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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.

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

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.

CNN Belief: Atheists ratchet up rhetoric, use billboards to attack Republican politicians

“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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

“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. Saytoday234

    Yes, Atheism is a religion/belief as is other relgions/beliefs. We all have core beliefs whether they be a belief in a God, to not believe in God, or to believe in gods. We need to learn to respect everyone's individual beliefs. We do not have to agree with anyone. We just need to get along in peace and not abuse or harm other's who do not see things as we do.

    March 24, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Belief yes, religion no.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • darknesscrown

      Atheism is NOT a religion. You know that WORDS have actual MEANINGS, right? How can one worship nothing? Think before you speak.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
  2. chanel # 5

    two more cuties for half price. any priests not busy? come and get em

    March 24, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Answer

      Remember it's the other hole. Not the one you want.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
  3. LAST DAY

    Stiefel, atheism will lead you to self destruction;

    but GOD will lead you to eternal Life!

    Look and see, it is not a myth,

    there is absolutely one and only real GOD,

    who can heal all sick and miserable atheistic minds,

    here now:

    http://www.holy-19-harvest.com
    UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES!

    March 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Reality

      Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are atheists or agnostics depending on whose bio you read.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Answer

      "They're still $9.99."

      "No refunds, guaranteed."

      March 24, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
  4. SumGuk Hung Lo

    Herro,
    My name is SumGuk. Hope one day America also be like N.Korea and be atheist state. So proud of Todd Stiefel.

    March 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Does your religion force you to be a bigot or are you an outlier?

      March 24, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • Reality

      Warren Buffett and Bill Gates are atheists or agnostics depending on whose bio you read.

      +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

      March 24, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • End Religion

      North Koreans worship their leader as a living god. Atheism means belief in no gods. Do you see the difference, rube?

      March 24, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • SumGuk Hung Lo

      Why so much anger towards me? Kim Sung and Kim Jung great leader. They no gods. I support Todd Stiefel. Wish one day America become atheist state like Great North Korea.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  5. Reality

    More analyses, this time saving 1.5 billion Muslims:

    From the studies of Armstrong, Rushdie, Hirsi Ali, Richardson and Bayhaqi----–

    The Five Steps To Deprogram 1400 Years of Islamic Myths:

    ( –The Steps take less than two minutes to finish- simply amazing, two minutes to bring peace and rationality to over one billion lost souls- Priceless!!!)

    Are you ready?

    Using "The 77 Branches of Islamic "faith" a collection compiled by Imam Bayhaqi as a starting point. In it, he explains the essential virtues that reflect true "faith" (iman) through related Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings." i.e. a nice summary of the Koran and Islamic beliefs.

    The First Five of the 77 Branches:

    "1. Belief in Allah"

    aka as God, Yahweh, Zeus, Jehovah, Mother Nature, etc. should be added to your self-cleansing neurons.

    "2. To believe that everything other than Allah was non-existent. Thereafter, Allah Most High created these things and subsequently they came into existence."

    Evolution and the Big Bang or the "Gi-b G-nab" (when the universe starts to recycle) are more plausible and the "akas" for Allah should be included if you continue to be a "crea-tionist".

    "3. To believe in the existence of angels."

    A major item for neuron cleansing. Angels/de-vils are the mythical creations of ancient civilizations, e.g. Hitt-ites, to explain/define natural events, contacts with their gods, big birds, sudden winds, protectors during the dark nights, etc. No "pretty/ug-ly wingy thingies" ever visited or talked to Mohammed, Jesus, Mary or Joseph or Joe Smith. Today we would classify angels as f–airies and "tin–ker be-lls". Modern de-vils are classified as the de-mons of the de-mented.

    "4. To believe that all the heavenly books that were sent to the different prophets are true. However, apart from the Quran, all other books are not valid anymore."

    Another major item to delete. There are no books written in the spirit state of Heaven (if there is one) just as there are no angels to write/publish/distribute them. The Koran, OT, NT etc. are simply books written by humans for humans.

