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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. AK

    You win some, you lose some. Eventually, We win.

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/22/prominent-atheist-blogger-converts-to-catholicism/

    March 24, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • chubby rain

      You lost a lot more than you've won. But hey, whatever gets you through the day...

      March 24, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • Unintelligent Designer

      Cherry-pick much? You ignore all the other cases of believers converting to non-believers.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • Zargoth

      One intellectual lightweight changes teams & that matters...? To whom?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • sandalista

      If this is a matter of win or lose for you, cheering for a sports team would work wonders for you.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:39 am |
  2. Huge Jesus Fan

    This guy looks like the man of sin.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • Jesus

      Get off my d*ck!

      March 24, 2013 at 11:13 am |
  3. YouMayDisagree

    Religion hates reason. This is why devil will speak so convincingly reasonable that no one would be able to dispute him...this story is told to make people afraid of reason and to consider anyone who speaks logically against religion to be demonic and an antichrist. This is brain wash at its best. Look at science, they love disputes and questions because this is the only way for a human progress. I'm not saying that here is no god, but if she is real, she would have no problem with people questioning her existence.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:53 am |
  4. PghBob

    Reading many of the posts above remind me why I dislike most atheists I know. Like the most intolerant people of any stripe, they want to cram their agenda and hatred of religion down everyone's throat. Their condescending views of anyone with a belief system other than their own is nothing more than bigotry. Many atheists try to pass themselves off as enlightened and tolerant but, like many fundamentalists of most belief systems, are insufferable idiots.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • chubby rain

      You probably know very view atheists and have only read about them on the internet. If you did, you wouldn't make sweeping generalizations.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Project much?

      March 24, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • Alex R

      You actually probably do like a lot of atheists you know, they've just never told you they're atheist. You can't judge a group for it's loudest members, that would be like me denouncing Christians because of the Westboro Baptist Church. The average atheist or agnostic never brings it up.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Unintelligent Designer

      PghBob, this is an open forum where people are welcome to express their views on the topic. Most atheists, to include myself, don't try to deconvert co-workers, knock on people's doors preaching the non-word, or corner them in public parks.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • Checked_Other

      @PghBbb: Your exact logic and complaint can be applied reversely from alleged Christians to anyone else.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • James

      Atheism is not a belief system. It is a lack thereof. It focuses only on facts backed by observable evidence only. Atheists are angry because religious people are using there beliefs, which by very definition, are not facts as argumentation for public policy. That is intolerable. If you are a Christian, how would you like it if a Muslim forced you to adhere to his customs or beliefs by enacting laws based on those beliefs? How about a Scientologist? Thinking you cannot be mistaken about your "beliefs" is just plain arrogant.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:07 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      So you dislike the atheists for doing what the christians have done to the atheists for centuries. Also, the atheists do not have an agenda like the religious folk. We simply want your religion removed from where it has no place, like the lie "In god we trust" or the statement that was added by christians to the pledge of allegience that excludes anyone who does not have the same beliefs.

      Remove the lie "in god we trust" and remove the exclusionary statement "under god" from the pledge that is meant for all americans, not just those who believe in gods, and maybe you have a valid point. Until then, we will continue to fight against the religion being forced down our throats.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:11 am |
    • peter

      Amen to that! Atheists are exactly what they are fighting against. Hypocrites of the highest order. This bloke funding this thing is a spoilt brat, who wants to force his opinion on the world...sound familiar. I get a kick out of these idiots. Have your own beliefs and shut the hell up! Just as I don't force my beliefs on anyone...i look forward to the first atheist who gets in my face about their belief or lack of belief. Start promoting atheism and stop bagging Christians. I see Christian billboards promoting Jesus, not ragging on non-believers. You're not interested in a book that has been written for the betterment of mankind and followed by billions over the years, yet some over-educated clown comes out with a book that says Christianity is wrong and you believe it?????? Who is the fool here? Must be a good feeling to know that your life is pointless...which it is if you believe all is an accident/natural occurrence? I don't care what you say...if you believe that we have come this far by accident/natural happening then your life is pointless, because it was an accident and if that's the case SHUT-UP!

      March 24, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      peter
      Thank you so much for the fine example of the tirade one expects from christians. Believe what I say or shut up....excellent argument.

      Help remove some of the damage that christians have imposed on the country where religion does not belong as I said above and I will know you wnat things to be right.

