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Christ was persecuted, but what about Christians?
Roman persecution of Christians was depicted in paintings such as "The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer" by Jean-Leon Gerome.
March 30th, 2013
10:00 PM ET

Christ was persecuted, but what about Christians?

CNN examines the tumultuous early years of Christianity in a special narrated by Liam Neeson. Watch “After Jesus: The First Christians,” Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) She walked into the Roman arena where the wild beasts awaited her. She trembled not from fear but from joy.

Her name was Vibia Perpetua. She was just 22, a young mother singing hymns as the crowd jeered and a lion, leopard and wild cow encircled her.

One of the beasts attacked, hurling her to the ground. She covered an exposed thigh with her bloody robe to preserve her modesty and groped in the dust for her hair pin so she could fix her disheveled hair.

And when a Roman executioner approached Perpetua with a sword, her last words before collapsing were aimed at her Christian companions: “Stand fast in the faith, and love you all one another and do not let our sufferings be a stumbling block to you.”

Millions of Christians worldwide will celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus on this Easter Sunday. But the story of how the church rose to prominence after Jesus’ death is being turned upside down.

According to a belief passed down through the centuries, the church grew because of Roman persecution. The blood of Christian martyrs such as Perpetua became “the seed of the church,” said third-century church leader Tertullian. It’s the Hollywood version of Christianity reflected in epic biblical films such as “Ben-Hur” and “The Robe.” Vicious Romans relentlessly targeted early Christians, so the story goes, but the faith of people like Perpetua proved so inspiring that Christianity became the official religion of Rome, and eventually the largest religion in the world.

But that script is getting a rewrite. The first Christians were never systematically persecuted by the Romans, and most martyrdom stories with the exception of a handful such as Perpetua's were exaggerated and invented, several scholars and historians say. It wasn’t just how the early Christians died that inspired so many people in the ancient world; it was how they lived.

“You had much better odds of winning the lottery than you would have becoming a martyr,” says Joyce E. Salisbury, author of “The Blood of Martyrs: Unintended Consequences of Ancient Violence.”

“The odds were pretty slim. More people read about martyrs than ever saw one.”

Do Christians have a martyr complex today?

The debate over exactly how many Christians were persecuted and martyred may seem irrelevant centuries later. A scholarly consensus has indeed emerged that Roman persecution of Christians was sporadic, and that at least some Christian martyrdom stories are theological tall tales.

But a new book by Candida Moss, a New Testament professor at the University of Notre Dame, is bringing that message to the masses.

Moss says ancient stories of church persecution have created a contemporary cult of bogus Christian martyrs. She says too many American Christians are acting like they’re members of a persecuted minority, being thrown to the lions by people who simply disagree with them.

Professor Candida Moss, author of "The Myth of Persecution," says most stories of Christian martyrs were fabricated.

She cited former Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Romney claimed last year that President Barack Obama was waging a “war against religion,” and Santorum said the gay community “had gone out on a jihad” against him. Other Christians invoke images of persecution when someone disagrees with them on controversial issues such as abortion or birth control, says Moss, whose "The Myth of Persecution" was recently released.

The problem with invoking persecution is it implies your opponents are evil and no common ground can be found with evil,  Moss says.

“When someone is persecuting you" she says, "there is no room for dialogue."

Others say Moss’ claim is dangerous.

People such as Perpetua did die because of their beliefs. The first Christians were tortured, reviled and held in contempt by Romans and their example helped the church grow, they say.

The Rev. Robert Morgan, author of  "On This Day in Christian History: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs and Heroes, " says it’s true that some of the accounts of martyrdom were “undoubtedly embellished” and that many of the persecution stories were “handed down in an atmosphere of confusion and pressure.”

Still, being a Christian in the first century was a risky move persecution was significant. Jesus and most of his apostles were executed, he says.

“To deny the history of the movement is a way of attacking the movement,” Morgan says.

Some opposition to contemporary Christians is indeed evil, Morgan says. Christians are being killed today in places such as Nigeria and North Africa.

