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Mourn on the Fourth of July: Inside the Christian anti-patriot movement
Mark Van Steenwyk leads his Mennonite Worker Community in Minneapolis.
July 5th, 2013
05:40 PM ET

Mourn on the Fourth of July: Inside the Christian anti-patriot movement

By David R. Wheeler, special to CNN

(CNN) - Like many congregations, The Mennonite Worker Community of Minneapolis held a worship service and picnic this Fourth of July - but instead of extolling the virtues of America, they called attention to its faults.

The annual service is “a sort of anti-patriotic holiday,” says Mark Van Steenwyk, whose community focuses on simplicity, prayer and peacemaking. Singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” is out. Reflecting on the contradictions between the gospel and the American Dream are in.

“We thank you, O God, for the good things we enjoy in our lives," reads a prayer the Mennonite community recites each year, "but lament that our abundance has brought destitution to sisters and brothers throughout the Earth.”

Anti-patriots like Van Steenwyk say their movement, which has grown more vocal in recent years, is simply an honest way to read – and live out – Jesus' teachings on nonviolence. But it's hard to look at groups like The Mennonite Community and not see an implicit criticism of God-and-country cheerleading by mainstream Christians and ripples of centuries-old church-state tensions.

Some anti-patriots come from pacifist Anabaptist traditions, such as the Mennonite Church. Others come from evangelical backgrounds but have rejected their counterparts' often unreserved patriotism and embraced liberal-leaning communities like Red Letter Christians and JesusRadicals.com.

They may differ on theological details, but they hold at least one belief in common: You cannot serve both God and country.

A Suspicion of the State

Anabaptists such as Mennonites and the Amish were persecuted by state churches in Europe during the 16th and 17th centuries, and their descendants bear a lasting suspicion of human authorities.

Many an Amish and Mennonite home keeps a copy of "The Martyr's Mirror," a book thick with testimonies of Anabaptists burned at the stake of orthodoxy. The book's subtitle refers to the martys as "defenseless Christians," a nod to Anabaptists' belief that when Jesus called on Christians to turn the other cheek, he was quite serious.

For that reason, Anabaptists historically do not participate in warfare — or celebrate military victories.

American Anabaptists have been fined or jailed for their pacifist beliefs during wartime. Four Hutterites died from harsh treatment while imprisoned as conscientious objectors during World War I, Bach says. Anabaptists didn’t receive official permission to perform alternative service until World War II.

READ MORE: Bolivia’s isolated Mennonite community

“Some members of Anabaptist groups today are more acculturated and celebrate patriotic holidays just like the rest of the nation,” says Jeff Bach, director of Elizabethtown College's Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies. “None of the Anabaptist groups are anti-American. They are typically grateful for the religious freedom permitted in the United States.”

Still, in 2011, Goshen College, a Mennonite school in Indiana, banned the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at sporting events because, according to the college’s president, the lyrics were too violent.

Serving `the King' 

It may be difficult for some Americans to understand why their countrymen would disassociate themselves from patriotism. What’s the harm in celebrating Independence Day, anyway?

But nonpatriotic Christians believe the burden of proof should fall on the other side: Why should peace-loving believers celebrate a bloody revolution? And American history after 1776 isn’t exactly pacifistic either, Van Steenwyk says.

“It is easy to judge Islam for the actions of a relative few militants. Yet when millions of Americans — a vast majority of them claiming the Christian faith — were complicit with slavery, indigenous genocide, and continued economic exploitation, we suddenly see them as separate from our faith,” says Van Steenwyk.

Jesus called his followers to Christian service and humility, which are the opposite of nationalistic rituals performed on the Fourth of July, says David Swartz, author of “Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism.”

“A heightened devotion to the nation can cause a lot of confusion abroad when people see claims of a Christian America alongside a long American history of slavery, economic inequality and overheated Hollywood sexuality and violence,” says Swartz.

