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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. Jim T

    Let's debate Santa. I'm no stranger to these arguments and I've engaged many Atheists on this subject. I'm well prepared and I've done my homework. There's nothing new. I'm going to win and you're going to run as usual. You'll spew expletives and sink into denial. Typical. I do enjoy it tho. You may begin.

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

      You mean asantists.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Gir

      If this debate does begin, it's probably going to end with you claiming faith as a reasonable means of discerning knowledge, and, of course, the usual religionist tactic of condemning to hell all who do not agree with you.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Mike L.

      Ok Jim begin your side of the debate on why God, Jesus, Superior Being exsits? But I will not run, I will use expletives but I will let you know I once was a priest, who studied the bible from front to back .So for everything you try to say about what it says in the bible I will rebut with a contraindication that also states in the bible. That is why the bible is such a wonderful thing it contradicts itself. So you have better have done your homework

      January 21, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Jim T

      Blueprints appear to contradict themselves to someone who is unable to read them don't they mike? So you were a priest, that doesn't mean you were born again. I'm not sure what your word priest means though, perhaps you could elaborate. Done my homework? Indeed and also i was unafraid of the truth. A good starting point. Many say the bible is full of contradictions, is it really. Name ten without googling. 60 seconds. Start the clock.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Why start a new thread. Answer the questions I put in the previous thread.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:13 pm |
    • Jim T

      Also remember this Mike. I'm accusing you of being willingly ignorant. Hiding behind the guise of intellectual assent as your reason to rejecting the idea of God when the reality is, you're emotionally rebelling against Him. The use of expletives and even the intense desire to challenge me only proves my contention.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • tallulah13

      1. God is satisfied with his works
      Gen 1:31
      God is dissatisfied with his works.
      Gen 6:6
      2. God dwells in chosen temples
      2 Chron 7:12,16
      God dwells not in temples
      Acts 7:48
      3. God dwells in light
      Tim 6:16
      God dwells in darkness
      1 Kings 8:12/ Ps 18:11/ Ps 97:2
      4. God is seen and heard
      Ex 33:23/ Ex 33:11/ Gen 3:9,10/ Gen 32:30/ Is 6:1/
      Ex 24:9-11
      God is invisible and cannot be heard
      John 1:18/ John 5:37/ Ex 33:20/ 1 Tim 6:16
      5. God is tired and rests
      Ex 31:17
      God is never tired and never rests
      Is 40:28
      6. God is everywhere present, sees and knows all things
      Prov 15:3/ Ps 139:7-10/ Job 34:22,21
      God is not everywhere present, neither sees nor knows all
      things
      Gen 11:5/ Gen 18:20,21/ Gen 3:8
      7. God knows the hearts of men
      Acts 1:24/ Ps 139:2,3
      God tries men to find out what is in their heart
      Deut 13:3/ Deut 8:2/ Gen 22:12
      8. God is all powerful
      Jer 32:27/ Matt 19:26
      God is not all powerful
      Judg 1:19
      9. God is unchangeable
      James 1:17/ Mal 3:6/ Ezek 24:14/ Num 23:19
      God is changeable
      Gen 6:6/ Jonah 3:10/ 1 Sam 2:30,31/ 2 Kings 20:1,4,5,6/
      Ex 33:1,3,17,14
      10. God is just and impartial
      Ps 92:15/ Gen 18:25/ Deut 32:4/ Rom 2:11/ Ezek 18:25
      God is unjust and partial
      Gen 9:25/ Ex 20:5/ Rom 9:11-13/ Matt 13:12
      11. God is the author of evil
      Lam 3:38/ Jer 18:11/ Is 45:7/ Amos 3:6/ Ezek 20:25
      God is not the author of evil
      1 Cor 14:33/ Deut 32:4/ James 1:13
      12. God gives freely to those who ask
      James 1:5/ Luke 11:10
      God withholds his blessings and prevents men from receiving
      them
      John 12:40/ Josh 11:20/ Is 63:17
      13. God is to be found by those who seek him
      Matt 7:8/ Prov 8:17
      God is not to be found by those who seek him
      Prov 1:28
      14. God is warlike
      Ex 15:3/ Is 51:15
      God is peaceful
      Rom 15:33/ 1 Cor 14:33
      15. God is cruel, unmerciful, destructive, and ferocious
      Jer 13:14/ Deut 7:16/ 1 Sam 15:2,3/ 1 Sam 6:19
      God is kind, merciful, and good
      James 5:11/ Lam 3:33/ 1 Chron 16:34/ Ezek 18:32/ Ps 145:9/
      1 Tim 2:4/ 1 John 4:16/ Ps 25:8
      16. God's anger is fierce and endures long
      Num 32:13/ Num 25:4/ Jer 17:4
      God's anger is slow and endures but for a minute
      Ps 103:8/ Ps 30:5
      17. God commands, approves of, and delights in burnt offerings,
      sacrifices ,and holy days
      Ex 29:36/ Lev 23:27/ Ex 29:18/ Lev 1:9
      God disapproves of and has no pleasure in burnt offerings,
      sacrifices, and holy days.
      Jer 7:22/ Jer 6:20/ Ps 50:13,4/ Is 1:13,11,12
      18. God accepts human sacrifices
      2 Sam 21:8,9,14/ Gen 22:2/ Judg 11:30-32,34,38,39
      God forbids human sacrifice
      Deut 12:30,31
      19. God tempts men
      Gen 22:1/ 2 Sam 24:1/ Jer 20:7/ Matt 6:13
      God tempts no man
      James 1:13
      20. God cannot lie
      Heb 6:18
      God lies by proxy; he sends forth lying spirits t deceive
      2 Thes 2:11/ 1 Kings 22:23/ Ezek 14:9
      21. Because of man's wickedness God destroys him
      Gen 6:5,7
      Because of man's wickedness God will not destroy him
      Gen 8:21
      22. God's attributes are revealed in his works.
      Rom 1:20
      God's attributes cannot be discovered
      Job 11:7/ Is 40:28
      23. There is but one God
      Deut 6:4
      There is a plurality of gods
      Gen 1:26/ Gen 3:22/