      And atheists lives are no pointless, no more than yours. To think that just shows one of the misconceptions that somehow your beliefs make your life better than anyone elses, which is ridiculous at it base.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:27 am |
    • peter

      Richard Cranium...your choice of name, not mine...that says it all. You need to learn how to read. I wrote...Have your own belief and shut-up, not believe what I believe or shut-up. If atheists want to bring the fight to Christians, then be prepared for a fight, don't expect me to sit back and listen to this dribble if you are going to attack me...and yes that's exactly what folks here are doing. They not putting up any argument at all about atheism, they are attacking Christians. I suggest you guys just talk about your beliefs and not rag on one. I'm to here to defend Christians (me). Sorry if this does not sit well with you or your peers.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • sqeptiq

      I have never had an atheist come to my door and tell me I'm doomed, but the christians come to my door on a regular basis telling me I'm going to suffer eternal punishment for not accepting their "theory." Now, which of these would be condescending?

      March 24, 2013 at 1:54 pm |
  5. BJust

    Atheists could very well preach their non-beliefs; it's still a free country. I leave the after-life matter out for this discussion. What bothers me as a Christian is that in some places being a Christian means being looked at as intellectually limited if not outright retarded. Christianity is under attack by many schools, with replacing "Christmas Tree" with "holiday tree" and so on. Let Christians, Jews, Hindus, Baha's,Muslims and atheists be who they are without putting down anyone.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      I get a bang out of Christians, who swiped the whole deal about evergreen trees, holly, ivy, and the Dec. 25 birthdate of their demigod from the pagans, complaining that somebody's now doing the same thing to them.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • chubby rain

      Why should a public school funded by everyone's tax dollars waste money on religious displays? Of any religion?

      March 24, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Jeesh

      BJust
      Interesting that in some developing countries they are kicking the Christian asses out, they do not want them siphoning off what little wealth the country has for the god scam artists.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:57 am |
  6. Buck Rogers

    I actually don't blame a lot of atheists due to the fact that much of Christian teaching (and 'preaching') is given over to the myth of dualism, or the idea of "departed spirits". The Bible teaches that when we die, we sleep in the grave until the resurrections. Dualism basically began in the Garden of Eden, and was the very first lie;"ye shall surely not die"...... and we've been dying ever since, turning back into dust.

    If it were not for Christ's death, burial and resurrection, mankind would never live again and we'd remain what we truly are – dust.
    "God is the God of the LIVING, not the God of the dead".

    March 24, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • NickZadick

      Indeed! quoting fairy tales is very convincing!! your so called bible was written by men who didn't have a clue...like you! I can quote fairy tales too...

      “A man who has been through bitter experiences and travelled far enjoys even his sufferings after a time”
      ― Homer, The Odyssey

      March 24, 2013 at 10:54 am |
  7. Guest

    God is very real and God will NOT be mocked. For those of you who don't believe in Him, and think He doesn't hear, see or know everything, BOY will YOU be surprised on judgement day! I feel sorry for atheists and I feel sorry that this man lost the greatest gift he ever had. Everything he stated about the OT, and my faith, is false. He is spreading lies, but that's what atheists do, that's what satan wants, and he's following his lead. They spread lies, because they know nothing of the truth, due to their own ignorance! Now his "God" is money, tisk, tisk! He's a VERY ignorant human being. God is WAY more powerful than his money will ever be! Atheists can continue to believe that God is not real, but SOON, God will HAVE His say!

    March 24, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      You would think that if your god was so real we'd have no reason to question it. You are as much an Atheist as we are. You dismiss all other gods, we just take it one step further.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      I mock God. Ptui, God, I spit in your non-existent face. You are a fraud, a sham, a liar, and a cheat. Or at least you would be if you existed, but you don't. So now let him strike me down.
       
      Check back in 5 minutes, I'll let you know how your threat that "God will not be mocked" worked out.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • NickZadick

      Are you 10 years old... If your ridiculous vengeful sky daddy exists, why wait? send me to hell now!!!! KILL ME NOW!! I MOCK THEE!!.... no still here!

      March 24, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • NickZadick

      Judgement day was supposed to happen like only a few years after the resurrection of jebus.... still hasn't happened...and never will...because it's all myths!!!

