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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. harri

    Rick

    Mark
    Plenty of "God's words" are really rather horrific and megalomaniacal all by themselves. It takes some very imaginative, inventive theology to make them appear "loving".

    you sure worry about it

    April 2, 2013 at 1:59 am |
    • Shi!tiswati

      The detrimental argument is that which relies on the collective wisdom, the powerful hypotheses is that which can be put together by the masterful mind that can collectively rummage information from the great 'information' super highway. Terabytes of data is processed in nanoseconds, depends on where you are looking for it. Inferences can be made by this , fidelity is one source that is reliable.repeatable arguments.

      April 2, 2013 at 7:41 am |
    • Shi!tiswati

      Calm down! you need to be in the practice of yoda. Studies reveal that yoda releases supernatural argumentative powers that can simply leave your opponents ,'speechless' . Do you care for some yoda today? Join the movement.

      April 2, 2013 at 7:53 am |
    • tallulah13

      Understand you, I do not. To the dark side this anger leads you.

      April 2, 2013 at 10:36 am |
  2. harri

    thanks to everyone of you for reporting the hate-speech and threats against christians made by anvil head and her numerous aliases. be patient. we are seeking the advice and support the ADL. It looks promising.

    make sure to report her for those who have not yet done so and ask your friends to help out.

    thank you

    April 2, 2013 at 1:55 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      Hate against christians? Anvil may be a little harsh but it is not hate, it is intolerance and given that CNN doesn't require registration you will be SOL on trying to find said person. Christians scream hate all the time but yet fail to see it...you do it to gays/atheists/all other who don't share the belief in your imaginary friend...such hypocrites.

      April 2, 2013 at 7:08 am |
    • Shi!tiswati

      Calm down! you need to be in the practice of yoda. Studies reveal that yoda releases supernatural argumentative powers that can simply leave your opponents ,'speechless' . Do you care for some yoda today? Join the movement.We have all day today to learn the mysticism of godly powers in the arguments.

      April 2, 2013 at 7:55 am |
    • tallulah13

      Awww. It looks like someone is feeling left out of the persecution. I'm sorry, harri, but pretending to be persecuted is not the same as actual persecution. Better luck next time.

      April 2, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • The real Tom

      hairy, do people like you who pull this crap on a public message board actually think anyone is stupid enough to believe you've done anything you claim?

      What an idjit.

      April 2, 2013 at 9:49 am |
  3. harri

    "Mark
    Sam, those who sit in jail, even though they do not recognize the authority of those who put them there, remain in jail. In the same way, there are many in hell today who did not recognize God's authority to put them there.. We cannot change reality."
    great job

    April 2, 2013 at 1:50 am |
    • Agnes of Dog

      Who is quoting who here? What is the point by "harri"?? There are three names there marri, Mark, and Sam.

      April 2, 2013 at 2:03 am |
    • sam stone

      i think harri is responding to mark's response to my telling someone who was vomiting up scripture that people those quotes are only valid to those who accept the authority of the scripture. more empty proxy threats from the "blah, blah, fvcking blah" crowd

      April 2, 2013 at 8:10 am |
  4. Reality

    Paul of Taurus was first of the "necessary accessories" of Christianity. He recognized early on the great wealth of Roman and Greek Gentiles so he wrote his epistles raising Jesus and his embellished life from the dead and the Gentiles "ate it up". His promise of the imminent second coming was shear brilliance in gathering much silver and gold (the prime necessary accessory). The Romans got jealous ending the life of the first necessay accessory.

    Pilate, although not the founder of Christianity, was another "necessary accessory i.e. he could have easily sent Jesus to the salt mines.

    Constantine and his swords finished the "necessary accessory" scenario.

    Adding this to God not knowing the future, eliminates any god involvement in the foundation of Christianity.

    Conclusion:
    Christianity and the other contemporary religions are the result of human evolution away from the "dark side" although all contemporary religions need to rewrite their rule books eliminating all of the "death to all infidels" and "we are the only salvation" mumbo jumbo.

    April 2, 2013 at 12:06 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Indeed there was a lot of drama leading up to the human sacrifice that set up Christianity. It's unique among modern religions in that human sacrifice: " (Jesus) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world."

