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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. James L

    AMEN!!! she's right on track. My Korean ex wife is a christian and her family is Buddhist. Needless to say when she pushed that stuff on me and told me i would burn in hell if i didn't convert i said "well at least i'll be in good company with your parents." I don't believe in magic and for the "believers" to not accept people for who they are is hypocritical. Rodney King said it best "can't we all just get along?"!

    January 20, 2013 at 2:58 am |
    • K NOEL

      Rodney King was the reincarnation of the 5th Khan-goddess of Meech. She prophesied that she would return as a great warrior demon who would bring destruction to all who encountered her. Unfortunately, in the god-land of Meech, everything is very very small, about the size of a candy bar, and Rodney King would have easily destroyed it, but the problem of scale was such that Rodney King/Goddess did only a little damage. Later, after the many books and movies, Meech was annexed by Keblax, a 3 tongue God of retail and turned into a storefront selling god-apparel for gods on holiday.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:32 am |
    • Korean Ex Wife

      Only you will burn in hell. I already got a free pass for the 'rents.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:40 am |
    • God

      She's right. Sorry, dude.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:41 am |
    • God

      She's right. Sorry, dude.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:41 am |
    • His Holiness the Lord of All

      I have to go with your ex on this one. Sorry, dude.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:42 am |
    • Bob Bales

      I'm a Christian, and I don't believe in magic either.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:55 am |
  2. paul

    There is a god, but who or what, he she it or they are is probably completely beyond our comprehension.....so make up stores to explain, and so it goes. god is(for me anyway) the explanation of how our universe came about. Who made? Don't know. never will. Okay Murphy is GOD ;>) and her kids are Father Time and Mother Nature, and you know how they are. And don't forget the guy with the black hoodie and scythe.

    January 20, 2013 at 2:55 am |
    • DrewNumberTwo

      If god is beyond your comprehension, how do you comprehend that it exists?

      January 20, 2013 at 3:02 am |
    • Nope

      There are 14 and one half god-beasts, some with more than 1 eye, others with children who walk among us, just as our Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins. Jesus came back as Miguel in Mexico in 1856 and he prophesied you would write this. Your work and role as weapon of Christ is now done. Enjoy your eternal life in heaven.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:23 am |
  3. K NOEL

    It doesn't matter WHAT you believe. God is real. Your unbelief doesn't change the fact that God lives. Someday, every human will realize that, and for some it will be too late.

    January 20, 2013 at 2:54 am |
    • Kathleen

      Typical religious response. A fact-free assertion followed by a threat. Pathetic.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:58 am |
    • DrewNumberTwo

      Pascal's Wager is a poor argument. What if you're wrong about which god you worship, or what he wants? What if your god doesn't exist, and the real god will punish your disbelief in him by sending you and everyone you love to hell? Suddenly, Pascal's Wager favors another god.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:00 am |
    • Nope

      God is not real.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:05 am |
    • K NOEL

      I repeat, God is real. And he is gay. He is a real, gay God. And he is alone because he is God and there is only one God. And a lonely God gets bored. And he sometimes doodles and some of those doodles are really gay. And if you are a believer, you will go to heaven and you can see lonely, gay God's doodles on the heavenly fridge. (Tom 5:35 – 5:55)

      January 20, 2013 at 3:25 am |
    • K NOEL

      Do not POST as me, you unbeliever! You will know God's wrath when the end-time comes.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:27 am |
    • K NOEL

      If I'm worng and you are right, no loss. Nothing happens. If I am right and you are wrong.....well, like I said... your denial doesn't change the truth.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:28 am |
    • What IF

      K NOEL,

      Drew is correct. You don't seem to have read his post.

      This is another tired repeti.tion of Pascal's Wager - thoroughly refuted since the 17th century, even by the Church.

      - What if the real "God" is Allah, or Vishnu, or Zeus, or Quetzalcoatl, or any of the other of thousands which have been dreamed up over the centuries? Some of them are very jealous and vengeful and will relegate you to nasty places for not worshiping them. You'd better cover your butt by believing in ALL of them and fulfill their wishes and demands.

      - What if the real "God" prefers those who use logic and reason and punishes you as a silly sycophant?

      - What if the real "God" detests those who believe something just to cover their butts in eternity?

      January 20, 2013 at 3:31 am |
    • K NOEL

      To the fake K Noel: Really? Posting under my name? Now THAT'S pathetic. Anyway...I say again: God is real.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:32 am |
    • K NOEL

      God is real. As real as the other God, whose name I cannot quite pronounce because it uses one of the weird clicking sounds that has no English language equivalent. God is as real as the chocolate bar I ate yesterday, which I cannot prove existed, but you can take my word for it – it existed and it was yummy. It was heavenly (LOL – that's a pun).

