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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 • Faith Now • iReport

soundoff (15,081 Responses)
  1. Duggerdog

    Well done CNN for bringing this article into the Prime Time pages. I didn't think you would highlight the Agnostic view, but I'm glad you did because there are more and more of us good and moral agnostics who are good Americans.

    January 20, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Religion does not equal morality, in fact, it is just the opposite.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • Eric

      I am very proud of this woman and I admire her strength to stand up for what she inherently knows is true. Notably, that there are no gods or transcendent beings that exist outside the bounds of our universe while also being fully aware of all that goes on within that universe and existence all at once through out it. There are no beings that have complete control over our existence and all that occurs within the universe. We are not separate from the universe. We are not special beings created for a purpose nor do we exist to live out the will of some other omnipotent and omnipresent being. What purpose or meaning we earn or acquire throughout our lives is what we alone have chosen to make of it. Life is short. We exist in a world that neither requires our existence nor depends upon it. Because we possess an awareness of our own existence as being separate from others and yet entirely interdependent upon others and the world we inhabit, we need find the best way to make this situation work so as to maximize our time for ourselves and for those that we will ultimately leave when we die. Death is final. There is no heaven to reward you for all eternity for being a good person, nor is there a hell to punish you for being bad. Everything you do, everything you think, everything you say has long lasting effects not just on you as you exist in this moment but also everyone around you. We do not exist in a vacuum. There is no one to fox our mess or right our wrongs. We alone are responsible.

      This is what I teach my children and they are all the better for it. When I watch them interact with their peers I find them to be uniquely more prepared for the life they are living. They are not motivated by fear of false gods who will love them and protect them and punish them and create a life for them as long as they spend their life worshipping that god. They recognize the power of their own being and the importance of their actions. They take responsibility for themselves for better or worse and are willing to make whatever changes necessary to accommodate what they want from this life. This is what it means to be human. Understanding the nature of our condition and living accordingly.

      Evolving beyond our myth making prehistoric selves is long overdo.

      January 20, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  2. Dan Zim

    Well 'Mom' if you can be called that, if the end comes, that will be a beginning as 'we believers' see it, then explain to your children why they are standing a midst flames, looking up at those looking down on them from heaven. Perhaps though the sins of the mother, will not fall to the children and they will be there with us, looking down upon you because its not their fault they do not believe, it is yours. Separated from your children for eternity! that is what a true definition of what hell perhaps is... Just food for thought, and I can imagine more of the non-believers will attack, like usual....

    January 20, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      What really drives you to be so harmful to others? I don't get it. You are an ignorant, mean individual with outdated, unfounded beliefs of nonsense that sends innocent people to hell. What the heck is wrong with you? I swear you are severely mentally disabled.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • daniel

      Again, you should return to the Bronze Age from whence you came with comments like that sir. Scaring little kids into the pathetic idea of a "hell" is pretty pathetic. You are human and you have literally no idea what awaits you in death.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • Duggerdog

      I don't want to attack you Zimmy, but rather orient you to the 21st century where we no longer believe in ancient writtings by un-educated desert people. Wake up dude.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • Roger that

      Dan is your god really that evil? Of course he is. It's all right there in the Bible.

      January 20, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • Eric

      You really like that idea of being able to "look down on others" don't you? How justified you would feel! How triumphant! You, thou holy one. Your words alone reveal your lack of understanding of the very myths you clutch onto so desperately out of fear. Reread your post, and then read it again. Read it till you can see through to the scared, insignificant, little being that you are. Then rejoice in your enlightenment of the truth of your existence. But what then? What will you do then? Run back to your stories and myths, or step out into the sunlight and taste liberation?

      January 20, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
  3. musicoxygensl

    I bet this lady lied told her children that there was a Santa Claus without any qualms. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe to stumble, it would be better for him if, with a heavy millstone hung around his neck, he had been cast into the sea.

    January 20, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • daniel

      go back to the bronze age where you belong..

