July 27th, 2013
08:33 AM ET

Why millennials are leaving the church

Opinion by Rachel Held Evans, Special to CNN

(CNN) - At 32, I barely qualify as a millennial.

I wrote my first essay with a pen and paper, but by the time I graduated from college, I owned a cell phone and used Google as a verb.

I still remember the home phone numbers of my old high school friends, but don’t ask me to recite my husband’s without checking my contacts first.

I own mix tapes that include selections from Nirvana and Pearl Jam, but I’ve never planned a trip without Travelocity.

Despite having one foot in Generation X, I tend to identify most strongly with the attitudes and the ethos of the millennial generation, and because of this, I’m often asked to speak to my fellow evangelical leaders about why millennials are leaving the church.

Armed with the latest surveys, along with personal testimonies from friends and readers, I explain how young adults perceive evangelical Christianity to be too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

I point to research that shows young evangelicals often feel they have to choose between their intellectual integrity and their faith, between science and Christianity, between compassion and holiness.

I talk about how the evangelical obsession with sex can make Christian living seem like little more than sticking to a list of rules, and how millennials long for faith communities in which they are safe asking tough questions and wrestling with doubt.

Invariably, after I’ve finished my presentation and opened the floor to questions, a pastor raises his hand and says, “So what you’re saying is we need hipper worship bands. …”

And I proceed to bang my head against the podium.

Time and again, the assumption among Christian leaders, and evangelical leaders in particular, is that the key to drawing twenty-somethings back to church is simply to make a few style updates - edgier music, more casual services, a coffee shop in the fellowship hall, a pastor who wears skinny jeans, an updated Web site that includes online giving.

But here’s the thing: Having been advertised to our whole lives, we millennials have highly sensitive BS meters, and we’re not easily impressed with consumerism or performances.

In fact, I would argue that church-as-performance is just one more thing driving us away from the church, and evangelicalism in particular.

Many of us, myself included, are finding ourselves increasingly drawn to high church traditions - Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, the Episcopal Church, etc. - precisely because the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being “cool,” and we find that refreshingly authentic.

What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.

We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.

We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.

We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.

We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.

We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.

You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.

Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.

Now these trends are obviously true not only for millennials but also for many folks from other generations. Whenever I write about this topic, I hear from forty-somethings and grandmothers, Generation Xers and retirees, who send me messages in all caps that read “ME TOO!” So I don’t want to portray the divide as wider than it is.

But I would encourage church leaders eager to win millennials back to sit down and really talk with them about what they’re looking for and what they would like to contribute to a faith community.

Their answers might surprise you.

Rachel Held Evans is the author of "Evolving in Monkey Town" and "A Year of Biblical Womanhood." She blogs at rachelheldevans.com. The views expressed in this column belong to Rachel Held Evans.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church • evangelicals • Opinion

soundoff (9,864 Responses)
  1. lionlylamb

    Toward my belief system, religion is a personal belief and should not be a sociable consideration... Anyone's beliefs upon religious conjuring séances should be held personally and not be centered by any socialism of the religiously clairvoyant which tends to conjure their séances upon the weakly enamored folks forsaking the doctrines oaths. Emotionalisms are where religious circles are deemed rented and the renters pay steeply for a yarns worth... Therefor keeps one's faith separate from religious teamsters who take and never give any causally rational explanations as to why there are reportedly many more of God's many sons then what Christendom portends there to be.

    July 27, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
    • M.R.

      Greatest story infantile understandings. Whetstone shiving.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
    • Austin

      forgive them, they know not what they do.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
      • M.R.

        Cherished falsified. Spendthrift rewards.

        July 27, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
    • MagicPanties

      You're with the Church of the Mescal, right?
      Can I join?

      July 27, 2013 at 6:10 pm |
      • lionlylamb

        Join me? Sorry M.P. but I have remained Chase for many years now...

        July 27, 2013 at 6:49 pm |
  2. Austin

    Topher, is that me?

    July 27, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
  3. DaveLake

    It is my opinion that as science progresses (in the future) events will take place that will slowly dissolve religion into an obvious myth. These events could be finding life on other planets, a profound new understanding how the universe works, to simply looking at Earth from a different perspective while exploring another planet. Religion will take its rightful place as interesting myths created by man before we understood the universe around us.

