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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. mdcampbell2

    Equality can start at CNN. The length of this article is fascinating. If only CNN would cover events at the National Mall, like the March for Life and the March for Marriage in such detail. Seriously.

    April 12, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • donner

      Same reason they don't cover the annual Unicorn Festival. Still don't get it, do you?

      April 12, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • faith

      where's anvil head?

      April 12, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • faith

      i got the hots for donner

      April 12, 2013 at 2:18 pm |
  2. Mo

    I do not abide by religious doctrines. The christian religion was in actuality realized in 300 AD at the council of nicea by roman emperor constantine (the same romans who had spend years persecuting christians). at said time, christianity (actually catholicism) adopted many pagan beliefs into its tenets. islam is an off-shoot of christianity, and both are derived from judaism.
    however, all these religions can be traced back to the egyptian mystery systems, and most of them have links to astrology (yes, astrology, not astronomy).
    that said, i do believe in a god.. he may not be yahweh, or allah, or jehova.. but this god created all that is. this god may not have created earth 6,000 years ago, and this god may not listen to prayers. but the wondrous reality of nature, its intricate systems purposely interconnected leads one to ponder the existence of a greater force that brought it into being and maintains it.
    the big bang theory defies logical reason and physics. evolution was conceived by a person who dropped out of theological school; and is fraught with holes.
    the bigger question, though, is "why the drive to attack religion?". religion is a personal belief that people hold dear. if i believe in santa claus, how will it benefit you to attack said belief? will you feel smarter through your ridicule of me? and what would you do if you woke up one christmas and found santa by your chimney chewing some cookies?
    live and let live. we are past the days when religions were forced down people's throats. i feel most atheists have an axe to grind, and they act in misguided ways.

    April 12, 2013 at 9:04 am |
    • clarity

      As an agnostic atheist, it should be no surprise that I should have no problem with your first few paragraphs, Mo. But you mention evolution in a way to suggest that current evolutionary theory is dead and that we have not learned something from it all along. Since you mention Santa and cookies, and are communicating here in English, I have to assume you live in a developed Western nation – the U.S., perhaps. And that brings me to your last paragraph. I know things get vicious from all sides here in this anonymous blog, but imho your Santa case is way too simplistic to begin to address the frustrations, and more importantly, real effects many of us face from the ultra-religious extremists. Rather than looking at Santa on Christmas morning, consider the effects from the differences among the thousands of denominations of Christianity in the U.S.:

      One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one (over 4,000,000 members) in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage.

      One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags".

      One sect believes women to be subservient, while another sect in the same denomination promotes equality between the sexes.

      One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri.

      Some believe the Pope is the Anti-Christ. Some believe Obama is the Anti-Christ.

      Some believe that celibacy is the only option for certain people, or for people in certain positions. Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but pretend not to understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease.

      Regarding abortion – we know that laws in some states have been affected emanating from religious sources that have limited access to facilities.

      and so on and so on.

      If you don't think the lives of the non-religious are not affected by religious extremism, then you must be living in a cave.

      April 12, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Science

      Scientists Find Genes Linked to Human Neurological Disorders in Sea Lamprey Genome

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130224142915.htm

      Peace

      Facts work .

      April 12, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • laststonecarver

      @Mo,
      however, all these religions can be traced back to the egyptian mystery systems, and most of them have links to astrology (yes, astrology, not astronomy). –
      – the egyptian mystery systems – maybe they are not as mysterious as you think, maybe worth another look,
      – this time without preconceived notions – like that they are pagan, like that they are about gods and goddesses
      – try to find and establish the 'Eye', which the glyphs speak of –
      – Comparison is the key, to the door which is Life –

      April 12, 2013 at 11:28 am |
    • biggles

      Yo no, that's my gods too. Yes, his name is curly.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:54 am |
    • biggles

      BTW, I used to be a born again atheist Buddhist, but I didn't like the long hours. I became Latvian orthodox cause I liked the hats. Today I'm roman catholic and mostly Jewish first church of Joe's on the corner, but I don't keep the commandments cause seventh day adventists want me to eat pancakes on Thursday, though god-jaters make a lot of sense. I think Dorothy gives discounts if u worship her

      April 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm |
    • biggles

      Although I think Dottie is an amalgem of anvil head, akiria, tom is an idiot, lol, Jim bye the science guy, Sam the sham, Bert and Ernie I love lucy

      April 12, 2013 at 12:03 pm |
    • biggles

      Although I think Dottie is an amalgem of anvil head, akiria, tom is an idiot, lol, Jim bye the science guy, Sam the sham, Bert and Ernie I love lucy
      I love me very much

      April 12, 2013 at 12:04 pm |
    • biggles

      U no how u can tell there ain't no gods? They is always invisible rascals. Anybody who believes in FSM is nuts, cause nobody seen the dude.

