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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. dam

    Thanks for giving citizens a chance to report about the struggles, views and news in our communities. Obviously, this topic is very polarizing, but CNN has dealt fairly with both sides.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
  2. lb309

    Seems like this lady is not just raising her children without god (letting them decide for themselves); she is actively forcing her view on them just like she complains her mom did.

    "She asks questions like: If there was a good, all-knowing, all-powerful God, why would he allow murders, child abuse and torture?"

    January 20, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
    • Kevin

      But it's okay for christian parents to take their kids to church and sunday school and force their views on them?

      January 20, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • BFF

      And is there something wrong with those questions.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • tony

      I thjnk she is is quite fairly and properly showing them that there are people who will lie to them about the answers to those valid questions and those people should not therefore be believed. E.g. After years of my posting similar questions about the massacre of hundreds of thousands of innocents in the recent tsunamis, they has not been a single answer from a religious person here explaining why a "loving god' either caused or ignored the tsunamis.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • lb309

      Kevin-you seemed to have missed the whole point of the comment above.

      BFF-Yes, those questions betray a very small-minded/childlike view of God for someone who professes free thinking. They assume that proof of God would have to mean that we were always kept safe and warm like pet hamsters with no free will.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • Kingofthenet

      We ALL 'FORCE OURSELVES" on our kids, don't pretend you don't otherwise next Sunday ask who wants to stay home and miss church...

      January 20, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • lb309

      Tony- your argument assumes that people should always be able to understand God's plan, when by definition they cannot. I cannot tell you why Tsunamis are allowed to happen, and really can't understand why they would be allowed.

      Similarly, when you take your 1 year old in for his inoculation, it will be heartbreaking when he looks at you for help to make this pain go away, and there is no way you can make him understand why you are allowing it.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:59 pm |
    • BFF

      Ib309,
      I disagree. They are only small minded questions if there is a generally accepted proof of god. But since there is absolutely no proof that a god of any kind exists, why not pose it to "believers".

      January 20, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • Mark

      She's doing what every mother who actually cares about her children does. She's teaching them think for themselves. Religion doesn't seem to be going away very quickly so don't worry the full shmorgasboard of religious selections will be there for the children when they are older.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • Mark

      ...and lb309 comes back with the typical religious cop out. Funny how certain vocal religious people claim to know their god's mind and then when it doesn't make sense fall back on the "god works in mysterious ways" cop out. Once you get to that point you've reached the "I can't explain or justify it but I'm not going to admit what I believe is wrong" point of argument.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:06 pm |
    • lb309

      BFF-'Believers' ask themselves those questions all the time. But to presume that proof of God is that he will always step-in before something bad happens, means that you have a self-definition of God and have assumed that it is the only correct one.

      Kingofthenet-Like most progressive types, this lady has made up her mind that forcing your views on others is OK only if they are the 'correct'(her) views, and sees no hypocrisy in openly stating that forcing her views are correct and forcing her mom's views is wrong.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • lb309

      Mark- Like most atheist comments I see on here you appear very closed minded and hung up on 'if I cannot understand it then it must not exist'.,
      Your concept of God (and you obviously have one) seems stuck in the Greek/Roman super-human mode.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:15 pm |
    • Roger that

      Kevin makes a good point and like BFF says what's wrong with those type of questions? I'm sure she will tell her children all about religion like I plan to do with my children. I don't have to take them to church every Sunday to accomplish this. That would be silly. I'll say it again, a child suffering and dying from cancer is proof enough that a) there is no god, b) God is powerless, c) God is evil. Take your pick. That goes without saying that based on God's track record in the Bible, he is evil. Have fun worshipping your evil dictator.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • lb309

      Gotta go.
      Good discussion.
      Thanks

      January 20, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • dam

      @lb309 There are a lot of assumptions made here. My mother did not force her religion on me. She was actually very open-minded.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:51 pm |
  3. Godoflunaticscreation

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6_9QmM6TfE&w=640&h=390]

    January 20, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  4. musicoxygensl

