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Church without God - by design
Members of an atheist congregation at Harvard listen to music during a recent gathering.
June 22nd, 2013
11:25 AM ET

Church without God - by design

By Dan Merica, CNN

Boston (CNN)-– It’s Sunday in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a rapt congregation listens to a chaplain preach about the importance of building a community.

A few dozen people sit quietly for the hourlong service. Music is played, announcements are made and scholars wax poetic about the importance of compassion and community.

Outsiders could be forgiven for believing this service, with its homilies, its passing of the plate, its uplifting songs, belongs in a church.

If so, it’s a church without one big player: God.

Sunday’s congregation in Cambridge is a meeting of the Humanist Community at Harvard University and the brainchild of Greg Epstein, the school’s Humanist chaplain.

A longtime advocate for community building, Epstein and his group of atheists have begun to build their Cambridge community and solemnize its Sunday meetings to resemble a traditional religious service.

To Epstein, religion is not all bad, and there is no reason to reject its helpful aspects.

“My point to my fellow atheists is, why do we need to paint things with such a broad brush? We can learn from the positive while learning how to get rid of the negative," he said.

Godless congregations

For Epstein, who started community-building at Harvard nearly 10 years ago, the idea of a godless congregation is not an oxymoron.

“We decided recently that we want to use the word congregation more and more often because that is a word that strongly evokes a certain kind of community - a really close knit, strong community that can make strong change happen in the world,” he said.

“It doesn’t require and it doesn't even imply a specific set of beliefs about anything.”

Epstein is not alone in his endeavor. Jerry DeWitt, who became an atheist and left his job as an evangelical minister, is using his pastoral experience to building an atheist church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

This Sunday, DeWitt's congregation will hold its first meeting as a "Community Mission Chapel."

"When you become a part of this congregation, this community, you are going to become part of a family," DeWitt told CNN. "There is an infrastructure there for you to land in. There is going to be someone there to do weddings and to do, unfortunately, the funerals."

READ MORE: Unbelieving preachers get help to 'come out' as open atheists

Sunday school for atheists

As members of the Cambridge congregation file into a wood-paneled classroom at Harvard, singer Shelley Segal greets them with a few songs from her latest recording, called simply, “An Atheist Album.”

Taking a hint from the theme of the event, Segal strums on her guitar and belts her song, “Gratitude.”

“I don't believe in a great power to say thank you to,” Segal sings. “But that won’t take away from my gratitude.”

Harvard's humanist chaplain Greg Epstein leads an atheist gathering.

After the music, Epstein offers a few words of greeting before the meeting gets to its heart: a discussion about compassion.

A four academics and a journalist discuss the effects of religion on raising children and their ideas about compassion. Congregants listen intently, some even taking notes.

Each service has a message – compassion, evolution or acceptance - after which congregants engage in a lengthy discussion.

Before the main event, kids are invited to what some parents refer to as “Sunday school,” where Tony Debono, a biologist Massachusetts Institute of Technology, teaches the youngsters about evolution, DNA and cells.

There's little talk about organized religion, positive or negative.

Likewise, down in Louisiana, said his atheist services will not be anti-religion.

"What we are looking at doing is different," DeWitt said. "If you are a religionist and you come and sit in our pew, the only way you can leave offended is because of what you don’t hear and what you don’t see. We won’t be there to make a stance against religion or against God."

Coming out of the closet

In the last few years, the number of “nones” – those who don’t associate with any organized religion – has grown at a rate faster than any other group. Nones now represent one in five Americans, according to a 2012 Pew Research Center poll.

Although the number of atheists has grown, too, there are still a large number of “nones” that choose not to associate with the label “atheist.”

Some at Harvard’s Humanist congregation fall into this category.

“I don’t particularly have a religion,” said Anil Nyer, a neurologist who brought his daughter to Humanist Sunday school. But Nyer also said he didn’t want to label himself as an atheist.

One reason to shy away from the atheist label: Many Americans hold a negative impression of nonbelievers.

According to a recent Public Religion Research Institute poll, nearly 40 percent of Americans believe that atheists are changing American culture for the worse.

“Whenever we put atheists on a list like this and we compare them to other groups, atheists tend to come in towards the bottom of that list,” said Robert P. Jones is the CEO of Public Religion Research Institute.

“Americans tend to hold a lot of reservations about atheists.”

Epstein hopes his congregation can change that.

By formalizing meetings and building a strong community, the Harvard group hopes it can be a model for other atheist congregations forming around the country.

A group meets during an atheist gathering in Boston.

More atheists may come of the closet if they know a congregation will be there to support them, Epstein said,

“Being an atheist is something we want people to come out and be,” said the Humanist chaplain. “There are so many people, probably millions, who are humanists or atheists or nonreligious in private and nobody knows."

Epstein said he gets e-mails daily from people founding atheist meet-up groups.

“Tulsa, Oklahoma; North Carolina; London; Vancouver, Canada; Houston, Texas,” Epstein said, listing the sources of the most recent e-mails.

“One part of what we are saying is come on out and let your neighbors know” about your disbelief, he said. “It is not going to make you worse of a person, it is going to make you a better person to be more open about who you are.”

Rituals for the irreligious

For the last few years, the Humanist Community at Harvard has operated out of a small three-floor walk-up off the bustling streets of Harvard Square. The walls are littered with posters about atheism – tributes to famed atheists Eddie Izzard, Seth MacFarlane and Stephen Fry.

Because of the scattered furniture and the Harvard dorm feel, Epstein jokingly describes the space as “college broke chic.” That’s being generous – but it's also about to change.

Starting in the fall, the Humanist Community at Harvard will begin meeting in a nearly 3,000-square-foot community center with an event space for nearly 100 people.

Although the plan is to use the space at the group’s headquarters, it will also serve as a broader community center for the group that Epstein and others are trying to build in the Boston area.

