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Conservatives brace for `marriage revolution'
Conservative Christians say their churches have been unprepared for cultural shifts on same-sex marriage.
June 28th, 2013
06:19 PM ET

Conservatives brace for `marriage revolution'

By Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) - With its ivy-covered entrance and Teddy Bear bouquets, Arlene’s Flowers seems an unlikely spot to trigger a culture-war skirmish.

Until recently, the Richland, Washington, shop was better known for its artistic arrangements than its stance on same-sex marriage.

But in March, Barronelle Stutzman, the shop’s 68-year-old proprietress, refused to provide wedding flowers for a longtime customer who was marrying his partner. Washington state legalized same-sex marriage in December.

An ardent evangelical, Stutzman said she agonized over the decision but couldn’t support a wedding that her faith forbids.

“I was not discriminating at all,” she said. “I never told him he couldn’t get married. I gave him recommendations for other flower shops.”

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson disagreed, and filed a consumer protection lawsuit against Arlene’s Flowers. The ACLU also sued on behalf of the customer, Robert Ingersoll, who has said Stutzman’s refusal “really hurt, because it was someone I knew.”

Among conservative Christians, Stutzman has become a byword - part cautionary tale and part cause celebre.

Websites call her a freedom fighter. Tributes fill Arlene’s Facebook page. Donations to her legal defense fund pour in from as far away as Texas and Arkansas.

“For some reason, her case has made a lot of people of faith worry,” said Stutzman’s lawyer, Dale Schowengerdt of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal group.

Those anxieties have only increased, conservative Christians say, since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act and opened the door to gay marriage in California.

Taking a line from Justice Antonin Scalia's sharp dissent, Southern Baptist scholar Albert Mohler said it’s only a matter of time "before the other shoe drops" – and the high court legalizes same-sex marriage from coast to coast.

“Christians will have to think hard — and fast — about these issues and our proper response,” Mohler wrote on Wednesday.

“We will have to learn an entire new set of missional skills as we seek to remain faithful to Christ in this fast-changing culture.”

His fellow Southern Baptist Russell Moore put the matter more succinctly.

“Same-sex marriage is coming to your community.”

`The debate is over'

Well before the Supreme Court’s rulings, many conservative Christians said they saw the writing - or the poll numbers - on the wall.

Survey after survey shows increasing support for same-sex marriage, especially among young Americans. That includes many religious believers.

Most Catholics and mainline Protestants, not to mention many Jews, support same-sex relationships, according to surveys. The bells of Washington National Cathedral pealed in celebration on Thursday.

Even among those who oppose gay marriage, many think it’s a losing battle.

Seventy percent of white evangelicals believe that legal recognition for gay nuptials is inevitable, according to a June poll by the Pew Research Center, though just 22 percent favor it.

“The gay marriage debate is over,” said Jonathan Merritt, an evangelical writer on faith and culture. “Statistically, all the numbers move in one direction.”

Young Christians have grown up in a far more diverse culture than their forebears, Merritt noted, and many have befriended gays and lesbians.

Pew found that more than 90 percent of Americans overall personally know someone who is gay or lesbian, a 30 percent increase since 1993.

“It’s far easier to wage war against an agenda than it is to battle a friend,” Merritt said.

At the same time, many conservative young Christians say they’re weary of the culture wars, and of seeing their communities labeled “judgmental.”

When Christian researchers at the Barna Group asked Americans aged 16-29 what words best describe Christianity, the top response was “anti-homosexual.” That was true of more than 90 percent of non-Christians and 80 percent of churchgoers, according to Barna.

Tired of being told the country is slouching toward Gomorrah, many young Christians have simply tuned out the angry prophets of earlier generations, evangelical leaders say.

“The shrill angry voices of retrenchment are no longer getting a broad hearing either in the culture at large or in the evangelical community,” Merritt said.

But the battle over same-sex marriage is far from over, said Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage.

“I don’t believe most Christians are going to give up the fight,” said Brown, who is Catholic. He said his movement includes many young evangelical and Orthodox Christians.

“And they are more energized than ever.”

Love thy gay neighbors

Energized or not, conservative Christians must prepare for the moral dilemmas posed by the country’s growing acceptance of same-sex marriage, said Moore, the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“Is Your Church Ready for the Marriage Revolution?” Moore asked, while promoting a special session on homosexuality at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Houston in June.

Many evangelical pastors have seen homosexuality as a distant culture-war battle that’s fought far from the doors of the churches, Moore said.

Now, it’s as close as their front pews.

“I think it’s not so much that churches haven’t wanted to talk about it,” he said, “but they haven’t recognized how much the culture has changed around them.”