    The problem is, everyone here is regurgitating what they've heard from other thinkers, and none of you has the capacity to think for yourself, or the ambition to actually read the Bible for yourself. All you want to do is argue, and be "ever hearing, but never perceiving" or you might turn and pray and be forgiven. I will not pretend to have all of the answers, but I will say my peace. You are all ugly toward each other, atheists and "christians" alike. This is what is tearing at the moral fabric of the world; it's this continuous need to be right, and this grade school mentality that if you aren't the popular thing, the bullies from either side are going to begin the mudslinging. Jesus taught us to love one another as we love ourselves, and all I see here is hatred. No wonder the world is falling apart at the seams. I was an unwanted child in the 70's , born an autistic when autism wasn't even spoken of, abused by a mother physically and emotionally, abused by peers because I was different, poor, malnourished, just a piece of trash to society, and God saved me. "though my father and mother forsake me; the Lord will receive me" Psalm 27:10 I struggle in my mind daily, I even still struggle with my thoughts about God, but He has taken care of me these last 45 years, and I know that I would be dead if it were not for His grace and mercy.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Kingofthenet

      or maybe a good motivation speaker could have saved you, like Tony Robbins?

      January 20, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • Kevin

      Actually, it has been proven over and over that most of the atheists here actually have read the bible, and most of us have read the scriptures of other religions as well. That's why a lot of us are atheists – God is really evil in the Bible, and too many stories are obviously absurd.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • tony

      You saved you, apparently with help from some nice people.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      Tony Robbins would not have sent someone to find me wandering the streets, or have them take me in and clothe me, feed me, love me, teach me about the one true God and His love.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "God saved me."

      I'm gonna need some empirical evidence there, bud. How do you know it was god and not the mere feeling that an old man in the sky was watching over that saved you?

      January 20, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ Kevin, describe your "absurd" story

      January 20, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
    • Kingofthenet

      What if it were Muslims that took you in or Jew's? Would you have believed THEIR God was the 'One True' God?

      January 20, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ Tank, no matter what I say, you will refute it with your "empirical" evidence that it wasn't God, so I think I'll keep my pearls to myself on this matter.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • vinster76

      nearly 24 hours ago I was on here reading some of these posts.......Some of them have been inspiring, most of them have been brutally ugly. I lived most of my life as an agnostic. I went to church and saw the same hypocrites you are all talking about. They are still there, they always will be.....But here is what i want to tell you......People told me about the love of Christ – I confess their Jesus made me sick.......Then, despite myself, I checked it out......the story of Jesus....I read from some of the best minds in the world, some atheists, and some not......I looked at the universe, humanity, all the sciences and gradually came to the conclusion there is a God, he exists........if you dont believe that is ok with me. I dont have to answer for you. You have to answer for yourself........But one day your heart will beat for the last time. In a millisecond you will know the Truth.....I pray you are ready for that day.....

      January 20, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ vinster, if that remark was meant for me, you obviously just didn't read my post in its entirety

      January 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm |
    • Kevin

      Noah's ark. Jonah and the whale. Genesis. Revelation. Four totally different and totally incompatible versions of the resurrection. Jacob beats God in a wrestling contest.

      Absurd.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ King since Muslims are violent, I think not...and , you obviously haven't studied the Bible for yourself, or you would know that it actually IS the God of the Jews that I believe in.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      @musicoxygensl

      In that case, I ask that you quit your proselytizin', since you can't provide any sound basis for your beliefs.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ Kevin, trying to understand the Bible with your natural mind ...Absurd

      January 20, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • JJ

      You didn't ask me but there are so many absurd things in the bible that one must work hard to just give you one. How 'bout shrubbery that is engulfed in flames but doesn't burn up at all but has a booming voice coming from it telling some guy he shouldn't believe in any other god but him.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ Tank, and I suggest you stop googling Autism medication so that you can sound intelligent in a response and maybe go outside and play with your carbon dating kit that mommy got you for Christmas, which you shouldn't even celebrate since you don't believe

      January 20, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • Kevin

      So you are saying that the Bible can only be undderstood with an unnatural mind?