“What we really would like to see is a community center where people can come by at anytime and to use it as a space to study or have a meeting for various committee,” said Chris Stedman, the assistant humanist chaplain at Harvard.

Stedman said he sees the new building as a place for people to gather, not only to become part of a humanist community, but to also become more engaged with the world.

When he talks about his plans for the future, Epstein appears to long for a time when the new community center could mimic aspects of church - a place for baby-naming ceremonies, weddings and funerals.

The success of an atheist church will depend on walking the thin line between too much and too little ritual, Epstein said.

Humanists boast a proud freethinking streak, and some at the Harvard event said they don’t want to be associated with any sort of dogma or belief system - or even a system based on disbelief.

Anyway, Esptein said his congregation will be less a group of people united by beliefs - or disbelief - and more like an opera, or a painting.

“Our community is like a work of art," he said. "Hopefully people will respond to that work of art and it will garner controversy and discussion like a work of art."

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Church • Houses of worship • United States

soundoff (6,897 Responses)
  1. NY Leigh

    Any Atheist that is looking for community can find it at their local Unitarian Universalist Congregation. I've been welcomed with open arms by mine and found that many in the congregation are also atheist or non-deist.

    June 24, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • lol??

      Muslims are Unies. They make it up as they go along.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • Joan

      Christianity is entirely made up. It's almost all fiction.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:50 am |
    • lol??

      WOW Joan, you want it ALL.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:53 am |
  2. Ray

    Atheism is a religion.
    They have their own worldview materialism.
    They have their own orthodoxy-EVERYTHING can be explained as the product of unintentional, undirected, purposeless evolution.
    They have their own brand of apostasy.Ask Antony Flew when he was vilified. Richard Dawkins accused Flew of “tergiversation.” It’s a fancy word for apostasy. By their own admission, then, Flew abandoned their “faith.”
    They have their own prophets: Nietzsche, Russell, Feuerbach, Lenin, Marx.
    They have their own messiah: He is, of course, Charles Darwin
    They have their own preachers and evangelists And boy, are they “evangelistic.” Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, and Hitchens
    They have faith. But theirs is a faith-based enterprise. The existence of God cannot be proven or disproven. To deny it takes faith. Evolution has no explanation for why our universe is orderly, predictable, measurable. In fact (atheistic) evolutionary theory has no rational explanation for why there is such a thing as rational explanation

    June 24, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • mjbrin

      hmm, well i can use that analogy with political parties as well.
      move on

      June 24, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      That statement is just really sad. There is ONLY 1 thing Atheists have in common .. not believing in any God(s), that's it. Everything else you wrote is purely ignorance foisted on you by the very religion you claim provides you with the truth. Propaganda of fear so you don't question your faith or leave it.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • Ryan

      I wouldn't compare it to not collecting stamps, rather, burning stamps...that can be a hobby.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • The real Tom

      It is ridiculous to claim that all atheists and agnostics agree that everything can be explained. I certainly don't think there is yet an explanation for how the big bang occurred. Why do you lie about things you don't understand?

      June 24, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • AH

      Couldn't have said it any better myself!

      June 24, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • ME II

      @Ray,
      – No it's not a religion since it has no dogma, doctrine, or belief system.
      – Atheism does not require materialism
      – The diversity of life, after life began, can be explained by the Theory of Evolution, nothing else.
      Definition of TERGIVERSATION 1: evasion of straightforward action or clear-cut statement : equivocation
      – Atheists respect great thinkers, not necessarily the ones you mentioned.
      – Charles Darwin was a great thinker, but not a Messiah in any way.
      – Atheism, for many atheists, is simply a lack of belief, not a faith.
      – The Theory of Evolution does not cover the origin of the universe nor the origin of life.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • sam stone

      Ray: Everything you said about atheism is incorrect

      You are delusional

      The fact that A(ss) H(ole) agrees with you only cements it

      June 24, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • oOo

      Quite an impressive display of ignorance about understanding atheism.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "A" = Lack of
      "Theism" = Belief in gods
      "A" + "Theism" = Lack of belief in gods.

      Atheism is a negative statement that says only what one does NOT believe.
      It implies no behaviours, morals, world views or other characteristics whatsoever.
      It is akin to labelling the singer in a band an "a-instrumentalist" – it is accurate insofar as it describes what they don't do, but it does not describe their actual contribution.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • Wendy

      Ray
      If we had "faith" in science we would have rejected new ideas that contradicted old scientific belief. We would have rejected Einstein, Hawking, and most of the other innovators, but we didn't, because we recognized the truth of their discoveries.

      We measure "truth" by what can be proven and supported by evidence. If that doesn't separate us fundamentally from all religions, what else could?

      June 24, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • lol??

      One of the founders of the 800 hotline for the disillusioned A&A's claims it's a religion. The A&A's are not really in charge of their own destiny. They never were. Denial is their faith.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • oOo

      Lollipop: "The A&A's are not really in charge of their own destiny. They never were. Denial is their faith."

      I guess I can understand why you would want to be "in charge" of the plans your imaginary "friend" has in store for you.
      Denial does come natural for one who is surrounded by lots of dogs. You do find yourself sternly saying "no" frequently.

      June 24, 2013 at 11:01 am |
    • tallulah13

      Why do christians think it's okay to fabricate falsehoods? Didn't your god say that lying is forbidden?

      June 24, 2013 at 11:06 am |
    • lol??

      oOo "...............You do find yourself sternly saying "no" frequently..........."

      That is a God the Father thing.

      Kommie mommies say no this way, "My son can't be a serial rapist like Clinton!!"

      June 24, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • IntellectualViolence

      @Secular Humanist from Ohio, "Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby."

      Granted this is a snappy, clever retort. I would argue that it is an inaccurate and unfair characterization.

      Not collecting stamps is doing nothing, believing nothing in regard to stamps. The same cannot be said about Atheism: the rejection of the supernatural is something, is a belief system.

