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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. edwardst35

    After reading all these educated comments I guess none of us really exist. We are all just figments of our mutual imaginations.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Steven Harnack

      That's the way! When confronted by reason go immediately to stupid. Couldn't you think of anything more inane?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:53 am |
    • Tom LI

      The noosphere perhaps...?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  2. atheist Realism

    In the USA,, why are there many more christians, by percent, than atheists in jails?

    March 24, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • edwardst35

      Simple....because there are MORE Christians than Atheists and I for one, thank God for that.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • atheist Realism

      by percent,, you seemed to ignore that. My point is that there are virtually no atheists in US jails

      March 24, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • Gadflie

      Yep, but over 80% of the members of the National Academies of Science don't believe in God. Hmmmm....

      March 24, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • mike from iowa

      Hey, nice try, but you can't expect ignorant christians to understand math, ratios and all that. It's like explaining gravity to a brick.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • edwardst35

      We will all return again one day. Some of us will return as humans, some as snakes, a word to the wise.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Steven Harnack

      @Edwardst35, you offering words to the wise is like a preschooler lecturing Einstein about relativity. People, actually dead people, reappearing as snakes? Sad thing is that this isn't even a product of your own imagination, you had to go out and buy someone else's whole cloth.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:13 pm |
  3. mike

    He nailed it. If the Old Testament is just a re-packaging of a bunch of myths from much older traditions (which it irrefutably is), then all of it...Judaism, Christianity, Islam...is a sham. Any objective child can see this. The power of indoctrination is frightening.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • mike from iowa

      Which is why they work so hard to preserve ignorance.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:51 am |
  4. Russ

    Any definition of heaven leaves something to be desired or creates it's own logical problems. Therefor, since the definition is not perfect, there can be no heaven, since heaven is perfection.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Christian7

      Your inability to understand the logic is not sufficient. How exactly is it a logical problem? I disagree with the premise.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:55 am |
    • janey33

      HUH????

      March 24, 2013 at 12:47 pm |
  5. tony

    What atheism needs is some old blokes with funny pointed hats, so people know to kneel down to them and fill the collection plates.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  6. Alex

    Love it!

    March 24, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  7. Jeesh

    No god, no clean up but interesting that Christians needed slaves/servants to clean up after them. The butler did do it!

    March 24, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  8. edwardst35

    Lets wait for the final day in Jerusalem. Lets wait for the ship to start sinking. Then, we can all fall on our knees and say "I was wrong, please forgive me". Mans inhumanity to man is Atheism.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • tony

      Ignorance and demonizing kills far more of the population.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Atheism is not mans inhumanity to man...atheists still have their humanity. You are just a bigot.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:44 am |
    • Alex

      "The inspiration of the bible depends on the ignorance of the person who reads it." Ingersoll

      March 24, 2013 at 12:10 pm |
    • janey33

      When Jesus comes it will be too late for those who deny Him. Yes, they will see how wrong they are, but it won't do any good.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:41 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      janey33,

      "When Jesus comes it will be too late for those who deny Him."

      Perfect "love, compassion and forgiveness"? PHOOEY on you and your evil fantasy.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:49 pm |
  9. Russ

    You can look at your soul/spirit as energy contained in a body and brain. However, actually what makes us us is biochemical reactions between brain cells that produce thought and a personality. In any case, when you die, you may believe the soul leaves it. I don't, but let's say it does. A law of physics says that energy dissipates, that here is entropy. In other words, it spreads out, like ripples in a pond, or a "fart in a room". So, over time, the soul, that is you, would not stay together, but dissipate to all parts of the universe. If you believe in heaven, this is a problem. Heaven is defined as a place or state of being. How can it go to a place, since it will simply spread out, and how could it think or feel, since it has no brain or chemistry to produce it?

    March 24, 2013 at 11:40 am |
  10. Regina Spektor

    "No one laughs at god in a hospital, no one laughs at god in a war..."

    March 24, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      BS

      March 24, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • Gadflie

      That's a fun quote, but if you want reality, look up a group called "Atheists in Foxholes".