      January 20, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      Santa Claus doesn't kill children or ra*pe women or send souls to hell. Santa eventually is understood as make believe as the child gets older but shoving religion and a God down their throats is the epitome of child abuse and it should be against the law.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ daniel,

      Is that the best you've got? Wow, slander is the only answer you atheists can come up with, because you have no valid argument that God is not there. May the God of Heaven knock you flat on your face so you can better eat the pig slop that you've chosen until you can only surrender to God or to the hell you must so badly want to make it to

      January 20, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Religion Is Dangerous For Children And Living Creatures

      You will lie and make up any sort of nonsense to justify brainwashing your children. Stay in denial. You only want to be 'right'. I grew up in the same sort of mess you'll be making for your children. Sad, really.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • akotawana

      Don't worry folks, she just wants attention.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      YOU have the burden of proof, not us. So bring it on.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • daniel

      look how violent "musicoxygens" thoughts and wishes are, spoken like a true Catholic. You are even a pathetic excuse for the religion you claim to follow and you've showed it with your words for everyone to see. You are a weak human being and yes, should return to the Bronze Age. I, for one, am a modern man. I love my children dearly, I help the poor in my community as best I can, and I freely volunteer my time to REAL PEOPLE that need help. I am by no means an atheist as you claim me to be, I just have a logical and rational thought process and I take all into consideration. I am human and i have no idea what awaits me after this life, and neither do you or anyone else on this planet.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ The vocal atheist IT IS AGAINST THE LAW!! And look how much better the world has gotten since then. I would love to be there while you're on your death bed when you're old, watching you cry out to the God who you now revolt against so vehemently, and watch as He does to you what you do to Him and those who believe in Him now, laugh at you, and turn His back away. I would love to watch that, because you're an arrogant man, or woman....but that's me being HUMAN, and the God that I serve wouldn't do that.. You see the difference. I am just as human as you are, and I would love to see you squirm as God rejects you, but God is love, and if that situation arises, He would forgive you..... and then He would make me forgive you.... but, you're too arrogant, and will die in your sins most likely

      January 20, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ daniel And look how ignorant you are to blame God for the thoughts of man. Those are MY thoughts as a human who has to look at the ugliness of this self centered world...self seeking as you atheists have made it to be...there are more of you than there are believers in God, some of you just go to church and act as if they know God, that's the problem with church. Tell your people to stay out of them , and we would be much better off. Stop blaming GOD for what YOU do, I take responsibility for my words, and apologize for them, I'm just sick of ugly people like you in the world, only out for yourself, and slanderous

      January 20, 2013 at 11:31 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ Daniel I I I I I I I I I, is what I saw in your post. Would you like a megaphone so you can proclaim it louder? Do all of your friends pat you on the back and say "what a good man" ? You've received your reward already. Why are you saying that here? Do you want more comments about what a good man you are? Here you go :You're a good man for helping the poor, Daniel....there, does that make you feel better? Because that's all the reward you're going to get since you have to announce it for recognition from man. I would rather have the recognition of a God who is able to save me from hell, but you keep on trusting man who has proven that he will fail you over and over and over again, which is probably why you don't believe in God, because you associated men who said they believed in Him ..as if they truly represented Him when they failed you.

      January 20, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • JWT

      One thing is for sure and that is i will never have to worry about your god, it's just not worth existing./

      January 20, 2013 at 11:50 am |
  4. Name*David Horgrow

    If you were to choose between a picture of a solar system or galaxy and a picture of a bloody "corps" which would more accuratly represent the "God" "you" sereve ?

    January 20, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Duggerdog

      You might want to pray to the God of Spelling...or we could just take you to the edge of town and stone you!

      January 20, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • daniel

      and again, Duggerdog proves the violent nature underlying religious belief. Well said sir.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:59 am |
  5. Lullwinkle

    Both, either they are fanatics or they are hypocrites or they are both at the same time. However some might also be there to try and find a way to live a good life.

    January 20, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • Lullwinkle

      Sorry that was my response to Southerner01 's response to Erin111.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  6. Caleb Boone

    Dear Ms. Sashin:

    I have read your article in full. I have also read the article to which you refer: Deborah Mitchell's CNN iReport "Why I Raise My Children Without God" dated January 14.

    Deborah Mitchell, the author of the iReport, is from Texas.

    I also have a Texas story which I believe is apropos of Ms. Mitchell's.

    I was raised in Kansas by a father and mother who were generous to a fault, loyal, dedicated and full of love for me. They were well-educated and intelligent. I was taught by my mother at home in English, mathematics, science, history, anatomy, geography, biology, botany and trained in instrumental music before I began kindergarten. I attended excellent public schools, a wonderful private high school, college and law school.

    I was born again in a Kenneth Copeland Evangelistic Service in Fort Worth, Texas in 1970. My mother was a personal friend of Kenneth Copeland and his late mother Vinita Copeland.