The first step, said Moore, is learning to defend traditional marriage without demonizing gays and lesbians.

Walking through Washington’s Union Station last Thursday, Moore said he saw several lesbian couples kissing in celebration of the Supreme Court rulings.

“If we can’t empathize with what’s going on in their hearts and minds, we’re not going to be able to love and respect them.”

Then come a host of secondary questions: How should conservative pastors minister to same-sex couples? Should Christians attend same-sex weddings? Should florists like Barronelle Stutzman's agree to work with gay couples?

`Don't give in' 

Florist Barronelle Stutzman.

In the 17 years she’s owned Arlene’s Flowers, Stutzman said, she’s worked with a number of gay colleagues.

“It really didn’t matter if they were gay, or blue or green, if they were creative and could do the job,” she said.

Stutzman suspects that some of her eight children privately don’t agree with her on homosexuality, even as they publicly support her decision.

Online, Stutzman has been called a bigot, and worse.

She said she’s lost at least two weddings because of her refusal to provide services for the same-sex marriage.

Conservative activists say her case is the first of what will surely be many more, as gay marriage spreads across the country.

As she gets ready to face a judge, the silver-haired florist offered some advice for fellow evangelicals.

“Don’t give in. If you have to go down for Christ, what better person to go down for?”

- CNN Religion Editor

Filed under: Baptist • Belief • Christianity • Church • Culture wars • Discrimination • Faith • Gay marriage • Gay rights • Homosexuality • Politics • Religious liberty • Same-sex marriage

soundoff (5,210 Responses)
  1. What is going on? FREEDOM

    It is unbelievable that people are still fighting this on the far right. Give it up already. You already know that you don't have to be religious to have morals. You know that children are perfectly fine with parents that are gay (only fearmongers spread stuff that suggest children are harmed by two gay parents). You already know that the majority of people in the United States support the right of gay people to be married.

    June 29, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • Dippy

      They'll eventually come around. They're just a little slower than the rest of us.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • lol??

      "............................You know that children are perfectly fine with parents that are gay......................."

      That's your PC doctrine, learned in the puppy mills of socialism.

      "Pro 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it."

      And you haven't DEPARTED from the socie training.

      June 30, 2013 at 6:17 am |
  2. Paul Ryan

    "If you have to go down for Christ, – or Tom or Dick or Harry – what better person to go down for?”

    Sometimes you have to go "down" before you can go "up."

    June 29, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
  3. WOT

    MOST OF YOU PEOPLE, WHO ARE TALKING ABOUT GOD'S WORD NEVER READ IT. PLEASE READ ( FOR THERE ARE EUNUCHS WHO HAVE BEEN SO FROM BIRTH, THERE AE EUNUCHS WHO HAVE BEEN MADE EUNUCHS BY MEN, AND THERE ARE EUNUCHS FOR THE SAKE OF THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN-MATTHEW 19:12)

    June 29, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • Dippy

      Caps lock off please. Or the eunuchs will get you.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • Observer

      WOT,

      People have done lots of wacky things for lots of religions. That has nothing to do with this subject.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • Nicodemus Grumpschmidt

      Run for your lives! The eunuchs are coming! The eunuchs are coming! And they're in all CAPS! We're doomed!

      June 30, 2013 at 12:16 am |
  4. Kellie

    So he was a long time customer, she had NO problem taking his money before. Hypocrite.

    June 29, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • lol??

      Your IRS servants don't have any problems either.

      June 30, 2013 at 6:19 am |
    • lol??

      They wanted Al Caponie's moolah.

      June 30, 2013 at 6:55 am |
  5. Greg

    The gay "marriage" issue could have been resolved by compromise. Have all legal references to "marriage" (or its various forms) replaced by references to "civil union" (or some such term) and remove "marriage" from the situation. This will let Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. maintain their traditional definition of marriage while the state defines it whatever way they want to. Flower shops and businesses should still have to serve all and there will be some things we don't like. But give to Caesar what is Caesar's but to God what is God's.

    June 29, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
    • Observer

      Greg,

      You don't believe nor follow all of God's warped views on marriage so don't attribute marriage to God.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • Akira

      Calling their marriages something else is still marginalizing them.
      And millions of people are not married in a church; are they any less married? No.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:07 pm |
    • Greg

      To Observer: Don't get hung up on the last phrase – it was something Jesus said in order to get people to focus towards God. So ignore it if you want (I am pretty sure you will). But what do you think of the compromise position that I put out there?