      April 2, 2013 at 12:17 am |
    • Jesus, God, The Holy Spirit

      I told you before, and I'll tell you again: I never sent you any messages. You are not the new Paul, but you may be the new Charles Manson.

      I couldn't have a worse representative than you unless my intent was to scare people away from religion permanently. Seriously, I would have to be a total idiot to use a mentally unbalanced raving lunatic to try to get people to follow me. And I don't need any more freaking lunatics – it's all I have! I'd like some mentally balanced followers, and you ain't the guy to attract them.

      So shut up already! You are an embarrassment to Christianity and an excellent excuse for people to become atheists.

      April 2, 2013 at 12:47 am |
    • Reality

      (from Professor JD Crossan's book, "Who is Jesus" co-authored with Richard Watts)

      "Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us."

      "Traditionally, Christians have said, 'See how Christ's passion was foretold by the prophets." Actually, it was the other way around. The Hebrew prophets did not predict the events of Jesus' last week; rather, many of those Christian stories were created to fit the ancient prophecies in order to show that Jesus, despite his execution, was still and always held in the hands of God."

      "In terms of divine consistency, I do not think that anyone, anywhere, at any time, including Jesus, brings dead people back to life."

      April 2, 2013 at 7:59 am |
  5. Warmth of the heart

    Separate from the us vs them. Love for all.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:47 pm |
    • Lennon/McCartney

      Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
      There's nothing you can do that can't be done.
      Nothing you can sing that can't be sung.
      Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
      It's easy.
      There's nothing you can make that can't be made.
      No one you can save that can't be saved.
      Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you
      in time – It's easy.

      All you need is love, all you need is love,
      All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
      Love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love.
      All you need is love, all you need is love,
      All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
      There's nothing you can know that isn't known.
      Nothing you can see that isn't shown.
      Nowhere you can be that isn't where you're meant to be.
      It's easy.
      All you need is love, all you need is love,
      All you need is love, love, love is all you need.
      All you need is love (all together now)
      All you need is love (everybody)
      All you need is love, love, love is all you need.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:50 pm |
    • Stills/Bailey

      If you're down and confused
      And you don't remember who you're talking too
      Concentration slips away
      Cause you're baby is so far away

      Well there's a rose in the fisted glove
      And eagle flies with the dove
      And if you can't be with the one you love honey
      Love the one you're with
      Don't be angry – don't be sad
      Don't sit crying over good times you've had
      There's a girl right next to you
      And she's just waiting for something to do

      Doo doo doo doo
      Turn your heartache right into joy
      Cause she's a girl and you're a boy
      Get it together come on make it nice
      You ain't gonna need anymore advice

      April 1, 2013 at 11:53 pm |
    • Sap E. Kitsch

      And kitten hugs for everybody!

      April 2, 2013 at 12:26 am |
    • Warmth of the heart

      Thank you (all three) who responded in this manner. It is worth it.

      April 2, 2013 at 10:43 pm |
    • Warmth of the heart

      Myers/Holiday/DeShannon

      Put A Little Love In Your Heart
      Think of your fellow man
      Lend him a helping hand
      Put a little love in your heart
      You see it's getting late
      Oh, please don't hesitate
      Put a little love in your heart

      And the world will be a better place
      And the world will be a better place
      For you and me
      You just wait and see

      Another day goes by
      Still the children cry
      Put a little love in your heart
      If you want the world to know
      We won't let hatred grow
      Put a little love in your heart

      And the world (and the world) will be a better place
      All the world (all the world) will be a better place
      For you (for you)
      And me (and me)
      You just wait (just wait)
      And see, wait and see

      Take a good look around
      And if you're looking down
      Put a little love in your heart
      I hope when you decide
      Kindness will be your guide
      Put a little love in your heart

      And the world (and the world) will be a better place
      And the world (and the world) will be a better place
      For you (for you)
      And me (and me)
      You just wait (just wait)
      And see

      People, now put a little love in your heart
      Each and every day
      Put a little love in your heart
      There's no other way
      Put a little love in your heart
      It's up to you
      Put a little love in your heart
      C'mon and
      Put a little love in your heart

      April 2, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
  6. Anon

    The Christians were and still are the persecutors. Just ask the non-Christians and non-believers.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • Akira

      And gay people, and minorities, and women...

