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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. Ken

    No surprise. It isn't reasonable to believe tales told in a single publication thousands of years ago, (by near primative peoples in a desert with little to look forward to), that requires you to suspend logic for a hope that your parents handed down. For those who need to believe in an after-life because the thought of your life ending on Earth without a second act is either due to selfishness or fear. NOT unreasonable to feel fearful but because humans have the ability to communicate on multiple levels and all other living creatures cannot, doesn't permit us an eternal life when the animals, plants and insects contribute more to our world without damaging it than any human.They just don't have the ability to craft such a tall tale. Because someone says, doesn't make it so..

    July 28, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • Steve

      And Ken, because you say it, doesn't make it so either. Pontification, whether by Christians or atheists/ new agers, is equally arrogant.

      July 28, 2013 at 9:41 pm |
  2. Jonah

    If anyone here is sick and tired of all the silliness and nonsense in religion today and want a real church, I invite you to check out mormon.org where you can talk (not to a paid professional), but to ordinary members who volunteer their time for free because they just believe in serving and want to answer your questions. In fact, none of the clergy in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are paid. We just love you and Jesus Christ and want your life to be better! Catch the wave! Join us!

    July 28, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
    • One one

      Same old wine, different bottle.

      July 28, 2013 at 9:12 pm |
    • One one

      How much are the membership fees ?

      July 28, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
      • david

        10% of your income is mandatory to get a temple recommend. And getting married in their temple (which requires a temple recommend) is mandatory to get into Mormon heaven.

        In a related story, Utah, per capita, has one of the highest bankruptcy rates in the nation.

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

      Mormonism is not silliness and nonsense?

      July 28, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
      • Terri

        Goodness no, I mean who wouldn't take a religion with a founder like Joseph Smith? It must be true.

        July 28, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • zack

      I have to question the credibility and intellectual honesty when someone believes the patent nonsense created by a known con-man, Joseph Smith. Of the major religions, the only one more absurd than the Mormon church, and clearly made up, is Scientology. Both make claims about human history that are demonstrably false. At least with Scientology, there's absolutely no excuse for believing its nonsense when its founder was a prolific science-fiction writer. You couldn't ask for a more obvious red-flag.

      July 28, 2013 at 9:29 pm |
    • Michael

      Hey the Mormons! The sect that hates gay people even more than Christians do.

      Next.

      July 28, 2013 at 9:38 pm |
  3. Shelli

    I would think the reason they're leaving is because they're becoming more intelligent. You said they have a very sensitive BS meter ... funny that you don't realize that their BS meter picks up the BS of belief in a fairy tale, as well.

    July 28, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
  4. Austin

    greg
    I would rather be stupid than smart as hell......

    greg with a great statement and this is not to you, but to a non believer, nothing is what it seems. their emotional opinions are obsessive deceptions and desperate attempts to erase God, who is invisible yet God and savior.

    July 28, 2013 at 9:08 pm |
    • sam stone

      only slaves need saviors, austin

      July 28, 2013 at 9:11 pm |
      • One one

        Well put !

        July 28, 2013 at 9:16 pm |
      • Austin

        Sam hey guy how are ya?

        You are a step ahead of me because you have not vandalized a church. right?

        but Paul killed christians, so there is no man who by merit attains what God gives as grace and mercy.

        to all men. Jesus loved Judas, and it broke Jesus heart as Judas kissed Him repeatedly. And the guard when Christ answered them they backlashed at the words of God, yet Judas went ahead as Jesus kept giving Him another chance.

        I am going to pray for you bud. I like you.

        July 28, 2013 at 9:17 pm |
        • sam stone

          you have no authority to speak god, outside of your own mind

          the god you paint is of a vindictive, petty pr1ck

          i find it amusing that you desire eternity with such a punk

          keep you in line
          make you beg

          July 28, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
        • sam stone

          you pray for me, i'll think for you

          back on yer knees, boy.......time to grovel

          July 28, 2013 at 9:25 pm |
        • Austin

          ok stay alert! holla.

          July 28, 2013 at 9:30 pm |
      • Steve

        Anyone that commits sin is a slave to sin. Only a savior can free you from sins.

        July 28, 2013 at 9:36 pm |
        • Austin

          hey good one. and a slave does not abide in the house forever. but a son abides in the house forever. Therefore, if the Son sets you free, you shall be free indeed!

