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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.

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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. ed

    Being an atheists is arrogance...about the same as being a person who says there is no life elsewhere in the universe...

    Agnostic is honesty...atheism is arrongance

    March 24, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • JH1

      Would it be arrogant to say there are no leprechauns with invisibility capabilities?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Being a theist is arrogance. To claim to 'know' based on faith how the universe came to be is simply arrogant.
      Atheism does not define knowledge, it only define a lack of belief in the theistic claim of a god. Most honest Atheists are also Agnostic (defining knowledge)...in other words-I see no evidence to support the notion of a god(s) but can't be sure there isn't.
      If you are claiming to be agnostic then one question remains-do you or do you not believe in a god?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:35 am |
    • G to the T

      Agnostic and Atheist or 2 different non-exclusive things. Agnostic means you don't believe that it's possible to know 100% either way. But no one can live that way, so we all either ACT as if we believe there is or isn't a god. So really an Agnostic is either an Agnostic Theist (I can't prove/disprove god, but I act as if there may be one) or Agnostic Atheist (I can't prove/disprove god, but I act as if there isn't one).

      March 25, 2013 at 4:05 pm |
    • Damocles

      Agnostic is watching both sides so that if everything is all figured out you can sit back and say 'yes, I agreed with the winning side the whole time.'

      March 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm |
  2. Phazon

    Though the Ctatholics are definetly wrong there is something very flawed with his logic about pagan stories being bundled together they was huge part of the bible they was in many places the hebrews came and went is it possible pagans knew the story of Abraham and Isaac of course I am sure word spread like wild fire not to mention is how do you know if they are pagan stories or true stories that the pagans decided to tell sounds to me like he just doesn't want to be held accountable.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • Syphor

      A good majority of the stories in the bible can be found in the Egyptian Book of the Dead and ancient Sumatran texts dating back to the Mesopotamia period as early as 2500 B.C.E. The Garden of Eden story was recorded more then a 1000 years earlier. Do some research.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:39 am |
    • cjbigcat

      I was thinking the same thing. Maybe the Pagens used the Bible as their source for their stories. Obviously they came after Christ.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:47 am |
    • G to the T

      It's called Biblical Scholarship. You'd hear the same thing in any just about any college offering seminary studies.

      March 25, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Juno What

      I think that you all need to define what/who you mean by "pagans"?

      Druids? Yeah, after the alleged Christ.
      -or-
      Egyptians? Sumerians? Babylonians? Long, long before the alleged Christ.
      -or-
      Someone else?
      (as a Catholic School kid, I supposedly sent lots of money to the "pagan babies"!)

      March 25, 2013 at 4:26 pm |
  3. jaron kadek

    God is real, and His existence is not dependent upon anyone 's faith in Him.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • JH1

      Zeus is real, and His existence is not dependent upon anyone's faith in Him.

      Refute my statement.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • A dose of reality

      Please PROVE your assertion. We're waiting.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • Thor, God of Thunder

      @ JH1 – Hey, Zeus! How's it hangin'? Doing anything this weekend? Though we could get together with Ra and Manitou, knock back a few beers, use your lightning bolts to light a few farts. Ain't it cool being a god?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • ProudAtheist

      Zues? Heck no it's Odin

      Odin is real, and His existence is not dependent upon anyone's faith in Him.

      Refute my statement.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • Joshua

      JH1, if that's your belief, OK. All Christians ask is that we do not be trod upon for our faith and outreach. you believe in Zeus, great. If it make you a much better person, outstanding.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:28 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      @ Joshua – when your outreach includes preaching hatred against gays, expect to be trod upon, When your outreach includes trying to push Creationism in schools, expect to be trod upon. When your outreach includes trying to incorporate your religious views and dogma into our laws, expect to be trod upon.

