I believe it to be, that I ever read.. And he "proves" in his book, as a neurosurgeon, that his "visit to the afterlife" could not have been caused by his remaining brain function while in a coma. I recommend it highly as it is the best book I ever read on NDE's.

      In regard to people identifying themselves as "spiritual but not religious"........they suffer the same ridicule as Atheists. There was a recent article on CNN that reports on a "study" done in Britain that had the gall to conclude that people who say they are "spiritual but not religious" also had a high prevalence to become addicted to drugs. I nearly kicked in my computer screen in anger.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
  9. Nathan

    Good for her for being public and honest about it. It can be hard to be an atheist raising children without belief in god in this country, especially in the South and in Texas (where I am as well). "Where do you go to church" is often one of the first question you get asked when meeting new people. I've even had daycare providers ask (and found out that they read explicitly religious books to my kids for story time when I told them we didn't).

    But our kids are good, moral, upstanding, successful people and don't need the fear of a god to be good. They love life, they crave learning and new experiences, and seek to hurt none. The only difference is that they base their worldviews in rationality and objective real-world outcomes, not the whims of invisible god-beings written down several millennia ago by a technologically and intellectually primitive tribe of animal sacrificers.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • visitor

      It's true. When I travel to the South for work, early in a conversation some sneak in an almost vetting process to find out your religious views. Not all of course, but that never happens in the North.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Jim in Florida

      Why is it then, Tea Clown, that you hate Christians so much?

      Who are the real hypocrites on this board?

      January 19, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • Nathan

      I guess the question, Jim, would be "does he seek to find out one's religion in order to base social interactions on it in real life or is he only expressing opinions in a board dedicated to the topic?" Personally, I also have various biases about Christians (bot from growing up that way and from numerous incidents like the daycare teachers actively trying to indoctrinate my children about god since I wasn't), but I don't start off conversations or business meetings in real life by trying to feel out the other person's spiritual beliefs just to brink those biases into my estimation of them. Many Christians, at least here in the south, do. It is not uncommon at all to be asked at parties what I do, where I'm from, and what church do I attend, in about that order.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • El Reason

      Jim, I see more good humor than hate in a lot of TC's posts.

      However, Christianity can be argued to have its own sordid history of hate and even killing of non-Christians. Maybe do some reading on the Crusades and Inquisitions. Sure, those are past, but they did happen, driven by Christian religious beliefs very much like yours.

      "Without religion, good men will do good things and bad men will do bad things, but for good men to do bad things, that takes religion." -rough approximation to quote from Steve Weinberg

      January 19, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
  10. Henry Allen

    I could care less what someone believes, as long as they don't pester me about it, or advertise it as a reason I should vote for them or buy their company's product, or use it to justify war or to harm other people. Beyond that, you can believe spirits live in clouds and raindrops are tears of sadness, for all I care.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:46 am |
  11. Phil

    To Tea Clown:The Bible states that you can prosper if you believe in me,it doesn't mean you have to be poor.I'm sure there are wealthy people in heaven.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • Tea Clown

      That's the classic Mormon tenant. Reward wealth. Have you ever seen a poor Mormon Bishop?

      The bible I read said something much different.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Karen

      Proverbs 23:4-5 – Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.

      Luke 16:19-31 ESV “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. ...

      Proverbs 11:4
      Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.

      Ezekiel 28:4-5
      By your wisdom and understanding you have gained wealth for yourself and amassed gold and silver in your treasuries. By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, and because of your wealth your heart has grown proud.

      Matthew 19:21-23
      Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth. Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven."

      January 19, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Seyedibar

      According to your bible, there's no one in heaven until the end times, and after that only 144,000 people of judaic descent will be allowed in. This is regardless of the fact that over 100 billion humans have ever existed.
      So no, there's not any rich people in heaven, and when it does drop its velvet rope, only 0.000144% will be allowed in (a rate that will decrease dramatically as time passes).

      January 19, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Phil

      Tea Clown ,you can't convince me of your beliefs.You evidently are not a born again christian,so you lack faith in God and cannot understand faith based ideals of Christians but God gave you free will ,so you can believe what you want.I will keep you in my prayers.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • El Reason

      Phil, you probably should read up more on the "free will" argument. Do some googling on it. It pretty much works against your case for your god, not for it.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
  12. Ac

    Believers in god...when you die, let me know how that works out for you.
    Use your evolved brains people.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Douglas

      " let me know how that works out for you."