“Christians do not have a victim’s mentality,” Morgan says. “They take their stands, they know what they believe and they do good in this world. They are the ones who have established orphanages, hospitals and charitable institutions. For some reason, there’s this animosity against them.”

Hatred of Christians is woven into much of the New Testament. Jesus constantly warned his followers to expect persecution. The Apostle Paul wrote many of his epistles from jail. And the death of the first Christian martyr, Stephen, is dramatically recorded in the New Testament book the Acts of  the Apostles.

The Easter message itself is a story of martyrdom Jesus, unjustly executed by the Romans. The idea that Christians are at war with demonic forces in the world is reflected throughout the New Testament, says Bryan Litfin, a theology professor at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

“If Jesus was just a soft moral teacher who taught us to love one another and petted little babies, the Romans wouldn’t have crucified him,”  Litfin says. “Jesus is a polarizing figure, then and today. The early Christians weren’t foisting a narrative out of the blue about being martyrs. ”

'Like the action heroes of the ancient world'

If the first Christians pictured themselves as waging war against the world, the martyrs were their version of the Navy SEALs. They were the elite Christians who inspired and united others of their faith.

There was a purpose behind spreading stories of persecution: Nothing brings a new group closer together than a common enemy, Moss says.

“The idea that you are persecuted forges a concrete identity,” Moss says. “It really solidifies your sense of group identity.”

The stories of Christian persecution were so popular that they spawned a market during the first centuries after the crucifixion. The places where martyrs were born and died became early tourist stops. Towns competed with one another to draw rich pilgrims seeking martyr memorabilia, Moss says.

“People would go and buy the equivalent of a T-shirt,” Moss says. “You’d have all these little combs with saints on them that people would buy, and lamps with saints on them. People would also buy fruit from trees that grew in the vicinity of martyrs’ graves. Of course, the prices were completely jacked up.”

Church leaders began to embellish and invent stories of martyrdom to inspire the faithful but also to settle theological feuds, Moss says. If, say, a bishop wanted to denounce a rivals’ theology, he spun a story in which a martyr denounced the same doctrine with his last breath, Moss says.

“Martyrs were like the action heroes of the ancient world,” Moss says. “It was like getting your favorite athlete endorsing your favorite brand of soda.”

But how often did Romans force Christians to endure torture or die for their faith? Christianity took roughly 300 years to conquer Rome. The emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 and gave Christians religious freedom.  Christianity became the official religion of Rome by the end of the fourth century,  scholars say.

For the first 300 years of the church, Christians were often ridiculed and viewed with contempt. But Roman leaders spent about "less than 10 years" out of the first 300 actually persecuting Christians, Moss says. There are only six reliable cases of Christian martyrdom before A.D. 250 out of “hundreds of stories,” including Perpetua’s, she says.

Many scholars have greeted Moss’ contention that Roman persecution of Christians was exaggerated with a shrug. They say it was common knowledge in the academic world.

“There weren’t that many Christians who were persecuted,” says Gail O’Day, dean of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity in North Carolina. “When you actually read the Roman historical records, the Christians just weren’t that important to them. Most Christians just got along with empire.”

When Roman persecution did occur, though, it was vicious. The Emperor Nero covered fully conscious Christians with wax and used them as human torches. Other Christians were skinned alive and covered with salt, while others were slowly roasted above a pit until they died.

Perpetua’s passion

One of the most famous martyrs was Perpetua.

She lived in Carthage in North Africa (modern-day Tunisia) and was arrested in March 203 with four others as they prepared for baptism. The Roman Emperor Septimius Severus had decreed that any new conversion to Christianity would result in death.

History remembers Perpetua because she kept a diary during her imprisonment. It’s called "The Passion of Perpetua and Felicity" (Felicity was a slave girl arrested with Perpetua). It’s the oldest-surviving document from a Christian woman. The emotion in the diary is almost unbearable. Perpetua describes the pain of leaving her infant son, who she was still nursing. She describes a prison visit from her weeping father, who kissed her hands while trying to get her to renounce her faith.

