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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. landofodin

    MY GOD CARRIES A HAMMER !!!!!! YOURS ? OH YEA, NAILED TO A CROSS. IT'S OK ,HE WASN'T A REAL PERSON ANYWAYS. JUST A STORY RETOLD AND RETOLD, ONLY THE NAMES HAVE CHANGED. THOU SHALL NOT STEAL unless it's a religion, then it's ok. HAMMER UP!!!!

    January 21, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
  2. FSM

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster has revealed His existence to all. Do you eat pasta? Know that when ever you do, you are consuming the Holy Visage of the Flying Spaghetti Monster! In doing so, you glorify His Name, even without knowing, because you have an internal spirit that drives you toward the Truth of His existence!

    I pray that you allow His Noodly Appendage to come into your life - or onto your face, if that's how you like it.

    In the Name of the Pasta, the Parmesan, and the Holy Fettucine,
    R'Amen.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      He was boiled for our sins.

      R'amen.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
  3. You reap what you sow ....

    You say "I want my children to be free not to believe". What if they WANT to believe? What if they DO believe? Are you giving them that choice??? Are you giving them BALANCED information so they can make up their own minds? Not likely since you are fighting so hard for your own beliefs (or lack of) to be heard. How very sad. I'm not mad at you .. your life is your own business .. and you are free to believe whatever you want .. but give your children and others that same respect. And by the way ... all you have to do is LOOK at what has happened since God was taken out of our schools ... it's not rocket science ... sadly you reap what you sow.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      Does it hurt to be as stupid as you are?

      January 21, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • David

      "all you have to do is LOOK at what has happened since God was taken out of our schools"

      Stupid Christians, children are still allowed to be religious in schools they just can't preach about it out of respect of others that don't believe as you do. It's why Christians are viewed as intolerant because of stupid remarks like this.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Austin

      dont remove the cancer from your body before it spreads? its ok for you children to go to hell really cool!

      January 21, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • geenabeana

      I am getting so tired of hearing that shootings in school are happening because we "took God out of schools." What about the movie theater mass shooting? What about the shooting of Gabby Giffords (and the 6 year old girl)? What about the shootings inside of churches? Saying that kids are dying in schools because we took God out is nothing more than another scare tactic. If there was a god, he would have protected those children no matter what the adults have decided to do. He would not punish the little kids because the adults "took him out of schools." To imply this just fits the Christian agenda. These 2 things are not related, period. I wish people would just stop trying to connect them.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • geenabeana

      Also, applying your logic saying that she probably isn't letting her children decide to believe... how many religious families give their children the choice to NOT believe? I'm guess that most of them don't. I wasn't really given a choice my parents weren't even "hard core" about it, but they were very disappointed with my choice not to believe. It's ignorant to believe that only atheists don't let their children decide!

      January 21, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
  4. some schmuck

    So you claim that your god is real, and that he possessed the following traits right: omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent?

    So, whenever something bad happens, whenever someone is the victim of a violent crime, he is not only knowledgeable, but present, and empowered to stop it. So how does violent crime occur?

    I'm not omnibenevolent. In fact, I'm anything but. I can be flat out mean at times. However, if I had the chance to stop someone from becoming the victim of a violent crime, even someone I didn't particularly like (i.e. most humans), I would do it. I would do it without giving it even a second thought.

    How can you claim that this god you described as omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent exist?

    January 21, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      You've fallen into the trap of judging benevolence for a human perspective. Are you saying if you could travel back in time you would stop Hitler from committing suicide? You see the hazards? What looks altruistic in the present moment may, in the course of time, not be. Likewise, that which seems horrific may prove to be benign or even beneficial from the proper distance. The error you make is common these days wherein mankind has put God on trial as opposed to ancient man who knew himself to be under the scrutiny of his creator

      January 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • coca-kola

      the bible never says God is omni-benevolent. Your ignorance of the bible shines

      January 21, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @coca-kola,

      "the bible never says God is omni-benevolent."

      You got that right. He's a nasty piece of work in the bible.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • Jeremy

      Bill Deacon, by your logic, we should not regard the deeds of Hitler as necessarily horrific, as we can never know what god's intentions were and in the long run some "greater purpose" may have been served. Do you see the hazard there?

      January 21, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Bill Deacon – "Likewise, that which seems horrific may prove to be benign or even beneficial from the proper distance."

      This is precisely the kind of illogical mental gymnastics that leads non-believers to assert that faith can easily justify immoral actions. Can't you see that?

