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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. Siberian

    I love reading stories like these. I grew up in a small town in a very rural conservative part of Indiana. I grew up with parents who were religious, and who still are. As a child, I prayed a lot and read most (if not all) of the bible. As I got older, I started to question the bible and religion, as many people do. I fell in love with a Catholic girl, and got married in the Catholic church. I never converted, though I felt some pressure from my then fiance.

    We had 2 children, and baptized them in the Catholic church, and one has even taken communion. I tell you this, as at first I didn't associate myself with a religion (nor didn't want to) but told myself I believed in God. I would have long conversations with my wife about why I did not want to associate with a certain religion. Over the past 10 years, I've gradually found that I become more agnostic, and now am starting to realize I am an atheist. The only thing pulling at me to say I believed was that I was raised to believe that a person without god is evil, and I denied for that sole fact. Now I am starting to realize I really am an atheist – and I am OK with that.

    I am still a closet atheist, though. I have not had this conversation with my wife yet. I'm not sure how she will react... It scares me really... She has a big heart and is very accepting of others, I think she will be just as accepting of my views.

    My dilemma isn't telling her, it's what do I tell the kids? Do I let my wife raise them Catholic, and once they are older discuss my views with them? This way they can make their own decisions at an adult age... I feel if I tell them now, they will just be confused, and could lead to conflict. What to do...

    I really loved this article and seeing others like me. I like to know I'm not alone, and I'm really not a bad person. I also feel that religion isn't necessarily a "terrible" thing. They do great things for the community. I just don't like the passing of judgement. If we could live in a world that is free of judgement, that would be more important than a world free of religion.

    January 21, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Colin

      Good for you!!! Virtually every atheist went through the same transition. Congratulations, you have no doubt given it a lot more thought than your friends.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • Saraswati

      I grew up with a liberal Catholic mother and an agnostic father (negative atheist). It was no big deal. Let me know if you have any specific questions. My mother actually gave up pretty happily on the whole religion thing in her last 10 years of life. Just decided she didn't much truth in it.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • HotAirAce

      You might find that she is in the closet too. Re: the children, be honest with them and trust that they will figure it out if allowed to.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • Austin

      i think a wold that is free of truth is what works for a bunch of people who reject God who lets you choose to honor Him or not. His kingdom is a spiritual kingdom, which is why He isnt a military ruler. Dont reject redemption.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:45 am |
    • Good for you!

      I believe in GOD- But I wouldn't judge you for your reason not to believe in. My study of the scriptures talks about not judging others and to love everyone even the ones that do you harm. I think most religions teach their members that there religion is the ONE AND ONLY but it shouldn't be that way- people should make their own choices and not have to let a man made congregation tell them how and what to do with your life- but a good reading and meditation, comprehension of the BIBLE should guide you in the right direction and HOW TO LIVE YOUR LIFE!

      January 21, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Bert 99

      Bravo!!! I applaud your honesty. I am an atheist and face the same dilemma with my children. Religion is something so personal. Is it right to force a child to this belief at such a young age? I think religion and everything that comes with it should be decided by the individual at an older age. Let them collect the information they need and decide if they believe in god and if so how to practice and with which religion.

      January 21, 2013 at 11:00 am |
  2. some schmuck

    I cannot prove the non-existence of God. This is a true statement. However, you cannot prove the non-existence of Russell's Teapot. The teapot is a small teapot, orbiting the sun at the midpoint of the orbits of Earth and Mars.

    Now, if I were to claim with vehemence that this teapot was real, should be taught about in schools, and should be the guideline for morality in this country. You'd all look at me as if I was mad, or you'd demand that I bring forth some proof of the teapot's existence. If I then replied "well, you can't prove it doesn't exist", you'd probably have me committed, and rightfully so. I'd be full of it.

    This is what Christians do every day when they acuse atheists of "having faith that god doesn't exist."

    Look I don't even have to have faith that god doesn't exist. I'm actually 100% completely and totally POSITIVE that one of the following three statements is true and correct.

    1. There is no god.
    2. It is not the god of ANY religion on this planet.
    3. This being is not worthy of my worship as he fails even the most basic test of moral conduct and decency.

    Now, if any one of these statements is true, it is absolutely appropriate to behave as if number 1 is true.