Perpetua's father visited her in prison, begging her to think of him and renounce her faith.

A narrator picks up the story in the diary after Perpetua was sent to her death. He says in the diary that Perpetua’s faith was so inspiring it caused the prison’s warden, a man called Pudens, to convert. The narrator also describes Perpetua's death.

While she was imprisoned, Perpetua says God gave her visions to reassure her. After one, she wrote:

“I understood that I should fight, not with beasts but against the devil. But I knew that mine was the victory.”

You can’t discount the power of such stories, even if persecution “wasn’t extremely common,” says Litfin, the Moody Bible Institute professor.

Persecution was central to the rise of the early church, he says.

“How many people in your church would have to be pulled out and executed and tormented for it not to have a tremendous effect for many years on your memory and self-perception,” Litfin says. “The early Christians are not foisting a narrative out of the blue about being matyrs.”

The early Christians' secret weapon

Other scholars say it wasn't simply persecution that helped the church grow. Instead, they say, Christians had a secret weapon.

The martyrs may have gotten all the press, but it was ordinary Christians who got it done by the way they treated friends and strangers.

Life in ancient Rome was brutal and nasty, says Rodney Stark, author of "The Triumph of Christianity." Stark’s well-regarded book gives one of the most detailed descriptions of the early church and ancient Rome.

Forget those antiseptic portraits of Roman cities you see in biblical moves such as “The Robe.” Roman cities were overcrowded, raw sewage ran in the streets, people locked their doors at night for fear of being robbed and plagues were rampant. Soap had not yet been invented, Stark says.

“The stink of the cities in the summertime must have been astounding,” Stark says. “You would have smelled a city miles before you got to it.”

Christians stood out because they created a “miniature welfare state" to help the less fortunate, Stark says. They took in infant girls routinely left for dead by their parents. They risked their lives to tend the sick when plagues hit and others fled in terror. They gave positions of leadership to women when many women had no rights, and girls as young as 12 were often married off to middle-aged men, he says.

Ordinary Romans might have thought Christians were odd but liked having them for neighbors, Stark says.

“If people had really been against them, I don’t think they would have grown like they did,” Stark says.

Christianity became so popular that when Rome did unleash one of its sporadic waves of persecutions, the empire couldn’t stop the church’s momentum, Stark says.

“If you knocked off a bishop, there were 20 guys waiting to be bishop,” Stark says

Christian belonging, not blood, is what drew many people, another scholar says.

The Easter story of a risen savior wasn’t distinctive in Rome’s competitive religious marketplace. Dying for one’s beliefs wasn’t considered heroic; it was expected in the Roman world, says Selina O' Grady, author of "And Man Created God: A History of the World at the Time of Jesus."

The early church, though, was radically inclusive. First-century Rome was undergoing globalization. The peace of Rome had made travel easier. People left homes and tribal ties for Rome. The empire was filled with rootless and excluded people: immigrants, traders, slaves.

The Christian message offered guidelines for living in this strange new world, she says.

“Its universal message, its proclamation of equality, unconditional love, offered everyone in the Roman Empire a new family, a new community, and a way to live,” O’Grady says.

Roman rulers eventually found reasons to support the church, she says.

The Christian message of obeying earthly masters “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's" reduced the potential for social unrest, O’Grady says.

“Christianity told the poor and lowly that their status was noble and that there would be recompense in the afterlife,” O’Grady says. “It was a wonderful recipe for creating good, obedient Roman subjects.”

A turning point for the early church was the conversion of Constantine. Scholars still debate Constantine’s motive. By that time the empire was rife with division, and Christians had become a major political bloc with members in the highest reaches of Roman society, says Stark, the sociologist.

“Constantine was interested so much in church affairs for the rest of his life, but I don’t think there’s a reason to not think he was a sincere Christian,” Stark says. “But he was also an egomaniac and an emperor.”