      All of the Gods and Goddesses and demi-gods are real. Except for Slur'mak – a God made up by me just now. He/it is definitely NOT real.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:35 am |
    • K NOEL

      In the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I declare that I am writing this his name, for his kingdom. The heavenly father is real and he will return and if you are saved you will live forever and ever in a land of endless ice cream, chocolate, guns, free cable, cold beer and blue skies. Because Jesus loves all of his children, except those that he doesn't – and you know who you are.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:39 am |
  4. maryrm

    What is up with all the proselytizing these days? And I'm not talking just about the Christians. Why is everyone so bent on trying to convert others to their beliefs whether it is in a deity's existence or non-existence. What ever happened to tolerance and acceptance? And some seem to believe that spreading the word means forcing your beliefs on others or pushing them to accept yours. America has become a nation of intolerance on all sides.

    January 20, 2013 at 2:52 am |
    • Kiwi

      exactly. thank you.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:57 am |
    • DrewNumberTwo

      I'm intolerant of religion because I'm sick of people telling me that I have no morals, that I'll burn in hell, and that reason and science are bad.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:58 am |
    • Kiwi

      Drew, it sounds like you are intolerant of morons... and unfortunately there are plenty of those no matter what end of the faith spectrum you look.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:01 am |
    • DrewNumberTwo

      Most Christian denominations seem to believe that God is the source of all morality, and that there's some sort of punishment for not believing in him. I'm sick of the people that believe that, too.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:04 am |
    • God

      If you don't believe in me, I'll give you a wedgie so tight, your privates will be blue for years.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:45 am |
  5. Kiwi

    i think George Carlin summed it up the best. I quote:

    "Religion is sort of like a lift in your shoes. If it makes you feel better, fine. Just don't ask me to wear your shoes."

    January 20, 2013 at 2:48 am |
    • Athy

      Good. I'll add that one to my zingers.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:50 am |
    • Jeff

      Oh yeah, that's a real zinger! I'll be sure to use that one during my next Christian bashing! That will show em'!

      January 20, 2013 at 2:54 am |
  6. Jeff

    I love the movie Horton Hears A Who, as do my 9 young children. It has a great message.

    The grumpy old kangaroo says "if I can't see it, smell it, or touch it, then it doesn't exist!" In the end, the grumpy kangaroo was proven wrong. In the end, all the non-believers will be proven wrong, so don't sweat it. There are a growing number of kangaroos in this world, and that is OK because we know that before Christ's second coming, this world will get more and more wicked/evil. But keep your faith! Don't let the grumpy kangaroos get you down or shake your faith.

    January 20, 2013 at 2:38 am |
    • bob

      you are a clown

      January 20, 2013 at 2:41 am |
    • Christy

      Awesome comment....thank you. It's great to remember that the non-believers are a tiny minority.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:42 am |
    • Greg

      @Bob – typical athiest/liberal response – name calling.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:48 am |
    • DrewNumberTwo

      "if I can't see it, smell it, or touch it, then it doesn't exist!"

      If I can't observe any evidence of something, then I have no reason to believe that it exists. Could I be wrong? Sure.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:55 am |
    • Kathleen

      Gotta love it. One fictinal book used to rationalize another fictional book.
      By the way, Dr. Suess (author of Horton Hears a who) was not a god-believer.

      And it's amusing to see how threatened the god-lovers are by those who don't embrace their fictions.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:56 am |
    • ES

      Well, since a children's story had that twist in a story.......

      Seriously, the amount of certainty by Christians in regards to their belief in things like "the second coming" and who will suffer because they did the unfathomable deed of not believing in an unseen force strong enough sounds beyond absurd. But, hey, good luck with the fables and jumps of logic you make to come up with these certainties.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:08 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      If you remember correctly Jeff, Horton was able to provide actual evidence.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:09 am |
    • God

      I sent my son Horton to you to pass the message of eternal life and you renamed him Jesus and crucified him. You are my most evil little creations and I will torment you will boils and rains of frogs and reality TV until your tiny brains boil away into soup.

      Kidding. I love you, but I'm a bit busy. If you need something, leave a message. I'll be back in about 15,000 years.

      January 20, 2013 at 4:03 am |
  7. johnnyribcage

    There are many many people that feel the same as this woman. Way more than you may think. We get tired of being looked down upon as lesser than some because we have made a personal decision not to waste our lives on a book and a cult.

    January 20, 2013 at 2:38 am |
  8. Mark Johnson

    Kept within the confines of the church? Not for strangers? That's why this discussion isn't valid from word one. This woman claims she knows about "religion" but really doesn't. The bible says we have to be embassadors for Christ and evangilize to others. Turn non believers into followers, not out of guilt or because "God is watching" but because you feel the spirit inside you. The problem with people not raising their kids in a religious setting because of the irrational view of religion she has. The Catholic Church she grew up in is more into rules and mandates. Evangelist churches are more about empowering you through Christ and his love. It's all about loving God and loving others like God loved you, regardless of your shortcomings or flaws, or "God watching you." Totally flawed arguments.

    January 20, 2013 at 2:30 am |
    • DrewNumberTwo

      Let's not forget the hellfire.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:34 am |
    • God

      I really don't work that way. Just sayin'

      January 20, 2013 at 3:54 am |
    • God

      I am God and I can say without a shred of doubt that the "bible" is not my word. Try again.

