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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. Marcus Aurelius

    He is not different than religious leaders who exploits God to make money, he exploits God by claiming God does not exist

    March 24, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Answer

      Evidence for your god.

      Then talk.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "he exploits God by claiming God does not exist"

      Except he's giving money AWAY for a noble cause, not raking it in for reciting fairy tales to a congregation every Sunday.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • End Religion

      I love when people run around complaining about exploiting something to make money. The U.S., if not the rest of the world by now, runs by exploiting something to make money. One may exploit one's computer skills, plumbing skills, or anything else. Socially some things may be frowned on, but since religion itself exploits god to make money I wouldn't guess god is off the table in this endeavor.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
  2. Your take on the money man

    Mr. Christian pledges to generously donate to humanitarian causes.
    Mr. Secular humanist will continue to fund abortion
    Mr. Atheist will continue to rely on Christians for fund raising
    Mr. Agnostic could care less

    March 24, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • Answer

      The christian right funds to deny global climate change, with money, they don't believe in.

      Logic. Fails.

      ==Are you too stupid to see that you don't believe in climate change and then spend money on it?

      Why are you spending money on a thing you don't believe in?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Bob

      Bull cr@p, taker. Look at the priests' and pope's fine robes and the treasures and expenses of the mainstream Christian sects, and you can see where the Christian funds raised really go.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Your take on the money man

      And Mr. Bob continues to insist that people take the clothes off their back and walk naked

      March 24, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • Bob

      As usual, taker has no response of any substance to a legitimate criticism.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:53 pm |
  3. Bootyfunk

    woohoo! a hero for reason and critical thinking. three cheers to you, mate.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  4. The Rev. Marcus Goodswell

    Is actually sad that people like this guy even have to blow huge amounts of cash in an attempt to give people a reason to stop and think. This is basic stuff, should never even be a question.

    If someone finds a way to do absolutely nothing and rakes in a mountain of cash – hey good for them...provided it doesn't kill or harm anyone and it doesn't come at someone else's' expense....Religions achieve the first part, but are guilty as hell of the later part.

    If focusing on indoctrinating children is the most successful means of getting your message to take hold, chances are you are peddling a load of garbage....

    If you feel your livelihood is threatened by a billboard stating the obvious (there is no God) , chances are you are peddling a load of garbage.....

    Kudos to Todd Stiefel for making the effort, I just wish it wasn't necessary.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • John P. Tarver, MS/PE

      This guy is a cult of personality based on hois own ego. (satan under Jungian psychology)

      March 24, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      But this is 'MURICA!!!! This is the land where anti-intellectualism and illogic are the supreme religions. This is the land where 50% of the population do not regularly find themselves in situations where they have to use thinking abilities higher than those of an 11-year old (going by Piaget's theory of development.) This is the land where 50% of the population believe the earth was created 6000 years ago, despite the abundance of many avenues of learning, including some of the finest formal educational facilities in the whole world.

      Without these movements, progress would be slow and halting.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • The Tin Foil Hat Brigade Is Here

      Tarver*n if some christian guy did this, you'd be popping an orgasm falling over yourself trying to wax poetic about the guy.
      Oh, and I don't believe that you are a Masters of Science/Professional Engineer, either. You sound vastly under educated to have a masters in anything, except being a master of your own domain.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • gb333

      You just described every religion that has ever existed, except at least this guy preaches truth.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:47 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Hey hat brigade, the PE in his signature is for physical education.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
  5. SDCinNS

    That's a lot of money to spend to be against something.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Eddie

      He's spending it for freethinking and science.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Answer

      ==source== http://www.desmogblog.com/who-donors-trust

      Donors Trust Funds Climate Denial Groups

      According to IRS tax returns, between 2002 and 2010, Donors Trust provided over $90 million in funding ($90,989,710 to be exact) to 84 groups that deny the scientific realities of climate change. Between 2004 and 2010, the partner group Donors Capital Fund, provided more than $28 million in funding ($28,490,862) to 75 groups that deny the scientific realities of climate change.
      ====

      Go get educated on what is a lot. Go read.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      all cults, like christianity, are bad for you. they teach you to turn off your brain. that's a great thing to be "against".