    July 27, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Nate

      Only if you believe religion is the key to understanding science which personally, I do not.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
      • DaveLake

        Religion usually obstructs science:)

        July 27, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
        • Matt Bain

          You sir are a nincompoop
          Antiseptic Surgery Joseph Lister
          Bacteriology Louis Pasteur
          Calculus Isaac Newton
          Celestial Mechanics Johannes Kepler
          Chemistry Robert Boyle
          Comparative Anatomy Georges Cuvier
          Dimensional Analysis Lord Rayleigh
          Dynamics Isaac Newton
          Electronics John Ambrose Fleming
          Electrodynamics James Clerk Maxwell
          Electromagnetics Michael Faraday
          Energetics Lord Kelvin
          Entomology of Living Insects Henri Fabre
          Field Theory James Clerk Maxwell
          Fluid Mechanics George Stokes
          Galactic Astronomy Sir William Hershel
          Gas Dynamics Robert Boyle
          Genetics Gregor Mendel
          Glacial Geology Louis Agassiz
          Gynaecology James Simpson
          Hydrography Matthew Maury
          Hydrostatics Blaise Pascal
          Ichthyology Louis Agassiz
          Isotopic Chemistry William Ramsey
          Model Analysis Lord Rayleigh
          Natural History John Ray
          Non-Euclidean Geometry Bernard Riemann
          Oceanography Matthew Maury
          Optical Mineralogy David Brewster

          July 27, 2013 at 6:13 pm |
        • Nate

          Well, I can't argue with that. I think there is a mindset among some religious folk that science is an attempt to discredit their beliefs. I don't know why that is but I have never personally felt that any scientific discovery has in any way made any of my beliefs less significant. The universe is a fascinating place. Why shouldn't we learn all we can about it?

          July 27, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
        • Observer

          Matt Bain,

          Where was Albert Einstein, Enrico Fermi, Madame Curie, Alexander Graham Bell, Edwin Hubble, Robert Milliken, Carl Sagan, etc.? They made substantial contributions as agnostics.

          July 27, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
        • jstars

          Observer, MB's list was meant to refute the claim that science and religion are incompatible. He did not state that science and agnosticism are incompatible.

          July 27, 2013 at 6:31 pm |
    • Steel On Target

      Not soon enough though.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Jay Wilson

      Well put.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • ThereIsNoGod

      You are correct. There have been events in history that have certainly weaken Religion and as science continues to advance Religion will continue to weaken.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
    • jstars

      Religion will evolve. Science is all well and good, but it is not a system for weighing moral right and moral wrong. Nor will it instill a sense of virtue in someone. Science can build an A-bomb, but can't tell you that its use is abhorrent.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:27 pm |
      • Damocles

        Given that so many believers are itching to use an a-bomb to off their competi-tion, belief in a deity is not a strong argument for knowing right from wrong.

        July 27, 2013 at 6:37 pm |
        • jstars

          Read Oppenheimer's works. Or Alfred Nobel's. They got so caught up in the scientific thrill of solving a problem that they didn't consider the moral ramifications of their actions. They freely admit to it. And they both deeply regretted setting moral issues aside for scientific ones once they saw the impact of their discoveries on humanity.

          July 27, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  4. coderjones

    for me – its the out right lies that are passed down from generation to generation, the witch burnings, the crusades, jihad's, secular terrorism, but most importantly to me and my blood line – it is the manner in which religion was used to manipulate my culture and heritage into something the religious zealots deemed "acceptable". my grandparents were not allowed to speak their own language, my mother had to pick cotton, and my biological father being the good christian man he was, left us from another woman. breaking his promise to his own god.

    beside the fact that are currently and have been – thousands of forms of religions – NONE OF WHICH HAVE ANY PROOF

    i look at people who god did this and god did that – as delusional humans needing something to hold onto – to make themselves feel righteous

    if i were a god – i'd leave earth alone too – because mankind – has become a virus, killing this planet

    July 27, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  5. brazil

    article is a pretty standard critique of the church that i assumed would be put into practice already; it's pretty simple. and, for all the self-important trolls that have used this article as their soapbox to preach their disdain for all things religious without discussing the actual content of the article...its pretty boring. your arguments are nothing new and we've been hearing them for over 200 years. if you were actually all that convincing, don't you think religion would've ceased to exist a long time ago? you're not going to convince someone reading the comments section (or your website). let's all move on and respect each others' beliefs (or lack thereof).