      April 1, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Austin

      "tolerance of religious idiocy and ignorance must be stomped out and not be allowed to survive into the proceeding generation.

      April 1, 2013 at 8:59 am | Report abuse | Reply
      LMBO
      What a great example of tolerance. You win he non-bigot of the year award.

      April 1, 2013 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
      the AnViL™
      LMBO: fyi – intolerance of bad things is good, idiot.

      it's funny when retards mistake intolerance of bigotry, hate, division, ignorance and idiocy for something bad.

      it just shows them to be the ignorant enemies of reason."

      These are all Anvils statements. And these statements are exactly how God feels about people who reject Him. This is a perfect example of the just personalty and morals that God created us with...

      God is just. God is Holy. God is patient and forgiving. You are justified. Christians are supposed to judge sin. and rebuke unrighteousness within the church , but not persecute unbelievers who dont have the holy spirit of conviction.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
    • Rick

      Austin
      God is just, but only because he says so, and all of his believers are too afraid of him to question this claim.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:54 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "These are all Anvils statements. And these statements are exactly how God feels about people who reject Him."

      Austin are your trying to drag your god down to Anvil's level or Anvil up to your god's?

      April 2, 2013 at 12:04 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      That's simply masochism, Austin. To go about talking about how low and depraved you are because God, which exists in your imagination, sets impossibly high standards for you.

      April 2, 2013 at 12:07 am |
    • Rick

      Austin
      Outside of things that actually hurt ourselves and others, "Sin" is simply offending God by not believing in him, or not following one of his an.al, nonsensical rules. The Bible is full of references to his "wrath" towards those who sin against him. A certain amount of fear towards God is attached to the concept of sin then. You may say that your real motivation is love towards God, but the Kims are also "loved" by their people too. Tyrants have that kind of affect on people.

      April 2, 2013 at 12:13 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "The Christians were and still are the persecutors. Just ask the non-Christians and non-believers."

      And other Christians...

      April 2, 2013 at 12:21 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I didn't say anything to agree with....I asked a question.

      But if that is how your god feels, and is forgiving and patient, he has some serious mental issues....you worship a bi-polar basket case.

      April 2, 2013 at 12:27 am |
    • Jesus, God, The Holy Spirit

      Austin, as your divine and holy god, I want you to stop helping me. You are botching the job so badly that you are doing nothing but recruiting more atheists. Having you be my spokesman is about as effective as having Heinrich Himmler doing commercials for Hebrew National hot dogs.

      So stop. You are a blow-it, and you embarrass me.

      Oh, your vision thingys, I didn't do those. Stop telling people that was me, because I would never be that stupid. And the cat? You ran it over the night before in a black-out drunk.

      Remember, the Lord (that's me) helps those who help themselves, and you really need help, so go get it.

      April 2, 2013 at 12:41 am |
    • Jesus, God, The Holy Spirit

      As you god and lord, I instruct you to go forth and not procreate, and I instruct you to shut up!

      April 2, 2013 at 1:04 am |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      "By the way it s God's and He isn't mine."

      Your god is not real, it is your delusion so he is all yours, and you are a Loony, with a capital L.

      April 2, 2013 at 1:44 am |
    • the AnViL™

      rotflmao

      April 2, 2013 at 4:47 am |
    • Rick

      Austin
      "He punishes habitual obstinate for those who ate fully aware of His presence"
      So, he'll punish any of you lot who still believe in him, but disobey, but what about the rest of us who don't think he's there?

      By "other Christians" I think people are referring to the moderates who belong to nonConservative, nonRight Wing, denominations who don't thump their bibles at everything they personally disagree with. Those Christians are hardly in raving gangs of looters and pillagers, are they? They're just average, basically good people who aren't as politically activated by their faith as those who accuse them of not really being Christian enough, that's all.

      April 2, 2013 at 8:26 am |
    • Anon

      Hey Austin here's the proper place for primitive desert myths.
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OgAXbyzP5g&w=640&h=360]

      April 2, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
  7. Blessed are the Cheesecutters

    God dam I stink.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • The real Tom

      You stink. I'm a do uche. Wanna hook up?

