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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. james A.

    Even in religious homes, kids should be allowed to be kids before any baggage is piled upon them. Everyone should have the freedom to pursue God on their own terms.

    January 19, 2013 at 4:32 am |
    • Serve Him

      So a parent who introduces their belief in God is now "baggage"? I also have heard atheist believe that introducing religion is a form of child abuse. Wow, I never knew my mother was pilling "baggage" on me. My mother was a great person. I never considered her action as a negative. I might have been indifferent to it at a young age, but not something that was negative. But in the same sense you find it okay to introduce your love of sports to your children and that is okay? Or don't believe is also okay to teach your children?

      January 19, 2013 at 4:51 am |
  2. Serve Him

    I'd be curious to know how many atheist believe in ghosts, spirits, etc? I find it interesting that many agnostics or atheist find it easy to believe in this afterlife, but in public while discussing God will say something like, "when we did that is it!" But what is the explanation for believing in spirits/ghosts?

    January 19, 2013 at 4:31 am |
    • Serve Him

      when we *die*...

      January 19, 2013 at 4:31 am |
    • O.o

      I do not believe in spirits, the supernatural, a transcendental god or any type of deity.

      January 21, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
  3. Serve Him

    Many started off by NOT BELIEVING! A lot of you people on her think people believe because "they are forced to" by their parents. Absolutely not true. Young men and women leave their home and start their life and usually church is not part of it. It is only after they go through life, and we call this a call by God, they return. The same is with me. I was an adult, never attended, attended only because my new wife went, and after 10 years of doing nothing, I finally realized I am being a hypocrite. Either I should attend church because I knew who Christ is, or stop attending. Thankfully, and I will not share my story with you, God made Himself known to me. God cannot be "proved". It is only after you put down all your shields and offer yourself up does God make Himself known.

    January 19, 2013 at 4:26 am |
    • Links2

      My reply to your viewpoint(and that is what it is) is that it is older people, more than anything, who open themselves up to believing in God because they are now so much closer to death. They do not want to die, and if the have to, then they now want to believe in heaven.
      I personally have a tough time believing that I will no longer have this inner voice, which is the biggest part of me. I do not want to believe that it will be snuffed out, believe in God or not. But, alas, it is my belief that once we die, we are gone...lights out...nothing there.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:37 am |
    • Serve Him

      @Links2 Not sure what the "stats" are, but you are assuming most who believe are over the age of ?? say 70? I am 45, great life, I have no worldly reason to believe in God, including any bad health or fear of death. Maybe older people have learned how to "quiet" themselves. And if fear of dying is what calls them to hear God, so be it.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:45 am |
  4. Unconflicted

    A difficult choice – If atheists are correct and Christians are wrong, then many have wasted some of their time on things that they felt were helpful to them and others. As flawed as it may be, it has brought comfort and direction to many for centuries. If Christians are correct and atheists are wrong, then many have doomed themselves to an eternity of separation from the God who loves them and has created a way for them to get home. To dismiss these beliefs as simple-minded fairy tales is foolish and irresponsible. Choose today who you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. To quote Yoda, "Choose wisely........"

    January 19, 2013 at 4:24 am |
    • Gir

      And you truly believe your god would let fickle people like you into Sugarcandy Mountain?

      January 19, 2013 at 9:51 am |
  5. vpkwriter

    Here's the deal. As a strong Christian, I can respect her belief system. If she chooses not to believe in God, that is her prerogative. What I did not like about her article was her subtle mockery of people of faith. She didn't give the reasons why she doesn't believe and leave it at that. Instead, she had to interject little jabs that made fun of people of faith, shrouding it in some intellectual garble and 100% certainty that what she believes is the true way and the right way. Which, I might add, I find ironic since that is one of the biggest qualms of atheists, that people of faith cry out that their religion is the only way. She basically is saying, in a nutshell, that we are idiots, unintelligent, and that our actions of compassion and mercy for others are fear based, unlike hers which are pure and right. And while she is free to believe what she wants about Christians, she is a hypocrite. She is a hypocrite because she expects people to respectfully accept her belief system, all the while criticizing those who have faith. I read parts of her blog, and she says things like "prayer is silly" and people who "talk with God are nuts." Hardly tolerant of another's belief system. I am sure if I said she were nuts, she would say I was one of those people who "had anger" and "hostility" towards atheists. So, sure, she can go ahead and speak her mind as an atheist, but she should grow up and stop talking about her tolerance and concern for humanity, her compassion and love for others, while belittling people who don't believe like she does. After all, she can't blame her idiocy and intolerance on anyone but herself.