      January 20, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ JJ , I think it's a sort of cool way to get someone's attention, and God did not tell Moses to not believe in any other God but Him until much later on Mt Saini (spelling probably wrong) when He gave him the ten commandments. What He said to Moses at the burning bush was "Take off your sandals , for the place you are standing is Holy ground" and then began to tell him of His plan to use Moses as His mouthpiece to Pharoah to set His children free from slavery in Egypt, which DID in fact happen, and even the ancient Egyptian texts contain stories of the plagues and the deliverance of the children of Israel

      January 20, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ Kevin, I'm saying that it can only be understood if you have the spirit of God in your heart. "I will not leave you as orphans" jesus said, "but I will send you the Holy Spirit; and when He, the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative; but whatever He hears He will speak, and will disclose to you things to come"

      January 20, 2013 at 7:02 pm |
    • Zingo

      The heart is a muscle that pumps blood. Emotion and thought occur in your brain.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ Zingo Thanks for the biology lesson

      January 20, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
    • I wonder

      music:
      "even the ancient Egyptian texts contain stories of the plagues and the deliverance of the children of Israel."

      Really? Which texts?

      January 20, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ I Wonder I have enough work of my own to do than to do research for you that will turn up the evidence that you seek. Google is a marvelous tool for that, and I believe there have actually been shows on the History channel that addressed those texts as well. This is the problem, you won't do the research yourself to find the truth, but want everyone else to read for you and come to YOUR conclusion on the matter

      January 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • Zingo

      No Egyptian text even mentions the existence of jews/israelites, much less any plagues or other biblical myth.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ Zingo, ok, tell that to the History channel

      January 20, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • Zingo

      Uh, music? If you make a claim in a debate, it is your responsibility to prove it if challenged. There is really no greater fail than to try to dump the responsibility of proving your idiotic claims on your opponent.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:17 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      @ musicoxygensl

      How would not googling autism make me more intelligent? What coherence is there in your statement?

      But I guess the more pertinent question is; how did you marshal all THREE of your brain cells to produce that comment?

      January 20, 2013 at 7:18 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      So you don't have any evidence, then, do you, music?

      If you can't produce it, you lose the debate.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:19 pm |
    • Zingo

      The History Channel? LOL!!!!!!!

      Was that on Pawn Stars?

      Wow! Just wow!

      January 20, 2013 at 7:20 pm |
    • I wonder

      music,

      Here is a critique of the claims made on that History Channel program:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exodus_Decoded#Credibility

      I think you'd better think it out again...

      January 20, 2013 at 7:22 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      http://www.angelfire.com/ill/hebrewisrael/ipuwer.html

      January 20, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      What is that last link supposed to prove?

      January 20, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
    • I wonder

      p.s. I realize that wiki is often frowned upon as a citation, but there are numerous avenues to explore, following their references.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And now Wikipedia? You are desperate.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:27 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      The only thing that I've seen come out of an explosion are ashes and chaos, not an intricate world full of wonders. Also, there is a man in your "evolutionary chain" that was built around a pig's tooth, yet he remains in the "chain" Carbon dating has been proven false so many times , it's laughable that you still believe that it's accurate. Science actually helps to PROVE the story about Noah's flood and other biblical events. It's not my job to prove God to you, He does that with nature every day, you don't want to listen, and that's your prerogative, but I refuse to waste the rest of my night casting my pearls before swine

      January 20, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      @ Tom Expecting coherence from a religious loony is like asking a compost heap to do calculus.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:28 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      @musicoxygensl

      How have you not accidently killed yourself by now? Surely being as stupid as you are must be dangerous.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:30 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      I'm not desperate, I really don't give a crap about you; that's God's job. You can go to hell for all I care, I don't even like you on earth, I definitely would want to spend any time with your arrogant selves in Heaven. Pack plenty of Aloe!!

      January 20, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "I'm far too stupid too understand it, so it must be false. Damn the evidence! I'll stick to my book of childish myths, continue ignoring scientific evidence, and cite 19th century creationist arguments that have been refuted over and over again!!"

      January 20, 2013 at 7:32 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      @ musicoxygensl

      Ah! There's the apathetic, belligerent "if you don't agree with me you need to burn in hell" religious loony that we all know! Tell us, was it painful trying to be an intelligent, rational person?