Kurt Willems, who runs the progressive Christian blog Pangea, has also joined the rising nonpatriotic chorus. The Anabaptist from Seattle writes an annual post explaining why he no longer celebrates Independence Day.

“Each year I receive comments about how I should leave this country if I ‘hate’ it so much,” he says. “I love Americans, but I’m not willing to compromise my values as a servant of my only King, the nonviolent revolutionary — Jesus.”

Making Toby Keith Proud

Many Christians trace the latest wave of evangelical interest in pacifism to author and activist Shane Claiborne, who worked with Mother Teresa in the slums of Calcutta, ministered to Iraqis during the war in Iraq and now leads a Philadelphia community called The Simple Way.

“My philosophy on patriotic things would be: A love for the people of our country is not a bad thing, but why should love stop at the border?” says Claiborne.

There have been some nonpatriotic gatherings in major cities, such as the Los Angeles Catholic Worker’s “Mourn on the Fourth of July” peace march in 2008.

Still the nonpatriot movement remains small, and finding local communities can be challenging, Van Steenwyk says.

“Everyone knows that other folks think like them, but it isn’t like there are a lot of congregations that self-identify as being nonpatriotic.”

That’s especially true for evangelicals, who lead the country in patriotic fervor.

More than 80% of white evangelicals believe that God has granted the United States a "special role" in history, according to a survey released June 27 by the Public Religion Research Institute.

In a stat that would make Toby Keith proud, more than two-thirds of white evangelicals say they are "very proud" to be an American, outstripping every other religious group polled.

So it's not surprising that some conservative Christians find the nonpatriotic alliance of progressive evangelicals and Anabaptists troubling — even dangerous.

“All Christians everywhere are called to love and serve their nations,” says Mark Tooley, a president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy and a United Methodist.

READ MORE: Celebrating the Fourth of July

“The stance of some evangelical elites influenced by neo-Anabaptist beliefs is often one of ingratitude, and whining, while ignoring the teaching of the universal Church, which has always recognized the God-ordained vocation of the state, and the Christian’s calling to serve as responsible citizens,” he says.

Tooley also disagrees with the nonpatriotic Christians on about military force, which he says is required to maintain order worldwide. Nonpatriot Christians are naïve not to consider the ill effects should the United States abdicate military power, he says

“What would the alternatives be if the USA didn’t exist or withdrew from the world stage? Almost certainly a more dangerous, more anarchic, more repressive, less prosperous world with less opportunity for the poor to escape poverty,” Tooley argues.

No Middle Ground? 

Some patriotic pastors argue for a middle way: honoring America without succumbing to chauvinism or ignoring the country's wrongs.

“Do I agree with every major policy of our government? No way,” says Kyle Vanover, pastor of Cyrus Chapel United Methodist Church in Catlettsburg, Kentucky. “But I’m proud to be an American, and I believe God has truly blessed this land.”

Van Steenwyk, however, says there is no middle ground.

Jesus’ identification with the poor, love of enemies, and refusal to take power are incompatible with the “entire political and economic system” of the United States, he says.

“Let’s face it — the Sermon on the Mount makes for lousy foreign or public policy. We can’t have it both ways.”

David R. Wheeler is a journalism professor and freelance writer living in Lexington, Kentucky. You can follow him on Twitter at: @David_R_Wheeler

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Amish • Belief • Christianity • Church • Church and state • Faith • Foreign policy • Mennonite • Military • Politics

soundoff (1,599 Responses)
  1. ENT Los Angeles

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    September 2, 2013 at 2:20 am |
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    August 23, 2013 at 10:42 pm |
  3. Steve Finnell

    IS YOUR NAME WRITTEN IN THE LAMB'S BOOK OF LIFE?

    Who will be allowed to enter the great city, the holy Jerusalem, when time will no longer exist?

    Revelation 21:9-27..... 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city , the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God........27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.(NKJV)

    That narrows it down. You do not have to speculate about that which defiles. You do not have to wonder what or who causes an abomination or a lie. If your name is not written in the Lamb's Book of Life you are the guilty one.