      March 24, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • sjordan

      Why would you laugh at something that's not there? Do you laugh at unicorns in a hospital?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • Peregrine

      All of the procedures used in a hospital are science driven. No one goes to a church when they have a heart attack.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:06 pm |
    • janey33

      Peregrine...You are correct. And God gave us science. Most of the first sceintists believed in God.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:51 pm |
    • Peregrine

      Janey, which god? There are 27000 to choose from. Early scientists were a product of their times. I can only imagine Newtons intellect but he was also an alchemist who regularly ingested mercury. His intellect did not make him flawless.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • Alex

      Yes Janey33, most 'early' scientists believed in God; if they didn't they were drawn and quartered in his name!

      March 24, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Regina Spektor

      So if you were at a hospital, and someone was praying, would you attempt to convert them to your atheist view?

      March 24, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • Peregrine

      Never. However, in this forum I feel free to point out the error of the original post.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
  11. Bostontola

    As an atheist, I believe there is no god. My beliefs are confined to objects that are unknown or unknowable.

    Some people who believe in god let their belief spread to objects that are known, that is the difference. Critical thinking doesn't have to be in conflict with belief, but is often is with believers in god.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • C. Michael Turner

      You are correct that Christians and others sometimes do not have the wisdom to explain their faith to non- believers but even with science there are fundamental questions that can not be answered, such as where did energy come from? How did atoms get defined ways to be consistent in order to combine and create life with a beginning and finite time. If time and mass have always existed then all stars would have already burned up. So there is a dilemma that Atheists ignore. In order for the universe to exist with out God there has to be a perpetual motion machine of energy or there is not enough time or ways that mass can come together with out intelligent design involved before time.
      So nothing creates everything or there was a plan.... Advil anyone?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:47 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      @C Michael Turner

      The things we don't know drive us to discover what little knowledge we have gained. Science has only explained tiny, tiny portions of the huge mysteries, and even on the things we think we know, we are not completely certain. We have theories that fit together all the puzzle pieces of data adequately, but we don't have every piece or the whole puzzle-but we can sure make some claims based on the pieces in place, and god doesn't seem to be there.

      It is not the job of science to explain every mystery. In many cases we just don't know. But not knowing does not imply some invisible sky wizard who cares about human beings. That's stupid reasoning. Where did the energy come from? We don't know. Just because we don't know, does that mean that there's an invisible sky wizard doing cool sh!t with magic spells? No.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Bostontola

      CMT, we don't know much, my point is that we do know some things, like evolution is happening. Don't let belief conflict with facts, its not necessary.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:56 am |
    • R. Lawson

      I don't have enough information to believe or disbelieve in God and/or gods.

      Disbelieving is the flip side of the same irrational coin. It too is based in dogmatic views.

      My problem with organized religion isn't that they believe, but that the want to use belief as a tool to control. I have the same problem with militant atheism. I don't see how you can rationally rule out the possibility of some spiritual element, God, etc.

      Our planet is in a galaxy with billions of other stars and many more planets. There are billions of galaxies. We can't fathom our very existence or where space and time begins or ends.

      Asking humans on this planet to explain God is like asking an ant to explain the mysteries of Mars and the laws of physics needed to guide our spacecraft there.

      We don't have enough information. And no, a Bible which plagiarized other texts is just as much "evidence" as Disney cartoons are evidence of fairies.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
  12. Bud

    "MormonChristian" referref to Hitler as an atheist. Very dishonest considering Hitler was Christian to the core all his life to the bitter end. Stalin...raised in the Orthodox Church. But does anyone expect honesty from science hating theists?

    March 24, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • atheist Realism

      hitler claimed he was catholic, to his end

      March 24, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • janey33

      Bud...Just because someone claims to be a Chirstian does not mean they are SAVED. Anyone can claim to be anything, but unless they have confessed their sins to Jesus and are saved, does not make it so. And I don't hate science. I love it. God created the earth and He is the first scientist. I have not yet found anything in science that denies the existance of God. Quite the opposite. The Bible is full of mentions of science.