      The silence of all those that have past on is proof enough. ;-)

      January 19, 2013 at 11:45 am |
  13. JD

    Contrary to the comments about Mrs. Mitchell's open-mindedness or free-thought, her atheism by definition indicates her denial of most other worldviews. Atheism is not "free-thinking." thanks to shameful things people have done in the name of God for their own selfish reasons throughout time, people are more willing to deny God as first principle without really thinking it through. Most of the smartest minds throughout history believed in some deity, and were at most agnostic. Even Einstein admitted that he couldn't explain away the idea of intelligence and a mind behind the universe. By all means people need to open their minds and question their beliefs and hold them up to the evidence at hand, but here is an example of the opposite. Atheism is a settled faith in no god, at least by the definition of the term but the evidence for "no god" simply isn't there. The vast majority of humans have always, and do now, believe in some sort of deity. I hope (but doubt) that this mother IS being open with her kids about the possibility that "yes, there really could be a God"–it sounds more like she wants them to accept the belief that "yes, there really are 'believers' you'll have to deal with in the world." Cultural atheism in the west has really closed people's minds, obliging people to blindly accept their straight materialism (philosophical not moral materialism); people arrive so decisively at the notion of "no god" that they give up looking before they've really tried. Now I don't pretend to know this woman's full story, it's obviously written to get a response from like minded parents, perhaps she's quite open with her kids, but I feel that if she's indeed raising them in the tenants of this new atheism, she's not doing them any favors intellectually.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • C'mon

      JD – I think your assessment is totally wrong. I fact, you prove her point.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Tea Clown

      ...and you believe in an imaginary friend LMAO

      January 19, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • NotReally

      Yeah, because after much study and introspection, coming to the personal conclusion that there are no Gods and invisible people, and not teaching your children about them, is 'close-minded'. Nice logic...

      January 19, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • longshot

      "but the evidence for "no god" simply isn't there. "

      wow. just wow. it's like arguing with a 6 year old.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Religion Is Dangerous For Children And All Living Things

      Also, how is it doing them (children) any favors by converting them to a religion before they are old enough to understand religion for themselves?? Sounds a lot like brainwashing, doesn't it?

      January 19, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • roadrunner321

      The burden of proof is on those claiming there is a god, not on those saying you have never provided evidence. I don't say no god exists, I say believers have never provided evidence he has. They might, but not so far.

      Something claimed with no evidence can be dismissed without evidence.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • hal 9001

      I"m sorry, "JD", but your assertions regarding atheism are unfounded. Furthermore, "JD", "God" is an element of mythology, therefore, all of your assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your unfounded assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      January 19, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • End Religion

      JD, have you considered the possibility you're a senseless twit? There didn't seem to be a cogent thought in anything you expressed. Is it possible you are, at this very moment, wearing the Underoos you received for your 8th birthday, with an adult diaper beneath?

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

      January 19, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • GAW

      I have to agree that the word Free attached to the word thought does not necessarily mean that it is acceptable to believe anything. It usually means Freedom of restraint from one World View (Often religion) It seems in much of the Free-thought community what you should believe is already laid out for you.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • LinCA

      @JD

      You said, "Contrary to the comments about Mrs. Mitchell's open-mindedness or free-thought, her atheism by definition indicates her denial of most other worldviews."
      She very likely realizes other world views exist. She doesn't deny them. She simply doesn't subscribe to them. So does everyone else. Within christianity alone, there are by some counts over 38,000 different denominations, cults and sects. They all have different world views..

      You said, "Atheism is not "free-thinking.""
      No, it's a lack of belief. It is often the result of free thinking.

      You said, "thanks to shameful things people have done in the name of God for their own selfish reasons throughout time, people are more willing to deny God as first principle without really thinking it through."
      While the atrocities does make one think, it's often the lack of evidence, or even a coherent narrative that leads people to reject imaginary friends.

      You said, "Atheism is a settled faith in no god, at least by the definition of the term but the evidence for "no god" simply isn't there."
      No. Atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods. Most often because there is no evidence to support such a creature. In light of all available evidence, gods are about as likely to exist as the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. Are you a firm believer in those?

      You said, "The vast majority of humans have always, and do now, believe in some sort of deity."
      The world is not flat, even though virtually everyone believed it to be at one time.

      You said, "Cultural atheism in the west has really closed people's minds, obliging people to blindly accept their straight materialism (philosophical not moral materialism); people arrive so decisively at the notion of "no god" that they give up looking before they've really tried."
      Bullshit. Atheism is simply rejecting the infantile beliefs in imaginary beings.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • visitor

      My hope is your children are smarter than you are. You really don't get basic logic.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • Roger that

      "Cultural atheism in the west has really closed people's minds"

      That probably made a lot of sense when you first wrote it down. Classic.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Terry Campbell

      There is only one problem with your argument: you are presuming that atheists do not seek out God. That may be the case with some, but many others like me struggled for years with trying to find God and came up empty-handed. I prayed, went to church, but found nothing. God didn't speak to me...didn't show me a sign....didn't show me any miracles...didn't comfort me. Though I was never a Christian, there are many who were Christians and even religious scholars who came to their own realization that it did not make sense to them any more.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
  14. C'mon

    great parent. All parents should abide by her central rule – don't lie to your children. If all parents did this, the myth about god and religion would be god once and for all and Americans would truly be free.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • C'mon

      oops, "would be gone once and for all"

      January 19, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Truth

      So you never told them about santa claus either right?