    Prophets were invented by ancient scribes typically to keep the un-educated masses in line. Today we call them for-tune tellers.

    Prophecies are also invali-dated by the natural/God/Allah gifts of Free Will and Future.

    "5. To believe that all the prophets are true. However, we are commanded to follow the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings
    be upon him) alone."

    Mohammed spent thirty days "fasting" (the Ramadan legend) in a hot cave before his first contact with Allah aka God etc. via a "pretty wingy thingy". Common sense demands a neuron deletion of #5. #5 is also the major source of Islamic vi-olence i.e. turning Mohammed's "fast, hunger-driven" hallu-cinations into horrible reality for unbelievers.

    Walk these Five Steps and we guarantee a complete recovery from your Islamic ways!!!!

    Unfortunately, there are not many Muslim commentators/readers on this blog so the "two-minute" cure is not getting to those who need it. If you have a Muslim friend, send him a copy and help save the world.

    Analogous steps are available at your request for deprogramming the myths of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Paganism..

    March 24, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Reality

      أكثر التحليلات، وهذه المرة إنقاذ 1.5 مليار مسلم:

      من دراسات ارمسترونغ، رشدي، علي هيرسي، والبيهقي ريتشاردسون ----–

      الخطوات الخمس لأبطل تأثير الخرافات من 1400 سنة الإسلامي:

      (-اتخاذ خطوات أقل من دقيقتين إلى دقيقة، والانتهاء ببساطة مذهلة-سنتين إلى إحلال السلام والعقلانية لأكثر من مليار نسمة، فقد لا تقدر بثمن!)

      هل أنت مستعد؟

      استخدام "الفروع الإسلامية 77 من" الإيمان "مجموعة الإمام البيهقي جمعتها كنقطة انطلاق. في ذلك، وهو ما يفسر الفضائل الأساسية التي تعكس صحيح" الإيمان "(إيمان) من خلال الآيات القرآنية وأحاديث نبوية ذات الصلة." أي ملخصا لطيفة من المعتقدات الإسلامية والقرآن الكريم.

      والخمسة الأولى من الفروع 77:

      "1، والإيمان بالله"

      وينبغي أن يضاف الملقب كما الله، الرب، زيوس، الرب، الطبيعة الأم، وما إلى ذلك لالخلايا العصبية الذاتية التطهير الخاص.

      "2. وإذا ما تصورنا أن كل شيء غير الله كان غير موجود. بعد ذلك، خلق الله العلي هذه الأمور لاحقا وجاء إلى حيز الوجود."

      التطور والانفجار الكبير أو "غي ب G-NAB" (عندما يبدأ الكون لإعادة تدوير) هي أكثر قبولا وينبغي إدراج "المندرجة" في سبيل الله إذا كنت لا تزال تشكل "CREA-tionist".

      "3. إلى الاعتقاد في وجود الملائكة".

      A بندا رئيسيا لتطهير الخلايا العصبية. الملائكة / دي vils-الإبداعات الأسطورية هي من الحضارات القديمة، على سبيل المثال Hitt خائبي، لشرح / تحديد الأحداث الطبيعية، والاتصالات مع آلهتهم، والطيور الكبيرة، والرياح المفاجئة، وحماة في ليالي الظلام، وما إلى ذلك لا "جميلة / UG-لاي ثينجيس افسح المجال ل" أو بزيارة أي وقت مضى تحدث إلى محمد، يسوع، مريم أو جوزيف سميث أو جو. اليوم سوف نصنف الملائكة كما airies-F و "كير القصدير يكون LLS-". وتصنف الحديثة دي vils كما دي مونس هيئة اجتثاث mented.

      "4. إذا ما تصورنا أن جميع الكتب السماوية التي تم إرسالها إلى الأنبياء مختلفة صحيحا، ولكن بصرف النظر عن القرآن الكريم، كل الكتب الأخرى غير صالحة بعد الآن."

