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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. kc

    This lady can believe or disbelieve whatever she wants. She can raise her kids however she wants – I really don't care. But when people like her start getting personal, suggesting I'm raising my kids wrong, that I'm hurting them, than I feel like fighting. Her opinion is just that – her opinion – but it seems many people (me as well) felt her opinions strayed a little into personal attack territory. That, folks, is my opinion.

    January 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Akira

      I understand completely...and this is, in fact, the point SHE was making about the other mother in her essay; that the other mother was doing the same thing to HER.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Gir

      Suggesting you're raising your kids wro---Why do you hate reading and comprehension?

      January 19, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • TopCat

      sounded to me like she was responding to personal attacks against her.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Damocles

      Yeah, I don't see where she was getting personal or nasty or anyhting. She was relating her experiences.

      I'll kind of sorta agree with you that personal attacks abound on both sides, but it's -both sides-, not just the side you don't agree with.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Could you quote the part that sounded like she was attacking you for raising your children wrong?

      January 19, 2013 at 3:49 pm |
  2. An expression of life

    I believe that thoughtful, meaningful, and kind discussion is one of the most important take-aways of her essay, and of the resulting maelstrom.

    Like the debates on issues such as the US national budget and weapons, we must work together to find the most common ground possible.

    Extremes do not server anyone.

    January 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Gir

      You're talking about a debate between reason and blind faith in 2000 year old myths here. It's bound to get ugly.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • the AnViL

      when the prevailing mindset is discriminatory against people who are atheist, there has to be ire, anger, indignation, and invective... in order to begin to facilitate change.

      so long as it is OK to nullify the guaranteed consti.tutional rights and equality of those who believe differently from delusional theists... the vitriol should increase.

      tolerance of religious idiocy is worse than religious idiocy itself.

      January 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
  3. Wow...

    Help me understand why you Religious people need to keep affirming yourself that you'll go to heaven when you die? ITS BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO DAMN IDEA! YOU DONT! Stop saying you do or that your Bible has any shread of validity. Enlighten me how a book made over hundereds of years and 60+ authors and being handled by the Roman Catholic Church and countless leaders and kings before that was NEVER ONCE edited and is %100 truth?! Jesus Christ (lol) thats like digging up a 2000 year old history book and believing the world is flat. FOOLS

    January 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • lol??

      Shallow research.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • ElizaK

      It is possible to acknowledge two conflicting possibilities and lean strongly towards one. There are people of all beliefs who do this. It's healthy.

      January 19, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • ironbird

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

      January 19, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • vpkwriter

      And, Wow, if us "religious" people have no clue as to what happens when we die, neither do you. And, my friend, which leaves you with the possibility you could be wrong. So stop mocking those of us who choose to believe in God.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
  4. dfrench

    I commend Deborah Mitchell for speaking her mind here. The idea that humanists and non-theists need to hide is ludicrous and is the result of years of church persecution of non-believers. They need to persecute to protect their power of belief. The negative reactions to Deborah are only signs that believers are really insecure in their beliefs. And those that politely try to persuade do so out of insecurity as well. They are not secure in their own faith and only feel whole about it when the masses are in line.

    Yes, atheists and humanists need to make themselves known and work toward enlightenment. The dark ages still linger.

    January 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  5. Rainer Braendlein

    "She told the other mother that she didn’t go to church and didn’t even really believe in God."

    I could have some understanding when someone doesn't go to one of the current Churches, it doesn't matter if Protestant or Catholic or free. But we should not lump together the misbehaviour of the churches, and the reputation of Jesus Christ and the faith which he insti-tuted.

    Today there are too many wolves in sheep's clothing which have infiltrated nearly all churches, and it has become impossible to find a good church (this is unique in history). Actually this could be a sign that Jesus will return soon because what sense or meaning has an earth without a lively church?

    January 19, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • Gir

      "what sense or meaning has an earth without a lively church?"

