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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. It Would be Funny if it Weren't so Sad

    I have personal reasons for my belief in God. I would share with you my life story, but I don't want to take up your time. Instead, I will simply state that as a Christian, I find it both annoying and offensive that so many on here spend their time blasting Christians for their beliefs, yet whine and complain that they should get to live their lives as they choose. You can't have it both ways. If you want to have a free and tolerant society, then you MUST allow believers of EVERY faith to believe what they will in peace. You claim Christians spend all their time shoving their beliefs down your throat, then you get on the internet (or in person) and shove your narrow-minded stereotypical depiction of what you think a Christian is, down our throats. Do you not see the hypocrisy? I am a Christian, but I also believe in science and history. It is not wrong to think they co-exist. I am a Christian, but I will not force you to believe. I will pray for you, and with you if you wish, but will not demand it of you. I will keep my mouth shut about how you live your life, and all I ask in return is that you extend to me the same courtesy. Is that too much to ask? Why must one side be right and the other be wrong? As Christians, we are called to LOVE and ACCEPT our neighbors. As atheists, your own moral code should direct you to peace and tolerance for others (no matter their differences). Please, knock it off...ALL of you!

    January 21, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @so Sad,

      It cuts both ways. You have singled out only one group in your little diatribe here.

      "As Christians, we are called to LOVE and ACCEPT our neighbors."

      Please start by following your own advice.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • KurtRussellseyepatch

      Except no one forces you to surf the comments section on the internet. How exactly are Atheists shoving anything down your throat. This woman had people calling her house and leaving pamphlets in her mailbox. When people tell you that you need something (God) that you seem to be doing perfectly fine without, it's insulting. It's basically telling someone that they need to be like you. The majority of atheists (not all) go about their lives without bothering anyone, they don't get preachy because they have nothing to preach. Christians go out and actively recruit.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Jessica

      You know, I respect what you just said. But what I don't respect your statement " As atheists, your own moral code should direct you to peace and tolerance for others (no matter their differences)." Why, to you and others, are non-Christians called Atheists?
      I am a Sikh, and to my non-Sikh brothers and sisters, you are free to believe in your faith without judgment. To me, you are not an Atheist. To my Atheist brothers and sisters, you are also respected. At the end of the day, we are all human. To my human brothers and sisters, we are all one, we belong to the same DNA and will all die in peace no matter who we are. All events of evil invented by mankind will disappear, there is no one to judge you. Just follow your morals and be level headed and we will all be happy.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • ljheidel

      I have no problem with Christians. However, Christians seem to spend an inordinate time being condescending to non-Christians. Do you know how condescending it is to say, "I'll pray for you," when you come across an Atheist? What's equally galling is that I don't just think Christians are wrong about the existence of God, I think they're all participating in a mass delusion that is on its face farcical. I have no problem with that. I understand the social roots of religion and how hard it is to tear free from it as I have. Thus, I respect their right to be delusional and don't lose any sleep over it. I'm not out there trying to "convert" Christians to Atheism. But when someone who I think is delusional has the chutzpah to cluck their tongue and tell me that *I'm* wrong without any solicitation, it's like fingernails on a chalkboard. So, I'll make you all a deal, you shut up about your God and I'll keep my mouth shut about the absolute and total empirical proof of his/her/its existence. (I'm generally already unilaterally keeping my part of that bargain, but sometimes I can't help myself.) Deal?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Gabriel Being

      Ditto to the proselytizers whom hand out pamphlets on the street to our children Ditto to the proselytizers whom knock on our doors and try to enter our homes to tell us that they, in all their imagined wisdom, somehow know more about god and life than we do.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @ljheidel,

      funny, except I think you might be missing the words "lack of" in your second last sentence.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  2. AMDG1961

    Why is an article about an atheist, who, by definition, is a non-believer, posted on a "belief blog"? Most of the articles on this site are related more to topics that only touch upon the "culture" of religion, rather than actual beliefs or theology, and many of them are aimed at mocking believers and belief systems, specifically Christianity. What's next? An article on the sports blog by someone who hates sports?