      April 12, 2013 at 12:08 pm |
    • biggles

      Between you and me, I'm gonna give becoming gods a shot. I mean, how tough can it be? I got gloves as and everything and plenty of folks ain't never seen me

      April 12, 2013 at 12:11 pm |
    • laststonecarver

      @biggles,
      So you say.........

      April 12, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  3. LAST DAY

    Atheism is an utterly lost cause!

    Because GOD is absolutely real;

    here is the ultimate MATHEMATICAL EVIDENCE

    of the existence and power of GOD,

    for all atheists who sincerely seek the Truth

    here now:

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

    April 12, 2013 at 7:14 am |
    • Pole dancing for Jesus

      Any real evidence?

      April 12, 2013 at 7:16 am |
    • laststonecarver

      @LAST DAY – break it down
      Atheism is an utterly lost cause! –
      – except for folks who don't name their environment 'god'

      Because GOD is absolutely real; –
      – not just the generic god, but the totally capped generic GOD, photo evidence not required...

      here is the ultimate MATHEMATICAL EVIDENCE –
      – not just basic, but capped math

      of the existence and power of GOD, –
      – capped generic strong supreme being is located.... at, ummm...the nothing, until it created something..... but i guess there was nothing plus god, or god was part of the nothing...just skip this part...

      for all atheists who sincerely seek the Truth –
      – LAST DAY sale on Truth, come and get it while it lasts...

      here now: –
      – or there, as it were, if you follow the link....below

      http://www.holy-19-harvest.com
      UNIVERSAL MAGNIFICENT MIRACLES –
      April 12, 2013 at 7:14 am | Report abuse | Reply –
      – 1 miracle is not enough, there are marvels oozing out of the universe...., but not for atheists, so don't even look –

      April 12, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • aBBEY dOOBEY

      Sorry! But that is false he told me himself that he does not exist. And one thing you don't do is doubt God.

      April 12, 2013 at 11:04 am |
    • faith

      nah. but i got fake diamonds for christmas.

      yea, and i seen gods too. over at dotties place. big picture of dumb blondes

      April 12, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
  4. laststonecarver

    It seems that religious and atheists/agnostics would be enemies –
    But historically that has not been the case –
    Can anyone name an atheist army, that fought against a religious army? –
    You could say that Russia has no formal religion, although Pu$$y Riot might contest that –
    But where was the war, with atheist soldiers en masse, fighting against a religion? –
    The main differentiation between atheists and religious, seems to be perception –
    The perception of space and time – and how they describe what they have seen in a small picture, or big picture venue –

    April 12, 2013 at 6:45 am |
    • faith

      never. atheists are very sweet

      April 12, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • faith

      i seen plenty a xtians beatin up everybody. they is bullies. seen them ahmish boys out in the fields causing trouible. and them mennonights partying big time. very hateful pacifists, them folks.

      hitler was a pacificist.

      April 12, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • faith

      i seen dorothy doing work too but i was doin acid

      April 12, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • faith

      plus, i no sam the fvck a dvck engaging in peace tal;ks. she's my numero uno sweet pea. always a treat to see her fvckin that fvck over there and them dang fvcks over yonder and svit head and the mother fvcking cvbck svcking dumb fvcks

      April 12, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
  5. Science

    Hey SeanF you can spread the message too

    Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

    Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
    bears his name as the “God particle.”

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/08/atheist-prof-peter-higgs-stop-calling-higgs-bosen-the-god-particle/

    April 12, 2013 at 6:20 am |
  6. SeanF

    I want Todd Stiefel to spread his message to any Islamic countries. That will really impress me.

    April 12, 2013 at 12:48 am |
  7. Ronnie Harper

    Frankly, I might just have my paycheck directly deposited into his bank account instead of mine, if he comes around here looking for money.