      June 29, 2013 at 11:09 pm |
    • Candiano

      Or they can change the definition of the word marriage...religion doesn't own the word, and new definitions to words are added all the time.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:16 pm |
    • Observer

      Greg,

      NO compromise is necessary. Marriage is a LEGAL matter with optional religious involvement.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • OTOH

      Greg,
      "Have all legal references to "marriage" (or its various forms) replaced by references to "civil union" (or some such term) and remove "marriage" from the situation."

      How about if religions replace all of their references with "religious union" or "sacramental marriage" (or some such term)?

      All religiously conducted marriages must be registered with the state anyway... (but civil marriages do not, on the other hand, require religious certification) and many countries even have 2 separate ceremonies.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:25 pm |
    • Saraswati

      These groups don't have their traditional definitions of marriage now. Catholics restrict it to those not divorced, many Muslims allow multiple wives, most religions marry only people in their faith... Marriage has long been a civil insti.tution and all else is just specific religious rites. They didn't mind sharing the name before, but now thiss anti-gay bigotry, pure and simple, is bringing out false claims that some unified religious concept exists. Here's a compromise: if your religion doesn't like sharing the word 'marriage' with the long established civil insti.tution, pick another word for you religious ceremony. But don't pretwnd they were the same thing until now in order to hide you specific dislike of gay people.

      June 30, 2013 at 6:31 am |
  6. CARLinAC

    I don't understand why you'd want to buy flowers from someone who doesn't want you to have their flowers because of what you are. Let the bigot lady sell flowers to whoever she wants and let the rest of us buy flowers from flower shops that don't hate gays. LIBERTY means MORE FREEDOM FOR EVERYONE IN EVERY REGARD including the freedom to be a stupid bigot.

    June 29, 2013 at 10:57 pm |
  7. JOhn

    If she refused service to people who were NOT planning a church wedding etc. because they were atheists, then she might have a case, since she has picked and chosen who she will not service her business is toast.

    June 29, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Dippy

      She doesn't have a case, it's discrimination either way. Outdated religious beliefs are no excuse.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
  8. romany stanton

    This is so wrong, one of Gay's biggest complaints is that others force their beliefs on them by banning them from being married etc so here they are first opportunity they get forcing their beliefs onto someone else, plenty of flower shops out there, no one should have to compromise their religious values by selling to someone for something they dont believe in, freedom of religion is everything, next they will be forcing a church to perform their marriages

    June 29, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • Observer

      romany Stanton,

      WRONG about forcing beliefs. Gays are fighting for EQUAL RIGHTS. Pay attention.

      WRONG about the woman. She is BREAKING a law. Pay attention again.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • Saraswati

      If Mormons haven't yet been forced to perform interfaith marriages why on earth would any church who didn't want to be forced to perform gay marriages? Churches aren't businesses. How ignorant are these folks that they keep repeating this nonsense?

      June 29, 2013 at 10:41 pm |
    • Saraswati

      And what if this were a small town and there weren't plenty of other flower shops? Or a town with just one hospital? Where all crematoriums were owned by the same franchise? A country where all restaurants were owned by whites who didn't want to serve blacks? What if you arrived in a Country where no one wanted to sell you food because you are Christian, Jewish, white, asian, a red head?

      June 29, 2013 at 10:56 pm |
    • Science

      sara make it cars instead of flowers ?

      June 29, 2013 at 11:01 pm |
    • Saraswati

      Yeah, cars would be better. Or food or medicine. The problem is that most of these people think of things in terms of their particular situation in the world as it is now (built with these laws). And they imagine these harmless little modern scenarios with flowers because they haven't read their history and have never themselves experienced real discrimination and oppression.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:05 pm |
    • Susan Lehman

      I agree that people should not be forced to provide services for something that violates their moral convictions. Isn't that part of living in a pluralistic society? If a pastor does not believe it is right to marry a gay couple should they not have the freedom to decline such a request? Can conscientious objectors abstain from military service? Should a florist be required to sell flowers to anyone if it violates his or her conscience? No. People should not be forced to endorse something they do not believe in such as gay marriage, not in America.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:14 pm |
    • Science

      sara ..................history love it..............family bloodline is great to know.

      Peace

      Much easier to learn now than 20 years ago.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:18 pm |
    • philliesphan1975

      forcing what belief, exactly?

      June 29, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
    • Dippy

      Susan, it's discrimination, and it's illegal. Why is that so hard for you to understand? Are you really that slow?

      June 29, 2013 at 11:45 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ Susan

      So if a Jewish couple came in and she refused their order because she doesn't believe in the Jewish religion, you'd be okay with that? What about an interracial couple?