      "MormonChristian" referref to Hitler as an atheist. Very dishonest considering Hitler was Christian to the core all his life to the bitter end. Stalin...raised in the Orthodox Church. But does anyone expect honesty from science hating theists?

      March 24, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Bud

      Unfortunately, for you, you do not get to decide who is Christian and who is not, nor do you get to decide who is "saved" and who is not "saved" from your imaginary, malevolent master and his fiery torture chamber of lore. Hitler was raised and remained Christian to the core his entire life, regardless of your imagination and revision. He stated in public and private that he was doing Gods will, he wrote as much in Mein Kampf and no amount of repeated and parroted lies from theists will change reality.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
  13. tony

    Regarding Preachers.

    Anyone noticed that the "giving" is always to them? How many churches "give" what they have, to their congregation, instead of the other way around?

    March 24, 2013 at 11:38 am |
  14. edwardst35

    Atheism will cause MORE violence. Nobody fears God or the law enforcement officials? Shoot a baby in the face in a stroller? If we do away with Christianity we will have chaos and violence because there is no fear of reprisal.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • tony

      Well that's we got now. Maybe time for a change?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Gadflie

      That's why over 98% of people in prison claim to believe in God but over 80% of those violent members of the National Academies of Science do.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Yes, and America's prisons are filled to the brim with atheists and have ZERO Christians. Ummm – no.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • carboncow

      You don't need religion to have morals. If you can't determine right from wrong, then you lack empathy, not religion.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:41 am |
    • James

      I'm pretty sure a good chunk of violence is due to religion. Read some History. You act like atheists are somehow evil people. That couldn't be further from the truth. We aren't going to kill someone because they believe differently than us because we don't think some god is going to reward us for doing so. I think the world would be MUCH more peaceful if religion was completely absent.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:42 am |
    • Alex R

      I'm frankly terrified of a person that only has morals because they think God is watching. If a child said "Mommy, I want to kill my sister but Santa Claus is watching," you'd better get that child to a therapist!

      March 24, 2013 at 11:43 am |
    • JimmyB

      People with magic beliefs love making stuff up.

      Athiests are far far far less likely to be criminals. This has been shown many times in many countries.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:45 am |
    • Unintelligent Designer

      Kind of like how Christ does not exist in any other first-world nation, where the crime rates are much lower than the US?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • James

      Not true. Most violence is committed by religious people. Yes, even when you normalize the population of Christians vs Atheists. What happens when the majority of a nation doesn't believe in God? Take a look at France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic...

      March 24, 2013 at 11:48 am |
    • Dennis Kelley

      ludicrous. odds are that baby-killing thug was raised christian. so many atrocities have been perpetrated by religious people in history it boggles the mind that someone would still cling to the delusion that religion is the foundation for moral behavior. hitler was a christian, women and babies have been killed in the name of god for centuries, and right here in America people kill, maim, hate, and discriminate in the name of god. this article is about a movement to keep atheists, secularists, and humanists from experiencing just the kind of bigotry that you are spouting.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Bud

      According to Justice Department statistics, Christians commit more crime, per capita, than non-believers. Non-believers commit less than a persent of violent crime while gawd fearing Christian theists, likely Christian since birth, are filling the prison systems. Interesting how their intake interviews show they were Christian when they committed their crime, further into their prison stay they become "born-again". In other words they can do anything they want to to and will be forgiven for it by Jesus.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:50 am |
    • Peregrine

      So, Ed, the cornerstone your society is fear? How is that healthy in any way?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:59 am |
    • janey33

      James...Jesus teaches peace. You need to read more about Him. You are correct to a point. Sadly, there are those who do violence in the name of religion, esp. Islam, but Jesus does not wish this to be so. No, God does not rewward us for violence. Anyone who believes that is very mistaken. Read the teachings of Jesus. He teaches love, compassion, and forgiveness. Sounds pretty peaceful to me. One of HIs names is "the Prince of Peace".

