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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. JeffC

    My first question is "How is being a pacifist unpatriotic?" It says something about the culture of a nation when violence and nationalism are the defining characteristics of patriotism.
    I also don't see how being willing to criticize your nation is unpatriotic. If you love something, you want it to be the best that it can be, not just settle lazily for what it is. If we want to be the great nation we think we are we need to work at it every day to keep moving forward; the moment you become complacent atrophy and obsolescence set in.
    At its core Christianity is pacifist, egalitarian and non-nationalist. Or at least it should be if people read what Jesus said for themselves and ignored all the OT and Apostle commentary stuff.

    July 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm |
    • Catholic4ever

      Welcome to CNN! This is all they do. Criticize and trash what is good and promote what is bad and evil.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:57 pm |
    • Scarecrow

      How can you ignore the OT when JEsus said every last word of it was still in force until heaven and earth perish?

      July 8, 2013 at 3:00 pm |
    • MyLeftFoot

      Here, here JeffC – very well said and quite true ...

      July 8, 2013 at 3:09 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Good and Evil are relative...

      July 8, 2013 at 3:34 pm |
    • James

      Agree completely. Very well said. People who don't love their country enough to demand that it be the best that it can be, don't strike me as being particularly patriotic. Also, if mindlessly supporting violence is supposed to be patriotic, what does that say about our nation? Nothing nice. If it's true, than we deserve to be attacked, because we are a menace to the free world.

      July 29, 2013 at 11:23 pm |
      • lionlylamb

        [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-7uwshsfFI&w=640&h=360]

        July 29, 2013 at 11:30 pm |
  2. Snow

    well, whats new!!

    July 8, 2013 at 2:49 pm |
  3. Juan

    I guess these so-called Christians don't believe in forgiveness. They must also don't believe the countless lives lost in defense of this country weren't worth much. Still, it's their 1st amendment right to criticize this country and come off as ungrateful.

    July 8, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Juan

      "not believe," not "don't."

      July 8, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
    • Akira

      I'm sure you calling his faith into question is a Godly, Christian thing to do.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm |
  4. Lali

    All this brought a question to mind. Did the first century Christians take part in national warfare? I know they did not fight to defend Jerusalem from the Romans, but were considered traitors by the inhabitants. But do we have any information beyond that?

    July 8, 2013 at 2:39 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Early Christianity went underground due to state persecution. We probably aren't going to do that again.

      July 8, 2013 at 3:40 pm |
  5. QS

    Yet more proof that religion, regardless of whether left of right-leaning, simply replaces reason and logic with supersti.tion and unproven beliefs.

    I really wish religious people would figure out that it's not the differences in your messages that many people are turned off by....it's the similarities!

    July 8, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • QS

      Having said that:

      “Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism – how passionately I hate them!"

      – Einstein

      July 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
  6. John

    “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. That doesn't sound like a Christian view to me. Sounds like the view of someone who believes that the USA, not God, is in control and responsible for the state of the world.

    July 8, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Athy

      It sure as hell isn't god. If it is, he's doing a piss-poor job of it.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
    • Alex

      The U.S. is not responsible for the whole word, but certainly has a huge influence on it. Sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad.

      July 8, 2013 at 3:23 pm |
  7. Alex

    I'm not a flag waiving, rah rah America type, but there is a reason that there are no pacifist countries in the world.

    July 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • John

      Switzerland seems to be doing better than most European countries these days.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:29 pm |
    • Alex

      John, Switzerland has an army and a police force. They even have a compulsory military service requirement and as such they are most definitely not "pacifist".

      July 8, 2013 at 2:48 pm |
  8. bostontola

    Both Christianity and the American Governmental approach have a similar issue, the people that run them are very imperfect and don't always exhibit the intent. The American approach to people governing people is somewhat complex, but proven to be as fair as any other, and quite good at limiting one of the most vulnerable frailties of people, power. I'll take that system over the religious systems as an approach to govern a society.

    July 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm |
  9. Connor

    This article makes it sound like the whole of Christianity is doing this. I can tell you that on the 4th I was with friends from church and a lot of the congregation watching fireworks, not mourning.

    July 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Juan

      Agreed. It's a blog though so it's not surprising. The "story" wouldn't get as many hits if the author had been honest.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  10. John Stemberger

    "More than 80% of white evangelicals believe that God has granted the United States a "special role" in history"
    .
    “But I’m proud to be an American, and I believe God has truly blessed this land.”
    ..........................

    American Taliban

    July 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
  11. M.E.