    January 19, 2013 at 4:23 am |
  6. Serve Him

    "I want my children to be "free" of God." Well they are as she was free to not believe. Yes, if she asked her mother to "stop", her mother should have stopped, but that is a personal relationship thing with her mother. How many times do people walk down the street and have people shoving a Bible in their face? not often if at all. So this article is not about "being forced" to believe and she publicized a problem with her mother and conjectured "religion" is the problem.

    January 19, 2013 at 4:21 am |
  7. Links2

    "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."

    These words by Ms. Mitchell are exactly my thoughts. It is a personal experience and belief. It isn't something that should be thrown in the face of anyone. it also is not something an atheist should spit all over. If you don't believe for whatever your reasons, that is fair...if you do believe, that is totally fine also...c'est la vie...
    This world would be in a much better place if there was more tolerance.
    As with anything, interpretation of a book(religious books in particular, it seems)can be twisted in any way one wants to twist it in order to reach groups of people. There are many people that just want to be led.

    January 19, 2013 at 4:15 am |
    • Serve Him

      My faith in God does not come from the Bible. The Bible teaches us, but it is NOT the foundation.

      In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend[a] it.

      The "Word", as God referred to it, is the foundation. The "Word" is Christ who binds the Bible together.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:37 am |
  8. EyesWideOpen

    Opiate of the masses, people!

    January 19, 2013 at 4:13 am |
  9. david

    Christianity is suppose to be a uplifting experience in a person's life. I suspect this lady didn't get that when she was growing up, but who I really feel for is her kids. There own mother is going to tell them that GOD doesn't exist?. There own mother is going to tell them that GOD isn't fair? There own mother is going to tell them that GOD isn't a good father? At least let the kids make up there own mind, but let them do it now. They should be involved in Church, they should be involved in a youth group, they may even LOVE going to Church because that's where all there friends are!

    January 19, 2013 at 4:10 am |
    • Selendis

      if you don't believe in god, how could you possibly tell your kids anything about god? see, that is the reason there is such a rebellion against religion.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:12 am |
    • Charlie McGuiness

      Or their friends are playing sports or going to school. God was created in a time where humans didn't understand the world around us. People used to worship gods for things like good crops, inundation, or resistance to disease, all of which have improved because of science and technological advances, which were largely stymied by the Vatican for several hundred years. Galileo was imprisoned for saying the Earth was round, and other scientists were routinely excommunicated for simply progressing the Human race. Religion has also been the basis for most of the worlds conflicts, particularly in the Middle East. God only exists in the imagination of humans.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:26 am |
  10. Selendis

    I am always perplexed by other peoples reaction to lack of faith. As if it needs to be cured. What is missing in your life that you need to argue either way? I wont tell you how to believe, and you don't have the right to tell me how I am to believe. I think all/none spirituality is personal. Discussing your beliefs is fine. I would even encourage it since listening to others beliefs or experiences help us grow. But there is a huge difference between discussion, and expecting others to share your belief. Eventually, people must have enough maturity to understand that as a whole, we are all much more alike than we are different. The common areas are what count, and should be respected above all.

