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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. Gods law or mans law? big differnce!

    js
    the Romans were tolerant of all religions as long as followers paid taxes to the roman state.
    They had simple laws against preaching in certain places that christians could not help but break.
    They were then punished under the laws of Rome.
    They chose to be criminals. They chose their persecution and pretend like it was forced upon them. Lawbreakers. plain ans simple.

    March 31, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • John P. Tarver, MS/PE

      Paul preached at Ehpesis and started a riot. Christianity harmfed to a major Roman profit center. This was the same time whan Luke the Artemisia became one of them.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:21 pm |
  2. Aji Joe

    Seek God that he may reveal himself to you

    Repent and believe in Gospel

    March 31, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • End Religion

      The Necessity of Swallowing – The Sin of Spilling Seed
      Most of us are familiar with the Biblical story of Onan, whose sin against God was that of spilling his seed on the ground:

      And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother. 10 And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also. (Genesis 38:9)

      This scriptural passage has traditionally been used as an injunction against masturbation. However, upon closer reading, it becomes apparent that this scenario has nothing to do with masturbation at all. Onan was not masturbating; he was copulating with his brother's wife (and there was a good reason for that, in God's plan). His sin was pulling out (coitus interruptus) and ejaculating on the ground rather than into the woman. He did so in order to avoid impregnating her. However, he could have easily avoided God's wrath (and the penalty of death), by simply having the woman fellate him and then swallow his semen. This would have kept him from impregnating her, as well as completely prevented the spilling of seed that was an offense in God's eyes.

      The extreme case of Onan aside, how bad is it in general to spill semen? The Old Testament ranks it with other acts of uncleanliness that meet with God's disapproval: And if any man's seed of copulation go out from him, then he shall wash all his flesh in water, and be unclean until the even. 17 And every garment, and every skin, whereon is the seed of copulation, shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the even. (Leviticus 15:16-17) Getting ejaculate on oneself or one's clothing results in uncleanness that requires extensive reparations and atonement. Obviously one simple way to prevent the spillage of semen is to have your partner perform fellatio and swallow the emission. In fact, in light of these scriptures, performing fellatio to completion and then spitting out the resulting emission seems almost unthinkable.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • Answer

      Alley way on First Avenue. Ya that guy with the long coat.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:59 pm |
    • woody

      Have a question for you ?? If given a choice would you rather wake up here on earth tomorrow or take a chance a heaven might or might not be there tomorrow ? Just a question ?

      March 31, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.

      Psalms 37:11

      Amen.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
  3. woody

    The first time I went to Rome I was told it was unsafe to walk around at night ! Even the Vatican has to have armed guards . Why are we afraid to die and go to heaven ?

    March 31, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Why

      And why are Christians sad when people die and go to the Magic Super Disneyland in the sky?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • End Religion

      Deep down they're all atheists who can't admit to it... yet.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • mark

      We have children to raise, poor to feed, parents to take care. Hard to fathom with your selfish minds. We aren't looking for an easy way out. Atheist are believers with insecurities so they lash out. Like badgers caught in a corner.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • woody

      Mark when we die we don't have a choice who we leave behind ! And with what !

      March 31, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • kronung

      =poor to feed=
      Not without binding them in mental slavery to your religion first, of course.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
    • mark

      Not true I feed them anonymously.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      mark, wouldn't god do the right thing and provide for them?

      March 31, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
  4. Aji Joe

    Repent and believe in Gospel

    Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    We believe for reason- Our God is a living God. People with his experience recognize him

    March 31, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • (EA) FÓSILES, FOSILIZACIÓN Y PALEONTOLOGÍA.

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gw1cRg9oKTc&w=640&h=390]

      March 31, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
  5. End Religion

    Religion should be treated with ridicule, hatred and contempt, and I claim that right.
    @4:10
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PY8fjFKAC5k&w=640&h=390]

    March 31, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      You claim the right of "hatred"? How Neo-Nazi / Black Panther of you. :(

      "Unknown to the audience were the inside jokes. When I told a little story from our road trip, he loved it. The debate over, I crossed the stage to shake Christopher’s hand. “You were quite good tonight,” he said with a charming smile as he accepted my proffered hand. “I think they enjoyed us.”“You were gentle with me,” I said as we turned to walk off the stage.He shook his head. “Oh, I held nothing back.” He then surveyed the auditorium that still pulsed with energy. “We are still having dinner?” he asked.

      “Absolutely.”

      Article: My Take: An evangelical remembers his friend Hitchens

      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/12/16/my-take-an-evangelical-remembers-his-friend-hitchens/

      Seems, you were part of that audience who thought Hitchens was a sworn and mortal enemy to those of Faith.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Salero21

      That's how stupid Hitchens is?