      آخر بندا رئيسيا في حذفها. لا توجد كتب في ولاية روح السماء (إن وجد) كما لا توجد الملائكة لكتابة / نشر / توزيعها. القرآن، OT، NT وما هي ببساطة كتب من قبل البشر للبشر.

      اخترعت من قبل الأنبياء الكتبة القديمة عادة للحفاظ على الجماهير من الامم المتحدة والمتعلمين في الصف. اليوم ونحن ندعو لهم مقابل لحن فرز الأصوات.

      كما نبوءات invali مؤرخة من قبل الهدايا الطبيعية / الله / الله من الإرادة الحرة والمستقبل.

      "5. لنعتقد أن جميع الأنبياء صحيحة، ولكن ونحن أمرنا اتباع النبي محمد (عليه الصلاة والسلام
      صلى الله عليه وسلم) وحده. "

      قضى محمد ثلاثين يوما "الصيام" (أسطورة رمضان) في كهف الساخن قبل لقاءه الأول مع الله ويعرف أيضا باسم الله وما إلى ذلك من خلال "افسح المجال ل ثينغي جميلة". الحس السليم يتطلب حذف الخلايا العصبية من رقم 5. # 5 هو أيضا المصدر الرئيسي للالاسلامي VI-olence أي تحول محمد "سريع والجوع يحركها" hallu-cinations إلى واقع فظيع لغير المؤمنين.

      المشي هذه الخطوات الخمس ونحن نضمن انتعاش الكامل من طرقك الإسلامية!!

      للأسف، لا توجد العديد من المعلقين مسلم / القراء على هذا بلوق لذلك "لمدة دقيقتين" هو عدم الحصول على علاج لأولئك الذين في حاجة إليها. إذا كان لديك صديق مسلم، وإرسال نسخة منه وتساعد في إنقاذ العالم.

      خطوات مماثلة متوفرة في طلبك للحصول على deprogramming الأساطير المسيحية واليهودية والبوذية والهندوسية والوثنية ..

      March 24, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
  6. Michelle

    So very thankful to him and his work for such an important cause!

    March 24, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
  7. John P. Tarver, MS/PE

    It is time to eliminate the atheist obsolete science from our public schools that breeds this kind of thinking. The religion that has grown up around the big bang and evolutiona as a means to species has no place in our public schools, as a matter of seperation of church and State. Teaching Darwin's racism in public schools may bhave been acceptable until 1975, when the global geological record proved Darwin false, but now it is against the law of the land.

    March 24, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Science

      Dover Trial Transcripts............................................. FACTS.

      Below are the complete transcripts from the Dover Trial. Thanks to our friends at the National Center for Science Education for helping us fill in the missing transcripts.

      http://www.aclupa.org/legal/legaldocket/intelligentdesigncase/dovertrialtranscripts.htm

      March 24, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      we are already converting traditional schooling into Madrassas in Pakistan, hindu atheist science have no place in Islam.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Mama Tarver

      Johnny P Tarver!!
      Get away from that computer!
      You haven't done your homework, dinner is ready .... and for heaven's sake, take your hand out of your pants!!!

      March 24, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Answer

      Just as toilet paper has no role for islam.

      Use hands. Keep hands filthy.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • John P. Tarver, MS/PE

      Science- Then you do understand how neither creationism, as unproven and Darwinism, as false, have no place in our public schools. I do not advocate adding a n additional violation of seperation of hurch and State, only that the atheist religion of obsolete science must also go.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • SAAB

      John P. what is your MS/PE in? online bible study? if you don't believe in science then why show off?

      March 24, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • clarity

      No one spreads BS on a blog like JPT. He probably won't answer you and he rarely backs anything up he spews.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
  8. Reality

    And again into the CNN Sunday great debate:

    Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15: 14, Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

    To wit;

    From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

    "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
    Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

    The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

    "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
    http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

    The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

    p.4

    "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

    p.168. by Ted Peters:

    Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

    So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    March 24, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • Sam's Uncle

      Wow, thanks! I feel so enlightened. You took a whole bunch of theories from various authors to support your own theory that the ressurection of Jesus Christ wasn't real. Let's just be honest shall we. I can't prove to you Jesus Christ was resurrected, and you can't prove to me that he wasn't. Which means my faith in God is just as justifiable as your lack of faith. I think that about covers it. If you are going to show us "reality" at least try to be honest.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
  9. Answer

    They don't ever need to think about it. Just have to accept.