      Believe what you want, but keep it to yourself.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:34 am |
    • TOOZX5

      If he is only real to people who are making the claim, yet not demonstrated to be reality outside their mind, then there is no reason to think such a thing is real.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:49 am |
    • Christian7

      I agree. I am glad my faith is in Jesus Christ.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:00 am |
  4. Christian7

    "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 8:18 am |
    • idl3d3m0n

      Yes. It's very unfortunate these great minds were FORCED to believe in something that isn't true. Luckily for the world people are getting smarter and allowed to no believe in god if they so choose without facing violent persecutions

      March 24, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Ray

      Albert Einstein and Max Planck were DEISTS, not Christians!

      Newton was a Christian.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      What's your point? Einstein was, at highest, a possible Deist. Newton lived at a time where religious heresy was still being punished by death. Planck was a product of his times.

      A cheap appear to authority. Doesn't fly.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • the AnViL™

      “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends...no interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.” – albert einstein

      also

      isaac newton also worked overtime at alchemy. 😉

      finally:

      read up on spinozas god – maybe you won't look quite as ignorant.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:23 am |
    • Quote mining

      How clever and it proves what? other than you can not provide an original thought of your own; well at least it wasn't babble verses but I am sure they will show up soon.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • Christian7

      Ray, Planck was a Christian church warden from 1920 until his death. Some facts are very inconvenient. It is a historical fact that he belonged to a Christian church. He was more open to other religions than most Christians. But he chose Christ at least to the point that he went to a Christian church.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:30 am |
    • Ray

      @Christian7

      "Later in life, Planck's views on God were that of a deist.[26] For example, six months before his death a rumour started that Planck had converted to Catholicism, but when questioned what had brought him to make this step, he declared that, although he had always been deeply religious, he did not believe "in a personal God, let alone a Christian God.""
      From his wikipedia page.

      "Planck was a churchwarden from 1920 until his death, and believed in an almighty, all-knowing, beneficent God (though not necessarily a personal one). "
      Source: http://www.adherents.com/people/pp/Max_Planck.html

      He was brought up as a Christian theist and then became a deist.

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

      You are REALLY ignorant...

      March 24, 2013 at 9:12 am |
  5. Sumguy2006

    "I see religion as something that provides both good and ill to the world.”......Thank you Cpt. Obvious.
    What a bunch ov drivel. He speaks as if his doubts are some kind of inteligent reasoning that took him years to realize. His doubts are no different then i or my 10 year old for that matter have had at one point or another. At some point you just choose one way or the other. Many choose to believe, and that some religion does much more good then bad.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • TOOZX5

      and others choose to think. They realize believing in an unsupported claim that often contradict reality is nothing more than gullibility. No reason for it.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:27 am |
    • Sumguy2006

      Actually TOO you couldn't be more wrong. Fairytail or not, when not abused, religion serves many great purposes. Belief is a powerful thing...that's why it's easily twisted for bad. I've seen people face great loss, and sometimes their is nothing else in the Universe that can ease the pain of GREAT loss. Nothing an Athiest could offer, that's for sure. It's o.k. NOT to believe, just don't think you're any smarter for it. It's not about that, it's just a choice.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:36 am |
  6. Josh

    He's obviously feeling guilty about something, but instead of dealing with, he's just trying to kill his conscience. But then again, if I had been raised a catholic I would probably be very confused also.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • Gysgtg

      No more than likely he is just seeing how much trouble he can start. Like most "atheists" he is looking for someone to notice him.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Gysgtg

      No more than likely he is Like most "atheists" he is looking for someone to notice him.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • TOOZX5

      Didn't see any guilt, but rather freedom to think. He realized what religion taught concerning reality was false. And started thinking instead. Good for him.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:22 am |
  7. Gysgtg

    God without science is ignorance, science without God is pointless.
    Albert Einstein
    Yet uneducated internet fools know better. You are pathetic little basement dwellers and i pity you.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • idl3d3m0n

      Imagine where Einstein's would've gotten if he renounced religion entirely. This idea has been debunked countless time...get something new to defend yourself with

      March 24, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • Ray

      "I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it."
      Albert Einstein, 1954

      Einstein was an agnostic/deist. He claimed he did not know (agnosticism), but he suspected/believed there was a higher power that authored the laws of physics (deism).