      March 24, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • SDCinNS

      "My message is not only of anti-theism,” Stiefel said" – but.. it is anti-theism.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
    • Answer

      If scientific climate change isn't a real thing like they claim.. then why spend money on it.

      Same argument – you backwards a$$wads.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:36 pm |
  6. Ed

    Militant Muslim: Flies a plane into a building.
    Militant Christian: Pickets a dead soldier's funeral.
    Militant Athies: Writes a BOOK.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • EK

      Militant Athiests killed 100 million people in soviet Russia, and 12 million jews and minorities in the Holocausts. Militant Christians, such as The Catholic Church is the the largest charity organization in the World

      March 24, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
    • End Religion

      EK,

      None of the totalitarian characters trotted out in the "atheists have killed more people" fallacy, whether they were atheist or not, killed in the name of a lack of belief in a god. Some of them suppressed religion as a tool to further the goal of totalitarian control.

      "State-imposed atheism" is a misnomer; there can be no such thing. Imposed irreligion is not atheism. Atheism is only the lack of belief in a god; one can't force people to not believe in a god.

      The actions of Mao, Pol and Joe (who attended seminary) were totalitarian opportunists. They sought total authority and banned religion which would compete with that authority. The pursuit of control over a people was the cause for the bloodshed.

      Although Stalin initially sought to rid Russia of religion, once firmly in office he re-instîtuted the Russian Orthodox Church and re-opened theological schools. Suppression of religion was a tool not a reason.

      Pol Pot is said to have practiced some Theravada Buddhism (and his Khmer Rouge were radical Buddhists). He studied at a Catholic school in Phnom Pen for 8 years. This mad man targeted not only religion but science, medicine and education. Political dissent was not permitted, with torture a common sentence.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Adolf_Hitler

      Hitler was raised Catholic. In his book Mein Kampf and in public speeches he made statements affirming a belief in Christianity. He called the purge of Jews "positive Christianity." While there is debate over his actual private feelings about the faith, he was a publicly practicing Christian. There exists no known evidence that Hitler was an atheist or agnostic. Again: evidence he was Christian; no evidence he was otherwise.

      Hitler said: "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

      The Reichskonkordat was a treaty signed on 20 July 1933 between the Holy See (Catholic Church) and Nazi Germany, guaranteeing the rights of the Roman Catholic Church in Germany, giving moral legitimacy to the Nazi regime soon after Hitler had acquired dictatorial powers, and placing constraints on Catholic critics of the regime, leading to a muted response by the Church to Nazi policies. Yes, the Catholic Church colluded with Nazis.

      http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?ti.tle=20th_century_atrocities (take dot out of 'tîtle')
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_Hitlerum
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law

      March 24, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • Religion is

      Superstition!

      And you still can't spell atheist.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • End Religion

      EK,

      The wealthiest charity in the world is Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_wealthiest_charitable_foundations
      Gates is either agnostic or atheist depending on where you look.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • cc

      militant christians troll a funeral
      you troll the comments section
      you are just as irritating

      March 24, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • nchurricane

      That is pretty intelligent but what about Joseph Stalin, atheist killed 12 million? What about the Columbine kids? And I'm sure with just a little research we could find more but great point. Bad people exist in every group but what do I know I'm just a brain dead christian.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • Reason Rules

      Yes, posting ones opinion on an open message board IS the same as standing at a funeral with signs telling the grieving family that I'm glad their loved one is dead. You are truly brain dead.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
  7. vinster76

    He is free to believe whatever he wants to believe. I was also once a catholic, and in university, became an agnostic. At the age of 29 I came to belief in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world. Now, I am sure he thinks I am misled in my beliefs, but the claims of Christ, and the evidence for the resurrection have stood the test of timeas well the most rigorous of secular investigation.....I notice not much was mentioned of Jesus and HIs claims, just the Old testament.....interesting......

    March 24, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      Ah. The old "Pick-and-choose."