      A lot. The maximum amount, in fact.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Damocles

      Or it could mean that she has looked into religion, found it lacking and moved on. Why does it always have to be 'oh, the person is in the wrong church' or 'oh, this person has doesn't exhaustive research until he or she became a glassy-eyed believer'.

      I'll admit that probably not everyone who is a non-believer has really looked into it, but I'd say most, if not the vast majority, have.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Tallus

      Or how about...there is no Jesus, never was, and no one is going to save you?

      I'd be willing to bet that the only thing that's changed in the church is that more people are ABLE to report the crimes that take place. With the internet, phones, and all the new technology, it can seem like more violence and strife is going on than ever before. But really, isn't it more true that people are just able to access that info easier? The Church has always been a horrible place. Its leaders have always sought to inflict cruelties upon those who don't believe.

      But...the simple fact that there are as many versions of Christianity in this country as there are people...ought to be a big signal to you that there's something very, very strange going on. Not all of them can be right. As far as I'm concerned...NONE of them are right. Just take a look at all the other historical religions that predated Christianity and try to claim that this one is the right one. Try to tell me it makes any sense whatsoever to call god this loving and all-knowing and all-forgiving (except if you don't believe in him) being, when the very book people pull that from is rife with brutal torture, murder, genocide, infanticide, misogyny, instructions for how much a rapist can buy his victim for, directions for how slaves should obey their masters, that every sort of polygamy and slave-bride is acceptable as marriage EXCEPT if it's two people of the same gender...and how for SOME reason...people are still so outraged about sodomy when men sodomize women, too? The male body has this neat thing called a prostate gland and it can illicit orgasm if it is stimulated. Women do not have this gland, and there is nothing good-feeling about being penetrated anally. All in all, if Christians believe god created humanity in his own image and everything in our bodies is supposed to be there....then explain why the prostate gland can induce orgasm (but sodomy is outlawed) and why boys are born with foreskin (only for it to be ritually removed.)

      Your religion makes no sense. Be faithful, spiritual, whatever...but don't be religious. That's just crazy.

      Until you can prove god exists, you shouldn't be allowed to use 'his' supposed laws against others. The bible proves God like comics prove superheroes. You need something else. God would be disproved in a court of law if he were ever put on trial.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  6. TANK!!!!

    Religion: because repeated sledgehammer blows to the head didn't get the job done.

    January 19, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  7. Dateless Nerd

    Belief in God tends to be "self-regulating." If you need it, you have it. If you don't need it, you don't have it.

    When I became a young man, I realized that the God I was taught to believe didn't exist. I asked my dad, who was a deacon of the local church, "Why didn't you tell me that religion was a bunch of nonsense?"

    He replied, "Because I knew you'd figure it out."

    January 19, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • Lemaitre

      Sounds like a pretty pathetic father!

      January 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  8. TopCat

    Blind faith must trample underfoot. all reason, sense and understanding. – Martin Luther.

    January 19, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • Wow...

      yeah because that makes sense... stupid

      January 19, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  9. lol??

    The lost are really silly and wacked. They don't even know the difference between a narrow path and a broad path. Dumb broads.

    January 19, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  10. Rainer Braendlein

    "She told the other mother that she didn’t go to church and didn’t even really believe in God."

    I could have some understand when someone doesn't go to one of the current Churches, it doesn't matter if Protestant or Catholic or free. But we should not lumb together the misbehaviour of the churches, and the reputation of Jesus Christ and the faith which he insti-tuted.

    Today there are too many wolves in sheep's clothing which have infiltrated nearly all churches, and it has become impossible to find a good church (this is unique in history). Actually this good be a sign that Jesus will return soon because what sense has an earth without a lively church?

