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The money man behind atheism’s activism
Todd Stiefel, a wealthy businessman, is responsible for bank rolling many atheism activism projects.
March 23rd, 2013
10:00 PM ET

The money man behind atheism’s activism

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) - Todd Stiefel is far from a household name, and the odds he gets recognized on a street corner, even in his hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, are small.

For Stiefel, a slim, scruffy ex-Catholic, his public persona is his wallet and activism. Through the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, the 38-year-old has made an indelible impact on the nation’s fastest-growing “religious” group: the nonbelievers. Most of the highest-profile atheists campaigns –- flashy billboards in high-traffic areas, news-making efforts to get atheists to come out of the closet, and boisterous rallies - are funded by his fortune.

Stiefel isn’t shy about his far-reaching goals.

“What I am trying to accomplish is multifold, he told CNN. “I consider myself working on the next civil equality movement, just like women’s rights, LGBT rights and African-American Civil Rights. We are still in the early stages of eliminating discrimination against atheists and humanists. That is something I really want to accomplish.”

So far, Stiefel has pumped $3.5 million into those aspirations, and his money benefits a number of atheist organizations, from the Clergy Project, a group that helps atheist and doubting clergy out of the closet, to American Atheists, arguably the most in-your-face atheist group in the country.

Stiefel sees his work as far more than just money. For him, this is just the beginning.

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From Catholic school to atheist millionaire

Stiefel was born in Albany, New York, in 1974 to Catholic parents. He was raised in a Catholic household, confirmed in the church, attended Sunday school, went to a Catholic high school.

“I was a cross-wearing, praying, religious-retreat Catholic,” Stiefel said. “You could say there were points that I felt the spirit.”

But his faith, he said, fluctuated during high school. “I was always a skeptic,” he said, “and I always asked a lot of questions.”

At 18, Stiefel attended Duke University to pursue a degree in psychology. To fill an elective, he took an Old Testament history class at the Duke University Divinity School. It was there, he said, that his final “ebb” away from belief took hold.

In the class, Stiefel said he saw a flawed logic in the Old Testament. In particular, he said, he began to see much of the Old Testament as unoriginal stories that had been told in many pagan traditions.

“'Wait a second, is what I believe in really the truth or is it really the accumulation of myths bundled in a package?’” Stiefel remembers asking himself. “That was the end of my faith right there.”

After graduating from Duke, Stiefel went into the family business: Stiefel Laboratories, a company that develops products to combat skin diseases. For 12 years, Stiefel worked with his family and turned the business into a major player in their specialized market.

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In 2009, with Stiefel in an executive position, the Stiefel family opted to sell the company to GlaxoSmithKline. The price tag: $2.9 billion, according to media reports at the time.

“I only got a very small piece of that, for the record,” Stiefel said with a laugh. “I did, however, find myself in a unique and fortunate position where I was able to do whatever I wanted to do.”

And like many who have the luxury of doing exactly what they want, Stiefel began thinking about what he was truly passionate about. After kicking around the idea of starting another business, the answer became clear to the young millionaire: advocating for atheism.

“I wanted to try to help the world,” he said. “I wanted to give back and this seemed like the most productive way to help humanity.”

‘Just doing my part’

Stiefel put $2 million in to begin his foundation. In his first year, according to tax documents, the nonprofit disbursed $700,000 to groups like the Secular Coalition for America, the American Humanist Association and Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

In 2010 and 2011, the giving continued with the foundation distributing around $750,000 to different atheist and humanist causes. In 2011, he also pumped another $500,000 into his foundation.

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“I am just doing my part within my means,” he said. “Different people have different means. I am doing what I can do, just like the rest of the people in the movement are.”

But recipients of the money, such as David Silverman, president of the American Atheists, see his impact as much greater than just a one-off activist.

“Todd is an example of what major contributions can accomplish for atheism,” he said. “From a donation stand point, he is really leading the movement to a different level.”

Walking the line

One of Stiefel’s major concerted contributions in the last three years was the Reason Rally, an event held on the National Mall in Washington, which was billed as a watershed moment in the atheism movement. The goal of the event was to show to religious Americans that atheism was a powerful minority in American life.

Stiefel speaks onstage at the Reason Rally.

The rally drew a number of high-profile speakers, including Richard Dawkins, the author of “The God Delusion,” and thousands of attendees, despite rainy weather.