    January 21, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • nopretensehere

      I think those 3 statements are pretty self serving and may make you feel better about your decision just as a religious person soothes herself with the thought of 'being right'. I certainly do not believe in any of the religious views of god whatsoever, but as to whether there is a 'god' and what god is I cannot say. I just cannot get around the complexity of things and how little we understand (physics is showing us that), if there is no consciousness to perceive things does anything truly exist? Just because our meager logic cannot see through to the other side does not mean its not there and perhaps instantiated in a manner nobody would expect. Maybe our consciousness is part of a larger consciousness (paging Dr. Yoda) and then again maybe it's just an artifact of our mind, I have no idea, but I do know one thing to be true, here is my list:

      1) I cannot reason using logic to ascertain the existence or nonexistence of god.

      January 21, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • some schmuck

      How are they "self-serving?"

      Look, I know this will surprise a lot of Christians, but I've actually spent a tremendous amount of my life studying the Christian bible. It was through that study that I decided that this was not a god I could worship even if it were a real being. Since my belief at the time was that God was an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being, I had to conclude that my concept of god was not real.

      Reading other religious texts from other religions of this planet, I come to conclude something similar about them all.

      Either the gods that humans have invented are not real, or they're not worthy of worship. If there is a being that is worthy of worship, he hasn't made himself apparent to human beings. Quite likely he doesn't give a rats petoot about whether or not we worship him.

      Now, as you can tell, I haven't even resorted to using scientific knowledge to rule out the possibility of a god. This is just plain and simple empathy.

      A god that condones stoning someone to death cannot be omnibenevolent. A god that condones ethnic cleansing cannot be omnibenevolent.

      Finally, there is always the Epicurean argument. I feel this sums it up quite nicely.

      Is he [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able? then he isn't omniotent.
      Is he able, but not willing? then he is malevolent.
      Is he both able and willing? then from whence comes evil?"

      January 21, 2013 at 11:26 am |
  3. Scott

    I lost my faith in atheism. It was too difficult to reconcile things like the specified digital code at the core of DNA, pure altruism, consciousness, and a hard-wired longing for purpose and significance, with a purposeless indifferent universe that didn't have me in mind. Just doesn't make sense.

    I thank people like Ravi Zacharias, William Lane Craig, and Lee Strobel for helping me see the absurdity of being a chance-worshipper.

    January 21, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • JWT

      So you prefer being a fairy tale worshipper. Good for you.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • TANK!!!!

      "a purposeless indifferent universe that didn't have me in mind."

      Ah. If an idea doesn't give you warm and fuzzy feelings all over, reject it. Brilliant argument.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • TANK!!!!

      "the specified digital code at the core of DNA, pure altruism"

      Well, we can rule out a career in chemistry and biology for you now, can't we?

      January 21, 2013 at 10:42 am |
    • Daniel

      Doesn't have you in mind? Your existence proves otherwise good sir.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:55 am |
  4. Colin

    Here are ten very simple guidelines that we could teach our children and let them decide for themselves.

    10 Commandments that every child should be taught.

    1. DO NOT automatically believe something just because a parent, priest, rabbi or minister tells you that you must. They can’t all be right.

    2. DO NOT think that claims about magic, miracles and the supernatural are more likely true because they are written in old books. That makes them less likely true.

    3. DO analyze claims about religion with the same critical eye that you would claims about money, political positions or social issues.

    4. DO NOT accept it when religious leaders tell you it is wrong to question, doubt or think for yourself. It never is. Only those selling junk cars want to prohibit you from looking under the hood.

    5. DO decouple morality from a belief in the supernatural, in any of its formulations (Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc.). One can be moral without believing in gods, ghosts and ghouls and believing in any of them does not make one moral.

    6. DO a bit of independent research into whatever book you were brought up to believe in. Who are its authors and why should you believe them in what they say? How many translations has it gone through? Do we have originals, or only edited copies of copies of copies– the latter is certainly true for every single book in the Bible.

    7. DO realize that you are only a Christian (or Hindu or Jew) because of where you were born. Were you lucky enough to be born in the one part of the World that “got it right”?

    8. DO NOT be an apologist or accept the explanation “your mind is too small to understand the greatness of God,” “God is outside the Universe” or “God moves in mysterious ways” when you come upon logical inconsistencies in your belief. A retreat to mysticism is the first refuge of the cornered fool.