    April 12, 2013 at 12:23 am |
  8. Nick

    @ Jane

    From Letter from a Christian Citizen by Douglas Wilson,

    Atheism, the irrational faith

    Naturalism (the philosophy that underpins evolution, namely that matter and energy are all there is) cannot provide ethics; it simply is not capable of providing meaning. This problem runs deep, undercutting even the basis of rationality itself.4 In the atheist’s naturalistic worldview, thoughts and reasoning are just the results of chemical reactions in the brain. ‘A debate and a couple of soda bottles in the front of a room fizzing are just different types of chemical reactions. The atheist cannot put forward, within his own framework, a justification for why reasoning is trustworthy, or even worthwhile. Of course, as a Christian, I believe we can reason as human beings created in the image of God. But the atheist can’t account for reason if there is no God. On naturalistic principles, there’s no explanation for why a debate is more important than the two soda bottles fizzing. So you could say that, by showing up for the debate, the atheist has already conceded.’–Douglas Wilson Letter from a Christian Citizen.

    April 12, 2013 at 12:15 am |
    • clarity

      If that attempted analogy is supposed to be convince one to see the atheist as, by nature, incapable of having and nurturing morality, then I don't need to read any more of the book.

      I read this review of that book, and found it helpful in making my decision not to try the book:
      – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

      By Winston D. Jen

      By claiming that atheists borrow their morality from religion (specifically Christianity), Wilson makes several gargantuan and erroneous assumptions. He assumes that morality cannot exist apart from religion, yet science has discovered morality among animals (an article entitled "Moral in Tooth and Claw" is an excellent read). Historians and anthropologists have also shown that humans existed long before religion. The Young Earth Creationist stance on cosmology has no legs to stand on.

      Accepting the virgin birth is enough to dismiss the remainder of Wilson's position and arguments, but there is much more rancid meat to refute.

      His attempts to justify slavery are nonsensical and take the typical dishonest approach of equating slavery with modern day employment or indentured servitude (glossing over verses that permit "owners" to beat their slaves so long as they do not die immediately). Claiming that Christianity was responsible for the benefits of Western civilisation, he takes whole pages out of Dinesh D'Souza's playbook. What he does not address is why it took centuries for Christianity to place empirical scientific truth over biblical dogma.

      The Problem of Evil remains unrefuted.

      It an insurmountable issue for Christians (and all other theists who believe in a perfectly loving, all-powerful and all-knowing god). There have been intense and motivated efforts over the past two millennia to defend such a position rationally, and they have all failed. Miserably. Utterly. And in many cases, dishonestly.

      Some approached involve invoking an unknown "greater good" defense (which throws god's omnipotence under the bus. An omnipotent deity could simply actualise a desired goal without needing to use suffering as a "middle man"). Attempts to shift the problem by asserting that human happiness is not the goal of life (but knowing god is) removes the omnibenevolence and omnipotence of god (if you love someone, you don't want them to suffer. It really is that simple).

      Here, Wilson trots out the old canard of free will. Unfortunately, free will is meaningless unless everyone has an equal amount of it. This is undeniably NOT the case. Not everyone is given the same lifespan, physical strength, mental acuity, political clout, financial resources, and so on. Wilson is pontificating from the luxurious confines of his residence, funded by conveniently gullible sheep. This has certainly damaged his ability to empathise with the billions who live on less than a dollar each day. And the thousands who starve to death every time the Earth completes a full rotation.

      Wilson also, perhaps unwittingly, advocates a social Darwinism in which the rich and physically powerful are able to murder, rape and steal from weaker individuals (and are therefore less able to exercise their own free will to prevent their own suffering). Wilson worships a cosmic pedophile who revels in granting freedom to abhorrent individuals while getting his jollies from seeing the most vulnerable suffer and die in agony (only to get thrown into even more torture in the Christian vision of hell).

      Lastly, a loving god would take away free will from those who would willingly surrender it in return for a life without suffering. Funnily enough, Wilson seems to believe in a heaven without suffering but with all the bells and whistles of freedom. So why not create that universe from the get-go and stick with it? Why create a universe with even the possibility of corruption? It certainly is not something a perfect god would do. Then again, a perfect god would not blackmail beings he supposedly loves for eternal worship.

      Eternalism doesn't work as a dodge. If a god has perfect foreknowledge, then he's still responsible. And as we experience a coherent, cohesive set of events, I don't see how eternalism could be true.

      NONE of the theodicies thus far created hold any water. Why? Because an omnipotent deity does not need to use evil to achieve greater goods.

