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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. Sydney

    It would be nice to have an article on the millions of God fearing mothers in American that raise wonderful children teaching them to worship the one and only true God and creator. Just look at your kids and babies, the universe, flowers, animals, how the solar system keeps in line and operates, the seasons, and thousands of other proofs that GOD DID CREATE ALL THESE THINGS AND KEEPS THEM OPERATING. Utterly imposible that all this "just happened" ?????? Think a little and trust God with all your heart and tell your kids the truth about God. They will thank you in the future for teaching them the obvious, proper place God has in their lives.

    January 20, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • JWT

      Actually my children have thanked me for not filling their live with the illusions of fake gods.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • JJ

      How 'bout cracking open a second grade Science text book and learn something for a change. Reading only your bronze age multi-translated, multi-revised book written by sheep humpers and listening to only your pastor is not an education.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Gaunt

      Which god are you talking to? There are lots of mothers who raise their kids to believe lots of mythical gods, all of whom believe with the same blind zealousness that you do.

      Oh and the existence of a thing is not proof, nor is it evidence for the supernatural creation of a thing. Even trying to make that argument pretty must demonstrates your inability to engage in critical or logical thought of any kind.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • JWT

      Actually my children have thanked me for not filling their live with the illusions of fake gods. The gods have their proper place in my children's hearts.

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

      "Utterly imposible that all this "just happened"

      Your lack of understanding in the nature of reality is by no means an argument for your "god of the gaps". How do you know it is impossible? Clearly we live in a reality that IS possible. What isn't clear is the influence of your supposed god. Everything we've discovered points to the natural having natural causes. Until you demonstrate where god is required you're just blowing smoke.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • Danielle

      Amen Sydney! I agree! You have a better chance of seeing that on Fox new though!

      January 20, 2013 at 10:30 am |
  2. Kebos

    Kudos to Ms Mitchell. Well done!

    January 20, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • John

      Unfortunately for Mitchell she missed the significance of religion in world history and politics that is here forever whether we like it or not. You can choose to believe or not believe, but to choose to not know is choosing to be ignorant in the ways and realities of the world. The US was founded on people searching for religious freedom, and governments, war, politics, borders around the world are all rooted in some sort of religion. It is impossible to understand history, which is necessary to navigate thru the future without this fundamental knowledge. How will she explain the Isreali/Palestinean border dispute?? How will she explain the pilgrims plight or the Bill of Rights, not to mention the saying on all of or money " in God we trust".

      January 20, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • Timothy

      Seriously John, that's such a lame argument. Children will learn those things in history but it will never make any god real.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • sc8920

      When I read all of the post in response to the article, I see many views that are correct. As Christians, we should love all people. And, please keep in mind, we're human so that's not always easy. I also have many questions about why things happen? Why do people that obviously do bad things, have a good life on this earth? If God knows every hair on every head and knows all, why does he allow bad things to happen? I've heard many theories on this, but I'm still struggling with those questions. I don't look down on anyone. If I hear someone say "Thank God" for this or that, that seems to say that God interacted in this life to make something good happen, so my thinking is if God does that, why then doesn't he interact to stop something bad from happening. ........So, you see, I have questions just like this lady

      January 20, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • No big deal

      Well said SC8920. I totally feel where you are comming from with that.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:47 am |
  3. CNN The. Masters Of Spin

    I noticed that in all the "so-called" agnostic, non-believer remarks are found the narcistic terms "my child/children".......did YOU create that life? Can you create a life, a tree, a bird, anything? If being "free" to not believe is so vital to you, why bother trying to encourage others to be like you? It is still true today...."The fool has said in his heart, there is no God".... Yes Ma'am, God is Real & one day we ALL will stand before this Thrice Holy God & give an account for ALL our deeds & the wrath of This God will surely be rash on all those who have pushed their non belief on those who were seeking the Truth!

    January 20, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • JWT

      The wrath of your non-existant fairy god has me laughing in my boots. My children were created by their parents just as i was created by my parents.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • Kebos

      @CNN The Masters: no, we won't. Neither you nor I will stand before anything when we die. We die, we cease to exist. Simple as that. Stop looking for some grand plan where one doesn't exist.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Idle threats. What you consider truth is bereft of justification. You are entitled to your own opinion. You are not entitled to your own facts.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • JJ

      Grow a brain and get a clue.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Saraswati

      So Christians you know go around saying "God's child to whom I gave birth got an A on his math test yesterday"?