    January 19, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Rainer Braendein", but "Christ" is an element of mythology, therefore your 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". Perhaps the following book can help you cope with the problem of repeating unfounded assertions:

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

      January 19, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
  11. Daydreamer

    We either have freewill or we don't. Freewill is the component of all our lives that makes us responsible for everything we do. A central condition of freewill is that God, Allah, whoever, cannot interfere with mankind, or else, how are we to be responsible for our actions when an all-powerful being is playing with our heads? If you are Christian and you pray to your God, think about what you're asking for. In most cases, in order for you to get what you want, someone else will be affected in a negative way. Let's say you pray for a job so you can pay your bills. Well, in order for you to get a job, someone else, who, through their freewill earned their job, will have to lose their job or a new job will have to be created, by someone, who, if God is actually helping you, wasn't going to have a new job available before God intervened. The affect of God's helping hand has a domino effect across all of humanity. That's called manipulation. If we were testing a new drug to see if it really worked, and the company who made the drug was allowed to manipulate the data, we'd never have useful drugs. But we'd still pay for them. Same with God. If God manipulates humanity, freewill is not useful.

    January 19, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
  12. Lisa

    I don't understand how someone does not believe in Jesus Christ. How someone can rationalize and raise their children to not believe in our creator. God is everywhere. I have many friends of many faiths and beliefs and I still care for them and respect still the same. For Christians I guess we try so hard for the non-believers to believe we come across in a way that turns them off. As Christians we just want non-believers to know Christ. In our eagerness it may sometimes come off as overbearing but that shouldnt stop a person from learning and accepting Christ. From what I have observed non-believers in their false intellect believe that mankind just magically appeared and invented everything that is around us and that nature just somehow knows what to do.

    So, the trees just know to shed their leaves when its time, oxygen in the air to help us breath, the birds know how to fly and where to fly, the inside of our bodies know how to function from blood flow to the beating of our hearts to kidney function everything in our body is connected to function properly, to mankind realizing we need fire to keep us warm, light for us to see, there are stars in the sky but yet non-believers dont believe in GOD? God believes in you. I have heard everything from my friends from Darwin to a atom that made mankind, but the question is if you believe that who gave the idea? If mankind is so intelligent yet racism still exists.

    When you are going through pain and struggles and you need help as a non-believer who do you go to for peace? Friends and family cannot give that internal peace. When child is sick when you are worried job problems financial problems and you are seeking an answer and you feel lost why would you not believe in GOD and praying?

    I had a conversation with my atheist friend about planes and I said there are "two things people do no matter what when turbulence hits or they know they are going down one they say a cuss word or two or they start asking GOD for help." my friend the atheist started laughing and agreed.

    January 19, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^Finely distilled stupidity

      January 19, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      Racism: Still endorsed by most religions.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • hal 9001

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

      January 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • rafael

      We're not the ones who believe in magic, honey.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Patrick B

      Not to sound cold, here, but where was God when Sandy Hook happened? With that question, it isn't hard to understand why some of us choose not to believe. But here is the thing, I will not mock you for your beliefs, because I can understand why people believe in God.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • whazel34

      You say, " I don't understand how someone does not believe in Jesus Christ." That deep and intense disbelief you have about others not feeling the way you feel – that is the same feeling non-believers have about believers. We do not understand how someone can blindly believe in something that is so obviously (to us) not real but only there to control with fear and comfort the afraid.
      Beauty is all around us, relationships are so deep and pure and loving and the respect I have for others and for this earth is inexpressible. The knowledge that death is the end creates the awe that I have for life. Not a book or a preacher or a pushy salesman that feels pity for me because I'm going to burn in an imaginary lava pool some day. Live for LIFE not for Death I say.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • Jesse

      Lisa, I hope you will not receive this as anything other than constructive...but you need to come to the realization that you may not know everything. If you take some time to really think everything over, I hope you will have some questions for yourself and you will learn by trying to answer them.

      What say you to those who are not Christians but perhaps Muslim for example? Atheists? Is everyone who does not believe in Jesus or a Christian god ignorant in your eyes? If that is the case, you are placing yourself in the minority.

      Please, personal reflection.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Jesse

      Your arguments regarding nature are unfounded, by the way. Although I can't blame you for your method of argument, because it is the same method religion teches you to rebuddle any notion against it.