      April 1, 2013 at 11:27 pm |

    • I just want you to know about the really excellent wine I had a dinner. You could not afford it. In fact, as I look about, I don't see anything you could afford. Except this old copy of Joyce Carol Oates' Wonderland I picked up to reread on my flight last week. And maybe this old chipped cup with copulating bears on it. What is it like to be poor? To be stupid? To have nothing to say that anyone wants to hear? To not matter to anyone at all?

      April 1, 2013 at 11:44 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      I must have gone to bible study.....

      April 2, 2013 at 12:05 am |
  8. adolfus

    hold on a minute. some loud, violent retarded christards is at my door.

    okay. here i am.

    may i ask you adolf, what kind of credentials do you have? i mean for being a prolifick writer and all? those disgusting retards was saying you are not all that and you haven't sold more than 5 books in your life.

    April 1, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • adolf

      sweetie, don't listen to them christards. they are jealous and persecute me cause i'm an independent, free-thinking woman.

      i went to college and wrote essays. graduated from high school. and everything. i got a b in biology one marking period

      April 1, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • adolfus

      i figured they were lying. you can kinda tell.

      hey there, just one more thing if you don't mind. did you ever here of pear review?

      April 1, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • Akira

      Bartlett?

      April 1, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • adolf

      that's it. no more.

      sweet heart, i do the pare reviewin around these parts. you are threw. out!
      NEXT!

      April 1, 2013 at 11:48 pm |
    • wicked

      yea, hi adolf. i was reading what you were saying the other day and i got a question. if a person is born deaf, blind, has no sensation of touch or pressure, cannot taste or smell, then nothing exists for him, right?

      April 2, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • adolf

      yea, hi adolf. i was reading what you were saying the other day and i got a question. if a person is born deaf, blind, has no sensation of touch or pressure, cannot taste or smell, then nothing exists for him, right?

      what's your point?

      April 2, 2013 at 9:05 pm |
    • wicked

      well, see, here's the thing. you hate god. sorry. forgot. you don't hate somethin that doesn't exist. alright. you know w/o a doubt god isn't, right?

      April 2, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • adolf

      so?

      April 2, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • wicked

      well, i was thinking maybe that is what limits atheists, you know, from recognizing god exists?

      April 2, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
    • adolf

      speak english creep. i got people to cook

      April 2, 2013 at 9:15 pm |
    • wicked

      are you an atheist cause you are like that person born w/o the capacity to sense the world around him at all? to him, nothing exists, except sharp pain, perhaps. maybe you lack a basic human component. maybe you lack something basic to the rest of humanity. you know? because you don't know anything, really, about god and spirituality. all you do is spread lies, hate, misinformation, and threaten people who believe in god.

      April 2, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • adolf

      figured. knew you were a chrstard. honey, go pound sand. i know there isn't gods cause i am god. stick it.

      the new testament is fairy tales.

      April 2, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
    • dante

      adolf, mein furher,

      you, my friend, no nozzing!

      April 3, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • adolf

      beat it punk. i took Poland in 3 days! i am god

      April 3, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • dante

      you murdered millions of innocent people. you are nozzing but evil.

      April 3, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • adolf

      i conquered france in 6 weeks!

      April 3, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • dante

      you lied, deceived, murdered innocent people by the millions. you are the spitting image of satan

      April 3, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • adolf

      i dazzled the world. i conned everybody, stole everything and kept all of it. i am god. even atheists believe i'm god

      April 3, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • dante

      you are not divine. atheists are morons. they worship you to prove god sucks.

      April 3, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • tallulah13

      Dante: A) What exactly is nozzing?

      And B) Stop lying about atheists. Your god already told you that he hates it when you lie.

      April 3, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • adolf

      i was led by god to set my homeland free. he told me to destroy all who resisted and i obeyed him.

      April 3, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • dante

      you heard voices? figures. god told you to repent. he never told you to hurt anyone.

      April 3, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
  9. HeavenSent

    Proof that Jesus was a Caucasian Anglo white at prolapsed.net. See the light of white. God bless.

    April 1, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • His panic

      There is no light in there only darkness, the blackest, darkest darkness, period. You're in a state of Panic!