      It is the law that a business can't refuse service to someone based on race, religion or lack of, ethnicity, gender, sexual preferences, blue eyes, left handed, mentally retarded, old...do you get it yet?

      June 30, 2013 at 3:53 am |
  9. Jonline

    Love one another. Most important words in the Bible.

    June 29, 2013 at 10:32 pm |
    • Dippy

      Doesn't have to be in the bible to make sense. But I guess for some people it has to be.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:35 pm |
    • Science

      Penn & Teller; The Bible is Bullsh-it.

      [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RV46fsmx6E&w=640&h=390]

      Peace

      June 29, 2013 at 10:39 pm |
    • Adam

      You can't simply say love one another. You must understand love in the manner in which Christ explained it. Embracing and supporting what is clearly condemned by scripture is not love. In fact it is the exact opposite.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:00 pm |
    • oOo

      Bill & Ted: "Be excellent to each other"

      No sky fairies required.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:06 pm |
    • Observer

      Adam,

      Skip the HYPOCRISY. Jesus never picked on gays like so many Christrian HYPOCRITES do. He did have a lot to say about heteros and much of it wasn't good. You know, things like they should never divorce. OOOPS.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:08 pm |
    • lol??

      OOOoops for Observer's bully gubmint for corrupting marriage and then blaming the victims. It's an old story.

      June 30, 2013 at 6:59 am |
  10. Chris

    “Don’t give in. If you have to go down for Christ, what better person to go down for?”

    Touching, except that Christ NEVER PREACHED AGAINST GAY MARRIAGE !!

    What Christ DID preach against was the hypocrisy and judgemental behavior of the present-day pharisees that claim their petty self-serving causes as God's. Woe to ye, false prophets, that lead good and faithful people down this hellish path!

    June 29, 2013 at 10:25 pm |
    • lol??

      Jesus authored the scriptures, sillly. He is God, ya know. 'sides,the gays were too afraid to come out of their caves to meet Him. No MOB backup.

      June 30, 2013 at 7:02 am |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      wow lollygag, your posts get crazier by the day

      June 30, 2013 at 7:08 am |
    • Saraswati

      Lol is just a troll as you cam see from the stylized fake bumkin" writing. I'm not sure why people respond to him.

      June 30, 2013 at 7:12 am |
    • lol??

      Church people are used to that style.Ya never seen TBN??

      June 30, 2013 at 7:16 am |
  11. Lee McBride

    Cpt. Obvious – Really? Seven times?
    Actually, I think you were (probably) already an atheist. However, the scripture does say that: "The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God."
    (1 Corinthians 1:18)
    Hopefully your mind and HEART will change – it can if you really want it to.

    June 29, 2013 at 10:22 pm |
    • Dave

      Deuteronomy 22:20-22
      But if the thing is true, that evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, then they shall bring out the young woman to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death with stones

      June 29, 2013 at 10:29 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Lee McBride,

      A quite old and sometimes effective tactic – declaring that those who do not believe your story are 'fools'. Nobody wants to be considered 'dumb' for not seeing the Emperor's new clothes, or a 'bas.tard' for not seeing the Sultan's new turban, or a 'cuckold' for not being able to see the Miller's gold thumb.

      Even Joseph Smith used it when he gathered his 'witnesses' to his golden plates. He told them that only those with 'true faith' would be able to 'see' them.

      The ancient, primitive Hebrews (and Paul of Tarsus) who originated those epithets were quite adept at manipulative mind-games.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:36 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Yes, Lee, when I gave up my belief in the bible as "god's word," I also gave up belief in that portion, too. It was included in the package deal.

      June 30, 2013 at 12:07 am |
  12. Maimonida

    What if she refused to serve a Black, or a Jew, or Catholic? Would it be exercise of her religious freedom or discrimination? I guess it would be discrimination. So what it is here.

    June 29, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • Ziggy Nobutz Forewe

      Headline Worthy News, apparently.

      June 30, 2013 at 12:01 am |
  13. Bostontola

    Question for people who refute evolution,
    Do you accept genetics as valid science?

    June 29, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • Apple Bush

      @Bostontola
      No facts are made from real fiction. Your jeans fit because of PEOPLE, not evolution.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
  14. Science

    Mechanics of Throwing

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_bYlY6AHew&w=640&h=390]

    June 29, 2013 at 9:46 pm |
    • Science

      Source article.