    Makes them great sheep.

    March 24, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Christian7

      Incorrect. Christianity has a lot to do with thinking.
      "Now set your mind and heart to seek the LORD your God." - 1 Chronicles 22:19
      Notice the mind part. Maybe that is why some of the greatest scientist have been Christians.

      "I am not an Atheist. I do not know if I can define myself as a Pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds." - Albert Einstein

      “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)

      March 24, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Answer

      Call to an authority.

      Neat. What are they to me.. when they're dead?

      They left their views whilst on earth. And the other question will always be.. were their beliefs wrong?
      Sure as hell they can be. We love those men for their contributions in the sciences. Religion is useless on whoever you have to assert an authority over.

      So think on it.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Christian7

      Opps, I accidentally put Einstein in there. Yeah, I know he was not a christian.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
  10. Chad

    @End Religion "There is currently no greater cause for the good of mankind than to rid the world of religion."

    =>atheists believe that the ability to believe in a god at all is the result of natural selection preserving that random mutation in the brain. Atheists believe that natural selection preserved the ability to engage in that delusion.

    So, you are arguing against nature when you claim to want to eradicate "religion"

    March 24, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • Answer

      Eradicating religion is a joy.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Gyrogearloose

      I, for one, don't particularly care what you believe. I just don't want your beliefs to spill over into an imposition of those beliefs on me. Good examples of topics where this tends to happen are abortion, school funding, pray at public events, and so on.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • Answer

      Hey Chard,

      When is Rachel coming around to pat you on the back?

      March 24, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • Shout-Out: logicked

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ns5pnPab29k&w=640&h=360]

      March 24, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • sam stone

      belief in god and "religion" are two separate things, chard

      March 24, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Chad

      @sam stone "belief in god and "religion" are two separate things, chard"

      =>well, well!

      are you insinuating that atheists oppose religious organizations, but dont oppose a belief in God?

      March 24, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Answer

      Show us a god to oppose in the first place.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Chad

      @Answer "Show us a god to oppose in the first place."

      =>indeed!!
      : If there were no God, there would be no Atheists - G. K. Chesterton

      March 24, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • Answer

      Oh your proof is a quote.

      Here:

      "Don't be stupid."

      March 24, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
  11. Apple Bush

    Christians, I will throw you a softball:

    Of the more than 30 gospels written, why did only four make into the NT? And why did those four, Luke, John, Mark and Matthew not have their names included in the original? These gospels were attibuted to these four people be editors many years after their death. How can you possible believe any of this was inspired by god, when it was cleary just men doing the things men do?

    March 24, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • Chad

      A. Two of the four DO identify the author (Luke and John), no way you could have known that however, not having ever read them..
      B. Mark and Matthew are identified as the authors by early church leaders.
      C. Many accounts of Jesus life were written, the most ancient ones written by eye witnesses (luke is the only one that wasnt written by an eye witness) were canonized.

      ====
      A question for you: on what grounds do you reject the reality of the God of Israel?

      March 24, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
    • chanel # 5

      good apple pie. crstards get all worked up over stuff like that. keep it going. i got 2 10 year olds left with your name on em

      March 24, 2013 at 5:28 pm |
    • Opposing View

      Seems to me you've heard a lot of nonsense. If you believe the lies that's been told by others does that make it true. Answer: No. It only makes you deceived...