    Cant say I'm Christian, But I don't celebrate patriotism either. I've disagreed with the whole revolution since I started learning about it in childhood. As an adult I am still against it. If war were to break out between America and the UK today, I'd present myself to the nearest "Red Coat" hand over my weapon, and ask for directions to the nearest place where I could help. I don't fight, but I'm wicked with a needle and thread and could certainly put my skills to work.

    July 8, 2013 at 1:57 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      And good riddance to you. If you feel that strongly why dont you expatriate yourself now?

      July 8, 2013 at 2:01 pm |
    • Anne Smith

      Then you are a patriot. If you are willing to support any cause, then you support that cause. Guns or needles. I suggest you find a country in which you can support their "mission". I suspect you have some difficulty achieving that. But you live with the benefits of those who have gone before you.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • lol??

      Obamacare has mailed out complimentary suicide kits and is lookin' for people like you with sewing skills for the coming glut of shrunken heads.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • bostontola

      M.E.,
      Do you think there are any causes worth fighting, killing, and dieing for?

      July 8, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      so instead of a patriot...you would rather be a traitor...

      July 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
    • Observer

      lol??

      "Obamacare has mailed out complimentary suicide kits and is lookin' for people like you with sewing skills for the coming glut of shrunken heads.'

      Yes, we've already seen a shrunken head on here.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:20 pm |
    • Akira

      Lol??, why must you lie? Is that what Jesus espouses?

      M.E., I see you have no problem with reaping the benefits of living here in the US. Perhaps Britain would be a better fit for you.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:26 pm |
    • Juan

      Not sure if you're trolling but I'll play along anyway. Way to be a traitor. I hear the UK is nice this time of year, maybe you should think about a one way trip?

      July 8, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
    • bostontola

      A patriot is someone who feels a strong support for his or her country. Sounds like you would have been an English patriot.

      July 8, 2013 at 3:11 pm |
    • Really-O?

      "Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons."

      -Bertrand Russell

      July 8, 2013 at 3:14 pm |
    • bostontola

      Really-O,
      What would you call the willingness to kill and be killed for important reasons (like stopping facism)?

      July 8, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      I don't know if you're aware but.... we've been on pretty good terms with the UK for quite some time now. BUT.... if you feel this urgent need to join them, then do so now while there's no ill feelings. So if a war does break out, you can be a traitor to the UK, and come back to Jamaica............ ummm, I mean America. [ tee-hee ]

      July 8, 2013 at 3:31 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @bostontola –

      I would call that a just war (WWII, for example). However, just war has nothing to do with patriotism and nationalism.

      Cheers

      July 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
    • bostontola

      American patriotism is about (among other things), the willingness to kill and die for a system that provides the freedoms in the consti.tution (and Bill of Rights). I'd say that's important.

      July 8, 2013 at 3:38 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @bostontola –

      Examine the history of United States military operations – which can you defend as just? Then, of those that were just, list those for which military intervention was the only efficacious response. Then, create a subset of those in which we were directly defending our nation (these would be "patriotic" – there aren't many). The United States is the most militaristic nation on the planet, and most of our military operations have nothing to do with "patriotism"...that is just a battle cry.

      July 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm |
    • bostontola

      Really-O,
      I was defending American patriotism, not American militarism.

      July 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @bostontola –

      Aren't the two entwined?

      July 8, 2013 at 3:55 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @bostontola –

      I'm reluctant to follow-up a quote from Bertrand Russell with one by Doug Stanhope, but Mr. Stanhope got it right...

      "Nationalism does nothing but teach you how to hate people that you never met. And all of a sudden you take pride in accomplishments you had no part in whatsoever..."

      July 8, 2013 at 3:58 pm |
    • AverageJoe76

      @ bostontola – No need to waste your time; history has proven there are many 'good reasons to die'. Facing genocide has always been one of the top.

      July 8, 2013 at 4:00 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @AverageJoe76 –

      I know your post was directed to @bostontola, but I'm interested in your point of view and think I may not understand. Would you please clarify?

      July 8, 2013 at 4:02 pm |
  12. Lali

    Even if one does not agree with the Mennonites, I appreciate they raise an issue that we too often have a knee jerk "God and Country" (as if they are are always the same) response to.

    I have wondered if I can truly call someone my Christian Brother if he will destroy me upon the order of his political authorities.

    July 8, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • M.E.

      Not really a problem. If a Christian kills, well he's not all that Christian in the first place, is he?

      July 8, 2013 at 1:59 pm |
    • Why not?