      Researchers say ability to throw played a key role in human evolution

      Jun 26, 2013

      http://phys.org/news/2013-06-chimps-humans-baseball-pitcher.html

      June 29, 2013 at 9:57 pm |
  15. hoola

    "loving Christian"

    If this "magic wizard sky zombie" that you speak of returning to earth to kill people including children is referring to Christs' return...............Then yes, he has indeed returned. And that is why things are becoming more turbulent now on this earth. These transformations will take place so that we will absolutely have to choose whos side we will be on. Oh and by the way, if you think these turbulent times were in now on a social level, economicly, politically , and nat disasters are something, well just look in the book of Daniel and read about the dismanteling of last empire on earth (that means the country with the strongest political influence over peoples of the earth) Yes, wait till we witness Christs dismantling of the goverments.......which is already starting

    this "magic sky wizard zombie" is not a zombie, no but he is very much alive. The bible says that we would know that he is not only alive, but even among us in power when we see these things happening – (constant weather disasters ,riots, crumbeling of false churches) .and yes peoples all over the world fighting in defiance against their own goverments.

    OH , and yes you were right about the magic wizard killing people including children. When God became fed up with the immoral people in noahs time and sent the earth-wide flood to sweep them all away, the people who were bad including their children drowned – all died. Because the parents were found guilty of defying Gods law, their children died with them.

    ALL this turmoil we are seeing taking place around the world now – has to happen and even get worse, so we Christians are cheering and yes people will go down because in the book of Isaiah God says he's going to make an extermination of mankind because they are not sorry for what they have done.

    It also says that he will make mankind more rare than refined gold.

    June 29, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      More LIES!!!!!

      June 29, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
  16. Robert

    Liberals simply will not tolerate freedom of religion or freedom of conscience. All must bow to the state god and what the state-god says is moral.

    June 29, 2013 at 9:18 pm |
    • Akira

      Nonsense. You are free to practice your religion as you see fit. It is illegal to infringe on another's civil rights based on your religious beliefs, but you are free to practice your religion as your conscience sees fit.

      June 29, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Akira,

      Just exactly what civil rights are you inferring to?

      June 29, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • Closed ins

      True freedom of religion must include freedom from religion. If you don't pray in my school I won't think in your church.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:00 pm |
    • Akira

      Please do not act coy, lionlylamb. You know perfectly well what rights I am talking about; it is the subject of this blog. Acting disingenuous is...well...disingenuous.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Are Stutzman's property rights not being infringed upon if she is forced to serve people?

      June 29, 2013 at 10:02 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Closed ins

      Public schools and private businesses are a different ball-park.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      What the fvck is Robert on about???

      @ I'm sorta like Dave, but not quite,

      I'm not sure about the private/public thing. Can a business refuse to offer service to a certain race? I would say yes, that they have that right because they are a private business, but the state disagrees with me-also on the issue of making private businesses handicapable accessible. If the state can force a private business to serve all races and pay thousands out of pocket for handicapable restroom facilities and ramps and whatnot, why can't the state force a person to serve gays?

      June 29, 2013 at 10:07 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Cpt. Obvious

      My argument is that the state shouldn't be able to force a private business to serve anybody they don't want to.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:11 pm |
    • Akira

      Property rights? She owns a retail business, Dave.
      She can refuse to wait on black people too, by that reasoning. Not going to fly. Harkens to the Woolworth's lunch counter days.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:13 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Akira

      Why should she be forced to serve black people?

      June 29, 2013 at 10:14 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Yes, and I agree with that argument, sentiment, and protocol. However, I see no difference in the state forcing a private business to go out of pocket thousands of dollars to make their business accessible to the handicapable, or the state forcing a private business to serve all races. Thus, the state would be less hypocritical to force business to serve homs3xuals just as if forces businesses to serve all races and people of all capabilities. The state should at least be consistent in its violations of freedoms.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:15 pm |
    • Felix Sinclair

      Have you sold everything you own and given it to the poor? Are you without sin and therefore qualified to cast the first stone? The religious mandates people like you spout always seem to limit the actions of others, but never yourselves. Every time you can't pull it off you accuse those who see through your hypocrisy of attacking religion. It's obvious and boring and won't succeed the way it used to.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:16 pm |
    • rick

      how is your freedom of religion being denied?

      June 29, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Cpt. Obvious

      True.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:18 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      @Akira

      The first amendment gives the right to a.s.semble. I interpret that as being able to a.s.s.emble with people of your own choosing on your own property. Doesn't that right allow a business owner to refuse to "a.s.semble" and do business with anyone he chooses? If some business owner doesn't want to serve blacks and gays, I would prefer that he be allowed to operate that way and advertise it-–that way I know who the bigots are in my town and where I don't want to do business.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:19 pm |
    • Akira

      Sigh.
      I guess the civil rights movement has some ways to go yet.
      I had no idea that the color of money was different for gay people, black people, etc.
      Who knew people still thought discrimination was a solid business practice?