      March 24, 2013 at 5:29 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      Chad:

      A. Wrong, the titles were added by editors later for all four books. I have read the entire bible two times.
      B. How would early church leaders know? Wouldn’t the authors have known? (The authors were not Mark and Matthew by the way.)
      C. Incorrect, the gospels were written by third party authors, not eye-witnesses.
      ====
      I reject all Gods. The Judeo/Christian god included as one of thousands dreamed up by primitive human beings.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      The author of the Gospel of John identifies himself not by name but as the disciple whom Jesus loved and in other similarly circumspect ways. Luke is not identified by name and his relationship to Jesus and the apostles is unclear. A Lutheran pastor I know hopes to float the idea that the author of Luke was close to Mary and that she was a major source of the material in Luke/Acts.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • JMEF

      Chad
      Why do I reject the God of Israel, the same reason you have the right to accept the myth, freedom to do so. Besides that, I can not see how any so called loving God can include mass distinction of life, his creations, over and over again in the history of our planet as we know it. Do you know when and what will cause God's next mass extinction of life? A little more fine tuning on your delusions part?

      March 24, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • sam stone

      On what grounds do you reject Odin?

      March 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      On what grounds do we reject the reality of the God of Israel? There aren't sufficient grounds to consider the reality of the God of Israel. One would have to take it up and consider it before it could be rejected.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Peregrine

      Odin kept hs word to wipe out the frost giants. Have you seen any frost giants lately? He must be the true god.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Chad

      @Apple Bush "Wrong, the ti.tles were added by editors later for all four books. I have read the entire bible two times."
      @Chad "you did???
      how in the world did you miss this:?

      Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled[a] among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught Luke

      The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true. He knows that he tells the truth, and he testifies so that you also may believe. John

      This is the disciple who is bearing witness about these things, and who has written these things, and we know that his testimony is true. John

      ======
      @Apple Bush "The authors were not Mark and Matthew by the way.)"
      @Chad "really?? who were they?
      the only way for you to make that claim, is for you to know who they actually were, and that they werent Mark/Matthew..

      so.. who were they then?

      ==========
      @Apple Bush "Incorrect, the gospels were written by third party authors, not eye-witnesses."
      @Chad "the only way for you to make that claim, is for you to know who the authors were, and that they werent eye witnesses..

      so, dont keep us in suspense, who do you think the authors really were??

      March 24, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Science

      Maybe they should not have created the wedge !!! just woundering Chad is it your world view too ?

      The wedge strategy is a political and social action plan authored by the Discovery Insti-tute, the hub of the intelligent design movement. The strategy was put forth in a Discovery Insti-tute manifesto known as the Wedge Docu-ment,[1] which describes a broad social, political, and academic agenda whose ultimate goal is to defeat materialism, naturalism, evolution, and "reverse the stifling materialist world view and replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic
      convictions.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedge_strategy

      Peace

      March 24, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • End Religion

      The bible is a known fraud: http://www.nobeliefs.com/exist.htm

      March 24, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Having undoubtedly read and reread the Bible, Chad must know the authors of the four gospels are not identified by name within the gospels. Also, we've no reason to believe that the books we have now are the original material.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Chad

      "we've no reason to believe that the books we have now are the original material."

      => thanks for the opportunity 🙂

      There are far fewer witnesses to cla ssical texts than to the Bible, and unlike the New Testament where the earliest witnesses are often within a couple decades of the original, the earliest existing manuscripts of most cla ssical texts were written about a millennium after their composition. For example, the earliest surviving copies of parts of the Roman historian Tacitus' main work, the Annals of Imperial Rome (written in 116 AD), come from a single manuscript written in 850 AD, although for other parts of his work, the earliest copies come from the 11th century, while other parts of his work have been lost. The earliest copies of The Jewish War by Josephus (originally composed in the 1st century AD), in contrast, come from nine manuscripts written in the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries. After the Bible, the next best preserved ancient work is Homer's Iliad, with 650 copies originating about 1,000 years after the original copy.[106] Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War (written in the 50s BC) survives in nine copies written in the 8th century. Thucydides' history of the Peloponesian War and Herodotus' history of the Persian War (both written in the 5th century BC) survives in about eight early copies, the oldest ones dating from the 10th century AD. Biblical scholar F. F. Bruce has said "the evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of cla ssical authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning...It is a curious fact that historians have often been much readier to trust the New Testament records than have many theologians."