    I have attended Full Gospel, Charismatic Churches from the age of thirteen to the present.

    I lived in Texas for several years.

    I was born in Kansas and I have lived in Kansas most of my life.

    I have had all the experiences which the author of the main article has had, in Texas. I have attended many churches and have heard many sermons, in Texas.

    I have heard many ministers say many things in church, both good and misguided, in Texas.

    The sermons of ministers do not change the Truth in the Bible.

    The misguided teachings or wrong conversation of people does not change the Love of God.

    The harmful effects or horrible, catastrophic deaths caused by wrong or terrible acts of people do not represent God's will.

    If the ups and downs of human history, or the good and bad of individual human experience were the guide to the existence of God and the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ, then no one would ever believe on the Name of Jesus, and no one would accept the Word of God in the Bible.

    God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit do not change. They are Pure Love, Peace and Joy.

    No bad sermons, no hateful acts or misguided conversations can alter that fact.

    Sincerely yours,
    Caleb Boone.

    January 20, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • End Religion

      You folks are so caught up in this inerrant, unchanging thing that you have 33,000 sects all claiming they know the only true version. Sounds like something is off with the source docs.

      Oh, and if god, jeebus, et al are unchanging, what's with the New Testament?

      January 20, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • Robert O'Neal

      Spot on. God gave us free will, and we don't always use our freedom for the good will of man intentionally or otherwise.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • Roger that

      http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7b5m824hwJk

      January 20, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • Roger that

      BTW that link is to a story about a federal investigation of your buddy Ken Copeland.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      What's with the New Testament? God had that plan from the foundation of the earth! So, He didn't change. Jesus said, "Heaven and Earth will pass away, but the least stroke of the pen will not pass away from the law" He didn't come to abolish it, or change it, He came to FULFILL it in His own body, because of His Mercy, Love and Grace toward us. He made it easier for US to be saved, and gave us only two commandments to follow, and we even fail at those: "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your mind, all of your soul, and all of your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.. all of the law and the prophets are summed up with these two commandments"

      January 20, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      and wow, do you think that the people on TV in their 5000 dollar suits are the true representation of God? No wonder you don't want to believe. I struggled with my own belief because of that for years, but I realized, that they are just Hollywood's versions of Christianity, and we all know how fictional Hollywood is. The Bible doesn't teach any of that prosperity crap; and I would like to apologize on behalf of all Christians who don't believe in that hype, that we have done nothing to pull them from TV, because they are only helping to strengthen your disbelief

      January 20, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'musicoxygensl' is an instance of the No True Scotsmen fallacy.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      January 20, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      Post by fallacy spotting is an instance of "the poor guy's whole life is a fallacy" fallacy

      January 20, 2013 at 11:22 am |
    • End Religion

      @musicoxygensl:
      "What's with the New Testament? God had that plan from the foundation of the earth! So, He didn't change. Jesus said, "Heaven and Earth will pass away, but the least stroke of the pen will not pass away from the law" He didn't come to abolish it, or change it, He came to FULFILL it in His own body, because of His Mercy, Love and Grace toward us. He made it easier for US to be saved, and gave us only two commandments to follow, and we even fail at those: "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your mind, all of your soul, and all of your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.. all of the law and the prophets are summed up with these two commandments"

      First off, the bible is a fraud, but if we're going to humour you then we'll bandy the passages around for a bit.

      Second, your post is a purely laughable contradiction. If he didn't abolish anything then he couldn't have "made it easier for US to be saved". Your argument is that your inerrant god changed his mind, obviously showing he can make errors, and that he was wrong and so could be wrong again in the future.

      Either god/jesus et al are unchanging or they can not be inerrant.

      Before losing this argument even worse, you should take the opportunity to simply realize it's all a fraud. You don't need a god to be a nice person. You can stop living the lie.

      January 20, 2013 at 11:37 am |
  7. Binky

    There is not one reason for believing in a god. There are a myriad of reasons for not believing in a god. It is unfair to present only the god belief to impressionable children and make threats to them if they don't comply.

    January 20, 2013 at 10:23 am |
  8. musicoxygensl

    I agree; our children in today's society, are SO much better without God influencing their decisions. I mean, don't you just enjoy seeing a different school shooting every week? Aren't you having a blast seeing how disrespectful that they have become without God. I, for one, am so glad to see that Public Schools are allowed to teach that it's OK to be gay, but it's not OK to pray; it is such a delight!! I am so glad that you atheists have banned together to make the world a better place without a loving, caring, patient God in it.