      January 20, 2013 at 4:03 am |
  9. Jeff

    They ask for proof but if God came back to earth and stood in front of them they still wouldn't believe. It would be a psychosis or hallucination or some other explanation. Most have not even read the Bible let alone understand the many prophecies that have come true at odds that are staggering, yet they still can't believe. I have had my share of "proof" including a reading from a woman that never met me before. She saw my little brother and told me he was carrying a blue bunny. Folks, when my little brother died I was 7 years old and I placed that blue bunny in the coffin with him. No one would have know about that other than my parents. Even my husband was never told about this.

    January 20, 2013 at 2:12 am |
    • Athy

      Name some prophesies (that we can all verify) that have come true. Please. Just a few.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:18 am |
    • Roger that

      'Most have not even read the Bible'

      Take off the faith blinders and read the Bible again for the first time Jeff. You will be surprised what you will find in there.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:23 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      The many prophecies of the bible are just reoccuring events in human history... what do we humans do? we wage war, there are always famines, epidemics, always some despot making a grab at power.......

      Nostradamus seems to be prophetic until you look a little closer at his writings.....

      With a lil work and 'artistic license' you can make any statement fit any situation you like....

      January 20, 2013 at 2:24 am |
    • Jeff

      In the fifth century B.C. a prophet named Zechariah declared that the Messiah would be betrayed for the price of a slave, thirty pieces of silver, according to Jewish law and also that this money would be used to buy a burial ground for Jerusalem's poor foreigners (Zechariah 11:12-13). Bible writers and secular historians both record thirty pieces of silver as the sum paid to Judas Iscariot for betraying Jesus, and they indicate that the money went to purchase a "potter's field," used, just as predicted, for the burial of poor aliens (Matthew 27:3-10).

      January 20, 2013 at 2:27 am |
    • Athy

      This is verifiable?

      January 20, 2013 at 2:32 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      @jeff

      the bible was put together over hunreds of years... 70ad through 210 ad and wasnt 'standardized' until 300 ad (google it)...if you are collecting scrolls together and them translating them..you can make things fit quite easily. easy to make a person hundreds of years before say something that fit later. sorry but the unalterible word of God is quite ,alleable.
      people can go to Great lengths to run a con...

      January 20, 2013 at 2:42 am |
    • Jeff

      This was written hundreds of years before and corroborated by secular historical figure, Josephus during the time of Caesar. It doesn't matter because you still wouldn't believe because you already know all the secrets of the universe. What do you think are the chances that someone just coincidentally hit on the exact color and type of stuffed animal that I put in my brother's coffin? Let alone that I even did this?

      January 20, 2013 at 2:45 am |
    • Jeff

      @Rev: Once again you prove the point. Your post historical restructuring of the Bible has already been thrown out as trash. You only need to take the most basic history of Religion and scripture classes to gain some education. Your argument is very weak and this is what you are basing your "atheistic" faith?

      January 20, 2013 at 2:51 am |
    • Leif

      I don't think psychic readings are recognized as "proof" by anybody, religious or not. The Bible is pretty clear about its condemnation of astrologers and the occult.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:51 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      Josephus – who he was and what he actually wrote are as convoluted as the bible...funny how christians are the only ones to pull him up. As for your personal experiances...in my personal experiance EVERYTHING has a logical expanation ...everything...even when we fail to see it. sometimes people dont see what lies behind 'Miracles' virgin mary statuecrying blood in brazil (yeah- duck blood) or the magical healing well in europe.(municiple water) ...or they are delusions and out right deceptions – as you may have guessed, i dont believe in magic.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:55 am |
    • Check

      Jeff,

      1. Don't you think that those NT story writers knew about those old-timey Hebrew tales? Pretty darn easy to incorporate them in their stories.

      2. Josephus recorded what the early Christians said about their super-hero. He did not witness a single bit of it.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:59 am |
    • Athy

      Oh, shit, Jeff. You were only seven. Everyone in your family probably knew about the blue bunny and talked about it to one another. You're reading way too much into this. Can't you see the most likely explanation for this? Get real, man. Think. Even the memories of a seven-year old kid are shaky. Mine sure as hell are. You seem to be predisposed to believe some supernatural bullshit to explain this.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:01 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      How about the prophacy that your god Jesus gave that he would return within the lifetime of the people in his time?

      Get ready for the excuses...

      "Jesus didn't literally mean what he said"

      "Jesus actually DID return"

      What excuse will it be today Jeff?

      January 20, 2013 at 3:02 am |
    • Jeff

      Keep explaining away with loose denials and arguments that are much weaker than the facts that are in front of you. The bottom line is that you don't want to believe or you would at least be open to the fact that you don't have even a 1% understanding of the universe. So how could you or any other Atheist be so closed minded to reject a the possibility of a God. You say that in your personal experience it can all be explained away. I'm still waiting for you to explain how someone could get so "lucky" and understand what I did on the day of my brother's funeral.

      As for the Bible's take on the occult, yes there is reference to that but it is also clearly stated that Bible believes in people that can see into the future and prophets. You can reject the occult or reader but you can't reject what they told me.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:04 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      Atheistic Faith?? really?