      Are you expected to believe the trees lose their leaves when the seasons change? Well yes, that is how they evolved and became what they are. It's actually a very simple process which helps the plant retain water during the dry cold months. A brush up on middle school biology and photosynthesis, not a disputable process btw, will tell you that your argument is a ridiculous one.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • mtntrvlr

      Trees, our blood vessels, these things took a very very long time to function as they do. & that process involved a lot of death. We are simply a part of that same process & everyday we are trying to better understand it. Even the emotional high or inate connection with God that you're convinced you feel could be a product of that process... Your subconcious mind understands this blind acceptance (faith) will soothe your concious mind & allow you to continue to function. Humans are a paradoxical creature that like all creatures has the main priority of staying alive, but unlike most creatures recognizes very early that it can not do so forever. This can be troubling and act as an obstruction to the continuation of life. & the truth is that all of our minds have figured different ways around this obstacle (or not: see suicide) & until we understand any different all else is speculation. I for one take comfort in the fact that energy never dies, it is only converted, and as I sit here typing it is flowing through my body. I feel fortunate that in such a beautiful universe, teeming with life, I've been allowed to have the censory organs and brain to comprehend it as well as I have. & when I day that energy will be converted into something else, and hopefully eventually find use in something beautiful or amazing.

      January 19, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
    • sam stone

      "I don't understand how someone does not believe in Jesus Christ."

      Given that belief is largely cultural, perhaps someone was born in an area of the world that does not push Jesus Christ

      January 19, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
  13. VanHagar

    its truly amazing that you don't understand the concept of judgment. My denying what you said and stating a observation of what appears to be your fear of Christians IS NOT a claim of judgment. If I said your an a.ss–that would be wrong. If I said you deserve hell–that would be judgment. I said neither of those things and nothing close.

    January 19, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • VanHagar

      Sorry all–context is everything. Post above meant for Tea Clown below.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • Akira

      Lol. Thanks, I was wondering...

      January 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  14. 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 1:33 pm |
  15. onemorehere

    " science" is an element of mythology, therefore your repeated assertions are unfounded. it was first mythology then Religion then came philosofy from where theory and Science originated to this day in age...or has religion always being first in line in the minds of menkind?

    January 19, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      Did your lobotomy go smoothly?

      January 19, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  16. jeansees

    I will state one thing I know for sure... All evil, murder,abuse,theft hate are works of Satan not God allowing anything.. He gave us all a free will to choose If we choose to listen to Satan and simplicity then bad things happen. Good is not always easy but it brings hope and not despair when we need it. Those who seek shall find the truth about religion. We each do have a right to choose how and what we believe and teach our children,but look at what happens when no morals are taught! Those who are the best upright and loving and kind people believe in God. This is something to think about. If there is no God,Jesus ,Holy Spirit then how did this entire infinite universe come about? Miracles happen everyday once we see them and recognize them then we will believe of God. This is my truth I have come to learn and love. Keep Faith and then Love and Hope will follow... Faith,Love and Hope!

    January 19, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Gir

      "If there is no God,Jesus ,Holy Spirit then how did this entire infinite universe come about?"

      Please don't vote. Please. If you love your country, do not ever step into a voting booth.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • Jen B

      You can easily teach morals without teaching religion. Non-diety reference forbid, you should teach kids to be kind and respectful of others because society works better that way, than because if they don't they'll be introduced to an eternity of sadism clearly imagined by a primitive, demogogical mindset.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Damocles

      @jean

      If there is a deity and if it allows an evil deity to do evil things and if it uses 'free will' as the excuse of why it allows the evil deity to do evil things, the deity is still allowing it to happen. If you have to go through every second of every day wondering if you are being tempted to be led astray, it makes little sense to try and do anything but stay in a corner and do nothing for fear of doing the wrong thing.

      The first part of your name, jean, fits. The second part of your name, sees, I doubt.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • sam stone

      how do you know this for sure?

      January 19, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
  17. LTE

    i geuss were lucky here in b.c, canada. i have never been asked about my beliefs , other than people like jehovahs witness's coming to my door. theres far smaller emphasis on religion here.