      March 24, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • Pastafairian

      Gysgtg
      Only reading and believing one book of fairy tales, the bible, does not make you a genius, Gysgtg. May I recommend The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the most recent depiction of a most peaceful benevolent God.
      RAmen...peace and love from the FSM

      March 24, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Gysgtg

      Yet another of the uneducated minds speaks. Try reading the Princeton papers there ignorant one.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Gysgtg

      My God you people are uneducated. Einstein was a devote jew and even advocate for the jews return to israel. Try reading a book.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • TheRationale

      Appeal to authority much? Newton was into alchemy, too, doesn't mean anything. Classic religious sheep, always looking for ways out of thinking for themselves. Little internet atheists 1, ignorant theist 0.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:37 pm |
  8. Fate

    These are sad, empty shells of human beings. They can find no comfort in religion, so they wish to spread their disbelief like a cancer. Misery loves company. I hold to no particular religious view; God, gods, whatever, we are not flesh and blood alone. People of faith are much more. Atheists people are not.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • IgnoranceOverload

      Nice generalized statement

      March 24, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • idl3d3m0n

      And religious believers are just sitting at home not spreading their beliefs? Get real. You're losing "believers" at an exponential rate because people are growing more intelligent. Get with it.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • Henry Ford

      That's your opinion, and fortunately it's not shared by anyone else but the brainwashed lemmings like yourself. Religion has caused more pain, suffering and death than any other of aspect of humanity. More wars have been fought over religion than over anything else. If you can't see or admit that, then you're just fooling yourself. I don't need religion to tell me how to treat others. My religion is kindness.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • Yorgos

      'Fate', you truly are a myopic moron! Get a clue.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • coreyjayb

      What a ridiculous thing to say. Religion is the cancer here.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:32 am |
    • Fish or Cut Bait

      Pretty closed minded view there Fate. Those of us that have lost our belief in " A God", or never developed that belief in the first place, simply choose to have a different perspective based on our own life lessons. Our experience and senses have lead us to a different conclusion, one that we are happy with. For me, taking responsibility for my own life, and my own actions, and developing my own character around the values that I believe in, has given me a pretty rich life with lots of good people in it. We do right by each other and right by our community because it's the good and righteous thing to do, not because we suffer the burden of guilt hung on us by some religious text.

      Perhaps you should ask yourself why you feel the need to believe in " A God" ? Is it because you fear the unknown when you die? Do you need some sense of continuity from now till forever? Hey, most of us do and there's no shame in that. For me, I believe that energy simply changes form and that I will go from where I am now to where I will be. One can fear the dark or embrace it. One can see life as a glass half full or a glass half empty. To each his own.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:40 am |
    • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

      Do you honestly think that you are any more fulfilled by filling your brain with pure nonsense from a mythical source? At least we atheists have the comfort of knowing that we're not fooling ourselves. Your comfort depends on your ability to continuously fool yourself. Atheists have moved past that and live life without unfounded, unjustified fear of a wrathful god whose ego is so fragile that he will eternally punish you for picking your nose once too often. Can you not come up with a better world view than the hogwash of antiquated, out-of-touch, religious dogma? I can.

      March 24, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  9. idl3d3m0n

    http://www.evilbible.com/

    March 24, 2013 at 8:12 am |
  10. sugarcube

    THE most intolerant hateful group alive today are the atheists.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:11 am |
    • Yorgos

      RIDICULOUS! You should be ashamed of yourself! Most agnostics and atheists I know are wonderful, caring, family oriented folks. And they give to charities and help others. Please get a clue, instead of fomenting YOUR brand of hate and prejudice!

      March 24, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • Robert

      Atheists didn't cause 9-11 thank you. I will disagree on this one.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • idl3d3m0n

      Is that why Muslims and Jews hate each other? They are Literally blowing themselves up in the middle east over some Land that they're god's promised to each group....