      I put my 'faith' in science because anytime i want I can reproduce for myself ANY scientific theory.... all it takes is knowlege and the mother of all labs.....(not saying im smart enough...just throwing the general point out there).

      I cant do that with god..... infact everything we know of the modern world says He just isnt there...never was.....just a con to make the masses work themselves todeath for the church under the assumption of a glorious paradise after death...how convenient....

      January 20, 2013 at 3:06 am |
    • Jeff

      So what you are saying Athy, is that if it did happen as I stated then it is pretty unbelievable coincidence. Don't change around what happened. I never told my parents that I saw this lady, it was only AFTER I told the story that they remembered what I had done and corroborated my memory. No one else was even remotely involved. But once again, you can explain away with my memory being so poor. Trust me, I can recall my brother's funeral like it was yesterday and I did not imagine this. As far as my being open to the occult. I was an Atheist for most of my life brought on by things that happened early on. There are too many coincidences and obvious signs of God everywhere. You just choose not to believe. I feel sorry for all of those that have to live like that but I pray that you will find it before it's too late.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:12 am |
    • Nope

      I believe in 3 gods. Jesus was the embodiment of the evil twin of Maggleev. He came to earth to foment war and mixed his statements with niceties. You must have faith in this or you will freeze in the afterlife which will last 666 years for all who reject Maggleev and the other 2 nameless gods.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:12 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I don't completely reject the possbility of a god. I reject the possibility of YOUR god.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:12 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      So a Jewish prophet predicted something and later Jews created the prophacy. Neat.

      If I order a steak and then the waitress BRINGS me a steak, I am a prophet.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:18 am |
    • Athy

      Jeff, believe whatever makes you comfortable. That's what we all do. I go with science, logic and reason, you go with faith and superstition. So be it.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:30 am |
    • Powers

      Interesting story about the blue bunny, Jeff, but I'm a little confused about how you're tying your "reading" to Christianity. My non-Christian professor who teaches my rhetoric and religion course at the University of Texas gave eerily accurate readings to at least three different students just last Tuesday during class, including hitting the nail on the head when he explained that one girl's uncle said he died because he was diabetic and ate too much candy in one sitting. It seems that his beliefs are just as correct as yours.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:34 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      Well Jeff,

      My stepmom has the same mindset....everything is a miracle! the rest of the family has good fortune because they are God fearing folk ..when they suffer a setback its a test or they didnt pray enough.

      When i got sick, it was because I was a blasphemous heathen and god has cursed me!...:))) (it couldnt have been that I had a fever of 108 as a kid and it cooked the hell out of my brain and set the stage for the fine affliction i have today) – oh and about that...she prayed for me then – yeah prayer sure works- lol ...just wish they had taken me to the hopital as well...

      Is all a sham...for many in history it cost them their lives...for the rest of us it merely sucks ass

      January 20, 2013 at 3:35 am |
    • DrewNumberTwo

      Cold reading. You can learn it, too.

      January 20, 2013 at 4:06 am |
    • Jeff

      I am very familiar with "cold readings" and they require a series of questions or responses. There was none of that and they also don't get as specific as the type of things I described. Again....you prove my point that it matters not what proof there is because you are not willing to believe. This ironically is discussed much in the Bible.

      January 20, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
    • Jeff

      Josephus is recognized by most scholars as being reliable as it relates to the death of Jesus and the imprisonment of John the Baptist. But nice try.

      January 20, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
  10. jonat

    CNN pretends to have a page about "belief" yet all they ever print is anti-Christian rubbish. Not fooling anyone with this tripe, except maybe a few liberals

    January 20, 2013 at 1:59 am |
    • Athy

      Feel free to stay away if you can't stand the heat.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:06 am |
    • Jay

      It's not "anti-Christian" nor is it "rubbish." This is an account of a woman instilling some common sense into her children and letting them figure it out for themselves.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:10 am |
    • fekt

      where would we ever be without such brilliant insight as this. do you assume belief is solely the purveyance of christians? They have a monopoly on it or something? I was raised christian. I figured it out before I was out of my teens what a load it was. I actually took the time to read the bible as opposed to having it selectively read to me by men trained to do exactly that. Ever wonder why your sunday sermons go from one passage to another that might be in a different book by a different author that was written hundreds of years apart instead of just continuing to the part written after? The selectively choose which text to read and which to omit to provide a narrative that suits their own ends. Where do you think the media learned it. Thousands of years of spin, it didn't just start with fox.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:32 am |
    • Leif

      Thank God for CNN's ability to post a thought-provoking story that treats atheists with respect.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:55 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Another christians that just can't stand any other opinion. Most articles on her are about christianity. Boo Hoo. Grow up.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:58 am |
  11. Russell A.

    The same thing I dislike about committed and overly vocal believers is exactly what I dislike about devout and loud athiests: both groups pretend to speak with an unflagging certainty and arrogance about their point of view and both do so with exactly the same empirical evidence-NONE. Arrogance is ugly, universally so and wrapping it around a faith or lack of one does not make it any less ugly. So, if you are one of the chosen few, be it Mormon, Baptist, Muslim, Athiest or whatever-if you've got it all figured out, don't spoil the ending for the rest of us that are still enjoying the mystery of it all.