      Any such being could achieve the desired outcome from the get-go, no suffering required.

      April 12, 2013 at 12:31 am |
    • clarity

      correction to my first line: supposed to convince

      April 12, 2013 at 12:33 am |
  9. Jane

    I saw this comment and had to share...

    frankb2910 says:
    March 2, 2013 at 5:06 pm
    I liked reading Sam Harris’ book Letter to a Christian Nation.

    “In fact, “atheism” is a term that should not even exist. No one ever needs to identify himself as a “non-astrologer” or a “non-alchemist.” We do not have words for people who doubt that Elvis is still alive or that aliens have traversed the galaxy only to molest ranchers and their cattle. Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs.”
    ― Sam Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation

    April 11, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
  10. B Schmitt

    Brother Maynard, Who do you think the Kings and Queens of Western Europe prayed to; who does Obama, and all US presidents prayed to. They prayed to Jesus Christ, the son of God! And to his father, GOD! It'll be a sad day when America elects a president who doesn't believe in GOD.

    April 11, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • clarity

      Oh goodness, BS. Exaggerate much??

      Theodore Roosevelt did not take the oath of office on a Bible in 1901.

      John Quincy Adams swore on a book of law.

      William Howard Taft, the only president to also hold the office of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court:

      I do not believe in the divinity of Christ, and there are many other of the postulates of the orthodox creed to which I cannot subscribe.

      As Deist Christians, the first five presidents including John Adams, James Madison & Thomas Jefferson were likely to have quite a different notion of God than the Christian God of today. Deist Christians may have followed Christ's teachings, but usually refuted the divinity of Christ. They were always ready to call out on the dark side of organized religion:

      I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history. "

      (John Adams, in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816)

      Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

      (Thomas Jefferson, from Notes on the State of Virginia, 1785)

      During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

      (James Madison, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & Bill of Rights – from A Memorial and Remonstrance as delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785.)

      John Tyler, the 10th POTUS was a Deist Christian.

      Many believe Abraham Lincoln was a Deist.

      John Remsburg, in his book Six Historic Americans (1906), cites several of Lincoln's close associates:

      After his assassination Mrs. Lincoln said: "Mr. Lincoln had no hope and no faith in the usual acceptance of these words." His lifelong friend and executor, Judge David Davis, affirmed the same: "He had no faith in the Christian sense of the term." His biographer, Colonel Lamon, intimately acquainted with him in Illinois, and with him during all the years that he lived in Washington, says: "Never in all that time did he let fall from his lips or his pen an expression which remotely implied the slightest faith in Jesus as the son of God and the Savior of men."

      The Deistic side of John Adams comes out strong in these paragraphs A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America (1787-1788)

      The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

      Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
    • David

      " It'll be a sad day when America elects a president who doesn't believe in GOD."

      I don't think having the first honest President would be a bad thing.

      April 12, 2013 at 1:38 pm |
  11. Joel

    The "reason rally" would be better branded the nonsense rally. What atheists spew is anything but "reason". I can testify that God through Yeshua/Jesus changed my life. After receiving Him into my life I have peace and purpose and joy. Many in here will neve know that joy, but don't let them rob you of knowing the Lord. Shalom

    April 11, 2013 at 5:05 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      So people who don't understand your personal experience are spewing nonsense? Hmm.. Interesting concept. Seems that if god wanted to be understood he wouldn't be so invisible and undetectable. Why do muslims, christians, and hindus use the same math and chemistry but disagree about god?

      April 11, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
    • Burt

      Amen Joel. He changed my life as well. Imagine how deluded, or self centered one must be to say: since that has not happened to me it cannot happen.? Since I haven't experienced God or forgiveness of sins, you haven't either.? Wow, what is that all about? Thank God for you Joel and others like you who testify of what God is doing. God bless

      April 11, 2013 at 5:14 pm |
    • Red Dwarf

      "Mistaken or flawed identification has assumed a newfound prominence in recent years: It's been cited as a factor in nearly 78 percent of the nation's first 130 convictions later overturned by DNA testing, according to the New York-based Innocence Project, which works to free the wrongly convicted. As a result, a number of researchers are turning their attention to helping police departments and juries better understand the circ u mstances under which eyewitnesses observe crimes and later identify a suspect." – apa.org

      It's good to know how reliable anyones testimony really is. You may believe your own eyes, but science says you shouldn't.