    January 21, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      "and many of them are aimed at mocking believers and belief systems"
      you're kidding, right?
      link me 1 article that does that, please

      January 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Because whether we believe or not, religion is part of our society and therefore it influences all our lives. Those who do not believe are still allowed to exercise our right to free speech, and this is a public forum.

      I'm sorry you are not interested in the other side of the story, but it was your choice to read and comment.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • GAW

      The staff at CNN must enjoy reading the comments. That might be one reason why.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • ztom

      Same reason as the Freedom of Religion covers people who don't choose to be religious.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • End Religion

      AMDG1961, not much for freedom of expression, are you?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  3. marie

    hell wont' be wide enough for this godless mom

    January 21, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Colin

      Yeah, because your big fat butt will be taking up all the rest of the space.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • bostontola

      That's sweet of you to say.

      Imagine her poor children. Doomed to an eternity of heckfire and it's not their fault. Their mother poisened them with atheist ideas and they have to suffer eternally. Wait...god will fix that. Or will he?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
    • the AnViL

      colin i was drinking a yoohoo when i read that – and i cracked up so hard it came out my nose

      you dick

      January 21, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • tallulah13

      It's sad to see how many christians resort to empty threats when they realize that they have no actual proof with which to convince others that what they believe is true.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • rickp530

      Where is Heaven? Where is Hell? It's hard for one to believe in what one cannot see, hear, or feel. I commend those who do believe. As your dying, your belief will lead you to think that you are going to a beautiful place, when in reality your only going to enter a deep sleep and will never ever wake up again.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • End Religion

      I think that's the first time I've seen Colin ridicule someone.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  4. Science 1, religion 0

    If you compare all of the useful advances science has given to us in the past 300 years with all the useful advances religion has given us in the last 2000 years, the total impotence of religion becomes painfully apparent.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • Billy

      That's kind of how things worked out at the recent Intelligence Squared debate:
      http://intelligencesquaredus.org/debates/upcoming-debates/item/728-science-refutes-god

      January 21, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • coca-kola

      How many of the great scientists of the past were Christians? if by science you mean darwinian evolution, that hasn't given us anything but nazism and communism.

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

      Christianity in the minds of many atheists is aimed at making bad people into good people.
      That's not it's main purpose.

      The main purpose is to reconcile estranged humanity.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • GAW

      Thank you science for the atom bomb and napalm.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Billy

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_atheists_in_science_and_technology

      January 21, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Billy

      "Christianity in the minds of many atheists"

      Chad loves to think for others.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Daniel

      hey GAW, how about thank-you science for life-saving medical practices, oh and the only reason we can read your pathetic comments here in this forum are because of science. back to the bronze age you go.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
  5. Semper Cogitatus

    The bigotry and intolerance of CNN's readership is always very entertaining.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • Silly1

      Yup, it really shines a bright light on the arrogant and the ignorant.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Religion is illogical...

      Only since Fox shut off it's comments section...

      January 21, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • Andrew C.

      It is a bit much, USA Today is worse though. If you ever want a good laugh read some of the posts people write.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • GAW

      Most of them are just Trolls seeking to see how far they can push people's buttons.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • FreeFromTheism

      "Invisible Pink Unicorns are beings of great spiritual power. We know this because they are capable of being invisible and pink at the same time. Like all religions, the Faith of the Invisible Pink Unicorns is based upon both logic and faith. We have faith that they are pink; we logically know that they are invisible because we can't see them." — Steve Eley
      IPU is the only real One and I hope you know this

      January 21, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • the AnViL

      yes – ignorant people mistake intolerance of idiocy for bigotry.

      what's important here is, you've found an entirely undeserved method of feeling superior.

      this is you from page 93: Semper Cogitatus: "She is in the majority, only a smallish minority of Americans are religious. She is using a public forum to attack a minority."

      you should be ashamed to be so ignorant on a national public forum.

      more like – semper noncogitatus

      January 21, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • Silly1

      Lol, Semper just pointed out how the bigotry and intolerance were entertaining. I was the one that called everybody arrogant and ignorant. But thanks for proving my point.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
  6. 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 1:16 pm |
    • tony

      Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups

      January 21, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • John

      Breaking news. People on the internet are mean.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • rediranch

      I would refer to them as Christian extremists and Sunday Christians who think they are holier than though.