    9. DO understand where your religion came from and how it evolved from earlier beliefs to the point you were taught it. Are you lucky enough to be living at that one point in history where we “got it right”?

    10. DO educate yourself on the natural Universe, human history and the history of life on Earth, so as to be able to properly evaluate claims that a benevolent, mind-reading god is behind the whole thing.

    I sometimes think that, if we first taught our children these simple guidelines, any supernatural belief would be quickly dismissed by them as quaint nostalgia from a bygone era. I hope we get there as a species.

    January 21, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • J.W

      In response to number 8, I have heard it said that before the Universe had taken the form of what it is today, that the laws of nature that we know now did not apply, and that anything could have happened. If that is true is the possibility of a creator just as possible as any other explanation?

      January 21, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Bert 99

      That might be the single post I ever read!!!! That is awesome. I hope you donn't mind but I am going to use that as life lessons for my children. I do not believe in god and have trying to figure out how to tell my kids to examine the existance of god. I live in the South and there is church on every street corner. Sometimes it is difficult to see the forest thru the trees down here

      January 21, 2013 at 11:08 am |
  5. Angela

    let me start by saying that my mother was lutheran as a child converted to a catholic to marry her cheating swine of an ex husband and when she divorced him she was excommunicated. My father was a baptist as a child. we are 8th generation Texans. When I was born my parents decided that they would not baptize. They wanted me to be able to choose my religion when I was old enough to understand what each religion's beliefs were. I am now 35 still living in Texas and have no desire to belong to a church. I have been told that I am going to hell and every other "mean" thing a christian can say to me. I am glad that they have an opinion even if I don't share their feelings. What I don't like is to be slapped in the face daily with religion. I don't care if I need to be "saved" or "prayed for". I have gone to jury duty several times and said their oath except the "so help me God" part. I don't deem it nessicarry. I am pretty sure God doesn't have time to smite everyone that lies and if he did the world would have caught fire by now. I think this mom has every right to feel the way she feels. I think she very brave to make her feelings known in the bible belt that is Texas. just to let you know that I am living proof that you can raise a person to be moral and kind with out the presence of a church.

    January 21, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Madtown

      ...every other "mean" thing a christian can say to me
      -----
      Good for you Angela. Christians are some of the more judgmental, mean, and critical people that inhabit this planet.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • There is NO HELL

      You're not going to burn in hell- GOD LOVES YOU

      January 21, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  6. AverageJoe76

    You do know, that if man ever stumbled across the 'ultimate truth' there'd be no discrepancy amonst us. That's how powerful it would be. It would be so compelling and indisputable, no creature could hear it, and deny it.

    That's why I say, we haven't found it. And it doesn't want to show itself in a form we can see it. So let's just keep moving until we find something we can all agree on. Eh?

    January 21, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • the AnViL

      you have just provided the most compelling evidence of the complete lack of "divinity" in all religions.

      good form

      January 21, 2013 at 10:34 am |
    • Austin

      If Jesus was crucified, as He did not fight the roman guard saying, my kingdom is not an earthly kingdom, knowing He needed to die to atone for souls, why would change His mind now and perform a sign, when what He wants i people to honor Him for the soul and life He gives. Faiith, like the faith of Abraham, in God, is what pleases God.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:40 am |
    • Madtown

      Right on Joe. If there was only "1 true" religious path that God preferred, it would be made known to all of humanity.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • Austin

      the point of the doctrine of Sin is that we are one Human race, and there is one savior, who HAS already jutified all men before a Holy God.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:48 am |
  7. HOW ABOUT SOME REAL CHANGE

    We need vote on the 28th Amendment: Ban Democrats from Office and SAVE AMERICA

    January 21, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Thoth

      Yep, if you don't agree then the opposition must be banned.....

      January 21, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • mama k

      The gentleman from Virginia that introduced the 27th Amendment also introduced #1 – and you're idea will never get past #1.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • the AnViL

      funny when people want to squelch only one political party.

      the only thing i would add to what mama k wrote is:

      cha cha cha

      January 21, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Bert 99

      If you don't like leave. Everybody gets a voice, not just you!!