          July 28, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
        • sam stone

          sin is a man made concept

          sin is cultural

          you are dolts

          July 28, 2013 at 10:12 pm |
  5. Jason

    Rachel is clearly pursuing her career as a 'writer' instead of as a Christian. Articles like this are a dime a dozen with the same tired excuses for why people want church to be about them instead of about God and Jesus and God's Word.

    July 28, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
    • thekhoifish

      Really? Because I see quite the opposite. I see this as part of a growing trend in the western world that is getting fed up with the ignorant, pretentious, number-crunching church buildings that claim to be preaching gospel when they're either preaching a list of do's and don'ts or they're preaching what's in demand, and im not saying all churches are like that but a lot are.
      While i don't agree 100% of everything she said, i agree with her general idea that we need to stop chasing after what's cool and what will draw the most church members and start chasing after serving the poor, following Christ, doctrine, outreach, santification, and, specifically, God.

      July 28, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
    • Terri

      Did we read the same article? She clearly notes a return to God and the teachings of Jesus as her desire. I am 54 and left the church many years ago because I was so sick of the hypocritical parishioners and the exclusion of anyone who wasn't just like them. I have many gay and lesbian friends, others from different races...churches seem to divide rather than pull people together. No thanks, that isn't the message I get from the teachings of Jesus.

      July 28, 2013 at 9:23 pm |
    • Michael

      I'm a Christian and discovered the Bible, in it's original text, doesn't condemn gay people but that's ALL right-wing fundies are obsessed over. You know, you can divorce and remarry all you want but the gay person down the street is going to destroy something you've already trampled all over.

      July 28, 2013 at 9:42 pm |
  6. Julie

    Children are brainwashed from birth from the people they love the most, their parents. Their parents were treated the same and have perpetuated the continuation of these myths. However, the fastest growing religion/non-religion are people who are referred to as the "unaffiliated". They are now more than 20% of the population. This group 'is not' indoctrinating their children as generations before have. So we are seeing the decline of religion here in the states in real time. Mathematicians have calculated that within 100 years, religion will only exist among a very small minority.

    July 28, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • Libsrtyrants

      Julie,

      Your statement is foolish. So many prejudices leading to unreasonable assumptions.

      July 28, 2013 at 9:02 pm |
  7. greg

    Pascal's Wager is the end result in reasoning logic with logic which is the big discussion here..........faith is unseen and I will be ignorant in reasoning faith...........just belief...........and some feedback

    July 28, 2013 at 8:45 pm |
    • Gadflie

      His logic was faulty because his postulate was invalid. He falsely limited the options to only one god and no god. What of the other thousands of gods we have invented?

      July 28, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • Robert

      greg, learn to use the reply button. Or just do us a favor and stop posting your nonsense altogether, stupid.

      July 28, 2013 at 8:48 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      @ Greg – in any other endeavour or on any other topic, would you be so proud of your ignorance that you wallow in it?

      July 28, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
    • greg

      I would rather be stupid than smart as hell......

      July 28, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
      • Cpt. Obvious

        I'd rather be smart than stupid as hell.

        July 28, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
        • Bob

          And greg gets PWNED Well done and well said, Cap'n.

          July 28, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
        • Bob

          And greg gets PWNED. Well done and well said, Cap'n.

          July 28, 2013 at 9:49 pm |
        • greg

          try coming up with something original..............repeating others thots as u is stupid

          July 28, 2013 at 10:20 pm |
      • rh3hetw35ywy

        that's already the case.

        July 28, 2013 at 9:51 pm |
  8. Mr T

    Well no suprise here...in America the seperation of Church and state seems a bit blurry these days. Evangelical revivalist seem to be influenicnig the political spectrum more and more. And thier status as non profit is surley one to be taken with a blind eye too. These days anyone wil do anythgin for a buck, even if it means promising slavation for their party of choice.
    I think what the author is trying to stress is the exodus movement that has right wing GOPers up in arms. To me and for me it should be simple, follow your heat..Be it from the Koran, King James Bible , The Torah, The buddest Teachings of spirituality and humility etc. Seek what makes you happy regardles if you are straight, gay, single mom, or dad or come from a family of ten, only you should make that choice and be happy with it. Feel free to change your mind the whole free will thing comes into play here 🙂

    Organized religion has endured centures of persecucition and glory. Religion has been used to win wars and provide peace. It is needed for some, but not all, to have a true connection with God, Yaweh, Jesus, Mohemmed, Buddah etc.