      January 20, 2013 at 7:35 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Poor little thing. You really aren't quite capable of managing to prove your claims and then you throw a temper tantrum when you're called on it.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      So you think regurgitating the bible is superior when it is just a collection of myths from a primitive people purporting to describe events at least 2000 years ago. Science explains what they were trying to explain with their myths. Why would not believe peer-reviewed repeatable science over centuries old myths?

      January 20, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      19th Century? What? Climb back on that turnip truck and fall off again, you hit your head on that first trip. The Bible is as old as Creation you turd

      January 20, 2013 at 7:38 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Gee, and you're an example of a Christian, music?

      I think you're about to blow a gasket or pop and eyeball.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:42 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      I don't know Santa,...maybe it's because I would rather listen to an artistic, loving, patient, graceful, merciful God than to listen to a self proclaimed intellect such as yourself and the other turds that have posted here so arrogantly. Are YOU a scientist? Or do you just vomit out the crap you were taught by the people who actually put in the work and time to try and prove or disprove God? I've put in my time with God, without God, in Wicca, in disbelief, in researching other religions, in researching secular history regarding the life of Jesus (the works of Jo Sephus) and arguing my thoughts with leaders from many different denominations .... if this is the only time you give it, then shut up and return when you have your own thoughts on the matter

      January 20, 2013 at 7:43 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      gee tom tom, you're an example of a HUMAN? Yep, you sure are... mean, ugly, rude, and arrogant

      January 20, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      @ musicoxygensl

      Feel free to add "inability to read" to your list of cognitive deficiencies.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:44 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      And you think YOU aren't rude, arrogant, mean and ugly? Aren't you supposed to be a better person than those who don't believe in your god? If not, then why should anyone believe?

      January 20, 2013 at 7:46 pm |
    • Gir

      "Climb back on that turnip truck and fall off again, you hit your head on that first trip"
      "you turd"

      This is possibly the greatest argument against the christian cult there is. Which moral god would reward people who speak like this with eternal bliss?

      January 20, 2013 at 7:52 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      Have I become responsible for your belief now, tom tom? Why are you so concerned with what I believe? Is it that you're jealous that God saved me? Do you , too, want to become a Christian? If you're searching for reasons to believe, ask God to show you them, if you ask with a genuine frame of mind, He will show you some, really. As it stands now, you are not my brother, and I have no love for you or your arrogance. My neighbors are the ones who do the will of my Father, you are an enemy of God and of mine, and I could care less what happens to you

      January 20, 2013 at 7:58 pm |
    • tallulah13

      musicoxygensl: You found something that comforted you. Good for you. A lot of people who are going through hard times end up in a religion. This does not prove that god is real. The fact remains that there is not a single shred of evidence to support the existence of any god. If you find the statement of fact to be offensive, I'm sorry. Perhaps the internet is not the place for someone with so thin a skin.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:59 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      @ Gir, thanks for your two cents. Your arrogant response is a great argument for the "atheist cult" There you go, now you got some attention; do you feel better?

      January 20, 2013 at 8:00 pm |
    • musicoxygensl

      thin skin? My skin is very very thick. Your ignorance doesn't frighten me. "not a single shred of evidence" The fact that your heart is beating, and that you are breathing, is evidence that god exists. He made the spirit that dwells in you that gives you life. There is no explosion that could do such a thing.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      music, honey, if you're an example of a Christian, I don't want a thing to do with Christianity.

      You think that you're "saved" and that means you can get on here an be a total ass hole and you'll be forgiven. You're like a lot of the phony Christians I've met. Nothing but self-aggrandizing little snots who try to use religion as an excuse for hating those they deem unworthy.

      I'm glad that I've lived long enough to know that there are people who believe that are NOTHING like you. They're not here yapping their fool heads off about how they're saved and other blarney. They're far too busy actually trying to be like Christ.

      Too bad bozos like you give the whole religion a bad name.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      "There is no explosion that could do such a thing."

      You really are an ignoramus. And you LIKE being stupid, too.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      You hear that? Calling religious loonies out on their hypocrisy is "arrogance." They're above judgement, folks.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      musicoxygensl. Was it a good day in church or a bad day? I can't tell if your ranting is anger at the fairy tale or energy because of the fairy tale. As you claim to have researched it all, what made you believe in a supernatural being with no evidence? The wonders of the universe that we know of are fully explained by science – so why carry on the superstitions of ancient middle eastern sheepherders?