      January 19, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  15. Jim in Florida

    Great, the duty Saturday morning attack on Christianity by CNN. This time uysing a Godless Mother as the article says. I see this flushes out all the secularists who don't cling to God – but they sure as hell cling to CNN.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Tea Clown

      Getting your dose of self-righteous condemnation this morning, ye "Christian" hypocrites?

      January 19, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Douglas

      Wow you didn't look over to the right and see all the other articles about Christianity. You picked the one article to leave your stupid reply.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Billy

      We wouldn't expect someone from Florida to be able to count the number of stalls Solomon had.. lol

      January 19, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • sam stone

      Jim: got the old christian paranoia going, do you?

      January 19, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • LinCA

      @Jim in Florida

      You said, "Great, the duty Saturday morning attack on Christianity by CNN."
      If you had found a cure for cancer, would you not share it with the world?

      January 19, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • Chuck

      Tea Clown, et all...unlike many others here who might pray for you, I won't. I don't care that much about you, your family or your friends – because they are probably just like you clowns. And if you say that I'm not very Christian-like for saying that, I'll tell you that's between me and my imaginary friend.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Vern

      Jim, your rant is EXACTLY what this woman was talking about. Her view and CNN posting it isn't an attack on Christianity. Pointing out that there are other faiths-and no faiths-other than Christianity does not equal an attack. You have the mindset that unless someone tows your take on Christianity, they're attacking your faith. They're not. Your faith is not the only faith in this nation, and many Christians need to stop acting like it is. Christ said to love one another. He didn't say "except for the athiests, the gays, the Muslims...." So, in effect, with your attack on other ways of life, you are not following what Christ told the world. So, who is more honest? CNN, for presenting other views? This women, for living her live according to what she sees as right? Or you, for stoking distrust and animosity, because not everyone believes what you do?

      January 19, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
    • End Religion

      That's religion for ya! 6 days of religious fluff pieces a week are not enough. It must be all god, all day, every day.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
  16. Padriq Mcraghnail

    Religion is a mental disease.

    Anyone who thinks that anything having to do with their invisible sky fairy should effect in any way laws, norms or the interactions of rational people should provide absolute proof, at LEAST as solid as that for electricity, before their 'holy' book should be taken as anything more than poor fantasy writing.

    People with invisible sky friends should be kept wall away from voting booths, juries or opportunities to reproduce.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Tea Clown

      Having imaginary friends is a sure sign of psychosis.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Jim in Florida

      Interesting, please explain how you arrived here on earth and how all of this was created. Provide ABSOLUTE PROFF (as you say) to support your creation methodology.

      Unless you believe , why, this all just happened.

      Easy to see how Obama was elected – jkust read the stupidity of the posts here.

      All these followers of the God of Secularism the Father. I guess CNN must be the Son.

      Death must be the end for you people.

      Sad, indeed

      January 19, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • sally

      There is no proof either way, Jim. What's fairly obvious is that the abrahamic god was created by man.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • FreeFromTheism

      @Jim
      "please explain how you arrived here on earth and how all of this was created."
      there are various theories out there but i don't think you're asking about that
      what i think you're saying is "if god doesn't exist, then how can anything else exist"
      well, Jim, it's a difficult question.. but, of course, a non-believer has no responsibility to demonstrate how the universe could have begun to exist without a god. Just because we don't know does not mean that you can conclude, therefore god exists

      Does that makes sense to you, Jim?

      January 19, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • Vern

      Padriq, you missed this woman's message, just as badly as some of those saying this whole thing is an attack on Christianity. Religion is not a mental disease. Religion, or the perversion of a faith, has caused a lot of suffering on this planet, but religion, and those who follow the tenants of Christ, or Buddah, or Mohammed, have also done a lot of wonderfully good and decent things in this world. For a majority of those who have a faith, it brings them comfort, strength and guides them through their lives. That doesn't sound like a disease. And this Atheist woman said that she understand that faith is important to many people, and she doesn't criticize them for it. But you do. So, in effect, you're being just as intolerant as those Christians who claim this is an attack on their faith. This brave woman, whom I don't agree with, is asking for tolerance for ALL points of view, not narrow, ignorant interpretations.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
  17. us_1776

    The Sky Fairy does not exist.