      March 24, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • James

      The God I believe sends people to Hell for believing in him when he has not provided ample evidence. That seems to conflict with how your "god" functions. How do we settle this matter? I'll tell you what. I'll conjure my god up and you do the same. They can fight it out. I'm warning you though, my god has the Greek Gods on his side, so your god better bring some friends. Oh wait...you can't summon your god to resolve this issue? Well then, I guess I'll just have to "believe" you. Just like I "believe" a schizophrenic when he tells me a giant multi-colored rabbit is telling him what to do.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • Checked_Other

      @Guest: Look what you wrote, please. Does it not sound like some crazy guy scratching stuff on the wall of a jail cell? You just make random stuff up and say with absolution that this is the way the universe works.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • peter

      Truth Prevails and other non-believers... There is something called "free-will" that is a gift from God. That's why you're not brain-washed or zombified to believe in God. You have a brain (apparently) and freedom to believe what you want. God's not interested in puppets with no opinion...the choice is yours...choose wisely, or not...you are free to do so. Actually God is not interested in your mind either...he's after your heart.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:22 am |
  8. James

    A Muslim views all other religions as wrong. A Christian does the same. So does a Scientologist. An Atheist recognizes a similar pattern and views the whole lot of them as equivalent nonsense. Rather than believing in a god whose existence cannot be tested, the atheist focuses on things that do exist.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • sqeptiq

      "atheist focuses on things that do exist." That's a pretty baffling position.

      March 24, 2013 at 2:03 pm |
  9. AK

    Silly CNN-surfing Christians....Ted Turner is God. Just ask him.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:51 am |
  10. Dana

    Keep up the great work, Todd.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:50 am |
  11. muslim2012

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JW5x_GPsXc&w=640&h=360]

    March 24, 2013 at 10:50 am |
  12. Dee Wakner

    Good for him! I love it how Christians are quick to condemn anyone who speaks out against "non-believers" yet claim that they believe in goodness. Christians are close-minded hypocrites of the highest order. "Don't believe in Jesus? You're going to hell" No One Ever should dictate deranged "punishment" for those who don't happen to believe in what Christians do. It's vile. The God-spewing religious are the ones who will be "judged" – for condemning those who are innocent. That's right. Religious = Racist. Christians are racist against anyone different. Wake up Christians and get into the 21st century.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • NickZadick

      Amen!

      March 24, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • Guest

      @Dee-It would appear that you are also very ignorant when it comes to Christians. Christians are NOT quick to condemn anyone who speaks out against us, wish I could say the same for you, but I can't, because that's exactly what you are doing and you don't even see it! We are quick to condemn the lies that are told about Jesus and our faith, however. We stand for truth. There are some "Christians" in this world who condemn, but if they do that, then they are NOT true Christian's. The whole point of being a Christian, is to follow Christ and live a Christ like life, to the best of our HUMAN capabilities. Actually Christians are not close-minded hypocrites at all, but atheists and people like you, ARE!! And contrary to what you believe, NO Christian on the face of this earth, has ANY authority to tell someone they're going to hell, ONLY GOD has that authority, and if a "Christian" does say that to you, they are not a true Christian. So don't believe everything you hear! I've read your comment, and your entire comment is, guess what, JUDGEMENTAL! You're judging everyone who doesn't believe the way you do. I don't believe for ONE MINUTE that when this man dies, he will face the fires of hell, want to know why? Because God's mercy is SO great! He doesn't banish a person to hell in an instant, because they are IGNORANT! You obviously have no faith, because what you are spewing is JUDGEMENT. I don't think you'll go to hell either, because it appears you know nothing more than spewing "hate" to anyone who doesn't agree with you, that's called IGNORANCE, it's called feeding satan, where do you think hate comes from? It doesn't come from GOD! Christians are great people, some are very judgemental, but that's because they don't know ANY BETTER, are ignorant and uneducated on their faith. Some can be very self rightious and judgemental. God is our ultimate JUDGE! You sit and mock Christians, all Christians, and that's not even fair, because you don't know ALL Christians, yet you are also very quick to judge them. Christians are NOT racist against anyone different, you have that VERYwrong. What WE Christians do do, is follow Christ and if someone is NOT following Christ and trying to conform to society, which it appears that you do, then YOU are in the wrong, NOT the Christians, but for someone like you, it's just easier to blame the Christians. People who follow Christ, abide by HIS word, and HIS truth, NOT societies! That's a judgement call right there, on YOUR part! If we don't approve of a person's lifestyle, choices, in your mind we are automatically judgmental, racist Christians-–VERY, VERY WRONG! Christ judges all of us on how we act and live our life, NOT human beings! Christ has been intimidating people for over 2000 years and He's still doing it! He's NOT going anywhere, and anyone who mocks HIM, will face consequences. NO ONE can hide from the Almighty!