      March 24, 2013 at 8:15 am |
    • IgnoranceOverload

      Please name 1 suicide bomber that did it in the name of being Atheist?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Henry Ford

      Have you ever heard of an atheist killing someone else for believing in God? I doubt it. Have you ever heard of a religious group killing someone else for not believing in THEIR God? You see it everyday. Get real.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • Zeibodique

      "intolerant hateful group alive today are the atheists." You conveniently left out the Vatican who shoves child molestation under the rug, people who kill in the name of your lord, yes it doesn't matter where in the world it happens..IT DOES HAPPEN. You can't cry "That isn't my God" ...IT IS! As you speak of, there is but one God. He allows killing and harming of people. Read through these posts and you will find that most of the hatred, vile, posts come from those who are whining at those who do not believe as you do.

      March 24, 2013 at 11:57 am |
  11. stfualready

    I wish their was some sort of movement where people just kept their opinions to themselves.. Atheists will forever be immortalized with the likes of Christianity and Islam...not because of it's foundation or opinions on God...but because they wanna go shoving their personal life choices down everyone's throat. I don't believe in a God but I'd be embarrassed to call myself an Atheist. If you don't believe in dragons... then why commit your life to their demise?

    March 24, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      Because people who DO believe in dragons aren't pushing a "Dragon-required" agenda in schools or legislation. Because people who DO believe in dragons aren't flying planes into buildings, incinerating thousands, in the name of their belief in dragons. Because people who DO believe in dragons aren't using their Holy books about dragons to justify discrimination against women and g-ays.

      Shall I continue, or do you now get it?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Mike

      Inaccurate understanding of atheism. The goal is not to kill god. The goal is to get religion out of politics and public life.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • Will Mahoney

      Because the parties of god are directly influencing policy and law in all countries and it is causing untold amounts of problems. Religion leads the way in almost every major human rights violation in the world. Its not the casual believer who goes to church on Sunday that is the problem nor is it the primary target of people like Stiefel.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:20 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      You clearly do not see the damage to humanity that religions cause.

      People refusing medical treatment because they think they can pray disease away, The demoralizing way religion makes
      you feel about yourself (I am a wretch, a sinner, a bad person by nature), the religious wars that have been fought for
      millenia, the self righteous passing laws based on THEIR beliefs (change to the pledge of allegience which now excludes anyone who does not believe in a fairy godfather, the change to the national motto that turned it into the lie "in god we trust", the bigotry that "my religion is the right one and you are wrong so I'll pray for you" kind of crap...don't you realize that it is insulting to me when someone says they will pray for me...its the same as saying I'm going to do something for you but there won't be any effect, so it is just a waste of time.

      Religions cause more trouble than they are worth and always have. It is the people that can do good, churches and religions just perpetuate myths which people put false faith into and the results are a continuation of superst!tion and ignorance.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:22 am |
    • Geoffrey

      Islam puts a sword to your throat and says – “believe or die!” Christianity offers a free gift through reason and says – “believe and live!”

      March 24, 2013 at 8:29 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Geoffry
      That is not true...christianity for many years said believe or die.
      the crusades were all about that.
      You have chosen only to see the good side when the bad side of christianity is much worse than the good.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:41 am |
  12. Greg Travers

    If there is no God then there is no reason for my existence but yet I exist... to be something with no reason is to have no value or no existence...or no worth. Humanity teaches us to honor... to be respectful and to love.... how could this be if there was no God? This contradicts the essence of existence...So therefore i can come to this conclusion: IF I EXIST THAN THEIR HAS TO BE A GOD!!! THIS IS YOUR PROOF "MR ATHEIST" NOW STATE YOUR CASE