    Philippians 4:3 And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the Book of Life.(NKJV)

    Whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life? All of those whose sins have been washed away by the blood of the Lamb have their names written in the Book of Life.

    How do men get their sins washed away?
    1. Faith: John 3:16
    2. Repentance: Acts 3:19, Acts 2:38
    3. Confession:Romans 10:9
    4. Water Baptism: Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, 1 Peter 3:21, Ephesians 5:25-27

    Having you name written on the membership role of your local church does not guarantee that your name will be written in the Lamb's Book of Life.

    Your name might be written in the book at the Baptist Church, the Lutheran Church, the Mosque, the Catholic Church, the Temple of Freemasonry, the Methodist church, the Elks Lodge, the Salvation Army, the Mormon Church, the Buddhist Temple, the Community Church, the Christian Church, the Synagogue, etc., however, if your name is not written in the Lamb's Book of Life you will not be allowed into the holy city, the new Jerusalem.

    Revelation 3:1-5......."He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and His angels.(NKJV)

    Yes, your name can be erased from the Book of Like.

    Revelation 13:4-8 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast.....8 And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.(NKJV)

    At the end times all who do not not have their names written in the Book of Life will worship the beast.

    There are men today who worship false gods. There are men, even now, who worship the Pope, the Virgin Mary and other dead saints by praying to them.

    Is your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life? If not, you will not be entering the holy city, the new Jerusalem.

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    July 27, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  4. Judas Priest

    I hope this has been pointed out already:
    If these same views were expressed by a Muslim, they would be branded as potential terrorists.
    Merely pointing out an interesting double standard that is all too common in the United States.

    July 16, 2013 at 8:01 am |
  5. Stephen Hawking is an Idiot!!!!!

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

    July 14, 2013 at 11:17 pm |
  6. Nairat Rebilivic

    I am a recovering evangelical, and I also have come to the understanding that Jesus is anti-State. Start with 1 Samuel 8, where Israel rejected God and demanded a king. There is a rich amount of scripture showing that the state and the religious powerful collude for the destruction of Christ. It is anti-christ to be pro-State. That 501(c)(3)"christian" pastors teach 1040 "christians" to obey the State using a mis-interpretation of Romans 13, leads to turning the Word on its head and destroys the revelation of God- that He is sufficient.

    We only have 2 commnds today- upon which rest the entire law and prophets: Love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength; and Love your neighbor as yourself.

    The Good Samaritan is to be an example of Christian living- He may have not been a "believer" but was most likely a believer not respected by the religious order. He was fulfilling the command to love his neighbor.

    Read the rest... http://ministry.markrwatson.org/the-christian-life/

    July 10, 2013 at 12:09 am |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      Interesting stuff. I have to say that since dropping my belief I feel more and more responsibility for my fellow human being and I feel he owes the same, not to me, but to the collective effort of our species. As an atheist, I believe we are connected in multiple layers of energy fields of infinite scope and scale of which we see very little due but understand innately and seems now implied by quantum mechanics. The "purpose" is to be the best you can for community and seek understanding, so that everyone gains something better; widening the gyre and defining it artistically as you are able. If god becomes apparent at some point in that process, as the fundamentals of math became apparent through the genuine seeking of knowledge, then we can surely deal with that then, with that apparent evidence as it emerges. If god doesn't honor that sort of thinking, then I don't really feel that he deserves my respect, you know?

      July 10, 2013 at 12:18 am |
  7. marcy

    Reblogged this on My Name is Marcy and commented:
    I don't know why they call themselves anti-patriots. What they're doing is more patriotic than celebrating a deeply flawed state.