      Of course I googled. I have better things to do than memorize a book of myths. The fact that I googled doesn't alter the fact that the bible is rife with contradiction.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Penny B.

      Jim T,
      There is no need for debate. I can make this easy for you. Look deeply into yourself; When you TRULY understand why you do not believe in the existence of other peoples Gods, you will then, and only then, understand why I do not believe in yours.
      Have a nice day,
      Penny

      January 21, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • JLHart

      you must have missed this one:

      Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
      (Proverbs 26:12)

      January 21, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Did you forget or run?

      January 21, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  2. Veronica

    Wow, that's so original. So succinct.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  3. nathan

    cnn is a pos

    January 21, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • bostontola

      Glad you're here.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
  4. Veronica

    "Cruel" is a characterization that atheists sometimes give to a God that they don't believe in. I'm using their own term.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      If there were any gods, and they behaved as the stories in bible say they do, then yes, your god goes way beyond cruel very often.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • The Truth

      It is the term we give to something that has an active choice but chooses to still abort nearly half of all pregnancies via miscarriage. The natural world without God aborts just the same number but it is not taking sides and choosing who to save or damn and thus is not cruel but is a tool that can be used for good or ill. That is why infant mortality rates decreased significantly as knowledge of our natural world and our bodies has increased but humanity saw no such change when religion was relied upon for healthy birth outcomes. Just a little over 100 years ago it was 1 child lost for every 8 pregnancies, now it's 1 in 110 no thanks to religion that was forcing it's morality on the world for thousands of years.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
  5. churchwebstrategy

    Hear both sides and make your own decisions, but don't make them based on emotion, or ignorance, do it with all the facts. http://youtu.be/J0UIbd0eLxw