In his speech to the crowd, Stiefel talked about what he sees as the most important problem facing atheism: “Discrimination comes from ignorance, and in this case it is ignorance about our beliefs,” he said. “We are told freethinkers believe in nothing, but that’s a misunderstanding. We believe in a lot of things; we don’t all believe the same things.”

Stiefel put $250,000 toward the rally, a contribution that Silverman, the organizer, said was critical.

“He brought the Reason Rally to a brand new level,” Silverman said. Without that money, “we would have had far fewer people and a far smaller event.”

Silverman and the Reason Rally advocated for a specific brand of atheism. Silverman, who regularly calls his group the “Marines of the Freethought Movement,” is not shy in making it clear that he views his goal in calling out religion and elevating atheism.

Stiefel says he doesn't necessarily endorse those tactics wholly, but he does see their validity.

“I try to walk a line,” he said. “I see religious criticism as valuable, and groups like American Atheists are good at that. I do think we have to have a dialogue about who has the right ideas and part of that is pointing out the flaws in religious ideas.”

Stiefel continued: “I also see inter-belief work, though. I do find a lot of value in inter-belief work and I do see a lot of value in general charity work.”

Evidence of that is his work on cancer fundraising.

In 2012, Stiefel approached the Foundation Beyond Belief with an idea of creating networks of nonbelievers around the country to help raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Stiefel tapped into his atheist network and began organizing different event.

In total, the atheist groups raised $430,000 in 2012, including a $215,000 donation from Stiefel and his wife, Diana.

“Across the country there are 150 local groups of atheists and freethinkers raising money for charity,” Stiefel said proudly.

The key, however, was bridging the gap between atheist and religious communities in the name of charity.

“We welcomed Christians, as well,” he said. “Some of our biggest fundraisers were Christians.”

For 2013, the goal is to raise $500,000.

Expanding the community

With money and resolve comes great influence for Stiefel. He has the ear of many atheist leaders, meaning he can dictate the movement’s focus.

Stiefel said he wants to see the atheism movement expand its footprint.

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“What I would really like to see is expanding out communities to people who may not just be atheists or agnostics and into people who are religiously skeptical and may still have some religious beliefs,” he said. “Nobody is a perfect skeptic and I would like to see more people like that in our community.”

For Stiefel, this is a personal priority. He says his wife, whom he describes as a skeptical Christian, is someone who would fall within an expanded atheist movement.

“My message is not only of anti-theism,” Stiefel said. “I don’t choose to attack religion itself. I see religion as something that provides both good and ill to the world.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism

soundoff (7,617 Responses)
  1. Peter Bishop

    How appropriate that this atheist be included in the belief section. Atheists are, in fact, some of the most religious people.
    They just become their own "God" and form their values from themselves. Once that’s all worked out, the next step is the preaching. And they do it all the time. Same sheep, just different clothes.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • Robert

      I very much disagree with the comment, but I dig the screen name.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Duece BIGALOW

      You are more of a Peter Head than a Peter Bishop!

      March 24, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • freddo

      You're a tad bit off there. While it's safe to assume some atheists are as narcissistic as you suggest, atheists don't own that franchise... and not all atheists are narcissists.

      Interesting that you have to demonize atheists to reinforce your own beliefs.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:26 am |
  2. meg

    Todd Stiefel, somewhere along the line was deceived of course pagans existed and had stories in which makes god even more so believable. It was mans confusion and worship of other gods and not God. Look what they did at the mountain the people heard Gods voice and the first thing the knuckle heads do is worship a cow. Paganism was born from sinful men turning away from God pagans didn't make up God. I really feel bad for Todd that his eye s where so easily shut and yet he admits he felt the spirit of god and denies him even works against him.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • John

      "Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz"

      March 24, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Your ignorance is amazing. He simply grew up and realized there is no sufficient evidence to support your imaginary friend or the imaginary friend of any belief.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Duece BIGALOW

      Meg, good morning ... you are an idiot.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • Crazyace

      The Pagan religion came before your christian religion... Also the story of "Jesus" is taken from religions before it. The only thing that matters is that we don't want your crazy in our laws of the land. I could careless if you went to church every day. Just stay out of the government.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:37 am |
  3. the Dean

    Atheist are so funny. Spend so much time talking about not believing in God. That's like me saying, "I don't believe in Big Foot or the Loch ness Monster", but I'm gonna spend money, time, and energy letting everyone know I don't believe in them. Yeah, atheist, you believe in God by your own actions. Silliest thing ever.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • John