      Asserting that Atheism is mere denial or simple negation is both diminishing and devaluing it.

      I think the part of calling Atheism a religion that troubles many people is the social connotations (positive, negative, and historical) connected with more conventional religions.

      June 24, 2013 at 11:17 am |
    • ME II

      @IntellectualViolence,
      "The same cannot be said about Atheism: the rejection of the supernatural is something, is a belief system."
      "Asserting that Atheism is mere denial or simple negation is both diminishing and devaluing it."

      I disagree. Atheism, for many Atheists, is exactly that, a simple negation of assertions, i.e. a lack of belief. And as such does not entail anything beyond that. Any action or positions taken by Atheists must be supported by additional philosophies and ideologies, such as Secular Humanism, UU, etc., but not Atheism itself.

      June 24, 2013 at 11:34 am |
    • IntellectualViolence

      @Me II
      Well said, but I must disagree in that a separate belief system is created by a such rejection or negation. Additional actions or positions are extraneous.

      Simply put, stating a disbelief of the supernatural IS a belief system, is just as complete as a theist's belief system that asserts the existence of the supernatural. One could argue that the theist's belief system is older, more comprehensive, and generally accepted, but not a more complete belief system.

      I'd also disagree with following assertion:

      Negation of assertions = lack of belief.

      Not believing in the supernatural is still a belief.

      June 24, 2013 at 11:46 am |
    • oOo

      Lollipop: "That is a God the Father thing."

      No – in reality it's the voices of freedom keeping the wall of separation firmly in place. Nice try though.

      June 24, 2013 at 11:57 am |
    • ME II

      @IntellectualViolence,
      "a separate belief system is created by a such rejection or negation."

      Without delving into semantics, does the same hold for the rejection of a belief in fairies or leprechauns? I don't think it does. Bertrand Russell's celestial teapot is a classic example, in that rejection of the existence of a celestial teapot orbiting the sun does not "create" a separate belief system. It simply rejects the posited one.

      If you are claiming that the "created" belief system is one of 'no fairies', 'no leprechauns', etc. then I would say that many Atheists do not claim that gods don't exist, just that there is no reason to believe that they do exist. Similarly, there is no reason to believe there is a celestial teapot, but there still could be one.

      June 24, 2013 at 2:52 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      "Not believing in the supernatural is still a belief."

      As in "I believe I don't believe in Cornish Pixies" presumably?

      What nonsense. Non-belief is not belief. Literally.

      June 24, 2013 at 2:56 pm |
    • IntellectualViolence

      @I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV
      What nonsense. Non-belief is not belief. Literally.

      Honestly, your logic is flawed here:

      Atheism ≠ Non-Belief. Atheism is a specific rejection of a specific concept. That is not 'non-belief.' More simply, it is not a question of believing in the supernatural or believing in nothing. That would be a false dichotomy.

      Rejection of the supernatural ≠ nothing.

      June 24, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • IntellectualViolence

      @ME II
      I am disappointed such discussions often degenerate into people invoking fairies, pixies, or leprechauns.

      Bertrand Russell's celestial teapot, pixies, fairies, and leprechauns are all besides the point as, presuming non-flippancy, they represent the supernatural, not a rejection of it en mass. Further, Russell's celestial teapot analogy was more about the lack of proof for a given claim, not about atheism or theism specifically.

      I made no claims of what Atheists (dis)believe outside of the core classification that they reject the supernatural. My point was simpler: the rejection of the supernatural is a belief system as complete as any other belief system.

      Atheism is a belief system with a specific doctrine focused on the question of the supernatural or divine. That is not the same as saying that it is a "lack of belief," a phrase you used, one which sounds like an empty set. Please correct me if I am wrong on that last point.

      Rejection of the Supernatural ≠ Nothing.

      Honestly, this is less of a semantic argument than one of value. Reducing Atheism to "non-belief" or a "lack of belief" is unfair, simply ways to devalue and marginalize it.

      June 24, 2013 at 4:44 pm |
    • ME II

      @IntellectualViolence,
      "Russell's celestial teapot analogy was more about the lack of proof for a given claim, not about atheism or theism specifically."

      That is the point, I think. Gods, and more generally the supernatural, are posited as an hypothesis to explain certain phnomena. Lacking sufficient evidence, that hypothesis can be dismissed.

      "Atheism is a belief system with a specific doctrine focused on the question of the supernatural or divine."

      What is that "beleif system" and/or "specific doctrine" exactly?

      June 24, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • IntellectualViolence

      @Me II, Atheism [sic]: "What is that "beleif system" and/or "specific doctrine" exactly?"

      I think that is a fair question, but the framework of which is already known. I will try to answer that by pairing my response by referencing both the theist and atheist. Simply, the belief systems are as follow:

      Atheism: the rejection of the supernatural.
      Theism: the belief in at least one supernatural force.

      Specific doctrine outside of the core definition would vary for the (a)theist. I think there are 'branches' (for lack of better word) of atheism, (practical, theoretical, some I'd term reactionary, etc.) as well as more individualistic notions just as there are myriad of theistic religions.

      Atheism: congregations of those with like beliefs might take place in the gathering in the article above, humanist meetings, philosophy college classes, atheist clubs, etc. Expounding on and codifying atheistic ideas can come from many places, (e.g., online forums, philosophers, current authors like Richard Dawkins, etc.).

      Theism: While some of the venues for congregation, teaching, and codification are different, most are the same or analogous.

      A while back, I tried to think of an inclusive definition for religion. The trick (for me) was to not exclude faiths without a divine figure (e.g., Buddhism and Taoism). When I did that, I realized atheism fit such a classification.

      Is that a fair answer to your question?