    January 19, 2013 at 4:05 am |
    • Mark Taylor

      I read four or five responses to this article. your's is the only one that is respectful. Good job.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:12 am |
  11. komododr

    Hahahaha.......he had a heart attack but survive. Hmmm...I wonder who called 911 that saved his life. I really have a problem when someone is rescued from some disaster and the first thing that come out from their mouth is....thank god for the miracle. What miracle, its the first responders like the Fire Rescue Team, or Paramedics, or Police Officer that save the person's life. People continue to believe in Santa Claus. They know there's really no Santa Claus but they continue to pass the charade with their children because they were brought up with the same lies.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:59 am |
    • Gigi

      Not to belittle the guy who had a heart attack but yeah I get what you're saying. It's like the football players thanking God for that last touchdown. So God doesn't like the other team? Should we stone the losing team after the game because God obviously likes one more than the other. What about all the training, teamwork, skill, etc? I guess technically you're thanking God for that but it still just floors me with the arrogance of it all. God does not care about your stupid football game.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:34 am |
  12. Joel Someillan

    In 1978 when I was 12 years old and siting in 6th grade in a Catholic school, I suddenly realized religion was equal to fantasy. It hit me that it was all a hoax. And since then, I have lived a very peaceful and happy life without any religion to hold me back. It's great to see our country finally embracing intelligence and slowly moving toward a secular way of life.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:57 am |
  13. Joe Clark

    A classic case of the blind leading the blind. Gods handi works are all around her and she cannot see any of it . She is try a sad woman. Hell is very uncomfortable. She should watch the commentary of Tamara Laroux on the too club. Its chilling.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:55 am |
    • El-hombre

      How do you know when something is done by God? A person who not believe the God story does not have to be crazy/bad/going-to-hell. I believe, if God(the one from the bible) was real, we all would know for sure. why is he/she is hiding :)

      January 19, 2013 at 4:14 am |
    • Charlie McGuiness

      I would have taken you seriously, but your lack of proper grammar suggests you are relatively uneducated, and thus, apply god to everything you do not understand that can be easily explained away by science.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:20 am |
    • OneOfThem

      There is no "handi work" . If the Christian God had any influence on our decisions or manipulated any thing in any way, it would completely make the notion of free will null and void.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:22 am |
    • rick

      ooooh.......hell.....

      January 19, 2013 at 4:45 am |
    • el-humbre

      @Charlie McGuiness, you are an idiot. Your God does not exist. Is that grammatically correct?

      January 19, 2013 at 5:50 am |
    • steve z

      tamara laroux??? the internet hoax of 2010!!!! bwwwwwaaahahahahahahahahaha.... you have got to be kidding me.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:20 am |
  14. AEvangelista

    It is the fault of religions if people leave them. Religions need to upgrade, upgrade, upgrade. Don't pretend to not know what we now know. Don't be stuck with ancient teachings that are no longer relevant. Don't try to drag people back to a time to which they will not return. Religion needs to keep up with us, or we will leave it behind.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:51 am |
  15. PROUDLIBERAL3

    Man created god not vice versa. God is a figment of the imagination that serves as a convenient crutch for people who cannot come to grips with reality. It is a placebo for those people who need and demand answers for what no one can possibly know. ”Faith” is simply believing in something that has no facts or evidence to back it up... something that no rational person would believe in. There has never been any credible evidence of the existence of miracles, angels or that prayer works. Regardless of what people say I think that they instinctively know that prayer is a fiction because when people say they heard god talk to them society considers them to be mentally ill. Is believing that you can speak to god any more rational?

    I believe that organized religion is the biggest scam ever created by man. It takes people’s fear of the unknown and fear of their ultimate non-existence and parlays that fear into a means to control people and to earn profits. I believe that many religious leaders use the concept of a “god” to conveniently establish a credible partner who never asks for a percentage of the take. Even with those religious leaders who actually believe in the snake oil they are selling religion leads to more negatives than positives. People are flim-flammed and their emotions are channeled into causes their leaders believe in and this often leads to the spread of war, intolerance and discrimination.

    I believe that believers have created a set of supposedly ironclad excuses to attempt to explain away doubters. They will tell you that if a prayer is not answered “god merely said no”! If one points out the misery and suffering of mankind, such as the holocaust, which occurred while god merely stood by, they will respond that it was the work of the devil or the result of man’s “free will”. To quote Dana Carvey’s Saturday Night Live church lady character…”How conveeenient!”