      January 20, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  4. Donna

    I respect her opinion and her right to express it. It seems to me that other atheists I've encountered express a common theme of the idea that others believe in God because they need to think there is an afterlife, etc. As if only those who are too weak to give in to the idea of ceasing to exist after death are believers. It is fine if you don't believe and want to express your opinion, but please don't look down on those of us who know there is a God and an afterlife as being too weak to believe otherwise.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • tnfreethinker

      Maybe what you perceive to be disrespect is actually a snippy response to your disrespect of the non-believer. While I am very vocal in my non-belief, I try to be respectful. But when I hear things like the Newtown tragedy happened because we took God out of schools, I feel very disrespected myself. And yes, I just might snap back at you with some cold hard facts. Have a nice day.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • No big deal

      It's a catch 22...

      If an ompnitpotent God exists than He just stands there and lets our deaths happen when it could have been prevented.

      But if there isn't one there is no after life, nothing to look forward too and death is the big nada.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:38 am |
  5. Blah

    The is no Jesus, there is only Zuul!

    January 20, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  6. TSB

    I wonder how many Christ followers are going to be verbally insulting in response to this.. Kind of defies there beliefs of what they are Told to believe if you ask me.

    Signed,
    A Spiritual, inner soul believer of just do the right thing thing because its the right thing to do,,non god believer.(god intentionally lower cased)

    January 20, 2013 at 8:55 am |
  7. Lou Vignates

    Is it so surprising that human beings want to deny the reality of their humanity? Adopting a belief that one has a "soul" that will survive after one's body expires can be very comforting for someone who fears inevitable death. Many people are eager to believe what is not so, if believing releives them of worry or fear. However, believing something that is not so does not make it so.
    Ah, if only all girls could marry Prince Charming; if only all boys could marry a Princess. Fantasies have great appeal.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:52 am |
  8. Actually

    The rise of atheism is inevitable, a tide that christianity nor any religion can't hold back, because reason and logic will eventually prevail. When atheists can claim the majority the religious folks of the world can rest assured that we will treat them much more humanely than they ever treated us.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • AnotherAgnosticMom

      I wish there was a "like" button here! Perfectly and eloquently stated in two simple sentences.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • No big deal

      I think people can be more honest about where they are with stuff like that. There are times in my own life I've believed in different things, or not in different things. For me it's been more a testimony to my own emotional state at the time.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • Skippy

      Yep, as humanely as Joseph Stalin, and Mao, and Pol Pot, and Ho Chi Minh, and Castro, and Che. Ahh, the good old days of enlightened humanism.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:48 am |
    • Skippy

      Just look at the witch hunts going on now by the left in this country. Thank God, we're still pretty stable here. But man, if they had un-checked power . . . Christians, gun owners, SUV drivers, people who think and speak wrongly (hate speech), dessert eaters, smokers, people who use more than they "need". They'd all be rounded up and sent to re-education camps!

      January 20, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      I find it interesting that no one ever challenges the merits of a secular humanism worldview. Perhaps because it can't be attacked as causing human suffering. None of the atheist regimes linked to histtorical atrocities by theists were humanistic ones. Go figure.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:56 am |
    • Dagorath

      I hope you're right, but I fear that much remains to be seen. As cruel as religions can make people, they also bind them together. Unfortunately, religion tends to coincide with nationallity – even in a culture like ours where state and church are supposed to be separate. If nationalism and religious affiliation disappear together, than we will all be a bunch of mongrels fighting for our piece of the pie with no cohesive effort. This is the death of a nation.

      To be clear. I'm not religious; I just question the assumption that things will be better without religion as a dominant force.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • Skippy

      @Steve – you are applying the "No true Scotsman" fallacy. Christians can (and do) play that game. Point to leader you don't like, who did bad things, and someone can say, "Well he wasn't a true Christian." A dumb game to play.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • Actually

      What well reasoned responses. All true and valid. Restores my "faith".
      You are correct of course, atrocities need not be be committed in the name of any religion, non-religiion will do just as well.
      Can't say I agree 100% with Skippy however there is some validity there. Unchecked power in the hands of anyone is a recipe for disaster.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Skippy

      Funny. I can point to many examples where religious ideology promotes intolerance. Care to cite exactly where secular humaniism does the same? I think not.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Jif is Better

      Look, peanut butter(skippy). With the exception of Stalin, none of those despots you mentioned are(were) athiests! They each had their own religion. I noticed you didn't mention Hitler, a noted Christian! You should get your facts straight!