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

      You mean to say banded together.

      I would respond to your post, but I think your awful attempt at speaking the English language prohibits you from writing anything thoughtful.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:25 am |
    • Christ

      Yes, God got really upset with the atheists and killed innocent children for it.
      Yes, God is so upset with the gay people that he unleashes storms that kill straight christian people too.
      Yes, God is a puny little puppy that we have swished out of existence with a swoop of our atheist hands.

      In reality though, we could *really* solve all these problems if numbnuts like you gave up your faith and led a life of rationality. If every human did what is in the best interest of human society, and not in the interest of some non-existent sky fairy.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ Alexander, I meant to say "banned" because that is exactly what you did to God...perhaps it is you who need to go back to school and learn some reading comprehension skills.

      @ that other guy who isn't important enough to remember his name, Let's look back in history at when there was ever a time that humans BANDED together as you are speaking about here? Humans know how to be human, and humans will always trample another human for profit. "The love of money is the root of all evil" But you go on to hell now, your father , Satan, is laughing at you and enjoying the fact that you would rather listen to fiction than the truth.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • amertheconqueror

      All you Chrisitans should be in CHURCH right now where you belong

      January 20, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Religion Is Dangerous For Children And Living Creatures

      Moral decline happened in religious dominated societies, so your point is laughable. Try living in the Dark Ages, the time of the Inquisition. Pick up a history book and educate yourself on exactly how your particular religion spread across the globe. Yes, great moral times those were. Stop brainwashing children with nonsense. You don't need to lie to your children to teach them a moral code.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      The world is full of your ignorance. I am astounded that you would categorize all of christianity into the Catholic religion. It is YOUR ignorance that makes this world a cesspool to live in; your arrogance in thinking that you are smarter than God. "He who trusts in himself is a FOOL" Proverbs 28:26 It is because of men like YOU who wouldn't believe, and who thought that they were so all knowing, that ages past have been stained with the blood of true martyrs, people who were actually seeking to change the world with the LOVE of God. All of you are ugly people, arrogant fools.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • Religion Is Dangerous For Children And Living Creatures

      "He who trusts in himself is a FOOL" Proverbs 28:26"

      Self-project much? Delusional doesn't even begin to describe you. My sympathies to your children.

      January 20, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ Religion is.....I see that your brain is shrinking, you've run out of intelligent thoughts, and now must resort to slander to make you feel better about your useless existence without God. Keep trying, it isn't me you're offending, but the very God who could save you, but I'm sure that you will be too arrogant to ever accept His free gift of Eternal life, because you love your darkness. Enjoy hell, but know this; it's not a pleasure cruise, and it is very, very real.

      January 20, 2013 at 11:19 am |
    • End Religion

      musicoxygensl, why does your loving god run a concentration camp?

      January 20, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ End religion.....so those of us who love Him can watch doubters like you make our meals for us? I have no idea what you're talking about.

      January 20, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • End Religion

      musicoxygensl, at least you admit hell would be having to see you every day. I see another dodged question. Imagine that!

      January 20, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  9. Alexander

    Dear Carol Phillips,

    Your comment, "I would think it’s easier to come out as gay than atheist," strikes a tender nerve. It's easier to come out as gay than atheist, which is why atheists have the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., Hate Crime Prevention Act, preventing violence against... oh wait. I think you are incredibly ignorant of the current situation of gay people in America and challenge you to see the violence perpetrated against gay youth, which is in no way comparable to admonition from your family.

    Respectfully,

    Alexander

    January 20, 2013 at 10:21 am |
  10. Ashley S

    Finally, a thoughtful, sensitive mom who is teaching her children to think and choose for themselves. All of your reasoning and arguments are just as my own – you are not alone!

    January 20, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      Yes, how thoughtful and sensitive to teach your children doctrines of demons that will find them in hell when they die...so thoughtful of her.

      January 20, 2013 at 11:43 am |
  11. daniel

    "imagine there is no religion" "living life in peace" – john lennon

    January 20, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • Southerner01

      The soviet union had no religion. They didn't exactly live a utopian life of peace.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Christ

      @Southerner another brainwashed bible thumper – the "soviet union" was never non-religious. They have an enormous number of churches. You would know that if you took your nose more than two inches away from your bible.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      "Southerner01
      The soviet union had no religion. They didn't exactly live a utopian life of peace."