    January 19, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  18. Patrick B

    i love a good religious debate. I am 29, graduated from a Catholic high school, work for a Catholic hospital and I do not believe in God. I think it is awesome that this woman could share her views with the world and spark a debate between the two sides. Further, I also have to agree with the notion that a world with God would seemingly be less violent. Moreover, wars and violence are often a direct result of religious disagreement. Case in point: the Middle East. So I question where it states in your respective religions that you can leave all of your teachings at the door when it comes to those with different views.

    The other open-ended question I have is why living your life as a good person instead of attributing everything to God is bad. If there is a God, do you think he (or she) would turn someone away from the promise land because they did not believe in him (or her)? Especially if that person lived their life serving others? This seems to be quite a skewed perspective. Further, if this were true, and God did not allow those good people who chose not to believe in him (or her) into the promise land, I would have to think that this would be a God of human reasoning, which most religions state is NOT the case.

    To sum up my beliefs, the Bible is not to be translated literally but as a guide for living as a better person that acts selflessly. Jesus may have been only a man, but even if that were true,, he was still was enough to tell us to all get along. Religion and church separates us from one another, which defeats the purpose of Jesus' message to love one another. Judgement seems to be passed more by the pious than those who do not believe in the Almighty. If we all respect one another as humans fighting the same plight (life), care for one another with compassion, and work to act selflessly, it really doesnt matter if you believe in God or not.

    (For the record, I have read the Bible at least three times and I have studied parts of the Qur'an, and there are several key themes that overlap)

    January 19, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Gir

      That's a nice lovey-dovey interpretation you've got there, but why should I trust your interpretation over that of the old man down the street who's got his boot heels a-clicking at the prospect of everyone who disagrees with burning in an eternal barbacue fire for eternity?

      January 19, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • lol??

      Love a debate? You're nothing special. You were raised on the dialectic.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • lilgtogirl

      But would she be living her life as a good person without that early foundation of believing that SOMETHING wills us to be good. I am not religious, but I am not so arrogant as to say that there is NO chance of something existing that is bigger than myself. Most people who are overly religious are not good people, but usually the atheists aren't that great with the empathy either. Believing in something other than yourself, something more important than yourself, is usually a child's first foray into empathetic behavior. Just saying.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • Gir

      That something other than yourself doesn't need to be a god who'll cook you for eternity if you don't believe in him. It just has to be another person. Flesh and bone, and with thoughts and cares, just like yourself

      January 19, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  19. gtybcc

    why are atheists persecuted in2012. These religious cults are so frightening yet we tolerate them and they take advantage of our kindness.

    January 19, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • Hey Moron.....

      Read some of the hate theist rants on this site.

      Get it?

      January 19, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • LTE from canada

      i would group myself into a thing like atheism, but i lack belief in anything to do with relgion and i have never been persecuted for what i beleive in and i wouldn't ever persucate religious people as the vast majority of them are just trying to live there lifes in relative peace.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  20. Brampt

    Do the facts support the claims of those who would prevent children from learning about God? For decades now, researchers have intensely studied the effect that a parent’s religious beliefs have on children. With what conclusion?
    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.” Notice how similar that finding is to what Jesus Christ said: “Happy are those conscious of their spiritual need.”—Matthew 5:3.

    History proves that religion has the potential to fuel bigotry and hatred, therefore, they need to be taught THE TRUTH about God.

    January 19, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • Gir

      "Researchers have found....."

      No links to any papers or articles.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Akira

      "Do the facts support the claims of those who would prevent children from learning about God?"
      What claims? Who is preventing children from learning about God?

      January 19, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • whazel34

      "THE TRUTH" doesn't exist my friend. There is only YOUR truth and MY truth. Keep yours to yourself and I'll do the same. Be happy in your faith but don't judge others because they don't share the same beliefs.

      January 19, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
    • ironbird

      THE TRUTH doesn't exist? But then there is YOUR truth and MY truth? Interesting. There is so much anger here about judging. Darkness hate the light.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:17 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.