      January 20, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • ??

      @ skippy doodle.What's a witch hunt ?

      January 20, 2013 at 10:34 am |
  9. No big deal

    I think if you don't believe in God its where you are at with it...and if you do believe it's where you're at with it. I think it's okay either way.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • JWT

      Of course it's fine as long as people don't try to legislate their position to be the only one.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • John

      No, it is not "OK". Most people do not have even the slightest idea of what God is capable of, and for the blind to tell people to reject him, with their self professed knowledge that "he isn't there don't worry about it", is the height of ignorant rambling. It's roughly the same as that same person saying the fastest super computers on the planet, can't add 2 single digit integers and get an accurate answer. God is described by witnesses as doing miracles beyond anything man himself is capable of, including creating a universe, but the ignorant will still puff themselves up, and tell everyone to reject God, with nothing but their claim that they know he isn't there. God exists.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:53 am |
    • No big deal

      An atheist isn't going to take your word for it, that there is one, any more than you are going to take their word for it that there "isnt'" one.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • John only know what he reads in old books

      Hey John. Tell us about a modern miracle. One that can actually be checked for accuracy! All those old fables were made up and nobody is alive to refute them!

      January 20, 2013 at 9:46 am |
  10. AnotherAgnosticMom

    I'm a single mom of two - now 17 and 19. We're all atheist / agnostic and just fine. I was raised Catholic (even went to parochial grade school!) and both of my kids were baptized in the catholic church and went all the way through their first communion. Shortly after that, they were given the choice to step away from religion. If either of them wanted to continue, I would not have stopped them. Both of my young adult children are happy, smart and well-adjusted.

    In my house, the bible is called "the big storybook" because that's all it is... a bunch of stories passed down from generations past that somebody compiled. There's scientific evidence on evolution and none on creationism. So what do I believe? Easy: the version backed by facts.

    Where was your god during Newtown, or Aurora, or Columbine, or 9/11, or even while I watched my grandmother and aunt dying from cancer? Don't give me some "lesson" excuse. Give me something REAL, that I can see, touch, and that is backed by facts and not old stories. Then we'll talk. Until then, I'm a recovering catholic, not believing in any of it. You don't like how I raised my kids? Get in line with the rest of them. Doesn't bother me one bit.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • No big deal

      I'm sorry for your grama's struggle with cancer. I'm watching my mom go through that right now, it's horrible. Definetly the worst thing I've ever had to go through. You have my sympathies.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:43 am |
    • Sherron Teal

      I raised 3 sons without religion. Religion is not necessary to raise good kids. The South is the most judgmental place on earth and yet the most religious. Go figure!

      January 20, 2013 at 8:44 am |
  11. DD

    My son is a fine young man, an upstanding moral citizen who is studying engineering & has a bright future ahead of him.
    He is also religion-free, that is, was never raised in any religious organization. I never said he didn't have faith. He was raised to be free to choose from his multi-religious heritage. That's right, it's HIS choice not mine.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • John

      My dad told me to believe the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, the one that sent Jesus to die for the sins of those that would believe him. He was right. If you had brought me up, I never would have known the truth.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • John only know what he reads in old books

      Yes, John, believe in your 'merciful' god. The one that killed millions on a whim. The biggest mass-murderer of all time......or he doesn't exist and it all was coincidence.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:50 am |
  12. Larry

    I admire her courage to say it as she sees it. One may or may not agree with her, but it's important that her point of view be represented openly. If you're religious, fine, but so many others pay lip service to religions they don't believe in, just to avoid criticism. Many answer their childrens' questions about God with answers that they themselves don't even believe, just to avoid the discomfort of a straight answer.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:33 am |
  13. Danielle

    I feel so sorry for this woman and how she raises her children. It is sad the way your were negativly exposed to religion . But it is real and God is Beautiful. I should not have to hide my beliefs that are the tueth because you are ignorant and short sight to the world of truth around you.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • JWT

      Nor should she have to hide her truth because people like you look down on her.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • AnotherAgnosticMom

      Nobody said you have to hide your beliefs. Just don't judge others, and don't shove your religion down our throats. You have what you believe, and we have what we believe. Simple as that.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • TSB

      I wonder how many Christ followers are going to be verbally insulting in response to this.