      March 31, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
    • End Religion

      "Seems, you were part of that audience who thought Hitchens was a sworn and mortal enemy to those of Faith."

      Or perhaps I am the same used car salesman he was, brainiac.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:11 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "Seems, you were part of that audience who thought Hitchens was a sworn and mortal enemy to those of faith."

      He disliked faith, not people of faith. As the christian cultists say "Hate the sin, not the sinner."

      March 31, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
    • History Channel's "The Bible" Parts 3 & 4 - In Under 11 Minutes!

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTRn28iZD_g&w=640&h=390]

      March 31, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
  6. Aji Joe

    Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

    March 31, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • End Religion

      Oral sex in Christ
      In summary, we can say that the Scripture supports and even encourages the act of oral sex between loving heterosexual partners. Moreover, the Bible specifically encourages fellatio to completion (orgasm) with the female partner consuming or swallowing the ejaculate. This prevents spilling seed, which is an affront to the Lord, and also provides spiritual benefit to the receiving partner. Oral sex has the added benefits of preventing unwanted pregnancies and helping couples satisfy their sexual urges while preserving their chastity until marriage. For these reasons, all Christian men and women should feel confident and comfortable including oral sex as part of their sexual life in accordance with God's will.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Aji Shmoe

      And then Jesus set a wake up call for three days that is only two days, then went to his cave to watch porn.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Austin

      now its three days because the days for Israel start at sundown. Christ was crucified on friday when the sun was setting. friday satruday sunday. 3 days

      March 31, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      Austin. Friday evening to Saturday evening is 1 day; Friday evening to Sunday evening is 2 days; Friday evening to Monday evening is 3 days, so Easter Monday is the 3rd day. Why do you think Europe and Latin America have Friday and Monday as religious holidays?

      March 31, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
  7. Aji Joe

    Some devil's agent is replying ot my comment in my own name.. Please forgive him Lord. Another failed trick from the ancient foe.

    March 31, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Shecky, the Devil's Agent

      Satan baby, I landed you the role in The Bible! And later, you will produce all Christian music.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • End Religion

      The Benefits of Swallowing – Drink of the Living Water
      Aside from swallowing semen as a measure to prevent the waste and spillage of seed, ingesting ejaculate can have spiritual benefits, as we will see. Although the Old Testament makes reference to the bitterness of semen (And he shall cause the woman to drink the bitter water. [Numbers 5:24]), the New Testament casts the act of consuming ejaculate in a much more affirming light, as in the following passage, where Jesus speaks to the woman of Samaria about the gift of 'living water':

      Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, "Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." 11 The woman said to him, "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?...15 The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water." 16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come back." (John 4:10-16)

      'Living water' in this context refers to semen, which literally is the liquid of life. As Christ indicates, drinking of the 'living water' provides a spiritual replenishment for the soul. When the woman asks Jesus where she can get this 'water', he tells her to fetch her husband, clearly with the intention of instructing her on how to fellate him and swallow his semen.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Johnny Guitar

      Not your best post, Endy

      March 31, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • Austin

      I hope you are drunk endy wow. thanks.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • End Religion

      It's Easter. Time to bring out the big guns!

      March 31, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
  8. Dave David

    Boy oh boy, apes are ruining Chicago.

    March 31, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • End Religion

      By apes you mean teenagers? What does this have to do with persecuting Christians?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Dave is just annoyed that no one responded the first time he posted this idiocy.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
  9. Aji Joe

    Repent and believe in Gospel

    "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."

    March 31, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Answer

      End times. End times. Next Thursday.. salad and beer everyone.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • End Religion

      No need to repent. I've done nothing wrong. Why don't YOU repent and and stop bothering everyone else with your immoral imaginary friends.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • Aji Joe

      The lie told many times becomes the truth.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • woody

      Do you have air bags in your car ? If you do you really don't believe God will protect you in a car accident !'

      March 31, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      Religion, suggest hitting him with Matthew 7:6.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • woody

      Do you have locks on your home doors if you do you really do not believe God will protect you from an intruder !

      March 31, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • mark

      End you've done nothing wrong? Wow you must be like Jesus, because he is actually the only person that did nothing wrong, but your assessment of yourself would be consistent with your belief. God loves you anyway though, that's what so great he loves you as much as he loves me. That kinda ticks me off a little, but, I believe it.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:16 pm |
    • TANK!!!!

      "That kinda ticks me off a little"

      Ah, yes. The vengeful "You'll burn in hell because you don't agree with me" personality inside many a religious loon of the christian dispensation is starting to creep out. You must be doing a good job, ER

      March 31, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • mark

      Hey Tank, I'm fallible, at least I admit it. End says he does nothing wrong. I'm wrong for feeling that way.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:32 pm |
  10. woody

    If Christians belive God will save them then why do Christians have air bags in their cars plus a rosary !