      March 24, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Qwerty

      That is interesting that he had not mentioned anything about Jesus, he continues to add that his wife is a skeptical Christian, not clear on what he means by that.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • John P. Tarver, MS/PE

      There was never any salvation in the law and these seekers are half way to the truth.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      " the evidence for the resurrection have stood the test of timeas well the most rigorous of secular investigation"
      absolutely false. there is zero evidence to consider. secular investigation says it didn't happen.

      claims of the new testament are just as silly as the old testament. it's all a fairy tale.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:33 pm |
    • Bob

      Speaking of "interesting", Vinster, why is it that your "perfect" god had to write a second testament? Made too many errors in the first one? It sure has a lot of errors in it, but so does the NT.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation re the OT and NT, 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.

      For that matter, why can't your pathetic "god" even get with the past decade and create his own web presence (no, religious shill sites don't count), or push some tweets out? Even the last pope, that creepy hider of criminal priests, could do that much, as can most children.

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

      March 24, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • ..and for the good news;there is no Satan either !

      Transplant a 14th century christian to modern day North America.He will know MORE than you about Jesus and nothing else.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • RandomDNA

      oBo

      Dan 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • Fook Sing

      "test of time" I don't think so....more like epic failure.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  8. rsinter

    Just another case of man fighting against God. In the end we ALL die physically but only those who put their trust in Jesus live forever. You may win the battle my friends but in the end you WILL lose the war of your soul. I wish you would see the truth.....
    my heart aches for you.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • Bob

      Proof please, rsinter, or just shove off and stop trying to sell us on your god fraud.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Western Pilot

      It's too bad people like you never learned how to think you your own. You've spent your whole life paying for a car that runs off of water and believed the salesman that you would see your reward after you die. By the way, I have a very comfortable island off the coast of Kansas I'd really love to sell you!

      March 24, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • Peregrine

      I would agree he is fighting against religion (unprovable either way). However, the war is long over. It began in the middle ages. It ended the second Galileo decided the truth was more important than dogma.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • ..and for the good news;there is no Satan either !

      The enablers of 911(all religions),lost any remaining high ground on that fateful day.On 9/12 Sam Harris began to write a book which was the beginning of the END OF FAITH.Atheism has gone up %4 in 6 years in the US(Gallup), and is just beginning to organize and gain funding.WE promise it won't hurt..

      March 24, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
    • HarryGP

      A lot of them have seen the truth rsinter, but they rejected it either because they didn't understand it, or they didn't like what God wanted. At this point it's not so much anyone believing, because a lot of them won't, but simply saying God is right, while they rally against him. Because if they don't like the message before, they won't believe it, read it, or re-read it, no matter how compelling the presentation. For those, turn and walk away.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
  9. kidnene

    Ridiculous!!! Just another example how we as a society are moving further and further away from ANY forms of faith!

    March 24, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • Ed

      He gives money to promote organizations that protect the wall of seperation of church and state and HE is ridiculous. MILLIONS sit in pews every week and donate to promote their "brand" of religion and that is fine. You are blinded by your own hypocrisy.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • laguna_greg

      Faith will not save us from the obstacles we face today. But faith will make it easier for our enemies to subdue us, and easier to get their noose around our necks.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

      Oh, and that's a bad thing?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • End Religion

      "we as a society are moving further and further away from ANY forms of faith!"

      Yeah! Give an atheist a hug today!

      March 24, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • 21k

      yes, but it can't come soon enough!

      March 24, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • Western Pilot

      What's ridiculous about it? We're becoming a nation of people who want to think for themselves instead of a nation that accepts fairy tales without question. I think this is a great thing!

      March 24, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
  10. Ed

    Why is it ok for millions to give week after week from their pew to promote their religious beliefs, but this guy donates money to promote secular values, and he is a THREAT? Hippocrites.

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

    This won't be the first trust fund baby to cause trouble in the world, nor will he be the last. OBL had followers as well.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • John P. Tarver, MS/PE

      OBL was a construct of our own CIA, just as the Tijuana and Juarez cartels were.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:18 pm |
    • clarity

      How about some thing to back that up Tarver? Especially since you've failed to back up anything else you've shitted out on here today.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • End Religion

      JP is a drive-by conspiracy theorist. It helps his delusion if he doesn't have to back anything up.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • .

      Tarver, you have yacked a lot today, and haven't provided one scintilla of proof for any of your outrageous statements. Do so, or shut up.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • John P. Tarver, MS/PE

      If OBL had not been living in a cave with the CIA in Afghanistan he would hve been killed by the Taliban. In 1995 when the Gorelick memo put CIA out of the narcotics business OBL was there to handle the distribution of opium. OBL is Shia and a foreigner, two very good reasons for Taliban to kill him.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Ed

      Tarver, sounds like you smoked too much of that SH&T back in 'nam. Your brain is fried. Do you REALLY believe every crackpot conspiracy theory, or are you just a troll? Bet you think bigfoot is real and Da Gubment invent AIDS.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • John P. Tarver, MS/PE

      I believe CIA imported cocaine into the US to pay for covert operations in South America, as that is a well known fact. It is also a fact that the Gorelick memo put CIA out of the drug business, as that is why it was written. I am too young for Viet Nam, but I did do 6 strategic airforce.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • The Tin Foil Hat Brigade Is Here

      Time for your refitting, Tarver. Adding the BS MS/PE behind your name has made you head swell in your attempt to add credibility to your baloney statements. Do make an appointment soon, mmmkay?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • John P. Tarver, MS/PE

      I did a lot of strategic servicing, on my knees.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • clarity

      So Tarver starts off making one of his usual "bright" matter-of-fact statements, and when asked to provide evidence, the first words to come next are "If OBL . . " and, in the next post, "I believe . . ."

      Unbelievable is what it is.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      Sorry John P but OBL was a sunni and despised shi'a.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
  12. jonnyprecious

    It saddens and frightens me that I have to watch the western world controlled, to a large extent, by a group of people that actually believe that an invisible person, for many an old man, actually controls and creates existence. Moreover, this entire system is based on a collection of ancient stories that has been picked over, edited, and censored by the "leaders" of these factions so that the other accounts do not infringe or contradict what they have been promoting. In other words, most followers of these organized religions are victims of false advertising anyway. It's utterly ludicrous and controlling by the people promoting it, and it's sad to watch people live in that world because they are afraid not to, if I may be frank. If you want to be good, be good and imitate Buddha, Jesus, the Dalai Lama, Ben Franklin, Abe Lincoln, and Oprah, just to name a few to start. And one last thing: according to the Bible, Jesus loved everyone, so at least follow that one, you bellicose crusaders, and maybe you'll feel better all around. And atheism isn't a religion. It just is.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
  13. chollima1178

    I'm not religious, but these kind of organizations just seem tacky. For there to be a future for atheism, going with all of these canned groups isn't really going to work. I think each generation from here on out will just become less and less religious, anyway, so this militant "stand up for ourselves" atheism is preaching to the choir. The only people who vehemently oppose atheism in the West are old folks with no real power, anyway.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "The only people who vehemently oppose atheism in the West are old folks with no real power, anyway."

      Unfortunately, those folks seem to be especially concentrated in this country and its government. When you have politicians proposing bills to force science teachers to teach biblical myths, groups like these become very necessary.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • Ed

      Exactly, the evangelical movement in this country is on the rise, mostly younger, and a VERY powerful lobby. The wall that seperates church and state must be protected or it will fall.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • John P. Tarver, MS/PE

      Teachers must teach the false as science racism of Darwin as science and it is just as much a violation of seperation of church and State as a class prayer; led by the teacher..

      March 24, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • Ed

      Not hardly, Tarver. Your rejection of evolution is your right. But your right stops at my kids ears. Preach your religious nonsense in church all you want, but keep it out of my tax dollar funded schools.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • clarity

      First of all, you were already called out on this subject on at least two previous posts. You are the one who is out of date.
      Secondly, I'm not going to take any advice from someone who can't spell and can't make a decent sentence.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • clarity

      (especially when it comes to education; lol)

      March 24, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
    • clarity

      My last two posts were directed at the idiot Tarver.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:27 pm |
    • visitor

      30 years ago I would have ageed with you. No more.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • clarity

      JPT I suggest you leave Gould the man who's been dead for quite a while and get up to date. These responses already give to you below should highlight that you are the one who is out of date and out of touch with reality:

      ==============================

      Science was meant to change over time as new technologies and evidence becomes available. This is why scientists call their conclusions 'theories' instead of 'facts'. A theory is only valid as long as it has not been disproven. Contrary to what you seem to believe about scientists, they do not hold onto theories that have been disproven through scientific method.