      January 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Bet

      @ Bill Deacon

      <i.Yes, logic would show that the Church is not "full of" deceitful, evil people, even though there are some there.

      The people in the pews may not be evil, deceitful people, but the people in charge of making decisions that affect them, and their children, are. Parish priests all over the world knew that pedophiles were not held responsible, that they were simply reassigned. They got their marching orders from their superiors,from pope to cardinal to archbishop to bishop to priest. If you could still put your child into an RCC school or church, knowing that, then there's no value to discussing any other issue with you. It's just god's mysterious ways or he has a plan that we can't understand until we're dead. You simply lack the ability to do more than blindly follow the rules by which you've been indoctrinated.

      When the people who are supposed to be guiding and teaching you about the "salvation" of your "immortal soul" have been shown to be evil, it's time to get rid of the whole rotted corpse of religion.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:21 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Jeremy -

      Splendid example. Well said.

      Cheers

      January 21, 2013 at 2:22 pm |
    • some schmuck

      "the bible never says God is omni-benevolent."

      Absolutely correct. God is not even omni-benevolent in the bible. In fact, he's not even sometimes benevolent. He's a malevolent, evil dictator supposedly responsible for the death of millions. A spoiled brat who supposedly created man, gave him free will, then destroyed every living thing on earth (save for 2 of each species and 7 of each clean species) for not acting the way he wanted.

      Hell, merely the act of looking back at the life she was being forced to leave behind brought down harsh punishment on the wife of Lot.

      See, I was trying to give you Christians some benefit of the doubt and assume that you actually believed you worshipped something worthy of it, not something as clearly evil as Yahweh.

      As for my "ignorance of the bible"... I think you'll find that my Atheism is actually BASED on the bible. I could not bring myself to continue worshipping the being that was described therein. The reason for this is that I have an innate empathy and morality that is independent of my having or not having a creator, as all human beings that are not sociopaths do.

      Remember, the fact is to 90% of Christians the bible is like an online Terms of Use agreement. No one actually reads it. They just scroll down to the bible and click "I agree."

      January 21, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  5. Religion is illogical...

    When one person suffers from a delusion, it's called 'insanity'... When many people suffer from a delusion, it's called 'religion'.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • GAW

      And when atheists say the same things over and over again and over use words it's called Group Think.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Religion is illogical...

      "And when atheists say the same things over and over again and over use words it's called Group Think."

      No... 'Group Think' is what happens in a church, when everyone is required to believe in the same nonsense or be ostracized by everyone else... Atheists are always looking for conflicting points of view, as long as they're presented in a logical fashion... Sorry.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  6. shawbrooke

    People can have different beliefs than yours, but you expect that only you should be able to speak your mind in public? What an outrageous and arrogant double standard. Grow up.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  7. Larry

    To God is Love, you sound like a horrible person. Who are you to tell parents what their obligations are to their children? You say that's it a parents obligation to teach them about god? I would argue exactly the opposite and say that you are a horrible parent for filling your child's mind full of lies and fear of an imaginary being. You teach intolerance and hate. How dare you vilify this lady or any other atheist for not teaching their kid's what they believe? This world will be so much better once the ridiculousness of your religion is finally purged from society.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  8. Jojo Garcia

    Christanity is just fading away, look around churchs are empty, they have been making up stuff as time goes on and people are finally questioning, There is no logic answers, every thing is just a fantasy

    January 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Austin

      llast year 670 people came to faith inChrist in my church of 3000

      January 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Were they all atheists? Because otherwise, they are not new to religion.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      We fed 1500 people at a pro-life luncheon Sunday afternoon.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • sj

      I dont know where you live but around here Churches are packed so full on saturdays and sundays they have to have multiple services. Chrisitianity is not dead, The Church is not dead. Jesus is not dead. The Church has and will continue to survive until Jesus comes back. Will attendance flucuate ..sure. But it will never cease.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      vs the size of your community....I am guessing that is not an impressive number. No if you live in podunk no where with a community that is a bu t t scratch over 5000 then no surprise.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

      sj

      I dont know where you live but around here Churches are packed so full on saturdays and sundays they have to have multiple services. Chrisitianity is not dead, The Church is not dead. Jesus is not dead. The Church has and will continue to survive until Jesus comes back. Will attendance flucuate ..sure. But it will never cease.
      .
      A Roman said that once.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Austin,

      That may be the case for your church, but you can look at the data and see a steady drop. Catholicism only stays steady by immigration, and even there attendance has dropped, leaving it largely as a cultural affiliation.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
  9. CleanUp