      I am a Born Again Christian, and if someone chooses to not follow Christ, well that is their choice now isn't it? If they don't want to hear what I say, tell me and we'll continue on with our relationship without it. That's called being a witness of Christ, and most people who call themselves Christians either ignore that or don't even know it.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  7. Lisuya2009

    Raising kids in a church, to me, is the same as brainwashing them. Before the kids can even reason, they are told to believe in this or that God and the magical stories in bibles written thousands of years ago.
    The most laughable thing is that the Christian people always try to convince others using the stories from the bible. Logically, it doesn't make sense. I ask why Jesus is the son of God. I'm told because bible says so. I ask why the cruisification of Jesus saves our sins. I'm told because bible says so. And about those fancy stories, how are they different from the similar stories about other ancient gods and emperors/kings?

    January 21, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Do you know another God that came not as a warrior king but as a sacramental sacrifice?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      Because the babble said so.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:17 pm |
    • coca-kola

      those are very easy questions with very solid answers, it seems you are more interested in ridiculing than you are in knowing whether the bible is true.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • tony

      The bible in Gen 1:14 says we should study astrophysics to get god's updates. So Hawking is the best authority on god.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • One one

      @bill, the irony is that the Christian god was a warrior king in the OT then did a 180 and changed his brand in the NT.

      But OT or NT, he is still the same god. After all its his wrath from the OT the he "saves" us from in the NT. that is, according to,the myth.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • My fables are better than your fables

      Bill Deacon "Do you know another God that came not as a warrior king but as a sacramental sacrifice?"
      And how does that make the fables in the bible more true than other fables?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  8. 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 1:11 pm |
    • ztom

      Yeargh! When is national dress like a pirate day?

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

      crazyness....
      everyone knows, for a fact, that the invisible pink unicorn is the only true One.
      Why would you jeopardize your chances of reaching the top of the eternal rainbow?
      IPU doesn't have any formal praying system, because it doesn't need one... that's how powerful IPU is
      So, all I can say, is good luck.
      See you, hopefully, on the eternal rainbow at some point.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • ztom

      @Freefromtheism-

      If you cannot empirically prove that FSM does not exist, you must convert now!

      Plus, I could survive without rainbows and unicorns. But not pasta. The day the guvmint comes to take away my pasta is the day they will have to pry my ziti from my cold dead hands.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
  9. on the other hand, facts

    It surprises me how much of a big deal it is to religious people that someone professes disbelief.

    Why is that so hard to deal with? Why can they handle the existence of Hindus, Buddhists, etc, but not disbelievers? Is it because at some level, they feel their world-view is not so solid? It seems consistent with the anger.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • The Truth

      I got home the other day and called my 3 year old daughter by her name and she erupted in anger because she was apparently somebody else today and it was all my fault for not getting it right...

      January 21, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • Semper Cogitatus

      What I don't get is how angry some nonbelievers get when people profess belief. Me, I'm not a believer, but I don;t really care what others believe. It just amazes me how angry people get that someone might view the world differently than they do.

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

      I think the people you're talking about see the other religions as less valid views into the truth, but still truth-ish.

      However, most religious folk I personally know don't care one bit that I'm not religious. That's why I like to come here to remember that there are a lot of folks out there that really do care. For some non-believers that's the world they live in.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • coca-kola

      in truth, as a believer in Jesus Christ I am not surprised at all of the unbelief of the world, it fits with what Jesus said, how broad is the way to destruction and many go that way, how narrow is the way to life and FEW find it. Unbelievers have always comprised the majority, why does every one seem shocked.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • horaceclark

      I've lived long enough as an atheist to have confidence in my non-beliefs. I'm not swayed by or attracted to any belief system. I'm also not bothered by others' beliefs so long as they are not trying to indoctrinate me or tell me what I can or cannot do in the name of THEIR religion. Whether that is the Christian Right, an Orthodox Jew, or the Taliban, it is unacceptable. If they want a government ruled by religious decree or some ancient manuscript of worship, they can find a home elsewhere. America is NOT a country of any single religious faith, as the founding fathers made certain of by creating the Establishment Clause, the Free Exercise Clause and the First Amendment.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:37 pm |
    • Most atheists don't care what you believe