    March 24, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • Yorgos

      I simply cannot believe how myopic and stupid so many of you are. It should be abundantly clear that agnostics, atheitsts, humanists, etc. derive great great meaning from life by knowing that death is final. The mortality of life gives one a focus and meaning that enables them to perhaps even greater appreciate what they do have, such as their families and friends. Such as this beautiful Earth we live on. Such as all life and nature which science and evolution caused to happen. Agnostics and atheists are humble enough to embrace reality, and to appreciate the wondrous mystery of it all! Obviously, you cannot, or will not. I feel sorry for you and your vapid remarks.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:17 am |
    • Logic leads me to Atheism

      No "case" needs to be stated when you make up your own "facts". You're free to play with your made up assertions, I'll stick to the real world. William Lane Craig would be proud of you

      March 24, 2013 at 8:56 am |
  13. Christine Schmidt

    Thank you so much Todd, for your tremendous contribution and generosity in helping to end the very serious discrimination and hatred toward Athiests, Freethinkers and Humanists here in the USA and around the world. !!
    Yes Indeed, your work will help to move the struggle for justice and equality forward now and in ther future..... Your efforts are greatly appreciated...Thank you, Thank you....

    March 24, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • Geoffrey

      Where is this discrimination and hate you speak of?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:24 am |
    • john

      Christine we do not discriminate you, you are discriminating us by your false statement.
      if someone is discriminating you, he or she has their names.You can not say 2 000 000 000 Christians or other religions are discriminating you.I will pray for you, God loves you.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:42 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Geoff
      Right here. You clearly did not grow up an atheist in this country. It is all around, everywhere I go. All I need to do to get dirty hateful looks, is to tell them I am an atheist. If you are not an atheist, it would not be directed at you and you would not see it.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:44 am |
    • john

      richard , those people that are giving you dirty looks, do not represent all Christ followers.
      There is no place for hate in Christanity. People that are doing that to you have their names ,their id.
      Do not put us all in a same basket. I do not hate you because you are atheist.It is your choice, but you also be respectful
      and give me right to believe

      March 24, 2013 at 9:15 am |
  14. john

    Jesus, God or not,never spoke words of hate,the least he was a good man, respect that.
    Everything that is happening among people is our doing.Jesus left message of Love , but we choose to do wars, crime,other crazy things.Jesus is looking over us , just like we are looking over our own children.
    When children do crazy things they have to take consequences , same with God The Father, we will have to answer to him.It is so logical. God Bless you all !

    March 24, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Thats what the story book said anyway. It is very likely that none of the words atributed to jesus were ever actually spoken. The whole story was crafted to get certain points across, and there is no need for factual accounting when creating fiction.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:45 am |
    • john

      Richard, people back then did not have education like we have now that is true.
      But if you read the Bible ,it is impossible to just come up with the holy true writen in Bible.
      Bible just make sense in every possible way.it is the way , truth ,the life.
      Everything you need for your own well being is in Bible.
      This materialistic society is destroying our planet, climate , morale.........
      Turn to Bible , You will be better off, just a suggestion..

      March 24, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      john
      ",it is impossible to just come up with the holy true writen in Bible"

      Why do you think it is impossible? Was it impossible for Tolstoy to write "war and peace".

      The bible was clerly written and edited by men, and it exists. no where is there any evidence that any gods were involved in its creation.
      You have no logical argument for your statements.

      March 24, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • john

      Bible is based on facts, love not hate

      March 24, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
  15. Bob Aloui

    Atheism is a religion in itself. you just believe differently. I believe in Jesus. If you don't thats your problem.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:10 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      You do not understand the concept of atheism...it is not a religion.

      Atheism is a religion like abstinence is a $exual position.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:13 am |
    • IgnoranceOverload

      I believe in nothing, if you believe in something then that your problem

      I actually feel the ignorance flow through my body as I re-type that...ugh

      March 24, 2013 at 8:19 am |
    • PR

      Yeah, I really don't think you know what the word "religion" means if you think NOT having a mythological "Sky Father" is one.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:20 am |
  16. Geoffrey