      It wasn't the lack of religion that created a negative, it was the dogmatic political beliefs. There's a fine line between religion and politics, both have dogmas. Atheism lacks dogmas.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • Phenym

      There was religion in the soviet union. Read a history book.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • visitor

      The Soviet Union had religion but it needed to be state-sanctioned to avoid churches/mosques becoming places where political activity could take place. State sanctioned meant Russian Orthodox. Since most of the satellite states were not Russian Orthodox, that effectively shut down religion in the satellite states. Churches were padlocked all over the countrysides. I saw these myself. This points out the danger of pretending a single faith is tied to the well-being of a country and the huge need to separate church and state.

      January 20, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  12. erin111

    Those who believe in god are gullible, those who deny existence of god are arrogant. The only acceptable answer is: I don't know!

    January 20, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • Southerner01

      You could say the same about unicorns, fairies, mermaids, Martians, etc.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • JJ

      Does that also apply to fairies and leprachauns?

      January 20, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • marlkl

      Frankly, with all of the examples of God's love and his creation around, I think those who don't believe in God are gullible.

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

      The problem is that in both cases you have to make judgments about the individuals, whether they believe or don't believe and whether they are gullible or arrogant. The last answer you give is honest, "You don't know." It has to be very personal. In the Bible there are many passages about foolishness. I like this one.

      1 Corinthians 2:14 says: "The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit."

      I think that people should be careful how they share things as to not come across as either gullible or arrogant. I have seen both of these traits among believers and non-believers. I have also met people who say they have seen God and he stares at them in the mirror everyday. I do know that the last thing that I want to be is God.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • TheVocalAtheist

      "Those who believe in god are gullible, those who deny existence of god are arrogant. The only acceptable answer is: I don't know!"

      So, you're in-between gullible and arrogant? What is that called in your world of judgement? Maybe for you the only acceptable answer is you don't know, good for you, I'm glad for you.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Maria

      Speak for yourself.
      I believe in God and I know that He exists.
      After I repented of my sins I started having visions of Jesus and dreams.
      He said:"My sheep shall hear My voice".
      Those who are His sheep know His voice,
      It's those whom the enemy has blinded with spiritual blindness who reject God.
      The Bible says that God has given each man a good measure of faith.It takes as much effort to believe in God as it takes to reject Him.
      Once you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior and obey the word of God he will manifest Himself to you like He promised.
      It doesn't mean that it has to be through a vision but the Holy Spirit will bring the awareness of His Holy Presence to You.I love God so much that I would reject everything this world has to offer for the joy of His Presence!-Even this morning I awoke up around 3 AM and I spent several hours talking to the One who loves us and who bought us with His precious Blood.If people knew how good God is and how His love TOTALLY fulfills us!
      I heard someone saying once: If you doubt the existence of God, get on yours knees and ask Him to show you your sins!
      In fact that's what I did over 30 years ago!-I already believed in God but I wasn't walking with Him!-Father, I pray in the Name of Jesus that you allow the Holy Spirit to reveal your Son to those who have doubts.Do for them what You did for me!-let them know that you love them so much regardless of their beliefs but let them also know that Jesus is the Only Way to the Father!-That's why He died on the cross for our sins!-I love You, Lord!

      January 20, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Eric

      I am very proud of this woman and I admire her strength to stand up for what she inherently knows is true. Notably, that there are no gods or transcendent beings that exist outside the bounds of our universe while also being fully aware of all that goes on within that universe and existence all at once through out it. There are no beings that have complete control over our existence and all that occurs within the universe. We are not separate from the universe. We are not special beings created for a purpose nor do we exist to live out the will of some other omnipotent and omnipresent being. What purpose or meaning we earn or acquire throughout our lives is what we alone have chosen to make of it. Life is short. We exist in a world that neither requires our existence nor depends upon it. Because we possess an awareness of our own existence as being separate from others and yet entirely interdependent upon others and the world we inhabit, we need find the best way to make this situation work so as to maximize our time for ourselves and for those that we will ultimately leave when we die. Death is final. There is no heaven to reward you for all eternity for being a good person, nor is there a hell to punish you for being bad. Everything you do, everything you think, everything you say has long lasting effects not just on you as you exist in this moment but also everyone around you. We do not exist in a vacuum. There is no one to fox our mess or right our wrongs. We alone are responsible.