    July 9, 2013 at 12:18 pm |
    • Saraswati

      It really depends on your definition of patriotism, and even if you have one you are willing to state and defend. If you listen to different people they use the term to mean all of the following things, sometimes the same person using the word in different ways in different conversations:

      Feeling of emotional attachment to one's country
      Feeling of love for one's country
      Feeling that one's country is the best in the world
      Feeling that one's country is basically right, if not always so
      Feeling that one's country has advantages that could make it the best, though it isn't
      Belief that the interests of one's country should come first
      Action to better one's country
      Action to better one's country with priority over worrying about other countries
      Action to better one's country even at the expense of other countries
      Willingness to sacrifice for one's country
      Willingness to sacrifice for one's country, even if that means making the hard decision to take a life of a threatening enemy
      Willingness to die for one's country
      Willingness to see your own child die for your country

      All of these and more go into what various people mean by "patriotism" and discussing what is and isn't patriotic without checking you mean the same thing is fairly pointless

      July 9, 2013 at 12:37 pm |
    • Have A Delicious Biscuit

      I have a great deal of love for wonderful foods and beverages.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • markvans

      The article describes us as "anti-patriotic", we don't take that term on for ourselves. Though, to be honest, I do find US patriotism, as commonly understood, as deeply problematic.

      July 9, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
      • marcy

        Ah, I thought it was a label you chose. And I agree with your point on what counts for patriotism these days: it is a far cry from any true patriotism in that it is loyal not to a nation or ideals, but a class of people.

        July 9, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
  8. myweightinwords

    While I am never one to infringe on a person's rights to an opinion, nor to step on anyone's freedoms, I have to wonder if this isn't the right time to turn around and offer those who are so dead set against affording everyone else the same freedom they enjoy the same advice they like to give those who disagree with: If you don't like our constitution, please feel free to go find a new home in a country governed by religion.

    Of course, the problem there is that Christianity is such a vague umbrella term that covers so many variants, that any government that is "Christian" is still not going to appeal to all of the people who are Christian. For example, would evangelicals be happy with a Catholic government? Would Catholics be happy with a Seventh Day Adventist government?

    What about a Mormon government? Or Westboro Baptist government?

    Be careful what you wish for.

    July 9, 2013 at 11:32 am |
    • Alias

      I'm not sure that they want a theocracy, just a government that has the same values as their religion.
      I can support their right trying to 'improve' our system without people telling them to 'get out if they don't like it'.

      July 9, 2013 at 11:51 am |
    • Saraswati

      "If you don't like our consti.tution, please feel free to go find a new home in a country governed by religion."

      I don't think this is a fair argument to make to most people. The vast majority of US born citizens do not met the professional, educational, economic, age, background, and health requirements necessary to move to another country. Moving from one country to another is a difficult process, and unless you have a lot to offer, most people don't want you.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:42 pm |
      • myweightinwords

        Saraswati, it was a bit of sarcasm on my part. Sort of turning their own words against them. I've been told many, many times that this is a Christian nation and if I don't like it I should just leave.

        July 9, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      Saraswati
      Canada will take them, they take anyone.

      July 9, 2013 at 12:45 pm |
    • Saraswati

      @Richard, I assume you are joking, but for those who don't rrealize it, Canada has a pretty strict points system. You need to meet professional, educational, age, economic and health standards.

      July 9, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • WASP

      @sara: "and unless you have a lot to offer, most people don't want you."

      here is something funny for you. :)

      There is a plaque with a poem The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus, addressed to those who arrive in America from foreign lands. In part it reads:

      "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

      July 9, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
  9. Nathan

    Must be nice to live in a country where you are at liberty to express exactly these kinds of unpatriotic sentiments without government interference or reprisal...all based on the freedoms secured by the blood, lives, and toil of others on your behalf.

    July 9, 2013 at 11:29 am |
  10. Reality

    The Apostles'/Agnostics’ Creed 2013: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen
    (references used are available upon request)

    July 9, 2013 at 7:32 am |
    • Austin

      The Holy Spirit has revealed Himself to many believers and non believers who still would not believe. Unless you have an inner craving for God, your heart is not yet ready. Your foolish heart has become darkened.