      Signed,
      A Spiritual, inner soul believer of just do the right thing thing because its the right thing to do,,non God believer.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • Nicholas

      You don't have to hide your beliefs. Nobody is saying that. Rather it is the agnostic or atheist that has to hide their–disbelief–because of people like you.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • coyote - sherman

      In the south for 30 years – I have done both. Now I am vehement although my real beliefs are changing and not due to the Jesus immersion. but rather the common sense from another philosopher. Yesterday I was told to have a blessed day upon leaving a store – I said I will not! Separation of Church and state!!! but of course I am not going to change them. The smug assumption that we are all simple minded sheep used to bother me, now I literally do not care what they think – They don't come up the drive anymore trying to talk to me about God because a lecture on physics is not fun for them and the sign now says, God can not give you permission to trespass. – but most of all because I want to discuss how two tenants, two ideas changed the course of human history, eye for an eye and turn the other cheek, leading me to ask them, what do you think is going to be the next one. People do not like to think. I am left blessedly alone. My two kids learned all about God in public schools. some separation.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:52 am |
    • No big deal

      Don't hide just to please someone else. I've been interested in alot of different religions, some popular, some not but one thing I can tell you is you have to be true to yourself and if someone doesn't like you too bad. Just give others the same respect you deserve.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:55 am |
    • BillH

      Danielle, read all of what you just said. Calling people ignorant and short sighted – is that what your wonderful religion teaches you? Your religious beliefs, outside of your ignorant comments about others, is yours to enjoy. Others may have different opinions or beliefs and that should be theirs to enjoy.
      I myself grew up with religion. Along with learning about the religious aspect, I watched other kids get beaten by nuns and priests. Just wonderful people. That wasn't for me and I stopped practicing my religion. No anger, just stopped.
      My life is filled with smiles, appreciation for others, holding doors for people, giving blood, helping those that need help and more. I raised my non-religious kids to be the same way. Nothing wrong with that, in my opinion, although I have been told by some religious people that I and my children will go to h$ll when we die. If your god is that angry, I don't think I want heaven anyway.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • Dave H

      Danielle

      You are the ignorant one!

      Don't feel sorry for her or me or anyone else like us. The fact you need a crutch to get through life is your choice. Also since you like picking out other peoples percieved flaws I said you were ignorant. Have you ever heard of a dictionary?

      January 20, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Danielle

      Oh so religion is a crutch. If being part of a community that does good for everyone around it. Believes in something more then themselves,educates, and brings in peace. So by your alls standards I am a sheep and ignorant. Well Bah Bah. and hitting the wrong key on the computer makes me ignorant how will I live with myself. You've really hurt my feeling now. Its funny when people put out facts and you don't agree with them or have an opinion against them how people jump on them. geese i want to just like you guys!

      January 20, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • Danielle

      Ah but if you read the Article it say She wishes for Religion to be at home. That I should not be free to express my religion out in the world. I would never take an atheist right to express there ideas in the world. But Atheist feel the need to take away Christian right to express there belief in public. Did you know atheist have fought to take a soldier right to have pray said at there funerals at Arlington cemetery because it is a public place. I am sorry but I would never fight to have anything happen or not happen at a soldiers funeral after they fought for their country. But Atheist groups fight for these kind of things every day. How is this or their actions against Christians right?

      January 20, 2013 at 10:39 am |
  14. madison55

    It is comforting to know there are people in this world that think like Ms. Mitchell. I also grew up an atheist but was given a choice if I wanted to choose and be religious. It's that I chose not to. My mother and sister are believers but my father wasn't.
    I actually never thought my children to be atheists or believers. I was just completely honest with them when they asked me about the existence of God, heaven and hell. I truly believe that it's much more difficult to be an honest, compassionate, respectful atheist person than a religious individual who believes in heaven and hell. Because I am not afraid of a God! I am good because I believe that's the right way to be. I don't steal, lie, kill or commit adultery because I'm afraid to go to hell. I don't because I think those are morally wrong acts and I have thought that to my children who are responsible, honest, hard working adults in this society.
    I do agree with Ms. Mitchell that it's terrifying to know that there's not afterlife and this life is the only one we have. So much more the reason, however, to live it well, respectful of others and leave it behind with a good conscience!