      April 1, 2013 at 10:54 pm |
    • ISLAM FOUNDATION OF AMERICAN CONSTI TUTION

      No, son of blessed was of a red skin, husky, short height with curly hair, unlike hinduism fabrication of Roman hindus, secular criminals, filthy self centered called Jesus to hind fool humanity in to hindu gentile ism, filthy slavery of hindu criminal Kings and their hindu Prophets, crook fortune tellers.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:10 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      I didn't write that post. That babble belongs to the phony heavensent that steals others handles because s/he lives for unrighteousness..

      April 1, 2013 at 11:19 pm |
    • Rick

      HeavenSent
      Who can tell? Babble is babble, no matter the source.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Rick, babble belongs to the non-believers who care less about Jesus' righteous teachings.

      April 2, 2013 at 11:41 am |
  10. HeavenSent

    hawaiiguest, understand this truth. Jesus is all that matters.

    April 1, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @HeavenSent

      Understand this.
      You're a pathetic tool who can't answer a single question with any amount of honesty. You are a self-righteous moron who believes that you don't need to be honest as long as it's in the defense of your immoral doctrines.
      You have no evidence to back yourself up, and you are so colossally arrogant that you think logic, evidence, and science can't compare with what you decree to be right.

      To put it succinctly, you're a worthless moron with no credibility.

      April 1, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Mind over matter

      April 1, 2013 at 10:40 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      hawaiiguest, understand you own your frustration with people that don't agree with you.

      Peace.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:21 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      P.S. hawaiiguest. You keep tipping your hand(les).

      April 1, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @HeavenSent

      You really don't have anything relevant or interesting to ever say do you? You're showing your paranoia again thinking I'm using multiple handles with no evidence. Your pathetic evasions, dodges, and idiocy is the perfect example of the damage religion does to the mind. Continue to make the case for atheism. You do more for that than anything else.

      April 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm |
  11. Vic

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2H6DvTrmp24&w=640&h=360]

    April 1, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • Jib

      http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pXJx5mORmMI

      April 1, 2013 at 10:34 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Prolapsed.net

      April 1, 2013 at 11:04 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Good night phony heavensent, cough Tommie Tom, Hawaiiguest.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:24 pm |
    • Lisa

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WoaktW-Lu38&w=640&h=360]

      April 1, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesecutters

      Python was funny 30 years ago when everyone first saw it. Now it's just kitch.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
    • Lisa

      Blessed
      Surely there's a soft spot in your heart for this? 🙂

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xLUEMj6cwA&w=640&h=360]

      April 1, 2013 at 11:43 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Lisa,

      He is a fake, not original at all....unlike Python which is still original and funny.

      April 2, 2013 at 12:10 am |
  12. Vic

    [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2H6DvTrmp24&w=640&h=360]

    April 1, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
  13. HeavenSent

    I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV, you posted "the books of Genesis to Revelation are to be cross referenced to comprehend Jesus' truth". Why? Couldn't God the omnipotent and omniscient make himslelf a bit clearer?

    Answer: He gave you brains. Use them.

    April 1, 2013 at 9:40 pm |
    • In Santa we trust

      HS, How about answering some questions instead of swerve and dodge. Ooh look squirrel.

      April 1, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @HS,

      I did just that. My conclusion is that I don't believe in any of the God nonsense.

      April 1, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Santa, I don't dodge any question. You just don't comprehend my answers.

      GOPer, if you don't buy into any of the "God stuff", then you don't know about life. Everything stems from God.

      April 1, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
  14. HeavenSent

    2 Peter 3:2 is for you.

    Amen.

    April 1, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
    • GodFreeNow

      For those that don't want to waste their time looking it up:
      "that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us,[a] the apostles of the Lord and Savior,"

      This is bible speak for reminding people that dad, while and absent and neglecting father will come back one day and claim all of the glory and take credit for everything that was done without his help.