      April 11, 2013 at 5:25 pm |
    • Brad

      Red, do you have any idea how delusional you sound? I suggest you re-read your post. People shouldn't believe their own eyes, they should put their trust in science? Really? What is "science"? It is nothing more than the teachings of men. So, it is clear; you have placed all your trust in men and none in the Maker of men. How foolish.

      April 12, 2013 at 6:48 pm |
    • WOW

      So Brad – who dreamed up this "Maker" of men and how do you know?

      April 12, 2013 at 6:54 pm |
    • Brad

      Wow, you speak as a fool. "The fool has said in his heart there is no God" ....Psalm 51 I won't discourse with fools.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:00 pm |
    • The real Tom

      "the Maker of men"? Do you have any evidence other than the bible that there a god made men?

      There's plenty of evidence for evolution. There isn't any for creationism.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:03 pm |
    • The real Tom

      edit: that there WAS a god who made men.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:04 pm |
  12. Kilto

    Well, hold on. Not really Atheistic...Muslims believe in the Abrahamic God. Hindus believe in millions of Gods. Buddhism for the most part, doesn't address God. If anything, it is more Theistic, polytheistic, then what you claim to be is Atheistic...

    April 11, 2013 at 4:47 pm |
    • Kilto

      @ OTOH ...ooops meant for you mate.

      April 11, 2013 at 4:48 pm |
    • OTOH

      Kilto,

      I specified that they are a-theistic (not believing the theism/deity claims) regarding your Jesus and/or the god of Abraham.

      April 11, 2013 at 5:21 pm |
    • Kilto

      @OTOH Not true mate. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, some forms of Hinduism are all are forms of Theism. Atheism is simply the rejection of Theism.

      April 11, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Ah. So you finally figured out that there is no "faith" or "doctrine" of atheism, huh? Good on you, Kilturd.

      April 12, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
  13. Don

    http://www.answering-islam.org/BehindVeil/btv15.html

    April 11, 2013 at 3:36 pm |
  14. B Schmitt

    There were many witnesses to Jesus Christ. His name is mentioned not only in the Christian Bible, but also in the Jewish Bible (Torah) and the Islamic bible (Koran). Jesus mother Mary is a young Jewish girl, named Mary, he was born in Bethlehem, and had 12 disciples. His followers spread his message to the world, including India (St. Thomas); China;
    Europe. and so on. And of course St Peter's evangilizing in Rome, where Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 300A.D. Until now Christianity is still spreading.

    April 11, 2013 at 3:19 pm |
    • Brother Maynard

      "... Christianity is still spreading"
      Ah yes spreading at the glacial speed of 1/3 of the population over 2000 years ...
      / sarcasm on/
      Some king of kings
      /sarcasm off/

      April 11, 2013 at 3:48 pm |
    • Kilto

      Christians make up more than 2 billion on this planet. Christianity is spreading...

      April 11, 2013 at 3:54 pm |
    • Science

      http://www.census.gov/popclock/.........................over 7 billion and 1 add every 14 seconds

      2 billion is peanuts......................does the fairy in the sky like peanuts ?

      April 11, 2013 at 4:08 pm |
    • Kilto

      Well, at least compared to Atheists..... just Micropeanuts then!

      April 11, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • OTOH

      Kilto,

      Muslim world population (21% of the total 7+ Billion) - atheistic regarding your Jesus
      Hindu world population (13% of the total 7+ Billion) - atheistic regarding your "God"
      Buddhist world population ( 5%...) - atheistic
      Non-Religious (14%)
      Other (12%)

      April 11, 2013 at 4:29 pm |
    • clarity

      What witnesses, BS? Where? How do we know about such witnesses? Who are the authors of the Gospels? Details, detail – chock 'em up.

      April 11, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
  15. the AnViL™

    ancient middle eastern slave cults are physically, psychologically, and socially dangerous to all of humanity.

    the abrahamic religions are predicate on ignorance, misogyny, fear, hate, division, bigotry, and intolerance.

    if one thing is clear, if history has shown us anything... it is the complete and total lack of divinity in xianity.

    it is impossible for any adherent of xianity to be good people and still remain faithful to the admonitions, instructions and edicts in their bibles.

    xians are virtually identical to their muslim cousins. they seek to control others and eschew liberty. they seek to restrict others and stomp on equality.