      June 24, 2013 at 6:42 pm |
  3. Ryan

    Closet atheists?!? LOL You must have pretty low self esteem to be a closet atheist....From what I've seen...many are closet Christians. You don't see atheists being killed for their lack of faith, but Christians do die and are persecuted for their faith.

    June 24, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • John

      Atheism is responsible for the systematic destruction of over 250 million innocent people in the last 100 years alone. That's 1 world trade center blast per day for 10 years. Pol Pot, Stalin, Khmer Rouge for starters. Not all atheists are mass murderers but all mass murderers were atheists.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • The real Tom

      John, if you have to lie, you don't have a valid point.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:26 am |
    • Paul

      Atheists aren't typically killed for being such, in the states. There was that case a few years ago of one crazy Christian YouTube maker that killed an atheist and himself, but, that isn't very common, true. We are often marginalized in this country however. And, there are witch burnings to this day, literally burning people alive, by Christians in some African countries.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      There are seven where countries where expression of atheist views can bring capital punishment , Afghanistan, Iran, Maldives, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:29 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Stalin was raised an orthodox christian and studied at an orthodox college .. it is most likely that his orthodox upbringing and education is what made him who he was. None of these monsters killed in the name of Atheism (like religious followers do), they killed for their political ideology and power .. quite similarly to your God of the old testament.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • Wendy

      Hitler had atheists killed too, along with gays, Jews and Gypsies, all the out groups in Christian Europe.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • mjbrin

      @John,
      I like this quote from Skeptical Science

      " what really is the root cause behind all that Hitler, Stalin, Mao and other similar tyrants did? All of them have one common cause, in each instance they were psychopaths. Note that I’m not using that as a form of insult, I’m giving you a diagnosis. A psychopath is somebody who manifests superficial charm, Grandiose sense of self-worth, is cunning and manipulative, lacks remorse or guilt, is callous, has a lack of empathy, and fails to accept responsibility for their own actions.

      Religion does indeed stand guilty of some truly hideous crimes and a direct root cause within a delusional belief can indeed be established (think 9/11 as an example), but the attempt to put a lack of belief in the dock on the basis that some fanatical psychopaths committed truly hideous crimes on an industrial scale is simply an instance of the “Post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy, the root cause was their Psychopathy."

      but it also makes me think about all the followers they had. Did they think for themselves of follow someone?

      June 24, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • ME II

      @John,
      Atheism is not "responsible" for those deaths since the people committing those atrocities were doing so in the name of Communism, Stalin-ism, or other political ideology. Atheism is not an ideology, for many Atheists.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • skytag

      John, you really stink at logic, don't you? Atheism can't "cause" anything anymore than not believing in Santa Claus or vampires can cause anything. If a Christian commits a crime that doesn't mean Christianity is responsible for the crime, yet that's the logic you use to condemn atheism. It's not a valid argument.

      June 24, 2013 at 11:15 am |
    • skytag

      "You must have pretty low self esteem to be a closet atheist...."

      So much for the biblical admonition to not judge people.

      "From what I've seen...many are closet Christians."

      According to you they must have low self-esteem. Why would that be?

      "You don't see atheists being killed for their lack of faith, but Christians do die and are persecuted for their faith."

      Not in this country. Besides, Matt 5:11 says you are blessed when men revile and persecute you for your belief in Christ. Why would any Christian try to avoid being blessed like that?

      Let's face it, Christians are by far the least persecuted religious group in America, depending on their flavor of Christianity, of course. I certainly haven't heard about Episcopalians be persecuted. In fact, we've had more presidents who were Episcopalian than any other religion.

      June 24, 2013 at 11:26 am |
    • skytag

      During Hitler's reign Germany was an overwhelmingly Catholic country. Outside of his military service in WWI I'm not aware of any instance in which Hitler killed anyone, other than himself. His atrocities were carried about by his followers, many of whom were Catholics.

      June 24, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  4. Dirk the Daring

    Church is a waste of time. This sounds like an even bigger waste of time.

    June 24, 2013 at 10:15 am |
  5. jamesfoley

    of mankind's most noble thoughts and ideals as

    June 24, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  6. jamesfoley

    God is merely

    June 24, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • jamesfoley

      a personification, a construct

      June 24, 2013 at 10:13 am |
    • jamesfoley

      of mankind's most noble thoughts and ideals as depicted by ancient and ignorant people, and the

      June 24, 2013 at 10:17 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      .. a natural phenomenon, a side effect of our early stage ability for abstract thought combined with out lack of understanding of the natural universe.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • lol??

      Nuthin' abstract 'bout Socie ammo.

      June 24, 2013 at 11:10 am |
    • oOo

      Lollipop loves to side-step when he dances.

      June 24, 2013 at 12:36 pm |
  7. Sajid

    It is interesting. I have been following the neuro psychological studies currently going on in the United states. They are trying to explain morals and religious beliefs based on the scientific understanding of the brain functions. What is even more interesting is the association of Buddhists with these researchers. Buddhism ,though atheistic , stresses the importance of morals in humans. And modern neuroscience finds ways to inculcate morals without introducing God.The article points in that direction. Atheists can now claim scientific evidence for holding good moral values. What more, we may soon find atheists have better morals than religious people!!

    And it is significant that it has been opened in Harvard considering the fact that this area may be having the most educated crowd by American standards. It is a good PR exercise by the atheists and with a good reason too!

    June 24, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • mjbrin

      sounds interesting, where can we read up on this study?

      June 24, 2013 at 10:22 am |
    • Ryan

      Morals came from God, just because some choose to obey some of God's laws while rejecting God, doesn't mean that moral laws were inherent...go study how 2 year olds behave...then you will see the true nature of man.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • sam stone

      Ryan: Morals do not come from god

      June 24, 2013 at 10:36 am |
    • skytag

      Ryan, what is your evidence that morals come from God? I would argue that morals are values that benefit societies as a whole.