    July 27, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Austin


      July 27, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      I agree one should focus on the article (which you didn't do much). This women needs to find a church that is more consistent with her values and it isn't going to be an evangelical church.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:49 pm |
    • Owen Mutala

      brazil, your post is generally wrong, and you must be very stupid. First, beliefs are not people, and they merit critical examination, not respect. The problem you face is that your beliefs are coming under scrutiny, and under such scrutiny they do not hold up. Whining for respect of your bad ideas is also cowardice.

      Put that in your pipe and smoke it, coward.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:50 pm |
      • jazzguitarman

        Owen, are you even capable of showing someone respect? I'm agnostic, but my ego doesn't require me to be an a$$.

        July 27, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
      • brazil

        i'm not saying that my beliefs can't be scrutinized, i'm saying that your arguments haven't changed in 200 years. if you want to convince me that my beliefs are wrong, tell me something i haven't heard already. and there's absolutely no reason to get personal by name calling. we can discuss this rationally.

        July 27, 2013 at 6:02 pm |
    • Dan

      No. Because religion is stupid. By the way – a "troll" in internet speak means someone who posts just to insult people. While I certainly don't care if you're insulted or not, I don't post about how stupid your religion is because I want to insult you. I post about how stupid your religion is because your religion is holding humanity back. It stand in the way of science, medicine, social progress, equality and just basic human decency. It's time to leave your fairy tales where they belong – in the dust bin of history with Thor, Zeus, Booka Boka and whatever other weird crap people use to worship before we understood evolution, astronomy, physics and all the other science that flies in the face of anything that comes from your religion.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:57 pm |
      • jazzguitarman

        I disagree with your definition of a troll. To me a troll is also one that top post comments that are unrelated to the topic. (In this case the article by this woman). I believe that is the main point Brazil was making. Each ‘side’ posting the same thing in every thread regardless of the topic the article is discussing.

        I'm agnostic but I still found the article interesting. Here is a Christian woman that doesn't like the hate coming from her church (I assume she has gay friends). I think she is silly to expect her church to change. Instead she should just find another church more consistent with her values.

        July 27, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
  6. Trisha

    Our "evangelical brethren" would have no idea how to dress for, behave, or execute anglo-catholic liturgy!

    July 27, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Austin

      what a ritual that must be.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:46 pm |
    • Willa

      I think you'd be surprised by our ability to "execute" proper liturgy. Many of us–myself included–were raised in liturgical settings, entered into more evangelical churches, and then ended up falling back into high church settings. I found that increasingly common among my seminarian friends who burned out in youth groups that were good intentioned but trying too hard to be the Christian version of mainstream culture.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
  7. Nate

    I was raised in an ultra conservative Baptist church. Although I have nothing against anyone who wants to be an evangelical I just felt that it wasn't for me so when I moved away from home I left evangelicalism behind. I looked to the mainline christian denominations and found a lot more along the lines of what I was looking for. They are strongly rooted in their traditions (which is fine for me as I use religious services as a time to reflect on my faith rather than have a party) but at the same time they are making a strong effort to apply their beliefs to a constantly changing world unlike their more conservative counterparts who are stuck in the theological dark ages. No matter where I went whether the Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists – although I finally settled on the Presbyterians – I always felt that the love of God was present and that I was wanted there, a sadly rare condition for the bible belt where there are many churches and few Christians.

    July 27, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Nate

      Not to mention you get very tired of feeling like someone is trying to sell you something. I'm glad to tell someone about my beliefs if they ask, but I refuse to ram my beliefs down someone elses throat.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
    • jazzguitarman

      So how do your Baptist family members feel about the church you are going to now? Do they feel it doesn’t accurately represent the teachings of JC? That it has ‘sold out’ to accommodate younger generations?

      Hey, I think it is great you found a place more consistent with your values, but how does your church square that with Christian doctrine?

      July 27, 2013 at 5:55 pm |
      • Nate

        Opinions range from complete disgust/they think I'm going to hell to general acceptance. Depends greatly on who you ask. I once read a book in which a famous mega preacher described mainline Christianity as "golden rule Christianity." I believe he meant it as an insult but I took it as a complement. I also had a friend who once told me, "You guys just love everybody don't you!" My response was "I do my best." Although I'm sure there are many who would debate my perspective, I believe my church more fully embraces the teachings of Jesus. Keeping in mind that churches are made up of people and there are no such things as perfect people.