    I have tried to raise my kids with an open and thoughtful approach that will, hopefully allow them to come to their own decisions on the matter. I try to leave them with one overriding tenet when it comes to faith, borrowed it from a book many years ago and now can't remember which one: Worship what gods you will, respect what gods there are.

    January 20, 2013 at 1:54 am |
    • DrewNumberTwo

      >Worship what gods you will, respect what gods there are.

      No on both counts. Mere existence isn't reason to give respect.

      January 20, 2013 at 1:57 am |
    • Russell A.

      I would like to thank Drew for concisely exemplifying my point and displaying the most distasteful aspect of both extreme belief and extreme non-belief: arrogance.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:21 am |
    • DrewNumberTwo

      I like to be succinct.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:32 am |
    • JeramieH

      Is it arrogance to not believe that 2+2=5? To not believe in Santa or the Tooth Fairy?

      January 20, 2013 at 2:51 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      If I were to try to be an Agnostic, and say, “I just don’t know if there is a god,” I would feel just as silly as saying “I just don’t know if there is a Tooth Fairy.” It’s not so much that we Atheists have ‘faith’ in the lack of gods, but we do have faith that theists accept fallacies as proof, most likely out of fear. This may be the same reason Agnostics will not profess true Atheism (the fear of being wrong). In the literal sense of trusting in evidence, I’m okay with being a faithful Atheist, but my faith is nowhere near the amount of unjustifiable faith required to believe in magical spirits helping us with daily activities.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:53 am |
    • tallulah13

      The thing I respect the most is the truth.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:56 am |
    • Russell A.

      I would call it arrogance to say that in amongst the billions of planets peopled by whomever, that in the mathmatical constructs that exist in their unique world that 2+2 can't equal 5. The truth is-I don't know. I know that for most intents and purposes, in our little corner of the milky way, 2+2 does come to 4. But, the creator of us all didn't give me his/her/its copy of the book with the answers in the back. So, until I come across that book, when faced with matters universal, I will avoid speaking in absolutes.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:21 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Russell,

      If you can't be certain that 2+2=4, I am not sure how you can walk out the door in the morning

      January 20, 2013 at 3:25 am |
    • DrewNumberTwo

      Math is a system made by people. We have axioms which we've declared are true, and math is built on top of them. The only reason that 2+2=4 is because we've decided that it does. We could also use a binary system in which 2 doesn't exist. Even the system we use now doesn't work well for all cases, which is why pi is written as such, instead of an infinitely long string of numbers.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:37 am |
    • Joe

      There seems to be some confusion about what atheism actually is. Atheism isn't an absolute belief that there is no God. Atheists believe that it's highly unlikely there is a God. Atheism at its heart is a rejection of absolute truth which is Distinct from Christianity which claims to have absolute truth on its side. It is for this reason that atheism and religion are fundamentally different. As an atheist I would happily acknowledge the existence of God if I was given compelling evidence of his existence. I hope that clears things up. :)

      January 20, 2013 at 9:56 am |
  12. onemorehere

    the science that athiest base their believe on is what reafirms the believe in Religion and the posibility of a creator -God.if any the porpuse of scientific discovery is to make us aware of a creator a God. Religion sets the stage for sould searching the search for discoveries knowledge of where we come from as a specie science develops as a result we become aware of the existence and need for a creator forming what we now call religion...if its true that science stams from Religious thinkers it also true that science reafirms while making us aware of our religious believe.

    January 20, 2013 at 1:52 am |
    • Seyedibar

      Science is not required to discount religion. All modern religions have been discredited through historical record, anthropology study, and etymology. There may in fact be gods somewhere out there, but it isn't the one in any known bibles.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:07 am |
    • Jay

      You are obviously an idiot. Also, your grammar is terrible.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:07 am |
    • Athy

      onemorhere, you really need to work on spelling, grammar and punctuation. Otherwise no one will understand you. We use English here.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:15 am |
    • Nope

      There are 7 gods, goddesses and beast-gods who created and control you. The beast-god Klushik decreed that you would post this. It was prophecied before the internet existed. Truth cannot be fought. You can accept Klushik or suffer the ruination of eternal ennui in the afterlife.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:15 am |
  13. Joel-B

    Dear Golden Rule Mom.... I just have a couple questions... Who gave you life ??? Who let you take you're first breath, and knows when you will take your'er last ??? How did the universe, life, earth, the air we breath , and the difference between right and wrong come to being ??? Do you honestly believe that "ALL OF THIS CREATION JUST SORT OF HAPPENED" ??? You said, in one sentence that "THEIR IS NO SUPERNATURAL ANYTHING" !!! In other words, you mocked GOD, JESUS AND THE HOLY SPIRIT in just one short sentence ??? If nothing else, please explain just how you think "THIS ENTIRE UNIVERSE CAME INTO BEING"... THANKS, AND GOD BLESS...

    January 20, 2013 at 1:44 am |
    • dan

      folks like you are the reason that religion is taking a downward turn. All Caps is nice. I can almost hear you telling me to vote republican.