    Millenials are growing up in a society filled with faster innovation then ever before. But it is the the heart, mind, hands, eyes and ears of us all that truly determine the path we must all take.(Google that)

    The Evangelical Right should be concerned and at the end of the day it seems that substance, not style, will win. Humility and a charitable life above all others is the true way regardless of how many cars I have or houses I own.
    If you find this humility and charity in your daily life then you will have a greater reward after you are six feet under.

    July 28, 2013 at 8:44 pm |
    • Mr T (the real one)

      Christ came to bear witness to the truth. His saving work on the cross and resurrection gives us the opportunity to live our lives for Him, in whatever way He wants. If you are really planning on earning your way to heaven with your good works, you will be very surprised where you spend eternity.

      We have nothing to offer Christ except our acknowledgement that He is God who sacrificed so we can become one with Him. If you can't or won't acknowledge that, you reject Him and you secure your own damnation.

      So, your works are meaningless but your acceptance of Jesus Christ is your only action that will remain in eternity.

      July 28, 2013 at 9:37 pm |
  9. bucdale

    “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.”….. 2 Timothy 4:3-4

    July 28, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
    • Harry Cline

      @bucdale,

      I don't know about all that, but it is interesting watching some trying to reverse evolution and go back to the penis and buttock. While the other half is strung out on one drug or another. While others believe further that all the worlds problems can be solve with alternative energy.

      July 28, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
    • Bob

      Since you are bent on dumping quotes on us from the Christian book of nasty AKA the bible, let's have a look at some of the other fine guidances from "god" that are in there:

      Numbers 31:17-18
      17 Now kiII all the boys. And kiII every woman who has slept with a man,
      18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

      Deuteronomy 13:6 – “If your brother, your mother’s son or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul entice you secretly, saying, let us go and serve other gods … you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death”

      Revelations 2:23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

      Leviticus 25
      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves.
      45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property.
      46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

      Note that the bible is also very clear that you should sacrifice and burn an animal today because the smell makes sicko Christian sky fairy happy. No, you don't get to use the parts for food. You burn them, a complete waste of the poor animal.

      Yes, the bible really says that, everyone. Yes, it's in Leviticus, look it up. Yes, Jesus purportedly said that the OT commands still apply. No exceptions. But even if you think the OT was god's mistaken first go around, you have to ask why a perfect, loving enti-ty would ever put such horrid instructions in there. If you think rationally at all, that is.

      And then, if you disagree with my interpretation, ask yourself how it is that your "god" couldn't come up with a better way to communicate than a book that is so readily subject to so many interpretations and to being taken "out of context", and has so many mistakes in it. Pretty pathetic god that you've made for yourself.

      So get out your sacrificial knife or your nasty sky creature will torture you eternally. Or just take a closer look at your foolish supersti-tions, understand that they are just silly, and toss them into the dustbin with all the rest of the gods that man has created.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.
      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      July 28, 2013 at 8:50 pm |
      • bucdale

        "But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…. And from such people turn away! " 2 Timothy 3:1-5

        July 28, 2013 at 8:55 pm |
        • tallulah13

          Hate to break it to you, Sparky, but people have always been like that. I guess that's why chrsitians have been claiming that the end is nigh for about 2000 years now.

          July 28, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
        • Observer

          Timothy (I Tim. 2:12) also says nonsense like “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent.”

          So what was your point?

          July 28, 2013 at 9:04 pm |
        • Melanie

          tallulah and observer, I'm so glad to read your posts of reason. Gems in between the odious Christian dogma.

          July 28, 2013 at 10:10 pm |
      • Libsrtyrants

        His point was clear and made perfect sense.

        You seem to have no point to our post. Did you intend to make a point?

        July 28, 2013 at 8:57 pm |
        • Just Call Me Lucifer

          Little boy had to glom on to someone elses post. Pathetic.

          July 28, 2013 at 9:07 pm |
    • Doobs

      This isn't prophecy. It's just another version of "This younger generation has no respect for the old ways." When haven't people been saying that?