    I believe that all matter has existed forever and was never created by any deity. I also believe that all matter continues in one form or another although consciousness ends upon death after which we are in the same state as we were before we were born. As Einstein said … “matter can neither be created nor destroyed.” You might refuse to accept the concept that the universe and all things contained within it always existed yet all religious people already accept that belief in the form of a god that, in the case of Catholicism “is, was and always will be.” We are merely renters on planet earth and someday our lease will expire and our species will become extinct. There is nothing we can do to change that fact of science especially some imaginary god.

    Religious people might try to lead a moral life due to fear that, if they do not honor and obey their loving god, this same “loving god” will condemn them to perpetual pain and suffering in the literal hell fires of eternal damnation. I prefer to lead a moral life based upon natural law that states that there is a right and a wrong regardless of the existence of a supreme being or possible punishment. I think, in that regard, non-believers hold the moral high ground.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:50 am |
    • AEvangelista

      At the same time, science is open to the possibility of a dozen other dimensions, but is a long way from getting there. So science is a player in the realm of the supernatural. I am scientific myself, yet supernatural encounters run strong on my mother's side of the family, including with me. So don't think you have it all figured out because you don't. I agree that religions are screwed up, but human spirituality is real.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:55 am |
    • Joel Someillan

      Perfectly said.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:00 am |
    • Coleman

      @ PROUDLIBERAL3 Very well said! I couldn't agree more!

      January 19, 2013 at 4:04 am |
    • vpkwriter

      Haha! This is laughable at best. "Religion is for people who don't deal with reality?" Do you even think for yourself or do you just follow what the masses on CNN tell you.

      January 19, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • Steelerfan

      Very well said. this is probably the best statement i have ever read about believers in god. I dont believe in god and that doesnt make me a bad person. Well said PROUDLIBERAL3!!!!!

      January 19, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
  16. Nick

    Is CNN on a mission to destroy religion? I don't know why I pick these articles, thinking they're news.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:21 am |
  17. Justsomefellow

    Had a heart attack 3 years ago. Just dropped in the kitchen like a sack of rocks. For people who say there's nothing after this life, sorry, but there is. I have no idea WHO it was, but I wasn't alone. It was the greatest feeling in the world, acceptance and peace (but no universal secrets or stuff like that), and that friggen light actually exists, it's probably the neatest thing I've ever seen. I don't go to church, I drink, smoke, and swear more than a sailor. I don't follow religion to this day because I don't like it, but I'm telling you, there is something there. And it wasn't the body preparing to die which forced a hallucination, it wasn't anistethic, it wasn't lack of oxygen to the brain, there was no activity going on from what I was told (and there usually isn't activity according to my wife, lol). And you know what? I can't wait to get out of here and go back, it sucked being brought back here, this place is a drag in the biggest sense of the word. I'm nobody special, in fact I'm about as low class as a person can get, so it's nothing I care to be recognized for, happens to people all the time. So all this Godless talk, okay, like I said I have no idea who it was that was there and didn't get burned by fire either, but there is definitely SOMETHING there. I don't expect anyone to believe me, heck, I wouldn't believe it myself if I were someone else. It's a ridiculous story and I'm sure the ridicule will pop up. It doesn't matter what people believe, whether it be in religion, or the lack of religion. Doesn't make a difference. We're all important apparently, and it's pretty odd since we do horrendous things to each other. Just let people go the way they want, doesn't matter in the end.

    January 19, 2013 at 3:17 am |
    • HA....

      Yeah...assuming this heart attack actually happened......are you an MD? , is your wife? at this moment can you picture the interior of your brain right down to the cell structure? no? hmmmm ...so how do you know is wasnt oxegen deprivation? how do you know all this if you were out cold? ...again assuming is a real event, how do you know it wasnt your brain doing what it could to stay alive? all sorts of weird things happen when the brain goes into damage control mode.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:41 am |
    • Dan

      Sir, you were hallucinating...explainable by science. It's OK....