        July 27, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • Luke

      Completely agree with you. I live in what you could call the "buckle" of the Bible Belt. I would say that about 90-95% of the people in my town identify themselves as Southern Baptists, although I am Lutheran. The amount of hate I hear every day is enormous compared to what I have heard any other place I have lived.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:58 pm |
      • Nate

        I know exactly what you mean.

        July 27, 2013 at 6:06 pm |
      • Nate

        I moved south as an adult and I love it here but never before have I seen so many openly "religious" people who perpetrate such hate.

        July 27, 2013 at 6:20 pm |
    • Benjamin

      I don't believe in God (although I certainly did when I was being raised Pentecostal in the South), but I think if more people were like Nate and more churches as he described, I wouldn't be as militantly atheistic. The author's, Nate's, and my conclusions and actions may be different, but our objectives appear the same–stop the harmful effects of fundamentalism.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:33 pm |
  8. Tampa

    The assembling of the saints is for born-again believers in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (who have turned to him in repentance and put their complete trust in him as Savior). I agree, the mega-churches are mostly apostate and heretical, simply combining mainstream culture with bits and pieces of religion. That being said, do you honestly think the millennials are leaving because of lack of truth? How many of them are flocking to fundamental churches that preach against sin and preach the exclusivity of faith alone in Jesus Christ? My guess is not many. They don't want THE TRUTH.

    July 27, 2013 at 5:40 pm |
    • Austin

      The Work of the Holy Spirit

      26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
  9. Amy

    Here's the problem with this article. It paints a picture of a group of people who want to remake God in their own image instead of recognizing that we are made in God's image.

    July 27, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Austin

      2 Corinthians 4:6

      6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,”[a] made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:44 pm |
    • Damocles

      Psht, every believer makes his or her deity in their own image. This deity is usually all powerful, all knowing and created everything, yet didn't make the things or people that the believer doesn't like. Essentially the deity ends up being a super-powered version of themselves that is unable to use any of its super-powers to do anything. Quite strange.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
    • Yeddo

      Did you read the article? It doesn't look like it.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
    • Andrew

      Here's the problem with your rigidity, it's damning people.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:53 pm |
    • Esaias

      You are right.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:03 pm |
  10. CDawg

    They're leaving religions because religions are full of crap.

    You're allowed to believe what you want, however don't expect me to give a casual, friendly nod to your idiocy. Stop teaching your kids that nonsense and quit voting while you're at it. We'll never get out of the dark ages otherwise. The western religions are based on fear and human loathing. It's a total shame.

    If you open your eyes and think, you'll see the truth (and it's not some sky god). Willful ignorance is all I see in religions.

    July 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • jstars

      Both Revolutionary France and the USSR actively repressed religion. It did not lead to a flowering of enlightenment.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:15 pm |
  11. resolute144

    I didn't go to church for a long time due to many of the reasons you stated. I didn't want to be part of a group of people who preached love for community but then rejected those who were different from them attending their church. I didn't want to be brainwashed into believing everything ONE person was saying and losing who I was. It took some maturity on my part to realize that when you get any number of people together for whatever purpose you are still going to have different personalities, different perceptions, and different values; whether it be a church group or the artists that meet every Thursday morning for coffee. It took me studying and learning on my own because of that longing to know Jesus. It took me realizing my relationships with the individuals at the church was not the reason I was there. You say that your generation is "longing for Jesus", good! What I say is, He hasn't gone anywhere. Whether you go to church with the pastor in the skinny jeans, or with the gossipy women who you look you up and down to see what you are wearing, shouldn't matter. Your relationship is with Jesus is first and foremost! He allows you to see others as He does. He allows you to see that the gossipy women are insecure and vulnerable and haven't learned to love as He does. He isn't concerned with the performances or the glitz a church puts on, He is concerned with the man who walked into that service broken hearted and something in the message spoke to Him so that man developed a relationship with Jesus. He loves the man who says, we need to "realize these old myths have no place", as much as He loves the man who preaches His word everyday. My point with all of this? It isn't about whether or not you want to be part of a glitzy church, or a traditional church...it is about your relationship with Jesus. If you don't like how your church or churches in general are running their services become a part of the change that will bring more people to see Jesus, not the church. Leaving isn't the answer it only leads to disillusionment and calls others to wonder about our faith and our loyalty to Him. There are always going to be people who don't get the reason for a relationship with Jesus, both outside of the church and sadly within as well. And those who are in it for the attention upon themselves and not Him. Bring the focus back on Him, be a part of positive change, but don't leave.