The growth of Christianity was too complex to be attributed to any one factor whether it be Constantine, persecution or Christianity's message of compassion and inclusion, Stark says.

“I don’t think there was a primary reason,” he says. “It was a collection of things. It was all part of a package.”

Wrapped in that package, though, were the persecution stories of people such as Perpetua.

Today, churches have been named after Perpetua; films and graphic novels have been made about her life. She is considered a saint.

Her words still inspire. People still read her diary. There’s probably a Christian somewhere in the world now facing danger who is taking courage from Perpetua’s ordeal.

One passage in Perpetua’s diary is particularly luminous.

Perpetua stopped keeping her diary just before she was sent into the arena. No one knows for sure what she felt when she faced her moment of death, but she did write what she expected to see afterward.

She wrote that God gave her a reassuring vision while in prison. In the vision, she saw a great bronze ladder ascending to heaven. At the foot of the ladder was a great serpent surrounded by swords and knives.

Perpetua said she ignored the serpent and climbed the ladder. When she arrived at the top, she saw a great garden and a white-haired man in shepherd’s clothing milking a sheep. He was flanked by thousands of others Christians dressed in white.

“And he raised his head and beheld me and said to me: Welcome child.”

The man gave Perpetua curds from the milk of the sheep, and she said it tasted sweet.

She then wrote:

“And I took it with joined hands and ate it up: and all that stood around said, Amen.”

Centuries later, millions of people who look to Perpetua are still saying amen.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Christianity • Easter • Faith • History • Jesus

soundoff (6,965 Responses)
  1. Hello

    Women were not taught how to read and write is was strictly reserved for males. Therefore I find this story another christian myth. No female at that time would have a diary... What language was the diary written in.. there are no details of that. The bible was first written in Greek because Greek was the language of the Roman scholars. not Latin which was the common language of the people.
    This Perpetua story is not true.... there would not be any female who would be writing anything... during this time. therefore the story is a hoax.

    March 31, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Tim Brown

      The Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Koine Greek (street Greek), not aristocratic Greek. Geez. I know that, and I'm an atheist.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • Hello

      nope it was first written in Greek and I am an atheist too... The bible was not written in Hebrew.. the Romans would not have used the Jewish language to write their anti Jewish dogma book...
      read Caesar's Messiah by Joseph Atwill for the details.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:47 am |
  2. Science

    To all creationists..................... do you have a Y and..............

    Was the bible around back then ?

    Human Y Chromosome Much Older

    Than Previously Thought

    Mar. 4, 2013 — The discovery and analysis of an extremely rare African American Y chromosome pushes back the time of the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree to 338,000 years ago. This time predates the age of the oldest known anatomically modern human fossils.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130305145821.htm

    No god(s) needed or required to graduate from public schools in the US

    Remember : Adam had to POKE himself hard with his OWN BONE to create Eve.

    Peace

    March 31, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Parfin Woodell

      I love it when christians scream its Adam & Eve.
      They never talk about Adam & Lilith.
      Lilith didnt work out so well, they wrote her out of the story.
      Just like the church turned a disciple (Mary magdalene) into a harlot.

      April 1, 2013 at 8:46 am |
  3. Vic

    !!! HAPPY EASTER EVERYONE !!!

    March 31, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • JWT

      Happy easter to you too. Looking forward to some good chocolate today.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • Hello

      May the pagan bunny bring you all the candy you want.... hop hop hop.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • JJ

      Happy Spring Equinox.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:41 am |
  4. Someone

    Christians are not persecuted today in America. Where I live, if anyone gives anyone else a hard time about belief or lack of it, it's Christians who do so. I find it funny that today's American Christians whine about being persecuted.