      Semper Cogitatus "What I don't get is how angry some nonbelievers get when people profess belief. "
      If you look closely I think you will find most of the anger is about the horrible things religious people do in the name of their god. E.g. denying gays civil rights. Forcing ID theology into science classes or apposing condoms in Africa.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Same here, Saraswati. Religion or lack thereof is not a big deal where I live. I come here because it reminds me that this country, indeed the world, is still full of people who consider it their happy duty to hate and lie about people who do not share their religion. Then they claim that their intolerance makes them special and superior.

      It may be pointless, but I feel compelled to remind them that their belief is not substantiated by fact, and that they do not scare or fool me.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Christians, taking stupid to a new level

      coca-kola "Unbelievers have always comprised the majority, "
      Please explain how unbelievers are the majority in America where at least 80% are christian?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @tallulah13, when I hear some of the more outrageous, almost unbelievable, stories from people who say they are harassed by Christians I ask if they will tell me where they live. So far I think at least 90% of the time the answer has been "Texas". I've seen a few other people with lighter stories from Oklahoma and some southern states. I saw a lot of religion in the south, but nothing like what I hear out of Texas.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • on the other hand, facts

      @Semper Cogitatus: who's angry? Look at the comments, and take an honest stock of which group is angry. You can't close your eyes to it.

      There are some instances when non-believers get angry though: when believers try to force their morals on others. How many atheists have knocked on your door wanting to convert you? How many atheists have tried to tell you which bedroom acts you may or may not engage in?

      January 21, 2013 at 2:37 pm |
  10. Barney

    I never actually met a person who claimed to be a believer, that actually was one. Whenever you dig down and challenge a Christian or other Theists about what they believe and why they believe it, their answers only reveal that they don't really believe.

    The just believe what they are told to believe or they pick a version of god that suites their values. They believe in God they way a 4 year old believes in Santa.

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

      That is because to actually read the Bible and study it in context takes time and effort. Most people don't have that time or don't want to make that effort.

      I'm an atheist, yet have taken a number of Bible classes. I've read it a number of times, and have read other religions' information and history.

      I don't simply totally dismiss everything the religions preach. Instead it is good to look at them as philosophies, and to understand historically and culturally where they come from. There are good things in any religion, just as there are negative things.

      But like I said, most people don't want to be bothered with it. They would rather just go to a church for a few hours a week and then say they are religious. That is currently the most socially acceptable behavior, especially in some communities in the US.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      True, as a devout Catholic, I'd rather have a good discussion with a well reasoned unbeliever than a pew warmer.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  11. colorado mom

    I am 70 years old and raised my children without god. I was raised in the Lutheran religion but in my twenties found myself questioning most of my religious background. I decided, while I understood why many people felt they needed a god in their life, I did not. Raising children to think for themselves and make moral decisions based on their personal beliefs of what is right and wrong, was more of a challenge as a parent. The guidance had to come from their parents and them, not from any one philosophy. Since my children are now in their forties, I feel I can say it is not only possible to raise children without god but offers society citizens who are moral and thoughtful and open to all people and their beliefs. This was my goal.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • The Truth

      Well said. Glad to see we have some older friends who havn't lost their minds.

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

      My 80 year old father never, to my knowledge believed in god. This was a non-issue in our home, and as far as I know none of the children belive in god. Maybe one...not sure. This just isn't an issue.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • California Granny

      colorado mom,

      Your story is my story (replace Lutheran with Catholic). My four are lovely, upstanding adults too. Well done.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • Reed

      Well stated. We did the same with our children and they are now grown and are compassionate, understanding, adults with strong ethical and moral beliefs.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • tallulah13

      The best parents are the ones who teach their kids to think for themselves. Well done, ladies!

      January 21, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
  12. ztom

    I think religion had a valid purpose long ago, and you can argue that it still does. Thousands of years ago, theories of morality, how the world works, meaning of life, etc. were put out there mainly by religion. Fast forward to now, and we have realized that the world is round, the sun doesn't go around the Earth, the earth is one of many planets, our solar system is one of millions, etc. We know know about cells, molecules, elements, different forms of energy, etc. There are still many things we don't know, but little by little, we are replacing the need for religious explanations with concrete scientific ones.