    January 21, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      What "facts" do you have about your religion? The fact that is is man-made, the fact that men made up your god? The fact that you can ignore all other theories re: god and which form or name to call it, but yours is the "one true" god?
      Which facts specifically?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      What "facts" do you have about your religion? The fact that is is man-made, the fact that men made up your god? The fact that you can ignore all other theories re: god and which form or name to call it, but yours is the "one true" god?
      Which facts spec ifically?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
  6. Ryan

    For all of you super smart people explain Fatima? Padre Pio, Theresa Neumann, Guadalupe, and the list goes on. I can't. Someone is out there and must love us. If you have belief or not.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Somebody must be out there, loving us.
      So pick a God, any God!
      Angus, Belenos, Brigid, dana, Lugh, Dagda, Epona, Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Atehna, Demeter, Dionysus, Eris, Eos, Gaia, Hades, Hekate, Helios, Hephaestus, Hera, hermes, Hestia, Pan, Poseidon, Selene, Uranus, Zeus, Mathilde, Elves, Eostre, Frigg, Hretha, Saxnot, Shef, Thuno, Tir, Weyland, Woden, Alfar, Balder, Beyla, Bil, Bragi, Byggvir, Dagr, Disir, Eir, Forseti, Freya, Freyr, Frigga, Heimdall, Hel, Hoenir, Idunn, Jord, Lofn, Loki, Mon, Njord, Norns, Nott, Odin, Ran, saga, Sif, Siofn, Skadi, Snotra, Sol, Syn, Ull, Thor, Tyr, Var, Vali, Vidar, Vor, Black Shuck, Herne, Jack in the Green, Holda, Nehalennia, Nerthus, endovelicus, Ataegina, Runesocesius, Apollo, Bacchus, Ceres, Cupid, Diana, Janus, Juno, Jupiter, Maia, Mars, Mercury, Minerva, Neptune, Pluto, Plutus, Proserpina, Venus, Vesta, Vulcan, Attis, Cybele, El-Gabal, Isis, Mithras, Sol Invictus, Endovelicus, Anubis, Aten, Atum, Bast, Bes, Geb, Hapi, Hathor, Heget, Horus, Imhotep, Isis, Khepry, Khnum, Maahes, Ma’at, Menhit, Mont, Naunet, Neith, Nephthys, Nut, Osiris, Ptah, ra, Sekhmnet, Sobek, Set, Tefnut, Thoth, An, Anshar, Anu, Apsu, Ashur, Damkina, Ea, Enki, Enlil, Ereshkigal, Nunurta, Hadad, Inanna, Ishtar, Kingu, Kishar, Marduk, Mummu, Nabu, Nammu, Nanna, Nergal, Ninhursag, Ninlil, Nintu, Shamash, Sin, Tiamat, Utu, Mitra, Amaterasu, Susanoo, Tsukiyomi, Inari, Tengu, Izanami, Izanagi, Daikoku, Ebisu, Benzaiten, Bishamonten, Fu.kurokuju, Jurojin, Hotei, Quetzalcoatl, Tlaloc, Inti, Kon, Mama Cocha, Mama Quilla, Manco Capac, Pachacamac, Viracoc.ha, or Zaramama!!

      Eenie, meenie, miney – Quetzlcoatl loves you!

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

      sure, First, there has never, ever, been a miracle. Fatima.. the sun coming closer and dancing.. Look at the sun yourself and guess what?? The same thing will happen. Then bow down your head and pray (looking away from the sun so your eyes can re-adjust) and the sun returns.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  7. bostontola

    Sooner than people think, scientists will create life in a lab. They have incontravertable evidence of evolution. At some point do the religins just say "my bad" and move on to evolution and god are not exclusive (like when they caved on the earth as central to our solar system).

    January 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Holysmokeandmirrors

      Bostontola,

      Actually, religion is getting close to doing that. When I was a kid I was taught the Adam and Eve, talking snake story. That old fairy tale is now being cast aside, as some Christian sects are hitching their wagons to evolution. They don't call it evolution however, they call it intelligent design. Thus, if the customer is buying the old story anymore, change it!