      July 28, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
    • visitor

      From that information, the last days has been the last days for the entirety of human history.

      July 28, 2013 at 8:59 pm |
      • Harry Cline

        @visitor,

        They say patients is a virtue. You don't really believe do ya that all the natural disasters of the last several years are natural do ya .. (more like super natural wouldn't say)
        And try to remember that , you know who don't work on your time schedule.

        July 28, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
        • Dippy

          Patience, not patients. Back to school with you. And don't drop out this time!

          July 28, 2013 at 9:22 pm |
        • Harry Cline

          @Dippy,

          Thank you for the spell check. Obviously it got you to think. (one can only hope)

          July 28, 2013 at 9:24 pm |
  10. Just call me Lucifer

    ROME (AP) — A tour bus filled with Italian pilgrims plunged off a highway into a ravine in southern Italy on Sunday night and smashed into several cars that had slowed in heavy traffic, killing at least 36 people, said police and rescuers.

    The bus looked as if it had partially split open.

    Italian news reports said the bus could hold a little more than 50 passengers and that it was almost filled on the ride back after an excursion from the southeastern Puglia area, which is popular with Catholic faithful who admire Padre Pio, a late mystic monk who was based there.

    Once again your all-powerful super guy that totally LOVES those who worship him watched a bus-load of the faithful plunge to their deaths. Nice guy. Still not enough for you though, huh. Darwin was right. We tried to warn you.

    July 28, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Other One

      It is amazing all the different ways people are called home to be with their God. Thomas Merton's call to Jesus came in the form of electrocution by an electric fan, I learned today.

      July 28, 2013 at 9:28 pm |
    • Lauren

      So these people were killed because they were less fit? Are we (Christians) going to be weeded out by random mass tragedies? I think Christianity has been around long enough to disprove that theory. Darwinism is about inherited traits and instincts. It doesn't account for religious preferences. Unless you consider mass cult suicides. And I think you'll find that statistically, true Christians (I'm talking about those who have accepted Christ and seek to live like Jesus), are less likely to engage in risky behavior such as drinking and driving, drugs, etc.
      Who knows why those people died? Only God. If they believed in Jesus as their Savior, they're hanging out with him right now, and I don't think anyone of them wish they could have stayed here a while longer. Tragedies happen. God has a reason for everything, which we do not have the power of knowing. He provides comfort to those who have faith. I'm comforted knowing that if I do plunge into a ravine tomorrow, I'm going to heaven. Do you believe that God isn't real because the world is imperfect? Sin is what separates us from God. We are born sinners. He gave us the freedom of choice. We can make good or bad decisions. We can have faith or not have faith. If we lived in a perfect world, that would eliminate the ability to make poor choices. Would you like us to be lemmings or humans? I lived for 28 without Christ. For 28 years I did what made me "happy". I did drugs and drank, and lots of other stupid things. And I came to know Christ this year, and I have had the most fulfilling 6 months of my life since then. It started with reading Genesis. I have always been a skeptical science nerd. But the Bible is divinely written, and I've never been more sure of anything. What are you trying to get through the heads of Christians? That atheism is the way to go? I'm sure it's really fulfilling believing you have no purpose here and trying to convince others that they have no purpose. You do have a purpose, and bitterness will get you nowhere. You can't convince true Christians that God isn't real, so I would stop commenting on religious articles and save yourself some time. You can convince atheists that God is real however. Happened to me. Go read the gospel. Educate yourself on the teachings of Christ. Pray, even if you think no one is listening. It's not a waste of time. Believing is overcoming doubt. It's not supposed to be easy, but the reward is great.

      July 28, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
  11. greg

    I choose to be stupid in heaven than smart in hell...........actually to God I will always be stupid

    July 28, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Robert

      greg, in your case, you will be more stupid than average in most groups. Now, do google Pascal's Wager. You owe it to yourself to learn about it, or to at least try to.

      July 28, 2013 at 8:35 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        A number of authors who have been otherwise critical of the Wager have explicitly conceded that the Wager is valid — e.g. Mackie 1982, Rescher 1985, Mougin and Sober 1994, and most emphatically, Hacking 1972. That is, these authors agree with Pascal that wagering for God really is rationally mandated by Pascal's decision matrix in tandem with positive probability for God's existence, and the decision theoretic account of rational action.
        However, Duff 1986 and Hájek 2003 argue that the argument is in fact invalid. Their point is that there are strategies besides wagering for God that also have infinite expectation — namely,mixed strategies, whereby you do not wager for or against God outright, but rather choose which of these actions to perform on the basis of the outcome of some chance device.
        Monton (2011) defends Pascal's Wager against this line of objection. He argues that an atheist or agnostic has more than one opportunity to follow a mixed strategy.