    March 31, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • DoctorKnow

      He saves you from sin, not cause and effect.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • John P. Tarver, MS/PE

      Air bags are required by law and Christians are to obey govenment's laws.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      You can opt out of air bags in new cars now?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • End Religion

      "He saves you from sin, not cause and effect."

      If this is true, why do Christians blame hurricanes on sin? Kinda seems to me that, as usual, you pick and choose when you want to call it sin or not, just you cherry pick the bible. you're an atheists who only needs to slide a little more. Welcome to the club!

      March 31, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Airbags are optional?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      >>>”If this is true, why do Christians blame hurricanes on sin?”

      Do all Christians blame hurricanes, floods, AIDS, drought on sin? There are those Christians who do but, is not what you just did “cherry picking” from the vast and diverse members of Christianity and attempt to label the whole?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • End Religion

      You either follow the bible word for word as the literal truth of your god, or you "interpret" and cherry pick and decide for yourself what you believe in or follow, thereby denying your god his word and creating one's own religion. You're all atheists who just can't admit to it. If you believed in your god you would obey without question or thought.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
  11. John P. Tarver, MS/PE

    Atheists have a first amendment right to their religion, but as the Dover trails demonstrate, it has no place in public schools.

    March 31, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Where are the trails in Dover ? Are they bike trails ?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • woody

      Just like there is separation of state and religion and no religion in public schools !

      March 31, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • Krangle

      Atheism isnt a religion, there is no belief in anything supernatural. No worship, no wishful thinking, etc etc

      March 31, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • John P. Tarver, MS/PE

      The Dover trials are a first step in removing outdated science from our classrooms. The atheist social agena has no more right to keep America's children in racist ignorance than the evangelical social agenda does.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • ME II

      @John P. Tarver,
      As you probably know Atheism is not a religion any more than "not stamp-collecting" is a hobby. but even if it were, science is not part of it.
      The Dover trial was about how ID failed at being science and therefore could not be taught as science.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • Peace of Mind

      For ten thousandth time, Tarver – provide evidence of what is outdated or STFU.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Mark From Middle River

      As a Christian, my thoughts would be against the teaching of Creationism because it would require all people of Faith to be on the same page in concerns of the doctrine. We have enough issues within the Faiths on doctrine to say which should be taught in schools.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Science

      Hey johnie

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

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

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

      March 31, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Peace of Mind

      My thoughts would be against the teaching of Creationism because it is bullshit.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • The real Tom

      Exactly.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • John P. Tarver, MS/PE

      Peace- My point is identical to your arguement against teaching creationism as science, except the same logic applies to outdated science; no matter how damaging it is to the atheist social agenda.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
  12. pepito espino

    before I saw the paycheck for $8703, I have faith that my friends brother had been really taking home money in their spare time on their apple labtop.. there sisters neighbour haz done this 4 only 16 months and resantly paid the morgage on their mini mansion and got a great new Mini Cooper. read more at........... BIT40. ℂom

    March 31, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
  13. Aji Joe

    For those who are in doubt-
    "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace"- 700BC

    Father and the Son are the same

    March 31, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • End Religion

      There is no doubt; it is all a fraud. Grow up.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  14. Aji Joe

    "Watch out!" Jesus warned them. "Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees."

    No I should say this about some of the CNN folks..

    March 31, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • Answer

      Today 400:2

      Christard end up in dog poo.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • John P. Tarver, MS/PE

      Ali is a cnn hourly troll out of Chicago.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • Answer

      John P is saying he is "a better troll" because he lives in a garbage can. We can attest to that.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:43 pm |
    • John P. Tarver, MS/PE

      Only those hourly cnn trolls out of Chicago can post the same thing over and over. How is Chicago different from a garbage can?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Fred

      What is your obsession with Chicago?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Answer

      You can always tell how disgruntled John P is about that city. Do go on. Tell us how you really feel.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
  15. Brampt

    Many of evangelical Christians are persecuted because there criminals... Many hide how much they make off there followers so they don't pay taxes!

    March 31, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • DoctorKnow

      Many non-Christians do not pay taxes. But don't blame the Bible. "Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's." In other words, pay your taxes.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  16. End Times

    Everyone has a choice. You can either choose to be on the Lord's side in the here and now and to stand up for God (and be persecuted for it by the unbelievers and by those who hate God). Or else suffer for eternity in the lake of fire and brimstone on the other side. The choice is yours. That is why the scripture says "If we suffer with him (meaning defend him) we shall also reign with him). But if we deny him (don't stand up for him) then he will deny us (meaning, we'll be cast into the lake)...