      And believers spend exponentially more in attempting to recruit others. You demonstrate religion's greatest weakness – hypocrisy.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:13 am |
    • Mxh

      That's because belief in God is so pervasive in our society. Political decisions get made because of people's beliefs in god. Decisions on what to teach in schools get made because of what god says. Decisions on our healthcare depend on Gods rules. If other people didnt force their beliefs on everyone, atheists wouldnt meed to be vocal about their nonbelief.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • chyrd

      Funny... but I have never heard of people who believe in big foot try to legislate the lives of others.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • Justin

      I don't obviously don't believe in whatever it is you believe in. I also don't really like to put a label on myself unlike you. And I don't preach or tell everyone I don't believe either. If they ask then I tell. People like you though and whatever you believe in. You're telling me your religious organizations don't preach or spend massive amounts of money to further progress their motives. I think you need to do a little more research on your so called faith my friend. Open your mind realize you can be a perfectly good and awesome person not having to guy by what some wording in a book says.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • freddo

      The lion's share of money is spent by religious groups advocating their beliefs, not atheists.

      I look forward to a day when religious groups stop advocating to have their views as the foundation of public policy.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • thekarl

      Your logic is flawed, however I agree that this militant atheism is silly. In my heart I am an atheist but technically I call myself an agnostic because I cannot affirm or deny anything I cannot prove without absolute certainty. To say absolutely there is no god is almost a big a leap of faith as believing in a god.

      "was man one of god's blunders, or god one of man's?" Frederich Nietzsche

      A quote like this leads people like you to suspect some lingering belief in deities, however I can assure you that just because the "god concept" is a handy tool in explanation and expression, I does not indicate that we beleive in gods of any type. Einstein was an atheiest yet he one said "I don't believe god plays dice with the universe" to suggest that the very nature of math and physics contains an underlying order even if we have yet to discover it, but many people took that analogy out of context and tried to claim he beleived in god when the sum total of his writings clearly showed he did not.

      It does not really matter if there is a god or not, what matters is how your belief affects you and those around you. If your belief causes you joy and to do good towards you fellow man then your belief system is valid, but if it causes you to try and impose your will on others it comes from a falsehood.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:34 am |
  4. Rabbittroup

    I'm pretty sure Christians, sometimes Jews (and recently Muslims) get discriminated against more in america than Atheist do. I don't recall any religious debate I've been in where an Atheist was discriminated against. It's usually one party or the next (for me Ironically it's usually Atheist) that barely understands the foundation of a religion accusing it's followers of being blood thirsty zealots etc. Which is no better than a cop that racial profiles a Latino american in LA and pulls them over thinking they are gang banger. What most people that enter into religious debate fail to take into consideration is that just because someone calls them self a follower of a particular religion. It does not mean that they are a true believer and perfectly practice the teachings the religion is based upon.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Damocles

      Disagreeing with something is not discrimination.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • Jim

      Try searching on "Trustworthiness of atheists". Atheists are seen as some of the least trustworthy people. That is why there are so few elected atheists, etc. This needs to change.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:16 am |
  5. Craig

    It's about time. I'll bet the fundies hate him. And that means it's working.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:03 am |
  6. Paul Wilson

    If I am told by somebody that (s)he is an atheist, I am NOT going to ask him(her) why. It could have been a major traumatic experience that snuffed that person's faith and/or religion..

    I would, however, strive to convince that person that we do have afterlives, that matter is not capable of consciousness, that there's no point in existing, if we just go "pfft" at the moment of death. I expect more of my soul than to just go like that forever !

    I do not believe in any hellfire.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Bob Carlson

      Without any science to back up your theory of an afterlife, it is just wishful thinking.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • JH1

      The problem lies in expectations and assumptions that have zero evidence to back them up. Just because you expect and hope for more than what you can physically see, doesn't mean that's the way it is.

      I could try my best to convince you that there really is an invisible Santa Claus with an underground South Pole lair to throw off the satellites because I really really want there to be presents from Santa, but my assertions would be 100% baseless.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • jungleboo

      "...matter is not capable of consciousness..." By this you are indicating that a tree is not conscious of itself and its striving and growing toward light and water. You are indicating that cells in your left kneecap are not aware and striving to work in sync with their neighboring cells. You are indicating that the cats and dogs who know their master are not conscious of their devotion and their need for assistance. On the other hand, if the cell in the lower epidermis of your left kneecap began to "know" your intent, and lead the other cells around it, telling them that it knows what you want for breakfast and who your last trick was, well, it would seem that that cell would be on the verge of being cancerous, because it was overstepping its bounds, and out of sync with its reality. Just sayin'...