      June 24, 2013 at 11:07 am |
  8. Ryan

    Oh, god is in their "churches" alright....they've just replaced God with self (god).

    June 24, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • Wendy

      Plenty of "self" in the actual churches as well. Lots of advise (orders) on how to change the self in order to gain immortality for the self. God is only the supposed means towards all that self-ishness.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:19 am |
    • Ryan

      I won't dispute that...but just because you go to church doesn't make you a true Christian does it?

      June 24, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Ryan

      But also on the contrary, to change one's self out of the grace and love of God is denying self. The true Christian humbles himself before God.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:37 am |
    • sam stone

      "Oh, god is in their "churches" alright....they've just replaced God with self (god)"

      And plenty of faithful define god in their own way....

      June 24, 2013 at 10:38 am |
    • sam stone

      Grace and love? You must be joking

      June 24, 2013 at 10:39 am |
    • sam stone

      ryan: how is prayer NOT blasphemous? don't those praying imply that they have a better plan? sounds pretty arrogant to me

      June 24, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • Ryan

      No, because the Bible says, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6 We make our requests, but let God's will be done.

      June 24, 2013 at 11:02 am |
    • skytag

      Ryan, people strive to improve themselves and be better people for many reasons. It does not require a belief in God. If you are motivated to do so by your belief in God, that's fine, but understand that God doesn't have to be real for you to do that, as it is you who will being making the change.

      June 24, 2013 at 11:11 am |
  9. jamesfoley

    Oxymorons I've encountered; Atheistic church, independent party, military intelligence, Government accountability, religious freedom, Christian right.

    Having an Atheistic church is a bit like having an Independent Party, it just doesn't seem to make any sense. It defeats the purpose.

    June 24, 2013 at 10:11 am |
    • skytag

      The good that comes from religions is a product of their ability to unify people into groups, not from any belief in God. These people are simply experiencing that bonding without religion.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • jamesfoley

      Actually, they're turning it into a religion. Or did you mean they're experiencing that without making the biblical, quran-ian, torahn version of a living god their centerpiece? Atheism means without god. Amoral means without moral, and Atypical means without type. Why call it a church at all? Let the religiots have that.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • mjbrin

      lol!

      June 24, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  10. mjbrin

    i often wonder why some Christians admonish people who commit suicide

    June 24, 2013 at 10:09 am |
    • Vic

      S a n c t i t y Of Life

      June 24, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • lol??

      Electin' the suicidal is all the rage for the transformationalists.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:16 am |
    • sam stone

      vic: s-a-n-c-t-i-t-y of choice is primary.

      you are delusional

      June 24, 2013 at 10:18 am |
    • mjbrin

      @Vic, I understand their belief, I just don't understand why the admonish them, weren't they supposed to be there for them while they were in their crisis and help them to prevent the suicide? shouldn't they be admonishing themselves for judging those people so harshly? If they can admonish those who commit suicide why do they send their children to war to kill other peoples children and possible get killed themselves? where is the sanctifying of life in war?

      June 24, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      God killed 25,000,000 people in the bible.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:20 am |
    • Science

      Come on Vic...................life is what....................se-x and the stork ?

      June 24, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • Wendy

      And, if all aborted fetuses go to heaven, why complain about abortion? Forced to be born, especially unwanted, would very likely
      send them onto a path towards self-destruction and hell. That ain't doing them any favors.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:24 am |
  11. John Connery

    There is nothing new under the sun. The Unitarians have been around for a while and they don't believe in God. They do idolize doughnuts and coffee though.

    June 24, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • lol??

      D'oh!!!! Doughnuts will get you everytime 'cept after sippin' Scotch.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:14 am |
  12. Kate

    I tried the Unitarians because it was an open church....atheists, agnostics, pagans, whatever. I believe in God...but not religion. I don't think humans are evolved enough to understand God fully. And I think religion is a lot of pagan beliefs intermixed with a lot of hocus pocus, stories, fairy tales, etc. While the Unitarians did talk a lot about ethics, morals, kindness, etc., I just didn't feel I needed them to tell me how to be a good person. I was raised to be all those things.
    I also didn't like having a pastor who was an avowed atheist. What's the point? I no longer attend these kinds of meetings. I continue trying to be the best person I can be. I try to help out people who need help and to be honest in all my dealings. I don't need any meetings to remind me of my duties as a human being.

    June 24, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Wendy

      Kate
      You can believe in God without religion but, if you believe anything about God, then you are bringing religion into it.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • ME II

      @Wendy,
      Interesting thought, thanks.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:43 am |
  13. lol??

    Atheistic sperm, meet agnostic egg for the birthing of a NEW Mythology. Excitin' fer sure.

    June 24, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      NOT believing is now "mythological belief"?!

      June 24, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @lol – I don't ususally read what you post, because let's face it... you're kinda of a retard... but I did find this particular comment slightly amusing...

      June 24, 2013 at 10:11 am |
  14. This Just In

    Fairytales are for children. It's time for mankind to grow up.

    June 24, 2013 at 10:00 am |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      I'll second that!

      June 24, 2013 at 10:02 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      From their own bible ...
      1 Corinthians 13:11 .. When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Rob

      Horses: You're misinterpreting that verse. When it refers to "putting away childish things," it means more of not looking out for number one (ourselves) and looking out for the interests of others. It means getting rid of those things that would be I tell my kids are "naughty" in our lives and looking to Christ for the answers in life.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:23 am |
    • If horses had Gods .. their Gods would be horses

      Rob .. I didn't misinterpret, I quoted .. big difference.
      People interpret to suit their own desires/needs, that's why so many followers disagree on biblical interpretations, like you just did.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:35 am |
  15. brad

    Crap, I read one to many comments and now I'm brain dead.....