      January 20, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I think music is very young.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Olam

      The fact that ink dries on paper is evidence that god does not exist. I can point to arbitrary phenomena and claim that it is evidence for my position, too.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Damocles

      The Ignorance is strong with this one.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      @ musicoxygensl

      How could you have spoken to and read so many supposedly-knowledgeable experts and still be the logic-deficient, science-phobic i.gnoramus that you are? That is a far greater mystery than the question of the existence of god.

      Or maybe you're LYING like a typical religious loony, which settles the question pretty quickly.

      January 20, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • I wonder

      Tom, Tom, The Piper's Son,

      The wikipedia article that I referred to points out the FLAWS in @music's touted History Channel program about the Jews in Egypt. You (and a couple of other posters) should think it out again before you pop off like that.

      January 20, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
  5. Chevalier, Meunier et associés

    Fascinating that it's even a discussion subject. I couldn't care less what my neighbours believe or don't believe in. But then again I don't live in the USA nor in the Middle East...

    January 20, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Jeremy

      This is probably the best comment on all the 69 pages.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:51 pm |
    • Mark

      If you lived in the US you would care because there are way too much religousity here. The vocal zealots want to turn the US into a theocracy and claim America as a Christian nation and the more reasonable religious folks can't keep them in check. It doesn't help things that our government stupidly added the phrases "in god we trust" onto our currency in 1956 or "under god" to our pledge in 1953.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:12 pm |
  6. Laura

    The hatred in these comments is sickening, and it seems to be coming from both ends of the spectrum. The problem here is apparently not whether you believe or don't believe in God. You all are unnecessarily judging one another and each person sounds dumber than the next unfortunately.

    As a Catholic, I have found great joy in my faith and it has been a wonderful and core part of my life. My husband is pretty much an atheist. We get along just fine and it has NOTHING to do with our respective beliefs. It is because we are both intelligent, rational people. I don't think he takes the "correct" view, but I understand that you can't force someone to believe in something that they don't. It has to come to them by itself. He doesn't necessarily think I am wrong, but he also doesn't buy into my belief system. And again, we get along just fine and have plenty of interesting discussions. Which just goes to show that intelligent people with severely differing viewpoints can have normal conversations on this topic without name-calling and sarcasm.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:39 pm |
    • Kevin

      New to the internet, are you?

      All unmoderated forums are like this. I have seen nastier flaming on fountain pen forums over ink, of camera forums over Tri-X versus Delta film.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Laura

      @Kevin – I don't hang out on Internet forums, no. But it is sad that people use the Internet to show their true colors – makes the world seem a lot scarier than it already is!

      January 20, 2013 at 6:47 pm |
    • vinster76

      Laura: i can see how you and your husband get along without your religion getting in the way....Noone has ever been argued into heaven. You cant intellectualize or rationalize someone into belief in Christ....It has to come from them. They have to get beyond themselves and sense a need for something Higher in life....Until that happens, they will stay the way they are.....Thank you for not being ugly in your posting......some of these have been brutally ugly......no wonder people are getting shot on the street, pushed in to subway trains....there is a lot of anger out there

      January 20, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
    • Kevin

      It's not really their "true colors." For example, are you as judgemental as your posts?

      January 20, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • Mark

      I see a lot of baiting and trolling, but try to ignore them and focus on the reasonable comments and arguments or sincere statements made with passion. I see your comment and read the sincerity and treat it as such, but let me address your question about why can't people get along. Imagine for a moment that instead of this nation being predominantly Christian, it was predominantly Muslim. Now imagine new laws being enacted that force women to wear burkas. Would you be OK with that? What if there was a new law that took away your right to vote? At what point would you stop "respecting" that religion and become actively vocal against it in order to stand up for either your rights or the rights of others who you might think are being oppressed by it?