    That being said, there are, and will always be, people who cannot comprehend many things. Some people have problems with formulating personal morals. For those people, sometimes religion is necessary to point out things like you shouldn't kill others, and you should be nice to people.

    So is religion still necessary? For some, yes. For others? No. If this mother can successfully instill socially acceptable morals in her kids without religion, then that is fine. The questions and doubts she posts about religion are many of the same ones that even religious leaders struggle with. Most humans question stuff naturally.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • some schmuck

      King Hammarabi did more to advance morality than any religion has ever done.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • seth1611

      Who's morals should she instill? Her's? Yours? Charlie Manson's? (He has morals too – we all do.) If morals are to change with societal changes, then morals are insignificant. However, if there are "morals" that we are to follow given by a higher power (God), then is it not His morals we should follow? Or are you just going to do what you want to do, when you want to do it, because, after all, you're only following your morals. You have made YOU, God.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I agree, and I think that's what people are having a hard time coming to terms with. Not everyone is like you and not everyone like me. People have different needs and while we all need to live together and will have to establish social norms, we need to build in as much flexibility as we can, while helping ensure that the imperfect answers people work from are at the very least not harmful.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • ztom

      @Seth – You're doing a great job of putting words in my mouth. I believe if you read my post, I mention socially accepted morals. Charles Manson advocated murder. I'm not sure about your country, but generally in the US, murder is frowned upon socially, and is even illegal in many, if not all, states. If you try to instill in your kids that killing is great, you and your kids will probably quickly get weeded out of society via the legal system.

      And I never said that she should teach my morals. I'm saying that previously, the idea of morals had to be enforced by religion and commandments. Why should people abstain from murder? I would say it is the right thing to do. But if someone cannot come to that conclusion on their own, then I mentioned that some people need religion to tell them that they shouldn't murder because God says so.

      So feel free to twist my words all you want and make up ridiculously hypothetical situations. A thinking person will read my post, which is neither pro nor anti-religion, and understand what I am seeing.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:24 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @Seth,

      In this context, you confuse morals with personal conscience.

      Morals by definition are societal convention. "Moral" behaviour is behaviour by an individual that this consistent with societal norms, not an individual's personal determination of right and wrong.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Christians, taking stupid to a new level

      seth1611 "Or are you just going to do what you want to do, when you want to do it"

      No, it's christians that do whatever they want because they are "forgiven". Atheists take responsibility for their own actions and so are much better behaved

      January 21, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • ebody

      I have to say of all the comments here yours is well though out and expressed.
      I myself am a believer, but like yourself have done the research. So although we might have different view I can appreciate you taking the time to look into it. I agree most people dont ever sit to ask "why do i believe?", thus a belief without a foundation will be easily shaken.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  13. GAW

    It's easy to call people names when you can hide behind the veil of anonymity.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • The Truth

      And it's rather difficult to speak truth to power when that power has you lines up with your back to the wall staring at a firing squad...

      January 21, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      In real life, I hide behind the body of my sleek, slender shotgun. Or behind my fists.

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

      Is detect someone has a Martyrdom complex here. :)

      January 21, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  14. Ex Atheist

    I believe in GOD now- I was diagnosed with a rare infectious disease. I was laying on the emergency hospital bed. At that moment I didn't have any members of my family but just the Hospital Staff. I was in such pain that I asked GOD to help me. Not realizing that I didn't believe in him. I was still asking for his help. After being in the hospital for 2 weeks I still came out thinking I didn't believe in his power that it was all science. God showed me mercy again after my wife passed away and not being able to cope with the pain I went searching for drugs and alcohol abuse. After 2 years with the abuse I said that their is more to life. I decided to search for an answer and did a research of the bible and some religions. I opened my mind and experience the full force of the scriptures I start practicing what God wanted us. And decided to join a congregation that is based solely on the teaching of Christ. I am a Believer, But I accept and understand the atheist mantra.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • Religion is illogical...