    July 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Dippy

      Ever hear of a paragraph, resolute?

      July 27, 2013 at 5:39 pm |
    • Austin

      spiritual gifts..........prophecy/teaching ect. are real and true and can be seen in leaders and non leaders.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
  12. FreeThinker

    Religious Zealots are the MOST bigoted, racists and judgmental people ever to exist.

    July 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • Austin

      there is only one race, its called human.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:42 pm |
    • Dragstone

      This is exactly what I say about atheistic, anti-religious zealots. Who the hell are you to judge religious people?

      Think before you mouth off. You are exactly like what you hate.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
      • AnOpinionatedLady

        Using your own words here...If that's exactly what you say about atheistic, anti-religious zealots, then who the hell are you to judge non-religious people?

        If there's a religion out there that speaks to you, wonderful! If atheism is true to you, then great! Neither is better than the other and degenerating people with differing opinions does nothing but reinforce negative opinions and stereotypes. You want a real conversation? Try not attacking those you view as opposition with your opening salvo. That goes to atheists and the religious, alike!

        July 27, 2013 at 6:04 pm |
    • Collins

      Free thinker...... That seems like a very judgmental statement....... Just don't want you taking part in the actions you loathe.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:51 pm |
    • Esaias

      Wow, it sounds like you're describing yourself! The facts are, you are describing humanists – people who make up their own morality, instead of receiving morals from God. Humanists are truly Self-righteous.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:01 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Dragstone, who are *you* to judge anyone? Don't you have to go kneel in front of some manmade idol now, or beg forgiveness from your god, possibly via some religious shaman? Gotta love a christian who breaks his cult's rules as fast as he chastises others – what's the name for that behaviour?

      July 27, 2013 at 6:05 pm |
      • Esaias

        Hey HotHead, exactly what rule are you referring to? Before trying to point out the speck in his eye, why don't you pull the plank out of yours – God hater.

        July 27, 2013 at 6:09 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          Draggy is not being judgmental? You don't think there are rules in the christian cult, or others, about not being judgmental?

          July 27, 2013 at 6:40 pm |
      • Dragstone

        Ha ha. You're making assumptions again. You called me a christian and you don't even know me. LOL. I'm not a "Christian" and why are you hating on religions from african nations that have shamans? I don't hate them. I don't hate ANY religious theology.

        And I'm not really judging anyone, but pointing out facts that people like you are making perfectly clear through you own actions.

        "I don't make fun of politicians, I just report the fact of their actions" Will Rogers...

        July 27, 2013 at 6:17 pm |
        • HotAirAce

          I apologize if I offended you by calling you a christian. . .

          If I remember correctly, you posted a lengthy, angry note about how terrible atheists are, around page 20, I think. I can't find the post (perhaps someone found it abusive?) but it caused me to think you are a member of that cult. Again, I apologize for unintentionally slandering you.

          July 27, 2013 at 6:43 pm |
  13. Bob Bales

    I have a complete response to your last major post. I re-worded it some, and broke in into two sections It didn't fly. So here are the main points. I'll see if it goes.

    –My opinion alone doesn't determine the reasonableness of a belief. It is the evidence (or the lack thereof) for such a belief that does.–
    This is the central issue. You state that there is no evidence for Christian beliefs as if it is an objective fact. It isn't. It is just your opinion. Since the stated basis for your claim is non-objective, so is the claim.

    –Just like you are free to believe that red is the only true color for cars, that doesn't mean it is. You are free to select only red cars for yourself on that belief, but that doesn't make it valid reason.–

    My point exactly. You are free to believe there is no evidence for God but that doesn't mean there is no evidence. You are free not to believe in God based on your view, but that doesn't make it unresonable for somone else to believe.

    July 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • LinCA

      I recommend that you compose posts offline, in a text editor. I use Notepad++.

      I created a Python script for Notepad++ that will scan selected text for the word fragments on the banned list. It will then insert a couple of HTML tags that will allow you to circumvent the filters.

      You can find the script below between the lines with the # signs.