    As long as Todd’s advocacy of atheism does not infringe upon my freedom of religion it’s no skin off my nose. My faith is reinforced by logic – cause/effect – God is the prime mover. I find it hard to believe that mankind just crawled out of some primeval mortal slime billions of years ago. The universe is a beautiful creation. Too many things – too narrow a spectrum of precise phenomena – have to be in place for life to happen. Thank you father God for your wonderful works. Thank you for sending us Jesus. Thank you God for Todd Stiefel, and folks like him, who remind us how wonderful your works are.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:09 am |
    • JS0055

      Very well said, I agree. I think atheist are actually very narrow thinkers LOL not free -thinkers at all

      March 24, 2013 at 8:14 am |
    • IgnoranceOverload

      Atheist are some of the most intelligent free thinkers you will ever meet. I assume you do not know any?

      March 24, 2013 at 8:21 am |
    • Logic leads me to Atheism

      “I find it hard to believe that mankind just crawled out of some primeval mortal slime billions of years ago”. And therein lies one of the big problems with religion. I’m not a scientist and I don’t understand many scientific findings but when it comes to bible vs. science, science will win every time with me. You believe in science as long as it doesn't contradict your bible. When it does its’ “I find it hard to believe” (fill in the blank) and then just stick you head in the sand.

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

      I came to my belief in God by “free” thinking. Can you accept that?

      March 24, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • Geoffrey

      What “science” can show the path from primeval slime to the wonderful creation that mankind is? Please show me the complete fossil record. Oh… it hasn’t been found yet. But you have “faith” that it will be found. Well Ok. If you are a “free” thinker, you would notice all the holes and speculations that passes for “science”. Remember that theory should be proven by experimentation or observation before it is established science . So your “science” really seems to be a matter of faith to me. Historically, science has been the study to understand “GOD’s creation. It still is to me.

      March 24, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • Peter

      Geoffrey is the type of person who gets excited every time a new fossil is found because it gives him 2 new missing links to complain about.

      March 25, 2013 at 1:18 pm |
  17. sugarcube

    Spending a fortune to prove something he doesn't believe in dies not exist. PRICELESS

    March 24, 2013 at 8:09 am |
  18. thinquer

    It's unscientific to rule of God simply because you don 't understand Him. Otherwise we'd have to rule out Todd, too.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:08 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      It is illogical and unreasonable to believe in a god , especially since there is absolutely not one shred of evidence to back up the theory of god.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:12 am |
    • Ray

      He abandoned his belief in the Christian god because of what he came understand, that is the Bible is the product of man.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:16 am |
    • JS0055

      In Reply to Richard Cranium : I always laugh at this argument. You have NO shred of evidence that God does not exist. We have faith that he does.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      JS055
      I am not the one claiming some fairy godfather exists, so the burdon of proof is not upon me.

      The complete and total lack of evidence is in itself evidence that the claim is false.

      You may laugh all you wish, but it is clearly because you have turned off the logic and reason portions of your mind. This is required because faith is required, and logic and reason interfere with faith. Logic and reason are necessary to find actual answers, faith requires obedience and the ability to accept blindly what someone else made up out of thin air.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:51 am |
  19. Name*penguin

    Making atheism a "religion" seems hypocritical. Also people seem to often confuse religion with faith. One can believe in God and condemn religion. Richard Dawkins seems to use the two terms interchangably when they are not synonymous.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:07 am |
  20. Pete

    Non-believers are the most discriminated group of people in America. The notion that we should have blind faith in things that cannot be proven is what allows extremism and violence in the name of religion. Congratulations to Todd Stiefel. It's time for non-believers to come out of the closet.

    March 24, 2013 at 8:06 am |
    • Likitis

      Why do you care what others believe in? You are free to choose whatever faith you want, religion or not. Do you see the irony in your response – that you should try to convince others that there is no such thing as religion because you feel like you have been forced to believe in something that doesn't exist? It's a conundrum wrapped up in a paradox.

      March 24, 2013 at 8:18 am |
    • JS0055

      It is not Medieval times, nobody stopping you to believe in what you want. LOL

      March 24, 2013 at 8:19 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.