    The problem with the church today: It's full of Pharisees who think they're right on all fronts yet they themselves have no real relationship with Jesus and expect everyone else to behave like they do because they are "righteous" by their way of living, and forget righteousness comes from our faith and not our acts.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
  10. Eric G

    If only a belief in a god were a benign personal experience. Unfortunately, belief is anything but benign.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  11. Jim T

    "My God' Has set a date. A date He calls The Day of the Lord. A day of sudden destruction to your internet world and evil. He details the reaction of those who rejected Him, wailing and gnashing of teeth. God will have the last laugh indeed my friend. Much to your own chagrin and terror. Men's hearts will fail them for fear of what's coming upon the earth. The bible says the entire earth will shake and every Island will disappear and the mountains will fall at his presence. Grab your little keyboards on that day and duly espouse your sweet collegiate logic. With trembling hands.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • D Clisham

      You are hilarious and scary at the same time.

      January 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • JWT

      Yawn. DO you ever keep yourself awake at night with the horror stories you make up about your version of a god ?

      January 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Eric G

      Why are you threatening others? Based on your description, your god sounds like a dick.

      January 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • NickZadick

      this is the real world! fairy tales and parables do NOT come true... We are not worried that your sky fairy will show a real sign he even exists...

      January 21, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Jo Jo garcia

      Which revision of the bible did that come from?

      January 21, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • bostontola

      Sad that you god would laugh at the many who he was unable to convice. You are clearly not a christian, who is your god and which religion is it?

      January 21, 2013 at 12:56 pm |
    • agentxyz

      Jim T: You should grow a pair

      January 21, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • Jim T

      Which version would you like? Romans 1:21 – Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Unable to convince you? He says you know he's there. You're without excuse. I agree with Him. Checkmate.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • DavidinCorpus

      Sounds alot like a perverted ex landlord I had. If you see anytime soon, let him know he is a dck for not giving my deposit back just because my wife wouldn't bang him.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Jim T

      And you should the bible because one day you're going to encounter a real Christian who has and get taken back to school. Like today. Here ya go. Psalm 37:13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming. Wanna try me again>?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • sam stone

      jimbo: your god is an vindictive, impotent, petty pr1ck. fvck you and fvck your empty proxy threats. put your sidearm in your mouth and go meet jeebus

      January 21, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Jim T

      Instead of offering a decent rebuttal you resort to childish name calling and vulgarity? I understand. No, I really do. I'll pray for you all.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • NickZadick

      @Jim T .... what good is quoting fairy tales?? men wrote those words...not a god.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • sam stone

      why don't you make some more empty threats, jimbo? get back on your knees and beg like a slave.....cvnt

      January 21, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Jack

      and your statement is exactly why Mitchell wrote this piece. Scaring children into believing in a God with rediculous horror stories as the one you just spewed is wrong on so many psychological levels and should damn near be considered child abuse.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Jim? Perhaps your threats would work if there was proof that your god (or any god) actually existed. But as there is no indisputable evidence (your emotional experiences are not valid), there is really no reason to think that you doing anything other than throwing a temper tantrum because you can't make people believe what you do.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • sam stone

      you have not earned a decent rebuttal. you come on with empty proxy threats...fvck you, cvnt

      January 21, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • DAllen

      "A day of sudden destruction to your internet world and evil."

      OH NOES! NOT MY ISP!

      January 21, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Jim T

      Sam and Nick, even though it's hard to stomach and your ignorance makes me ill, I'll condescend one last time. Sam, any threats you're reading are perceived by your own narrow vocabulary starved mind. Nick, you should do your homework and stop believing everything you're being told taught or see in the media. I could address your errors but nah, you're comfortable in your diaper I'm sure. Stay where you are, it's meant to be I'm sure. Adios.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • NickZadick

      Jim, I'm not the one who believes in fairy tales! but actually, I really don't care what you think about me... good luck with your continued brainwashing :)

      January 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • sam stone

      "Grab your little keyboards on that day and duly espouse your sweet collegiate logic. With trembling hands."

      Right, jimbo....no threat there.