        There are several arguments to the effect that moralityrequires you to wager against God. Pascal himself appears to be aware of one such argument. He admits that if you do not believe in God, his recommended course of action will “deaden your acuteness.”One way of putting the argument is that wagering for God may require you to corrupt yourself, thus violating a Kantian duty to yourself. Clifford 1877 argues that an individual's believing something on insufficient evidence harms society by promoting credulity. Penelhum 1971 contends that the putative divine plan is itself immoral, condemning as it does honest non-believers to loss of eternal happiness, when such unbelief is in no way culpable; and that to adopt the relevant belief is to be complicit to this immoral plan.

        Finally, Voltaire protests that there is something unseemly about the whole Wager. He suggests that Pascal's calculations, and his appeal to self-interest, are unworthy of the gravity of the subject of theistic belief. This does not so much support wagering against God, as dismissing all talk of ‘wagerings’ altogether. Schlesinger (1994, 84) canvasses a sharpened formulation of this objection: an appeal to greedy, self-interested motivations is incompatible with“the quest for piety” that is essential to religion. He replies that the pleasure of salvation that Pascal's Wager countenances is “of the most exalted kind”, and that if seeking it counts as greed at all, then it is “the manifestation of a noble greed that is to be acclaimed”

        Hájek, Alan, "Pascal's Wager", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .

        July 28, 2013 at 8:41 pm |
        • Observer

          "morality requires you to wager against God"

          Morals and God are two different subjects. God has one set of morals and yet there are millions of other sets, some making a lot more sense.

          July 28, 2013 at 8:51 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Personally, the fear of God’s judgement could cause someone to seek God, but if you say you believe and even fill a church pew the rest of your life, because of fear, but you really don’t believe, I think you’re just as lost as those who deny his existence.

          God is a spirit. You must be born again, spiritually.

          July 28, 2013 at 9:00 pm |
        • Tom, Tom, the Other One

          Not all of us are able to be "born again" if I understand the parable of the sower and seeds and other NT references, Robert. You seem to agree that it really doesn't work for one to try to believe something that one does not believe. Coercion, threats and wagers are not evidence and don't form the basis for proper belief. But what can you provide instead?

          July 28, 2013 at 9:14 pm |
        • Robert Brown

          Tom, Tom, the Other One,

          Hey Tom, hopefully you are having a good evening. No, they aren’t evidence, but they are reasons that some have sought God. The evidence comes when you are born again. This is the part no human can help you with because it is God who gives the increase, one sows, another waters, God does the work.

          When we last communicated you rejected my suggestion that you attend a revival because you thought you might get caught up in the emotion of the service. You seem to have a healthy degree of scepticism, so I think you could safely attend a worship service. The only reason I suggest it is because you can witness the demonstration of the power of God in the preached word and it is a very good place to be if you are seeking your own experience, but you don’t have to be in church to be saved. I believe the spirit can and does cause emotional responses and I can understand why people could think that it is just emotion, but I think they are two different things.

          Another suggestion until or unless you decide to hear the word preached, would be to search a good bible site using the KJV version, search the phrase the “word of God,” then try reading the hits by replacing “word of God” with “Jesus” and see what you think. And, as always, peace to you.

          July 28, 2013 at 9:50 pm |
        • In Santa we trust

          Pascal's Wager is flawed because it does not consider other possibilities: there is a god but it's not the one you pray to so it sends you to hell; there is a god and it is the one you pray to but it knows you were insincere so it sends you to hell; there is a god but it knows you led a good life so it sends you to heaven even though you didn't pray to it.

          July 28, 2013 at 9:56 pm |
    • Someone

      congrats u r pretty stupid

      July 28, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • tony

      Actually, you don't have either choice.