      January 20, 2013 at 1:49 am |
    • DrewNumberTwo

      Let's assume that she has no idea how anything happened, ever. So what? That doesn't mean that God did it.

      January 20, 2013 at 1:50 am |
    • Roger that

      Who gave her life? Uh...that would be her parents. I'm sure her parents love her very much and don't expect her to worship them. Now you want her to explain the meaning of life? You certainly won't find the answer in your hate filled book of myths.

      January 20, 2013 at 1:52 am |
    • Athy

      Geez, Joel-B. That's got to be one of the worst written comments I've ever read here. My fifth-grade grandson can write better. Misspelled words, shitty grammar, lousy punctuation. You didn't get anything right. Typical religie.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:02 am |
    • Dave

      Joel....there you go! You act like what you believe in is the ultimate truth and there is no other option. Nobody has to explain anything about their belief to anybody. IF you believe so much in God and JC, then why is there murder? Why is there evil everywhere if God is all mighty and all powerful? God should be stopping all crimes to the Ten Commandements.You can't give a correct answer except a make-belive answer that others have taught down to you. Look at the history of the Bible. Look who controlled what is in it. The victors. Just as in anything, those that win a war dictate what goes into history and docuemnts. Throughout history, man has changed the Bible and determined what goes into it. What about all of the other commandements that are not spoken of? It is so easy to make something up....because we cannot fathom that there is NOTHING after we die. We are thinking living beings right now but we can't imagine what comes after our heart stops beating. Humans made up a story. There was no Hell but there is now after it was added centuries later.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:08 am |
    • Russell A.

      First off: Yes, it could well be that the chain of events that let us develop on this nice watery planet, just the right distance from the sun was a series of happy accidents of biology and some really big rocks crashing together and the whole thing required nothing from anyones deity. It could and probably has happened on any number of other watery rocks, just the right distance from their respective suns. And, just as easily, the whole chain of dominos could have recieved its inital finger poke from someone's God. We don't know. Scientists hypothesize. Religious leaders refer to books written by men long before the development of microscopes and satellite telescopes. One group changes its mind based on new findings, one group thought the earth was flat... until somebody sailed around it. From your comments, and many others posting here, your thoughts on the matter were formed from a book, written by men variously between 1800 and and little over 2000 years ago and serially translated from ancient texts by other men throughout the centuries. Just as science allows for updates based on new information, allow yourself to incorporate new thought. I think Jesus would have.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:15 am |
    • Seyedibar

      At least you ask easy questions.
      1.) her parents
      2.) herself
      3.) the state of being is eternal. Matter can't not-exist. Right and wrong are only concepts, not actual reality.
      4.) like most educated people, she likely does.

      The God you're referring to was originally the kings that led ancient Canaan and later the pharoahs of extended Egypt. Jesus did not exist. He is an amalgamation of 2 or more messianic groups with the miracles borrowed from other religions. There may be gods somewhere in the universe, but Christianity/Judaism/Islam are pure folklore and king worship.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:25 am |
    • tallulah13

      Joel, your ignorance is not proof of god.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:58 am |
    • Nope

      Smeej and Tlowak, the twin sister goddesses of Ur-Loon created you and caused you to write this. Your work here is done. Go now and be rewarded in the afterlife with eternal warmth and happiness.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:17 am |
  14. americavoice

    It does not matter to me in the slightest what any one individual believes in. Unless those beliefs are pushed into or used with an agenda and when the belief(s) are completely comprised by faith.
    Many of my friends and family members are religious. My dearest friend is Jewish. My mother, an atheist, has been married to a Jewish man for over 30 years. My father, whom has died recently, was a devote Christian|Gideon.
    There are many contributing factors that make-up any one individual. Though, I am known to be quite passionate when someone attempts to proselytize to me. I figure if someone is going to push their beliefs unto me, well, than I have every right to require proof. I of course, realize that (not) any one of them have the required proof. IE: Faith. I suppose, a bit of me or quite possibly a lot of me wishes that they will examine their own core beliefs. Unfortunately, the result is at most circular. So in the meantime, I am left, we are left with some that believe extraordinary things without extraordinary evidence and wish for us to drink their invisible punch.

    January 20, 2013 at 1:38 am |
    • God

      You lost me. Sorry. Can you repeat that in Ammenite? I read faster in Ammenite.

      January 20, 2013 at 3:57 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      Wheres Jill when you need her?

      or Psychward stsff?

      January 20, 2013 at 4:32 am |
  15. SergeantFunk

    I've occasionally had athiest friends admit that they indeed have a faith of sorts. That faith is simply science, nature, mother earth, etc. Being very fervent in their beliefs (like an ordinary religion), I can seldom convince them that their beliefs are wrong or false. And name calling certainly gets me nowhere.

    I only state to them similarly, that saying hurtful things, calling my beliefs 'archaic' or 'mind controlling' also is pointless. I believe and cannot be deterred so easily. I experienced something supernatural, and if others have not, so be it.

    Sometimes we must accept to disagree on issues of faith. And that's ok. I don't have to convince everyone about Christ. Though if asked about my faith, I am happy to talk about it.