      "Good for him! I love it how Christians are quick to condemn anyone who speaks out against "non-believers" yet claim that they believe in goodness. Christians are close-minded hypocrites of the highest order. "Don't believe in Jesus? You're going to hell" No One Ever should dictate deranged "punishment" for those who don't happen to believe in what Christians do. It's vile. The God-spewing religious are the ones who will be "judged" – for condemning those who are innocent. That's right. Religious = Racist. Christians are racist against anyone different. Wake up Christians and get into the 21st century."

      March 24, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • Zeibodique

      @Guest, everything that you attempt to stand for is totally washed down the drain when you went into your holier than thou rant. You are no better for believing than a person who doesn't is. You are common man with your believe and your opinion. Nothing more, nothing less. You eat, sleep, drink, walk, talk and s*it the same way too. Your dissertations are filled with nothing more than masked distaste for people who don't see eye to eye with you and that is fine with me. You just push people farther and farther away from any form of religion, rather than expressing a view with passion and credibility.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
  13. MandoZink

    Atheism is a lack of belief – fact and evidence based. Some here are asking why an article on atheism is here in the belief forum claiming it must then be a belief.

    It would be no different than a forum on infectious diseases featuring an article on being completely healthy – a lack of illness.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • Dana

      CNN should start an atheism blog to be fair.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Dana, it would be overrun by arrogant and condescending xtians.

      March 24, 2013 at 2:05 pm |
  14. RichardSRussell

    I see that the thing that finally de-indoctrinated Todd Stiefel was reading the Bible. Not surprising. Decades ago Isaac Asimov realized the same thing: "Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived."
     
    And check out Ruth Hurmence Green's "Born-Again Skeptic's Guide to the Bible" or the "Queen Jane Version", which highlights the scatological parts.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:50 am |
  15. Checked_Other

    StopFeedingTheMedia: One can be a beautiful human being to others - and live life cleanly and honestly - without having to be pigeon-holed into your specific spirit world. Your logic is all-inclusive of everyone which simply just isn't reality for the world. And CNN is printing a story which clearly is germane to their online religion section.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:49 am |
  16. Gail D

    Ah, this guy challenges religion, but he cannot challenge faith. There is plenty of proof God exists and has converted some of the best well-known athiests in the world and in history. To each their own. I look forward to the other side, do you?

    March 24, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Bob Carlson

      State one piece of proof that God exists based upon the scientific method. Really, I dare you.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Faith is the world's gold-medal, blue-ribbon, all-time, all-weight-class world champion WORST method of making decisions EVER. Nobody ever uses faith to arrive at conclusions about anything that counts — certainly not for anything that can be proven one way or the other. That's why the priest class speaks so highly of it — it's because it's all they've got going for their incredible collection of smoke and mirrors.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • chubby rain

      Faith requires an absence of logic. I'd also say you would be disappointed about the "other side", but both you and me will be incapable of that when the time comes.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Dana

      There is absolutely no proof that your imaginary friend exists anywhere other than in your head. There is no afterlife. Why are you so afraid of dying?

      March 24, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • James

      If you are going to claim "proof", then you must provide some sort of test that anyone can conduct that sufficiently demonstrates the existence of your "god." If you can conjure him into my room, that should be sufficient. Short of that, you are no different than someone who is mentally ill, claiming that a giant rainbow unicorn is telling him what to do.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Gail D

      To all that follow my comment. I have had the privledge to meet Him. He is very real. You might thank Him for the freedoms you have, including the right to choose.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • NickZadick

      maybe you should look up the word faith in the dictionary...

      March 24, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • sqeptiq

      Gail, did you get a picture by chance? Any evidence at all to share with us?

      March 24, 2013 at 2:09 pm |
  17. Christian7

    Atheist, What will you say when you are in hell?