      It's very common for people to turn to religion to fill voids that have been created in their lives... Some need it, others don't... As long as it's working for you and you don't force it on others, stick with it.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • bostontola

      Glad it's working for you.

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

      very respectable, both the story and closing statement. i wish more believers would have a similar outlook

      January 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      I suppose there are people that would see replacing alcohol and drugs with religion as a step forward. Don't confuse your personal redemption with the act of a supernatural being – many people don't make it through and what does that say about the supernatural being; either it is capricious so we can never understand it or it doesn't exist.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Ex Anti-Atheist

      What Religion is Illogical said

      January 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      Why did you choose christianity? Why didn't you check out the mosque on the other side of town? Or the Buddhist temple?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • The Truth

      I call Poe, as in Nathan not Edgar Allan.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • sunny

      i would think a church based solely on the teachings of jesus would be very comforting. does anyone know what that church is?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:19 pm |
    • NickZadick

      I've heard a lot of stories that go like yours... but you just replace a dependence for another... none of the stories are true though.. you realise that.... don't you?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
  15. Rj Cunningham

    Given religious nuts do not "believe" in science, at least they can agree that history exists. Well following history, one would say people thousands of years ago were quite primitive and ignorant to the workings of the world, especially compared to where humans are today. If this is agreed, is there a chance primitive scriptures like the bible are mere stories and tall tales?

    Oh, never mind...I forgot such thoughts are simply rejecting the light of god from entering my soul and letting the dark forces of the devil consume my innocence. I guess I'll just accept my inevitable torture in hell for eternity.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
    • J-Pap

      There were civilizations in history as advanced as ours just in different ways. They maybe didn't have iphones and tablets but they had all they needed and functioned in harmony. Unlike us.

      I would wager God are aliens from more advanced lands than what the bible says. Just my opinion. With all the stars out there, to me there is a much high probability what ancients thought were Gods were really advanced alien species. Think ancient egypt and mayans who knew so much about the space and our galaxy that there is no way they could have without outisde help.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
    • Saraswati

      I sat on a train next to a woman who told me that the donosaur bones were planted by Satan and that all history prior to whenever it was she thought the earth began was a deception. So while some Christians certainly do accept history, you might want to be wary of assuming all do.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Your premise is faulty. It is easily verifiable that Christianity not only doesn't oppose science but has historically promoted scientific inquiry. The "religion is against science" fallacy stems from isolated incidences such as the Church's reaction to Galileo for ridiculing the pope in the mid 16th century. While such incidences did, in fact, occur, the long arch of Judeo-Christianity has been positive towards science while maintaining that science and technology should not seduce mankind into replacing the intrinsic value of individuals with the commodity value of humankind at large.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:28 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Bill, I'll go further and say that I'm not aware of any religion, ever, that considered itself "against science". Insofar as science doesn't conflict with a particular religious belief, most religions I know are not a hinderence to science, and sometimes a help. However, when something arises in science that is in contradiction to religious beliefs, most religions will put religion first in trying to interpret what has happened...you don't see a lot of cases where the first reaction is to say "Well, lets see if this is accurate or if our religion is wrong". It's this kind of response that makes people wary of religions influence on science.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • ztom

      @Bill Deacon –

      I agree that besides a few exceptions, the Catholic church has generally accepted science and been able to accommodate it. I think many Americans don't see that mainly because of the plethora of far right evangelical Protestant denominations that flourish here in the US.

      Since those examples are prevalent, and fresh in people's minds, they extrapolate it out to all Christianity. American Christianity is often seen as strange to non-American Christians. There are a lot of really radical things that some of the American denominations believe that are much different than over in Europe or other countries.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  16. Semper Gumby

    I get the annoyance of someone smothering you with their opinions, but why such a backlash for a small few? I mean other than the hypocrisy you read about, don't Christians generally live their lives in a decent manner with themselves and others? The climate with media outlets seems to be war against.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • The Truth

      "don't Christians generally live their lives in a decent manner with themselves and others?" Yes, just like most of the time a r a p i s t isn't out r a p i n g, but when given the chance the Christian has shown time and again they choose to force their religion upon others willing or not.