      June 29, 2013 at 10:23 pm |
    • I'm sorry Dave, I can't let you do that

      Akira

      Turn it around so. Why should a black person be forced to serve a white person in his own business?

      June 29, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Cpt. Obvious,

      "If some business owner doesn't want to serve blacks and gays, I would prefer that he be allowed to operate that way and advertise it-–that way I know who the bigots are in my town and where I don't want to do business."

      That's a nice idea when you can be sure you live in a place that has enough people who will do business with you that you can operate on an even playing field. Or even eat. The reality, however, is that without regulations small groups or those not yet financially established have no way to get a foothold. Throughout history over and over we've had societies in which many people struggled to survive on the fringes. You don't just have to look here but at the plight of the untouchables in India or immigrant communities throughout the world.

      Your world is a fantasy. If you need this to support your convenient ideology I doubt anything we have to say will change it. Your handle pretty much sas it all with regard to how simple you think the answers are.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:37 pm |
    • mama k

      What is a state-god? Is it like a state bird? Does the District of Columbia get like a half a god? What about Puerto Rico?

      June 29, 2013 at 10:44 pm |
    • Juxtapoz

      Robert says: "Liberals simply will not tolerate freedom of religion or freedom of conscience. All must bow to the state god and what the state-god says is moral."

      ...this from the people who demand that the laws that govern ALL of us be based on THEIR Bible. This from people who try to use THEIR Bible to justify denying specific groups of people everything from civil rights to jobs and even basic retail services and goods. This from the people who say they want religious freedom, and then support protests to stop Muslims from building a community center. Pathetic.

      These people will torture Arabs, start trillion dollar wars they don't even pay for, let bankers gamble recklessly with trillions of their shareholders and customers' money, and buying guns as gifts for children. They'll support letting people carry concealed weapons in bars, and they don't even care that no WMD were found after thousands of troops died and tens of tousands were wounded. But let two consenting adults of the same gender kiss in the privacy of their own home, and suddenly it's "Beat to quaters!" in the name of Jesus. Ever wonder why after returnng from the dead, Jesus chose to leave the entire planet rather than stick around to help his followers? I used to. Not lately though.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:47 pm |
    • Akira

      Dave, read Saraswati's answer; she is much more eloquent that I can ever aspire to be.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:50 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @I'm sorry,

      Three reasons:

      1) While in our society a white person can probably find a place to do business elsewhere quite easily, a lot of other smaller minority groups cannot if this is a general policy in a region.
      2) For those of us who support a roughly capitalist system, the fewest restrictions on competi.tion (which discrimination, essentially is) the better.
      3) The very act of discrimination is likely to incur more harm than the act of having to do business with people you don't like. Presumably you disagree with this one, but fortunately #s 1 & 2 are enough to justify antidiscrimination laws.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:51 pm |
  17. Bootyfunk

    brainwashing is a very powerful tool.

    your religion is determined not by careful examination and thought, but by geography and your parents' religion.

    June 29, 2013 at 8:40 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Liar!

      June 29, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • Robert

      All anti-theists are liars. I've searched for truth for longer than you've been alive, most likely.

      June 29, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      Robert,

      I'm old. Nearing 60. You?

      June 29, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
    • Akira

      Well, Robert, that seems to be a lie right there.

      June 29, 2013 at 9:27 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Bootyfunk: your argument is self-defeating.

      “Suppose we concede that if I had been born of Muslim parents in Morocco rather than Christian parents in Michigan, my beliefs would be quite different. [But] the same goes for the pluralist...If the pluralist had been born in [Morocco] he probably wouldn't be a pluralist. Does it follow that...his pluralist beliefs are produced in him by an unreliable belief-producing process?”
      ― Alvin Plantinga

      June 29, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
    • Vic

      Exactly. You know. Jesus, God, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:04 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      No. Booty's argument is sound; it is not "self-refuting."

      June 29, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • Science

      Agree ..............Cpt. Obvious............LL what ?

      June 29, 2013 at 10:17 pm |
    • Russ

      @ Cpt Obvious:
      1) if Bootyfunk's argument is sound (as you claim), where do you find fault with Plantinga's logic?

      2) Furthermore, Bootyfunk's claims do not match known statistical reality:

      Christianity (uniquely among the world's religions) is not primarily found on just one or two continents. Roughly 20% of the world's 2 billion Christians are found on each of the 5 most inhabited continents (Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas). In other words, Christianity is uniquely culturally transcendent.