    January 20, 2013 at 1:31 am |
    • LinCA

      @SergeantFunk

      How does your belief in your god differ from a belief in the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny?

      January 20, 2013 at 1:35 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      Faith is a belief w/o proof
      Atheism is NOT believing in god(s)
      atheism is NOT a belief
      to 'believe' in science is to look at the EVIDENCE science gathers and conclude that it makes sense.

      January 20, 2013 at 1:42 am |
    • Neil_in_AZ

      Sorry, but to avoid most rational minded people from expressing a certain lack of respect for your faith, you'll have to do better than "I experienced something supernatural". Think about it for a minute...How many billions of other people of faith in other gods (Isis, Allah, Zues, Shiva, etc...) have given the same evidence over the course of history? Either your faith is correct, or someone else's faith is correct, or none of them are correct. Oh but of course it is your faith that lives in the truth, right?

      January 20, 2013 at 1:51 am |
  16. Reagan80

    If it's anti God, anti gun, anti white, or anti American, CNN will trumpet it for weeks.

    January 20, 2013 at 1:30 am |
    • renonow2

      Well...thank The Great Spirit somebody will report that stuff.

      January 20, 2013 at 1:43 am |
    • God

      I control CNN and caused them to publish this stuff. Do NOT question my judgement! I am the Lord and I gave my son to you. And now you question me!?! You will burn!

      January 20, 2013 at 3:59 am |
  17. josephf

    well said golden rule mom! i may add believers are similar to fanatics which they detest and despise. plus religion is about control both mind and body. its the most evil cult ever invented/discovered. its imaginary comfort for the hopeless who don't want to face reality.

    January 20, 2013 at 1:16 am |
  18. GP

    Because there are many religions, none can be the perfect or final. The need for god may be a psychological necessity of human mind, for those who can accept weakness at lest some times. But can it be not same as the concept of god?. For me both tend to merge. In favour of comfort and defeating unexplained fear in mind, I tend to accept it as god (the ideal) when my logic is not overwhelming (which used to be and earned a doctorate in expansion theory of universe). Can logic be applied anywhere anytime?. I got tired of doing it over decades, and I even think the wise people (?) devised religions to save people from this life long wandering in search of the same answer.

    January 20, 2013 at 1:06 am |
  19. bam

    why would a 3 year old even ask about this HEAVEN thing.... what adult started the brainwashing? ah yes the grandparents. cant offend the elders... and religious faerie tales flow onward

    January 20, 2013 at 12:58 am |
    • The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

      Yup good ol granpa....

      Be aware the power elite Do Not want religion to fold.....if the poor church going pop stops voting republican..the relpublican party will fold..If the republican party folds, the two party system comes crashing down...and all their work to lock out We, the People from our government will be ruined.

      January 20, 2013 at 1:11 am |
  20. Golden Rule Mom

    My whole life as a Christian, I never saw a bit of proof. Ever. From anyone at anytime. It didn't matter to me because I was insane and participating in a group psychosis. Now I am free. I'm not in your nasty little cult anymore.
    Sincerity is not proof that something is true.
    Dying for something does not make it true.
    We are not liable for what other people do if we were not involved in the first place.
    Emotional feedback is not proof that something is true.
    Emotions and feelings have no relation to the truth. They are caused by brain chemicals, not by anything supernatural.
    The Bible is a mishmash of different fables and extreme exaggerations and outright lies.
    Every so-called holy text in existence is made-up.
    I could go on, but why should I bother? When you are a participant in the group psychosis, you are a prisoner of the mind.
    What believer will listen to reason regarding their faith or what it's based on...when reason opposes religion?
    Many believers do not like to think about other religions in a way that might show the weaknesses in their own religion.
    They refuse to question the very causes of their religion. They think they already know it, yet they have never seen any proof of it themselves.
    I remember what it was like and how lobotomized I felt when deep in "faith."
    I can recreate my "faith" just by remembering how it felt.
    I KNOW that "faith" is a mental disconnect with perception and reality and awareness.
    It is a mental filter that strangles a person's ability to think realistically about almost everything.

    Religion has shown time and time again that it is nothing but group-psychosis that is also a giant hoax on the victims.
    Like any group-psychosis, most inside of it find companionship, comfort, and repeated reinforcement of the "tenets" and special propaganda and anything that can be used to explain any obvious hole in the shared-psychotic-belief.

    Hey, when I busted out of it, I made sure I was correct in every supposition. My faith was deep, but I clawed my way out and escaped the clutches of anyone who might use my religion against me by making sure I was being reasonable about it.
    Logic and common sense and science knowledge are tools for freedom from delusion. Any delusion.

    Proof is impossible because there is no "God", no "Jesus", no "Holy Spirit", no supernatural anything.
    There is no way I'd ever willingly pretend that a lie is true.

    That's why I'm an atheist. I'm more honest than you believers.

    January 20, 2013 at 12:56 am |
    • tallulah13

      Congratulations on being brave enough to think for yourself.