      January 21, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  8. Origin Of Life

    NEWS FLASH (see date)

    Mars May Have Supported Life: Martian Underground Could Contain Clues to Life's Origins

    Jan. 20, 2013 — Minerals found in the subsurface of Mars, a zone of more than three miles below ground, make for the strongest evidence yet that the red planet may have supported life, according to research "Groundwater activity on Mars and implications for a deep biosphere," published in Nature Geoscience on January 20, 2013.

    Origin of Life:
    Hypothesis Traces First Protocells Back to Emergence of Cell Membrane Bioenergetics

    Dec. 20, 2012 — A coherent pathway – which starts from no more than rocks, water and carbon dioxide and leads to the emergence of the strange bio-energetic properties of living cells – has been traced for the first time in a major hypothesis paper in Cell this week

    Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says – CNN ...
    religion.blogs.cnn.com/.../heaven-is-a-fairy-story-scientist-stephen-ha...
    May 17, 2011 – By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any ... Stephen Hawking at the World
    Science.....
    Peace
    Education

    January 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • religion,,

      if there were a god, these christians are in insult to his intelligence.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • Origin of Life

      DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
      Thanks

      January 21, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Science

      Agree

      January 21, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
  9. SFreason

    Bravo to this woman for bravely raising here kids to respect truth and reality, instead of myth, fantasy and mysticism. It is infinitely more moral to do the right thing because it's the right thing to do, instead of expectation of a reward (or punishment) in an "afterlife" that does not exists. Better to make this life the best that it can be, because it is the only life we have.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Eric

      What is funny is that you just described what the Bible tries to teach us to attain but you don't even know it because of your biased view on religion. What is funny is your thoughts are more Christian than a lot of Christians. You may want to try and give the bible another read without any preconceived notions.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm |
    • PJ

      Amen.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  10. Austin

    oh you wish the mayans failed God? that was desperate.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  11. Ben

    If there's not a meaning to life, then why get so hung up about rationality?

    January 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  12. Gerald

    She doesn't want freedom of religion. She wants freedom from religion.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • David

      Yeah, many of us want that. It's why this country was founded on separation of church and state.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
  13. Gman

    The removal of God from our culture is one of the primary reasons we are experiencing the challenges that we have recently. If you truly believe that this planet suspended in space at the precise distance from an energy source (sun) to sustain life was accidental, then perhaps YOU should replicate this feat. If YOU think that the recognition of God has no place in our world, then try living on another planet! Science is a product of creation. Evolution is a bi-product of creation. When society wakes up and realizes that it is not just about ME, then we will be back on the right path.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • religion,,

      yeah,, bring on the Inquisition.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      Nonsense.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • Terri

      "If you truly believe that this planet suspended in space at the precise distance from an energy source (sun) to sustain life was accidental, then perhaps YOU should replicate this feat. "

      You must not keep up with the news. They just found 461 other planets that seem to have the same characteristics as our earth, distances from the sun and a moon. So yeah, it seem it has been replicated.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • bostontola

      god is pervasive in our culture, your premise is flawed.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • PJ

      no need to replicate anything for it to be an accident. not sure if you noticed, but the universe is pretty big and we're finding new planets every day that could very well harbor life.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Gir

      On the contrary. Religion is all about "ME." The religionist says "This planet was suspended at the "right" distance from the sun so that I could be created. I am the final purpose of all nature." And they'll shut their eyes to all contradictory evidence and keep parroting this belief because it makes THEM feel special.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • tallulah13

      The earth was not made for humanity. Humanity was shaped by the earth. Had conditions been different, life would have emerged differently, or not emerged at all.

      Thinking that a supreme being created the universe just for humans, thinking that this being is watching you 24/7 and has made a paradise where you can live for eternity, is pretty much the most self-centered thing I've ever heard. Perhaps you ought to wake up an realize that it's not all about YOU.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
    • Jdoe@aol.com

      I agree with you Gman! I think Odin is a good and fair god. As for his son Thor, well, how could we ask for a mightier defender of good! Now, if he could only do something about that evil brother of his!