      Why cant a "real" Christian kill (go to war) for his country? People went to war for God for centuries.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:07 pm |
  13. markvans

    I'm probably going to regret posting (since so many of the comments here have been adversarial...often completely ignoring the content of the article simply to go for cheap attacks). However, as the person most quoted (I'm the chubby guy in the picture), I wanted to point a few things out:

    1) The editors made this about "anti-patriotism". Personally, I am uncomfortable with that term. I'm a Mennonite (think progressive Amish with technology) but am more interested in being FOR love, inclusion, justice, etc. than being AGAINST patriotism. The editors took the nuance out of the quotes and set things up into a rather polarizing article.

    2) Yes, I understand that mystical or religious beliefs are inane to most atheists...but this article isn't really about that. It is about whether or not the sort of myth-building and triumphalism of the 4th of July are contrary to mutuality, love, and all the other values that someone like Jesus embodied. The dialogue would be much richer if we could engage such ideas, honestly and without vitriol. But the vast majority of the comments seem to be insubstantial and, well, rather immature.

    3) The picture was from early spring in Minnesota. It doesn't get cold enough to wear a winter coat in July in Minnesota (well, not usually).

    Mark Van Steenwyk (www.markvans.info)

    July 8, 2013 at 1:51 pm |
    • Observer

      Whether we agree or disagree, thanks for your posting.

      July 8, 2013 at 1:55 pm |
    • Akira

      Thanks for clarifying.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • lol??

      Don't worry 'bout agreeing with observer. That's one of his many hangups. Socies are so needy when it comes to mediating and reachin' a sensual consensus. MOB POWER and Pwogwess, all the way, USA!!

      July 8, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
    • Anne Smith

      I appreciate the insight. I grew up near Mennonite communities in Southern Tennessee and appreciate their mission.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
    • Laura

      You have my full support, I don't hate Americans either! I just feel that God is God, and see patriotism as prideful. America has turned into a very corrupt country as most large countries are. And the men that are fighting at war for America are going under the impression that the war is necessary and in all reality there is a seedy ulterior motive that is more for greed and pride than against the suffering of humans. So I am against the underlining evil that is sugar coated with the American flag disguised as some sort of good deed. Americans themselves should be appalled at what we hide under our flag! We are being lied to, the flag covers ugliness and leaves our citizens blind! If only America truly stood for what the founding fathers wanted... Peace Liberty and Justice for all has died 😦 And I could move to a new country, but the reality is that corruption is at the core of any powerful nation. So I don't hate America, I hate what it has become and most people feel the way I do. We are all tired of turning around and finding another lie. Democrats and Republican leaders seem the same, both up to no good.. In the end it all makes the road to God taste a little sweeter.. The only one who never lets me down is God, America reminds me of that every day.. And I am sure any other country would do the same.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:34 pm |
    • Wow

      "Peace Liberty and Justice for all has died 😦 And I could move to a new country, but the reality is that corruption is at the core of any powerful nation. So I don't hate America, I hate what it has become and most people feel the way I do. We are all tired of turning around and finding another lie. Democrats and Republican leaders seem the same, both up to no good.. In the end it all makes the road to God taste a little sweeter.. The only one who never lets me down is God, America reminds me of that every day.. And I am sure any other country would do the same."

      You are so full of it, that your post is hysterical.

      "Peace Liberty and Justice for all has died"

      That's not true at all, it has evolved. When the Christians first came here, they stole the land and murdered Native Americans, they kidnapped and enslaved African Americans, they burned women at the stake by lying they were witches. They treated women like second class citizens and abused them. If anything this country has gotten more moral, more just and given liberty to the minorities that needed it. It's negative hateful Christians like you that are bringing this country down.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Jack

      "But the vast majority of the comments seem to be insubstantial and, well, rather immature."

      "Don’t worry ’bout agreeing with observer. That’s one of his many hangups. Socies are so needy when it comes to mediating and reachin’ a sensual consensus. MOB POWER and Pwogwess, all the way, USA!!"

      lol?? just proved Mark's statement. Thanks, pseudo Christian lol??.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:42 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Fighting/war is human nature, to deny it is foolish. But not all have the courage to face fear and death, to stand up for the meek/cowardly. "People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." -George Orwell.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
  14. mnfolkgirl

    How about we all keep our religious beliefs to ourselves instead of arguing over who's right and arrogantly attempting to push whatever dogma we believe in on others? Religion is man's tool to explain how we got here, why the heck we're here anyway, how to live while we're here and what happens to us when we die and, as we learn more about our world, religion changes to take that knowledge into account (which is why we no longer believe that Zeus is irritated when there's lightening in the sky). I'm so tired of holier than thou hypocrites selectively picking teachings that are easy to follow and/or justify their close-mindedness while trying to save anyone they deem a heathen through secular law. I don't need your religion. I strive to treat my fellow man with kindness on a daily basis simply because it's the right thing to do, not because a bunch of man-made archaic rules tells me I'll be rewarded for it later on. So sad that so many people need that "reward" of heaven incentive to be a decent person or that they believe causing others pain is justified and will get them that reward.