    June 24, 2013 at 9:59 am |
  16. NotFoolinMe

    Why do so many people have so much free time? I don't. Am I the only one working? I'm an Atheist myself. I have no religion. I don't need to meet as though I did in order to talk about that either. I have more important things to do. It disturbs me that these fools don't seem to. Religious people have the excuse of being mentally deficient for wasting their time like this. Shouldn't we with full capacity IQs be setting a better example? Quit sitting around sucking yourselves off as though you're accomplishing some great feat. You're not. You're just another bunch of flakes.

    June 24, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • tallulah13

      I'm drinking my coffee before getting ready for work. I set aside this time to post because it is something that entertains me. If this bores you, find something else to do.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • NotFoolinMe

      No one said anything about being bored. You obviously didn't comprehend my words. Try reading it again AFTER your coffee.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Hi Tallulah!... I've got french roast with caramel macchiato... how about you?

      June 24, 2013 at 10:01 am |
    • ialsoagree

      It always amuses me when I see an atheist complain that other atheists are acting like atheism is a religion, all while trying to tell those other atheists exactly how they should practice their atheism.

      -Signed, an atheist who doesn't give a crap how other atheists behave (as long as they're not hurting other people).

      June 24, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • ME II

      "Shouldn't we with full capacity IQs be setting a better example? Quit sitting around sucking yourselves off as though you're accomplishing some great feat. You're not. You're just another bunch of flakes."

      Perhaps you should revisit your assumptions.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • tallulah13

      Hey Lucifer. I'm just drinking leftover dross from yesterday. I"ll get a latte on my way to work.

      "NotFoolinMe": Your comment included the statement that you had more important things to do. I was simply stating that perhaps you should go do those things.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • tallulah13

      Off to work. Later all.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • lol??

      The dopes are hooked on sumpin' worse than phonics.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:08 am |
  17. Tea Party Patriot

    A growing number of us are convinced that Sarah Palin is the only one who can heal and re-unify our country. But first she must return to her motorhome and resume her cross country tour. She will have to visit cities both large and small, being careful to speak only to real Americans, dispensing her sage advice and folksy, homespun common sense solutions. We can be a great nation again if we all follow the "Palin Path".

    June 24, 2013 at 9:54 am |
    • Yank My Doodle Dandy

      Amen brother!

      June 24, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • tallulah13

      A growing number of us are convinced that you are either a troll or a spam-bot.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • ME II

      Excellent example of Poe's law... I think.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:56 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Wow palintwit, I guess you kinda took my suggestion and to try some other politiciantwit handle...

      June 24, 2013 at 10:03 am |
  18. Dyslexic doG

    Christians seem obsessed with proving that Atheism is a religion.

    It's like a drug addict who knows what they are doing is stupid but still pushes their friends to have a hit with them ... they must feel a little less stupid if other people are doing it too.

    June 24, 2013 at 9:43 am |
    • mjbrin

      that is an interesting take on the whole thing.....

      June 24, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • skytag

      If atheism is the name of the religion based on not believing in God, what's the religion in which people don't believe in Santa Claus?

      June 24, 2013 at 11:03 am |
  19. chaz

    the foolish do not hear. They are just a little off on the True Salvation and yet they are deceived. by the enemy to think that they are being saved.

    there is but one way to Heaven...

    June 24, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • Damocles

      Next time, try manking sense.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • Damocles

      Crap, crap, crap.... yes I see it... MAKING.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • richunix

      Whats Heaven?

      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      June 24, 2013 at 9:47 am |
    • tallulah13

      There is no proof that there is any afterlife. You have dedicated your life to wishful thinking. Sorry.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:50 am |
    • keb carerra

      The "enemy" , really ? You believe in demons and angels ? Virgins give birth , the universe was created in six days etc. etc.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:55 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      There is no magical place at the end of the rainbow where you will go when you die.

      Try and live the best, most noble life you can and show all the good you do to your children. Have a remarkable life and you will be remembered and glorified by your actions. That's as close as we can hope to get to immortality.

      No need for a magic man in the sky to make you feel less scared about dying.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:57 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "The road is narrow the horizon wide,
      And they say what's waiting on the other side,
      It's so rewarding and the ultimate prize.
      But what good is something if you can't have it until you die?

      Desperate, tenacious, clinging like a grain of sand,
      Watching its foundations wash away,
      Drunk with the as.sertions they know they can't defend
      Confident that they might live again."

      – Dr. Greg Graffin, "Live Again – The Fall of Man"

      June 24, 2013 at 10:05 am |
    • Science

      Sounds like chad without the ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ !

      June 24, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • Madtown

      there is but one way to Heaven...
      ---–
      And coincidentally, this "one way" just happens to be the way you were exposed to as you grew up, while other humans had no such exposure. I guess you're one of the lucky ones!

      June 24, 2013 at 10:08 am |
    • sam stone

      free people do not need salvation, chaz....back on your knees, b1tch

      June 24, 2013 at 10:10 am |
  20. Jonah

    If anyone reading this is disgusted with all the nonsensense and would like to see a real church, you should investigate the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Check it out at lds.org or mormon.org.

    June 24, 2013 at 9:38 am |
    • The real Tom

      Talk about a cult!

      June 24, 2013 at 9:40 am |
    • Tbay

      Didn't you get eaten by a whale?

      June 24, 2013 at 9:42 am |
    • Michael

      Just a cult...

      June 24, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • Dyslexic doG

      let's all go and be gods on the planet Kolob.

      hilarious!!!

      June 24, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • The Jackdaw

      tool

      June 24, 2013 at 9:44 am |
    • Doobs

      "nonsensense'?

      I pass Mitten's LDS church twice a day. It's a huge, gaudy eyesore and a monumental tribute to the god of all religions...money.

      June 24, 2013 at 9:45 am |
    • richunix

      Yup, it a cult, much like Christianity is

      Stephen F Roberts: “I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.”