      This is what I teach my children and they are all the better for it. When I watch them interact with their peers I find them to be uniquely more prepared for the life they are living. They are not motivated by fear of false gods who will love them and protect them and punish them and create a life for them as long as they spend their life worshipping that god. They recognize the power of their own being and the importance of their actions. They take responsibility for themselves for better or worse and are willing to make whatever changes necessary to accommodate what they want from this life. This is what it means to be human. Understanding the nature of our condition and living accordingly.

      Evolving beyond our myth making prehistoric selves is long overdo.

      January 20, 2013 at 11:08 am |
  13. erin111

    It is Texas, no wonder, they are 100 years behind the rest of the civilized world. No much difference between them and Muslim or Jewish religious fanatics. By the way, I was going to church with my child for some time to show her the options. What I realized, those "believers" do not even bother to memorize the prayer, they are perpetual sinners and many of them attend a church solely for social/contact that may bring profit, reasons. Pretty pathetic!!!

    January 20, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • Southerner01

      Your post contradicts itself. First you say they are religious fanatics then you say they don't really believe. Which is it?

      January 20, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  14. Dennis

    I think the biggest point here is that it is each individual that makes a choice. For those raised in certain environments, such as me, we were taught that it is a personal relationship thus it includes personal choice. For me, it has made all of the difference. Do I understand everything? No. Does it lessen my faith in God? No. But it is a choice. I choose to have God in my life. I do believe that when you have no belief in God, it makes it hard to explain why we should or should not do or say certain things. When you have children there will be a time when you have to explain where our morals come from and how you came to believe in those morals.

    January 20, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • dzerres

      I don't think that's the point. The point is if you chose no God these religious freaks chose to butt into your life in every obnoxious way possible and think nothing about how arrogant they actually are. Its those very same people who constantly complain that gay people are shoving their beliefs down everyone else's throats when in fact is the religious zealots who do so and think nothing of it.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:27 am |
  15. Brian

    The notion of a Power greater than ourselves should be obvious. Look at a tree. Did you make that grow and branch out so intricately? Look at the stars. Can you touch them or change there placement in the sky? Did you create them? What about the language that you speak , be it English, Mandarin, Spanish, etc. Did you guide its development? Did you have control over the grammar, vocabulary, phonology of your native language?

    The extent of that Power and whether it acts deliberately and lovingly is, understandably, not obvious. Human logic must humbly concede that these claims are not obvious or provable. Fortunately, proving the opposite, that this Power is arbitrary and careless is equally unclear and intractable, although this may be hard to see during difficult times. I choose to live as though the former (...deliberately and lovingly...) is true even though my logic and experience sometimes want to revolt.

    I intend on raising my son with this understanding. But I want to conclude this post by conveying my sympathy and understanding to the many parents who are turned off by the arrogance and callousness displayed by many people of faith. They rightly and should confidently keep their children from the influence of such people whose appreciation of a Power greater than themselves seems to be cosmetic.

    January 20, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • Jeff

      "The notion of a Power greater than ourselves should be obvious. Look at a tree. Did you make that grow and branch out so intricately? Look at the stars. Can you touch them or change there placement in the sky"

      We can explain how those things got there and it has nothing to do with a god. The imagination can be powerful tool in the mind of the delusional.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • JJ

      I find it so alarming that you will teach your children mythology and that we exist due to magic sky gods and discourage critical thinking. Why would you not let them be healthy skeptics?

      January 20, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • Southerner01

      There are people alive today that did and do guide the development of our language. They edit the dictionary and decide what new words to add, which archaic words to drop, etc. They even edit the rules of grammar as our language evolves. This is why "old English" is nearly unreadable to most people.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'Brian' is primarily an instance of the Appeal To Ignorance fallacy.

      http://fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      January 20, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • Religion Is Dangerous For Children And Living Creatures

      You intend on brainwashing your son into believing what you believe, period. Effectively taking away his personal choice. Indoctrinating children is evil. But God wants sheep doesn't he, not people who seek him out in their own hearts, huh?

      January 20, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • AtheistSteve

      Thought experiment.

      A sentient puddle is amazing at how perfectly the depression in the ground is suited to it.
      Of course the idea is backwards. It is the puddle who is conforming to its environment.
      We are the same. Artifacts of our environment, shaped by it. But by no means is it obvious that our environment(existence) has purpose or was created with intent. That's merely conjecture in the same backward manner that the puddle views its hole.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • CygnusX1

      Jeff, then please do so. Just when you get to the big bang use your own anti matter or at least let me know where that came from.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • dzerres

      Just because something is complex and intricate doesn't mean God created it. Did God create my Samsung flat screen TV? Should I be praying to it? Please. Science can explain most mysteries and those that they cannot explain right now – modern science has only been around since the end of the Dark Ages – will be explain as we go forth. Do you believe, as Bill O'Reilly recently revealed, that God directs the tides or do you believe when science tells you its a combination of things like the pull of the moon and the spinning of the earth?