      - Bruce Metzger
      - Bart Ehrman

      March 24, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      I'm more into reproducible evidence than history, Chad. Everyone should be. Saying that your Bible is at least as trustworthy as many other writings of similar age does not help your case.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      However, the documents are interesting. I recall mentioning to you the Rylands Library fragment known as P52. It is representative of what we have of early second century writings, such as it is. Here it is again.

      Translated it goes

      the Jews for us...
      anyone so that the...
      signifying...
      die...
      rium...
      and said...
      ...Jews...

      And adjacent to this:


      ...this I have been born
      ...world so that I would
      ...of the truth
      ...said to him
      ...and this
      ...the Jews
      ...not one

      This stuff really doesn't give us a detailed picture of what the early Christians were reading and circulating.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:34 pm |
    • clarity

      There has never been any credible evidence put forth to support the initial claim by religion for the existence of God. Therefore, to date, no one that I know of has been able to prove its existence. No need for anyone to disprove any negative, since the initial claim has fallen flat. It's easy to say that it can't be disproved either, but on the same level as saying you can't disprove that Tinkerbell exists.

      Regardless of the possible existence of a preacher man who made some headlines, there is plenty of reason to question the validity of the gospel accounts in the Bible. The anonymously-written gospels were thought by many to be copies/variations of earlier pagan stories. The charges against them was sufficient enough that several early Christian apologists came up with this whacky notion of 'diabolical mimicry' – that the devil disseminated the supposedly "fake" stories before the "real" gospel accounts. How about that plagiarism in reverse, courtesy of your neighborhood devil.

      Christians took some rehashed folklore and just made it sound even fishier.

      March 24, 2013 at 6:36 pm |
  12. Zyggy 2003

    This is just the type of guy that Jesus likes...

    March 24, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
  13. chanel # 5

    atheists is gettin soft. i swear. we got to get them fired up. preach sin some more. they hate that

    March 24, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • chanel # 5

      anybody want a couple a cute 10 year olds? goin to the highest bidder

      March 24, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
  14. Selendis

    This is one of those things in life that makes me a bit crazy. Why is anybody really concerned with someone else's belief, or lack there of?

    March 24, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • chanel # 5

      it is a diversion, you bird brain.

      we use this one, too. watch. pure genius.

      we care cause we stir up them zealots in middle east and they bomb us., we wipe out xtianity and we are home free

      March 24, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • IslandAtheist

      Why do you care about atheists?

      March 24, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Answer

      Religious wads get upset that others don't find their beliefs believable.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:24 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      We all need to care when their beliefs are imposed on the rest of us in the form of laws and leak into our public education system, that's when we need to care.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • David in NC

      Because there are people who want to turn our country into a theocracy. They are constantly injecting their religious beliefs into the the science, history, and civics curriculum. Humanists and other secular groups, many of whom are religious, are fighting back against this assault on our educational and political system. That's why.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
  15. tony

    When god said that he'd post his latest signs in the heavens (in Genesis 1:14), you gotta wonder why just one bible chapter later, he had the ten commandments instead written on a coupla chunks of handy rock, in just one language, and they got lost. . .

    March 24, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
  16. If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

    Warning, threatening or just informing people that, if they don't REPENT, BELIEVE or otherwise conform, is nothing more than bullying. You can't pick on a kid in a school yard but you can inform (threaten) them that they will burn for eternity in hell if they don't think/act/believe they way you want them to.

    March 24, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • Chad

      Christians dont threaten anyone with hell anymore than informing someone that they are driving the wrong way threatens them with a car accident.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Answer

      If Chard can even see the road that is reality..

      Can Rachel take over when Chard is drunk?

      March 24, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • oOo

      BS, Chad.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:16 pm |
    • History Channel's "The Bible" Parts 3 & 4 - In Under 11 Minutes!