    xianity – being a slave cult, has instilled the slave mentality in its adherents. they literally desire to be eternally dominated by an unjust, megalomaniacal, vain, jealous, homicidal, infanticidal, intolerant, bigoted, hate filled, imaginary man who lives in the sky.

    they believe it is their moral, ethical, and divine duty to assert that if others do not believe as they do – they are damned to an eternity in a lake of fire. most of them, with great pride and glee are happy to point this out, and relish in the idea that those who do not agree with them will suffer infinitely. evidence of the malevolent nature of xianity.

    time and again – xians prove themselves to be the true force of darkness in this world and an intolerable danger to our nation.

    xianity is the enemy of freedom, liberty, and equality.
    .
    .
    .
    tolerance of religious idiocy is coming to a swift end.

    April 11, 2013 at 3:06 pm |
    • B Schmitt

      the AnVil, Isn't that the Communist ideology?

      April 11, 2013 at 4:50 pm |
    • the AnViL™

      B Schmitt asks: "..., Isn't that the Communist ideology?"

      no. it isn't

      ignorant delusional people should be free to believe in and worship whatever imaginary men in the sky they choose but only in the privacy of their own homes and places of worship.

      they should not be allowed to affect our government, laws, or public education system in any way.

      April 11, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
  16. B Schmitt

    Catholics have statues to remind them of Jesus Christ, His mother Mary and his father Joseph. These statues, as well as the beautiful stained glass in churches are simply reminders. Saint Francis of Asisi created the Nativity to show the people the holy family (birth of jesus) to the common people, who at that time did not know how to read. Only the wealthy were educated. Catholics sees these status as sacred, just like most Americans revere the American Flag.

    April 11, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • Moses

      “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God,visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments."

      April 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • B Schmitt

      Moses, I agree, the use of statues are obsolete, since the majority of the worlds population can read the bible.
      The Orthodox Church has icons (paintings) because of this. But I still love touching and looking at a beautiful statue.
      The Romans & Greeks made beautiful statues, so I'm thinking this was their expression of faith to create beautiful statues.
      Almost everywhere you go in the world the practice of Christianity have been blended to he people's culture.

      April 11, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • laststonecarver

      @Moses,
      Uh-oh, I thought I was just scraping the dust away, so that others could see what I saw hidden in the rocks, my bad...
      Does that still count for the hummingbird Bas-relief, which is not technically a statue?
      I never worshipped any of the carvings, but some of my friends and family think they look pretty cool.
      Anyway, i guess i will still keep carving, until i have become smote.

      April 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm |
    • YeahRight

      Every one of you good little Christians had better not put out the Nativity at Christmas time, or you will all be guilty of idolatry. Every. Single. One. Of. You. Bwahahahahahaha!
      Oh, what's that, you say? That doesn't apply? Yeah, right.

      April 11, 2013 at 10:45 pm |
  17. B Schmitt

    "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do" Jesus Christ just before he took his last breath.

    April 11, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
  18. B Schmitt

    Many brilliant scientist and doctors are christians. The Jesuits brothers (which our new catholic Pope belongs to); are all academics; have advance degrees. http://www.godandscience.org/

    April 11, 2013 at 2:32 pm |
  19. Stephen Hawking is an Idiot

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbGgA2lIDjc&w=640&h=360]

    April 11, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • WOW

      Of course – a song proves Mr. Hawking wrong. L O L.

      April 11, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Science

      Is an Idiot

      Please go up to top of page, in search box type in Stepen Hawking, you might learn something ?

      April 11, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  20. Salero21

    Well atheists, I think about an hour is more than enough time for today, to share with your disgusting unbelieving selves.

    So God willing I'll see your case of the rabies tomorrow. Remember that tough Love is better than no Love at all.

    April 11, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "Salero21" – please don't be sore. It was nice playing "Hide the Mythology" with you, "Salero21".

      April 11, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • BU2B

      There is no love in condemning over half of the world to eternal torture

      April 11, 2013 at 2:14 pm |
    • Red Dwarf

      Don't you want to study hard and get the education you so obviously desire?To actually know something about something? It's going to take years and years of research and thinking outside the box to come to any sort of clear universal scafold on which you can build an educated hypothesis on our universal origins....

      Salero21 – "I think about an hour is more than enough time for today"

      No wonder it feels like discussing quantum theory with a 3rd grader...

      April 11, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
    • Salero21 Translation

      "I'm going to switch troll handles now."

      April 11, 2013 at 4:36 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.