    2 Timothy 2:12 – If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:

    Witness how many people today are standing up for gays and are defending the right for gays to marry (particularly politicians and judges). When the bible makes it very clear that being gay is a sin and is an abomination before God. Therefore, such people who stand up for gays are haters of God and will not be saved. You cannot be friends with God's enemy and expect to be saved. Instead, you'll be cast into the lake of fire along with the gays and will burn forever…

    James 4:5 …know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

    March 31, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • Answer

      Today 1:117

      Take out some garbage christards.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:36 pm |
    • Brampt

      "Friendship with the world is enemy with god"... Then why are Baptists, Evangelists, Catholics, Mormons, involved in mingling in politics?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Colin

      You know Paul's Epistles to Timothy are forgeries, right?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Krangle

      Seems to be a fine line in Christianity between a choice and a threat.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • End Religion

      2000 years of End Times and "Atheists will rue the day" and yet, nothing. Hurry up and Rapture would you? We could use some peace and quiet without you idiot zealots holding mankind back.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • End Times

      Brampt… It's because they are not saved and don't know any better. Not everyone who claims to be of God is saved…

      Colin… You know you've been lied to, right?…

      Krangle… It's not a threat at all. It's a "fact"...

      March 31, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • Answer

      It's a fact: like the time I did your sister.

      It's a fact.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
  17. DoctorKnow

    “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

    March 31, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • End Religion

      ...except there isn't the tiniest bit of evidence for any god. Crazy, huh?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      So why do evangelicals exert so much effort trying to overthrow science?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • DoctorKnow

      End Religion, Whatever started life on earth is God. So how do you naturally select from nothing to get life started?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
    • DoctorKnow

      SixDegrees, How come you think mostly atheists created science? Atheist had very little to do with the creation of science. Mostly non-Atheist created science and one of the biggest contributors was Christians. So why would you think that one of the biggest contributors of science would want to overthrow science? That makes no sense. We could have just not created most it instead.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:00 pm |
    • End Religion

      DrKnowNothing: "Whatever started life on earth is God."

      You *believe* this. No one knows, including those who say they do. like you.

      ***
      "So how do you naturally select from nothing to get life started?"

      I don't know. The arrogant thing to do would be jump from "i don't know" to "Gawd dun it wiff magic spellz!"

      March 31, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
    • DoctorKnow

      End Religion, the arrogant thing would be to assume you know why I believe in God.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:14 pm |
    • the AnViL™

      whenever anyone brings up isaac newtons faith – as if it's some validation of that faith.....

      i like to mention (politely) that isaac newton also practiced alchemy.

      lots of intelligent people through history believed in an imaginary man in the sky – it doesn't detract from their contributions to science – but just because they were famous scientists – it's still not validation of the existence of that imaginary man in the sky they believed in.

      ho ho ho!

      March 31, 2013 at 6:19 pm |
  18. Aji Joe

    Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

    March 31, 2013 at 5:33 pm |
    • Thad

      You still haven't answered who gave god authority. Was it god's god?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Aji Joe

      "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace"- 700BC

      Father and the Son are the same

      March 31, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
    • End Religion

      Your jeebus never existed. It's all a contrivance to get you to behave a certain immoral way. And you bought it hook, line and sinker.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Let There Be Light

      Actually, Jesus gave no such commandment. You're getting your information from a false bible. Try reading the Original King James version instead, which says:

      Matthew 28:18 – And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost(note, Jesus said nothing about making anyone a disciple).

      Secondly, what Jesus spoke above, he spoke in a mystery or a parable. Only the twelve apostles understood the key or secret to the mystery. That is why in Acts 2:38, the Apostle Peter stood up and said (in order to be saved you must) – "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." That was the key and secret to the mystery of what Jesus had said. Therefore, if you do not follow what the Apostle Peter said, and get baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (not Father, Son and Holy Ghost), you will not be saved…

      March 31, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
    • End Religion

      jesus said nothing. The stories are all made up by others much later.

      March 31, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
  19. Dave David

    500 apes just assaulted people at random in Chicago. I wonder if CNN will report it. I wonder because A ) they're black and B ) Chicago has the toughest gun laws, yet has most of the crime. Both go against CNN's agenda.

    March 31, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • End Religion

      Lemme guess, you believe in god, right?

      March 31, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  20. Aji Joe

    Repent and believe in gospel. Forgive that you may be forgiven

    March 31, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
    • End Religion

      If one is going to believe in fairy tales there are more interesting ones.

      March 31, 2013 at 5:43 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.