      June 24, 2013 at 9:48 am |
    • ME II

      @Jonah,
      Isn't LDS just "Christianity, Now with 50% More Silliness Added"

      June 24, 2013 at 9:49 am |
    • tallulah13

      You do realize that your church was founded by a con man, one that kept claiming divine revelation every time he wanted a new wife or to change a rule within the church he invented?

      June 24, 2013 at 9:53 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Mormons – I can't take seriously a group that found the bible not stupid enough for them, so they made one even more appallingly stupid.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:07 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      "If a dest.itute (Mormon) family is faced with the decision of paying their ti.thing or eating, they should pay their t.ithing." (Lynn Robbins, General Conference, April 2005).

      Mormonism: Pay up, even if your children are starving.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:12 am |
    • Jonah

      12 And there was much murmuring among the people concerning him: for some said, He is a good man: others said, Nay; but he deceiveth the people. (New Testament, John, Chapter 7). You know, you people (people just like you) were criticizing the Lord himself 2000 years ago. Well, nothing has changed in 2000 years and if the Lord were here today, you would crucify him all over again.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:14 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      LET's Religiosity Law #1 – If Jesus came back today he would be shot in the head. That's what you do to put down zombies; otherwise they eat your brains.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:15 am |
    • ME II

      @Jonah,
      In the US, a secular country, we don't crucify or even punish people for their beliefs. That being said if he truly believed he was divine then he might be encouraged to seek psychological help.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • TN Granger

      As usual, those commenting on Mormons have likely never actually gone to the resources the church provides to learn more about them. And for those who think that it would be foolish to go to the church's web site to find unbiased information, I suppose you would find it reasonable to rely solely on advice from a Ford dealer on buying a Chevy?

      June 24, 2013 at 10:21 am |
    • skytag

      Mormons are just another group of people with their own god narrative. They are no more "real" as a church than any other church.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:24 am |
    • Jonah

      You know, Doc, everyone in the world has faith...............in something. You put your faith every day in things of the world. You think they will save you. And, they seem to, for a time, but if you look back on your life, you will see that they fade away and you never really get ahead. I put my faith in ti thing and in the Lord and my successes are real successes. I live in the light and not only do I prosper, but I have a fine family and peace and happiness.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:28 am |
    • The real Tom

      Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back, Jonah.

      People like Joel Osteen prosper and enjoy life; doesn't mean they're good people. Doesn't mean you are, either.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:31 am |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @TN Granger – one foolish cult is pretty much the same as any other foolish cult.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:32 am |
    • The real Tom

      "As usual, those commenting on Mormons have likely never actually gone to the resources the church provides to learn more about them. And for those who think that it would be foolish to go to the church's web site to find unbiased information, I suppose you would find it reasonable to rely solely on advice from a Ford dealer on buying a Chevy?"

      I base my judgment of Mormonism on all I've read about it and on the Mormons I have met, who are, without exception, total jerks and asses.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:33 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @TN Granger
      I dislike Mormonism becuase of the writing that came straight from the Prophets' mouths.
      Brigham Young's racist contributions to the Journal of Discourses is enough to make one vomit.
      "Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.”
      Such racist garbage was crammed into Mormon children's heads from the very outset.
      We understand that when God made man in his own image and pronounced him very good, that he made him white. We have no record of any of God's favored servants being of a black race...every angel who ever brought a message of God's mercy to man was beautiful to look upon, clad in the purest white and with a countenance bright as the noonday sun. (Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 3, page 157)

      But I understand that the Church is shying away from it's racist roots.
      It started all the way back in the mid twentieth century with statement like:
      "I would not want you to believe that we bear any animosity toward the Neg.ro. Dar.kies are wonderful people, and they have their place in our church."
      – Joseph Fielding Smith, Look magazine, October 22, 1963, page 79

      But don't you find it odd that the 1978 "divine revelation" allowing dark skinned people into the priesthood happened at exactly the same time as the LDS opened their first temple in an area that wasn't lilly white? It can be awfully hard to find people to work for you for free if you openly call them inferior.

      It makes one think that perhaps the LDS Prophets are more concerned with Profit than salvation.
      "Ti.thing is an important test of our personal righteousness. President Joseph F. Smith (1838-1918) said: “By this principle it shall be known who is for the kingdom of God and who is against it. … By it it shall be known whether we are faithful or unfaithful” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 276)."

      To make sure congregants are paying up, each year they must go before a Bishop for a Ti.thing Settlement.
      Those members who are not paying a full 10% lose their temple recommendations and therefore are in serious jeopardy of losing their Celestial blessings.
      If a member cannot get into the temple, they cannot learn the secret handshake, secret password, secret "new name" and special “sealings”.
      Without these, the member will be unable to pass Joseph Smith and the angels who guard the entrance to the Celestial Kingdom.
      And where does the money go?
      According to the Deseret News Agency, the propaganda arm of the LDS, the Church has spent some $750 million internationally on charitable works between 1984 and 2006.
      They also spent 4 times that amount (approx $3 BILLION) in ¼ of the time to build a mall in Salt Lake City.
      The Latter Saints have a lot of very profitable businesses in their expanding corporate empire, such as Deseret Management Corporation, Beneficial Financial Group , Bonneville Communications , Bonneville Interactive Services
      , Bonneville Satellite, 35 Radio Stations, Deseret Book, La'ie Shopping Center, La'ie Park, La'ie Cemetary, Hukilau Beach Park, La'ie Water Company, La'ie Treatment Works, Zions Securities Corporation, Farm Management Corporation (commericial farms and agricultural properties), Deseret Land and Livestock, 200,000 acres of land in Rich, Morgan and Weber counties, Sun Ranch (Martin's Cove), Deseret Ranches of Florida (Orlando) (largest ranch in Florida), Deseret Farms of California, Rolling Hills (Idaho), West Hills Orchards (Elberta, Utah), Cactus Lane Ranch (Arizona), Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (CPB), Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Deseret Trust Company, LDS Family Services, Property Reserves Inc. (PRI), Ensign Peak Advisors, Brigham Young University, LDS Business College,... the list goes on and on.