      March 24, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • TOOZX5

      Or simply an investigation into the religion that led him to drop the faith, as the article mention. Blinding believing something, and not looking into the evidence for the claims will do that.

      There was no point in species existing if they went extinct. Saying we have afterlives is an assertion you haven't proved with evidence. So you are simply creating an assertion. Making up claims to make yourself feel better....doesn't suddenly make the claims true. Evidence prove the truth of something. Not blind belief.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Damocles

      Why does it always have to be some kind of traumatic experience? Can't people simply say 'meh, I understand that I don't need to believe that there is some enti-ty looking over my shoulder to be a good person?'

      March 24, 2013 at 9:15 am |
    • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

      Traumatic experience? No, rational revelation is what brings one to atheism. It appears you got things a bit confused here as per causal relationships.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  7. merlin215

    Unbelievable , Another one who can't think straight and wants to ruin other peoples lives and beliefs ... God I wish these people would learn that money does NOT mean you are a God in your own right ... Where in the world do these people get their morals ? Also And CNN gives them an audience ... NOW we see what is wrong with this world RIGHT in front of our faces , but we choose NOT to believe what we see ... Sorry but I just get so mad with these Millionaire Babies that think they know everything , get older , and then second guess their " wisdom " ....

    March 24, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • I Am God

      You complain about his money, yet I am sure your church or group has donated millions of dollars into political campaigns.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • Damocles

      I'm guessing you would not be railing against any 'millionaire baby' who wished to donate to your cause?

      March 24, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Steve

      You have republicans and other rich christians doing the same thing in the name of God as well. I used to have faith in god and Jesus, but over the years I lost that faith and will never get it back. This guy has about as much right say what he wants and do what he wants just like all those other christians and religions do.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:16 am |
    • Jim

      If your beliefs are sound why would you be afraid of a billboard or a commercial? How is your faith being ruined?

      March 24, 2013 at 9:18 am |
    • TOOZX5

      What is up with you believers who aren't content & think every little thing is trying to be turned into a god of some kind? People spend their money..."they think its a god!". People gain confidence...."they think its a god!" People use the computer...."they think its a god! Idol worshipers!" Such simplistic cult mentality. Enough. Non religious people get their morals using rationality.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:20 am |
  8. Christian7

    Atheism is a religion like zero is a number.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • frhoads

      You know as much about math as you do about philosophy. Zero is a number.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • JH1

      Zero is a number. Atheism is not a religion.

      Atheism is the TV channel you get when the TV is off.
      Atheism is the hair color bald.

      "Belief" in atheism is the same as "belief" in gravity. It's not a belief. It's an acceptance or a rejection of a concept based on empirical information.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  9. jerry

    The money man they call him as though using the word money will become our God as it is his.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:02 am |
  10. mark

    His rhetoric is like an OMEN Good luck Damien!

    March 24, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • jungleboo

      Watch a lot of movies?

      March 24, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • mark

      No

      March 24, 2013 at 9:16 am |
  11. Biff

    I think most atheists would like to see Christians who believe in God actually do the good works that they are taught instead of saying one thing and then doing something completely different/sinful. I don't think that is too much to ask. I also think 'dose of reality' has valid points in his statements. I have not been around many atheists, but the ones I have been have behaved better than Christians, good fathers, good mothers....and so on. Bottom line for me, more atheists are good people than bad....just like anywhere else. I like to see their points and questions as well.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Dawn Gray

      Thank you.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:08 am |
  12. Djensen

    H.j. , I'm right there with you. As stated in this article, Todd may be a worldly example of what a major contributor can accomplish for atheism, but no words can adequately describe what his contributions will earn him at the Great White Throne if Todd continues to reject Christ. I'm praying for you Todd.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • JW

      And he is thinking for you.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • I Am God

      Why? We have free will. If God is going to punish us for expressing our free will, then why did he give it to us?

      March 24, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • jungleboo

      "The Great White Throne". You have to be kidding. That simple statement says more about your worship of money and power than anything else you might possibly be preaching. Pass the collection plate.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:14 am |
  13. CLK

    The bible was written by man (and if you say it was written by God, then at the very least it was interpreted by man), all of which make it man-made, not God made.