      January 21, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • sam stone

      both left and right wings are needed. without one, the other would run roughshod. that being said, pull your head out of your rectum, punk

      January 21, 2013 at 11:30 am |
  8. mj

    I have raised my child to think for himself. We are not a religious family but if he decides he wants to join a church then he is more than welcome to do so, but i will not push anything on him. I'm not saying that we are atheist but I have my doubts, and there are so many different views and religions that there is no way any one certain one is the right one.

    January 21, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • emalcar

      What would it take for you to be sure? For example, the apostles prayed that God would confirm his word with signs and wonders. According to the scriptures Jesus said if you cannot believe in what i tell you at least believe in me because of what you see. What would it take for your to believe and I pray that that would happen for you. Also, how much time are you willing to devote to the task of finding out whether there is in fact one true God? We spend allot of time preparing ourselves for this life, but how much time do we take to prepare or to even find out if there is an after life. There are many people who are sure, the question is how did they obtain that assurance. I think you will find allot of times it was not simply blind faith.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:42 am |
  9. Colin

    Dear Christians:

    God here.

    I really don’t have a problem with how this woman raises her children. Because, you see, I do not exist. The concept of a 13,700,00,000 year old being, capable of creating the entire Universe and its billions of galaxies, monitoring simultaneously the actions and thoughts of the 7 billion human beings on this planet is ludicrous.

    Second, if I did exist, I would have left you a book a little more consistent, timeless and independently verifiable than the collection of Iron Age Middle Eastern mythology you call the Bible. Hell, I bet you cannot tell me one thing about any of its authors or how and why it was compiled with certain writings included and others excluded, nor how it has been edited over the centuries, yet you cite it for the most extraordinary of supernatural claims.

    Thirdly, when I sent my “son” (whatever that means, given that I am god and do not mate) to Earth, he would have visited the Chinese, Ja.panese, Europeans, Russians, sub-Saharan Africans, Australian Aboriginals, Mongolians, Polynesians, Micronesians, Indonesians and native Americans, not just a few Jews. He would also have exhibited a knowledge of something outside of the Iron Age Middle East.

    Fourthly, I would not spend my time hiding, refusing to give any tangible evidence of my existence, and then punish those who are smart enough to draw the natural conclusion that I do not exist by burning them forever. That would make no sense to me, given that I am the one who elected to withhold all evidence of my existence in the first place.

    Fifthly, in the same vein, I would not make about 5% of the human population gay, then punish them for being that way. In fact, I wouldn’t care about how humans have $ex at all, given that I created all of the millions of millions of species on the planet, all of whom are furiously reproducing all the time. Human $ex would be of no interest to me, given that I can create Universes. Has it ever occurred to you that your obsession with making rules around human $ex is an entirely human affair?

    Sixth, I would have smitten all you Christian activists, and all evangelicals and fundamentalists long before this. You people drive me nuts. You are so small minded and speak with such false authority. Many of you still believe in the talking snake nonsense from Genesis. I would kill all of you for that alone and burn you for an afternoon (burning forever is way too barbaric even for a sick, sadistic bast.ard like me to contemplate).

    Seventh, the whole idea of members of one species on one planet surviving their own physical deaths to “be with me” is utter, mind-numbing nonsense. Grow up. You will die. Get over it. I did. Hell, at least you had a life. I never even existed in the first place.

    Eighth, I do not read your minds, or “hear your prayers” as you euphemistically call it. There are 7 billion of you. Even if only 10% prayed once a day, that is 700,000,000 prayers. This works out at 8,000 prayers a second – every second of every day. Meanwhile I have to process the 100,000 of you who die every day between heaven and hell. Dwell on the sheer absurdity of that for a moment.

    Finally, the only reason you even consider believing in me is because of where you were born. Had you been born in India, you would likely believe in the Hindu gods, if born in Tibet, you would be a Buddhist. Every culture that has ever existed has had its own god(s) and they always seem to favor that particular culture, its hopes, dreams and prejudices. What, do you think we all exist? If not, why only yours?

    Look, let’s be honest with ourselves. There is no god. Believing in me was fine when you cringed in fear during the Dark Ages and thought the World was young, flat and simple. Now we know how enormous, old and complex the Universe is.

    Move on – get over me. I did.