      April 1, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
    • IRA EBSTEINt

      OH MY HEAVENSENT
      "BE NOT ONE WITH THI PEOPLE WHO ARE BLINDED BY THOSE WHO WILL PROMISE ITEMS THAT SHINE AND PLACES THAT ARE UNDER LITE FOR ETERNITY FOR THEY DO NOT POSSES THE POWER NOR CAN THEY PROMISE. BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS WHO ARE CLOACKED IN ALLURING COLORS FOR THEY WILL STING THEE IF BY YOUR SUDE WITH NECTAR THAT IS NOT OF THE LORD'S"
      BSAPR01......SEE HOW EASY IT IS FOR ANYONE TO COMPOSE ANYTHING AND SINCE THERE ARE SO MANY IN NEED TO BELIVE IN AN AFTER LIFE, IT BECOMES EVEN EASIER TO HAVE THEM FOLLOW WITHOUT QUESTION
      "FOR HE WHO QUESTIONS MY POWERS SHALL BE BANDED FROM THE HEAVENS AND SHALL PRAY FOR LITE IN THE DARK ".....SEE MORE BS.. LIVE BY YOUR QUOTES NOT OTHERS.

      April 1, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

      Colossians 2:8

      Amen.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:27 pm |
    • Lisa

      HeavenSent
      You do realize that all cult leaders warn their followers against trusting outsider opinions on the movement, don't you?

      April 1, 2013 at 11:34 pm |
  15. Islamic Linguistic School for Parrots

    "Indoo" "Indoo" "Indoo"

    April 1, 2013 at 8:19 pm |
  16. STFU

    Mohammad A. Dar, I love to see your mother being executed in that video and still you are calling "barbarians" true muslims

    April 1, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
  17. IRA EBSTEINt

    PLEASE STOP QUOTED THE SCRIPTURES.
    Why do so many of you "FREE THINKERS" have to resort to quoting from the bible? These writings were made up to get the barbarians in line and on some respectable civil track, not to mention, Peter and Paul and maybe even Mary were all out of work because jesus dissappered and never came back as promised, they had to come up with some kind of scam which by the way was brilliant. It grew into a Kingdom and is run by some group with a leader dressed as a woman...I think he is called the "POPE". And for those believers that don't follow in that guy, there is always some other character like joe or jim jones with some cool aid. You don't need to be a follower nor do you need to quote stories from fables in order to just do the right thing.

    April 1, 2013 at 8:07 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

      2 Peter 3:8

      Read 2 Peter 3:2 while you are at it.

      Amen.

      April 1, 2013 at 8:52 pm |
    • Mark

      If they are only fables then why should annoy you? God's people will also quote God's Words. It is His Words that matter, not our opinions.

      April 1, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • Rick

      Mark
      Plenty of "God's words" are really rather horrific and megalomaniacal all by themselves. It takes some very imaginative, inventive theology to make them appear "loving".

      April 2, 2013 at 12:18 am |
  18. The real Tom Is the butthurt

    OUCH!

    April 1, 2013 at 7:58 pm |

    • The real Tom knows you're a moron and has probably told you that you are a moron and a child. But I think you can beat off and pick at your pimples at the same time. You have real talent kid. If someone tell you to bugger yourself be sure to use the best pool cue in the house.You deserve the best.

      April 1, 2013 at 8:04 pm |
    • lol??

      EEEEeeeewwww, what comes out of a man!

      April 1, 2013 at 8:12 pm |
  19. The real Tom Did the twit

    Rockin' Rollin' Then payday.

    April 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
    • Akira

      The real lol?? sounds a bit off her feed today.

      April 1, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
  20. HeavenSent

    The phoneys don't know how many cats I have.

    Good thing too since it's dinner time and I'm honnnnggggreee.

    April 1, 2013 at 7:40 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Zero for the zero phony heavensent.

      April 1, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      If you live next to Austin I bet you don't have as many cats as you think you have.

      April 1, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
    • Akira

      BATC: this cracked me yp! Thanks!

      April 1, 2013 at 10:05 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Hi Akira!

      Easy target but I couldn't resist.

      April 1, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Blessed are the Cheesemakers, you targeted the phony heavensent. LOL.

      April 1, 2013 at 11:29 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Ummm, no it was play off of the obvious fake refering to a cat, and making fun of Austin's "cat prophacy"

      you haven't been around for awhile Hevenspent but you are still an idiot....

      April 2, 2013 at 12:14 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.