    March 31, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • A Linoge

      Yeah.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Hello

      to a Christian. like the Muslims.. anything that questions or criticizes their myth is considered persecution.
      Use to be when the blasphemy laws were supported by the government... people were murdered for criticizing the christian myth... just like they do with the Islam myth in Muslim theocracy countries now.
      IT is all a part of the Age of Supernatural Mythic Stupidity was are living in.
      In time is it will pass.... but the education level of humanity is still way to low for that to happen...It is slowly growing.. but has a long way to go yet.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:54 am |
  5. tinatrent

    Perhaps if Mr. Blake didn't sell out Christianity on Easter to shill a paycheck, we wouldn't be treated to this silly pseudo-intellectual pop culture bashing of faith. Martyrs were like "action heroes"? "They really jacked up the prices.". What drivel. Come on, John, you once wrote thoughtful pieces on fath. Now you're reducted to this sort of silliness parading as academic inquiry, just to fit in with the shallow hedonists at CNN?

    Time for a gut check.

    March 31, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • Tim Brown

      Can't handle a little relection on your fairy tale belief system?

      March 31, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • rabidatheist

      The author of the book IS CHRISTIAN!

      March 31, 2013 at 9:37 am |
  6. Believer

    CNN ROCKS!

    March 31, 2013 at 9:32 am |
  7. SNAPPA

    People of faith always amaze me to no end. What I'm about to say are FACTS nothing more, nothing less. I know where the Earth came from, I know how it was made, I know how old it is, I know how old the Universe is, I understand what gravity is and what causes it. I understand where elements and particles come from. I know just how emense the Universe is, I know what the stars are made of. I Know where the iron in my blood comes from along with the calcium in my bones, exploding stars there is no other way of getting these elements as well as gold, platinum and other precious metals. I know how long life has existed on this planet and how long the human race has been around, nothing but a blip on the Universes time scale. I know our place in the Universe is nothing special, I know there are at least 60 billion other planets in our galaxy alone. I know there are at least 200 billion other galaxies with at least 200 billion to 1 trillion stars in each in the observable universe, I know what chemical reaction means and what they cause (life). I know when the Universe wil end and exactly how it will end, I know how our star the sun will die one day and what the process is thats going to kill it along with the Earth and all its beautiful life. Religious folk have a favorite saying "Science doesn't have all the answers" but It has more answeres than any bible or religion ever will. Science is what is allowing me to type this right now. Science is what gave us our civilizations and our homes and buildings and cars and phones and internet and appliances and airplanes and subways and doctors and universities and space crafts and satelites and dictionaries which I wish I had right now. The bible answers none of this, it gives NO facts. I don't understand why people decide they want to live in ignorance about their world and universe around them and simpy take the easy way and chalk it up to some "god" which to me is a cop out. The fear of death is so strong in humans that they need to comfort themselves with the idiotic notion of some all powerful being. Parents need to look at their children and believe that there is a reason for them being here, which there is not. They need to know that if they die they will go to a "heaven" which they don't. Humans are a very creative bunch for sure some create thngs we use everyday and some create nonsense that has no use whatsoever. I don't need some book to tell me that "thou shall not murder" which we do every day its so easy for Christians to lie, steal, cheat and yes even kill because they know they will be "forgiven" if they confess their sins. Utterly ridiculous nonsense.

    March 31, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • nick

      it is all a big lie
      GOD does not turn into a baby who is full of crap and needs to grow

      he is not GOD or son of GOD

      very simple

      Humans do not give birth to birds or fish

      and GOS is creator of the universe

      a lie sending billion people to hell

      March 31, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • kchiefs

      So you know all those things after reading them from a book? Or are you really that old and have the ability to go and count all those things. Nope, didn't think so, you just believe them cause you read them in a book.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • Colin D

      You don't know all those things at all, scientists don't even recognize them as FACTS, if they put a THEORY after what they think happens that isn't a fact, your first point, the Big Bang Theory is a theory, even the cell theory is a theory, and your THEORY that all these things are facts can go suck an Easter egg that has a painting of Jesus on it :)

      March 31, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • G to the T

      @Colin D
      I think you may need to check out the Scientific definition of a Theory.