      January 20, 2013 at 7:23 pm |
  7. Kingofthenet

    It's pretty funny that NOW God wants us to take his existence on Faith, when 2,000 yrs ago, people in the Middle East were experiencing an episode of "Twilight Zone' and 'Poltergeist' every week.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
  8. Kimberly

    She hit on some strong experiences i have also had growing up around two opposing religions – Baptist and Catholic. This self-rightous idea that "my(insert any religion here) views are the only views that matter" has turned me off completely to religion and my husband and I have been determined to let our duaghter come to her own conclusions about God and religion. What has this given her? An immense appreciation of how diverse the world is, a respect for other ideas and philosophy, compassion, independence, and most of all, ACCEPTANCE.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • Mark

      Nail effectively hit on head. Yes.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:25 pm |
  9. Devoted Christian

    How many chimpanzees can dance on the head of a pin? Stop dodging the hard questions, you filthy atheists!!

    January 20, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      troll

      January 20, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • Athy

      Why bother with answers when you religies have them all?

      January 20, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • Mark

      How fun. Someone who gets off on trolling atheists while trying to make religious folks look bad.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  10. Austin

    I was reading through the Old Testament, and was reading the book of Jeremiah, and I had a dream about this patio where a guy hid some gem stones. the next day, I read Jeremiah Ch 43 it said "the word came to Jeremiah saying, take large stones in your hand, and hide them in the brick in the mortar, at the entering to pharoahs house in Taphanes.

    on my life, this was the Holy Spirit bearing the truth within me, and I will never be the same. There is no physical argument, scientific argument, to deprive the truth of God out of this world. Those who are willing to explain the truth, do it because they love all men, and the human race has one truth... It is God. I personally promise, and bet my entire life on this. The Holy Spirit is alive and He is risen.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      congratulations, i guess

      January 20, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • Athy

      How nice. A total wacko to tell us how it is.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      Is this.................is this a joke?

      January 20, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • Godoflunaticscreation

      I have had similar experiences with all types of book and dreams. Doesn't mean I should worship the readers digest.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • THAT was proof of god? Really? Seriously?

      BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      That is the dumbest tale of "god making his presence known" that I have ever heard, and I have heard some whoppers.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I think Austin and Lori should get together and share delusions.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Austin

      Faith was something i hated as a blind brainwashed oppressive mechanical religious sickness. Then as the hatred set in, I simply realized I could ask God for the answer instead of finding it. He truly gave it to me. and I wanted it bad. I know how powerful all the reasons that it doesn't seem fair feel. they feel horrible. but that is the effect of a fallen flesh, and a deceptive heart that is desperately wicked, and the reason that we are , by the grace of God, redeemed and justified and saved in God's eyes. All you have to do is believe and ask for forgiveness, and the Spirit will take control and reveal the mystery. You are not damned or condemned. You are justified!!!!!!!

      January 20, 2013 at 6:50 pm |
    • Yeah right

      You're not justified; you're just looney.

      January 20, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
  11. Devoted Christian

    What is the meaning of cheese? Answer the question and stop pointing out how stupid it is, you hellbound atheists!

    January 20, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • Athy

      Keep up your good posts, Devoted. They promote atheism far better than I ever could.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • tallulah13

      That's simple: Cheeses please us.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
    • Athy

      And Jesus peeves us.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • Jeremy

      What are you talking about? What question?

      January 20, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
  12. Answer

    So sweet to read all the hate from the religious freaks that are now being rejected by our society.

    It hurts you so bad that you can't stand being rejected.. oh so sweet.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • Laura

      You just used the term "religious freaks." What a thoughtful, kind remark! You apparently (and sadly) know a lot about "hate..."

      January 20, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • Austin

      suffering and rejection.? He was despised and rejected, and man acquainted with sorrows and grief.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
  13. lionlylamb

    The "goal of freedom" is exactly just what? Free to be a thinker of thoughts outside the hindrances the indoctrinated souls who dare convolutions of socialized degradations? Where then should freedom lovers be so found acclimated upon? Are uncivil morbidities of detrimental moralities fast becoming a doctrinal normality?

    The judicial trump card has given the American tramps and harlots, their rights to kill children at will without physical ailment being the lone culprit for abortive reasoning. Are American abortion rationales ever to seek the uncivil moralist bucket's bottom dwellers?

    January 20, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      How many tramps and harlots do you know, LL?

      You're nuts.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • Gir

      Where's Jill when you need her?