      You must seek the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the supernatural bearer of truth.

      July 9, 2013 at 7:54 am |
    • Richard Cranium

      austin
      That is a load of BS. I sought god for decades....he either ignored me entirely or he does not exist. I have since found he was created by men, as all gods have been.
      Seek and you will fiind? BS.

      July 9, 2013 at 7:58 am |
    • Reality

      For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

      July 9, 2013 at 9:30 am |
  11. All of it

    Seems to me if you are of any religion you are always in some kind of mourning for some reason about some aspect of society. I don't think it's specific to Christianity or the US...or the fourth for that matter.

    July 8, 2013 at 6:08 pm |
  12. Reality

    As with all Christian groups, the Mennonites have been conned with the Easter inanity:

    "Article 24. The Reign of God

    Printed copy available from the MennoLink Bookstore.

    We place our hope in the reign of God and in its fulfillment in the day when Christ our ascended Lord will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. He will gather his church, already living under the reign of God according to the pattern of God's future. We believe in God's final victory, in the end of this present age of struggle between good and evil, in the resurrection of the dead, and in the appearance of a new heaven and a new earth. There the people of God will reign with Christ in justice, righteousness, and peace. "

    To wit:

    Saving Christians from the Infamous Resurrection Con/

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15: 14, Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    Even now Catholic/Christian professors (e.g.Notre Dame, Catholic U, Georgetown) of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

    To wit;

    From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

    "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
    Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke records it. (Luke mentions it in his gospel and Acts, i.e. a single attestation and therefore historically untenable). The Ascension ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers.

    The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

    "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
    http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

    The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

    An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,

    p.4

    "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

    p.168. by Ted Peters:

    Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

    So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    July 8, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Austin

      i experienced revelation of the Holy spirit, and I was brought up under the gumption that Mary is just another great person.
      All the Mary emphasis is a little bit scary to me. so is over emphasis on angels and demons.

      speculating on Mary's body is useless.

      the subject of Jesus and His body is not a hidden matter, the information has been given.

      July 8, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
    • Akira

      The Holy Mary, Mother of God is a very important part of the largest denomination of Christians in the world, Austin. It doesn't really matter what one person thinks.

      July 8, 2013 at 9:01 pm |
    • Peter

      Austin
      Correction: You believe that you had an experience with the HS. Why can't you admit that difference?

      July 9, 2013 at 12:58 am |
    • Laurence Charles Ringo

      It's always amusing to hear people who have never been dead offer opinions as to whether the Resurrection of Jesus Christ actuaLly occured or not.As for you,"Reality",here's some advice:Do the research yourself;don't parrot everybody else's claims!Also,I would suggest you take these so-called"scholars"opinions with a very large grain of salt.A very wise genuine scholar once told me that..."Just because you have a string of alphabets behind your name,that's no guarantee you know what you're talking about"...Wise words,"Reality"-Reflect.

      July 10, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Try a visualization experiment Austin. You are a follower of Christ during his lifetime. You are there for the scourging and you watch as he takes his cross, endures the beatings, the taunts. You cringe as the nails are driven into his flesh and you weep as he cries out to his father. The earth begins to tremble and the sky darkens. The soldiers pierce his flesh in an act of desperation and flee in fear. Your mind is whirling and your heart is wrenched as the reality that has just occurred breaches the expectations you held onto until the last possible moment. You're frantic and frightened now that the master is gone, violently murdered in front of your very eyes. You turn to leave from the foot of the crucifixion before you are recognized and arrested. Who do you see standing there?

      July 10, 2013 at 4:28 pm |
    • Reality

      Reviewing the records and making conclusions based on them:

      o 1. Historical Jesus Theories, earlychristianwritings.com/theories.htm – the names of many of the contemporary historical Jesus scholars and the ti-tles of their over 100 books on the subject.