      January 20, 2013 at 1:01 am |
    • JesusNotReligion

      Your's is sad tale of woe...The Bible calls you a "fool" (Psalm 14:1).
      Draw something on a piece of paper and have someome ask you how it got there. How foolish it would be to hear them say to you, its creator, that they "believed" your pen blew up and it just happened by chance.
      I would ask, "Where did the pen (and the ink for that matter) come from?
      Get the picture? Make sense yet? Take a look at creation with new eyes, O believer in atheism...Think about what I've written while I sleep...
      JesusNotReligion

      January 20, 2013 at 1:10 am |
    • fsmgroupie

      jesusnotreligion
      check out psalm137:9 you could be a much happier xtiam if you " taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones" god's word

      January 20, 2013 at 1:26 am |
    • john

      I don't condemn people for believing what they believe because I am trying to understand why they think the way they think.How do the non-believers explain their existence in this world and the extraordinary functions that the body performs? From rocks smashing against each other? From monkeys? Where did each of these come from to begin with? I try to remain open minded and listen to people's viewpoints to try and understand what different people think.Putting people down for believing or not believing does not make their argument any more valid.

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

      You are too honest !. That would be making you less honest to your self, but only to logic. Self may not agree with logic always !.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:02 am |
    • Bob Bales

      "I KNOW that "faith" is a mental disconnect with perception and reality and awareness." No, you do not. This is what you believe, based on your experiences. But there are millions of Christians. You do not know the faith of each nor what has led them to the beliefs they have. (A Christian in China, North Korea, or Iran is quite unlikely to have been raised that way since childhood.) Therefore, you cannot know that there is a disconnect between their thinking and reality. You say that you have made sure your suppositions are true. Yet you have made many statements about people of faith, God, and the Bible, which you cannot show to be true.
      It is a mental filter that strangles a person's ability to think realistically about almost everything.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:03 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      JesusNotReligion,

      The reason we as humans know what is "created" vs what is "not created" by intelligence is because we can compare the two. If everything is "created" how do we define "not created" by intelligence. It make the concept, and your argument, meaningless.

      Golden Rule Mom,

      You go girl! You are not alone, keep thinking for yourself, your children and mine, will thank us.

      January 20, 2013 at 2:49 am |
    • Russell A.

      There is oxygen all around us. How do we know? Because we are alive. We can't see the oxygen, smell the oxygen, taste the oxygen, but we know it's there. A scientist of some stripe could probably measure it somehow, but for most of us the existence of an odorless, tasteless, colorless gas that is required for life and is all around us is something we take on...faith. After a period of days or weeks or years, you may know this to be the case because of your experience of the lack of oxygen, perhaps from the climbing of a mountain. At that point you no longer require faith in oxygen, because you have had a personal experience with and of, oxygen and even develop a trust of oxygen that allows you to move your thoughts completely away from oxygen.There are many such examples of faith than that of the custom of relegating ones baby teeth to a benevolent spirit (the tooth fairy) so that they don't fall into the hands of evil spirits who might use them to cast spells over you. So , tooth fairies and under-bed monsters aside, is so hard to accept that there might be some life giving force that inviviates all that is?

      Another example:
      Was listening to a program on NPR. The hosts were interviewing a group of genetic engineers. This group of people can make an E-Coli that smells like banana. it was all very complicated, but they can introduce genes that fundamentally change the workings of a cell. They always started with a living host. They know the genetic make-up and possess all of the component material, but they must start with a living cell. As one of the researchers pointed out,(forgive the paraphrase) we can make a living cell do something different, but we can't yet make a living cell. Something extra-human must engage the life force. What is that? Science is still looking, so for the time being, anything wrong with calling it God?

      January 20, 2013 at 3:07 am |
    • Christina

      Dear Golden Rule Mom; You absolutely have a right to your beliefs. I love that in this country we have the choice to worship or not, as we see fit. I respectfully request that you RESPECT, others' rights to their beliefs without be getting nasty.

      Have a very nice day.

      January 20, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • JesusNotReligion

      @fsmgroupie...Take a baggie of flour and a box of pasta...Look at it, look at it...Ask yourself: How did the flour get to be flour? Then ask : How did the flour then turn into that box of pasta? Now perhaps you will eat your false god and surrender to the One True God who created you.

      Cheese...
      You wrote: "The reason we as humans know what is "created" vs what is "not created" by intelligence is because we can compare the two. If everything is "created" how do we define "not created" by intelligence. It makes the concept, and your argument, meaningless"

      >>>You didn't address my full comment...Where did the pen and the ink come from? And, my point is that "creation" (something that shows design, form, function and order) communicates INTELLIGENT DESIGN, just like a person communicates their existence and intelligence in/through something they create – even if it is as simple as a drawing on paper..You can try to cheese your way out that truth but you'd be sticking your intelligently designed foot in your own mouth...and breaching basic (and universally accepted) rules of logic that us humans work with and apply in all the sciences...

      "You are not alone, keep thinking for yourself, your children and mine, will thank us."
      >>>Your children will rise up and destroy you because they will have been taught by you that they are nothing more than evolved animals with no moral consequence for doing so...and then they die – going to the same non-existent state as everyone who didn't rise up to kill their parents.

      January 27, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
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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.