      January 20, 2013 at 6:30 pm |
    • tony

      No such thing as "freedom". Try pointing an unloaded 2nd amendment rifle at a cop. Or keeping a naturally miscarried 3 month fetus alive. But then you don't want to think about those things, do you?

      January 20, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • tallulah13

      LL does not understand that women are actual human beings with complex lives and thought processes. He simplistically tries to shoehorn them into two categories: wh.ore or madonna. It's a stupid, offensive philosophy, but then LL seems to have a tenuous grasp of reality.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
    • The Bottom Line

      Brother-beating drunk with only a tiny bit of sobriety who train-wrecked his life thinks he has all the answers.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Tommie,

      Enough to know they exist and are a realistic commodity in the grand schemes governed democide!

      January 20, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Atheists know their own crapola and in their spreading of such filth dare brings upon the world pure and unabashed hatred upon those they vehemently disagree with! No sense in discussing with such haters of the logical investors who sees Life for what it truly is,,,, not the kingdom domains of God! For the kingdoms of God are inside us all and we all are God's buildings created by God's husbandry and in labors do we all with God share in Godliness morals in righteous God sent civilities appearances. Without God are the tramps and harlots who dare kill future generations of Life! Repent and kill no more futures forsakenness just to satisfy one's own lusts of immoral unjustifiability!

      January 20, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
  14. JERRY

    Philosophically most of her arguments/ideas are based on the Problem of Evil. And it's hard to disagree with her dissatisfaction or anyone else also struggling with the implications of religious notions about God and evil, suffering and death in the world. Sophisticated theologians will argue that evil was necessary for humans to have free will and the religiously pious will say evil came from disobedience and Original Sin.

    Here are a couple of key points to consider:

    * Evidence indicates there are brains that are "hard-wired" to be religious
    * There are evolutionary reasons and working theoretical models as to why people are religious/hardwired to be religious
    * People believe what they do because of whatever culture is poured into their brains, ie. how they are raised, etc.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:24 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      your point is eluding me

      January 20, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • End Religion

      "Evil" is a loaded word. There is no good and evil, only right and wrong which is relative to the society and/or person. Innate morals may be present but are built upon by the range of empathy of a given individual plus one's environment and even one's situation. To survive, society has groups of rights and wrongs which we call law. We ask citizens to abide by those laws or be punished.

      An individual may shift morals over time as well, or not. As society changes, the laws may change, and so right and wrong may shift socially or personally. For example when slavery was abolished some viewed slavery as morally wrong while others still held it morally acceptable. Some believe slavery has never been morally acceptable while others claim it is acceptable to this day.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  15. Kingofthenet

    When I was a kid, I lied to my parents a LOT? Why? Well you know that old saying parents tell kids, IF you lie to me and I find out, it's going to be WORSE then if you just told the truth. Well my parents forgot the second part, and IF I got caught in a lie or told the truth about doing wrong I got the same punishment, so I figured i might as well chance it, seems it's the same way with God and Faith in him.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Is that a roundabout attempt at Pascal's Wager?

      January 20, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
    • Kingofthenet

      No it's just trying to square the reason Christians give, for God being so 'silent' for so long. They basically say IF it showed itself clearly in a 'big show of force' people would believe but for the wrong reasons, that's all well and good but for that to make sense their can't be any punishment for Atheism.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
  16. tony

    "I understand why people need god" is mostly a result of them being indoctrinated as children. For normal adults, becoming fully mentally independent as their own parents age and die, is a natural progression. But believing in a parent like god that never dies, upsets that transfer of fully independent responsibility for their own social behavior and what they therefore teach their own children. And so it passes down from generation to generation, like a never ending virus affliction.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
  17. Lauren

    Thank you for this. I was raised in a secular household and am now an atheist. I have horrid memories of kids at school bullying me, teasing me, telling me I was going to Hell. When I was 15, a student bought me a Bible and wrote on the inside "This is the only way into Heaven." Intolerance against someone's religion is unacceptable, but so is intolerance against someone's lack of religion. I appreciate this mom and her reminder that I'm not alone!

    January 20, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      so we should tolerate the idea that, for example, certain religious extremists believe that it is their sacred duty to blow up people that don't agree with them?