      July 28, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
    • sam stone

      sounds like a fine father, greg

      July 28, 2013 at 9:09 pm |
  12. zjmullen2013

    Serious question for Christians: is the idea of dwindling participation in Christianity frightening to you? If so, why? If everyone stopped believing in God/Jesus/Christianity, would it become less absolutely true, or, more importantly, less true for you?

    July 28, 2013 at 8:32 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      zjmullen2013

      “Serious question for Christians: is the idea of dwindling participation in Christianity frightening to you?”

      No, just sad.

      “If everyone stopped believing in God/Jesus/Christianity, would it become less absolutely true, or, more importantly, less true for you?”

      No, just sad.

      July 28, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
      • sam stone

        why would it be sad? because fewer people believe the same as you do? do you need others opinions to validate your faith?

        July 28, 2013 at 9:20 pm |
      • Robert Brown

        sam stone,

        Hey sam, how are you? It is your favourite snivelling sycophant. It would be sad because of all those lost souls. Peace.

        July 28, 2013 at 9:59 pm |
  13. Jonah

    If anyone here is sick and tired of all the silliness and nonsense in religion today and want a real church, I invite you to check out mormon.org where you can talk (not to a paid professional), but to ordinary members who volunteer their time for free because they just believe in serving and want to answer your questions. In fact, none of the clergy in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are paid. We just love you and Jesus Christ and want your life to be better! Catch the wave! Join us!

    July 28, 2013 at 8:31 pm |
    • Robert

      How is the search for those original golden tablets that your fairy tale was written on turning out for you Jonah? And which of your dad's 6 wives was your mother?

      July 28, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
    • tony

      I talked to a pair of nice witness ladies who called yesterday. I offered to keep the younger one for the weekend, and sent her father goat to compensate, but that part of the bible, they don't believe in.

      July 28, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • cave man

      My question to Mormons is this: How can you believe in a religion whose founders, including Joseph Smith, all later denounced their religion as made up?

      July 28, 2013 at 8:43 pm |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magic Underwear

      And if you're already dead, no big deal! We'll baptize you into the church anyway! Now, I want to know – do you still need to wear magic underwear to protect you if you're dead?

      Mormonism – completely fabricated by a known convicted conman. Misogynist, racist, ridiculous.

      July 28, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • Someone

      don't you have a door to be knocking on?

      July 28, 2013 at 8:49 pm |
    • Jonah

      Tsk, tsk

      July 28, 2013 at 8:56 pm |
    • Jonah

      Say, I missed all you guys in priesthood meeting today. We had a great discussion about L Tom Perry's talk on obedience to God's laws brings freedom. What do you think about that?

      July 28, 2013 at 9:13 pm |
  14. dsfdsf

    cuz it's stucking fupid?

    July 28, 2013 at 8:26 pm |
  15. greg

    can you prove that God does not exist........can you prove He exist......................it is called faith to exist...........called self to not exist..............your decision.......I have nothing to loose in befriending God...I am destined to die either way.....what may you lose if you disbelieve???????

    July 28, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • Athy

      Nothing. And it's lose, not loose.

      July 28, 2013 at 8:23 pm |
    • Robert

      greg, some reading about Pascal's Wager might cure you of your silly delusions.

      July 28, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
    • Tim Urban

      What do I have to lose? Let's start with the time, effort, and money that could be spent actually trying to make THIS world a better place as opposed to being spent chasing after a fantasy afterlife?

      Ever look at the pyramids of Egypt and think "Wow! Those are some amazing, beautiful, marvelous structures! I wonder what the ancient Egyptians could have accomplished if their leaders weren't dumping all those resources into making sure they had a good afterlife." ?

      July 28, 2013 at 8:38 pm |
  16. Mack

    Hopefully Millennials will think for themselves and never join the church.

    July 28, 2013 at 8:21 pm |
    • Shamma Lammadingdong

      Unfortunately religion is pushed on children when their minds are still young. After instilling the fear of an all-seeing god in a child, it can be tough for even adults to un-brainwash themselves.

      July 28, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
      • camd

        And that god sounds a lot like Santa Claus: old guy with a white beard, lives in the sky, knows if you've been naughty or nice.