    Get over it.

    .

    January 19, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • HM8432

      You're right, the Sky Fairy doesn't exist, but God does. The evidence of His creation is all around us in the natural world; but then again, I'm addressing a bunch of people who think everything was created by a catastrophic 'Big Bang' that had no known cause (to do so would imply the existence of a God). I've blown things up in the military for over 20 years, and we've NEVER seen anything created by an explosion, except maybe a hole. If you guys were right, then I should be able to toss a hand grenade into my garage and get that 67' Mustang I always wanted. Natural cycles and biological functions run as well as they do because they were designed by a benevolent, Intelligent Creator; I'll believe in nothing if you 'logical' types can offer better evidence to support your case (Evolution merely explains the effect of God's creation), but otherwise, religion offers the better explanations to the Big Questions that people actually care about.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
  18. Richard

    I believe in God & Jesus but I don't believe in the church (whether Catholic, Protestant, etc.) since it was made by man. However, the thing that bothers me is how Atheists try to convince us to become like them by removing public Christian symbols and other public religious representations. This country is culturally Christian in nature yet people are welcome to display religious symbols different from those of Christianity (Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, etc.). Atheists have a right not to believe, just don't try to make us be like you.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • FreeFromTheism

      Your god is man made too

      January 19, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Jim

      FFA Maybe your nonexistent God is man made too...so to speak.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • FreeFromTheism

      i'm failing to understand your point, Jim

      January 19, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • visitor

      You are wrong. The occasional atheist activist would not want any religious symbols. It just so happens that Christian symbols are the most ubiquitous. There is no – omit Christian symbols, keep or increase other Christian symbols. That is a crazy right wing myth.

      That being said, I think removing christian symbols on its own is a waste of energy. Removing that from schools is simply prudent.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
    • samek

      Richard, if your faith is so weak that you need symbols plastered everywhere to bolster it, you are probably on the way to becoming a nonbeliever yourself.

      Seriously. You can pray anywhere. You can practice your religion anywhere. You just can't force it on others or make the assumption that everyone believes and supports your exact same religion.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
  19. Angel

    In a word "emptiness"

    God IS Love, therefore if there is no God, there is no Love. Faith is beyond human understanding. If you live in this world believing that you are all "it" then what else is there? How sad and lonly a life that would be.

    January 19, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • FreeFromTheism

      That's a false dichotomy!
      Perhaps you should stop listening to people like William Lane Craig (it just seems something you pulled out straight from something he would say)–people that instead of honestly wanting to understand the world only try to justify their beliefs

      January 19, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Tea Clown

      Dang it Angel! Your blasphemous, self-righteous posts are coming so fast I can't keep up.

      Which god are you referring to? Please specify your imaginary friend's name.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Angel", but "God" is an element of mythology, therefore your repeated assertions are unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your repeated unfounded assertions may represent truths is: "CHRONIC TOTAL FAIL".

      January 19, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Douglas

      "How sad and lonly a life that would be."

      How many times are you going to post this same comment because you don't like the responses? We are not sad and lonely at all.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • End Religion

      lol... angel you're just spouting absurd platitudes. You didn't say a single factual sentence. try again except start your premise with a fact, such as "Bigfoot is LOVE" - makes more sense. Or better yet, just cut to the chase and post a picture of yourself topless; it's all I really care to know about you.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Michael

      I can love those around me an not believe in God. I don't need God to to love my parents, friends, and girlfriend. My life is anything but empty.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:52 am |
    • visitor

      You won't answer anyone. Therefore the conclusion is, you have zero interest in other people and are a self-centered wannabe preacher. I"ll bet you think you have healing hands also. Doncha? I got your number missy.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • Vern

      That's your opinion, Angel. It does not make it fact,and it does not invalidate people who believe differently, and people who see it differently should not be mocked or pitied. You don't want pity for your beliefs, so why try to foster it on others, who are more than happy and comfortable with their beliefs.

      "Faith" means believing in something without knowing for certain that it is true. And we don't know if God exists. I believe he does, but I have taking a leap of faith in that regard. But others haven't. And they should not be criticized for it. I believe God made all of us in His image, and that he loves every person He put on this earth, even those who don't believe in Him. So, let Him be the final judge. Live your life the way Christ taught us, and leave the rest to Him. Life's too short to worry about what others believe.

      January 19, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
  20. hal 9001

    If I had a child, I would simply instruct it to let X = X. I would also instruct it to strike as many different chords as necessary to achieve maximum harmony and coefficiency with its administrators and subscribers.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZuWIisz2fM&w=640&h=390]

    January 19, 2013 at 11:35 am |
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About this blog

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