    January 20, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      The idea that there is no afterlife isn't terrifying. It is exactly like what you experienced before you were born. Utterly insensate. There is no reason to expect any part of your psyche will survive the death of your brain. On the contrary a belief that some part of you continues forever after you die diminshes this life to one of complete insignificance. Without it this life becomes one of paramount importance. Live well because to waste it on fruitless pursuits is a terrible loss.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • coyote - sherman

      not believing in god doesn't mean there is nothing after this life. In fact I think most definitely something goes on – electrons can not be created or destroyed and as such they carry the memory of everything they have every been part of. – wow. everything. I agree with you, if someone has to tell you what is good and what is bad...well maybe you haven't picked up enough electrons yet... and when they leave where they have been – they come back to other electrons that they have been entwined with no matter how far away they are...which is cooler than cool. -

      January 20, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • BD56

      Maddison55, I actually find great comfort in the fact that there is no afterlife. Think about whatever it is that you like doing the most. Now imagine doing it for a million years. Getting tired of it? How about a trillion years? I'm glad there is and end.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:06 am |
  15. 13directors

    A drawback to not going to church is the lost opportunity to teach volunteerism. When the churches get it right they earn their tax free status. When they get it wrong, which is such the case of many churches, they deserve to be stripped of this privilege. And I'm not so much talking about the way they tell their parishioners to vote either. Clearly this is an issue that is at the heart of this matter, but a bigger issue for me lies within their mission statement, of which many state is to develop and grow their flock. So basically we're subsidizing their growth by diverting funds away from education and poorly funded state programs. I'm all about feeding and clothing the poor, but do it because it's needed, not because you're looking for converts.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • Danielle

      you want to take away tax credit away from the church but did you know when disaster strike it the churches that get there first to help people faster then the government. And they stay there long after the government leaves to help people get on there feet. Feed and clothing the poor churches percentage are way high then the government can ever dream of doing. They are to busy giving themselves raises. Churches give free after school care and tutoring programs were does any atheist or government group do this. They are to worried about themselves and spreading lies while christian are out there helping people. Stop trying to take away peoples right to religion and get there and help the people in need and do some good in the world.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • coyote - sherman

      scouting

      January 20, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Really??

      Danielle
      I direct you to J apan, Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark, Belgium etc, where religions are down, more than 1/2 say they have no religion , and yet they have social programs that work far better than the attempts of "christians"...
      Again Danielle, study up, then try again.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • 13directors

      As I said, when they get it right, they get it right.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • 13directors

      Danielle, there are many churches who don't do anything like you suggest. They're sole mission is to grow their flock so as to convert more people to think and behave their way. And I don't mind you being religious, nor do I want to tell you how to practice your faith, but I would ask you to quit assuming that I'm unhappy and selfish because I don't worship Jesus.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • Danielle

      13, I never call anyone selfish but there are many people who are. Please name the Christian church that its sole focus is growing there flocks and don't go out and help people.

      January 20, 2013 at 12:05 pm |
  16. Skippy

    When I have kids, I'm not going to give them any hang-ups, man. I'm going to treat them like grown ups, man. I don't believe in head-trips and hang ups, man. Like, they're going to be totally free to do whatever they want. It'll be so freeing and beautiful, man.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • 13directors

      Teaching individualism will take a little more effort and focus than that.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:31 am |
  17. notmyown

    The reason people do not choose to believe in God is because they do not want to be held accountable for their actions and the Bible holds you accountable all on it's own. And this is the same reason the Catholic church doesn't follow the Bible. They like other so called Christian religions, make up rules and in the past forced their beliefs on the people. The term Christian means follower of Christ, and the only place his expectations of us are written and that is in the bible.

    Of course if their is no God like many claim, then it doesn't matter if people are killed or commit crimes, because it is all "survival of the fittest", right? True Christianity is the only faith around that guarantees a life in heaven after death. All other religions either hope they are good enough or have done enough deeds, to get there or they actually think they are becoming gods themselves.