      January 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Amorette

      So, if you want to get rid of "Science," you better unplug your computer and start living in a cave. Otherwise, you are going to be exposed to all sorts of "Science" like cars, electricity, medicine, indoor plumbing, tvs, telephones, everything that makes our modern life possible.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Origin fo Life

      @pj
      NEWS FLASH (see date)

      Mars May Have Supported Life: Martian Underground Could Contain Clues to Life's Origins

      Jan. 20, 2013 — Minerals found in the subsurface of Mars, a zone of more than three miles below ground, make for the strongest evidence yet that the red planet may have supported life, according to research "Groundwater activity on Mars and implications for a deep biosphere," published in Nature Geoscience on January 20, 2013.

      Origin of Life:
      Hypothesis Traces First Protocells Back to Emergence of Cell Membrane Bioenergetics

      Dec. 20, 2012 — A coherent pathway – which starts from no more than rocks, water and carbon dioxide and leads to the emergence of the strange bio-energetic properties of living cells – has been traced for the first time in a major hypothesis paper in Cell this week

      Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says – CNN ...
      religion.blogs.cnn.com/.../heaven-is-a-fairy-story-scientist-stephen-ha...
      May 17, 2011 – By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any ... Stephen Hawking at the World
      Science.....
      Peace
      Education

      January 21, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
  14. DarthWoo

    So by that logic, parents should also tell their children about Muhammad as well?

    January 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Yes , tell them about mohamed. Explain to them that he was a ped eophile, that claime to be a prophet, but in actuality took the 365 gods of the tribes and chose one of them , declaring it the "one true god". That if he was alive today, he would be laughed at as he preached from street corners, and he would be arrested for his dealings with children.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  15. Gerald

    "I only want religion to be kept at home or in church where it belongs. "

    Well then she should keep her views to herself and keep them in her home where they belong. The only way to make this happen is to kill Christians. Is she in favor of that?

    January 21, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Gerald, you may not be aware of this, but many of your fellow christians are able to conduct themselves in mixed company without mentioning religion. It's called being polite. Have you ever tried it?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Hugh Jass

      I am! One less loudmouth christian makes this PLANET a better place. No more fairy tales, made up stories about things that never happened to people that did not exist. No more of these clowns pushing their views on others in the world. No more of these nut jobs preaching their vitriol, and taking offense to anything that anyone tries to say to them about their imaginary believe system.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
    • Akira

      Gerald, why would you make such a leap?
      Absurd.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Holysmokeandmirrors

      Gerald,

      Kill Christians? So if someone does not believe in or even practice Christianity, they are out to kill Christians? With all of the other religions out there, how do you sleep at night. Personally, I ask the tooth fairy to guard me.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
  16. MysteriaKiito

    I believe in God, personally, but I never go to church. People seem to think I need to be saved because of that so I can see how that can be really annoying to someone who doesn't believe at all since it's probably MUCH worse for them. I'm more laid back about my beliefs. I don't rant at anyone who doesn't believe, I don't try to save people, I don't go around telling people "Jesus loves you" because I know everyone doesn't believe that. I teach my kids that there are many beliefs out there and they can choose any one they want to believe in because I'll be happy as long as they are a GOOD PERSON. I truly believe that God would feel the same way regardless of what faith anyone follows. I don't think he's this egotistical, hateful, vengeful god that a lot of religious nuts make him out to be. I think of him as another parent that just wants his children to be happy and be good people while they pursue that happiness.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
  17. PJ

    Responding to a general comment about why this topic generates such vehement replies: to me, it's because religious zealots try and dictate their beliefs in our laws. Follow your own admission that god gave everyone free will and stop pushing your religous views in our laws prohibiting what god gave to man.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
  18. Austin

    daniel 11:40 ect tells us that the antichrist will battle with syria, egypt, lybia and africa. is that wierd?

    January 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      Sorry dude, it's 2013. The world didn't end last year.

      By the way, where is lybia?

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

      Let's see, what countries did "Daniel" know about at the time...