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

      Most do, but it only takes a smal percentage of proselytizers to get pretty annoying.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "hypocrisy"

      So what you're saying is, it's NOT hypocrisy to claim to be a good person while also claiming to worship and share morals with a s-adistic, mur-derous, genocide-prone, illogic-promoting, sla-very-endorsing r-acist god? I'll need a few days to figure this one out.

      Oh wait. No I won't. IT'S BULLSHlT!!!!

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

      You mean except for the ones trying to declare my marriage invalid?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • fred

      Saraswati
      who is that declares you marriage invalid?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I think the accurate description of the Roman Catholic belief is that gay marriage, in the sense of a holy sacrament, is an impossibility. Whether a secular government chooses to license any sort of civil accord will not influence this.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
    • fred

      Bill
      God knew that the ho-mo$exual issue would become the wedge that divided those who understood the Word of God from those who hate God and those who trust something other than the Bible for divine guidance. Even though it is clear that sin is in the $exual lusts and perversions not orientation.
      The complicated part is what exactly is our role in helping people not fall away? Clearly we are not to applaud such developments even though the Bible makes it clear that these are signs of a fast approaching end of days. We are not to beat people over the head with their sin. Prayer is of course a given in all such matters as is to never lose our love for those that are in bondage to the things this world so heavily promotes.
      Accepting marriage however the government defines it from the perspective of civil rights in a society that has been deceived by moral relativism would be the thing to do. This is no different than being accepting of those society rejected in the times of Jesus as Jesus himself did right?
      Now, the issue remains is the Bible infallible? Was the ho-m0$exual conduct referred to in the Bible different than the ho-mo$exual conduct between two loving, married people that is legally possible today? The answer is yes for me.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  17. FSM

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster promises STD-riddled strip-pers and a volcano of stale beer to all who reject His Noodly Appendage, not burning in a lake. How do you burn in a lake anyway? S-illy christians and their false god. The FSM has bigger balls than the christian god. Believe in him!! Be doused in the Holy Alfredo Sauce!!!

    January 21, 2013 at 12:59 pm |
    • Cindy

      Ramen!

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

      RAmen

      January 21, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • New Alias

      Ha! My Invisible Pink Unicorn Goddess would have your FSM for lunch!
      If she wasn't a vegitarina, that is.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  18. PJ

    I have a brain. My brain questions why things are they way they are. We need it for survival, to understand our universe in order to survive. It makes no sense whatever that god created humans with brains to observe and understand, only to want us ignore the power of observation, and replace it with a book, etc. as if all answers are in there. Are we not to wonder about anything but god and the supposed afterlife? Please, this IS our life, why look to an aferlife?! Live it now! If the biible and religion were all that we need then my son very likely would have lived a quietly tortured life with sleep apnea, and very possibly could have died because of our own ignorance, were there not people who sought to understand such things, outside the realm of god and religion. The bible doesn't say a word about the causes or remedies for sleep apnea, or even that we should strive to understand our world to survive such situations. All I know is that the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed to date is my son breathing evenly and perfectly in sleep, as opposed to fitful gasps for air. The bible didn't do a thing for him in his time of need. However, our own observations and study did, and for THAT I am thankful and absolutely believe in our ability to understand our universe. The human brain: 1 Bible: 0

    January 21, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • seth1611

      I too have children. Two sons actually. Yes, I would be greatly relieved to know that they were breathing steadily when they previously were not. But all you see, sir, is the temporal body. You are not considering the soul. You think death is the worst thing. It is not. Eternal damnation is the worst thing. The Bible speaks much about this – BECAUSE IT IS THE MAIN THING. This is why you see no advantage to the Bible, and why you scoff at the God who created you in the process.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:07 pm |
    • K.M

      Those of us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ know we have the assurance of no more sickness / pain / sorrow and evil in this life thereafter. We have that ( FAITH ) in God, everyone has that choice one time around

      January 21, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
  19. Digby

    I'm sure the first people to stop believing in Zeus faced similar criticism. Someday schools will teach children about the strange Christian myths our backwards society perpetuates.

    January 21, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
  20. tony

    The non-existence of god is pragmatically proven by the existence of collection plates. QED

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

      How true ! nicely put.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:01 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.