      March 24, 2013 at 12:33 pm |
    • janey33

      Alex R...I would also question someone who has morals only because God is watching. Those who truly know God want to please HIm because they LOVE Him, not because He is watching.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:39 pm |
  15. Christian7

    It must be that atheist ignore biblical prophesy or pretend that Daniel did not predict the exact day Jesus would ride into Jerusalem etc. I bet they have not even researched it. World history was written before it happened and you did not even notice.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Bob

      Well then, 7, perhaps we should follow the instructions of your nasty Christian owner's manual more closely. Especially since it has fine instructions like these in it:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      March 24, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Are you seriously suggesting that we believe in any prophet of any religion who has as much "accuracy" as the mythological book of "Daniel" which was most assuredly not written in the time period described by the person described but after many of the events it claims to foretell? I'm not sure you want to advocate action that stupid.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • Doris

      That's all been debunked, nutsadamus.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • Jeesh

      Did you see the story that Jesus Fernandes broke both his legs in an accident when the Harley he was riding hit a Jerusalem bus? Or is this the wrong prophecy, please explain.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • Christian7

      The Bible does not condone slavery as you understand the meaning of the word:
      “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death” (Exodus 21:16)

      You do not even understand what the word slave in the bible means. It is an indenture servant that has agreed to work for room and board or even to go into debt. When resources were low, they would die if they did not work with an agreement that you and me would find unbearable in the modern age. That means that things have gotten better after Christ's influence.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Christian7

      Bob, So you are judging God's decisions with your own morals that you came up with? You are incapable of error? Let us test your morals: Is it always wrong to kill a two year old baby in cold blood?

      March 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • janey33

      Bob...You are VERY ignorant of the Bible. You need to read it again with an open mind and a desire for understanding. NONE of the Old Testament versus you quoted apply today. That was JEWISH laws BEFORE the birth of Christ. When Jesus came He FULFILLED the law. You are mistaking old JEWISH ceremonial laws for CHRISTIANITY, which is the following of JESUS. Try reading the New Testament. How very sad you are. If you really knew about Jesus you would know that he teaches love, compassion, and forgiveness, all of which this world badly needs.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • janey33

      Those who deny God and do not wish to believe in HIm will always deny the truth. Some people just don't want to admit there is someone who rules over them. They will never understand the teachings of Jesus because they have rejected Him. They would rather the world continue in the sins they embrace rather than the love, compassion, and forgiveness that Jesus teaches. God gave us free will to believe in Him or not. Those who do will spend eternity with Him in Heaven and those who do not will get their wish of an eternity without Him in Hell.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:14 pm |
    • Alex

      Bob ate you up Christ7...

      March 24, 2013 at 12:16 pm |
    • Djinn

      Too bad about Christian7 and janey33 and the other infidels. They'll be going to Muslim hell. Everyone knows that the Qur'an is the only Perfect Book! Right?

      March 24, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • janey33

      Djinn...There is only one Hell. All who do not accept Jesus as their Saviour will be there. How sad to reject Jesus who teaches us love, compassion, and forgiveness. Guess those things don't matter to you.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:27 pm |
    • i wonder

      janey33:
      "There is only one Hell. All who do not accept Jesus as their Saviour will be there."

      And your verified evidence for this is.....?

      March 24, 2013 at 12:52 pm |
  16. buffalo

    Let me get this straight: If this guy states his beliefs, he's a nut-bag. BUT...if some old man that has taken pains to isolate himself from real life to memorize a book of folk tales, many stolen outright from "pagan" religions or just made-up out of whole cloth, spouts silly phrases and non-sequiters, then is word is law? Sorry. Not buying it. Never have; never will.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:37 am |
  17. janey33

    Denying the existance of God is not going to make Him go away. Stiefel and all others who deny Him will find themeselves in a very real Hell for eternity. I sincerely hope that he will find the truth before he dies. It's very sad that he is misleading so many people. There are so many better things he could do with all that money.

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

      Hell? You mean that private torture chamber made by your "loving" playground bully of a mythical god?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Bob

      Believing in god isn't going to make your god fairytales suddenly become true.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • tony

      Like build gilded cathedrals and red dresses for 150 old men???