      It's all about the money and always has been.
      Joseph Smith used his magic Seer Stones in a treasure hunting scam for which he was found guilty well before they translated the mysterious Golden Plates.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Jonah

      The world is full of mirages. Worldly success looks real and seems real, but over time they are "dust in the wind, all they are is dust in the wind". You build your houses on sand, and the sand fades away and your lives fall apart. You can not find any happiness because you look back and your life is full of regrets.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:35 am |
    • Jonah

      Criticize, criticize. Well, criticize all you want, but the bottom line is this; we live in the light and have peace, prosperity, good health, and happiness. You live in the dark, and have you got to show for it? Just ask yourself, what have you got to show for it? Broken families, poverty, disease, misery and pain!

      June 24, 2013 at 10:41 am |
    • skytag

      Doc, your comment about starving children is ignorance personified.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:43 am |
    • skytag

      Jonah, Mormons have broken homes, get divorces, get diseases, and so on at pretty much the same rate as non-Mormons. The idea that your religious beliefs insulate you from these things is a fantasy. Any small advantage you might have is the result of following teachings that are common sense, not some divine influence.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:46 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Jonah
      the Journal of Religion & Society published a study on religious belief and social well-being, comparing 18 prosperous democracies from the U.S. to New Zealand.
      #1 on the list in both atheism and good behaviour is Ja.pan. It is one of the least crime-prone countries in the world. It also has the lowest rates of teenage pregnancy of any developed nation. Over eighty percent of the population accept evolution.
      Last on the list is the U.S. It has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy and homicide rates are at least five times greater than in Europe and ten times higher than in Ja.pan.
      Atheists, being a moderate proportion of the USA population (about 8-16%) are disproportionately less numerous in the prison population (0.21%)
      Louisiana, with America's highest church attendance rate, has twice the national average murder rate.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:47 am |
    • skytag

      Jonah, I've known a lot of Mormons in my life. Many of them were fine people. Your behavior here reflects badly on most of them.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:48 am |
    • The real Tom

      Jonah bleats: "Criticize, criticize. Well, criticize all you want, but the bottom line is this; we live in the light and have peace, prosperity, good health, and happiness. You live in the dark, and have you got to show for it? Just ask yourself, what have you got to show for it? Broken families, poverty, disease, misery and pain!"

      Married almost 33 years, happily, comfortably situated and successful in my career. Own a home. Have excellent health. The only pain I have is in my pinky toe, which I stubbed hard last night. No misery at all.

      Gee, your batting average is lousy, Jonah.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:49 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Tom
      Are you certain that your stubbed toe isn't a manifestation of God's wrath?

      June 24, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Science

      The whole state ............maybe...............Ski Snowbird or Park City. ?

      Mormon Settlement – Utah History to Go – Utah.gov

      historytogo.utah.gov › Facts › Brief History

      Mormon Settlement. BRIEF HISTORY OF UTAH Ron Rood and Linda Thatcher. Utah's thousands of years of prehistory and its centuries of known recorded ...

      June 24, 2013 at 10:52 am |
    • Science

      Hey Jonah.....................I have been to top of SNOWBIRD...............no fairy in the sky telling me I was going to BLOW my

      knee out and crack my knee cap in half on my last run before flying home back in 1989 !

      3% of ACL left attached !

      June 24, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • skytag

      Doc, your attack on the Mormon church is completely out of line. Yes, in the early days many of them retained the racist beliefs they'd been raised to believe. Brigham Young was a convert. Mormons do not consider their church president to be infallible the way the Catholics believe the Pope is infallible.

      The Klan was composed largely of Baptists. Brigham Young's comments aside, the Mormons never persecuted blacks as far as I know.

      I don't understand why you're so hostile toward the Mormons. Like all religions they have their narrative, their beliefs, their sacred texts, and their share of people who are far from perfect. By and large in my experience the ones I've known have been pretty decent people; hard working, family oriented, clean living, self-reliant. I don't see any reason to condemn them over comments made 150 years ago.

      June 24, 2013 at 10:59 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Skytag
      Firstly, if Brigham Young isn't revered by Mormons, why did they name a University after him?
      But anyways – I'm not condemning individual Mormons.
      I am critical of the LDS Hierarchy – and not just from 150 years ago.
      In 1947, Dr. Lowry Nelson – a Mormon himself – sent a letter to the Mormon First Presidency questioning the official racist doctrines.
      The reply he received said, in part:
      "From the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith even until now, it is has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Neg.roes are not ent.itled to the full blessings of the Gospel.
      "Furthermore your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Neg.ro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient partiarchs till now. God's rule for Israel, His Chosen People, has been endogamous."
      – George Albert Smith J. Reuben Clark, Jr. David O. McKay

      That isn't the distant past, sir.

      Even though the priesthood ban was repealed in 1978, the discourse that constructs what blackness means is still very much intact today. Under the direction of President Spencer W. Kimball, the First Presidency and the Twelve removed the policy that denied black people the priesthood but did very little to disrupt the multiple discourses that had fostered the policy in the first place. Hence there are Church members today who continue to summon and teach at every level of Church education the racial discourse that black people are descendants of Cain, that they merited lesser earthly privilege because they were "fence-sitters" in the War in Heaven, and that, science and climatic factors aside, there is a link between skin color and righteousness.

      And if my comment about ti/thing and starving children is ignorant, how else can the rather explicit (and modern) statement from an LDS Leader be construed?

      June 24, 2013 at 11:09 am |
    • The real Tom

      Doc, "god's wrath"? Not as likely as it is the result of SOMEONE leaving a door stop in the wrong spot. Need I say more?

      June 24, 2013 at 12:28 pm |
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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.