    God

    January 21, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • kenny

      that was priceless... lol

      January 21, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • Ted

      Nailed it.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • PJ

      Dude, you're stealing my thunder, and I'm loving it!

      January 21, 2013 at 11:12 am |
  10. Felix

    I am ok with the Mom's opinion – it is after all her right.
    I think what she is also saying is that we as a true country with rights like no where else in the world should be able to agree to disagree.
    This country in the year 2012 seems at times to want to bring back the ways of the Christian Crusades and just cut off the heads of the non-believers.
    I have two little boys and fully believe in the teachings of Jesus, but I believe just as strongly in the separation of Church and State.
    It is my duty to train my boys the way I see fit.
    I don't want their school directing their religious beliefs (in school prayer) in any way.
    We as a country are already 26th in the world in science and match – that needs to be our educational focus.

    January 21, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • fsmgroupie

      straight from god's holy book--psalm 137:9--happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:41 am |
  11. Buck

    There's no such thing as religion, and thank goodness we have the International Fake Station to keep us all entertained.....

    http://www.fountainsofthegreatdeep.com/IFS.htm

    January 21, 2013 at 10:28 am |
  12. Rob-Texas

    Always interesting who both sides state beliefs as facts. For me, my belief in God is based on very real events that have happened in my life. So for me it is fact. However, I can't expect people that didn't take part in those events in my life to see it as fact. So I refer to my beliefs as my beliefs. To bad everyone doesn't do that as well, on both sides. "Cease to exist", that is a belief not a fact. To me it seems odd. If you don't believe in a soul/conscious, even if you don't believe in a creator. If the body doe not have a sole, they any body that is revived and even put on machines if necessary to organ damage, should be conscious and fully alive, unless there is brain damage. What happens to your consciousness? Do you think this is just a complex series of eletrical pulses in the brain? How can people that died and come back see people that were in the room by their body? Any explination there? Is this some kind of crazy hulisination and you have some increased sence of smell and hearing so you know who was in the room? How do you know what they were wearing?

    January 21, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • JWT

      Not a single bit of that is any reason to believe in any of the 1000s of gods.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:30 am |
    • AverageJoe76

      No matter what happens after someone dies, it still gave no details as to what God should be worshipped. It could've been that six-armed God. Or the one with one-eye. Or the Lawnmower Man. If God wants us to follow him in some particular way, why weren't we all given the same message. Directions. Anything. There's 50-trillion versions of 'truth' out there. Makes me believe we made it up, and kept tweaking the stories. If there was an 'ultimate truth', none of us would deny it. It'd be that powerful.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • AreYouKiddingMe

      If your going to pretend that you and your "beliefs" are intelligent and logical than you should probably figure out how to spell. Your statement has done nothing but further the stereotype that religion and ignorance go hand and hand. Too many unbelievably misspelled words. The fact that your posting this statement online, which means your on a computer, which means you have the resources to check your grammar, is even more unbelievable.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:48 am |
  13. Phil (@illneverusethis)

    Let's get on with living in THIS life. Treat others with respect, love one another, and do the right thing. God is imaginary. So are talking snakes, rib women, 950 year old men, magic, sea parting, and reanimating after being dead for 3 days. Use your critical thinking skills and life is so much more enjoyable! It's very liberating to be a free thinker. I'm a good person with a great family. I'm not satan, nor do I do bad things or have morality issues. I was voted class favorite in school, have numerous awards from civic organizations, and am a very loving, sympathetic and kind person. You don't need to have religion as your moral compass. I know it's wrong to lie, cheat, murder, steal, etc. Also, read a few science books. Pretty amazing stuff.

    January 21, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • Austin

      one day a cat i had never seen came to my porch. that night i had a dream that i was in a cabin in a forest, and a demonic voice was singing in the corner of the room. my body(in the dream) inverted upside down and that cat ran underneath me with blood gushing out of it as i was hanging upside down, listining to a demon sing. when i woke up I knew the cat was dead, and it was flat as a pancake at the end of my driveway. explain that without spiritual reality how some spirit conveyed that information to me?