    So it's hard to believe what's written in it because it's so contradictory, and geared towards getting vengeance on those who don't believe, most likely because that was man's way of keeping other men in check. So it's no more right or wrong than anything Dr. Seuss wrote. It's just series of parables that encompass a large majority of struggles every man faces. Do you believe, not believe. Do you sin, not sin. Do you get vengeance or not, etc. The 10 commandments are supposed to be that "road map" but if you notice all 10 of them are broken in the bible, and many broken by God. Thou shalt not kill. That one is broken a lot in the OT. How can you follow a set of rules from a God who breaks the very rule he created? That's why I am not certain most of what the Bible says was said by God. It was written by man. And in turn you can lift any passage from any book and make it mean what you want it to. And that's what people who believe in religion do. They've justified their actions with excerpts from the Bible.

    And the reason? Because man wrote the bible, not God. And man has no clue where he came from or where he's going after he's dead. There's no real definitive proof of what came before or what will come after. So that makes it very hard for man to grasp. He's no better than the ant he squishes below his feet. His life has as much meaning as the ant's and can be taken away as quickly.

    What organized religion does is gather up people in hopes that a collective belief in an afterlife will somehow make it true. And collective religion also was formed to keep people in check otherwise the chance of an afterlife will be dashed.

    Religion and God are two different things. Religion really has nothing to do with God, but everything to do with man.

    I don't believe in religion because it's excludes people and it hurts people, and it's driven by power, money and a odd and inaccurate approach to knowing if there is a God and who he is. Look at the catholic church. It's a spitting image of what God, if we are to believe the bible, didn't want in a religion. People worshiping the pope, a man who is no more closer to god than any man. And the church had condoned for years abuse of others and then turns around and pays off people with the billions of dollars it collects from those who "believe". No, religion is about man and money. And people confuse the two all the time.

    God, I don't know. I know there is some sort of spirit we all posses. I've seen it leave my Dad's body. I've felt the spirit of my dead cousin. Sometimes I've overwhelmed with a feeling of universal love. I know that in my heart, I don't want to hurt people. I also know there are all sorts of theories on how we came about and what else is out there in the world, but there's no proof of any of it. Just theory. For many, God creates an image we can believe in, in hopes that someone, somewhere has all the answers. I'm not so certain "we" were created in God's image as much as we created God in ours. Because otherwise we're just all ants.

    I certainly want to believe, but I'm certain I don't want to follow what man has conjured up. I don't think "God" is about religion.
    And I don't think we were created in his image. I think the God image is far different than what it will really be. At least I hope it is because the Bible paints a really scary picture of God.

    I want to hope there's an afterlife and that what's in my heart gets me there, not the the deeds I did on earth did, because if that's the case, I'm doomed. Personally I think if people stopped trying to follow their "religion" and started following their heart, they'd have a better chance at an afterlife and do much better in this life.

    March 24, 2013 at 9:00 am |
    • Christian7

      I agree with Newton when he said this:

      "I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily."– Issac Newton

      March 24, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Dawn Gray

      Absolutely the best post I've ever seen anywhere. You have put to words what I believe more eloquently than I ever could.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  14. cjbigcat

    The last time a German non-believer with this much ambition shoved his agenda and world views down the public's throat, it didn't turn out so well.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • JW

      Yeah,and he was a Catholic.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      If you are refering to Hitler, he was a believer, actually had something of a religious obsession, and he was backed early on by the catholic church.

      What german are you refering to?

      March 24, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • I Am God

      Wow. I guess you need to study history better. Hitler was Catholic.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Fact checker

      Why does any of this make headlines? People religion and lack there of should be the persons bussiness.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • Fact checker

      Hitler was raised Catholic but denounced it long before he went into office.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:07 am |
    • cjbigcat

      He used Christianity as a tool even though he was raised Catholic. The Catholic church behind the scene was helping him after all. He was an occultist.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:09 am |
    • Gladdensnoot

      Hitler was not a Catholic. His parents were, but he was not.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:10 am |
    • I Am God

      How do you think he roped the masses to Nazism? He was Catholic through and through and you used that to his advantage to gardner support.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:11 am |
    • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

      Oooohhh! Using Hitler in a feeble to attempt to support your argument. That kind of mindless propaganda works on you, obviously, but not on those of us who have a functioning cerebral cortex. Like so many fundamentalist/right wing "arguments", you select the exception to try to prove the rule. Cjbigcat, here's a news flash. It doesn't work that way. Take a look at who atheists are, get a feel for their sense of morality, then apply that toward a world view. Once you do that, you'll see our intentions are all for the good without any wrathful, vengeful god to screw things up and cause misery for others.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:48 pm |
  15. Bob Carlson

    To quote someone else who's name escapes me – "When one person is delusional, they call him insane; when multiple people are delusion, it is called religion."