      March 24, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • Bob Carlson

      Really believing hard in something, like God, doesn't make it true either.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • James

      Believing in a "god" who cannot be conjured for others to observe, doesn't make him exist anywhere except in your own head.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • Dennis Kelley

      "better things he could do with all that money?" are you kidding? do you have any idea how little money charlatans like Pat Robertson donate to actual charities? the world just celebrated the election of another silk-slippered pope who sits in a gilded throne and prays for the poor. please. your invisible friend in the sky has a terrible track record for actually helping anyone. here is an organization that actually donated money to actual people in need and doesn't require obedience to a magical man in the sky: Foundation Beyond Belief
      http://www.foundationbeyondbelief.org

      March 24, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • Alex

      ...said the sheeple

      March 24, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • janey33

      Bob – It's not a belief in God. Those who have a personal relationship with Him KNOW He exists. Those who don't will never understand. I don't believe there is a God. I KNOW that He exists. There is a difference. You can deny God all you want. It doesn't matter at all to those who KNOW Him.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:20 pm |
    • Djinn

      janey33

      Denying the existance[sic] of ALLAH is not going to make Him go away. janey33 and all others who deny Him will find themeselves[sic] in a very real Hell for eternity. I sincerely hope that she will find the truth before she dies. It's very sad that she is misleading so many people. There are so many better things she could do with all that money.

      March 24, 2013 at 12:23 pm |
    • Bud

      Regardless of how many people have been duped by the hoaxes of Christianity and other religions, beleif in an imaginary sky pixie who, according to folklore, communicates telepathically with believers, it will not suddenly appear in blood drenched clothing with a sword in his mouth to kill the people you don't like along with everyone else you've condemned to hell. There has never been a shred of evidence to support any so-called biblical prophecies; they have all been monumental failures, including Jesus' very own claims of returning in the lifetimes of those he was talking to and his disciples. Epic FAIL.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
  18. tony

    No collection plates > No Preachers > no Religion.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:36 am |
  19. Puzzled in Peoria

    The thing about Christianity is that you either get it or you don't. Mr. Stiefel clearly doesn't get it. In the United States, he has the right to believe or not believe whatever he wants.

    But let's make one thing perfectly clear. God cannot be know by reason. He can only be known by faith. If you try to know God by reason, you will not find him. If you try to know him by sincere faith, he will reveal himself to you. The key, of course, is sincerity.

    March 24, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • Bob

      "Puzzled", you certainly are that. Delusion is what is actually required to believe in Christian god. So how's your flat and round 5,000 year old earth today anyway, fool?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:36 am |
    • Moby Schtick

      Faith can be used to believe in anything, so it's a stupid, stupid method.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:37 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      How do you know? Isn't that the epitome of arrogance? To claim that you, a mere worm, knows the mind of the supposed creator of the universe – an all-knowing, all-powerful being. Yet you know the mind of god? When you were a baby, and your parents did something, or said something, to you, did you KNOW their minds? Now, multiply the gulf between baby and parent by infinity. Arrogance.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:38 am |
    • Alex R

      But when you hide behind faith and ignore reason entirely, you open the door to every conceivable possibility. "The Fairy Queen cannot be known through reason, only through faith." That's a cop out. Have I made you more likely to believe in the Fairy Queen? Of course not. So it is with God.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:39 am |
    • YouMayDisagree

      Would you live in a country with a leader like that? No reason, just blind faith?

      March 24, 2013 at 11:40 am |
    • Bud

      Creflo DOLLAR "gets it".

      March 24, 2013 at 11:42 am |
  20. tony

    The insanity of the "pro–religion" postings here gets more and more hilarious with each new belief-blog article.

    Soon this guy won't need to spend money to make atheism the norm

    March 24, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • janey33

      Tony...It's very simple. Those who know God know that He exists. If you don't believe in Him you will never know Him. How very sad. Those who don't believe do not matter to those who do. You can deny God all you want but you will never convince someone who has a personal relationship with Him. Those who know God will be with Him in Heaven forever. The rest will be in Hell forever. I don't think you will find that very hilarious.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:50 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.