    The downfall of this nations coincides with peoples lack of faith in God and it will only get worse until God allows this nation to crumble, and it will.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • Actually

      Actually the reason people choose not to believe is because there is no evidence to support gods existence. Show me some and I may change my mind. Any. At all. To do otherwise is only to delude yourself.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • Caz in BOS

      Strange perspective. As an atheist, I consider myself, alone, to bear full consequences of my actions. No 'sorry, I sinned, please save me.'

      January 20, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • Really??

      You saw a guarantee in the bible, really?? I've read it several times and have never seen any guarantees.
      What I have seen is a bunch of impossible stories that amazes me when someone tells me they believe what is written in it.

      Men created the bible, because it is easy to control people through their beliefs. If I make you believe what I want you to, I can control you.
      I don't need a rediculous book to behave in a socially beneficial way. We are a social animal, and are better working together than against. We behave just like every other social animal on the planet.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:37 am |
    • 13directors

      Not so. There are many reasons people don't believe in God. For me, I just can't believe an exterior force is dictating who flourishes and perishes when it is men who are clearly forcing and bending their will upon others. Has been this way from the beginning of time. And until people quit thinking they can just ask for forgiveness so as to ensure a comfortable place after death rather than where they reside at this very given moment, this will not change very fast.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:38 am |
    • Danielle

      You all come to church with me we can show you where science proves the bible. they have even shown on discovery channel where they have found remnants of Noah's arc and places of the bible. So think before you speak.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • Philojazz

      Dear "notmyown". It is sad that your post is so misguided about what atheists and other non-Christians believe, and how they live their lives. Good luck in the future.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Ken M

      Your view is amazingly short-sighted and dare I say ignorant. Lacking a belief in god (lower case intentional) is not about a desire to live with no accountability. There are still laws, which we must all obey or suffer the consequences. There is still basic morality, which no one over the age of 3 needs a book of religious fables to help with.

      Not believing in god does not automatically make a person some sort of hedonistc, amoral animal. Some of the finest and most upstanding people you will ever encounter in our life are people who eschew the whole notion of god and all the attendant nonsense that goes with that belief (MY VIEW) while some of the most base, morally bankrupt individuals you will meet are sitting in a church somewhere right now.

      I have zero belief in god and I am doing just fine. Married to one woman for 23 years, one beautiful, well adjusted and quite religious daughter, a loving family and an outstanding group of friends. I volunteer in my community, have never committed a crime, have never been arrested and I treat people with a greater level of respect and courtesy than that I expect for myself. This is how I live my life and I am able to do that without being "saved", without having to fear what will happen if I disobey an invisible, malevolent stalker being and without having to consume my every waking hour with nonsensical magical thinking.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Really??

      Danielle
      Oh you poor poor child.
      The story of Noah ark is one of the most rediculous stories in the bible, and it is absolutley impossible that it ever happened. What they had on the discovery channel was some wood found on the side of a mountain. It is only by leaping to an unjustifyable conclusion to say it IS from the ark. The ark never existed, they story is rediculous.
      Trying to defend your religion by trying to use the most easily disprovable story in the bible is just rediculous.
      Study up and then try again.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • coyote - sherman

      Daniell – the discovery channel says there are mermaids. where do you stand on that one? well, we can all learn from one another but I am going "home" when I die and home is where the heart is. – at least God still begins with a G.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • Smithsonian

      "You all come to church with me we can show you where science proves the bible. "

      The stories found in the Book of Genesis, Chapter 1-12, such as the flood story, the record is quite different: the time period under consideration is much more ancient. The factual bases of the stories are hidden from our view archaeologically. The stories remain a part of folk traditions and were included in the Bible to illustrate and explain theological ideas such as: Where did humans come from? If humans were created by God (who is perfect and good), how did evil among them come to be? If we are all related as children of God, why do we speak different languages? It must be remembered that the Bible is primarily a book of religion, a guide to faith. it was not a book of history, poetry, economics, or science. It contains all sorts of literary genre, which are used to teach about the relationship between God and mankind. Even biblical history is edited history: events were chosen to illustrate the central theme of the Bible. The Biblical writers did not pretend they were giving a complete history; instead they constantly refer us to other sources for full historical details, sources such as "The Annals of the Kings of Judah" (or Israel).