    March 24, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Fish or Cut Bait

      And I suppose there's no Santa or Easter Bunny either, huh?

      March 24, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • allenwoll

      Robert M Pirsig

      March 24, 2013 at 9:20 am |
  16. Jim

    DIscrimination against atheists - in our current society, you've got to be kidding.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:59 am |
    • Chris

      It's clear from that you aren't one.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • TOOZX5

      Over 70% of the U.S. is christian

      March 24, 2013 at 9:25 am |
  17. J R Brown

    As an atheist, this man embarrasses me. Atheism is NOT a religion to be preached...it is simply the notion that there is no God upon which the religions of the world are based. Being the equivalent of an atheism marketing front man is no different than being a Christian televangelist. Chances are, the man thinks there's money to be made in marketing atheism to the masses and that's the sole reason he's in this mode of "religious gamesmanship".

    March 24, 2013 at 8:58 am |
    • JMEF

      J R
      I would agree if there was no litmus test for politicians that being a declared atheist or agnostic immediately disqualifies you as an acceptable candidate in both parties. It wasn't until recently that an open LBGT could get acceptance. Perhaps, you are right that it is all about the cash flow but that is an assumption, until I see the first Cathedral of Atheism constructed or Hour of the Power of Atheism on Sunday morning I will not pass judgement, too Christian.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • allenwoll

      JRB - Theism and Atheism BOTH suffer from the fact that their ideas can NOT be verified objectively - Therefore their ideas remain BELIEFS, the cornerstones of all religions.
      .
      Agnosticism is the credible alternative.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • Chadwick

      What baffles me is that both christians and atheist accuse each other of stereotyping while simultaneously being offended that the other accuses them of such stereotyping. Look, the fact is that there are good and bad people that profess a belief in God. There are also alot of good and bad people who do not believe in God. The belief (or lack of belief) is not what defines any of us as good or bad people. I believe in God and I always will. That belief does not make me better or worse than anybody else. What determines a good person is his or her actions, plain and simple. There needs to be respect on both sides. If you have a conviction and you are passionate enough to share it with others (be it religious or otherwise), good for you. That doesn't mean you are shoving it down anyone's throat. We should all be free to express what we believe (or don't believe) and that doesn't make us any more or less of a good person.

      April 9, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
  18. mike

    ALL RIGHT!!!!!

    March 24, 2013 at 8:58 am |
  19. sharkusg

    Great. You don't believe in God. Does that really require a campaign?

    March 24, 2013 at 8:57 am |
    • The_Lightbringr

      It does when we live in a country that people would turn in to a Christian version of Taliban Afghanistan if given half the chance...

      March 24, 2013 at 9:01 am |
    • sjordan

      You wouldn't think so, but it does. There's really no one to keep Christians from steamrolling over our government and taking away rights of Americans without the Athiests who are willing to come out of the closet and stand up for their freedom.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:02 am |
    • JW

      People who hate gays get to campaign all they want. Why not him?

      March 24, 2013 at 9:03 am |
    • Jim

      It does when the religious continue to insist that their beliefs become part of public policy.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:05 am |
    • Common sense

      I don't ever remember an incident of athiests being discriminated against. In fact, quite the opposite. This country is becoming more secular every day. Athiests even throw fits if a nativity scenes is displayed in a public place. I don't know why. No one is forcing them to look at it.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:08 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      uncommon nonsense
      As an atheist i can tell you that discrimination against atheists happen all the time.

      Public money and public space should not be used for religious anything. Your att!tude is exactly why atheists need to fight everyday to make sure you know we are here. If atheists thought they were being treated fairly, you would have no need of us to stand up for our rights.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:17 am |
    • Dawn Gray

      Considering all the trouble I have had with certain types of "Christians" during my long life, you can bet on it needing a campaign, and I will be fully behind it. I am not accepted in certain groups, and there are parts of this country that I have tried to live in, in peace, and found I could not. This is not how America should be and it is because of the lack of respect for a person's right to freedom of religion or freedom from religion that things need to change.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:21 am |
    • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

      Why not? Your religion does.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
  20. Thanks Belief Blog

    Only 3 out of 10 Pope stories instead of 8 of 10 for the last month or so, I was pooped out.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:57 am |
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About this blog

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