      January 19, 2013 at 3:42 am |
    • Mark Taylor

      It doesn't matter that we have the original Old Testament, there is no question that Moses based much of his writing in Genesis on even older Sumarian myths. Read them and you will understand what I am saying. In fact, it appears to me that John Smith who brought us the Mormon faith also was keenly aware of the Sumarian mythos. While Genesis speaks Truth it is not historical factual even though it's possible it is divinely inspired. Recall when you were a child. How did you learn your first lessons on ethical living? Through a storybook that someone read to you. The story presented the ethic in terms you would understand, e.g., "don't lie" and "the boy who cried wolf". The account of creation is a story even if it is divine revelation. Lets assume God talked to Moses. Moses could never understand the concepts of molecular biology, genes, DNA etc. It would have been like a human talking to an ant at that point in our history. So even if (I want to believe it is) it is divinely revealed, it still isn't literally true. This is entirely logical and yet a literalist or creationist won't go there because they think if one think is declared not historically true then it calls the whole collection of writings that is The Bible into question. That's nonsense. Again, this is just stuff I think about. Nobody's trying to evangelize here, I don't know enough about my own beliefs to evangelize though I am more than happy to talk and kick ideas around.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:37 am |
    • Heebeejeebee

      It doesn't matter that we have the original Old Testament, there is no question that Moses based much of his writing in Genesis on even older Sumarian myths. Read them and you will understand what I am saying. In fact, it appears to me that John Smith who brought us the Mormon faith also was keenly aware of the Sumarian mythos. While Genesis speaks Truth it is not historical factual even though it's possible it is divinely inspired. Recall when you were a child. How did you learn your first lessons on ethical living? Through a storybook that someone read to you. The story presented the ethic in terms you would understand, e.g., "don't lie" and "the boy who cried wolf". The account of creation is a story even if it is divine revelation. Lets assume God talked to Moses. Moses could never understand the concepts of molecular biology, genes, DNA etc. It would have been like a human talking to an ant at that point in our history. So even if (I want to believe it is) it is divinely revealed, it still isn't literally true. This is entirely logical and yet a literalist or creationist won't go there because they think if one think is declared not historically true then it calls the whole collection of writings that is The Bible into question. That's nonsense. Again, this is just stuff I think about. Nobody's trying to evangelize here, I don't know enough about my own beliefs to evangelize though I am more than happy to talk and kick ideas around.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:38 am |
  18. deejm2112

    666 comments when I looked at the comments count...strange...

    January 19, 2013 at 3:15 am |
    • Sarah

      there was exactly 666 comments when I started reading too? hmmmmm verry odd

      January 19, 2013 at 4:03 am |
    • Keeping It Real

      It's strange that you think it's strange...

      It's 696 now... no more strange than anything else.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:24 am |
  19. Belseth

    The truth is many deeply religious people are very insecure about their beliefs and fear people that disagree with them. Here's a simple test to prove it. A person who is confident and secure in their beliefs won't see a person disagreeing as a threat. Who cares what other people think if you are confident that you are right. I've heard many people that claim the Bible is absolute fact say that if one part of the Bible is wrong then the whole book is wrong so by that logic it's all true. The problem with that is the Bible has changed dramatically over the years and not just translation errors, King James actually rewrote parts of it. The whole point is if their beliefs are that shaky that they can't accept any part of if being wrong then they are living in denial. These people harassing her are terrified they are wrong and can't tolerate anyone disagreeing with them.

    January 19, 2013 at 2:54 am |
    • Bill P

      @Belseth – Where do you get your information? There is no basis for the notion that the Bible is anything other than what was written 1900 years ago and before. That has been proved over and over by thousands of fragments and whole texts of the New Testament as well as the Dead Sea Scrolls. We have the original Hebrew of the Old Testament and we have the original Greek of the New Testament. Sure there are a few inconsequential scribal errors which do not amount to anything of importance. But your point about "all or nothing" is a good point. I don't "pick and choose" what I will believe out of the Bible. Either God, the Creator of the Universe and perfect and Holy, intended a message to be conveyed or He did not. From what I have seen in the Bible, He does not “play around”, He does not do anything “half measure”, He created man for a very specific purpose, and He does everything perfect. With that, it would have been impossible for such a perfect and Holy God to NOT create the Bible for man to know and understand his purpose and God’s love for him. Thus, the Bible, spanning a period of 1600 years in writing by more than 40 authors and standing all the tests that can be thrown at it by thousands and millions of skeptics, is in fact the inspired Word of God. You can be skeptical and thousands of others can be skeptical, but that has not one iota of an impact on my faith.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:12 am |
    • the AnViL