    July 8, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • Observer

      Amen. People should be smart enough to figure out to treat others with kindess without needing threats (hell) or rewards (heaven) or a 2,000-year-old book to tell them.

      July 8, 2013 at 1:53 pm |
    • Honey Badger Don't Care

      "How about we all keep our religious beliefs to ourselves instead of arguing over who's right and arrogantly attempting to push whatever dogma we believe in on others?"

      If only it were that easy for xtians to do. When they take their religion into the political realm is when I really have a problem with it.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:04 pm |
    • Terri Geis

      It is sad that Christianity is all "religion" but really if you look at scriptures Jesus said he came to seek and save those who are lost. That God loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that we as humans are sinful (how many of us dishonored our parents growing up or told a white lie) and if we accept his gift we would have eternal life. God wants a relationship with us – religion is about do while Christianity is all about what Jesus did for us.

      God wants us to honor our government but it is hard to honor our government when we disagree with the policies of the current administration.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:06 pm |
  15. God

    Christianity is a hoax. The Bible is made up.

    July 8, 2013 at 1:49 pm |
    • f

      If the Bible is a hoax, it is the biggest hoax ever in the history of mankind. It would have taken thousands of people to come up with all the stories and quotes and eyewitness accounts, thousands of years or remembering the stories and words and meanings of everything, and all recorded on paper/papyrus and scrolls (no computers or typewriters)....AND have it all add up and make sense ......AND have it all written for a purpose. So you are saying that Billions of people living over 5,000 years are all being hoodwinked? I pray for your soul.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:24 pm |
    • Observer

      f,

      The Bible was selected from thousands of other stories that were rejected. No big deal.

      What is more important is what the Bible does say and that's the problem for Christians.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • Pete

      " So you are saying that Billions of people living over 5,000 years are all being hoodwinked? I pray for your soul."

      Christians are so good at lying for their god, it's hysterical. Only 30% of people on this planet believe in your version of a god and that number has remained stagnant in Christian history. So there are billions more people who don't buy into your version of religion.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:28 pm |
    • pfr1nk

      "AND have it all add up and make sense"

      And there is where you lost it. The bible makes no sense and is obviously the collected fireside stories of ancient goat herders trying (poorly) to explain their existence. If a real god existed it could clear all this up on one second, but alas, all we have are the fairy tales of ancient Jews and the fan fiction mostly made up by Paul.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:35 pm |
  16. Robert Holt

    “Inside the Christian anti-patriot movement”. It would better read, “Inside the anti-patriot movement of a small group within Christianity”. Their anti-patriot views do not reflect Christianity as a whole.and I would say that the vast majority of Christians do not hold to anti-patriot views.

    July 8, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • GAW

      The New Testament is rather confused on the issue. Many voices on the issue at hand.

      July 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
  17. Jean, in Iowa

    Reading comments quoting the Bible, theologies, etc that have only existed for 2000 or so years – is anyone out there aware that humanoids probably were on earth 100,000 -maybe even a million years- science and archeology continue to learn and explore all these possibilities – so only people who lived the last 2000 years can go to heaven if they believe in Jesus the Christ? Are all our ancestors for eons bound to hell because they did not know of a man who lived a mere 2000 years ago? What about the many civilizations that are known to exist thousands of years before Christianity existed? Why are your minds so small you can only grasp history in such a short period of humanity?

    July 8, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
    • Wagh

      Now, that's thought!

      July 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm |
    • pfr1nk

      You started out right but then reached too high. 100,000 years is correct, unless you are counting pre-humanoids which science does not consider human.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:38 pm |
    • URright

      Let's say humanoids have lived here for a million years or more; the scriptures do have an answer. John 5:28, "Do not marvel at this, because the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice." The key word here is ALL. And Acts 24:15 states, "and I have hope toward God, which hope these [men] themselves also entertain, that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous."