      To install it:
      – If you don't already have it, get Notepad++ (it's a free download, just google it).
      – Go to: Plugins – Plugin Manager – Show Plugin Manager – add the plugin Python Script.
      – Go to: Plugins – Python Script – New Script.
      – Give the new script a name and save.
      – Copy everything between the # signs below into the new script.
      – Save the script.
      – Go to: Plugins – Python Script – Configuration – Add script to Toolbar icons.

      To use it:
      – Compose comment in Notepad++.
      – Select entire comment.
      – Run script by clicking the toolbar icon.
      – Copy and post.

      If you need to add new words, just add lines to the script in the "banlist" variable (mind the quotes and comma).

      Script below:

      banlist = ( 'arse',
                  'wonderful us' )

      selStr = editor.getSelText()

      startAnchor = editor.getSelectionStart()
      endPos = editor.getSelectionEnd()
      if( endPos > startAnchor ):
          startAnchor = editor.positionFromLine( editor.lineFromPosition( startAnchor ) )
          tmp = startAnchor
          startAnchor = endPos
          endPos = tmp
      selectionLength = endPos - startAnchor
      addedCharachters = 0

      for index in range(len(banlist)):
          findString = banlist[index]

          if ( findString != 'wonderful us' ) :
              isWU = 0
              replacePos = 3
          else :
              isWU = 1
              replacePos = 10

          l = len( selStr )
          f = len( findString )

          if ( l >= f ) :
              c = (l - f)
              lastTagIsOpen = 1

              while ( c >= 0 ) :
                  clip = str.lower( selStr[ c : c + f ] )
                  if ( ( l - c ) > 2 ) :
                      if ( str.lower( selStr[ c : c + 3 ] ) == '<b>' ) :
                          lastTagIsOpen = 1
                  if ( ( l - c ) > 3 ) :
                      if ( str.lower( selStr[ c : c + 4 ] ) == '</b>' ) :
                          lastTagIsOpen = 0
                  if ( clip == findString ) :
                      if isWU :
                          selStr = selStr[ 0 : ( c + replacePos - 1 )] + '&nbsp;' + selStr[ ( c + replacePos ) : len( selStr ) ]
                          addedCharachters += 5
                      else :
                          if lastTagIsOpen :
                              selStr = selStr[ 0 : ( c + replacePos - 1 ) ] + '<b></b>' + selStr[ (c + replacePos - 1) : len( selStr ) ]
                              addedCharachters += 7
                          else :
                              selStr = selStr[ 0 : ( c + replacePos - 1 ) ] + '</b><b>' + selStr[ (c + replacePos - 1) : len( selStr ) ]
                              addedCharachters += 7
                  c -= 1

      editor.replaceSel( selStr )

      endPos = editor.getLineEndPosition( editor.lineFromPosition( endPos ) )
      editor.setSel( startAnchor, selectionLength + addedCharachters )


      July 27, 2013 at 5:41 pm |
    • J W

      I agree with your logic. I honestly cannot disagree.

      However, what you said does not really progress the conversation. What you have basically said is that, yes you cannot deny God because you cannot prove he doesn't exist. This in turn would confirm the statement's acceptance that there are reasons to doubt. Because if God's existence is un-disprovable, you would not have to make that comment. Others cannot prove that he doesn't exist, nor can you prove he does. I don't think that is central to the Christian doctrine.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:48 pm |
      • lol??

        God made good on His past promises. Future ones are in the bank.

        July 27, 2013 at 5:52 pm |
        • Austin

          Amen, its hard not to get offended sometimes.

          July 27, 2013 at 5:56 pm |
      • Rodboy

        JW, here are the real facts – according to science, the laws of physics would preclude any matter changes or adds, let say matter has always been here in some form, so someone or some thing made matter and energy outside these laws. So a God like or superior being with intelligence was there. Now we Christians have to deal with God always being here as the unanswered question, you have to deal dead ends of science.

        July 28, 2013 at 9:55 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Bob Bales

      You said, "This is the central issue. You state that there is no evidence for Christian beliefs as if it is an objective fact. It isn't."
      Please lay out your evidence that even suggests that the christian god is real. I hope you agree that if you can't reasonably establish that there is such a creature, the entire religion is little more than song and dance, or smoke and mirrors, if you prefer.