    "The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' "But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.' "He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' " 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' " - Jesus Christ

    March 24, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Christian7", but all that is unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent truths is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book can help you:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      March 24, 2013 at 10:51 am |
    • Jeesh

      Christian7
      Only those that believe in hell know how to get there, the other 5 billion people that don't will politely decline directions, thanks anyway.
      Fool.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Damocles

      Why would your deity put me in hell? I thought he liked good people.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:53 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Your religious proxy threats are meaningless as the lake of fire that god supposedly condemns people to is simply another man made construct designed to insure loyalty to the religion. Since religions are false and man made, the threat is also not real.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • Dana

      Quote fiction much? I don't tell you that you are going to burn for eternity if you DO believe. Why do you hate so many people?

      March 24, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Christian7

      "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."

      March 24, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • Checked_Other

      @Christian7: You belief that god himself wrote that stuff, but many, many others believe men put ink to paper. You put absolutely all your trust into that very belief. There are millions of fantastic books found in libraries all over the world – all written by men & women. There are millions of truly remarkable films, movies and art pieces - all completed by men. Yet, you say we are going to hell because we don't believe your compilation of something you say a god wrote!?

      March 24, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Typical christian...the claim of being so good but yet wishing eternal torture on those who don't share the same belief. Forgetting that they too are Atheists to a point.
      When heaven and hell can be shown to exist your claims might be substantiated, until then they are nothing more than opinion based on a 2000 year book that is full of horror, that promotes rap; slavery; child abuse; incest; bigotry; hate; oppression of women's rights; and murder.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • jaded1

      Fear is a tool used by religion to perpetuate BLIND FAITH. As an atheist he said he did not want to ATTACK religion, yet, christianity (supposedly the most tolerant faith) is ALWAYS attacking other faiths. They are always pushing their propaganda on everyone and as they have always done threatened non believers with torment in hell. The question is how for thousands of years Christianity for example killed the native americans, african slaves, and killed muslims in the name of god. They took land and tore apart families in the name of god. Well I think your god is not my god. My god would never perpetuate FEAR. Its not your place to determine where any man or woman goes in their afterlife anyway! You are not the spokesperson for god.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:58 am |
    • Chris

      First prove to us that there is a hell? Faith is the belief in something with no evidence what so ever. I have this invisible unicorn that lives in my backyard. I also have a 2000 year old book that says unicorns are real and do exist. I must ask you to prove to me there is no unicorn in my backyard. Some additional traits of my unicorn, can't smell it, can't taste it, can't feel it, and it does not leave visible tracks but he is there.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • Christian7

      Dana, I am telling you so you don't keep on your current path. Avoid it. I am not writing this because I like hearing a lot of insults. I am writing it so you can change your destiny. No sin enters heaven. You have chosen sin. You are deciding on going to hell, not me, and not God. You are making a choice with consequences. I am only telling what the consequence is, and how to avoid it.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • NickZadick

      heaven...hell... you really have to have an I.Q. below 85 to believe in such childish nonsense!!

      March 24, 2013 at 11:05 am |
    • Christian7

      Chris, I can not prove hell exists. But I can give you a small piece of evidence for you to mock.

      Man Dies Went To Hell What he Saw (Testimony)
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1Qd64Nub5M&w=640&h=360]

      March 24, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • Christian7

      Checked_Other, The Bible is far more impressive than you might think. It predicted all the world empires rise and fall and many other events. Some the events are about to take place; for example, the oldest city on earth, Damascus, will be destroyed in a single night. Israel will be invaded by Russia, Iran, Turkey and others and will not succeed. There are many other things about the bible that are equally impressive that is hard to explain posting on a website.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • NickZadick

      Christian7 ... we are telling you that you have been brainwashed!... we don't want you to spend your life spewing ridiculous fairy tales...we want you to be free of lies... and to tell you that you are indeed full of sin, so you won't go to your fairyland either!

      March 24, 2013 at 11:12 am |
    • Christian7

      Only stupid people with low IQ believe in God?