      2. Early Christian Writings, earlychristianwritings.com/
      – a list of early Christian doc-uments to include the year of publication–

      30-60 CE Passion Narrative
      40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q
      50-60 1 Thessalonians
      50-60 Philippians
      50-60 Galatians
      50-60 1 Corinthians
      50-60 2 Corinthians
      50-60 Romans
      50-60 Philemon
      50-80 Colossians
      50-90 Signs Gospel
      50-95 Book of Hebrews
      50-120 Didache
      50-140 Gospel of Thomas
      50-140 Oxyrhynchus 1224 Gospel
      50-200 Sophia of Jesus Christ
      65-80 Gospel of Mark
      70-100 Epistle of James
      70-120 Egerton Gospel
      70-160 Gospel of Peter
      70-160 Secret Mark
      70-200 Fayyum Fragment
      70-200 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
      73-200 Mara Bar Serapion
      80-100 2 Thessalonians
      80-100 Ephesians
      80-100 Gospel of Matthew
      80-110 1 Peter
      80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
      80-130 Gospel of Luke
      80-130 Acts of the Apostles
      80-140 1 Clement
      80-150 Gospel of the Egyptians
      80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews
      80-250 Christian Sibyllines
      90-95 Apocalypse of John
      90-120 Gospel of John
      90-120 1 John
      90-120 2 John
      90-120 3 John
      90-120 Epistle of Jude
      93 Flavius Josephus
      100-150 1 Timothy
      100-150 2 Timothy
      100-150 T-itus
      100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
      100-150 Secret Book of James
      100-150 Preaching of Peter
      100-160 Gospel of the Ebionites
      100-160 Gospel of the Nazoreans
      100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
      100-160 2 Peter

      3. Historical Jesus Studies, faithfutures.org/HJstudies.html,
      – "an extensive and constantly expanding literature on historical research into the person and cultural context of Jesus of Nazareth"
      4. Jesus Database, faithfutures.org/JDB/intro.html–"The JESUS DATABASE is an online annotated inventory of the traditions concerning the life and teachings of Jesus that have survived from the first three centuries of the Common Era. It includes both canonical and extra-canonical materials, and is not limited to the traditions found within the Christian New Testament."
      5. Josephus on Jesus mtio.com/articles/bissar24.htm
      6. The Jesus Seminar, mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
      7. Writing the New Testament- mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/testament.html
      8. Health and Healing in the Land of Israel By Joe Zias
      joezias.com/HealthHealingLandIsrael.htm
      9. Economics in First Century Palestine, K.C. Hanson and D. E. Oakman, Palestine in the Time of Jesus, Fortress Press, 1998.

      Continued below:

      July 10, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • Reality

      16. The Greek New Testament: laparola.net/greco/
      17. Diseases in the Bible:
      etd.unisa.ac.za/ETD-db/theses/available/etd-08022006-125807/unrestricted/02dissertation.pdf
      18. Religion on Line (6000 articles on the history of religion, churches, theologies,
      theologians, ethics, etc.
      religion-online.org/
      19. The Jesus Seminarians and their search for NT authenticity:
      mystae.com/restricted/reflections/messiah/seminar.html#Criteria
      20. The New Testament Gateway – Internet NT ntgateway.com/
      21. Writing the New Testament- existing copies, oral tradition etc.
      ntgateway.com/
      22. The Search for the Historic Jesus by the Jesus Seminarians:
      members.aol.com/DrSwiney/seminar.html
      23. Jesus Decoded by Msgr. Francis J. Maniscalco (Da Vinci Code review)jesusdecoded.com/introduction.php
      24. JD Crossan's scriptural references for his book the Historical Jesus separated into time periods: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan1.rtf
      25. JD Crossan's conclusions about the authencity of most of the NT based on the above plus the conclusions of other NT exegetes in the last 200 years:
      faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan2.rtf
      26. Common Sayings from Thomas's Gospel and the Q Gospel: faithfutures.org/Jesus/Crossan3.rtf
      27. Early Jewish Writings- Josephus and his books by t-itle with the complete translated work in English :earlyjewishwritings.com/josephus.html
      28. Luke and Josephus- was there a connection?
      infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/lukeandjosephus.html
      29. NT and beyond time line:
      pbs.org/empires/peterandpaul/history/timeline/
      30. St. Paul's Time line with discussion of important events:
      harvardhouse.com/prophetictech/new/pauls_life.htm
      31. See http://www.amazon.com for a list of JD Crossan's books and those of the other Jesus Seminarians: Reviews of said books are included and selected pages can now be viewed on Amazon. Some books can be found on-line at Google Books.
      32. Father Edward Schillebeeckx's words of wisdom as found in his books.
      33. The books of the following : Professors Marcus Borg, Paula Fredriksen, Elaine Pagels, Karen Armstrong and Bishop NT Wright.
      34. Father Raymond Brown's An Introduction to the New Testament, Doubleday, NY, 1977, 878 pages, with Nihil obstat and Imprimatur.
      35. Luke Timothy Johnson's book The Real Jesus