      Run, little coward.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  12. Debbi

    Funny how this stuff plays out. You are damned if you believe by those who don't and you are damned if you don't believe by those who do. You cannot prove to me that God doesn't exsist as I can't prove to you that he/she does. What matters is how you bring up your child and if they take what they learn with them into adulthood.
    I chose to give my children the same life lessions I was brought up with. Yes, I had a structured religion but, I took the good from many and instilled those teachings to my children.
    My boys are now adults, one believes, one does not. It is their choice but, I gave them the tools to figure it out for themselves.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Nice job

      January 21, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • tallulah13

      The best gift one can give their child is the ability to think for themselves.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  13. Christianity is a form of mental illness- FACT

    Hallucinations – the person has invisible friends who (s)he insists are real, and to whom (s)he speaks daily, even though nobody can actually see or hear
    these friends.

    Delusions – the patient believes that the invisible friends have magical powers to make them rich, cure cancer, bring about world peace, and will do so eventually if asked.

    Denial/Inability to learn – though the requests for world peace remain unanswered, even after hundreds of years, the patients persist with the praying behaviour, each time expecting different results.

    Inability to distinguish fantasy from reality – the beliefs are contingent upon ancient mythology being accepted as historical fact.

    Paranoia – the belief that anyone who does not share their supernatural concept of reality is "evil," "the devil," "an agent of Satan".

    Emotional abuse – ­ religious concepts such as sin, hell, cause feelings of guilt, shame, fear, and other types of emotional "baggage" which can scar the
    psyche for life.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
    • sj

      You obviously dont know what the word fact means! Stating you opinion about something and calling it a fact is ridiculous as your thinking. There are so many errors with what you wrote. I'll correct one. A relationship with Jesus is the exact opposite of mental abuse or baggage or shame. It's about giving all that over to Jesus and finally being free. Being forgiven. Being loved, Knowing that you have a home in Heaven when you die. And knowing nothing you have done can ever seperate you from the love you now have through Christ Jesus. You dont know this love because you have not given your life to Jesus. You will never know true love, grace, and freedom until the day you accept Jesus as your savior. FACT.

      January 21, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Andrew C.

      Wow, looking at all the deriding comments on this page I have to admit I did not realize how rough society is on atheists. Seems like this article is re-opening some wounds. Some of the posts from Christian fundamentalists are a bit much though. I think the scare tactics stopped working some time in the 1920's.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
  14. Austin

    But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

    promise of the Holy Spirit from Jesus John 15:26-27

    January 21, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • sam stone

      wow, austin....a cut and paste. very impressive.

      January 21, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
    • Madtown

      What if I was born into a primitive tribal community, that had no access to christianity or the bible, and I've never heard of Christ? Is there any hope for me? If christianity was the "1 true" message that God accepted, why didn't he simply provide it to all his equal creations? Does God love you more than someone who's never heard of Jesus?

      January 21, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
    • Austin

      hope you are having a good day. Sam, for me the Holy Spirit literally revealed Himself to me through an internal testimony, and it changed me. I would never deny the Lord and am very greatful.

      January 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
    • Austin

      because Adams son Cain killed his brother Abel, and he was cursed, as were his descendants for a period of time. devistating effects of sin, and living a life against God. The God who sustained his covenant to Adam, Noah, Abraham, and fulfilled in the blood of christ. noone is condemned. people who have never heard, have not rejected, and there is an age of innocence in children.

      January 21, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Texas Mom

      Good for you, Austin. But how do you feel about those who don't agree with you? Do you judge us? Or do you go about your business celebrating your faith with like-minded individuals? That is the message here - everyone should be FREE to believe what they want, without having others judge them or try to persuade them to change the way they think.

      January 21, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • NickZadick

      @Texas mom ... I disagree ... people should believe what they want when it is healthy! believing fairy tales will come true and that you will live with your god and family for eternity is not healthy and should be treated as a mental sickness!

      January 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • Joel

      Um... What?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • Austin

      no i have bible verses on 8 foot signs with light in my front yard and my business emblem has a cross, called morning star landscaping, referring to the prophetic word of God. I will not assist you on your broad road to destruction of your soul, because I love you. I will suffer.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • NickZadick

      you mean "pathetic" word of god (god beign a 2000 year old dead man)

      January 21, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • Madtown

      people who have never heard, have not rejected
      ------
      Great, then there's no need for religion. As we're all created equal, what's good for you is good for me, and is good for the primitive tribesman in South America with no knowledge of christianity.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  15. Thinkfree

    God may or may not be real but religions are definitely man made. There are thousands of them, and must have been thousands more If you consider every human being that walked the face of this earth since it's inception, But most "religions" will have you brain washed to believe that theirs is the only true one. Theirs is the only path. And most, including christianity, will want to inflict their beliefs on everyone. That is one of the problems not only with christianity in America, but with other religions throughout the world. Religion is a chance to control us. Keep your children free from religion and let them decide what, if any relationship they will have with God.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
    • bostontola

      Religions compete with each other and other power structures. The survivors are the ones best at convincing you to follow them. What better way than promising eternal joy/love if you follow and threaten eternal damnation if you don't.