      January 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "The age of evil has come to the world . Everyone steals and hoards great wealth, and sensual sin rules the day. The end of the world is at hand – yet men are hard and cruel, and listen not to the doom that is coming . No one heeds the cries of his neighbour, or lifts a hand to save."

      The ancient prophecies are being fulfilled RIGHT NOW!
      Repent and give your obedience to the King of Gods!
      Ragnarok cometh and only the mercy of Odin can save you!

      January 21, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • AK

      Given the origin of Judaism and Christianity, no, not at all. Now, if it mentioned North America, that would be weird.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Context is important, Austin.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
  19. Rob Clark

    Whether the parent is Christian or not, a parent has the responsibilty to talk to their child about who Jesus is. He is easily the most well-known person in human history and ended up started the biggest movement in human history. Such a significant person should not be shielded from the kids.

    Teach them facts that we know about Jesus and let the mystery be the mystery...then let them believe what they want. By shunning the kids from faith, you end up brainwashing them in your own right.

    January 21, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "Teach them facts that we know about Jesus."

      which ones would those be I wonder?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Chad

      @Rob Clark

      OUTSTANDING POST!!

      well said

      January 21, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • Pete

      Dude, only 30% of people believe in your religion, it's not as well known as you want it to be and nor is your religion accepted by most people on this planet. Christians are so egotistical.

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

      "By shunning the kids from faith, you end up brainwashing them in your own right."

      Oh, please Christians are the biggest brainwashing parents, what a hypocrite.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Chad

      Start with this:
      Virtually all scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed.[12][13][14][15][16][17] While the quest for the historical Jesus has produced little agreement on the historicity of gospel narratives and their theological assertions of his divinity, [18][19][20][21] most scholars agree that Jesus was a Jewish teacher from Galilee in Roman Judea, was baptized by John the Baptist, and was crucified in Jerusalem on the orders of the Roman Prefect, Pontius Pilate.[8][22][15] Scholars have offered various portraits of the historical Jesus, which at times share a number of overlapping attributes, such as the leader of an apocalyptic movement, Messiah, a charismatic healer, a sage and philosopher, or a social reformer who preached of the "Kingdom of God" as a means for personal and egalitarian social transformation.[23][24][25][26] Scholars have correlated the New Testament accounts with non-Christian historical records to arrive at an estimated chronology of Jesus' life.[3][5][27][28]

      [12]In a 2011 review of the state of modern scholarship, Bart Ehrman (who is a secular agnostic) wrote: "He certainly existed, as virtually every competent scholar of antiquity, Christian or non-Christian, agrees" B. Ehrman, 2011 Forged : writing in the name of God ISBN 978-0-06-207863-6. page 285

      [13] Robert M. Price (an atheist who denies existence) agrees that this perspective runs against the views of the majority of scholars: Robert M. Price "Jesus at the Vanishing Point" in The Historical Jesus: Five Views edited by James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy, 2009 InterVarsity, ISBN 028106329X page 61

      [14] Michael Grant (a classicist) states that "In recent years, 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus' or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary." in Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels by Michael Grant 2004 ISBN 1898799881 page 200

      [15] Robert E. Van Voorst states that biblical scholars and classical historians regard theories of non-existence of Jesus as effectively refuted. Van Voorst, Robert E (2000). Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence. Eerdmans Publishing. ISBN 0-8028-4368-9 page 16

      [16] James D. G. Dunn "Paul's understanding of the death of Jesus" in Sacrifice and Redemption edited by S. W. Sykes (Dec 3, 2007) Cambridge University Press ISBN 052104460X pages 35–36 states that the theories of non-existence of Jesus are "a thoroughly dead thesis"

      [17] Richard A. Burridge states: "There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more." in Jesus Now and Then by Richard A. Burridge and Graham Gould (Apr 1, 2004) ISBN 0802809774 page 34

      [18] Craig Evans, "Life-of-Jesus Research and the Eclipse of Mythology," Theological Studies 54 (1993) p. 5,
      [19] Charles H. Talbert, What Is a Gospel? The Genre of Canonical Gospels pg 42 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977).
      [20]b “The Historical Figure of Jesus," Sanders, E.P., Penguin Books: London, 1995, p., 3.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • religion,,

      yeah,, teach kids to lie.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • jini

      If you don't tell your children about Thor, Athena, Zeus, Maat and the FSM are you brainwashing them?