      “God existed before there were human beings on Earth, He holds the entire world, believers and non-believers, in His omnipotent hand for eternity." - Max Planck (Founder of Quantum Mechanics)

      "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 (Christian fundamentalist)

      It is no longer enough that we pray that God may be with us on our side. We must learn again that we may be on God's side.
      — Wernher von Braun (chief architect of the Apollo Saturn V rocket)

      March 24, 2013 at 11:16 am |
    • Christian7

      NickZadick, Why are you so certain that God does not exist and by what means do you know that I am brainwashed?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:18 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      I don't know that god does not exist, I believe that god does not exist based on the facts that he is invisible and undetectable. the god believers themselves admit this and yet they don't do him the honor of treating him how he behaves. He's invisible and undetectable and obviously he wants to be treated as if he does not exist. Worship him in spirit and in truth as I do and show him the dignity of behaving in accordance with his actions.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:59 am |
  18. Norm

    Todd has taken human form and now has no fear to stand in public and preach openly against God.
    Is this the offical beginning of the End Times we were warned about.
    Be ever vigilant my brothers and sisters.
    The Devil has switched into over drive and society has degraded to the point where he feels safe to come out into the light.
    The End ?

    March 24, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • sandalista

      ...and don't forget about the pink unicorn and the flying spaghetti monster with their vile conspiracy!

      March 24, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • Damocles

      The end? Of posts by Norm? We can only hope.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:54 am |
    • Dana

      LOL

      March 24, 2013 at 10:56 am |
    • fisherjason

      I can't tell if you're being serious or not, but I'm sure you must know that no one can warn of future occurrences, because they, uh, haven't occurred yet.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:03 am |
    • Larry the Guy

      I started laughing at "Todd has taken human form..." And haven't stopped since.

      Thanks for that. Made my ay.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:25 am |
  19. EffortPA

    I found this a while back and I liked it so much I saved it for sharing it later, here it goes:

    "Top Eleven Signs You're a Christian:"

    11- You believe in a book (New Testament) that was written 80 years after your Messiah died by men who never met him and who believed the earth was flat and the Sun revolved around the Earth, but continuously deny modern science books.

    10 – You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of yours.

    9 – You feel insulted and "dehumanized" when scientists say that people evolved from other life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

    8 – You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Triune God.

    7 – Your face turns purple when you hear of the "atrocities" attributed to Allah, but you don't even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in "Exodus" and ordered the elimination of entire ethnic groups in "Joshua" including women, children, and trees!

    6 – You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about gods sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

    5 – You are willing to spend your life looking for little loopholes in the scientifically established age of Earth (few billion years), but you find nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by Bronze Age tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that Earth is a few generations old.

    4 – You believe that the entire population of this planet with the exception of those who share your beliefs - though excluding those in all rival sects – will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet consider your religion the most "tolerant" and "loving."

    3 – While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in "tongues" may be all the evidence you need to "prove" Christianity.

    2 – You define 0.01% as a "high success rate" when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

    1 – You actually know a lot less than many atheists and agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history – but still call yourself a Christian.

    March 24, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • Bob Carlson

      Well stated!

      March 24, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Gail D

      You know, I love God and all that he is, because we were made in his image and likeness. He has joy, anger, even a sense of humor. I have a relationship with Him. It is by knowing Him that causes such pain to think that athiests refuse to share in such great happiness. I literally hurt when I think of your loss.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:55 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Gail: Isn't lying a sin? You lie when you make such claims about your imaginary friend considering there is no evidence to support it.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • Wallace

      I believe that when asked Jesus said,
      1- Love the lord your God

      2- Love your neighbor as yourself

      That second one means that I let you believe, and act as you desire but still come to your side in time of need. I don't know whom the 11 signs you wrote about refer to but certainly not a God fearing Christian. It's not my place to judge.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • Live in the Real World

      Gail: How old are you? Just asking because I know a lot of little kids that have "relationships" with their imaginary friends. Wait until you grow up. One day you will understand that your friend was a figment of your imagination.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:17 am |
  20. alf564

    Amazing that here the MINORITY rules over the MAJORITY and that is ok with the DEMOCRATIC members of the US Congress but in their world the MAJORITY rules over the MINORITY! Will someone please explain why this group of A..S say "DO AS WE SAY, NOT AS WE DO!"

    March 24, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • tomfjord

      I think you may have commented on the wrong story...

      March 24, 2013 at 11:00 am |
    • alf564

      I responded to the correct story, you know, the MINORITY athiest ruling over the MAJORITY Christians and Jews because somebody put their head up their butt and saw darkness

      March 24, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Nope, still commenting on the wrong story. (Unless you're stupid as fvck.)

      March 24, 2013 at 11:55 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.