      It is therefore not possible to try to "prove" the Bible by means of checking its historical or scientific accuracy. The only "proof" to which it can be subjected is this: Does it correctly portray the God-human relationship? In the best analysis, the Bible is a religious book, not an historical document.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • notmyown

      Only because of peoples presuppositions does science not prove the bible. What science cannot prove is anything that happened before recorded time. It's a shame that people actually believe evolution, I mean talk about mindless drivel. I hate to break it to all of you, but you can't prove anything that is "prehistoric"' you can only make up fairy tales and feed off of peoples presuppositions. And you cannot prove anything that cannot be observed in the here and now. I have a whole book on science that proves the bible to be true, but it is pointless to debate it with those who immediately dismiss it because of the false evolutionary presuppositions.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
  18. wifemomchristian

    http://truthfortheworld.org/science-proves-the-bible

    January 20, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • midwest rail

      Stop it. Science in no way proves the Bible. Believe what you wish, practice your faith, and be happy.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • Really??

      Thanks for the post...I needed a good laugh.

      As far as science, if you reference science, you should back it up with some. What you have on that site it flawed logic and reason, biased premises, and nothing but great material for a stand-up comedian.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:31 am |
    • Heh

      Quote from that site:

      In the book of Job, the inspired writer in one verse reveals two scientific principles not known to man until much later. “He stretcheth out the north over empty space, And hangeth the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7). There is a place in the North where no stars exist, which cannot be seen with the naked eye. How did the writer of Job know this?

      Now THAT is comedy. "There is a place in the North where no stars exist, which cannot be seen with the naked eye?" That is pure nonsense. This is the kind of idiocy that should cause you to question your beliefs, but instead you just nod and carry on.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:41 am |
  19. wifemomchristian

    In the Bible we are told that LOVE is the greatest commandment of all. So... I love everyone regardless of their beliefs, opinions, feelings. My wish for anyone who isn't a Christian, or who doesn't believe there is a God. Don't get mad because I don't believe like you, sit down with the Bible and read it for what it is. If not, best of luck.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • Really??

      I have read it for what it is. It is a book created by men, in it, men created your god, then created a slew of stories, most of them are rediculous and impossible. It was written by supersti tous, bronze age men who had no concept of the world around them.
      Put it down, and join the rest of us in reality.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • notmyown

      Actually the Bible was written over a period of 1400 years by 40 different people on four different continents,as revealed to them by God himself. Amazingly, the Bible still kept it's integrity even though a majority of these people never knew each other. There are more manuscripts validating the Bible than there are that validate Alexander the Great, and yet people have no problem believing that.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • Kebos

      @notmyown: I would suggest you read the Bible. Your claim is not correct. Although I'm sure you would wish it to be.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • ParentsRGods

      What trips me is that christians do not even know the history of the bible and how it came to be. There were many books written by different men (and none were from the Americas!) but the church decided which ones to use and which ones to toss out (especially the ones written by a female). All these books were written by men from the middle-east. Followers of the bible are followers of a culture and stories of the middle-east. None are American. I don't follow it and surely, I do not worship dead middle-easterners like 'christian's" do. You do not need to read a story book to know how to Love!! It comes from within you.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • coyote - sherman

      yet they through out Peter's gospel – written much closer to the time of Christ because they didn't like what it said. so divinely inspired was that one huh? – why are we having a conversation that carries no conclusion? -

      January 20, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • John only know what he reads in old books

      @ notmyown.......really......4 continents......What is the 4th?... Australia? North America? South America?......Maybe you mean Antarctica?

      January 20, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • Check

      notmyown,

      The Bible written on 4 continents? Phooey. It would be 3... at a stretch.

      Look at a map. The continental boundaries are all very close in that area. Those Bible stories were written by (largely unknown) authors within about a 500 mile radius... and that's stretching it to include that some were written in Egypt (unproven) and some by Paul of Tarsus on his travels to Greece and other places.

      Here is a radius map. Put in a radius for Jerusalem, Israel and you will see:
      http://www.freemaptools.com/radius-around-point.htm

      January 20, 2013 at 11:58 am |
    • notmyown

      LOL, that is a lot of stuff to answer. but trying to change peoples views from their own presuppositions, is not so easy. But I do admit a mistake I made, it was supposed to be three continents.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:30 pm |
  20. Buenare

    I think many people forget that children come into this world pre-packaged as agnostics. Without teaching them about religion or a god, they won't believe in one. I personally have no children yet; however, when I do, I'd like to teach them about all religions. Armed with the knowledge of multiple belief systems, they can make their own choice when they are older. Regardless If they remain Agnostic, or choose to take up any of the religions they were taught about, I'll be proud and happy for them. No matter what, my children will be taught to respect all religions and people who choose not to follow any religion at all.