      You said, "It is just your opinion."
      I have yet to see a single piece of evidence. If you can provide some, I will change my mind.

      You said, "You are free to believe there is no evidence for God but that doesn't mean there is no evidence."
      Like I said above. Put up.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:54 pm |
      • HotAirAce

        Or shut up!

        July 27, 2013 at 7:10 pm |
  14. Dan

    I left because I was disgusted by all the hate towards Gays and Lesbians, having never had religion shoved down my throat, I also really have just come to think of God as a fairy tail

    July 27, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
  15. Vanessa Lee

    Thanks Bob,

    I fear that Christians have forgotten their history. The "God is Love" phrase has taken on a life of its own. Do any of these so-called Christians actually read the Bible? God isn't nice, he's positively murderous. Deuteronomy 13:6, 8-15 is but one example.

    July 27, 2013 at 5:35 pm |
    • Austin

      is a police officer that defends with the force of death a murderer?

      Was the war against Hitler an act of murder?

      July 27, 2013 at 5:38 pm |
  16. FreeThinker

    Religion is the number 1 cause of human death and suffering, bar none. Hundreds of millions have died in the name of someone's "god". Islam takes the cake.

    July 27, 2013 at 5:34 pm |
    • MB

      Religion is also the cause of many more good acts and it prevents many more bad acts. Good acts just typically aren't newsworthy.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:45 pm |
  17. gohelloreally

    People are leaving the church(es) because all known religions don't hold up well to scrutiny. And as more people scrutinize these religions more people will chose not to follow them.

    In a nutshell, people are leaving the churches because God is just pretend.

    July 27, 2013 at 5:32 pm |
    • Dan

      Yeah. True.

      July 27, 2013 at 5:47 pm |
  18. Eileen - 60something

    Best writing on Christianity and the church I've read in a long time. She put it out there plain and simple. I know – I no longer find Jesus in what was my church either – so I left.

    July 27, 2013 at 5:31 pm |
  19. Bob Bales

    Part 2:

    –Just because a lot of people believe something doesn't make it any more true.–
    I didn't say it did. My point is, when millions of people investigate something and find it to be true, it is a different category than is something that no one believes.

    –My opinion alone doesn't determine the reasonableness of a belief. It is the evidence (or the lack thereof) for such a belief that does.–
    This is the crux of the issue. You state that there is no evidence for Christian beliefs as if it is an objective fact. It isn't. It is just your opinion. Since the stated basis for your claim is non-objective, so is the claim.

    - The unreasonableness of those beliefs rests on the complete and utter lack of support for them.... -
    But since you have not shown a "complete and utter lack of support," the supposed unreasonableness of the beliefs has no foundation.

    –Just like you are free to believe that red is the only true color for cars, that doesn't mean it is. You are free to select only red cars for yourself on that belief, but that doesn't make it valid reason.–

    My point exactly. You are free to believe there is no evidence for Godm but that doesn't mean there is no evidence. You are free not to believe in God based on your view, but that doesn't make it unresonable for somone else to believe.

    –It falls along the lines of "If you could reason with believers, there wouldn't be any", and "You can lead a believer to knowledge, but you can't make him think".–
    These sayings have no relationship to reality. Believers are believers because of reasoning and thinking.

    July 27, 2013 at 5:30 pm |
    • Observer

      "Believers are believers because of reasoning and thinking."

      Have you read the entire Bible?

      July 27, 2013 at 5:37 pm |
    • LinCA

      @Bob Bales

      You said, "when millions of people investigate something and find it to be true, it is a different category than is something that no one believes."
      Not if they fall into the confirmation bias trap. The reason so many people believe in gods is because their parents indoctrinate them into those beliefs. They will shed their beliefs in the Tooth Fairy as soon as they run out of baby teeth to trade, and their parents no longer feel the need to keep up the charade.

      Once children have been indoctrinated for decades, the core belief is often not challenged, and only confirming "evidence" is accepted. That doesn't mean it is any more true, or valid.

      You said, "You state that there is no evidence for Christian beliefs as if it is an objective fact."
      Care to enlighten me? You've claimed a number of times that my claim of lack of evidence is just my opinion. You've done so without providing even the slightest piece of evidence to refute it.

      You said, "Believers are believers because of reasoning and thinking."
      Only faulty reasoning and wishful thinking.

      July 27, 2013 at 6:26 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.