      July 10, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
  13. Ames IA

    The positive thing that is happening is the diversity of thought is finally being recognized. The politically active evangelicals that have co-opted the brand of "Christian" in the public policy arena no longer have monopoly authority to define what public policy is Christian and what is not. We are seeing many churches finding their voice on issues of human rights, the poor, war and family privacy are no longer quietly sitting by cringing as Pat Robertson et al get on television to declare what Jesus would want for America.

    July 8, 2013 at 4:10 pm |
    • faith

      The politically active evangelicals that have co-opted the brand of "Christian" in the public policy arena no longer have monopoly authority to define what public policy is Christian and what is not.

      LOL

      July 13, 2013 at 4:31 am |
  14. NorCalMojo

    CNN finds some strange denominations.

    July 8, 2013 at 3:42 pm |
    • bostontola

      It doesn't take much to find strange denominations.

      July 8, 2013 at 3:44 pm |
    • Steve

      Strange Denominations? The Mennonites are quirky in some ways, yes. But you have the Anabaptists (of which the Mennonites are a subset, along with the Amish, Brethren and other groups) to thank, in large part, for the separation of church and state. Back in the 1500's and 1600's many Anabaptists were persecuted in Europe for deviating from the teachings of the state churches...including punishment by torture and death...for things like saying you shouldn't baptize infants, but rather you should let those infants grow up and choose whether or not they want to be baptized as an adult. (Anabaptist literally meant ""one who baptizes over again.") So can you see why these groups are wary of combining church power with that of the state? They fled to America for religious freedom and their plight was part of what led to the separation of church and state in America.

      July 8, 2013 at 4:04 pm |
  15. L. C.

    It is interesting to me that people that don't recognize a creator for this vast, planet and all its inhabitants, and likewise want nothing to do with "religion" are so committed to creating a service much like one sees in church, and calls its speakers"preachers", a word only given to those that teach in Christianity. Why do you want to resemble that which you so vehemently feel that you oppose?

    July 8, 2013 at 3:30 pm |
    • bostontola

      I don't.

      July 8, 2013 at 3:33 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      A good afternoon to you L. C.

      Who might it be you're wanting your post to be directed to?

      July 8, 2013 at 3:37 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @LC – are you lost?

      July 8, 2013 at 3:39 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      A lot of people dont recognize a creator because there is no evidence that one exists. Pretty simple really.

      July 8, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Tucker Jones

      @ honey bear
      There is no evidence that a supreme creator does not exist either.

      July 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      There's no evidence that hybrids George Washington fathered with porcupines don't roam the countryside West of the Alleghenies. At least, no more evidence than there is that your God does not exist or does exist.

      July 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Cpt. Obvious

      What would be the evidence of god not existing, and how would we recognize it as such? What is the evidence for invisible dragons not existing? What about leprechauns? What's the evidence that they don't exist?