      3) And then of course, there's evangelism...

      a few stats on the last century:
      1900: roughly 10M Christians in Africa. 2003: there were 380M. According to Yale scholar Lamin Sanneh, that's 7-10x the growth of the population, and over 4x the growth rate of Islam.
      1949: roughly only 10M Christians in China. Mao kicked the missionaries out. Today: even conservative sociological estimates put the number of Christians in China in the 100s of millions.

      SUM: aside from not actually dealing with Plantinga's argument... if geography determines faith, how do you account for EITHER of those (the historical reality of evangelism OR the cultural transcendence of Christianity)?
      Historically, sociologically & philosophically... that argument is seriously flawed.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:11 pm |
    • mama k

      Russ – what definition is Plantinga using for pluralist?

      Regardless, I would say that for most, initially (formative years), geography and the religion of the parents are very deterministic factors for one's religion. Of course in some areas, the influence of geography might mean a very small area.

      Plantinga's argument seems to more be addressing why looking at geography would be a flaw for validating one religion over another, which is not what Booty was saying. I would say from an atheistic perspective, that we can observe that, as I wrote, geography and parents seem to be very influential factors for all initial beliefs that children are taught. (And that entire observation across all beliefs can easily be seen as brainwashing from those who do not hold any religious beliefs.)

      June 30, 2013 at 12:30 am |
    • mama k

      And Russ, bringing to light how Christianity is spread does not necessarily cancel out how it initially comes to children. Obviously in communities where there are no parents remaining or where the parent(s) in incapable of caring for their child(ren) the influence is skewed, but in the U.S. for instance I would say the religion of the parent and region are very high factors.

      June 30, 2013 at 12:40 am |
    • Russ

      @ mama k:
      1) i think his definition of pluralist is not the point of the argument. you can substi.tute virtually any set of beliefs. the issue is belief formation.

      2) there is an enormous difference between sociological influences and sociological determinism. that's the entire debate here.

      3) your attempt to side step the critique by defining atheism as non-religion (a separate debate) fails to hear his language. "belief-producing"... i am assuming you are not claiming to be 'without beliefs', right?

      belief formation equally applies to atheism – so his critique equally applies.

      June 30, 2013 at 10:00 am |
  18. Bostontola

    Christians make up about a third of the global population. Other religions make up most of the rest. Most of these people are very sure their god is the true god and their religion's defined sins are the ones to avoid. I simply can't understand why people are so confident that they were so lucky to get the right religion and everyone else is duped.

    June 29, 2013 at 8:34 pm |
    • Akira

      Therein lies the conundrum. According to these people, regardless who is the true and correct God, everyone else is deceived and will go to hell.

      June 29, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • oOo

      A by-product of power and money?

      June 29, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      What is it about humanity that insists on a supernatural enti.ty? Is it a survival mechanism, a virus that needs to be eradicated? There is clearly no evidence or reason for a supernatural enti ty. Why do humans need/want to believe?

      June 29, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • Bostontola

      SHfO,
      That's a big question that I hope we understand one day. My speculation is, the god meme works. Before we had useful science, the god meme was a rallying point for groups. The most powerful defeated weaker groups. Once we got useful science and secular ethics, the meme continues to be powerful as it is handed down from parents. Children have an evolved overwhelming trust of their parents, so it persists.

      June 29, 2013 at 8:54 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Bostontola, I think you're on to something. The "trust" in parental authority is very powerful. Children are often shameful of their disobedience to parents and as authorities parents must have been perceived god like. Interesting.

      June 29, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • Bostontola

      It is an interesting soft spot in our evolution. Chimps also have strong trust of the parents to survive. As we evolved bigger brains, our birth maturity regressed. That makes us even more dependent on our parents.

      June 29, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Bostontola, thank you.

      June 29, 2013 at 9:26 pm |
    • Lee McBride

      That is why it is called "faith". Yes, we (Bible believing Christians) ARE pretty "lucky".
      If you are not afraid, try reading the Bible's New Testament with a sincerely open heart – you might be surprised.
      However, if your heart and mind is already made up (and closed), your questions and confusion are pretty much rhetorical.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:03 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      @Lee

      I completely agree. More people should read the bible with an open mind. I did, and on the seventh time I became an atheist. When you really read it carefully, without preconceptions and confirmation bias, you see how laughably ridiculous is the god it portrays and how cruel and horrific he really is. More people should read the bible carefully and critically and come to the simple realization that it is pure bvll sh!t.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
    • Lee McBride

      IF we "evolved" from chimps. Why are there still chimps? I could see maybe some other "transitional life form" existing today, but still with the chimps? Also, where is the transitional fossil history that should be legion?