      This highlights the difference between science and religion. While new theories are developed and disproven theories are discarded, science progresses and becomes more and more accurate. Religious teachings, on the other hand, are regarded as fact, not theory, as they supposedly come from a higher power. These teachings are not discarded as they are disproven and therefore religion stagnates and does not progress.

      If you want religious teachings to be taught in school instead of science, merely enroll your child in a school that teaches the religious ideas you adhere to. It is as easy as that. Leave science to those who value reason over dogma and leave religion to those who want to keep believing what they were taught to believe regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

      ============================

      Tarver, species don't evolve at a uniform rate. You should think of evolution as landscape with selection pressures as mountain peaks. The mountain peaks are scattered and isolated. Genetic information is moving along the landscape. Most of the time nothing much happens – stability and gradualism. A peak is encountered and the genetic information is significantly transformed by going over it – speciation or extinction.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • clarity

      already given to you [by others]

      March 24, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
  14. Wil

    Religion is for the weak-minded and is such a sham. Believe in yourself. Is there anything else more to say?

    March 24, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Bostontola

      There are a lot of strong minded believers in god. The vast majority of war heroes, leaders of industry, etc.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • Wil

      Intelligent people, yes. But too weak to think for themselves and to go against the majority, who , in fact, are not always correct. Those presidents, war heroes, and leaders of businesses are just doing what is best for their careers because Christians are so judgmental and so non-Christain when it comes to speaking against a so-called God. Can you really believe in the folk tales in the Old Testament? Such nonsense. And why do Christians feel they can openly speak about their God, but if an Atheist speaks his mind, he is blasted for it? Again, religion is not needed in the world. It just causes problems, period.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Gyrogearloose

      Wil, if others want to believe then that's their perogative. The focus shouldn't be on convincing others that they are wrong as this is what's wrong with much religion. The focus should be on thinking critically for oneself and let others think as they choose (as long as they don't try to impose their beliefs on others).

      March 24, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • G to the T

      @Gyrogearloose
      A well thought out resonse. Thanks for bringing a little civility to the discussion.

      April 18, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  15. Fake-It-Good-NASA

    Hey I have another question....

    "It turns out that the Lunar Module was made up of mylar and cellophane held together with scotch tape and staples. Holy Christmas and we're going to try and fly this thing?" Apollo 9 Astro-actor Jim McDivitt

    Since the above statement is indeed true, and the lunar module is a comical contraption that failed here on Earth, then we can know that NASA made a 'show' about landing on the moon with the help from the Soviets. And since reentry at hypersonic 35,000 mph would burn one up as a meteor, and 'braking' from said speed is indeed preposterous, then we can know that NASA used C130's for this episode. And since the 'heat shield' was made up of what NASA called "special plastic" back in the day, and since NASA indeed stated that reentry from such a voyage generates temperatures "10 times hotter than the sun", then we can know that one would burn-up upon reentry as do meteors and true physics confirms.

    Therefore, since 'spaceflight' is the grandest con in human history and Yuri Gagrin's "hypersonic bailout" is nothing less than a laughing stock, then indeed NASA fulfills Holy Writ in Revelation as Apollo is a massive deception designed to con the world into 'astro-evolution'. So my question is, what will folks who obviously hate God, Christ and the Bible do once the massive, massive deceptions face-plant with the incriminating evidence? Will the horror of mankind KNOWING that the Bible is true cause many to become overt Satan worshippers as the bible says, or will they chose to follow "the way, truth, and the life"?