      "That word you use. I do not think it means what you think it means..." Indigo

      April 2, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  8. barfly

    Christianity, Amway, Judaism, Islam, and all other forms of herd mentality are just that, and false

    March 31, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Hello

      AMWAY??? ROTFL

      March 31, 2013 at 10:07 am |
  9. justoneman

    “You had much better odds of winning the lottery than you would have becoming a martyr,” says Joyce E. Salisbury, author of “The Blood of Martyrs: Unintended Consequences of Ancient Violence.”

    Joyce, you need to read the Bible, you will find not only was martyrdom an normal occurrence, it was considered by Jesus normal too. Every disciple was martyred but John, and if it were you, you would probably rather be dead. And you know what, just read what is happening today in Egypt, Nigeria, Tunisia, Syria, Libya... No, Joyce today, Christians dying for their faith is at an all time high today.

    But the greatest part is, Jesus is Alive! He is not dead. His death demonstrates that what He said is true, and we live through His power.

    John 12:23-26
    Jesus replied, “The time has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. I tell you the solemn truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces much grain. The one who loves his life destroys it, and the one who hates his life in this world guards it for eternal life. If anyone wants to serve me, he must follow me, and where I am, my servant will be too. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

    John 15:18-21
    “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you do not belong to the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you. Remember what I told you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they obeyed my word, they will obey yours too. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.

    2Cor 13:4
    For indeed he was crucified by reason of weakness, but he lives because of God’s power. For we also are weak in him, but we will live together with him, because of God’s power toward you.

    Hebrews 7:25
    So he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

    New English Translation (NET)

    March 31, 2013 at 9:28 am |
    • barfly

      Kill any friends or family that worship a god that is different than your own. Deuteronomy 13:6-10

      March 31, 2013 at 9:34 am |
    • El Flaco

      The Bible is not a good source. Most of it is nonsense. Most of it never happened. Take for example the birth of Jesus...

      Rome never ordered a census for that area in that time.
      Rome never ordered a census in which people had to return to the place of their birth to be counted.
      It is a fantasy; not history.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:36 am |
  10. Lou

    The completely absurd theory that all 7,000,000,000 human beings are simultaneously being supervised 24 hours a day, every day of their lives by an immortal, invisible being for the purposes of reward or punishment in the “afterlife” comes from the field of:

    (a) Astronomy;
    (b) Medicine;
    (c) Economics; or
    (d) Christianity

    March 31, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • R

      I think its obsurd that CNN is not asking the real question: Did Christ even exist?

      March 31, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Dumbster Baby

      d. Thank God

      March 31, 2013 at 9:32 am |
    • SK

      Quite dumb. God is Spirit. It is another dimension. No need to supervise. God knows it all.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:33 am |
    • Tim Brown

      What kind of sick being would create human beings only to get off on frying them for eternity?

      March 31, 2013 at 9:36 am |
    • MG

      It comes from studying the non-material. Supervising puts it into a human term that makes it seem illogical. God is on a different plane than our physical world. He is and is in everything.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • MG

      R: Go read some books and they can be different than the bible. Even Jesus' enemies wrote about Jesus.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:39 am |
    • Hello

      CNN needs to interview Joseph Atwill on his book Caesar's Messiah.
      Thats the book that will put an end to the christian myth...

      March 31, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Atheism is a form of Autism, more specifically Asperger Syndrome--Fact

      I know it's very difficult for an atheist-sized brain to comprehend an omniscient being. Better eat some tuna, helps the brain grow. :)

      March 31, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • Hello

      SK.. for a being who "knows all" why would he??? say in his book of all holy knowledge... aka bible ...state that you need to stop the sun to make days longer so YOUR army could defeat your enemies?
      A real All knowing being would know that the length of the day is caused by the rotation of the earth on its axis, not the movement of the SUN.
      This is just one of many many errors in the bible ..... like the flat earth..... and how a humanoid being would evolve in space.. how can any being in space speak or take a breath when there is no atmosphere in space? And why would this being be male.. when there is not female counter part... and why would a being that has no food need a p3n1s since there is not water in space for him to drink... without an atmosphere he would not have ears.. because to hear you need an atmosphere for sound to travel in...to be heard... so many lies.. so many myths to not believe.