    January 20, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • Skippy

      Children come into this world unaware of hygiene as well. Are you going to let your kids discover that on their own too, or will you make an effort to teach them that from as early an age as possible?

      January 20, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Laudible sentiment but I would suggest you teach them to approach all claims with a healthy skepticism. Allow them to make their own decisions so long as they are prepared with a skill set to sniff out bullshit.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • El Diablo con Queso

      So you will teach them about a bunch of myth systems and if they choose one to live by you'll be happy about it? What if they find your life choices wrong as a result of adopting the myth system? For instance I know that my mother and her husband have limited contact with one of her husband's children as the child believes that anybody that doesn't follow their version of Christianity is a non-believer. You prepared for that? I actually know several people that have family members that dropped out of the family after adopting a religion.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Skippy

      Will you teach them to share and not to steal, or lie, or hit you, or will you wait and let them draw their own conclusions about those things when they get "old enough" to think for themselves?

      January 20, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • Skippy

      Irresponsible abdication of your duty as a parent. I know you think you sound enlightened, but you really are reckless and harming your future children and our society. Thanks for nothing.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • reason38

      children come into this world as ATHEISTS, not agnostics. They completely lack any belief in God. One can be an agnostic theist or an agnostic atheist, but atheism simply means the complete lack of any belief. Why are people so afraid of a word? Children just born are atheists – plain and simple.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:46 am |
    • coyote - sherman

      okay we thought alike, I sent my kids off to public government school not expecting that they would come home with detailed knowledge of Christianity because they learn from the other kids not the teachers... only when they were in their 20's did their beliefs expand or contract. – we have a rabid atheist and a christian (son atheist, daughter christian) – and we have mom, gone through, teachings of Buddha, read the Talmud, bible, and the other one, took classes at the Tibetan Monastery in Woodstock, and love love love physics and a certain philosopher that makes me laugh out loud.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:14 am |
    • ParentsRGods

      When children are born, the only GODS are the parents. We protect them, love them, feed them, warn them, educate them...things that gods from books do not. Parents will Sacrifice themselves if need be in order to protect their child. Something 'god' will not. 'god' expects for you to worship and sacrifice yourself for him. We as parents, would rather die than our child be hurt. Christians believe that god gave his only son in order to 'save' us from god himself after you die. Bad parenting Foolish beliefs, I tell you.

      January 20, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • Buenare

      @ Skippy – You comment is stupid. Naturally I will teach them hygiene. How does this have anything at all with teaching them about multiple religions? Teaching your children not to lie, steal, cheat, etc. has nothing at all to do with religion. I was raised an a Christian. In my group of fellow Christians, I saw many of my peers lying and cheating. Being taught Christianity does not automatically make a good person. Being taught to be a good person makes you a good person. As for being reckless, I suppose you believe teaching them your way and allowing them to only follow YOUR way is responsible? That isn't being responsible, that is being cruel. Children have brains that overtime develop into beautiful minds...let them use those minds.

      @Atheist Steve – The reason I am an agnostic now is because there are so many different religions. When you have many groups all claiming to be right and they all have the same amount of evidence backing their assertion (none), logic would suggest that none are correct. In general, I think by teaching all religions my child will likely come to the same conclusion. As you suggested, my teaching will have a skeptical tone due to my own background.

      @El Diablo Con Queso – I hope I can instill in them a respect for all religions. If what you say happens, so be it – I find it unlikely though.

      @Reason38 – No, they don't come into the world as atheists. An atheist has knowledge of god(s) and rejects it/them. Babies have no KNOWLEDGE of any God...they are therefore, agnostic.

      @Coyote – Sounds great :). Hopefully I can keep a constant dialog with my children about what they learn in school from teachers and kids. I'm fine with them learning all of it, but I want them to THINK about it – something I think most parents don't push now-a-days.

      @ParentsRGods – That isn't the only flaw of Christianity.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • 13directors

      Yes, Skippy, I taught my children hygiene, including birth control.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:25 am |
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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.