      January 21, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • AreYouKiddingMe

      Too Austin:

      I can explain that...schizophrenia. Seek medical treatment, before you have another dream and end up murdering a room full of people because they all looked like demons in your dream.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Colin in Florida

      To Austin: You smoked some bad stuff, drank too much, had an overdose, whatever. To quote a wise man “You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There's more of gravy than of grave about you."

      January 21, 2013 at 10:58 am |
  14. Jeebus

    Why call her "Godless"? Why not just say she is a woman without any delusions. Godless presumes that there is a God and she doesn't have one. If there is NO God as many believe, then the word "Godless" is meaningless. It would be the same as saying she has no Unicorn and is Unicornless.

    January 21, 2013 at 10:26 am |
  15. PJ

    Colin, that was beautiful.

    January 21, 2013 at 10:26 am |
  16. UU Atheist

    I think that there are even more non-believers than the survey reports. It's missing a part of the demographic, atheists who are affiliated with a church. I'm an atheist and I attend a Unitarian Universalist Congregation. I would estimate that about a 25% of the membership is either atheist, agnostic or questioning. There are also a lot of pagans in our community. Many ask why I go to "church" if I don't believe, I enjoy the sense of community, the shared values of the seven principles, the opportunity to share in addressing social justice issues. I further believe that ritual and recognition of milestones is important to human beings and my UU congregation provides this for me.

    January 21, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • Saraswati

      Not only are there a lot of non-god believers among atheists and Buddhists, but even in mainstream churches there are many who when pressed simply equate God with nature. A lot of why people stay in a church, especially one like Catholicism with a stong cultural component, is for comraderie and tradition. One survey in the UK found large numbers of Church of England clergy who didn't believe in god, so I assume the same is true among US episcopals.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:38 am |
  17. BlackCoffee

    I am going with Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal of religion. Since I can't prove God exists, I can define the momentum he has.

    January 21, 2013 at 10:26 am |
  18. Shari

    Too many people are complaining that Ms. Mitchell doesn't understand the basic principals about Christianity. Well, who really does? I don't think most Christians do, either. Those principles vary drastically, depending on which franchise you choose. I also don't think most Christians understand that atheists aren't immoral, Satan-worshipping nihilists, but that's another editorial.

    Ms. Mitchell couldn't possibly address everyone's view of religion in general, let alone a particular one. Even if she did, there would be a flurry of response from "good Christians" who disagree with that particular religious view. And so on.
    Expecting her to address priniples AS A PARTICULAR PERSON SEES THEM is unrealistic. Not doing so doesn't negate her point of view OR her judgment.She's speaking in general terms and, I think,they are fairly appropriate ones.

    I'm a recovering Church of Christ survivor and think that maybe I don't have a problem with God as much as I do with his and/or her followers. But I'm still an atheist for valid reasons and experiences.

    January 21, 2013 at 10:25 am |
  19. lostinalife

    I read the article when it first ran, and I was thankful that she wrote it. I'm agnostic, though I was baptized Catholic. I have friends of many, many faiths, and none of them have ever had a problem with my beliefs. If you have a personal relationship with God, great!!! It doesn't make you any more or less of a good person than I am. I don't believe a peson should ever be told that their views are wrong, or that someone should claim their views are the RIGHT ones. Be respectful of one another, and everyone should get along just fine.

    January 21, 2013 at 10:24 am |
  20. ScottH

    There is a reason she feels lonely and isolated, and it's not because people are praying for her. It is because she is missing a fundamental part of her psyche. We were designed to be One with the Creator of the universe. It is why we spend our whole lives searching for that "something" to fill the void. Some people fill it with drugs, others with possessions, still others with religion (man's attempt at recreating God in our own image). At the end of the day, these just distract us from the root of the problem. The fix is unconditional love by someone greater than ourselves, and a commitment to follow in His footsteps and show the same type of love to all mankind.

    January 21, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • ed galbraith

      Childish drivel, Scott. You'll come to a different view.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • gager

      Oh please, you must think of yourself as a very special person above everyone else because you have an imaginary friend. I think people of faith have a mental disorder.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:27 am |
    • JWT

      Please don't include me in your religious fantasies.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • simonfacer

      ScottH – if you have a void you need to fill, that just shows how incomplete you are. I don't feel that, my self-worth is complete without the imaginary friend you seem to need.

      January 21, 2013 at 10:39 am |
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About this blog

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