      January 20, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • Gir

      Did you go around proclaiming your atheism? 'Cause that's a bad idea, especially in a country dominated by religionists.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:23 pm |
    • tallulah13

      It's amazing how many people I've known for years are now revealing that they are also atheists. I think the internet has created a safe haven, and once we know that we are not alone, we are more likely to "come out" in real life.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • Athy

      I can definitely attest to that, Talullah. I think the percentage af atheism is quite a bit higher than is shown by the polls.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:41 pm |
    • Laura

      @Free – Religion is not the problem – it is the PEOPLE using religion as a weapon and excuse to hurt others. If Islam was really a violent religion, then wouldn't all Muslims be violent, brutal people? That isn't the case at all and most acknowledge that the extremists do not hold the same views as them – despite following the same religion. It is all in how the individual interprets their religious doctrine. Atheists can be bad people too, you know – they just don't use religion as an excuse for their actions.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • End Religion

      yes, Laura, everyone could be bad or good. We don't need religion around causing added strife and more reason for division.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:58 pm |
    • Vickih

      Although not an atheist, I respect your decision to be one. I grew up in Massachusetts, in the only Lutheran family on a street that was mostly Catholic. My friends all said their parents told them that we were going to hell because we were Lutherans. I don't know how people can teach their children such things! I still consider myself Lutheran and am a believer, although I haven't been to church in a long time. I found that most churches are full of hypocrites who preach Christian love while stabbing you in the back when you're not there. I'd rather believe in my own way.

      January 21, 2013 at 9:11 am |
  18. Wingnut2

    I'm going with riots in four cities. 3 dead, 37 injured, 175 arrests. None of it covered on CNN.

    I'll take overs and unders on this thread . . . .

    January 20, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
  19. Devoted Christian

    Why don't unicorns eat twelve-leaf clovers? There is a question here and the filthy hellbound atheists are dodging it!

    January 20, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      the problem is that it's just a bad question....

      January 20, 2013 at 6:18 pm |
    • Steve Emmick

      first of all, devoted christian, atheism is not synonymous with "hell" because we don't believe those fairy tales, you do. The difference between us and you is that you're wasting time worshiping air and brainwashing young, naive children to believe the very same nonsense you were too vulnerable to believe because you live your life in fear and are too afraid to feel alone with it. you spend too much time thanking a god for little coincidences but continue to make excuses for god when massive disasters occur. your beliefs are your own business and all we ask is that you keep them in your home, away from our children and out of politics because real problems need real solutions, not stupid prayers that don't do a thing...

      January 20, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      How do you know unicorns don't eat 12-leaf clover? Oh I see you have no evidence of either so you prefer to not believe. Does that clarify the atheist position?

      January 20, 2013 at 6:46 pm |
  20. ObaWendon

    Sadly, I remain away from any Church due to the number of hyprocrits who attend. So many preach this and that yet don't live what they preach. I prefer to believe my way without the pressure and pushing that so many Church folk do. Just because I don't believe exactly the same way you do does not mean that I don't believe and won't go to heaven.

    January 20, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Gir

      Here's how they can maintain the hypocrisy: They project their own idiosyncrasies and crooked morals onto their god, and then claim to speak for the god's own moral preferences, and with its authority.

      That's why they're SO sure that everybody else but them will end up in an eternal barbacue fire, that the presidential candidate they didn't vote for is an inept Muslim c.ommunist who'll surely ruin the economy by the end of his term, and that the earth is 6000 years old, no matter what the empirical evidence says.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • Frustrated

      Sadly, ObaWendon, you must not understand what it really means to be a part of a faith and a church. Every person of faith struggles from time to time. This doesn't that they are hypocrites for believing in something they cannot always achieve. God places before us what he believes is wrong or right and many times were not going to get it right. I feel no pressure from the the church to act up to some standard; I do it because I want to and His words give me guidance. And to Gir, I cannot even take you seriously. I laughed at your ignorant, ridiculous words.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:35 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Frustrated: Gir gave a very good answer. Perhaps you can't see just how fake christianity is, especially in this country because you are part of the lie.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
    • LaurelCA

      ObaWendon – I completely agree with your statement.

      January 20, 2013 at 6:38 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.