      March 31, 2013 at 10:18 am |
  11. DavidInNC

    I do not hate nonbelievers. I pity them. Take unbeliever for example. He is hurting and is confused. Somewhere during his life he got the impression that GOD would intercede to protect him from suffering. As a Christian, every wrong that befalls me, is prove to me that I must be during right. GOD has told us that Satan is the prince of this world. This notion that Christians try to force their beliefs on others is nonsense. We share our beliefs not by force, but through love. I have found that most of those who so vehemently denounce Christianity, really know very little about our faith. Maybe they truly want to believe that they will not have to answer for their evil as the thought of punishment is so harsh and hurtful. GOD is real and saying that HE is not does not make it so. I feel HIS presence always.

    March 31, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • JWT

      You feel god. That's cool. But I have no god. To each his/her own.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:30 am |
    • rabidatheist

      You know nothing about atheists, and you are very ignorant of the "Christian love" that was spread around the world.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      Dave in NC

      You hate all non-believers, but you ARE a non-believer. You do not believe in 99.99% of the gods.

      You think you have something special in the one god you have chosen that makes up 0.01% of all the gods.

      When you understand why you reject all those other gods, you will realize why I ( and you should ) reject yours.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:35 am |
    • Tim Brown

      Or maybe we just got honest with ourselves and rejected believing in nonsense.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:37 am |
    • One one

      " We share our beliefs not by force, but through love. "

      Ohhh, is that what you were doing in the Dove school district when Christians tried to force creationism into the public school science curricula ?

      March 31, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • Hello

      thats not god or jesus you feel its Micky Mouse....

      March 31, 2013 at 9:41 am |
  12. Tom, Tom, the Other One

    If you believe in the resurrected Christ, you are of a cult of sacrifice that believes in a God that requires sacrifice.

    March 31, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • CM

      No, but you're someone who has only a very basic concept of Christian belief. Perhaps if you actually took time to learn them, you wouldn't be such a bigot.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • DavidInNC

      Give one example where any Christian has been asked to sacrifice. I take you mean a living sacrifice.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini, D.D. (h.c.) ©™

      @ CM;
      Actually, the more facts you learn about Christianity, the more irrational Christian belief becomes.
      I think that what you are advocating is increased Denial of reality.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:39 am |
  13. jesus wasman

    jesus was a ordinary man, who was nailed to a woood plank. end of story. no need to worshipp someone hanging from a wooden plank. a half naked man hung to a wooden plank nailed to wood, thats god? lololol

    March 31, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  14. jesus christ

    It makes sense. People who read the bible assume they are historians. They believe in events that intelligent people don't. They are very familiar with the arguments in support of their view but know nothing of the arguments in support of the more intelligent view.

    http://atheistutah.blogspot.com/

    March 31, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • JWT

      One christian minister I know believes the bible is made of of fables not history.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:26 am |
    • justoneman

      jesus christ, you might get a laugh from this! Sarah the intellectual did!

      Genesis 18:10-15
      One of them said, “I will surely return to you when the season comes round again, and your wife Sarah will have a son!” (Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, not far behind him. Abraham and Sarah were old and advancing in years; Sarah had long since passed menopause.) So Sarah laughed to herself, thinking, “After I am worn out will I have pleasure, especially when my husband is old too?”

      The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child when I am old?’ Is anything impossible for the Lord? I will return to you when the season comes round again and Sarah will have a son.” Then Sarah lied, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid. But the Lord said, “No! You did laugh.”

      March 31, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • Steve L

      I guess you'd have to say I'm neither a believer or non-believer. The problem I see with non-believers though, is they seem to think they have some kind of superior intelligence. In my mind I can hardly fathom the existence of God,but I also can't fathom all of creation existing by some sort of freaky big bang. I have nothing to lose by trying to have faith in a superior being, even if it does seem far fetched. Atheists seem to think that not believing gives them some sort of superiority over the believers and their lives would be better to not believe. I do have hope in a world to come. What hope does a non-believer have, and furthermore, why are they so interested in taking this hope away from believers?