      January 21, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Madtown

      "Like"

      January 21, 2013 at 12:54 pm |
  16. AT

    I used to have an unshakable faith in God and Jesus. But after years of facing hard times with no end in sight, I lost faith. I still believe there is a God, but I don't believe he is there to take care of us or help us through our dark days. We're not quite alone, but we are alone in our suffering.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • sj

      You may feel alone in your suffering but you're not. Jesus felt alone when he died on the cross and even asked God in Heaven Father why have you forsaken me? God was with Him although he felt abandoned. God will never abandon us. One day we will be able to see. Dont give up faith .

      January 21, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I can't offer you comforting but empty promises, but I'm sorry that you are going through hard times and hope you find the strength to get through it.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
  17. sj

    http://blogs.christianpost.com/confident-christian/why-i-raise-my-children-with-god-14218

    January 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
  18. FlyingSpaghetti

    Follow just about any religion or cult back to its roots and you'll find a dude or group of dudes trying to get laid...or oppressing and manipulating others in the interest of getting laid.

    None of us know any more or less than anyone else about why we're here or what lies beyond. Claiming otherwise, evangelizing, marginalizing those with different beliefs simply serves to validate your own fears and help you feel secure in your numbers, that's all.

    When atheists do good unto others, its out of selfless empathy, love, & compassion and not to earn themselves favor with a god in the afterlife. I'll take my chances with them over pray-ers any day.

    Evangelists...save it. We know you're you trying to save yourself, not me.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm |
    • Texas Mom

      Perfectly said, FlyingSpaghetti!

      January 21, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  19. Texas Mom

    I agree with so much that Deborah Mitchell is saying. As a matter of fact, her beliefs and experiences are so spot on to mine, it sounds like something that I could have written. I was raised a Catholic, and begrudgingly went to church every Sunday with my family. I listened to the same verses week after week, with nothing said or preached that inspired me. By the time I was 10, it all went in one ear and out the other. When I left home, I stopped going to church and didn't think much about religion at all. However, many years later, when I had my only child, tradition and memories pushed me to have her baptized. But, then within 6 months, as I adored and cherished my baby more and more every day, I had an epiphany. What kind of religion would allow their priests to abuse precious, innocent children - a child just like mine! - and then cover it up??? I came to believe that the Catholic church is full of morally corrupt and sinister people, hiding under the cover of something that is supposedly "good". I began to question and think about everything in organized religion that I once held to be truths. As I explored and thought about religion in a more open-minded and intellectual way, I finally came to the realization that I do not believe in "god". My agnostic beliefs have put me at odds with my family and my husband, and has caused much conflict on the way we raise our daughter. I try very hard to allow her to make her own decisions regarding creationism and evolution, but it seems unfair to me that I can't unabashedly teach her what I really believe to be true.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      You sound like someone caught in a storm. I pray you find shelter and I believe you will.

      January 21, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • Religion is illogical...

      "You sound like someone caught in a storm. I pray you find shelter and I believe you will."

      Yes... She's caught in a storm of logic... Good for her.

      January 21, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • Texas Mom

      Thank you, Religion is illogical... I also believe that I am caught in a storm of logic - and happy to have found the truth (for me)!

      January 21, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Yes, logic would show that the Church is not "full of" deceitful, evil people, even though there are some there. Likewise, logic would show that if right minded and decent people leave the church then, of course criminals and liars will infiltrate. I will be the first to admit that the Catholic church is not the place to go if one desires an uplifting Sunday pep talk. It is a lifestyle religion for thinking people. Personally, I cant understand anyone who ever claimed to be Catholic abandoning the faith because of the crimes of some. Logic tells me that I must resolve all the more to defend the faith and purge evil from her midst for my benefit, the peace and security of my family and for the future of society.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
  20. VMG

    To me the problem appears to be organized religion not the belief in whether there is a God or not. The one thing that all religions have in common is that no one knows for sure if there is a God or not, they bcan only believe that there is a God. Faith cannot produce God if one does not exist. Hopefully some day I may be pleasantly surprised, but if the end is truly the end, I won't know the difference, so it's all good.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
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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 and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.