      January 20, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      Very well spoken, Brian. In a barrage of disagreements from slanderous atheists; permit me to give you a thumbs up for your stand, because I, for one, believe you to be absolutely correct.

      January 20, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Post by 'musicoxygensl' is an instance of the ad hominem fallacy.

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      January 20, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      Post by fallacy spotting is proof that he or she is incapable of his/her own thoughts, but had to post a link to someone else's ...

      January 20, 2013 at 11:13 am |
    • Brian

      Most of these replies reflect a misunderstanding of what I was trying to get at.

      The important point is that, as individuals, there is so much that we do not have control over, whether these things are caused or created by natural forces or by humans. What is needed is to humbly live with this understanding, and to be open minded that there are forces, ideas that may not originate from each person's cleverness, and to be inspired by whatever that is good that comes from outside of the self. Stubborn resistance to this results, on a very practical level, in misery.

      In short, I do not want myself, my son, or anyone else to be cynical, egotistical, miserable and closed-minded, if it can be helped.

      Stated another way, most of these posts seem to reflect emotional baggage resulting from earlier religious abuse and preconceived notions of how everyone with some sense of spirituality must think, and I certainly commiserate with the anger and frustration conveyed by these posts given the misunderstandings.

      January 20, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • visitor

      Of course there are powers greater than ourselves. Is that your evidence there is a God, that you can't control the universe?

      January 20, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
  16. Move on

    Some subjects can't be explained at all or in terms that all can understand, but it does not mean they don't exist. I like for those who don't believe in a God, explain to me who created the universe and all things in it?

    January 20, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • Jeff

      What created your god?

      January 20, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • Really??

      Why do you think there is a who? Why do you think that the universe needs a creator?

      January 20, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • Southerner01

      How do you know you picked the right god?

      January 20, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • ??

      Unknown.Make up a story.Easy.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • Zeke2112

      Utter silliness. If your God doesn't have to have a creator and can always have existed, so can the universe.

      Enjoy your logic lock.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • Allen Barefield

      I think it speaks to the limits of the human mind that man seems to need a creator of the Universe. But that's sort of a "which came first ... the chicken or the egg?" proposition. I accept the fact that I just don't know, regardless of faith [am I agnostic?]; at the same I do not believe in an intelligent "creator" of the Universe [am I an atheist?]. I choose to see the Universe itself as God. If Monotheism means that God is Everything, then pantheism means that Everything is God. I am fortunate not to be burdened with a need to explain the unexplainable ... I am a Pantheist! I believe it is less about faith and more about acceptance.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • Fallacy Spotting 101

      Root post by 'Move on' is an instance of the Begging The Question fallacy.

      http://fallacyfiles.org/glossary.html

      January 20, 2013 at 11:01 am |
  17. musicoxygensl

    "kept at home or in church where it belongs? " I guess all of the violence in our schools since God was forced out is so much better than prayer. This woman is bitter, angry, hurt, and totally misunderstands who the God of the Bible is, and is a total misrepresentation of how He should be seen, as are most of the pastors in pulpits today. This is the problem, Pastors aren't teaching the Bible, but have their own agendas to make money, and lead people down the wrong paths to fatten their own wallets. If you would like to know who God is, ask me, I'll tell you the truth

    January 20, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • JJ

      How do you explain all the shootings back when you Christians forced ALL children to pray to your god in our public school system? Were the children not praying ernestly enough? You said you were the keeper of the truth so was just wondering.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:10 am |
    • sophie miller

      I feel sorry for the lady as she has missed the whole point

      January 20, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • ??

      I'll bite.What's the truth?