        July 28, 2013 at 8:42 pm |
  17. Aaron Wind

    People in my generation abandon church because of how cold and unloving it is. To be honest, most Christians in the church don't care about you unless you go to church, act and think like they do. They make the love of God something to be worked for and earned; a contrary message to the Gospel. Most people would have no problem with what the bible has to say about love. It is only when believers claim to know love while acting in apathy toward their own , that pews start to empty. The thinking may go like this " why bust my hump for people in the church who don't care when they say they do? at least with nonbelievers their is no expectation"

    July 28, 2013 at 8:20 pm |
  18. cave man

    People who may need God don't automatically need religion. Religions need people to exist. When religions stop refusing to acknowledge reality and logic, they will start attracting the people of the younger generation who cannot ignore facts, logic, and reality in general. For example, if God created everything, then he also created science. Religion must stop denying the proven facts of science, if they want millennial participation.

    July 28, 2013 at 8:14 pm |
    • Athy

      Precisely. It's too late for the older folks that are too bible washed, but the younger generation has a chance.

      July 28, 2013 at 8:22 pm |
    • OdinVonTogan

      Tell them this:
      God is simple, but you will have to expand your mind. I'm an engineer and I do stuff that biblical-time people would say is the stuff of gods. During ww2, pacific islanders thought the US military were gods – because they never saw planes before. You need more than that, OK, here it is. Today, our science is writing data onto and doing calculations with protein molecules – far more advanced than using silicon chips. Your brain is protein – with a database that holds your memories and philosophy, and it does calculations. God made it. God also made an internet that is wireless, which is uploading and storing a copy of your memories, ideas, decisions, etc. All these combined are you, your soul.. Yep, it is being uploaded and stored in a file folder, with your name on it, and when it is no longer uploading, because your (current) body died, and your battery is flat-lined, no energy left to send data upstairs, you still exist, in that file folder. This explains what others speak about as your spirit, or soul, that lives forever. As others explain, God doesn't worry about your (current) body that only lives for 100 yrs – He takes care of your soul. Simple. And when you think others are stupid to be 'religious', how stupid are you to limit yourself to this one planet, when there are billions up there, all connected by God's Galactic Internet, no big bang, no beginning, no end, forever, billions of souls traveling the ever-changing universe, in and out of various human-like bodies, on and off of different earth-like planets. As far as memories you have that you would like to forget, no problem, file deleted. As far as heaven and hell, look around, this is a hellish place, with some heavenly stuff to teach us the difference. Wanna go to a better place next time, with nothing but heavenly good stuff, then fill your file folder with good deeds, because some day, yes, it will be opened and reveiwed and judged, and next time, you will be downloaded as you deserve, to a better place, or a worse place, than this one. Yes, it is that simple.

      July 28, 2013 at 8:29 pm |
      • cave man

        I like your approach. Your explanation would seem simple to millennials, but would seem like babble to older generations. I often tell religious folks not to limit themselves to The Bible, because like our planet being only one of many in the universe, The Bible is a limited point of view. After all, the rest of the uninverse is never specifically mentioned in The Bible, nor is the internet. If one simply believes what is written in The Bible and nothing else, your explanation would be meaningless.

        July 28, 2013 at 8:39 pm |
      • Athy

        You may be an engineer, but you're insane.

        July 28, 2013 at 8:58 pm |
      • Water to Whine

        There are some who think they must stick to literal beliefs based on ancient text and those who think their religion is as pliable as silly puddy. Which are you? If you are as enlightened as your comment seems to be indicating, why do you not see right through the old Hell ploy scare tactic? I tell you the truth, the purest souls of this life will not do good to avoid the punishment of Hell or gain the reward of Heaven, but for the sake of good as logic in society.

        July 28, 2013 at 9:19 pm |
  19. greg

    trouble with mega churches now they use Greek logic to prove God.......need to just stick to faith with the unseen.......Holy Spirit........great counselor......no minister needed for His presence......will reveal by a rushing wind in your heart if you so desire......

    July 28, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
  20. greg

    and the debate continues.....heaven.....hell........good.....bad..........Christian.............. atheist.........I choose to just love and befriend my Godand Christ
    and leave it at that........in no way will I lose............

    July 28, 2013 at 8:01 pm |
    • Just Call Me Lucifer

      You already have lost. You're afraid that you'll burn in a lake of fire that some guys made up to keep you FEARFUL and CONTROLLABLE! And you BELIEVE it because you're scared, right? What a way to live life... scared of NOTHING for your entire life.

      July 28, 2013 at 8:08 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.