      Bill P : "You can be skeptical and thousands of others can be skeptical, but that has not one iota of an impact on my faith."

      that's good – because without faith there's really no way you can reconcile the long list of inconsistencies, inaccuracies, contradictions, and failed prophecies in your bible.

      ~

      January 19, 2013 at 3:17 am |
    • Chagrined

      Bill P says: "We have the original Hebrew of the Old Testament and we have the original Greek of the New Testament. "

      NO! We don't have the originals, we don't have the earliest copies, especially of the NT.

      Sure there are a few inconsequential scribal errors which do not amount to anything of importance."

      There are PLENY of errors of consequence: differing resurrection accounts and issues with the divinity of Christ being the more obvious ones.

      Real Bible scholars don't ignore or deny these difficulties. Populist fundamentalists do.

      January 19, 2013 at 3:39 am |
    • Mark Taylor

      As usual there is truth from both sides of this debate buried in bits that are purely speculation and some with ignorance. It is absolutely true that the Trojan War is accepted as historical fact on the basis of 75 ancient manuscripts. There are over 20,000 ancient manuscripts that corroborate the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He was real, did what the book says he did. On the other hand, literalists have got it wrong. There are things in the Bible that are not historical fact but are presented that way in some churches, the book of Job for example. This is pure, creative poetry. A little studious research will reveal that the account of creation presented by Moses (he wrote Genesis but most of the literalists like don't even know that) is borrowed from ancient Sumarian myth and the "seven spirits of creation". The Sumerian texts even include their own version on Noah. It is possible for something to speak Truth without being 100% historical fact. Where you take information like this is entirely up to you. Personally, it leaves me both hopeful and confused at alternating times. Sometimes I feel like Mulder from the X-Files with his poster in his office "I want to Believe". Then I go back and think about those 20,000 ancient manuscripts and their prescription for bringing The Kingdom of God (many are confused about this to, Christ isn't talking about an afterlife here, he's talking about a situation that can be realized in this life based on belief and acting in accordance with that belief). Then I read about Buddhism and their postulate of emptiness (nothing is intrinsic in and of itself alone) and that make sense... their meditation practices really work too! Another x-Files quote: "The Truth is Out There" and it's woven throughout many belief systems that contain Truth.

      January 19, 2013 at 4:27 am |
    • Bill P

      @Mark, @Chagrined, and @AnVil – Another way to look at the Sumarian account is that it simply corroborates, at least in small part, what was known to be true at that time – that there was a catastrophic flood. Of course, Jews and Christians, at least a goodly number of them, believe that the Bible account is through inspiration and the intent of God to communicate what was the truth. At some point we may drop with exhaustion on arguing about what is truth. Forgetting all of these arguments about validity, the Bible proclaims this: that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and He states, regarding Himself, in John 14:6, “I am the way the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father, but by me.” Either we believe that or we do not. There is no middle ground. Some will abjectly reject Jesus; some will consider Him one of many ways to God. However, He says, sorry, you have to believe in me only. And that makes sense. Assuming that Jesus is the Son of God: why would God sacrifice Him for “just some people’s sins”? That, otherwise, it would be OK to reject Jesus because you “liked” some other belief system and you were sincere. It just does not work that way. Either He was the Son of God or He was not. Either He was telling the truth or He was not. Either He provides the only way of salvation for sins or He does not. And that is what this life is all about – to make the decision to believe or not believe in Jesus, with eternal consequences.

      January 19, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  20. TANK!!!!

    Religion: because last week's Honey Booboo Marathon didn't k-ill enough of your brain cells.

    January 19, 2013 at 2:38 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.