      July 8, 2013 at 4:14 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Tom, Tom, the Other One –

      So, where'd you place on Sunday? Choose your words wisely...the sheriff's back in town.

      July 8, 2013 at 4:16 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      Hi Really-O?

      Tied for 6th with two others. A good time was had by all.

      July 8, 2013 at 4:21 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @Tom, Tom, the Other One –

      Congratulations. A much better way to spend a summer Sunday than sitting in a pew, in my humble opinion.

      July 8, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      Call it a simple guideline. I prefer to call it 'The Scaffold Of Doom'.

      July 8, 2013 at 4:24 pm |
    • Tucker Jones

      @Tom Tom
      That is not really proof that a Creator does not exist. It is merely a weak argument from non-believers to prove their point. There actual truth is this, if I brought God to your house for supper you would tell me I was wrong there is no God and that the guy I brought to your house for supper looked nothing like George Burns or Morgan Freeman. But then, to be honest I could care less if you believed. That is not my place... or anyone's really. The way I look at it is if you are a good person and do your best to help your fellow man, no matter how small the contribution then you have left the world in a better position than you found it. Also, just for the record I am not a pew sitter. I believe in God, just not the various holier than thou religions that cover the globe. I cannot adhere to a belief that one is better than the others and should be followed by everyone.

      I still believe that until someone can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt there is no God, then really no reason to crap on their beliefs.

      July 9, 2013 at 9:13 am |
  16. They call me The Wonderer

    I wonder why FOX and Limbaugh are not howling rabidly about this War On The Fourth Of July?

    July 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
    • Akira

      If atheists did it, you would assuredly hear much wailing and gnashing of teeth from that camp.

      July 8, 2013 at 5:10 pm |
  17. Puzzled in Peoria

    Headline is misleading.

    July 8, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • PSB

      Very misleading... Should read a "Some Christians..." Thanks CNN for a another stereotypical headline.

      July 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  18. justme

    These people are not Christians and I wish people wouldn't judge the rest of us by them.

    July 8, 2013 at 3:15 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      Which people aren't Christians? You mean the ones claiming to be Christians?

      July 8, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Notyou

      Don't worry. We judge you on whether you are stupid enough to believe in a magical invisible superfriend who does magic for you, and who will send you to magical fantasy SuperDisneyland when you die.

      July 8, 2013 at 3:17 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      With or without us and maybe for or against us seems to fit this scenario,,,

      July 8, 2013 at 3:45 pm |
    • Akira

      This group is absolutely Christian and your "no true Scotsman" attitude is rather divisive.

      July 8, 2013 at 3:46 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Hi again Akira!

      If your post was headed in my direction, well,,, "Beam me up Scotty!" Otherwise I am truly sorry about my getting on the rag to you the other day,,,,I have been repenting ever since my tirade got me the iron curtain treatment! :grin:

      July 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm |
    • Akira

      Hi, Lionly Lamb,
      No, my post was meant for the OP, and not you...
      Did I miss a post by you? I truly don't recall you saying anything that ghastly that you would have to apologize twice for it...no worries, LL.

      July 8, 2013 at 5:17 pm |
    • Peter

      justme
      Every group who calls themselves Christians has another group denying that they are. Can you name one current group that is universally recognized as "Christian" by everyone?

      July 9, 2013 at 1:05 am |
  19. naturalman

    These articles seem to be designed to bring focus on divisions.

    July 8, 2013 at 2:59 pm |
    • Scarecrow

      Religion is division.

      July 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      This is a hate blog... you shouldn't be surprised...

      July 8, 2013 at 3:43 pm |
    • Lionly Lamb

      Gays to the right of me,,, and straights to my left. Religion standing in front of me while atheism is bringing home the rear! Oh dear oh dear what will my long dead parents think of me now?

      July 8, 2013 at 4:22 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I'm starting to wonder about you LL. You've gone from crazy to kinda funny... funny is better.

      July 8, 2013 at 4:25 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.