    March 24, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
    • Reason Rules

      You can't be serious. Space flight is a myth? I bet you believe the earth is 6000 years old and there REALLY was a flood. Bwaaaaaaaaahahahahahaaaaaaaa. Crawl back under your rock. You are no more sophisticated than the Taliban.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Is there an international space station in orbit with astronauts on board?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:10 pm |
    • Paul

      Space flight is a myth eh?... I sure hope you don't use GPS, Satellite tv, or look up when a satellite is flying over head.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:13 pm |
    • Gyrogearloose

      Be careful where you go, or you might fall off the edge of the flat earth.....

      March 24, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
  16. Bostontola

    About 20% of hate crimes are because of a bias against another's religious belief.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:05 pm |
  17. FakeItGoodNASA

    Hey I have another question....

    "It turns out that the Lunar Module was made up of mylar and cellophane held together with scotch tape and staples. Holy Christmas and we're going to try and fly this thing?" Apollo 9 Astro-actor Jim McDivitt

    Since the above statement is indeed true, and the lunar module is a comical contraption that failed here on Earth, then we can know that NASA made a 'show' about landing on the moon with the help from the Soviets. And since reentry at hypersonic 35,000 mph would burn one up as a meteor, and 'braking' from said speed is indeed preposterous, then we can know that NASA used C130's for this episode. And since the 'heat shield' was made up of what NASA called "special plastic" back in the day, and since NASA indeed stated that reentry from such a voyage generates temperatures "10 times hotter than the sun", then we can know that one would burn-up upon reentry as do meteors and true physics confirms.

    Therefore, since 'spaceflight' is the grandest con in human history and Yuri Gagrin's "hypersonic bailout" is nothing less than a laughing stock, then indeed NASA fulfills Holy Writ in Revelation as Apollo is a massive deception designed to con the world into 'astro-evolution'. So my question is, what will folks who obviously hate God, Christ and the Bible do once the massive, massive deceptions face-plant with the incriminating evidence? Will the horror of mankind KNOWING that the Bible is true cause many to become overt Satan worshippers as the bible says, or will they chose to follow "the way, truth, and the life"?

    March 24, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Actually, some of the landing sites have been imaged from lunar orbit. And, of course, there are samples that were brought back from the moon. There's not much evidence of God, though.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Thanks for the heads up. I always appreciate it when an insane person just comes right out with it the very first time I meet them.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "with the help from the Soviets."

      So the Cold War was a hoax as well?

      I hear tin foil has been discounted at your local supermarket.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:11 pm |
  18. Mitch Miller Guentry

    I also say ' really ? ' in a very puzzled way after anyone says something I don't agree with. That's so kewl.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:03 pm |
    • Stich smiller daughtry

      really?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  19. Zyggy 2003

    "Yea because we don't give two shakes to your bs fairy tales that you worked so hard to impress upon others with."

    Why waste time with anvil-heads. Even if god dropped an anvil on these peoples heads it would just bounce off. They cringe when they pass by the neighborhood church on Sundays and see it that it is packed fulled. When they see this the grin under their teeth and call every body fools. They are smarted than everybody in that church you see and every church that was ever built. Their all-mighty god science has an explanation for everything. Meanwhile they can't even explain where the wind comes from. The Jewish faith, the Christian faith, the Muslim faith is all bull-crap to them. It is them against the world against 4 billion people. They know it all and can explain all away.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:02 pm |
    • Reason Rules

      Yes, when science doesn't yet have an answer for something, we should just throw up our hands and claims that "goddidit". That has worked so well in the past when we thought demons caused disease and the world was flat.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:06 pm |
    • End Religion

      Tides come in, tides go out, no one can explain it, right?
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wind
      http://www.newser.com/story/109164/bill-oreilly-to-atheists-you-cant-explain-the-tides.html

      @11:30 Neil de Grasse Tyson talks about scientific ignorance
      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_Um2VdIKmA&w=640&h=390]

      March 24, 2013 at 8:37 pm |
    • G to the T

      "...can't even explain where wind comes from"... I sincerely hope this is a typo or that you are talking in jest.

      April 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm |
  20. Slugs are atheist too

    It's all about keeping a proper perspective.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      True. But if Slugs had Gods .. their Gods would be slugs.
      You see, it's all about the ability for creative abstract thought.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:08 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.