      January 20, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • Religion Is Dangerous For Children And Living Creatures

      If I wanted any real truth, you would be the last person I would ask. From the earliest Christians, you've all been doing the same thing for 2000 years now: arguing who knows the real truth about God and who doesn't. If there is a God, I'd rather get the truth from it than one of it's followers.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • Roger that

      'This woman is bitter, angry, hurt, and totally misunderstands who the God of the Bible is,'

      That's strange, I didn't get that at all from the article. I know I don't have a misunderstanding of the God of the Bible. Hitler's victims suffered and died, but then the suffering caused by Hitler ended. That is when the suffering caused by God began for those that were not Christian. Suffering for eternity. That kind of evil is incomprehensible. You think people should bow down and worship the most evil existence since the beginning of time? No thanks.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • Zeke2112

      So your view of God is that he's an adolescent teenager who turns on his creation because he made them flawed and questioning? That he leaves them to murder each other because his feeling s are hurt that someone people don't believe in him?

      If so, you can keep your God. He is not worthy of praise or worship. If I treated my kids the way God treats humanity, I'd be considered a horrible father. yet with your God, it's attributed to "his mysterious ways."

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

      *crickets*............Oh, gosh I thought you said we could ask you things and you would come back and tell us the truth but I see you're just another liar for Jesus like so many others dropping their load and running off.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • Phenym

      How did those altar boys make out with all of that religion in the church itself???

      January 20, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ JJ , you're saying that you have evidence of school shootings from before 1962? Answer that question, and I'll answer yours

      January 20, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ Phenym, you are confusing religion with God. I will not sit here and answer for wicked men who claim to know God, yet follow their own flesh....start placing the blame where blame is due, on yourself, and men and women like you who follow their own lusts

      January 20, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ Zeke, ?? Where did I say that? Your question is invalid

      January 20, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ Roger, your mind is totally confused right now, I couldn't grasp a coherent thought from your line of gibberish to even form an answer.

      January 20, 2013 at 11:08 am |
    • musicoxygensl

      The truth is : "Religion that God finds acceptable is this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" and "Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, all of your mind, all of your soul, and all of your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself"

      January 20, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • Zeke2112

      "Zeke, ?? Where did I say that? Your question is invalid"

      You said: " I guess all of the violence in our schools since God was forced out is so much better than prayer."

      In other words, "WAHHHH! You don't believe in me so I"m taking my protection of little kids and leaving!"

      Some guy, that God of yours.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  18. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    Godless mom, the best mom.

    January 20, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  19. are122

    Okay lady, you came from a gob of prehistoric bird poop, rock and gas balls created the laws of physics, and when you go you are going nowhere. I doubt if you will make it on television so now go away.

    January 20, 2013 at 9:58 am |
    • Lullwinkle

      Why should she go away, because she has a tough time believing what you do? She has every right to express herself and probably more so because she refuses to accept something that makes no sense to her.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • Zeke2112

      Right, it makes MUCH more sense that we are made from dirt, are the spawn of an incestuous family which was the only to not be murdered by God, and when we die, we will live forever as the playthings of a being who is so powerful that the can literally do anything. That is, of course, unless he sends you to burn forever despite his undying love for you.

      And, of course, if your fanciful tale is the right one and you aren't spending eternity burning with the rest of your religion while another occupies Heaven.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:25 am |
  20. Delores Ochoa

    Im 28 years old and I am a believer in our Lord God. Im not religous by an means, but it seems as though she is putting her faith in man rather then in God to make her feel this way. For anyone out there who feels that we suffer because of God I am here to state my opinion, There is the devil out there in rthis world who is here to do nothing but steal, kill and destroy. Maybe some of you who are having issues with your religon shouldnt lose your faith in God but rather find a different church. Im Non Denominational and I dont breath judgment or critisism down your neck. In my experience I still feel the love of GOD, i still reap my blessings from him and thats because I make sure to LOVE everyone, christian or not. Straight or not. Every ethnicity. To be a christian is to be christ like and that means to love thy neighbor and belive in The Lords Father God.

    January 20, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • Lullwinkle

      I respect your beliefs and I am sure you would be as good of a person if someday you found out there is no God or that Jesus, if he actually existed was an ordinary human. Being good is good for for its own reasons so in reality it shouldn't make a difference to how you live your life if there is a god or not. The reality is we can discuss/argue the point all day long, what ever the truth is you will either find out or you won't, you will either die and be no more or you will go to heaven. I prefer to follow science and facts because it doesn't matter what you believe the facts are the facts.

      January 20, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • ed galbraith

      "Im 28 years old and I am a believer in our Lord God. Im not religous by an means" Beg your pardon?

      January 20, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • visitor

      Deloros, if you believe in the Devil, you are not only religious, you are very very religious. Even many Christians don't believe in Satan.

      January 20, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.