      The scriptures don't separate the time in which Jesus lived and Christianity came to be, from the time detailed in the Hebrew Scriptures, or the time before that, should that be the case. The message is one; That God wants all to live on earth, in peace and forever. If that is not the case, then what was the point or objective of placing Adam and Eve, on Earth, in paradise in the first place? There of course is much more, but I hope this helps.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Athy

      Jean, it's because their minds really are that small.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      URRight has given you their answer: Yes. Yes, their minds are that small.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:50 pm |
    • BuddyChrist

      Jean, if you read the Bible, It says where Jesus went for the 3 days when He died on the cross and then would know what happen to ALL the souls the have passed since man walked on earth. Its not a mystery. Ill make it simple for you, just google "where did Jesus go when He die" and you will find the answers. 🙂

      July 8, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      and BuddyChrist gives you a typically ridiculous/deluded answer to a question you didn't ask...

      July 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm |
  18. FrankinSD

    Like any other belief system, patriotism is subject to excess. Perhaps both sides of this discussion might do well to keep that in mind.

    July 8, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  19. BuddhaCatMac

    What would Jesus do?

    July 8, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • pfr1nk

      Die and never come back? Not exist as described? Be an apocalyptic preacher?

      July 8, 2013 at 2:40 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      Die a useless meaningless death? Let's face it, his suppossed sacrifice has not stopped mankind from committing 'sin' a single iota...

      July 8, 2013 at 2:53 pm |
    • cameron

      These God Trolls don't realize that if Jesus didn't return from the dead . There would not be any Christians today. If Jesus stayed dead his followers would have disbanded and gone away after the 1st Century. No body wants to die for a false god. Christianity only survived because They saw the risen Christ in his full holy form return.

      July 8, 2013 at 3:01 pm |
    • Really-O?

      @cameron –

      So, how do you explain the existence and survival of all other non-Christian religions?

      July 8, 2013 at 3:03 pm |
  20. richunix

    @Transcent:

    This is a repost from an early comment abotu Jesus:
    This is the result of research and historical known facts.

    @ Dwight

    I have read the Bible numerous times, in fact I spent the last 10 years study it. So the question is, of the 5700 known manuscripts making up the books of the Bible which one would you say is the most correct? In short before you jump up on your band-wagon and declare it is the approved King James version, or the New World edited addition and was inspired by GOD. Remember if GOD meant for his word to be extant, then why didn’t he go to great lengths to preserve his word, this has puzzled theologian and scholar’s for centuries.

    You can try reading the Codex Sinaiticus , or the Codex Vaticanus (Codex Bezae, 8th century) written in the 4th century. Both version have the most complete version of earlier Bible and some more, however they have MAJOR difference between your current version. Or you may take your hand (like the rest of us) and learn Konic Greek, so you can read the very early version of the Bible like, Papyrus P52,46 or P75. You listed historical names from the Bible, maybe you should try reading the Gnostic Gospel such as The Gospel of Mary, James, Peter…better yet the Gospel of Judas (published in 2006) or the Gospel of Solomon (or King Solomon), how about the Gospel of Jesus himself?. Do you even know the difference between the Gnosticism and Docetism? Take your current four Gospel and read the Crucifixion stories, which version is correct, when only one (unnamed Apostle was present) and yet they all have different words spoken by the dying Jesus, different way’s and times he died. The bible you see today is not the bible that was originally written 2000 years ago, in fact not even close. None of the Gospel are/were not written by any of eyewitness they are penned after, they are in fact written century’s later by trained Greek scribes, you need to read more about Teutullin and Irenaeus. We do not HAVE any surviving Gospel from the 1st century, it is not until the 3rd century we have a few incomplete Gospel (P46/75) and the most complete by the 4th century and even these do not match the earlier version.

    July 8, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • BuddhaCatMac

      so true that "God's" words are distorted over the years...and honestly, as a theologian too, the words that are in the Bible today are not God's words but the words of man. And these words are the ones that are "chosen" by the clergy, as to what will and what will not be passed on and taught.

      Again, think hard sheep! What would Jesus do?

      July 8, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      I like how you claim the word of God has not been preserved and then give us the litany of ways in which it has been preserved.

      July 8, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Doobs

      @ Bill Deacon

      I like the way you make pronouncements and then run away when you get called out on it. Makes me laugh every time.

      July 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • Observer

      Where did Bill Deacon go?

      July 8, 2013 at 2:12 pm |
    • Transcendent

      Thanks for sharing. I'm familiar with this.

      July 8, 2013 at 2:39 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.