      If you don't tell your children about influential and well known individuals such as the Dalai Lama or Gandhi are you brainwashing them?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Rob
      So what did you teach your children about The Prophet Mohammed?

      January 21, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • DarthWoo

      So by that logic, parents should also tell their children about Muhammad as well?

      (reposted since I think it misdirected my original reply)

      January 21, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • joey

      Jesus *was* a well-known dude, but now, he's kind of old-school. For someone with more street-cred these days, try Dr Drew.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Madtown

      He is easily the most well-known person in human history
      ------
      There are many, many humans(your equals) living on this planet right now, that have no idea who Jesus is, and don't know the first thing about his significance. Do you seriously believe that the christian way is the "1 and only way" that God accepts? If so, why does God create so many humans(your equals) in different cultures with no access to it? Maybe you think God loves you more than those other people.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Most children in the United States will be exposed to concept of Jesus Christ. I'm sure this woman's children are already familiar. But there is no real reason to elevate Christ over any other mythological figure.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:58 pm |
    • Rob Clark

      To clarify, yes...I think we should teach our kids about Ghandi, Dalai Lama, and Muhammad...teach them what we can. They are influential people that have played a part in shaping the world as we know it. As for the person that said the Thor comment...they teach about greek mythology in schools...so yes, we should know about that. I don't know how a rational person can put Thor in the same category as Jesus though.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Chad

      Teach your kids that Mohammed claimed to have a private revelation about god.

      Teach you children the content of the bible, what has been confirmed as historical fact and what has yet to be.

      Teach your kids that Jesus was an actual historical figure, that He claimed to be the divine Son of God, that he was crucified by Romans for that claim, that after three days the tomb was found empty by a group of His women followers, and that following that many diifferent people in different situations, followers, skeptics and persecutors claimed to meet a physicallly resurrected Jesus. A claim they held so true that they were willing to go to their deaths for it.

      January 21, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
    • Todd

      Don't forget to educate your child on the real historical Santa Claus because history has shown he was real. Santa is real, all hail Santa Claus

      1848
      T. C. Boyd
      A Visit from Saint Nicholas
      Facsimile, St Nicholas Center Collection

      1862
      F. O. C. Darley
      A Visit from Saint Nicholas
      St Nicholas Center Collection

      ca 1869
      Thomas Nast
      Santa Claus and his Works
      First red suit for a Nast Santa
      St Nicholas Center Collection

      1881
      Thomas Nast
      Harper's Weekly
      January 1, 1881

      Val Berryman Collection
      1905
      Carl Stetson Crawford
      St. Nicholas for Young Folks
      Vol. XXXIII, No. 2

      1908
      E. Boyd Smith
      Santa

      Santa is real folks and you better make sure you're on the nice list or you won't get any presents next xmas!

      January 21, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  20. Dyslexic doG

    Rather than inculcating our children with the primary-color simple Sunday school legends and myths most people do, might I suggest the following ten comandments to enable them to think for themselves.
    1. DO NOT automatically believe something just because a parent, priest, rabbi or minister tells you that you must.
    2. DO NOT think that claims about magic 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 get frightened when you want to "look 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 goblins 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 I 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” 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 wrong.
    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 religion or other 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 1:41 pm |
    • religion,,

      did you know that man wrote the 10 commandments? That secular society taught religions and jesus how to behave? That's right, it was regular mothers and fathers who knew what it was like to be hurt and wanted to protect their children. They later formed societies and promoted their beliefs of caring and helping. These were people, not a god telling anyone a single thing. Yes, religions steal those deeds and claim it as their own with phony stories to pretend it was derived from some silly supernatural.

      January 21, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.