      I think it takes more faith to believe in (man theorized) macro-evolution than in God.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
    • Dippy

      Lee, you must think ignorance is a positive virtue.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:38 pm |
    • A Frayed Knot

      Lee,

      Humans did not evolve FROM chimps, but along side of them from a common ancestor long, long ago.

      Humans are Primates, along with apes, monkeys, chimps and many others, as evidenced by body structure, function and DNA.

      Squirrels and mice are Rodents – they are related in the same way as humans are to monkeys. Would you say, "If there are mice, then why are there still squirrels?"

      There is an excellent explanation on page 1 of these comments by poster, Colin, regarding the evolution of dogs from wolves. It's long, but if you are interested in being educated, you'll study it.

      June 29, 2013 at 10:55 pm |
    • Saraswati

      What's scary is that people can graduate from high school without understanding the basic principles of evolution. I'm guessing the fundamentalist school teachers don't understand it either and give this erroneous info in their 20 minute overview of thetheories.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:02 pm |
    • Dippy

      Judging by his comment, I'm afraid any explanation, however simple, will be well beyond Lee's grasp. But we can try.

      June 29, 2013 at 11:15 pm |
    • Ziggy Nobutz Forewe

      Christianity has had some really, really, REALLY good PR these past 2000 years.

      June 30, 2013 at 12:03 am |
    • lol??

      BOSTY sayz,

      "...............I simply can't understand...........everyone else is duped."

      Gud luck on yer deluded search fer truth. In fact there are a whole lotta churches that will dance the dialectic and sing the dialogue with ya.

      June 30, 2013 at 6:04 am |
  19. Bostontola

    Some are taken with the poetic notion that science is the study of god's creation. Since we can neither prove nor disprove god(s), I won't bother to argue the point.

    Religions on the other hand are clearly man made and untestable, hence will be untrustworthy.

    June 29, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      religion is the "science" of charlatanism.

      June 29, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • Colin

      what will you do about your sin'?

      June 29, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      @colin
      first tell us what you will do about your ignorance?

      June 29, 2013 at 8:24 pm |
    • Bostontola

      Colin,
      Sin is not consistent from one religion to the next, that is the point of the OP.

      June 29, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • oOo

      Yeah – sin is overrated, too conflicted and too out of date. You might want to look back at the article on morality a few months back.

      June 29, 2013 at 8:28 pm |
    • Secular Humanist from Ohio

      Sin is an appeal to humanity's masochism.

      June 29, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      modern ethics > blblical morals

      the bible gives commands to kill all g.ays, disobedient children and non-virgin brides. the bible supports slavery throughout, giving rules for selling slaves (including your own daughter), for beating slaves, which nations you can take slaves from, etc.

      the bible is a terrible guide for good living.

      June 29, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • lionlylamb

      BootyFunk wrote, "the bible is a terrible guide for good living."

      One needs to understand the terrible in mankind and the old and new testaments show much of mankind's terrible natures. One has to learn about the terrible issues of mankind from somewhere. The Bible seems like a good place to start.

      Did I fail to mention that quite soon gay children will all be aborted for their carrying of unwanted gene traits? After all, what righteous hetero couple would really want to bring into this world another gay person? This world is nowadays far too full up with homosexuals. Destroy homosexuals before they are even born! Se la vie!

      June 29, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
    • Dippy

      LamblyLion, you need to work on your French. Of course you need to work on your English too, but we can start with French. It's "c'est la vie." Work on it. It shouldn't take you more than hour to get it.

      June 29, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
  20. Bootyfunk

    marriage is a legal contract between two people.

    get married in a church with church approval and a holy leader from every religion on earth, but without a gov't issued marriage license = not married

    now go down to a courthouse and get married without church approval, without any priests/imams/rabbis but with a gov't issued marriage license = married

    ceremony is optional. religion doesn't have to enter into it at all - but a binding legal marriage license does if you want to have your ceremony legally recognized and want the legal benefits.

    christians, mind your own business and stop being mindless h.omophobes.

    June 29, 2013 at 8:16 pm |
    • Colin

      What will you do about your sin?

      June 29, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      no such thing as sin so i don't have to do anything.

      next question.

      June 29, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • truth is

      You're guilty, what will you do with your sin?

      June 29, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • Colin

      What will I do about my sin?

      June 29, 2013 at 8:25 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      gotta love fundie trolls.

      June 29, 2013 at 8:26 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.