      Good for bible thumpers to view !

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTRn28iZD_g&w=640&h=360]

      March 24, 2013 at 5:18 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Very passive aggressive of them!

      I know Chad, you don't understand.
      Here's the definition:
      "Expressing aggression in non-assertive, subtle (that is, passive or indirect) ways."

      March 24, 2013 at 5:19 pm |
    • warren s.

      Chad, There are churches in the deep South the preach fire and brimstone every week. Heaven and especially Hell are preached as real places. btw, I'm Southern.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • sam stone

      chad: you have no authority to issue these warnings
      fvck you and your punk god

      March 24, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  17. Teachers Rock

    All that money and this was your best idea? I have 115 eighth grade math kids in desperate need of technology, laptops, iPads, etc...heck, we will even take 35 graphing calculators! Just saying...look around, there are other causes in the word that will have a greater Impact on mankind.

    March 24, 2013 at 5:12 pm |
    • End Religion

      There is currently no greater cause for the good of mankind than to rid the world of religion.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Do you have a problem with the millions spent on the crystal cathedral ? Or do you only object to how this man spends his money ?

      March 24, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Answer

      You're telling other people that they own money should be controlled by you?

      March 24, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Maybe you should ask a local church to take down their billboards for Jesus and give that money to your school?! There's a lot more money in religion than this guy has been spending .. and it's tax free!!

      March 24, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
    • Answer

      "their own money"

      March 24, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  18. Green1955

    Mr. Stiefel thank-you very much for adding some sanity to the insanity.

    March 24, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
  19. chanel # 5

    we are recruiting for young upwardly mobile fakers.

    March 24, 2013 at 5:08 pm |
    • Answer

      Good for you. Spend that money.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • chanel # 5

      anybody here can tell somebody she is goin to hell w/o crackin up? we want to talk

      March 24, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Answer

      Do the conversions you'll need the new recruits. Get them young. XD

      Bring in more money.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:13 pm |
    • History Channel's "The Bible" Parts 3 & 4 - In Under 11 Minutes!

      Good for Creationists to view !

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTRn28iZD_g&w=640&h=360]

      March 24, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  20. William Miller

    God save us from rich guys with too much time on their hands, on the Left as well as on the Right. Where exactly is all this discrimination against atheists? I have several friends who are atheists, and they all seem to have done very well for themselves. I myself don't go to church, and it's no one's business what I believe, but no one has ever "discriminated" against me because of my lack of church attendance. To compare so-called discrimination against atheists to what African-Americans have gone through for centuries is ridiculous. Finally, he'll never be able to convince a majority of Americans that there is no God, because faith has never been based on logic in the first place. As a former Catholic, he should know that. You either have faith, or you don't. But if he wants to waste his money on this pointless "crusade," that's his business. To the extent that he gets any attention at all doesn't prove that he's interesting, wise, or logical. It only proves that he's wealthy. Big deal.

    March 24, 2013 at 5:06 pm |
    • Answer

      "Waste of money"...

      Look in the waste of money from the Donors Trust. See them using -the far right's money- in prolonging the denial of our world's climate problem. See their true motive in action.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:09 pm |
    • End Religion

      Don't you have access to Google, or are you willfully ignorant?
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrimination_against_atheists
      http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2009/12/15/which-states-ban-atheists-from-holding-public-office/

      March 24, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • bigbendjc

      I think the discrimination would come if the religious right ever got into power. Ever hear of prayer in school, making Christianity the official religion of the USA? I'm not an atheist and I don't belong to any organized religion. I always felt that the thing wrong with religion is that people are involved. I do believe in some intelligent designer of the Universe whether it's physics or natural order of things.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:20 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      It's more than discrimination though. The religious are always looking to put religion front and center in public life: displays and signs on public property, laws based upon their religious beliefs, their beliefs taught as science in schools, bells on Sunday, etc.

      March 24, 2013 at 5:27 pm |
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About this blog

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