      March 31, 2013 at 10:13 am |
  15. CM

    THIS is what you run on Easter, CNN? Don't you secular atheists have any respect?

    I expect to see similar stories about Jewish beliefs on Jewish holidays and Muslim beliefs on Muslim holidays. But you won't do that because in the case of the Jewish people, you would be considered a bigot and in the case of Muslims, well, you're just too afraid to do anything, lest you have a fatwa issued against you.

    March 31, 2013 at 9:24 am |
    • fred

      excellent point. It goes along with the fact that the Ten Commandments gets shown on Easter weekend every year. When I was a kid, Jesus of Nazareth or The Greatest Story Ever Told was an Easter TV staple. Glad to see it okay to ignore the majority in this country for the sake of 3-5% of the country.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:29 am |
    • rosethornne

      Feeling a little bit....PERSECUTED, hmmmmm?

      March 31, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • Hello

      NO .. I do not have any respect for lies... especially when people have died for those lies.

      March 31, 2013 at 10:02 am |
  16. jesus wasman

    jesus was a man. jesus popularity was encashed by greedy church. but all bad things meets end, so will come church's end too. jesus was a ordinary man, who was nailed to a woood plank. end of story. no need to worshipp someone hanging from a wooden plank. a half naked man hung to a wooden plank nailed to wood, thats god? lololol
    countries like india and china worship moderate religions like hinduism and buddhism, i feel those two are real religions

    March 31, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • CM

      You're not too bright, are you?

      March 31, 2013 at 9:24 am |
  17. Smart One

    Typical CNN Christian bashing on a Christian holy day, actually the most important of Christianity. It is ironic that CNN dares to lecture about trivializing Christian persecution. Forget about 2,000 years ago. Look now at Christians in Egypt, rest of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. Do I need to say more?

    March 31, 2013 at 9:23 am |
  18. Lou

    Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas religion is regional and a person’s religious conviction, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than an accident of birth.

    March 31, 2013 at 9:23 am |
    • ElmerGantry

      Exactly.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Mennoknight

      Which came out of a Theistic world view by Jewish, Christian an Muslim scholars.

      If you look only for the bad examples then you are simply setting up a straw man to knock down.
      Ever heard of Bacon, Galileo or Newton?
      How about Francis Collins

      March 31, 2013 at 9:36 am |
  19. Dave

    While the O'Reillys and Hannitys whine about someone saying "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas", there are actually Christians in the world today being persecuted for their faith. People are in prison in Iran, Burma and China. People have been executed. Even children have been murdered. The radical right extremists actually insult real people who are suffering when they whine.

    March 31, 2013 at 9:22 am |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini, D.D. (h.c.) ©™

      @ Dave:
      We'd be better off with no religions at all, and as for the "X" in Christmas and its cards, we also have too many holidays.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:31 am |
    • Hello

      anyone who goes to a chitz h0le muzzy country and then gets arrested for pushing the christian myth is a lunatic,
      The US government is not in the business is wasting money and lives for 1d10ts.
      any US citizen who does krap like that... should just take what they deserve. you are dumb enough to jump in a volcano
      thats your problem not US tax payers to rescue you.

      March 31, 2013 at 10:29 am |
  20. Lou

    I believe that an all powerful being, capable of creating the entire cosmos watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty". I am

    (a) A victim of child molestation
    (b) A r.ape victim trying to recover
    (c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions
    (d) A Christian

    March 31, 2013 at 9:20 am |
    • CM

      No, you're just a pathetic bigot

      March 31, 2013 at 9:25 am |
    • rick

      "c" & "D" are the same thing.

      March 31, 2013 at 9:27 am |
    • Hello

      why would a god only be concerned about the zex lives of humans.. what about the other life forms on this planet? does god have a zex rule book for them too?

      March 31, 2013 at 10:33 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.